Music Muzio Clementi
Luca Lévi Sala
  • LAST REVIEWED: 16 November 2020
  • LAST MODIFIED: 24 February 2021
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199757824-0253


Mutius Philippus Vincentius Franciscus Xaverius Clementi (b. 1752–d. 1832) was an Italian composer, a pianist virtuoso and conductor, a teacher, a publisher, and a musical entrepreneur. Son of Niccolò Clementi and Magdalena (née Kaiser), he was educated in Rome with, among others, Antonio Boroni and Gaetano Carpani. An oratorio (disp 1, old WO1), now lost, is dating from 1764. In 1766 he moved to Dorset (United Kingdom), following the English nobleman Peter Beckford (b. 1740–d. 1811), which assured him a solid continuity in the study of composition and the practice of the harpsichord. From around 1774 and 1780, Clementi settled in London, where he appeared in piano performances and composed his first works for piano, comprising solo and accompanied sonatas (Opp. 1–4 and the Op-sn 17, old WO2). Between 1780 and 1785, Clementi traveled on his first European trip to Paris, Lyons, and Vienna, where he appeared before the Emperor Joseph II for the famous piano competition with Mozart on 24 December 1781. During these years, Clementi composed the Opp. 5 and 6 (published in Paris by Bailleux) and the so-called Viennese sonatas Opp. 7–10 (published by Artaria, Castaud, and Torricella), also comprising the Toccata Op. 11, the Op. 12, and other pieces. Back in London, Clementi continued his career as a performer (until around early 1790) and as a teacher. The largest part of Clementi’s musical production (from Op. 13 to Op. 39) made of solo and accompanied piano sonatas, the two symphonies Op. 18, and also comprising his first musical tutor, the Introduction to the Art of Playing on the Piano Forte (Op. 42, 1801) and the Practical Harmony (Op-sn 38, old WO7, 1801–), belong to this period. Following the bankruptcy of Longman & Broderip, on 1 November 1798 Clementi became a senior partner in Longman, Clementi, and Co. and from 1801 onward he founded Muzio Clementi & Co., establishing a successful business activity as a music publisher, as a piano maker, and as a music dealer for around thirty years. He started business relationships with Pleyel in Paris, Breitkopf and Härtel in Leipzig, and Artaria in Vienna, reaching important goals such as the contract with Haydn and the one with Beethoven of 1807. From the summer of 1802 until 1810, Clementi traveled to continental Europe, dealing mainly with the sponsoring of his business firm. His compositions for this period are limited to Opp. 40 and 41, the Op-sn 12, old WO8, the Op. 50 (though published later in 1821), and plenty of arrangements for piano and a huge number of revisions aimed at the inclusion within Breitkopf & Härtel’s important project of the Œuvres Complettes (1803–1819) and for his own firm. In the last period of his life, Clementi focused on the composition of his four major symphonies (remained unpublished), the Appendix Op. 43, the three volumes of the Gradus ad Parnassum Op. 44 (1817–1826), and the Opp. 46–49, the Opp-sn 25, 1 and 2 (old WO9, WO10, and WO11). Beyond being published by Clementi’s own publishing firms, Clementi’s works and revisions were reissued extensively by Welcker, Preston, Dale, Longman & Broderip, Bailleux, Sieber, Imbault, Porro, Castaud, Artaria, André, Breitkopf & Härtel, and Hoffmeister.

Reference Studies and Overviews

This section includes the principal monographs and miscellaneous volumes of studies mainly suitable for scholars (Reference Works) and to a broader nonspecialist audience (General Overviews and Early Works). A third section is dedicated to the correspondence and the known existing documentary collections (see Correspondence and Collections).

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