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Painting by Joseph Willibrod Mähler
Birth house of Antonio Salieri in Legnago (Veneto)

Antonio Salieri (18 August 1750 – 7 May 1825) was an Italian composer, conductor and teacher born in the Republic of Venice, but who spent his adult life and career as a faithful subject of the Hapsburg Monarchy.

Salieri was a pivotal figure in the development of late 18th century opera. As a student of Florian Leopold Gassmann, and a protege of Gluck, Salieri was a cosmopolitan composer who wrote operas in three languages. Salieri helped to develop and shape many of the features of operatic compositional vocabulary and his music was a powerful influence on contemporary composers.

Appointed the director of the Italian opera by the Hapsburg court, a post he held from 1774 to 1792, Salieri dominated Italian language opera in Vienna. During his career he also spent time writing works for opera houses in Venice, Rome, and Paris. His dramatic works were widely performed throughout Europe during his life time. As the Austrian imperial Kapellmeister from 1788 to 1824, he was responsible for music at the court chapel and attached school. Even as his works dropped from performance and he wrote no new operas after 1804 he still remained one of the most important and sought after teachers of his generation and his influence was felt in every aspect of Vienna's musical life. Schubert, Beethoven, and Liszt were among the most famous of his pupils.

Salieri's music slowly disappeared from the repertoire between 1800 and 1868, and was rarely heard after that period until the revival of his fame in the late 20th century. This revival was due to his dramatic and highly fictionalized depiction in the play and film Amadeus (1979, 1984) by Peter Shaffer. His music today has regained some modest popularity via recordings, it is also the subject of increasing academic study and a small number of his operas have returned to the stage. In addition there is now a Salieri Opera Festival sponsored by the Fondazione Culturale Antonio Salieri and dedicated to rediscovering his work and those of his contemporaries. It is developing as an annual autumn event in his native town of Legnago where a theater has been re-named in his honor.




Early life and education 1750-1770

Antonio Salieri was born on 18 August 1750 to Antonio Salieri and his second wife, Anna Maria Salieri (née Scachi) in the Venetian town of Legnago. Salieri was baptized the next day, 19 August. Throughout his long life Salieri would celebrate August 19 as his birthday [1]. Antonio's father was a merchant of agricultural products and active in the civic life of his town[2][3].

Antonio Salieri began his musical studies at home and in his native town of Legnago; among his first teachers were his older brother Francesco Salieri (a former student of the violinist and composer Giuseppe Tartini), and the organist of the Legnago Cathedral, Giuseppe Simoni a pupil of Padre Giovanni Battista Martini [4]. Salieri would recall little from his childhood in later years except a passion for sugar, reading and music. He twice ran away from home without permission to hear his elder brother play violin concertos in neighboring churches on festival days, and he recounted being chastised by his Father after failing to greet a local priest with the proper respect, Salieri responded to the reprimand by saying that the priest's organ playing displeased him[5]. Sometime between 1763-64 Salieri suffered the death of both parents and was briefly taken in by an anonymous brother, a monk in Padua, and then for unknown reasons in 1765 or 1766 he become the ward of a Venetian nobleman named Giovanni Mocenigo (which Giovanni is at this time unknown), a member of the powerful and well connected Mocenigo family [6]. It is possible that Antonio's Father and Giovanni were friends or business associates, but this is obscure. While living in Venice Salieri continued his musical studies with the organist and opera composer Giovanni Battista Pescetti, then following Pescetti’s sudden death he studied with the opera singer Ferdinando Pacini or Pasini. It was through Pacini that Salieri gained the attention of the composer Florian Leopold Gassmann, who impressed with his talents and concerned for his future, took the young orphan to Vienna where he personally directed and paid for the remainder of his musical education[7].

