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Muzio Clementi

1752 - 1832

Muzio Filippo Vincenzo Francesco Saverio Clementi (23 January 1752 – 10 March 1832) was an Italian-born British composer, pianist, pedagogue, conductor, music publisher, editor, and piano manufacturer.

Encouraged to study music by his father, he was sponsored as a young composer by Sir Peter Beckford who took him to England to advance his studies. Later, he toured Europe numerous times from his long-standing base in London. It was on one of these occasions, in 1781, that he engaged in a piano competition with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Influenced by Domenico Scarlatti's harpsichord school and Haydn's classical school and by the stile galante of Johann Christian Bach and Ignazio Cirri, Clementi developed a fluent and technical legato style, which he passed on to a generation of pianists, including John Field, Johann Baptist Cramer, Ignaz Moscheles, Giacomo Meyerbeer, Friedrich Kalkbrenner, Johann Nepomuk Hummel and Carl Czerny. He was a notable influence on Ludwig van Beethoven.

Key Works

Piano Sonata in G minor, op. 50 no. 3, "Didone abbandonata"

(b. Rome, January 23, 1752; d. Evesham, March 10, 1832)

English keyboardist, composer, publisher, and businessman of Italian birth.

He studied music as a child and became organist at the Roman church of San Lorenzo in Damaso when he was 13. The following year, he was taken to England as an indentured servant by Peter Beckford, at whose country estate he practiced and studied for the next seven years. In the winter of 1774-75, freed from his obligations, Clementi moved to London, where he performed on the harpsichord and worked as a conductor—leading ensembles from the keyboard—at the King’s Theatre in Hay-market. His six keyboard sonatas, Op. 2, were published in 1779, followed in 1779-80 by two more sets of accompanied sonatas and keyboard duets. In 1780 Clementi set out on a tour of the continent, performing in Paris and, at the invitation of Joseph II, engaging in a keyboard “duel” with Mozart in Vienna on December 24, 1781. During five years of wandering in Europe he composed upward of 25 sonatas, including some of his best. He returned to London in 1785 and stayed put—occupied mainly with the business of music publishing and piano manufacturing.


In the course of several visits to Vienna, he arranged to become Beethoven’s publisher. Returning to London in 1810, he settled into a life of prosperity and domestic contentment, marrying at the age of 59 and becoming a director of the Philharmonic Society upon its founding in 1813. He continued to appear as a conductor, often leading his own symphonies from the keyboard, until 1824. His Gradus ad Parnassum, or The Art of Playing on the Piano Forte, a compendium of keyboard compositions from all periods of his life, was published in three volumes between 1817 and 1826.

Although his symphonies were eclipsed in his lifetime—first by those of Haydn, then by those of his own client, Beethoven— Clementi was an important figure in the development of a pianistic style of keyboard writing from about 1780, when he started playing the piano in public, until well into the 19th century. His music had a discernible influence on Beethoven, as well as on the generation of Field, Meyerbeer, Hummel, andjan Dussek. In showing what the piano could do, as well as in his enlightened activities as a publisher, he helped usher in the Romantic era.

6 Sonatine Op.36, for Piano 

Sonatina No. 1 in C Major
00:08 I. Allegro 
01:44 II. Andante 
03:09 III. Vivace

Sonatina No. 2 in G Major
04:15 I. Allegretto 
06:34 II. Allegretto 
07:56 III. Allegro 

Sonatina No. 3 in C Major
09:37 I. Spiritoso 
13:54 II. Un poco adagio 
15:43 III. Allegro

Sonatina No. 4 in F Major
17:11 I. Con spirito 
20:45 II. Andante con espressione 
22:54 III. Allegro vivace  

Sonatina No. 5 In G Major
24:40 I. Presto 
28:56 II. Allegretto moderato 
30:30 III. Allegro di molto

Sonatina No. 6 in D Major 
33:29 I. Allegro con spirito 
39:31 II. Allegro spiritoso

Muzio Clementi, in full Mutius Philippus Vincentius Franciscus Xaverius Clementi, (born Jan. 23, 1752, Rome, Papal States [Italy]—died March 10, 1832, Evesham, Worcestershire, Eng.), Italian-born British pianist and composer whose studies and sonatas developed the techniques of the early piano to such an extent that he was called “the father of the piano.”

