Clementi's Piano Sonata Op. 50, No. 3
Young Ah Ha
Doctor of Musical Arts
University of California, Los Angeles, 2012
Professor Antonio Lysy, Chair
Muzio Clementi was a highly respected keyboard musician and composer who also made a significant contribution to the physical development of the pianoforte. Unfortunately, his musical contributions are overshadowed today by those of his contemporaries Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. This paper will re-emphasize Clementi's historical reputation and works, especially his only programmatic instrumental music and one of the late piano sonatas, Didone abbandonata.
Clementi titled his last sonata (Op. 50, No. 3, published 1821) after Metastasio's often-set opera libretto of the same name. Clementi responds to the tragic story of Virgil's heroine as it is presented in this libretto. As a work of instrumental music, this sonata does not have the benefit of any verbal laments, nor did Clementi borrow from the music produced for its various settings by other composers.
Clementi's late three piano sonatas, Op. 50 represent his later style, which has been characterized as "lyrical, confident, stormy, and witty." The Didone abbandonata sonata will be briefly analyzed here, along with the other two sonatas of the same opus number, which include the much more Romantic characteristics typical of nineteenth-century music.
Clementi gave detailed performing directions as to pedaling and certain metronome markings in the Didone abbandonata. Specific performance practice issues posed by this sonata will be examined in depth using variants between the manuscript (the facsimile edition) and other editions. In addition, available recordings of this sonata will be compared to see how performers take these performance practice principles into account in their performances.
The first chapter of the dissertation discusses Clementi's historical reputation and the pianoforte of his day. The second chapter explores the background to Clementi's Didone abbandonata including his other two sonatas from Op. 50 and Clementi's approach Metastasio's libretto. The third chapter examines certain performance practice issues in the Didone abbandonata, including tempo, rhythm, dynamics, articulations, and pedaling. This chapter arose out my desire to perform the Didone abbandonata, and gives my experiences of and solutions to the performance practice issues. The fourth chapter compares the variants between the facsimile and other editions of the Didone abbandonata. This discussion will help guide performers form a better understanding of Clementi's intentions, as well as help them select a reasonable edition for performing the sonata.