Salieri and Gassmann arrived in Vienna on June 15, 1766. Gassmann's first act was to take Salieri to the Italian Church to consecrate his teaching and service to God, an event that left a deep impression on Salieri for the rest of his life[8]. Salieri's education included instruction in Latin and Italian poetry by Fr. Don Pietro Tommasi, instruction in the German language, and European literature. His music studies revolved around vocal composition, and thoroughbass. His musical theory training in harmony and counterpoint was rooted in Johann Fux's Gradus ad Parnassum[[9], which Salieri translated daily. (Add Citation here) During the initial phase of his instruction Gassmann did not allow Salieri to compose anything, punishing him once for stealing note paper and working on his own. Gassmann later guided Salieri more directly in compositional technique in both sacred and secular styles. Salieri's first original works were heard in 1768; these were short insertion and replacement pieces for opera performances under Gassmann's direction in the court leased theaters [10]. Under Gassmann's tutelage all of Salieri's studies were designed to be self-reinforcing leading to a consummate understanding of vocal music, theatrical technique, genres of musical literature and composition. As part of this regimen Salieri began to play the harpsichord during both opera rehearsals and performances and in general he act as a directorial deputy and assistant for Gassmann[11]. Gassmann and Salieri would both look at this relationship more as one of father and son than teacher and pupil[12]. As a result Salieri continued to live with Gassmann even after Gassmann’s marriage, an arrangement that lasted until the year of Gassmann's death and Salieri's own marriage in 1774[13]. Few of Salieri’s compositions have survived from this early period. In his old age Salieri hinted that these works were either purposely destroyed, or had been lost with the exception of a few works for the church [14]. Among these sacred works there survives a Mass in C major written without a "Gloria" and in the antique a capella style (presumably for one of the church’s penitential seasons) and dated 2 August 1767[15]. A complete opera composed in 1769 (presumably as a culminating study) La Vestale ("The Vestal Virgin") has also been lost.[16].

Beginning in 1766 Gassmann introduced Salieri to the daily chamber music performances held during Emperor Joseph II's evening meal. Salieri quickly impressed the Emperor, and Gassmann was instructed to bring his pupil as often as he wished [17][18]. This was the beginning of a relationship between monarch and musician that would last until Joseph's death in 1789. Salieri met Pietro Antonio Domenico Trapassi better known as Metastasio and Christoph Willibald Ritter von Gluck during this period at the famous Sunday morning salons held at the home of the Martinez family. Here Metastasio had an apartment and participated in the weekly gatherings. Over the next several years Metastasio gave Salieri informal instruction in prosody and the declamation of Italian poetry [19], and Gluck became an informal advisor, friend and confidante [20][21]. It was toward the end of this extended period of study that Gassmann was called away on a new opera commission and a gap in the theater’s program allowed for Salieri to make his debut as a composer of a completely original opera buffa. Salieri's first full opera was composed during the winter and carnival season of 1770; Le donne letterate and was based on Molière's Les Femmes Savantes ("The Learned Ladies") with a libretto by Giovanni Gastone Boccherini a dancer in the court ballet, and a brother of the famous composer.[22] The modest success of this opera would launch Salieri's 34 year operatic career as a composer of over 35 original dramas.[23]

Early Viennese operas 1770-1778

Following the modest success of Le donne letterate Salieri received new commissions writing two additional operas in 1770 both with libretti by Boccherini. The first a pastoral opera, L'amore innocente ("The Innocent Love") was a light hearted comedy set in the Austrian mountains, and the second was based on an episode from Cervantes Don Quixote - Don Chisciotte alle nozze di Gamace ("Don Quixote at the Marriage of Camacho"). In these first works, drawn mostly from the traditions of mid-century opera buffa, Salieri showed a penchant for experimentation and for mixing the established characteristics of specific operatic genres. Don Chisciotte was a mix of ballet and opera buffa, and the lead female roles in L'amore innocente were designed to contrast and highlight the different traditions of operatic writing for soprano, even borrowing stylistic flourishes from opera-seria. The mixing and pushing against the boundaries of established operatic genres would be a continuing hallmark of Salieri's own personal style, and in his choice of material for the plot, he manifested a lifelong interest in subjects drawn from classic literature.

