DINNER TO CLEMENTI.
"At the suggestion of Mr.
J. B. Cramer and Mr. Moscheles, who, with a few others, formed themselves
into a committee, and issued a circular to all the principal musical
professors of the metropolis, a splendid dinner was given at the Albion
Hotel, on Monday the 17th ult., to Muzio Clementi, Esq., in honour of his
long and brilliant career in the musical art, and as a public demonstration
of the high respect and esteem in which the profession hold his character as
Several others were
prevented attending, by the shortness of the notice, and by being obliged
leave town. Sir G. Smart introduced every toast in an appropriate manner,
and ably conducted the business of the day.
The veteran rose, with evident marks of strong feeling depicted in his intelligent countinance, amidst the cordial and animated cheers of the whole assembly. His words were few, but full of meaning; and he concluded by saying, " I consider this as the proudest day of my long life." A glee, written by Mr. W. F. Collard for the occasion, and composed by Mr. Bishop, was then sung with great effect, the composer presiding at the instrument. It was a production worthy of the occasion. The following are the words.
O for the harp, whose strings of gold
The health of Mr. Cramer was then given, which excited a general cheer. Mr. Moscheles now proceeded to the piano-forte, and performed Clementi's sonata dedicated to Kalkbrenner, in the most masterly style.
In returning thanks for
the honour done him in drinking his health, he said he was doubly gratified
on this occasion, as it also afforded him an opportunity of thus publicly
acknowledging how proud he felt in owning himself a disciple of the great
master, in honour of whom they were that day assembled. (Great cheers).
"The memory of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven," the chairman, with a well-turned compliment to Mr. Braham, informed the company that that gentleman would favour them with a song. He accordingly sung, in his finest and most impressive manner, "The year that's away,"
introducing the following stanza, written
by Mr. Parry.
Sheds a halo of light round us a';
Long, long may he live, and look back with delight
On the days o' the years pass d awa'.
This was unanimously
On his compositions is founded whatever taste we possess for that class of music at the head of which they stand. To the frequent hearing of his best disciple do we mainly ascribe our love for a style that is the beau ideal of piano-forte playing, and from which we have derived so much pleasure.
Ungrateful, therefore, should we be did we not acknowledge our obligation to the source of both — did we not contribute our mite of praise to a man to whom we feel personally indebted, and who, whatever the frigid cynic, the false philosopher, may say or think, has increased the stock of human happiness, and added to the glory of his age." The Harmonicon, 1828, p. 18-19
"In the history of every art or science we meet with many names which, although of deserved, and perhaps even great, celebrity, suggest few, if any, ideas extraneous to themselves and their own immediate works.
To chronicle the births, deaths, and performances of such men, is comparatively an easy undertaking; not so the task of compressing into a limited space the life and achievements of those few artists whose names will serve for ages as time-marks to the student, indicating the division of eras, and indissolubly connected with some great revolution or marked improvement.
Of the latter class was Clementi : of the piano-forte school, whether we consider him as composer, performer, or instructor, he was the acknowledged patriarch; and in tracing the outlines of his professional life we hardly know on which we ought most to dwell — what he performed himself, or what he instructed or inspired others to perform.
Some of the greatest pianists of the present day, while exulting in the reputation of pupils, and even pupils' pupils, of their own, feel a pride and satisfaction in hailing Clementi as their original master, the founder of their school; while men as celebrated as Steibelt, Woelfl, Dussek, and even Beethoven, have acknowledged that they owed to his works what circumstances prevented their deriving from his personal instructions. "Clementi," says Dr. Crotch, in his Lectures lately published,
"may be considered as the father of piano-forte music; for he long ago introduced all the beauty of Italian melody into pieces calculated, by their ornamental varieties, to elicit the powers of the instrument, and display the taste as well as the execution of the performer."
And in a
subsequent passage of the same work the author mentions the introduction of
Clementi's sonatas into our chambers as having, in conjunction with the
quartetts and symphonies of Boccherini and Haydn, "stamped a value on modern
music which many of the admirers of the ancient school were disposed to
He was related also to Buroni, afterwards principal composer at St. Peter's, from whom he received his earliest lessons in music. At six years of age he commenced sol-fu-ing: at seven he was placed under an organist of the name of Cordicelli, for instruction in thorough bass; and proceeded with such rapidity, that at nine years old he passed his examination, and was admitted to an organist's place in his native city.
His next masters were Santarelli, who is considered by the Italians the last great master of the vocal school, and Carpini, the deepest contrapuntist of his day in Rome.
studying under Carpini, and as yet little more than twelve years old, young
Clementi wrote, without the knowledge of his master, a mass for four voices,
which was so much admired by his friends, that at length Carpini desired to
hear it: although not much addicted to bestowing praise, even Carpini could
not refuse his tribute of applause, adding, however, what was probably very
true, that if the youthful composer had consulted his master, " it might
have been much better."
Mr. Beckford prevailed on the parents to consign their son's future education to his care, and brought him to his seat in Dorsetshire, where the society and conversation of a family distinguished by literary habits and taste, as much as by wealth and rank, must have contributed in no small degree to inspire that relish for the whole circle of the belles lettres which led Clementi, independent of the study of his own art, to acquire an uncommon proficiency in both the living and the dead languages, and an extensive acquaintance with literature and science in general.
The plan of study adopted by such a man, left in early youth to steer his own course, undirected and almost unassisted, would afford, if completely developed, so many valuable lessons, that we regret our inability to lay more than an outline of it before our readers.
The works of Corelli, Alessandro, Scarlatti, Paradies, and Handel, were the sources from which he derived instruction, and the examples on which he formed his taste; while at the same time he was indefatigable in the practice of the instrument to which he had devoted himself.
But his ruling principle was, that steady and regular apportionment of every moment of -time to its own pre-arranged occupation, which affords the surest promise of success, whatever may be our pursuits; and without which, no great results were ever achieved either in study or in action.
