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André Previn
August 13, 2001<

Dear André,

This is another episode in what must be one of the most scattered correspondences ever.

Ten or twenty years ago I got a postcard out of the blue from you, saying in effect that you had finally played through Clementi’s sonatas and they weren’t worth it.

Having a sneaky suspicion that you were right, and that just when you think Clementi is going to do something good, he spoils it all, I never answered your postcard, not least because you skilfully left no address on it.

(You should always have had a sneaking sympathy for Muzio Clementi on at least one account, i.e. that he like you was forced as a boy to be uprooted from one country to another. I have never quite understood the reasons for it, but when he was about fourteen he was more or less bought from his family in Rome by an English squire called Peter Beckford and transplanted to the depths of Dorset in England…Strange Episode…)

However, as I have never quite abandoned Clementi to obscurity, I am trying one last suggestion. Out of curiosity, I once bought a book which offered a selection of his instructional pieces called Gradus ad Parnassum. Most of them are dry and mechanical, and not playable by me, but one of them develops in a way which tickled me as being a bit swinging in its own way, so I thought the least I could do was photocopy it and send it to you. The first twenty bars just play around with a five finger idea, but after that, just for twenty bars or so, it really seems to come alight for a moment.

I look forward to receiving your dissenting postcard. Either way I shall never refer you to the man again.

I note occasionally that you are moving effortlessly into boyish old age. I surprised myself in 1987 by marrying again and moving to the country, and embracing mud and water instead of tarmac and brick.

Although people occasionally say to me that if only I’d accepted all the offers I’d got, I could be famous and on TV every night, I much prefer the way I live.

I hope this gets to you all right. I”ll be in touch again about AD 2010.

yours

“from the man who finally gets round to answering your letters just when you’d given up all hope…”

 

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