Salieri's first great success was in the realm of serious opera. Commissioned for an unknown occasion Salieri's Armida was based on Torquato Tasso's epic poem La Gerusalemme liberata ("Jerusalem Delivered") and premiered on 2 June 1771[24]. Armida is a tale of love and duty in conflict and saturated in magic; set during the First Crusade it features a dramatic mix of ballet, aria, ensemble and choral writing mixing theatricality, scenic splendor and high emotionalism. The work clearly followed in Gluck's footsteps and embraced his reform of serious opera begun with Orfeo ed Euridice and Alceste. The libretto to Armida was by Marco Coltellini the house poet for the imperial theaters. While Salieri followed the precepts set forth by Gluck and his librettist Ranieri de' Calzabigi in the preface to Alceste, Salieri also drew on some musical ideas from the more traditional opera-seria and even opera buffa creating a new synthesis in the process. Armida was translated into German and widely performed, especially in the northern German states, where it helped to establish Salieri's reputation as an important and innovative modern composer. It would also be the first opera to receive a serious preparation in a piano and vocal reduction by Carl Frederich Crammer in 1783.

Armida was soon followed by Salieri's first truly popular success; a commedia per musica in the style of Carlo Goldoni La fiera di Venezia ("The Fair of Venice"). La fiera was written for Carnival in 1772 and premiered on January 29. Here Salieri returned to his collaboration with the young Boccherini. La fiera would feature characters singing in three languages, a bustling portrayal of the Ascension tide Fair and Carnival in Venice, and large and lengthy ensembles and choruses. It also included an innovative scene that would combine a series of on stage dances with singing from both solo protagonists and the chorus. A pattern to be imitated by later composers, most famously and successfully by Mozart in Don Giovanni. Salieri would also write several bravura aria's for a soprano playing the part of a middle class character that would combine coloratura and concertante woodwind solos, another innovation for a comic opera that was to be widely imitated.

Salieri's next two operas were not particular or lasting successes, of the two only, La secchia rapita ("The Rape of the Bucket") deserves mention. A parody of Metasasian opera-seria it featured dazzling parodies of the high flown and emotive aria's found in that genre as well as bold and innovative orchestrations, including the first known use of three tympani. Again a classic of Renaissance literature was the basis of the libretto by Boccherini in this case a comic mock-epic by Tassoni in which a war between Modena and Bologna ensues over a stolen bucket. This uneven work was followed by another popular comedic success La locandiera ("Mine Hostess"), an adaptation of the classic and popular spoken stage comedy of the same title by Goldoni.

The majority of Salieri's modest number of instrumental works also date from this time. These works in the gallant style show some innovation but are less impressive than his operatic work and reflect a weakness in composing without a dramatic situation to aid his inspiration that many critics have noticed. These works were written for mostly unknown occasions and artists and include two concertos for pianoforte one in C and one in B flat , both written in 1773, a concerto for organ in C in two movements, (the middle movement is missing or was perhaps an improvised organ solo) also from 1773; and two concertante works, a flute and oboe concerto in C (1774), and a concerto for oboe, violin and cello in D (1770). These works are the among the most frequently recorded of Salieri's compositions. Upon Gassmann's death on 22 January[25], most likely due to complications from an accident with a carriage some years earlier, Salieri succeeded him as assistant director of the Italian opera in early 1774[26]. In 1774 Salieri married Therese Helferstorfer on October 10, she was the daughter of a recently deceased financier and official of the court treasury.[27]. Sacred music was not a high priority for the composer at this stage of his career but he also composed an Alleluia for chorus and orchestra that year, perhaps for his own wedding or in thanksgiving for it.

During the next three years Salieri was primarily concerned with rehearsing and conducting the Italian opera company in Vienna and teaching. His three complete operas written during this time show the development of his compositional skills but included no great success either commercially or artistically. His most important compositions during this period were a symphony in D major performed in the summer of 1776 and the oratorio La passione di Gesù Cristo with a text by Metastasio performed during Advent of 1776. After the financial collapse of the Italian opera company in 1777, Joseph II decided that the two court owned theaters would be reopened under new management and partly subsidized by the Imperial Court as a new National Theater that would promote German language plays and musical productions that reflected Austrian (or as they would have said) German values, traditions and outlook. The Italian opera buffa company was therefore replaced by a German language Singspiel troupe, besides favoring any first buddings of national pride Joseph also hoped to save considerable money in the process. Joseph wished to have new works in German composed by his own subjects brought on the stage. This in effect left Salieri's role as assistant court composer in a much reduced position, coupled with that fact that due to his poor grasp of the German language, he no longer felt competent to continue as director, and since spoken drama and singspiel were placed on an equal footing, there would be few if any new compositional commissions to receive from the court. Salieri was left with few financial options and began casting about for new opportunities.