A youthful prodigy, Clementi was appointed an organist at 9 and at 12 had composed an oratorio. In 1766 Peter Beckford, a cousin of William Beckford, the author of Vathek, prevailed upon Clementi’s father to allow him to take the boy to England, where he lived quietly in Wiltshire pursuing a rigorous course of studies. In 1773 he went to London and met with immediate and lasting success as a composer and pianist. The piano had become more popular in England than anywhere else, and Clementi, in studying its special features, made brilliant use of the new instrument and its capabilities. From 1777 to 1780 he was employed as harpsichordist at the Italian Opera in London. In 1780 he went on tour to Paris, Strasbourg, Munich, and Vienna, where he became engaged in a friendly musical duel with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart at the instigation of the emperor, Joseph II.

In 1782 Clementi returned to London, where for the next 20 years he continued his lucrative occupations of fashionable teacher, composer, and performer. He was a shrewd businessman: in 1799—in the wake of Joseph Haydn’s London visits and after Mozart’s much-publicized remark that he was a “charlatan, like all Italians,” which together had substantially weakened the market for his music—he cofounded a firm for both music publishing and the manufacture of pianos. Among his numerous pupils were Johann Baptist Cramer, Giacomo Meyerbeer, and John Field. Clementi visited the European continent again in 1820 and 1821. In his later years he devoted himself to composition, and to this period belong several symphonies, the scores of which were either lost or incomplete.

Clementi’s chief claims to fame are his long series of piano sonatas, many of which have been revived, and his celebrated studies for piano, the Gradus ad Parnassum (1817; “Steps Toward Parnassus”). His own contributions to the development of piano technique coincided with the period of the new instrument’s first popularity and did much to establish the lines on which piano playing was to develop; important traces of his influence may be found in the piano works of Haydn, Beethoven, and even Mozart, as well as the next generation of pianist-composers.

Sonate, Duetti & Capricci Op 1 - 2

Piano Works Op 40

Keyboard sonatas

1. Preludio, alla Haydn, from Op.19  0:00
2. Sonata in F minor, op.13 no.6  1:25
3. Capriccio in B flat major, op.17  18:53
4- Sonata in G minor, op.34 no.2  25:32
5. Preludio, alla Mozart, from Op.19  45:34
6. Sonata in F major, op.33 no.2  47:29
7. Fantasia on “Au clair de la lune”, op.48  57:38
Andreas Staier

Piano Sonata in D minor, Op. 50 No. 2

Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli plays Muzio Clementi Sonata in B flat Op. 12 No. 1

Horowitz plays Clementi piano Sonatas

01. Sonata in La bemolle Maggiore, I - Allegro Ma Non Troppo 3:33
02. Sonata in La bemolle Maggiore, II – Larghetto 3:05
03. Sonata in La bemolle Maggiore, III - Allegro Assai 2:12
04. Sonata in Fa Maggiore, Op 1, No 1 - I - Andante Cantabile 3:54
05. Sonata in Fa Maggiore, Op 1, No 1 - II - Arietta Con Variazioni 4:04
06. Sonate in Si bemolle Maggiore, Op 1 No 2 - I - Allegro Moderato 4:26
07. Sonate in Si bemolle Maggiore, Op 1 No 2 - II - Andantino Grazioso 2:00
08. Sonate in Si bemolle Maggiore, Op 1 No 2 - III - Air Du Ballet De Mirza Avec Des Variations 2:27
09. Sonata in Sol Maggiore, Op 1, No 3 - I – Allegretto 1:39
10. Sonata in Sol Maggiore, Op 1, No 3 - II - Black Joke--Air Anglais Avec Des Variations 6:34
11. Sonata in La Maggiore, Op 1, No 4 - I – Larghetto 3:35
12. Sonata in La Maggiore, Op 1, No 4 - II - Tempo Di Minuetto 2:15
13. Duetto in Si bemolle Maggiore, Op 1, No 6 - I – Allegro 6:28
14. Duetto in Si bemolle Maggiore, Op 1, No 6 - II - Piuttosto Vivace Ma Con Grazia 2:44
15. Sonata in Do Maggiore, Op 2, No 2 - I - Allegro Quasi Presto 7:24
16. Sonata in Do Maggiore, Op 2, No 2 - II - Larghetto Cantabile 3:27
17. Sonata in Do Maggiore, Op 2, No 2 - III - Allegro Spiritoso Ma Con Grazia 5:28
Interprete: Spada, Pietro (Roma, Itália, 29/07/1935 

