Muzio Clementi (1752-1832)

Clementi was a direct musical descendant of Domenico Scarlatti and one of the great innovators in writing for the piano.  He was the first important composer who really thought in terms of the modern piano, and his conception of the instrument is evident as early as the sonatas of Op. 2, written around 1770.  Such characteristic forward-looking devices as The sonatas of 1782 and 1783 had a particularly strong impact on Beethoven.  The singing, ornamental melodies over a slow harmonic rhythm or the sonority and spacing of the slow movement of Op.9, No. 3 could easily be mistaken for a first-period Beethoven work, as can the Trio of the second movement of Op. 10, No. 1.

Many reasons have been advanced for the gross neglect of Clementi's compositions, among them Mozart's sarcastic personal comments ("a charlatan like all Italians") and incompetent editions of his music designed for pedagogical use rather than for musical merit; perhaps the chief reason is that aspiring pianists learn Clementi's sonatinas as youngsters and later regard them as representative of his oeuvre.