Italian tour 1778-1780

However, in 1778 Gluck turned down an offer to compose the inaugural opera for La Scala in Milan; upon the suggestion of Joseph II and with the approval of Gluck, Salieri was offered the commission, which he gratefully accepted. Joseph II granted Salieri permission to take a year long leave of absence (later extended) thus enabling him to write for La Scala and to undertake a tour of Italy. Salieri's Italian tour of 1778-80 began with the production of Europa riconosciuta ("Europa Recognized") for La Scala (which was revived in 2004 for the same opera house's re-opening following extensive renovations). From Milan Salieri included stops in Venice and Rome and finally a return to Milan. During this tour wrote three new comic operas and he also collaborated with Giacomo Rust on one opera, Il Talismano ("The Talismand"). Of his Italian works one, La scuola de' gelosi ("The School for Jealousy"), a witty study of amorous intrigue and emotion, would prove a popular and lasting international success.

Middle Viennese period and Parisian operas 1780-1788

Upon his return at imperial behest to Vienna in 1780, he wrote one German singspiel Der Rauchfangkehrer or (The Chimney Sweep) which premiered in 1781. Salier's Chimney Sweep and Mozart's work for the same company in 1782, Die Entführung aus dem Serail ("The Abduction from the Seraglio") would be the only two major successes to emerge from the German singspiel experiment, and only Mozart's opera would survive on the stage beyond the close of the 18th century. In 1783 the Italian opera company was revived with singers partly chosen and vetted by Salieri during his Italian tour[28], the new season would open with a slightly re-worked version of Salieri's recent success La scuola de' gelosi. Salieri then returned to his rounds of rehearsing, composition and teaching. However, his time at home in Vienna would be quickly brought to a close when an opportunity to write an opera for Paris arose, again through the patronage of Gluck Salieri traveled abroad to fulfill an important commission.

The opera, Les Danaïdes ("The Danaids") is a five act tragédie lyrique, the plot was based on an ancient Greek legend that had been the basis for the first play in a trilogy by Aeschylus, entitled The Suppliants. The original commission that reached Salieri in 1783/84 was to assist Gluck in finishing a work for Paris that been all but completed, in reality, Gluck had failed to notate any of the score for the new opera and gave the entire project over to his young friend. Gluck feared that the Parisian critics would denounce the opera by a young composer known mostly for comic pieces and so the opera was originally billed in the press as being a new work by Gluck with some assistance from Antonio Salieri, then shortly before the premier of the opera the Parisian press reported that the work was to be partly by Gluck and partly by Salieri, and finally after popular and critical success were won on stage the opera was acknowledged in a letter to the public by Gluck as being wholly by the young Antonio. Les Danaïdes was received with great acclaim and it's popularity with audiences and critics alike produced several further requests for new works for Paris audiences by Salieri. Les Danaïdes followed in the tradition of reform that Gluck had begun in the 1760's and that Salieri had emulated in his earlier opera Armida. Salieri's first French opera contained scenes of great solemnity and festivity; yet overshadowing it all was darkness and revenge. The opera depicted politically motivated murder, filial duty and love in conflict, tryannicide and finally eternal damnation. The opera with its dark overture, lavish choral writing, many ballet scenes, and electrifying finale depicting a glimps of hellish torture kept the opera on the stage in Paris for over forty years. A young Hector Berlioz recorded the deep impression this work made on him in his Mémoires.[29]