To this Clementi, young as he was, adhered strictly; his sleep, his meals, his relaxation, and his studies, had each their appointed time and their fixed duration; and if by the demands of his patron on his society, or his powers of contributing to the amusement of the family or guests, or any other accidental circumstance, the order was broken, and that proportion of time which he had set apart for the study of his own profession curtailed, he drew upon the allotted hours of rest for the arrears; and would rise even in the cheerless cold of mid-winter, to read if he had light at command, or to practise on his harpsichord, if light as well as fire were unattainable.
was equal to his zeal and assiduity; at eighteen he not only surpassed all
his contemporaries in execution, taste, and expression, but had already
composed (though it was not published till three years after) his celebrated
Opera 2, — a work, which, by the common assent of all musicians, is entitled
to the credit of being the basis on which the whole fabric of modern
pianoforte sonatas has been founded; and which — though it is now, from the
immense progress which manual dexterity has made in the last sixty years
within the powers of even secondrate performers —was, at the period of its
production, the despair of such pianists as J. C. Bach and Schroeter, who
were content to admire it, but declined the attempt to play what the latter
professor declared could be executed only by its own composer, or by that
great performer of all wonders, and conqueror of all difficulties, the
In 1780, at the suggestion of Pacchierotti, he determined to make a tour on the Continent, whither his compositions and the fame of his executive talents had long preceded him. In Paris, which was the first capital he visited, he remained till the summer of 1781, when he proceeded, by the way of Strasburgh and Munich, to Vienna, enjoying every where the patronage of sovereigns, the esteem and admiration of his brother musicians, and the enthusiastic applauses of the public.
Accustomed to the measured and somewhat cold plaudits of an English audience, the first burst of Parisian enthusiasm so astonished him, that he frequently afterwards jocosely remarked, he could hardly believe himself the same Clementi in Paris as in London. In Vienna he became acquainted with Haydn, Mozart, Salieri, and many other celebrated musicians, then resident in that city; and played alternately with Mozart, before the Emperor Joseph II. and the Grand Duke (afterwards Emperor) Paul of Russia and his consort. On one occasion, when the imperial trio alone were present, Clementi and Mozart were desired to play; some question of etiquette arising as to who should make the first display of his powers, the Emperor decided it by motioning Clementi to the instrument, saying at the same time, in allusion to his Roman birth, "tocca all' eglese di dar l'essempio."
Clementi having preluded for some time, played a sonata; and was followed by Mozart, who, without any further exordium than striking the chord of the key, also performed a sonata. The Grand Duchess then said, that one of her masters had written some pieces for her which were beyond her powers, but she should very much like to hear their effect; and, producing two, Clementi immediately played one, and Mozart the other, at sight.
She next proposed a theme, on which, at her request, these two great masters extemporized alternately, to the astonishment, as well as delight, of their imperial audience. The plan was evidently premeditated, and hardly fair towards the eminent professors, who were thus surprised into an immediate competition and comparison of abilities.
was equally honourable to them as men, between whom there was no unworthy
feeling of jealousy, and creditable to them as artists, on whose talents no
demand, however unexpected or unusual, could be too great.
About the same time he published his Opera 12., on the fourth sonata of which Dr. Crotch and Mr. S. Wesley afterwards gave public lectures. In 1783, J. B. Cramer, then about fourteen or fifteen years old, and who had previously received some lessons from Schroeter, and was studying counterpoint under Abel, became his pupil, and attended him almost daily, until Clementi went again, for a short time, to Paris; whence, however, he returned the following year; and from 1784 to 1802 continued in London, pursuing his professional career with increasing reputation as an instructor, composer, and performer.
of excellent pupils formed by him during this period, proved his superior
skill in the art of tuition; the invariable success which attended his
public performances attested his pre-eminent talents as a player; and his
compositions from Opera 15. to 40. as well as his excellent " Introduction
to the Art of Playing the Piano-forte," are a lasting proof of his
application and genius.
A new firm was quickly formed, at the head of which was Mr. Clementi's name; and from that period he declined taking any more pupils, but dedicated the time which was not demanded by his professional studies or mercantile engagements, to improving the mechanism and construction of the instrument, of which he might be said to have first established the popularity.
It was soon
after his becoming a partner in the house which bears his name, that he
arranged Haydn's Oratorio, "The Creation," for the pianoforte and to English
latter city, he meant to have left his pupil under the instruction of the
celebrated Albrechtsberger, while he himself proceeded to St. Petersburgh;
but when the moment of parting arrived, Field expressed such deep regret at
being separated from his first master, that Clementi, unable to resist his
entreaties, took him on to the Russian metropolis, where,he introduced him
to all his friends, and laid the foundation of his fortune.
After parting with Zeuner, Clementi took under his protection a very unassuming, but able young professor of Dresden, named Klengel, who accompanied him to Vienna, and, the following year, on a tour through Switzerland, and back to Berlin.
time he also became acquainted with, and contributed in no small degree, by
the exhibition of his own powers, to cherish and bring forward the then
rising talents of Kalkbrenner.
dissipate the sorrow occasioned by the loss of a beloved wife, the widower
had recourse to travel: and, accompanied by another promising young pupil,
Berger, he set off for Petersburgh, where he found his old friend and
scholar, Field, in the enjoyment of all that reputation and talent could
give him — in fact, the musical idol of the Russian capital. After a short
stay in Russia, he again plunged into the bustle and excitement of
journeying, and proceeded to Vienna.
after making short residences in Milan and other cities, he, in the summer
found an opportunity, which, though hazardous, he did not hesitate to
embrace, and once more landed in safety on the British shores. In the
following year he married his second amiable wife, then Miss Gisborne, a
lady possessed of considerable talent and many accomplishments.
publication, after his return, was an " Appendix" to his " Introduction to
the Art of playing on the Piano-forte." Subsequently he adapted the twelve
grand symphonies of Haydn, for piano-fortes, flute, violin, and vioioncello;
the "Seasons" of Haydn, for voices and piano-forte; Mozarts overture to "Don
Giovanni," and various select pieces from the vocal works of the same great
of his original compositions not only exhibit much of the vigour which
marked his earlier productions, but prove that he was not resting upon his
oars while the tide of taste was floating by him.
