While buying a piano several years ago that possibly had connections to Muzio Clementi as a young man, several high quality photographs of the original documents detailing Clementi’s ‘adoption’ by Peter Beckford were also recovered at the time. These documents have been tucked away by the Pitt-Rivers family where they remain today, and are unknown in their original form in print. Since the most notable modern biographer of Clementi has had access to these for about a year and a half, I am now making them available on-line. If you would like a full resolution image we can speak about doing a large file transfer.

We begin with the Cantata composed by Clementi for Beckford on their first encounter. Beckford was one of the wealthiest men in the world, and cut a dramatic figure. The words to the cantata were printed on gold silk.

Clementi cantata

Clementi cantata translation

Clementi cantata translation

As we know, Beckford ‘bought Clementi of his father’ in the form of a complex adoption, where he was to bring young Clementi up in the best English society, give him the training and exposure to become a great musician, and promise not to convert him to the protestant faith. He kept his promise on this last point apparently, and Clementi did indeed become a great musician, but it was by his own bootstraps and not any great exertion by Beckford, who was busy with the dogs and horses, and then a new wife. Note the value per year of 100 zecchini (zecchino) worth rater more than 9 shillings/zecchino at the time, or between £45 and £50.

The “Italian” adoption papers

Clementi Italian adoption papers

Once back from Italy, an English adoption was also signed, as we see below.

Clementi English Adoption

Clementi English adoption

There was also an oath taken to obey the covenants agreed to:

Clementi in the name of god adoption

And an untranslated bit here:

Transcription of the above pages

Peter Beckford

Louisa Beckford

It would seem that Peter Beckford brought his new wife Louisa to Steepleton in 1772, where she had Clementi as her music master. Being an excitable girl, and Clementi foreign and exotic, together with Peter away with the horses and hounds much of the time, a romance sprung up between them that carried Louisa away, though possibly not Clementi, from all accounts. In any case, Clementi was dismissed from service under dark clouds and beat a path to London, where history unfolded.

We have a collection of letters from Clementi (our sincere thanks to David Jennings for attempting the translation for us), plus some additional material from the adoption, given below:

To Signore Artaria,

Magazzino di Stampa e Musica (warehouse of print and music)

Am Kolen Markt (?)

In Vienna

127.467                                                           Calais 17 September 1827

Dearest Friend

We arrived here in good health and safe, under the escort of the carriage man Simone Pitzinger (Ritzinger?), who has done everything possible to keep us contented: but the carriage ^although very comfortable, was much too heavy, and was obliged to buy a fourth horse ^ at Salzburg. He has not failed to increase a lot his travel expenditure;  and without this help, we would have been stopped on the road. You now have the pleasure of paying to Signor Bintner(?) the remainder of the payment stipulated, that is 35 luigi of gold, in the reson of? 9 florins of silver. Poor Simone, not having understood that the ?????  were included in the contract, fears receiving nothing from his patron; I ask, dear friend, to intervene a little for him, and make sure his patron (or employer) is a gentleman, and gives a reasonable ??????

My wife, who sends greetings, asks you to give her compliments to your consort; and all of us unite to wish you good health and happiness. Simone tells you that we have not called at Paris, since the business with Signora Fenzi (?) has been put back to another occasion, which gives me much displeasure.

Goodbye dear friend, and always believe in me.

Your affectionate friend,

Muzio Clementi

Clementi 1827

Calais 17 Sett

3 Ottobre

Clementi  1827

Messrs Artaria and Company,

In Vienna

12??67             Baden 24 June 1827

My associates (or partners)accept your proposal regarding Ms de Mayaeder(?). I will send (him,it) as soon as possible with economy of travel:- perhaps by the diligence of Hamburg (?)

Hope you will pay me a visit soon, having many things to tell you.

My wife sends her greetings. I have received the shoes. I declare myself to be in haste,

Your faithful friend and servant,

Muzio Clementi



Monday 6 August 1827

Dearest Friend

Please could you procure two rooms with three clean beds, meaning without chemicals, for three or four days, in order for us to be near us. We will leave from here Saturday morning, 11 from now. Many thanks for sending the furs, and for the letter inviting us, in sum, for your gentility.

Accepted together with your highly esteemed consort our greetings and respects.

Goodbye dear friend until Saturday, and believe in me always,

Your faithful,

Muzio Clementi


Vienna, Austria

June 12, 1827


I beg you to send to me without delay a letter addressed to my wife, via general delivery in Geneva, which was sent to her from London by her mother the 23rd of April. She was unable to claim it, having taken another route; and she is eagerly awaiting it here. Have the kindness to address it to me, Mons. Clementi, at Messrs. Artaria and Company, Vienna. Pardon, Monsieur, the trouble I’m causing you (the trouble I give you).

I am with respect,

Your very humble servant,

Muzio Clementi/(trans Patrick Reilly)



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