Upon returning to Veinna following his success in Paris Salieri met and befriended Lorenzo Da Ponte and had his first professional encounters with Mozart. Da Ponte would write his first opera libretto for Salieri Il ricco d'un giorno ("A Rich Man for a Day") in 1784, it was not a success. Salieri next turned to Giambattista Casti as a librettist, a more successful set of collaboration flowed from this pairing. In the mean time Da Ponte would begin work with Mozart on Le nozze di Figaro ("The Marriage of Figaro"). (For the famous relationship between Mozart and Salieri please see below.) Salieri soon produced one of his greatest works with the text by Casti La grotta di Trofonio ("The Cave of Trofonius") in 1785, the first opera buffa published in full score by Artaria. Shortly after this success Joseph II had Mozart and Salieri each contribute an one act opera and/or singspiel for production at a banquet in 1786. Salieri collaborated with Casti to produce a parody of the relationship between poet and composer in Prima la musica e poi le parole ("First the Music and then the Words"). This short work also highlighted the typical back stage antics of two high flown sopranos. Salieri then returned to Paris for the premiere of his tragédie lyrique Les Horaces ("The Horati") which proved a failure. However the failure of this work was more than made up for with his next Parisian opera Tarare with a libretto by Beaumarchais. This was intended to be the ne plus ultra of reform opera, a completely new synthesis of poetry and music that was an 18th century anticipation of the ideals of Richard Wagner. He also created a sacred cantata Le Jugement dernier ("The Last Judgment"). The success of his opera Tarare was such that it was soon translated into Italian at Joseph II behest by Lorenzo Da Ponte as Axur, Re d'Ormus ("Axur, King of Hormuz") and staged at the royal wedding of Franz II in 1788.

Late Viennese operas 1788-1804

In 1788 he returned to Vienna where he remained for the rest of his life. Also in that year he became Kappellmeister of the Imperial Chapel upon the death of Joseph Bonno, here he conducted the music and musical school connected with the chapel until shortly before his death in 1824. Axur would prove to be Salieri's greatest success, however shortly thereafter the death of Joseph II in 1789 deprived Salieri of his greatest patron and protector. Salieri's political inclinations resulted in two of his most original operas being consigned to his desk drawer, namely Cublai, gran kan de' Tartari ("Kublai Grand Kahn of Tartary") and Catilina ("Cataline") composed in 1787 and 1792 respectively. Two other operas of little importance were composed in 1789, and one popular sucess La Cifra ("The Cipher"). As Salieri's political position became very insecure he was retired as director of the Italian opera in 1792. He continued to write new operas until 1804 when he voluntarily withdrew from the stage recognizing that artistic styles had change and he no longer had the creative capacity to adapt or the emotional desire to continue. Of his late works for the stage only two works gained wide popular esteem during his life, Palmira regina di Persia ("Palmira, Queen of Persia") 1795 and Cesare in Farmacusa ("Caesar on Pharmacusa"), both drawing on the heroic and exotic sucess established with Axur. His late opera based on William Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor, Falstaff, ossia Le tre burle ("Falstaff, or the Three Tricks"), (1799) has found a wider audience in modern times than it's original reception promised. His last opera was a German language singspiel Die Neger, ("The Negroes"), a melodrama set in colonial Virginia with a text by Georg Friedrich Treitschke (the author of the libretto for Beethoven's Fidelio) performed in 1804 and was a complete failure.

Life after opera 1804-1825

As his teaching and work with the imperial chapel continued, his duties required the composition of a large number of sacred works, including two complete sets of vespers, many graduals, offertories, and five orchestral masses. During this period he lost his only son in 1805 and his wife in 1807. His teaching of budding young musicians continued, and among his pupils in composition (usually vocal) were Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Liszt, Franz Schubert and many other luminaries of the early Romantic period. He also instructed many prominent singers throughout his long career. All but the wealthiest of his pupils received their lessons for free, a tribute to the kindness Gassmann had shown Salieri as a penniless orphan.

Salieri was committed to medical care and suffered dementia for the last year and a half of his life. He died in Vienna on 7 May 1825, and was buried in the Matzleinsdorfer Friedhof on 10 May. At his memorial service on 22 June 1825 his own Requiem in C minor - composed in 1804 - was performed for the first time. His remains were later transferred to the Zentralfriedhof. His monument is adorned by a poem written by Joseph Weigl, one of his pupils:

Rest in peace! Uncovered by dust
Eternity shall bloom for you.
Rest in peace! In eternal harmonies
Your spirit now is dissolved.
It expressed itself in enchanting notes,
Now it is floating to everlasting beauty.

