Thursday, December 10, 2009

Muzio Clementi - So Easily Overlooked

When one thinks of composers of the second tier, the names of, say, John Field and Muzio Clementi might pop up.
I have written about Field in previous incarnations - I cannot remember having written down any thoughts concerning Clementi.
I recall the story that Wanda Horowitz, the wife of the legendary Vladimir Horowitz related about Clementi:
On a visit to Milan, she stopped at a book store, and came across the complete piano works of Clementi, which she brought back to New York and presented them to her husband; the result:
Horowitz, quite deep into an already legendary journey of world recognition, was absolutely mesmerized by Clementi's contribution to the piano repertoire, and immediately added works of the composer into his repertoire. As a matter of fact, he was the only great pianist of the time to champion Clementi's sonatas, and there is a recording available of his favorite works of the Italian composer.
It's interesting to me that Beethoven possessed more of Clementi's piano music than that of Mozart.
The prescience of Clementi is, in my view, best represented in his Sonata in "f#" minor, Opus 26, No. 2 - one hears Beethoven before Beethoven's music is given to the world. Do keep in mind that Clementi was born eighteen years before Beethoven. Horowitz was veritably messianic about Clementi, and discussed, let alone performed many of his works as often as he could, both socially and in formal performance.
I would respectfully suggest obtaining the Horowitz recording of some of Clementi's Sonatas, if you are not familiar with the vital import of Clementi.
By the way, at the funeral services for Clementi was one of his students; namely, John Field, the great Irish composer, and another of the "second tier."



Blogger vaincre said...

Horowitz did wonders for this composer's recognition. I wonder if Clementi has found his ideal performer yet. Do many agree with Horowitz's statement that Clementi was the father of sonata form? One of V.H.'s rare musicological comments.

December 10, 2009 at 6:33 PM  

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