Those who remembered his past performances, looked anxiously forward to a renewal of their pleasures; while the young hoped to avail themselves of his instructions, or at least to have an opportunity of studying his manner, and forming or correcting their style by the contemplation of so great a master.
alike doomed to disappointment: from the moment of his return to England,
Clementi determined neither to take pupils nor to play in public; and, we
believe, the only two instances in which (out of the bosom of his own
family, or the circle of his immediate friends) his fingers have been heard
on the keys, were first at one of the Philharmonic Concerts, in which a
symphony of Haydn, containing at the end a few bars for the piano-forte
solo, was selected for the purpose of enabling the assembled professors to
boast that they had once more heard Clementi play; and the second and last
at the dinner, to which that profession, some time after, invited their
veteran associate. (Of course we do not include in this statement his nearly
annual appearance as conductor of the Philharmonic, but refer to solo
At the suggestion of Messrs. Cramer and Moscheles, it was proposed to call the veteran artist from his retirement to an entertainment, at which all the elite of the profession then in London, foreigners as well as English, should assemble to receive and congratulate, on his
"frosty but kindly"
age, the instructor of many, the admired and looked up to of all. A committee to regulate the arrangements was soon formed, and the entertainment took place at the Albion Tavern on the 17th of December, 1827.
After several glees and songs, and after Moscheles had performed one of Clementi's sonatas, Mr. C. Potter one of his capriccios, and Messrs. J. B. Cramer and Moscheles his duet, Op. 14., in a style worthy of their own talents and the presence of the composer, the toast, "The immortal memory of Handel," was the signal for the veteran himself to approach the instrument, and, as the chairman, Sir George Smart, announced to the delighted company,
"just touch the keys."
Clementi had throughout life been celebrated for his powers of extemporaneous playing; when drawing unpremeditatedly on the resources of his own mind, his fancy seemed as unbounded as his science, his delicacy as polished as his learning was profound.
Early in his professional career, Dussek, when asked to play after Clementi had been extemporizing, replied,
"To attempt any thing in the same style, would be presumption; and what sonata, what concerto, or what other regular composition, could a man play, that would not be insipid after what we have heard ?"
In his tours on the Continent, the most learned professors had been delighted by his feeling and invention, as much as they were astonished by his facility and resources. On this occasion he indulged his assembled friends with a last prqof that his fancy was unfettered by age, and his finger unpalsied by years.
the giant composer, whose immortal memory had just been drunk, the
compliment which some future artist of equal eminence may pay to himself,
Clementi chose a subject from the first organ concerto as the theme of his
performance, and then proceeded to extemporize in a style in which those who
had been his contemporaries or pupils immediately recognised the
undiminished powers of their old friend or instructor; and at which those
who for the first time heard the more than septuagenarian artist, could
hardly find terms to express their delight and surprise. The plaudits were
long, loud, and to their object almost overpowering.
"Which should accompany old age; As honour, love, obedience, troops of friends;"
years afforded a bright proof of the respect and reward which, to the last
moment of protracted life, will attend upon a youth spent in temperance and
virtuous industry, and a manhood guided by honour, and dedicated to laudable
It was expected that the united force of the metropolitan choirs, assisted by many volunteers, would give to the musical solemnities an unusual power and grandeur; and this was in a measure realised,'though the public demonstration of sympathy and respect, on the part of the musical world, fell far short of what had been anticipated.
followers of the corpse were — J. B. Cramer, Moscheles, Novello, Field,
Horsley, Kramer, Sir G. Smart, &c. The musical service (with the exception
of a composition by Mr. Horsley, to the words "I heard a voice from
Heaven,") was the same as usual. Never were the mingled pathos and sublimity
of the cathedral solemnities more intensely felt — not even when the glare
"CLEMENTI (Muzio) a distinguished musical composer and performer on the pianoforte, who was a native of Rome. He quitted Italy for this country in 1767, and in 1773 he published his celebrated "Opus II," which gave birth to a new era in sonata writing.
On his first arrival in England he resided in Dorsetshire with Peter Beckford, Esq. through whose patronage he was enabled to prosecute his musical studies with advantage. Having subsequently settled in London, he was engaged to preside at the harpsichord in the orchestra of the opera-house, and he soon acquired high reputation.
In 1780 he visited Paris, where his talents excited great admiration, as they also did at Vienna, and he was treated with attention by crowned heads, and became acquainted with Haydn, Mozart, and other celebrated musicians.
In 1784 he returned to the English metropolis, and was for several years most advantageously employed as a teacher of music, producing from time to time a number of admirable compositions, and works destined to facilitate the progress of the student in the art which he cultivated with so much success, particularly an excellent and luminous "Introduction to the Art of Playing on the Piano-forte."
About 1800 he entered into business as a musicseller and musical instrument maker in London. In 1802 he again went to Paris, and afterwards passed some time at Vienna, St Petersburgh, Dresden, Berlin, Rome, and Naples, not returning to England till 1810. Whilst at Berlin he married a lady who unfortunately soon died in childbed, and in 1811 he entered a second time into wedlock.
He long continued to employ his talents in composing new music, and in adapting the works of other composers, and he published a valuable system of musical instruction under the title of "Gradus ad Pamassum," in three parts.