Original German poem:

Ruh sanft! Vom Staub entblößt,
Wird Dir die Ewigkeit erblühen.
Ruh sanft! In ew’gen Harmonien
Ist nun Dein Geist gelöst.
Er sprach sich aus in zaubervollen Tönen,
Jetzt schwebt er hin zum unvergänglich Schönen.



During his time in Vienna, Salieri acquired great prestige as a composer and conductor, particularly of opera, but also of chamber and sacred music. Among the most successful of his 37 operas staged during his life time were Armida (1771), La fiera di Venezia (1772)La scuola de' gelosi (1778), Der Rauchfangkehrer (1781), Les Danaïdes (1784), which was first presented as a work of Gluck's, La grotta di Trofonio (1785),Tarare (1787) (Tarare was reworked and revised several times as was Les Danaïdes ), Axur, Re d'Ormus (1788), La Cifra (1789),Palmira, regina di Persia (1795), Falstaff (1799), and Cesare in Farmacusa (1800).

Sacred Works

Salieri's earliest surviving work is a Mass in C major. He would write four major orchestral masses, a requiem, and many offertories, graduals, vesper settings, and sacred cantatas and oratorios. Much of his sacred music dates from after his appointment as Hofkappellmeister in 1788.

Instrumental Works

His small instrumental ouput includes two piano concertos, a concerto for organ written in 1773, a concerto for flute, oboe and orchestra (1774), and a set of twenty-six variations on La follia di Spagna (1815).

Salieri and Mozart

In the 1780s while Mozart lived and worked in Vienna, he and his father Leopold wrote in their letters that several "cabals" of Italians led by Salieri were actively putting roadblocks in the way of Mozart's obtaining certain posts or staging his operas.[citation needed] At the beginning of the 19th century, increasing German nationalism led to a tendency to exalt the Austrian Mozart's character, while the Venetian Salieri was given the role of his evil antagonist.[30] Carl Maria von Weber, a relative of Mozart by marriage[31] whom Wagner has characterized as the most German of German composers, is said to have refused to join Ludlams-Höhle, a social club of which Salieri was a member and avoided having anything to do with him.[32] These rumors then made their way into popular culture. Albert Lortzing's Singspiel Szenen aus Mozarts Leben LoWV28 (1832) uses the cliché of the jealous Salieri trying to hinder Mozart's career.

Ironically, Salieri's music was much more in the tradition of Gluck and Gassmann than of the Italians like Paisiello or Cimarosa. In 1772, Empress Maria Theresa commented on her preference of Italian composers over Germans like Gassmann, Salieri or Gluck. While Venetian by birth, Salieri had lived in imperial Vienna for almost 60 years and was regarded by such people as the music critic Friedrich Rochlitz as a German composer.[33]

The biographer Alexander Wheelock Thayer believes that Mozart's suspicions of Salieri could have originated with an incident in 1781 when Mozart applied to be the music teacher of the Princess of Württemberg, and Salieri was selected instead because of his reputation as a singing teacher. In the following year Mozart once again failed to be selected as the Princess' piano teacher.[34]

"Salieri and his tribe will move heaven and earth to put it down", Leopold Mozart wrote to his daughter Nannerl.[35] But at the time of the premiere of Figaro, Salieri was busy with his new French opera Les Horaces.

In addition, when Lorenzo Da Ponte was in Prague preparing the production of Mozart's setting of his Don Giovanni, the poet was ordered back to Vienna for a royal wedding for which Salieri's Axur, re d'Ormus would be performed. Obviously, Mozart was not pleased by this.

There is very little evidence of a contentious relationship between the two composers. For example, when Salieri was appointed Kapellmeister in 1788 he revived Figaro instead of bringing out a new opera of his own; and when he went to the coronation festivities for Leopold II in 1790 he had no fewer than three Mozart masses in his luggage. Salieri and Mozart even composed a cantata for voice and piano together, called Per la ricuperata salute di Ophelia which was celebrating the return to stage of the singer Nancy Storace. This work has been lost, although it had been printed by Artaria in 1785. Mozart's Davide penitente (1785), his Piano Concerto in E flat major (1785), the Clarinet Quintet (1789) and the great Symphony in G minor had been premiered on the suggestion of Salieri, who supposedly conducted a performance of it in 1791. In his last surviving letter from 14 October 1791, Mozart tells his wife that he collected Salieri and Caterina Cavalieri in his carriage and drove them both to the opera, and about Salieri's attendance at his opera The Magic Flute, speaking 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 [...]."[36]

