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Happy Birthday Muzio Clementi!

Happy Birthday Muzio Clementi

Happy Birthday Muzio Clementi!

Muzio Filippo Vincenzo Francesco Saverio Clementi was born on this day in 1752. He was an Italian-born English composer, pianist as well as a piano manufacturer. He was among the first to create works specifically for the capabilities of the piano, and has been called the “Father of the Piano“.

Clementi was the eldest of 7 children. When he was young, he took lessons in figured bass and voice lessons. By the age of 13 he had already composed his own oratorio and a mass. A year later, he became the organist for a local parish church.

In 1766 a wealthy Englishman named Sir Peter Beckford visited Rome. He was impressed with Clementi’s musical talent and arranged with his father to take him back to England where he would sponsor Clementi’s musical education until the age of 21. In return, Clementi had to provide musical entertainment for Beckford.

Over the next 7 years it is said that Clementi spent 8 hours a day at the harpsichord practising the works of Bach, Handel and Scarlatti among others.

In 1780 Clementi started a 3-year European tour, travelling to France, Germany and Austria. In Vienna, he entered into a musical contest with Mozart. The composers were asked to improvise and perform selections of their own compositions. The judge (the Holy Roman Emperor) declared a tie!

From 1783 Clementi stayed in England where he spent the next 20 years playing, conducting and teaching. Later, he began to manufacture pianos. However, in 1807 a fire destroyed his company’s warehouses, resulting in a loss of £40,000. That same year, however, Clementi reached an agreement with Beethoven which gave him full publishing rights to all of Beethoven’s music in England. He continued manufacturing pianos and made some important improvements to the construction of the piano – some of which are now standard in all modern-day pianos.

On 10th March 1832 he died after a short illness, aged 80. He was buried at Westminster Abbey.

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