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Joined: May 2001
Posts: 6,519
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Do You Know Who was a Master of Promoting Piano in the Late 1700's?

It was Muzio Clementi.


The following is from the book Piano Roles, by James Parakilas



Muzio Clementi did it all. By the age of fourteen, in 1766, he had been appointed to a position as a church organist
and sacred vocal music. At that point he was scooped up by a rich Englishman, Peter Beckford, who paid Clementi's father
to let him bring the boy to his estate in Dorset, where in addition to providing musical entertainment, Clementi spent long
hours, for seven years, turning himself into a keyboard virtuoso with unprecedented skills. Thereupon he set out for London,
where he made a name and fortune for himself as a performer and composer of keyboard music.

He performed to sensational effect in other European capitals as well, taught some
of the greatest pianists of the next generation, and created pedagogical works of
lasting value for piano students, from beginners to the most advanced.
Investing his earnings in a piano-manufacturing and music-publishing firm, he became a leader in building a piano-centered musical culture, in England and across Europe, around a combination of English pianos and the music of his
Viennese contemporaries, Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. Four years older than Mozart, he was still active in business, if no longer in performing or composing, after the deaths of both Beethoven and Schubert.

Clementi's musical life will be used here as a frame for telling the story of the piano in what is now routinely called the Classical period. The point of choosing this frame, however, is not simply that Clementi's career touched all facets of the piano life. It is more apt to claim that in this period he was more thoroughly and deeply involved than any other single person in revolutionizing the musical culture of Europe around the piano.

He played all of his roles on one side of that process, as a producer and marketer of music, performances, instruments, instruction, and opinion. On the other side stood the public, which played a complementary role in this cultural revolution by adapting itself to new practices.


From: Piano Roles, by James Parakilas



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Thank you so much for your kind mentioning of Muzio Clementi, it is very much appreciated. He is so often underestimated!

I wanted to add that in Dr. Max Unger's dissertation "Muzio Clementi's Leben" (1914) it was mentioned, that Peter Beckford's wife played the harpsichord like a professional and she and her husband heard Clementi whilst in Italy and enquired about him, which culminated in their proposal to sponsor Clementi through his early development and this is why Clementi came to the Beckford estate in England. When he was mature enough he left and went to London to seek his fortune.

I mention this, because some authors in more recent times have intimated that Peter Beckford was solely instrumental in inviting Clementi, whilst in truth it was Beckford's wife who had the knowledge and foresight to recognize Clementi's great talent...

... I have also noticed that Clementi's piano compositions are too often played very fast (as if the pianist has to rush to the train in a minute...), whereas Clementi (the teacher of John Field) was famous for taking his time to express feelings and he played with a very soft touch...

Because of Clementi's enormous interest in keyboard tonality he spend a considerable time studying how pianos might be constructed to obtain the best tonal quality. For example whilst in Germany he sought the best quality wire for the pianos made by his company. Clementi was also especially attentive with regard to the type of wood employed to make both the soundboard and the case.

Sadly, many of these old pianos have been restrung incorrectly and the tonality thereby has been altered - something to listen out for...

Last edited by Kristina1; 05/01/14 10:56 AM.

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