Fictional treatments

Recent popularity

More and more of Salieri's music is being recorded. Many of his overtures and most of his limited symphonic music have now been released on CD, though Salieri wrote primarily for the voice and much of his operatic music is only starting to be recorded. In 2003, mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli released The Salieri Album, a CD with 13 arias from Salieri's operas, most of which had never been recorded before. Patrice Michaels sang a number of his arias on the CD Divas of Mozart's Day. In 2008, another female opera star, Diana Damrau, released a CD with seven Salieri coloratura arias. Since 2000, there have also been complete recordings issued or re-issued of the operas Axur Re d'Ormus, Falstaff, Les Danaïdes, La Locandiera, La grotta di Trofonio and Prima la musica e poi le parole. Salieri has yet to fully re-enter the general repertory, but performances of his works are progressively becoming more regular.

His operas Falstaff (1995 production) and Tarare (1987 production) have been released on DVD. In 2004, the opera Europa Riconosciuta was staged in Milan for the reopening of La Scala in Milan, with soprano Diana Damrau in the title role. This production was also broadcast on television, with a future DVD release possible.

Salieri has even begun to attract some attention from Hollywood. In 2001, his triple concerto was used in the soundtrack of The Last Castle, featuring Robert Redford and James Gandolfini. It is a story that builds on the rivalry between a meticulous but untested officer (Gandolfini) serving as the warden of a military prison and an imprisoned but much admired and highly decorated general (Redford). The Salieri piece is used as the warden's theme music, seemingly to invoke the image of jealousy of the inferior for his superior. In 2006, the movie Copying Beethoven referred to Salieri in a more positive light. In this movie a young female music student hired by Beethoven to copy out his Ninth Symphony is staying at a monastery. The abbess tries to discourage her from working with the irreverent Beethoven. She notes that she too once had dreams, having come to Vienna to study opera singing with Salieri. Most recently the 2008 movie Iron Man used the Larghetto movement from Salieri's Piano Concerto In C Major. The scene where Obadiah Stane, the archrival of 'Tony' Stark, the wealthy industrialist turned Ironman, tells Tony that he is being ousted from his company by the board, Obadiah plays the opening few bars of the Salieri concerto on a piano in Stark's suite.



  1. ^ Braunbehrens, Volkmar: Maligned Master:The Real Story of Antonio Salieri, Fromm International Publishing Corp., 1992, trans. by Kanes, Evaline, p.14
  2. ^ Rice, p. 13
  3. ^ Braunbehrens, pp. 13-14.
  4. ^ Braunbehrens, pp. 14-15.
  5. ^ Thayer, p. 28.
  6. ^ Braunbehrens, pp. 14-15.
  7. ^ Braunbehrens pp. 19-22
  8. ^ Thayer, Alexander Wheelock, ed. by Albrecht, Theodore, Salieri: Rival of Mozart The Philharmonia of Greater Kansas City, Kansas City, Mo., 1989, pg. 30-31
  9. ^ Thayer, pp. 30-31, also Rice pp.17-20
  10. ^ Thayer, 31-32 & 42
  11. ^ Rice, pg.19-22
  12. ^ Rice, pg. 17-20
  13. ^ Rice, pp. 19-22, and p. 27
  14. ^ Rice, pgs. 18-19
  15. ^ Hettrick, Jane, ed. Salieri, Antonio, Missa Stylo A Cappella,Information taken from the un-number in English Preface. [v-vii] Doblinger (1993)
  16. ^ Braunbehrens p. 26, also Rice p. 20
  17. ^ Thayer, pg. 38
  18. ^ Rice, pg. 21-27
  19. ^ Thayer pg. 41-42
  20. ^ Braunbehrens, pg. 22-23.
  21. ^ Rice, pg. 17,21,32
  22. ^ Rice, pg.113-151 features an extensive overview of this opera.
  23. ^ Braunbehrens pg.28-29
  24. ^ Rice pp. 162-64.
  25. ^ Thayler, pg.53
  26. ^ Braunbehrens pg. 42
  27. ^ Rice pg. 27-28
  28. ^ Rice pg. 256
  29. ^ Berlioz pg. 22
  30. ^ Jason Horowitz (2004-12-28). "For Mozart's Arch rival, an Italian Renaissance". The New York Times. 
  31. ^ Braunbehrens, p. 5. "Apparently Weber, who could claim family ties with Mozart, believed the rumors."
  32. ^ Braunbehrens, p. 220. "Carl Maria von Weber was also invited to join the society, but is said to have refused as long as Salieri was a member."
  33. ^ "See his obituary reprinted in Alexander Wheelock Thayer, Salieri: Rival of Mozart (Kansas City 1989)". 
  34. ^ Abert, Hermann; Spencer, Stewart; Eisen, Cliff (2007). W. A. Mozart. Yale University Press. pp. 623. ISBN 978-0300072235. 
  35. ^ Thayer, Alexander Wheelock; Albrecht, Theodore (1989). Philharmonia of Greater Kansas City. p. 85. ISBN 978-0932845375. 
  36. ^ Solomon, Maynard, Mozart: A life, Harper Perennial (February 14, 1996)
  37. ^ Klossner, Michael (2002). The Europe of 1500-1815 on film and television: a worldwide filmography of over 2550 works, 1895 through 2000. McFarland & Co. pp. 267. ISBN 978-0786412235. 


