Wednesday, May 6, 2015
Muzio Clementi: The Father of Pianoforte Playing
Historical Period: Classical - Romantic
Born: January 23, 1752; Rome, Italy
Died: March 10, 1832; Evesham, England
Contemporaries: Ludwig van Beethoven, Carl Czerny, Franz Josef Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Works:110 piano sonatas, operas, and symphonies
What's Happening in History?
The British colonies in America declare their independence from England in 1776 and Napoleon Bonaparte is rising to power in France as the country has gone through a revolution killing many innocent people. At the same time, Jane Austen has published her first novel, Sense and Sensibility, in 1811.
Life and Education
Muzio Filippo Vincenzo Francesco Saverio Clement (baptized Mutius Philippus Vincentius Franciscus Xaverius) was born in Rome, Italy on January 23, 1752. His father, Nicolo, was a well-known silversmith who married a Swiss woman named Madalena. Little Muzio was the first of seven children in the family, which makes it all the more incredible that his parents had time for him.
Muzio's father soon realized that his little boy had musical talent, and he arranged for a relative, Antonio Baroni, to give Muzio private music instruction. At seven years old, Muzio was learning figured bass, a system of music notation where numbers stand for chords. At eleven or twelve years he learned counterpoint, and at 13 he had already composed an oratorio and a mass. When he was just fourteen years old, Muzio became an organist at the local parish. In this way, Clementi followed in the footsteps of Bach and Handel.
In 1766, a wealthy Englishman named Sir Peter Beckford visited Rome. He was very impressed with Muzio's talent at the keyboard and asked Signour Clementi to let his son move to England with Sir Peter. Muzio's father agreed, and so off they went to Sir Peter's estate in Dorset, England. Muzio must have been heartbroken to leave his family for a country so far away, but as a young man he was probably very excited as well. We can already see the growing commitment from Clementi's family to invest in music as a career.
Sir Peter Beckford promised he would pay for lessons until Muzio was twenty-one. In return, Muzio would perform for Sir Peter and his guests. During this time, it is said that Muzio practised 8 hours a day at the harpsichord. He practised music of J. S. Bach, Domenico Scarlatti, George Frederic Handel, and others. In 1770, Muzio gave his first public performance on the organ.
Guest Author: Rachel