His death took place at his country seat, Elm Lodge, near Evesham, Worcestershire, March 10, 1832, in the eighty-first year of his age. His works, which are numerous, consist chiefly of sonatas for various instruments, and especially for the pianoforte." A General Biographical Dictionary, Volume 3, John Gorton, 1838, p. 565 - for a larger Biography see link at the left
"[...] I am about to enter upon the subject of my journey' to France in 1802; before I commence which I may state that I first became acquainted with Mr. Clementi in passing through London, on my way to Paris, on the concluding of the peace of Amiens.
He was so kind as to offer me a place in his carriage to that city; but, as I was anxious to be at the fete on the 14th of July, the anniversary of the Revolution, and he could not set out so soon, I declined the offer, and preceded him about a week.
The peace had brought many foreigners to London, and I sat down at his table with French, Spanish, Germans, Italians, Russians, Turks, and Arabs, and with every one of these Clementi held a conversation, generally in their own language.
As a linguist, his readiness in all the European languages was considered extraordinary; and, as a classical scholar he stood very high.
I remember seeing a learned Greek work, edited by him, in the library at Gopsall Hall, before the Earl Howe possessed that mansion.
Perhaps I have been more inclined to speak in terms of admiration of Mr. C.'s attainments in tbis way, because
I am not one of those who esteemed him a musical genius of the highest order.
I dare say, upon the pianoforte, he was a fine performer; in his executive ability he is considered as the founder of the pianoforte school, but, as a composer, he had not the feeling which produces melody, without which no composition will touch the heart.
While we were at table a young gentleman named Field, an élève of Mr. Clementi, sat down to the pianoforte, and gratified the company by playing one of Bach's fugues, in which, by his force of touch, he maintained a clear distinction in the four different parts.
This extraordinary young performer accompanied him upon his travels. The war soon after broke out and raged with double fury, insomuch that Clementi found it difficult to pursue any given route.
As his journey was avowedly to collect MSS. for his work on practical harmony, he was permitted by Bonaparte, who had learned his design, to pass through the whole seat of war; and the same privilege was granted him by the allied sovereigns. He ultimately worked his way through France, Italy, and Germany, to Petersburgh. Here he left his pupil, Field, who married and still resides there.
I Mr. Clementi continued his research, visited the principal cities in Europe, and returned, after the lapse of ten or eleven years, laden with musical treasures. [...]" Music and Friends: Or, Pleasant Recollections of a Dilettante, William Gardiner, 1838, p. 243-244
"CLEMENTI, (Muzio,) was born at Rome in 1752.
His father was a worker in silver of great merit, and was principally engaged in the execution of embossed vases and figures for the service of the Church.
At seven years of agehe was placed under an organist of the name of Cordicelli for instruction in thorough bass; at the age of nine he passed his examination, and was admitted an organist at Rome. He next studied under Santarelli.
Between his eleventh and twelfth yearshe studied under Carpini, the deepest contrapuntist of his day in Rome.
A few months afterwards he wrote a mass for four voices.
He had made so great a proficiencybetween thirteen and fourteen, that Mr. Peter Beckford (nephew of the alderman of that name,) then on his travels in Italy, undertook his future education, and brought him to his country seat in Dorsetshire; and here, by the aid of a good library and the conversation of the family, Clementi quickly obtained a competent knowledge of the English language, as well as the classics, and various branches of science. But he did not neglect the art which he had chosen for his profession. His early studies were principally employed on the works of Corelli, Alessandro Scarlatti, Handel's harpsichord and organ music, and on the sonatas of Paradies.
At the age of eighteen he had not only surpassed all his contemporaries in the powers of execution and expression, but had written his Opera 2, which all the great musicians of the age have uniformly allowed to be the basis on which the whole fabric of modern sonatas for the piano-forte has been erected.
The celebrated John Christian Bach spoke of it in the highest terms; and when Schroeter arrived in this country, and was asked if he could play the works of Clementi, he replied,
"that they could only be performed by the author himself, or the devil!"
Soon after he had quitted Dorsetshire to reside in London, he was engaged to preside at the harpsichord, in the orchestra of the Opera-house; and had an opportunity, which he never neglected, of improving his taste by the performances of the first singers of that age.
In 1780, and at the suggestion of the celebrated Pacchierotti, he visited Paris; whence, in the following year, he went to Vienna, where he became acquainted with Haydn, Mozart, and all the celebrated musicians resident in that capital.
The emperor Joseph II., who was a great lover of music, invited him to his palace; where, in the latter end of the year 1781, he had the honour of playing alternately with Mozart before the emperor, and the grand duke Paul of Russia and his duchess.
On his return to England he published his celebrated Toccata.
In the autumn of 1783, John Baptist Cramer, then about fourteen or fifteen years of age, became his pupil.
About the year 1800, having lost a large sum of money by the failure of the wellknown firm of Longman and Broderip, of Cheapside, he was induced to embark in that concern.
A new firm was accordingly formed, and from that period he declined taking any more pupils. The hours which he did not thenceforward employ in his professional studies, he dedicated to the mechanical and philosophical improvement of piano-fortes; and the originality and justness of his conceptions were crowned with complete success.
With his favourite pupil, John Field, he, in the autumn of 1802, again visited Paris, whence he proceeded to Vienna, Petersburg, and Berlin. After visiting Dresden he made a tour through Switzerland, and returned immediately afterwards to Berlin, where he married his first wife.
In the autumn he took his bride through Italy, as far as Rome and Naples; and on his return to Berlin, having had the misfortune to lose her in childbed, he immediately left the scene of his sorrows, and again visited Petersburg.
In the summer of 1810 he once more arrived in England, and in the year following married again.
During his last visit to the continent he published his Opera 41, and collected materials for many other works, among which his Practical Harmony, 4 vols, and his Gradus ad Parnassuiu, deserve to be specially mentioned.