  • Rudolph Angermüller, Antonio Salieri 3 Vol. (München 1971-74)
  • Rudolph Angermüller, Antonio Salieri. Fatti e Documenti (Legnago 1985)
  • Hector Berlioz, The Memoirs of Hector Berlioz, trans. and ed. David Cairns, Everyman (New York 2002)
  • Volkmar Braunbehrens, Maligned Master - the Real Story of Antonio Salieri, transl. Eveline L. Kanes (New York 1992)
  • A. Della Corte, Un italiano all'estero: Antonio Salieri (Torino 1936)
  • V. Della Croce/F. Blanchetti, Il caso Salieri (Torino 1994)
  • I. F. Edler v. Mosel, Über das Leben und die Werke des Anton Salieri (Vienna 1827)
  • John A. Rice, Antonio Salieri and Viennese Opera (Chicago 1998), ISBN 0226711250 - ISBN 978-0-226-71125-6 (preview at Google Book Search)
  • Alexander Wheelock Thayer, Salieri: Rival of Mozart (Kansas City 1989)

External links

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

ANTONIO SALIERI (1750-1825), Italian composer, was born at Legnano, on the 19th of August 1750. His father was a merchant who died a bankrupt. Through the family of Mccenigo he obtained free admission to the choir school of St Mark's, Venice. In 1766 he was taken to Vienna by F. L. Gassmann, who introduced him to the emperor Joseph. His first opera, Le Donne letterate, was produced at the Burg-Theater in 1770. Others followed in rapid succession, and his 4rmida (1771) was a triumphant success.

On Gassmann's death in 1774, he became Kapellmeister and, on the death of Bonno in 1788, Hofkapellmeister. He held his offices for fifty years, though he made frequent visits to Italy and Paris, and composed music for many European theatres. His chef d'ceuvre was Tarare (afterwards called Axur, re d'Ormus), a work which was preferred by the public of Vienna to Mozart's Don Giovanni. It was first produced at Vienna on the 8th of June 1787, and was revived at Leipzig in 1846, though only for a single representation. His last opera was Die Neger, produced in 1804. After this he devoted himself to the composition of church music, for which he had a very decided talent. Salieri lived on friendly terms with Haydn, but was a bitter enemy to Mozart, whose death he was suspected of having produced by poison; but no evidence was ever forthcoming to give colour to the accusation. He retired from office on his full salary in 1824, and died at Vienna on the 7th of May 1825. Salieri gave lessons in composition to Cherubini and to Beethoven, who dedicated to him his "Three Sonatas for Pianoforte and Violin," Op. 12.

See also Albert von Hermann, Antonio Salieri, eine Studie (1897); J. F. Edler von Mosel, Uber das Leben and die Werke des Antonio Salieri (Vienna, 1827).

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