Go on, name Muzio Clementi’s greatest hit

Go on, name Muzio Clementi’s greatest hit


norman lebrecht

August 03, 2018

From the Lebrecht Album of the Week:

The problem with Clementi is that there are no standout works. Where most famous composers write a couple of pieces that are gripping enough to be an entry point to their output, the London-based Italian just wrote and wrote more and more sonatas at roughly the same level of invention, leaving the new listener no idea where to start…..

Read on here.

And here.



  • FS60103 says:

    “London-based?'” Ahem, Lichfield and Evesham, I think you’ll find…

  • her royal snarkiness says:

    That insufferable sonata I had to learn in my early teens?

    • Cubs Fan says:

      Probably the Sonatina no. 1 in C that the rest of us had to learn and can’t get out of our memory no matter how hard we try…

      • Petros Linardos says:

        That “unforgettable” c major sonatina is the first in a set of six. A few years ago, I bought the Henle edition, played them all, and enjoyed myself quite a lot.

        Whenever I try to forget comparisons with the Viennese classics, I can find some of Clementi’s piano music quite nice.

        I am probably not alone. Horowitz, no less, made an LP of Clementi Sonatas.

      • Jeff Manchur says:

        I get to teach this Sonatina and I love doing so. So much music to be made if held to high standards. But also such mundane bore if standards are kept low. It’s a shame if teachers don’t treat this as great music!

    • her royal snarkiness says:


  • REGERFAN says:

    The song “A Groovy Kind of Love” (recorded by Phil Collins) is based on the finale of the Sonata op 36 no 5, so there’s a Clementi “hit” for you,

  • John Borstlap says:

    Clementi’s symphonies are not well known but his 4th is beautiful and the 1st mvt has an extraordinary introduction:


    It is not very deep music but very well-made and musically expressive, closer to Haydn than to Mozart or Beethoven. Unjustly ignored.

  • David H Spence says:

    It is the overture, without a doubt, to Mozart’s Die Zauberflote. Who can deny it? Clementi’s Greatest Hit, and for which Mozart deserves much credit, by the way.

  • Rob Keeley says:

    Ah, Clementi: an almost-great, uneven composer, but at his best (usually, as the late Miles Kington remarked, in single movements rather than whole sonatas): say, the Sonatas in G minor and F(and F sharp) minor, very fine. Horowitz played them. It’s worth remembering that Beethoven owned volumes of the sonatas, and wasn’t averse to ‘borrowing’ from them on more than one occasion. And Mozart stole from the Bb Sonata for Magic Flute Overture (admittedly doing a lot more with it, needless to say – having been very rude about poor Clementi). Especially in his monumental ‘Gradus Ad Parnassum’ Clementi extended the technical resources of the piano, ‘paving the way’, as they say, for greater composers. His music is, if nothing else, great fun to play. He also made pianos.

    • John Borstlap says:

      A striking example of Beethoven’s using Clementi’s ideas, is the ‘Air Suisse’ of one of the sonatinas which pops-up in better garb in the finale of the 4th piano concerto.

      Beethoven’s appreciation of Clementi, Cherubini, Handel and Bach was based upon them offering a rich fount to be mined and interpreted anew.