In 1813 he assisted in founding the Philharmonic Society, of which he frequently consented to act as a director, and presented to it his two Symphonies, which abound in agreeable melody, and are most skilfully written. He died on the 10th of March, 1832, and was buried in the cloisters of Westminster Abbey." A new general biographical Dictionary projected and partly ..., 1848, p. 358
"Muzio Clementi, one of the greatest pianists and composers for the Pianoforte of whom the history of the art makes mention, was born at Rome, in 1752, and died near London, March 18, 1832.
In conjunction with Longman, Broderip, and Co., he founded a Pianoforte manufactory himself, under the title of Clementi and Co, from which has descended the now eminent firm of Collard and Collard." The Musical World, Volume 41, 1863, p. 147
"This celebrated pianist and composer was born at Rome, in tho year 1752. His father was a worker in silver of great merit, and principally engaged in the execution of embossed vases and figures employed in the Catholic worship.
At a very early period of his youth he evinced a strong disposition for music, and as this was an art which grealy delighted his father, he anxiously bestowed the best instructions in his power on his son. Buroni, who was his relation, and who afterwards obtained.the honorable station of principal composer of St. Peter's, was his first master.
At six years of age he began solfaing, and at seven he was placed uuder an organist of the name of Cordecelli, for instruction in thorough base; at the age of nine he passed his examination, and was admitted an organist in Rome.
This examination consists in giving a figured base from the works of Corelli, and making the scholar execute an accompaniment, after which he was obliged to transpose the same into various keys.
This Clementi effected with such facility, that he received the highest applause from his examiners. He next went under the celebrated Santarelli, the great master of singing.
Between his eleventh and twelfth years he studied uuder Carpini, the deepest contrapuntist of his day in Rome.
A few months after he was placed under this master, he was induced by some of his friends, and without consulting his preceptor, to write a mass for four voices, for which he received so much commendation, that Carpini expressed a desire to hear it.
It was accordingly repeated in church in the presence of his и aster, who, being little accustomed to bestow praise on any one, said to his pupil, after his dry manner,
"Why did not you tell me you were about to write a mass! This is very well, to be sure; but if you had consulted me, it might have boon much better."
Under Carpini he was practiced in writing fugues and canons in the canto ferma, and his master was frequently heard to say, that had Clementi remained under his instruction a year longer, he might have passed his examination in counterpoint.
During these studies he never neglected his harpsichord, on which he had made so great a proficiency between thirteen and fourteen, that Mr. Peter Beckford, nephew of the alderman of that name, who was then on his travels in Italy, was extremely desirous of taking him over to England.
The declining riches of the Romish Church, at this period, not giving much encouragement to the trade of his father, he agreed to confide the rising talents of his son to the care of Mr. Beckford, and, soon after this, Clementi set off for England.
The country seat of Mr. Beckford was in Dorsetshire, and here, by the aid of a good library and the conversation of the family, Clementi quickly obtained a competent knowledge of the English and several other languages.
With regard to his own art, his early studies were principally employed on the works of Corelli, Alessandro, Scarlatti, Handel's harpsichord and organ music; and on the sonatas of Paradies.
His efforts to acquire preeminence on the harpsichord were in the mean time as indefatigable as they were successful; and at the age of eighteen he had not only surpassed nil his contemporaries in the powers of execution and expression, but bad written his Op. 2, which gave a new era to that species of composition.
Three years afterwards, this celebrated work was submitted to the public. The simplicity, brilliancy, and originality which it displayed captivated tho whole circle of professors and amateurs.
It is superfluous to add, what all the great musicians of the age have uniformly allowed, that this admirable work is the basis on which the whole fabric of modern sonatas for the pianoforte has been erected.
The celebrated John Christian Bach spoke of it in the highest terms; but, although one of the most able players of his time, he would not attempt its performance; and when Schroeter arrived in England, and was asked if he could play the works of Clementi, he replied, that "they could only be performed by the author himself, or the devil."
Yet, such is the progress which executive ability has made, that what was once an obstacle to the most accomplished talent, is now within the power of thousands.
A well-known popular air with variations, his Ops. 3 and 4, and a duet for two performers on one instrument, were the next productions of his youthful pen.
Soon after he had quitted Dorsetshire to reside in London, he was engaged to preside at the harpsichord, in the orchestra of the Opera House, and had an opportunity, which he never neglected, of improving his taste by the performances of the first singers of that age.
The advantage which he derived from this species of study was quickly shown by the rapid progress which he made beyond his contemporaries, in the dignity of his style of execution, and in his powers of expression.
This, also, he carried into his compositions; and Dussek, Steibelt, Wolefi, Beethoven, and other eminent performers on the Continent, who had no opportunity of receiving personal instructions from Clementi, declared that they had formed themselves entirely on his works.
His ability in extemporaneous playing had, perhaps, no parallel. The richness of harmonic combination, the brilliancy of fancy, the power of effect, and the noble style of execution which he displayed, made him stand alone in an age which produced such a host of executive talent.
His reputation, without the protection of any patron,
rose with such rapidity, that, in a very short time, he received the same
remuneration for his instructions as J. С Bach; and the fame of his works
and of his executive talents having spread over the Continent, he
determined, in the year 1780, and at the instigation of the celebrated
Poechierotti, to visit Paris.
The warmth of French praise, contrasted with the gentle and cool approbation given by the English, quite astonished the young musician, who used jocosely to remark, that "he could scarcely believe himself to be the same man." Whilst he remained in that capital, he composed his Ops. 6 and 6, and published a new edition of his Op. 1, with an additional fugue. Having enjoyed the unabated applause of the Parisians until the summer of 1781, he determined on paying a visit to Vienna.
On his way there he stopped at Strasburg, where he was introduced to the then Prince de Deux Ponts, since King of Bavaria, who treated him with the greatest distinction; and also at Munich, where he was received with equal honor by the Elector.
