Antonio Salieri


November 28, 2021

Antonio Salieri (Legnago, August 18, 1750 - Vienna, May 7, 1825) was an Italian composer and music teacher of classicism, author of both sacred and operatic music. Citizen of the Republic of Venice, he spent most of his life at the Habsburg imperial court in Vienna for which he was composer and choirmaster. Salieri had many famous musicians as students: Beethoven, Schubert, Liszt, Czerny and Hummel, to demonstrate the validity of his school of composition. He was an exceptional musician and an excellent teacher; however, his name has remained linked in the collective imagination to an alleged rivalry with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, which fueled rumors of allegations of plagiarism and even of having caused the death of the Salzburg composer, an assumption without any historical basis but re-proposed by Peter Shaffer in the drama Amadeus in 1979 and then by director Miloš Forman in the film of the same name. The alleged envy at the basis of the film's script and the consequent enmity between the two composers is completely unlikely, also because Salieri gained great fame over the course of his long career (Mozart, on the other hand, reached the pinnacle of fame after his death) ; moreover, among his pupils there was one of the sons of Mozart himself, Franz Xaver Wolfgang.


Antonio Salieri was born in Legnago, a town in the province of Verona, to a family of wealthy merchants, Antonio Salieri (1702-1764) and Anna Maria Scacchi (1722-1763), on August 18, 1750. He approached music by studying violin with the brother Francesco (a pupil of Giuseppe Tartini) and harpsichord with an organist from his hometown, Giuseppe Simoni. On the death of his parents, around 1764, he moved with his brother to Venice, where he continued his studies. In 1766 he attracted the attention of the Viennese Kapellmeister (chapel master) Florian Leopold Gassmann, who was in Venice to supervise the staging of his opera based on the episode of Achille in Sciro and entitled, precisely, Achille in Sciro . The Austrian musician, who was struck by Salieri's talent, sincerely fell in love with the young man and took him with him. Brought him to Vienna at the court of Joseph II of Habsburg, where he was dependent, he personally supervised his education, teaching him counterpoint, composition, Latin, German and French. At court, Salieri also attracted the benevolence of other characters, including the emperor himself who, on Gassmann's death in 1774, appointed him successor to the deceased maestro, establishing him, at the age of 24, both Kammerkomponist and musical director of the Italian opera in Thus began a brilliant career that would lead him to become choirmaster at the Habsburg court, composer and court teacher. Protected by the emperor and on excellent terms with Gluck, Metastasio and Haydn, Salieri was one of the most prolific authors of chamber music and sacred music, but above all of Italian operas of his time. Salieri made his debut in 1770 with a comic opera, Le donne letterate, which was followed, the following year, by Armida (serious) and a few years later the work that would have consecrated him in the musical panorama of the time, The recognized Europe, commissioned by the Empress Maria Theresa of Austria for the inauguration, on 3 August 1778, of the New Regio Ducal Theater (the current Teatro alla Scala) built in Milan (the same work welcomed the reopening of the theater on 7 December 2004 Scaligero after a radical restoration work). But the predilection for the spoken drama and the reorganization of the court theaters, desired by the emperor in 1776, left little opportunity for Salieri to compose new works in Vienna, and therefore the musician turned his attention to Italy. Between 1778 and 1780 he wrote five operas for the theaters of Milan, Venice and Rome, all of them comic, with the exception of recognized Europe. Among the funny works

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