01. Klaviersonate op. 40, Nr. 1, G-Dur; Allegro molto vivace 8:06
02. Klaviersonate op. 40, Nr. 1, G-Dur; Molto Adagio, sostenuto e cantábile 6:32
03. Klaviersonate op. 40, Nr. 1, h-moll; G-Dur; Canone I perpetuo per moto retto, Canone II perpetuo per moto contrario, Canone I da capo 7:16
04. Klaviersonate op. 40, Nr. 1, G-Dur; Finale. Presto 6:34
05. Klaviersonate op. 40, Nr. 2, h-moll; Molto Adagio e sostenuto, Allegro con fuoco e con espressione 9:54
06. Klaviersonate op. 40, Nr. 2, h-moll; Largo mesto e patetico, Allegro, Tempo primo, Presto 9:11
07. Klaviersonate op. 40, Nr. 3, D-Dur; Molto Adagio, Allegro 11:34
08. Klaviersonate op. 40, Nr. 3, Adagio con molto espressione 4:40
09. Klaviersonate op. 40, Nr. 3, Allegro non tropo 5:43
Intérprete: Irmer Stefan, piano

Gravações: 16 & 21/10/1954 

Piano Sonata In G Minor, Op. 34/2 - 1. Largo; Allegro Con Fuoco 9:25
Piano Sonata In G Minor, Op. 34/2 - 2. Poco Adagio 5:57
Piano Sonata in G minor, Op. 34/2 - 3. Finale: Molto alegro 6:29
Piano Sonata In F Minor, Op. 14/3 - 1. Allegro Agitato 4:15
Clementi: Piano Sonata In F Minor, Op. 14/3 - 2. Largo E Sostenuto 5:02
Piano Sonata In F Minor, Op. 14/3 - 3. Presto 4:43
Piano Sonata In F Sharp Minor, Op. 26/2 - 1. Piuttosto Allegro Con Espressione 3:51
Piano Sonata In F Sharp Minor, Op. 26/2 - 2. Lento E Patetico 3:51
Piano Sonata In F Sharp Minor, Op. 26/2 - 3. Presto 3:45

Burial stone in Westminster Abbey

Piano Sonata in A major, op. 50 no. 1

Clementi was the eldest son of a Roman silversmith who was also a keen amateur musician. By the age of seven he was receiving organ lessons, and in open competition with adults was appointed the local church organist. At the age of 14 he went to study in England, after the Englishman Peter Beckford heard him play and was impressed enough to become his patron. Clementi made his first London appearance in 1775. In 1779 he published his six Piano sonatas Opus 2; these established the piano sonata as distinct from the harpsichord sonata and made Clementi's reputation.

In 1781 he visited Europe and was astonished in France by the excitement his work generated. He engaged in public competition with other pianists, including the famous "piano duel" with Mozart, in which each player improvised upon his own compositions. Neither was declared outright winner: Mozart considered Clementi "a Charlatan - like all Italians", while Clementi was more gracious about Mozart's gifts.

Clementi continued his travels in Europe and wrote more sonatas (his final tally was over 100). 13y adding a third movement to the two that were typical of the Italian style, Clementi brought the sonata to a new level of development. He settled in London in spring 1785 and remained there for the next 20 years, re-establishing old links with the Hanover Concert series and enjoying rising status as a soloist and conductor. He turned his attentions to composing symphonies, but his works suffered from comparison with those of the hugely revered Haydn, who visited London in 1791 and probably contributed to Clementi's lack of success. None of his own efforts was published during his lifetime.

In 1802, by now a partner in a successful piano manufacturing business, Cleincnti took his ex-pupil John Field on a tour of Europe to promote pianos. Field remained in St Petersburg while Clementi continued travelling. In 1810 he returned to London, continuing to prove himself a shrewd businessman. Approaching 60, he married Emma Gisborne, with whom he had four children. He continued to compose and in 1813 joined the board of the Philharmonic Society. He made visits abroad in pursuit of a wider audience for his symphonies, but by now the Continent was enraptured by Beethoven — some of whose works Clementi published.

In 1817 Clementi began Gradus ad Parnassum, a volume of studies and five-finger exercises still in use today as a piano tutor and responsible for dementi's influence on generations of pianists (although Debussy parodied him m his piano piece Dr Gradus ad Parnassum). He retired to Evesham m Worcestershire and died after a short illness at the age of 80.

Piano Sonata in F-sharp minor, op. 25 no. 5

Piano Sonata in D major, op. 16, "La Chasse"

Symphony No1 in C major

Symphony No.2 in D-major, WoO 33

Symphony No.3 "Great National Symphony" in G major

Symphony No.4 in D major

Piano Concerto in C major, WoO 12

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