Mozart and Clementi: A Pianistic Duel, Part 2

Audio not yet available
Email a Friend

David Dubal continues the tale of Mozart and Clementi's famous duel and plays music from the legendary piano competition.

When we last left our two heroes, they had just encountered each other at the Austrian Court of Emperor Joseph II in 1781. Mozart was 25 and Clementi was 29. The Emperor had invited Clementi to play at court and it was there that the two composers finally met.

Both musicians were dressed elegantly, though Mozart was rather bejeweled and carried a sword. The Emperor gave Clementi an Italian song to improvise on and Clementi executed it impressively. Meanwhile, the emperor became impatient waiting for Mozart to show his skills.

The two would soon entertain the magnificent court of the Austrian empire in a blistering competition. It was a tense battle and Mozart was in for the match of his life. Worse, his Viennese prestige was at stake.

For the duel, each artist had to develop a theme and improvise on it, as well as exhibit their own pianistic talents. Clementi astonished everyone with a sonata, full of octaves and thirds, played with unprecedented force– his specialty. Mozart was peeved, but showed himself well in fugue playing.

After the competition, Mozart, upset by Clementi’s magnitude and talent, denounced him badly and often. Clementi, however, spoke highly of Mozart and praised his singing touch, his beautiful plasticity, and exquisite taste.

Playlist:

Muzio Clementi: Sonata in C Major Opus 34 No.1 – Finale / Emil Gilels

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 5 K175 – Finale / Vladimir Ashkenazy; Philharmonia Orchestra

Muzio Clementi: Piano Sonata Opus 37 No.2 - Rondo / Vladimir Horowitz

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Piano Sonata in A minor – Presto / Dino Lipatti

Muzio Clementi: Piano Sonata in Bb Opus 12 No.1 - Finale / Arturo Benedetti Michalangeli

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Piano Concerto in A major K488 – Adagio / Walter Gieseking; Herbert Karajan; Philharmonia Orchestra

Muzio Clementi: Piano Sonata in F# minor – First movement / Vladimir Horowitz

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Piano Sonata in C Major K545 – First movement / Maria Joao Pires

Muzio Clementi: Country Dance Opus 49 No. 2 / Pietro Spada

Muzio Clementi: Piano sonata in F# minor Opus 26 – Finale / Vladimir Horowitz