At Vienna he became acquainted with Hadyn, Mozart, and all the celebrated musicians resident in thot capital. The Emperor Joseph Ц., who was a great lover of music, invited him to his palace; where, to the latter end of the year 1781, he had the honor of playing alternately with Mozart before the Empci"i- and the Grand Duke Poul, of Russia, and his duchess. At Vienna he composed three 9onatas (Op. 7), published by Arteria; three sonatas (Op. 8), published at Lyons; and six sonatas (Ops. 9 and 10), also published by Artaria.
On his return to England, he deemed it necessary to publish his celebrated Toccata, with a sonata — (Op. 11) — a surreptitious copy, full of errors, having been printed without his knowledge in France.
In the autumn of 1783, John Baptist Cramer, then about fourteen or fifteen years of age, became his pupil. He had previously received some lessone from Schroeter, and was studying counterpoint under Abel. Clementi, at this time, resided in Titchfield street, and Cramer used to attend him almost every morning, until the following year, when Clementi returned to France. Previous to his undertaking this second journey, he was engaged at the nobility's concerts, and had published his Op. 12 . upon one of the sonatas of which work both Dr. Crotch and Samuel Wesley afterwards gave public lectures in London.
In the year 1784, he again went back to England, and soon afterwards published his Ops. 13, 14, and 15. From this period to the year 1802, he remained in England, pursuing his professional labors with increasing reputation; and wishing to secure himself sufficient time for the prosecution of his studies, he raised his terms for teaching to one guinea per hour.
Disfame, however, was so great, that this augmentation of price rather increased than diminished the candidates for his instruction. The great number of excellent pupils, of both sexes, whom he formed during this period, proved his superior skill in the art of tuition; the invariable success which uttended his public performances, attested his pre-eminent talents as a player; and his compositions, from Op. 15 to Op. 40, are a lasting proof of his application and genius.
Before the publication of this last work, he had produced one, the advantages of which have been and are still felt and acknowledged by almost all professors; we mean his excellent and luminous "Introduction to the Art of Playing on the Piano-forte."
About the year 1800, having lost a large sum of money by the failure of the well-known firm ofLongman and Broderip, 23 Cheapside, he was induced, by the persuasions of some eminent mercantile gentlemen, to embark in that concern. A new firm was accordingly formed, and from that period he declined taking any more pupils.
The hours which he did not thence forward employ in his professional studies, he dedicated to the mechanical and philosophical improvement of piano fortes; and the originality and justness of his conceptions were crowned with complete success.
The extraordinary and admirable talents of John Field, are still fresh in the memory of most lovers of classical music. These talents Clementi had cultivated with unceasing delight. With this favorite pupil, in the autumn of 1S02, he paid his third visit to Paris, where he was received with unabated esteem and admiration.
This pupil delighted every one who heard him; and what is still more worthy of remark, he played some of the great fugues of Sebastian Bach with such precision and inimitable taste as to call forth from a Parisian audience the most enthusiastic applause.
From Paris he proceeded to Vienna, where he intended to place Field under the instruction of Albrechtsberger, to which his pupil seemed to assent with pleasure; but when the time arrived for Clementi to set off for Russia, poor Field, with tears trembling in his eyes, expressed so much regret at parting from his master, and so strong a desire to accompany him, that Clementi could not resist his inclinations; they therefore proceeded directly to St. Petersburgh.
In this city Clementi was received with the greatest distinction; he played extemporaneously in the society of the principal professors with his accustomed excellence, and to the admiration of his audience; and having introduced Field to his friends, soon afterwards left Russia, in company with a young professor of the name of Zeuner.
Zeuner was the principal pianoforte player and teacher in Petersburgh; and having received some instructions from Clementi during his residence there, he became so attached to his master, that he left all his scholars for the sake of accompanying htm to Berlin.
In the latter city Clementi played, both extemporaneously and from his works, before all the most eminent musicians, with his wonted vigor and effect; and, after remaining there two months, took Zeuner with him to Dresden, the place of his birth, where he left him well prepared to acquire the reputation which he afterwards obtained.
In Dresden, an unassuming but very able and excellent young musician, of the name of Klengel, introduced himself to the acquaintance of Clementi, and, after obtaining some instructions, became exceeding desirous of accompanying his master in his travels.
Clementi was so much pleased with his character and
talents, which have since become well-known to the public, that he
consented; and after a few weeks' residence at Dresden, he took him on to
Vienna, where, daring some months, his pupil worked very hard under his
Switzerland; Rome & Naples; Berlin & St. Petersburgh
During the summer following, Clementi took his pupil Klengel ou a tour through Switzerland, and returned immediately afterwards to Berlin, where he married his first wife. In the autumn he took his bride through Italy, as far as Rome and Naples; and on his return to Berlin, having had the misfortune to lose her in childbed, he immediately left the scene of his sorrows, and once more visited St. Petersburgh.
In this journey he took with him another promising young pupil, of the name of Berger, who had previously received his instructions, and who is now the principal professor of the piano-forte nt Berlin.
At Petersburgh he found Field in the full enjoyment of the highest reputation—in short, the musical idol of the Russian nation. Пеге he remained but a short time; and finding relief from the contemplation of his severe loss in the bustle of traveling, he again went back to Vienna.
The following summer, having heard of the death of his brother, he proceeded once more to Rome, to settle the affairs of his family. He then made short residences at Milan and various other places on the Continent, where he was detained, in spite of his inclinations, by the disastrous continuation of the war; and seizing a hazardous opportunity of conveyance, in the summer of 1810, he once more arrived in England, and the year following married.
Although, during this period of nearly eight years, he published only a single sonata, (op. 41,) his mind and his pen were still occupied in the composition of symphonies, and in preparing materials for his " Gradus ad Parnassum."
