Italian pianist and composer. He settled in London, England, in 1782 as a teacher and then as proprietor of a successful piano and music business. He was the founder of the present-day technique of piano playing, and his series of studies, Gradus ad Parnassum (1817), is still in use.
Clementi was born in Rome, where he studied as a child, and at the age of nine was appointed to a post as organist. He afterwards studied under Santarelli and Carpani, and by the age of 14 had composed several contrapuntal works. He attracted the attention of Peter Beckford, member of Parliament, a cousin of the author of Vathek, who brought him to England, where Clementi continued to pursue his studies until the year 1773 when he published his first piano sonatas and appeared with spectacular success as a virtuoso pianist and composer. He was conductor of the Italian Opera in London 1777–80, after which he toured extensively in Europe, in 1781 playing before the Viennese court in competition with Mozart (who thought little of him). Back in London, Johann Baptist Cramer and John Field were his pupils. He was associated with the publishers and piano manufacturers Longman & Broderip, upon whose bankruptcy in 1798 he re-established the firm in partnership with Longman. His interest in the company (trading under a constantly changing variety of names) continued until his death. He was again on tour in Europe 1802–10, taking Field with him to St Petersburg, where the latter remained. In 1807 he met Beethoven in Vienna. From 1810, apart from occasional further travels, he remained in England.
On his return to England he founded a business as pianoforte-maker and musical publisher in London. John Field was his assistant and pupil there, and in 1802 Clementi took Field on a continental tour. In 1813 he assisted in forming the Philharmonic Society. He left about 70 sonatas, also symphonies and overtures, and was regarded as the founder of modern pianoforte technique.
His best-known work is the Gradus ad Parnassum, a collection of progressive studies, which have remained a valuable aid to piano technique. He died at Evesham and is buried in the cloisters of Westminster Abbey, London.
WorksOrchestral four symphonies.
Piano about 60 piano sonatas; 100 progressive piano studies entitled Gradus ad Parnassum (1817); capriccios and other piano pieces; sonatas for piano.
Other sonatas for various instruments; chamber music.
Clementi, Muzio Sonata op. 12 No. 4, First Movement