Under Clementi's tutelage, Field rose to become an in-demand
performer in London. His concerts were applauded by critics and musicians
alike. Clementi also published his pupil's first compositions in 1795. Field's
first significant work, his Piano
Concerto No. 1, was premiered in London on February 7th, 1799
with the composer himself as soloist. In 1801, Clementi published (and was also
the dedicatee of) three piano sonatas by Field, the only examples of
conventional Classical works in Field's output.
In the summer of 1802, master and pupil left London
travelling to several of Europe's major cities. Arriving first in Paris, they
then travelled on to Vienna. While in Vienna, Field briefly took counterpoint
lessons from Johann Georg Albrechtsberger. By early winter, Clementi and Field
had arrived in St. Petersburg. Field was captivated by the artistic atmosphere
of the city and wished to stay. Though, it is possible that St. Petersburg was
also his first real chance to escape from underneath the shadow of his master
and begin his own independent career. In June 1803, Clementi left St.
Petersburg but not without setting up a teaching position for his pupil.
Furthermore, Clementi went so far as to "appoint" Field as his deputy so that
he could receive high fees from the position.
Following Clementi's departure, Field took up an active
schedule of performing. Consequently, nearly all the publications of his music
during his first years in Russia were reprints of older works. However, around
1808, he began to actively compose again, establishing a unique personal style
that came to hold a significant influence over piano music of the Romantic
period. Characteristic of this style are his many nocturnes, a genre that Field
pioneered and set the table for the various forms of character pieces for piano
that evolved over the coming decades and perfected at the hands Mendelssohn,
Schumann and Brahms. Field's nocturnes were immensely influential on Frédéric
Chopin, who was largely responsible for expanding and
popularizing the nocturne.
By the mid-1820s, Field's health began to deteriorate at
least somewhat in part to his extravagant lifestyle. Suffering from cancer, he
returned to London in September 1831 for medical treatment. He remained in
England for an extended time and while there met Felix Mendelssohn and Ignaz
Moscheles. Leaving England, he once again undertook a concert tour of European
cities but inevitably ended up in a hospital in Naples for nine months.
Eventually returning to Russia, he gave his last concert in March 1836. Nearly
a year later, on January 23rd, 1837, Field died from pneumonia.
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