His first publication, after his return, was the appendix to his " Introduction to the Art of Playing on the Piano-furte," — a work which has been of infinite use both to the profession and to the public. He next adapted the twelve grand symphonies of Haydn for the piano-forte, and accompaniments for the flute, violin, and violoncello.
This work was a great desideratum, since that which had already been published by Salomon was awkwardly and imperfectly done. Before he went abroad, he had adapted Haydn's "Creation" for the piano-forte and voices; and he now published the oratorio of the "Seasons," which he had done in the same manner.
He afterwards adapted Mozart's overture to " Don Giovanni," besides various selections from the vocal compositions of the same outhor. The Philharmonic Society having been now established, he gave two grand symphonies which were received there, and at various other concerts with enthusiastic applause.
He produced several other symphonies at the Philharmonic Concerts in March, 1824.
Clementi enjoyed the highest consideration in England. Having become rich, in the last years of his life he abandoned the direction of his mercantile house to his associate, M. Collard, and retiring to a pretty country-sent, lived in repose, and seldom visited London. Once when he did come, Cramer, Moschelles, and others, gave a banquet to the patriarch of the piano, at the close of which he improvised to the astonishment and delight of all present. This was his " swan song."
He died on the 10th of March, 1832, at the age of eighty years.—London Musical World.
"Much miserable composition (musical) is, however, still in use among them, (the Dissenters ;) but this is an evil which it will take long time to eradicate. To change the tuneé in use among a Christian community is a work of as much difficulty as changing the currency of an empire.—Dr. Ed. Hodges.
The cultivation of the ear is of the very first importance. Take especial pains to become acquainted with tones and tone relations. The bell, the pane of glass, the cuckoo—learn to distinguish the tones they produce.
It is said of Dr. JOHNSON, that he was once importuned by a young nobleman to listen to his performance on the flute. The youth played well, and expected praise, but received from the stern old moralist a rebuke for the waste of much time that ought to have been devoted to the improvement of his own mind.
We do not present this as an argument against the study of music as an art, and we suppose that the rebuke was not intended as an objection to that great amount of practice which is necessary for one to excel in any department of art, but only as a misappropriation of time in this one instance.
A mere performer on an instrument, or a mere vocalist, can never, for that reason, be entitled to one's highest respect.
But when we consider the proud rank of the musical composer, ranked in all ages with the poet, we discover that music is more than an art, and that it demands the aid of the imagination, and, indeed, of a highly-cultivated mind, as well as the mere fingers.
"Melody" is the war-cry of dilletanli, and certainly music without melody is not music. But understand well what dillttanti mean by the term: the only compositions thus named by them are such as are easily caught up and possess a pleasing rhythm.
But there is melody of a different description, and wherever you open the works of Bach, Mozart, or Beethoven, it comes before you in a thousand different ways: it is to be hoped that you will soon become tired of the poverty-stricken sameness of Italian operas.—Schumann.
Can any one become musical ? My dear child, the most important requisites, a good ear and a quick power of comprehension, are given us, like all other things from above.
But our natural disposition may be educated and improved. The way to become musical is not to shut yourself up, like a hermit, for days together, pursuing a course of mechanical study, but by actual and varied intercourse with musicians, especially with members of the chorus and orchestra.—Schumann." New York Weekly Review and Musical World, 13/04/1861, p. 139-140
"CLEMENTI, Mczio, born at Eome 1752, died at Evesham March 9, 1832. Clementi's father, an accomplished workman in silver, himself of a musical turn, observed the child's uncommon musical gifts at an early period, and induced relation of the family, Buroni, choirmaster at one of the churches at Rome, to teach him the rudiments.
In 1759 Buroni procured him lessons in thorough bass from an organist, Condicelli, and after a couple of years' application he was thought sufficiently advanced to compete for an appointment as organist which he obtained.
Meanwhile his musical studies were continued assiduously; Carpani taught him counterpoint and Sartarelli singing. When barely 14 Clementi had composed several contrapuntal works of considerable size, one of which, a mass, was publicly performed, and appears to have created a sensation at Rome. An English gentleman, Mr. Bedford, or Beckford, with some difficulty induced Clementi's father to give his consent to the youth's going to England, when Beckford offered to defray the expenses of his further education and introduce him to the musical world of London.
Until 1770 Clementi quietly pursued his studies, living at the house of his protector in Dorsetshire. Then, fully equipped with musical knowledge, and with an unparalleled command of the instrument, he came upon the town as a pianist and composer. His attainments were so phenomenal that he carried everything before him, and met with a most brilliant, hardly precedented, success.
From 1777 to 80 he acted as cembalist, i. e. conductor, at the Italian Opera in London. In 1781 Clementi started on his travels, beginning with a series of concerts at Paris; from thence he passed, via Strasburg and Munich, to Vienna, where he made the acquaintance of Haydn, and where, at the instigation of the Emperor Joseph II, he engaged in a sort of musical combat at the pianoforte with Mozart. Clementi, after a short prelude, played his Sonata in Bb—the opening of the first movement of which was long afterwards made use of by Mozart in the subject of the Zauberflaute overture— and followed it up with a Toccata, in which great stress is laid upon the rapid execution of diatonic thirds and other double stops for the right hand, esteemed very difficult at that time.
Mozart then begun to preludise, and played some variations; then both alternately read at sight some MS. sonatas of Paisiello's, Mozart playing the allegros and Clementi the andantes and rondos; and finally they were asked by the Emperor to take a theme from Paisiello's sonatas and accompany one another in their improvisations upon it on two pianofortes.
The victory, it appears, was left undecided. Clementi ever afterwards spoke with great admiration of Mozart's' singing' touch and exquisite taste, and dated from this meeting a considerable change in his method of playing: striving to put more music and less mechanical show into his productions. Mozart's harsh verdict in his letters (Jan. 12, 1782; June 7, 1783") was probably just for the moment, but cannot fairly be applied to the bulk of Clementi's work. He disliked Italians; the popular prejudice was in their favour, and they were contiunnally in his way.
