Mozart and Salieri

11 November 2016

Mozart and Salieri Amadeus versus Actuality Amadeus (1984) won eight Academy Awards with its highly fictionalized account of the last ten years of the life of 18th-century composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The movie chooses to highlight the comparison between mediocrity and brilliancy; Mozart was obviously the superior of the two composers, and Salieri despised his own shortcomings. But as much Salieri was disgusted with himself, he was even more furious with Mozart. He vows to himself and to God that he will be the man that ultimately kills Mozart (Amadeus). Antonio Salieri was born in Legnago, Italy in 1750.

In Amadeus, Salieri recounts his passion for music at a very young age. He reminisces about how his father strongly disapproved of a career in music for his son and specifically ridiculed Mozart for being shown off like a circus act. In the film, his father passes away when he is young, and he escapes to Venice to pursue an education in music. In reality, Salieri studied violin and keyboard with his brother Francesco with a local organist, Giuseppe Simoni, even before his father died. Both of his parents died when he was young, but he was taken to Venice where he continued his musical education.

Mozart and Salieri Essay Example

Salieri developed good relationships with many established musicians in Venice and even with Emperor Joseph II. In 1774, Salieri was appointed Kapellmeister, or court composer, at the tender age of twenty-four (New Grove Dictionary Online). Mozart was born in Austria, in 1756, and received musical training from his father, including instruction in both the piano and violin. His amazing musical ability became obvious very quickly as he was composing by the age of six. Soon he was touted around much of Europe as a musical prodigy, entertaining kings and queens by playing blindfolded or improvising on difficult passages he had never seen before.

In 1781, Mozart moved his blossoming musical career to Vienna after Emperor Joseph II developed an interest in him (New Grove Dictionary Online). Around this time, Mozart first met Antonio Salieri. It was also around this point in the film where things become historically inaccurate and fabricated. Amadeus portrayed Salieri’s first encounter with Mozart in a private dining room. Salieri had wandered into the room looking to meet the famous prodigy, but hid himself when he heard a boy and a girl run into the room. The two were flirting crudely and the boy was especially perverted.

Later on, Salieri would discover that the boy was Mozart himself and that the girl was Constanze Weber, Mozart’s future wife. Salieri was indignant that someone with as much musical genius as Mozart had could be such an immature, ungrateful and arrogant child. He was musically educated enough to see his own mediocrity and recognized his inferiority to Mozart, but couldn’t conceive why God would give so much talent and ability to such a despicable person. Later in the film, Salieri discovers that his love interest had had relations with Mozart.

This news breaks Salieri’s spirit and faith and shortly afterwards, he makes his vow to God that he will find a way to destroy Mozart (Amadeus). Throughout the rest of the film, Salieri attempts to sabotage and impede on many of Mozart’s operas and concertos. He uses his influence to close down Mozart’s concerts prematurely to cut profits. After Mozart’s father passes away, Salieri haunts Mozart with his father’s image. Salieri even employs a maid to work for Mozart so that he could spy on him at all times. Eventually, Mozart becomes poor from the lack of concert income and because of his flamboyant spending habits.

He has also become very sickly from a lack of sleep and from alcoholism. Ultimately, the film implies that Salieri actually poisoned Mozart. Years later Salieri attempts to commit suicide, presumably over his guilt that he had murdered Mozart. Afterwards, he is moved to a mental institution where the film begins as he recounts his story to a priest (Amadeus). In reality, there is a relatively small amount of supporting evidence that Salieri had a vendetta against Mozart. In 1970, Mozart publicly accused Salieri of conspiring against him and his new opera, Cosi fan tutte. These allegations were largely unrecognized.

However, as Mozart became more and more popular, and, conversely, Salieri became less, those allegations gained credence (Thayer, 43-45). Mozart’s suspicions of Salieri may have originated in 1781 when Mozart applied to be the music tutor of the Princess of Wurttemberg, but Salieri was selected instead because of his good reputation as a singing teacher. In the following year Mozart failed, again, to be selected as the Princess’s piano teacher (Marshall, 58-59). Later on, when Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro was not popular with either the royal court or by the public, Mozart blamed Salieri for the failure.

But at the time of the premiere of Figaro, Salieri was busy with his new French opera Les Horaces (Thayer, 82-84). But there is much more evidence of a friendly, or at least cooperative, atmosphere between the two than actual hostility. For example, when Salieri was appointed Kapellmeister in 1788, he revived Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro. Salieri and Mozart even composed a duet piece for vocals and piano together called Per la ricuperata salute di Ofelia. A number of Mozart’s pieces, including the famous symphony in G minor K. 50, had been printed and produced on the suggestion of Salieri, who even conducted a performance of the symphony, himself, in 1791 (Thayer, 112). In his last surviving letter from October 14th, 1791, Mozart tells his wife about Salieri’s attendance at his opera Die Zauberflote K 620, enthusiastically: “He heard and saw with all his attention, and from the overture to the last choir there was no piece that didn’t elicit a bravo or bello out of him. ” It is also largely believed that Salieri visited Mozart while on his deathbed and was one of the few attendants at Mozart’s funeral (Marshall, 108).

It was shortly after Salieri died that rumors first spread that he had confessed to Mozart’s murder on his deathbed. Salieri’s two nurses, Gottlieb Parsko and Georg Rosenberg, as well as his family doctor Joseph Rohrig, attested that he never said any such thing. At least one of these three people was with him throughout his hospitalization (Thayer, 132). In November 1823, Salieri tried unsuccessfully to commit suicide (Landon, 173), and was hospitalized. But there are no references detailing a stay in an insane asylum. As for murdering Mozart, there is an abundance of evidence against it.

Court Concillor Eduard Vincent Guldener von Lobesi, a doctor who had been consulted about Mozart’s illness and death, indignantly denied any poisoning (Landon, 174). He refers to Mozart’s medical history, which was very extensive. In 1762, Mozart contracted an infection in the upper respiratory tract due to streptococcal infection, the effects of which may be delayed for weeks, months and even years (Landon, 176). Later in 1762, he suffered a “mild attack of rheumatic fever. ” In 1764, he contracted tonsillitis. The list of sicknesses continues and grows for the next seven years of Mozart’s life (Landon, 176-177).

At the time of Mozart’s death, the accepted cause was rheumatic fever, and that is largely accepted by most scholars today (Landon, 174). There is finally no evidence that Salieri was jealous of Mozart stealing his love interest since Salieri had met his wife in 1775; years before he ever met Mozart. (New Grove Dictionary Online) The majority of movies portraying great artists tend to paint a dull educational picture, resulting in the subject of the film being far less interesting than his work. Amadeus is an exception. This is because the director and screenwriter of the film crafted a heartfelt story of Mozart, filled with powerful drama.

Some details even remained relatively accurate. Mozart’s concerts and operas were shut down prematurely, and Salieri always held more influence among the court than Mozart. But the problem with the majority of Amadeus is that it was crafted. As far as biographical accuracy is concerned, this film is horribly fictitious. Many details were altered, not just ones concerning the relationship between Mozart and Salieri. But the creative plot served its purpose and created one of the most thrilling and satisfying stories in cinematic history.

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