He depicts Clementi as 'a mere mechanician, strong in runs of thirds, but without a pennyworth of feeling or taste.' But L. Berger, one of dementi's best pupils, gives the following explanation of Mozart's hard sentence :
— 'I asked Clementi whether in 1781 he had begun to treat
the instrument in his present (1806) style. He answered no, and added that
in those early days he had cultivated a more brilliant execution, especially
in double stops, hardly known then, and in extemporised cadenzas, and that
he had subsequently achieved a more melodic and noble style of performance
after listening attentively to famous singers, and also by means of the
perfected mechanism of English pianos, the construction of which formerly
stood in the way of a cantabile and legato style of playing.'
The failure of that house, by which he sustained heavy
losses, induced him to try his hand alone at publishing and pianoforte
making; and the ultimate success of his undertaking (still carried on under
the name of his associate Mr. Collard) shows him to have possessed
commercial talents rare among great artists. In March 1807 property
belonging to dementi's new firm, to the amount of £40,000, was destroyed by
With Klengel and Berger he afterwards went again to Russia. In 1810 he returned to London for good, gave up playing in public, devoted his leisure to composition and his time to business. He wrote symphonies for the Philharmonic Society, which succumbed before those of Haydn, many pianoforte works, and above all completed that superb series of 100 studies, Gradus ad farnassum (1817), upon which to this day the art of solid pianoforte playing rests.
In 1820 and 21 he was again on the continent, spending an
entire winter at Leipzig, much praised and honoured. He lived to be 80, and
the 12 final years of his life were spent in London. He retained his
characteristic energy and freshness of mind to the last. He was married
three times, had children in his old age, and shortly before hia death was
still able to rouse a company of pupils and admirers—amongst whom were J. B.
Cramer and Moscheles—to enthusiasm with his playing and improvisation.
Indeed the degree of nervous power and muscular endurance
required for the proper execution of some of his long passages of diatonic
octaves (as in the Sonata in A, No. 26 of Knorr's edition), even in so
moderate a tempo as to leave them just acceptable and no more, from a
musical point of view (bearing in mind Mozart's sneer that he writes
prestissimo and plays moderato, and recollecting the difference in touch
between his piano ami ours), is prodigious, and remains a task of almost
insuperable difficulty to a virtuoso of to-day, in H|iite of the
preposterous amount of time and labour we now devote to such things.
"Clementi, Muzio, né à Rome en 1752, m. en son domaine de Evesham (Warwickshire) le 10 mars 1882, fils d'un orfèvre, regut, dès que l'on eat découvert ses dispositions pour la musique, d'excellentes lemons : un parent, l'organiste Boroni lui enseigna le piano et l'harmonie, puis plus tard Garpani et Santarelli le contrepoint et le chant.
C. occupait en même temps un poste d'organiste. A peine âgé de quatorze ans, il fit parler de lui à Rome, grâce à sa technique et aux connaissances musicales extraordinaires dont ses compositions fournissaient la preuve. U
n Anglais du nom de Bedford (Beckford) obtint du père de C. l'autorisation d'emmener le jeune gargon en Angleterre pour achever son Education à ses frais. C. resta jusqu'en 1770 dans la maison de son protecteur et devint un pianiste parfait; introduit par Bedford dans la société de Londres, il parvint rapidement à une grande renommée de virtuose et de pédagogue.
De 1777 à 1780, il fut claveciniste (chef d'orchestre) à l'Opéra italien, puis entreprit en 1781 sa premiere tournée sur le continent, passa par Strasbourg et Munich pour arriver enfin à Vienne où il sortit avec honneur d'une sorte de concours avec Mozart Une nouvelle tournée le conduisit en 1785 à Paris.
Entre temps et plus tard, jusqu'en 1882, il professa à Londres avecun succès de plus en plus grand et s'associa à la maison d'édition musicale et à la fabrique de pianos de Longmann et Broderip; puis, après la faillite de cette entreprise, il établit un commerce analogue avec Collard, sous le nom duquel la maison subsiste encore aujourd'hui .
A côté d'études de mécanique sur la construction du piano, C. trouva le temps d'écrire toute une série d'oeuvres importantes pour le piano et de former des élèves qui devinrent célèbres (J.-B. Cramer et John Field). En 1802, C. partit en compagnie de Field pour Paris, Vienne et St-Pétersbourg et fut partout accueilli avec enthousiasme.
Tandis que Field restait à Pétersbourg, od il avait trouvé une situation avantageuse, Zeuner suivit C. auquel se joignirent encore, à Berlin et à Dresde, L. Berger et A. Klengel, tous musiciens d'avenir. Moscheles et Kalkbrenner furent aussi pendant quelque temps élèves de C., à Berlin.
C'est dans cette ville que C. se maria pour la premiere fois, mais il perdit sa jeune femme au bout d'une année à peine de mariage et, profondément affligé, reprit le chemin de St-Pétersbourg avec ses élèves Berger et Klengel. Enfin, en 1810, il rentra en Angleterre, après avoir passé à Vienne et en Italie. II se remaria l'année suivante et resta dès lors à Londres, à l'exception d'un hiver (1820-1821) qu'il passa à Leipzig.
C. a laisse une fortune assez considerable. Ses principales oeuvres sont :
106 sonates pour piano (dont 46 avec violon, violoncelle ou flûte); le
Gradus ad Parnassum, recueil d'études des plus remarquables et aujourd'hui
encore d'un usage général; des symphonies; des ouvertures; un duo pour deux
pianos, des caprices, des morceaux caractéristiques, etc."
Riemann Humbert Dictionnaire de musique 1899,
p. 150 (Archive.org)
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