Clef Notes: Mozart and Salieri Rivalry
And what was his relationship to Mozart? INTRODUCTION. Ever since the death of Mozart, it has been rumored that Antonio Salieri poisoned him. Salieri was a. Does the name Antonio Salieri ring a bell? If you watched the Best Picture winner Amadeus, it probably conjures up images of Mozart's. It's hard to say which view of Antonio Salieri is more firmly embedded: that he was the tormentor who drove Mozart to an early grave - perhaps.
The most thorough accounts of Mozart's four months of illness all come from his wife, Constanze, and from shorter reports from the friends and associates who frequently visited him, including her sister Sophie. None thought he had been poisoned. Several times, Mozart told Constanze that he believed he had been poisoned with a popularly known arsenic-based potion called aqua tofana, however he dismissed the notion himself during a spell in which his health seemed to return for a time.
His principal symptom was swelling, particularly of the extremities, which caused him great pain when it was at its worst.
Was Mozart actually poisoned by Salieri? Here's the truth
At the application of a cold compress to his forehead on December 5,the shock caused him to lose consciousness, from which he never awoke, and died two hours later. Mozart's own doctors blamed his death on "high miliary fever", but this was a prescientific diagnosis and does not correspond to any specific diseases now known.
After his death, Mozart's first biography was written by Franz Niemetschek and was based on interviews with Constanze and Sophie and numerous documents provided by them.
His second biography was written by Constanze's second husband, Georg Nikolaus von Nissen. Neither book suggests that Mozart died from any cause other than illness.
Together, these two works comprise the most detailed reports available of Mozart's physical condition, and it's from these books that modern doctors have tried to theorize what disease he might have had.
The prevailing theory is chronic kidney disease. Mozart was probably at high risk of this anyway; as a child he'd been ill with what's now believed to be scarlet fever and rheumatic fever, both of which can cause kidney damage.
This diagnosis is consistent with the reports of Mozart's condition. Kidney failure would have caused the type of edema, or swelling, that was reported, and the uremic poisoning would have ultimately killed him.
But some have noted that people so afflicted are often unable to work at all or even comatose, while Mozart was doing some of his best work during his final months. Mozart's self-diagnosis of arsenic poisoning from aqua tofana seems unlikely.
Although that poison was easily obtainable it was actually in commercial production and sold as a murder weaponarsenic poisoning does not produce any of the symptoms which afflicted Mozart. Some doctors have also speculated that he could have died of mercury poisoning, which may or may not have been given to Mozart by someone else.
Mozart may have even been administering mercury to himself as a cure for syphilis — a treatment that some physicians of the day were promoting. It's unlikely that the true cause of Mozart's death will ever be known.
It has never been possible to exhume Mozart's body for testing because he was, as depicted in the movie, buried in a mass, unmarked grave.
Exploding the Salieri myth | Music | The Guardian
It was a small service on a cold morning. Mozart and Constanze had both expressed their dislike of the pomp and ceremony of funerals, so they chose a burial in a style that had actually been a law under Joseph II until it was repealed just a few years before Mozart's death, and that was to dispense with caskets and lavish services in favor of simple burials with the body sewn into a cloth sack. Constanze herself was too bereaved and chose not to attend, and so only a very few close friends and family walked with the body.
They stopped at the cemetery gates and bid their last farewells.
Mozart was taken alone to his final resting spot, and the mourners turned away. Among this small group dressed in black, this tightest circle of those who were the last to be with him, was Antonio Salieri.Salieri and Mozart in 'Amadeus'
An earlier version of this incorrectly gave Mozart's middle name as Amadeus, as is commonly believed. Salieri then returned to his rounds of rehearsing, composition and teaching. However, his time at home in Vienna quickly ended 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 plot was based on an ancient Greek legend that had been the basis for the first play in a trilogy by Aeschylusentitled The Suppliants.
The original commission that reached Salieri in —84 was to assist Gluck in finishing a work for Paris that had 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 Salieri, then shortly before the premiere 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 on stage, the opera was acknowledged in a letter to the public by Gluck as being wholly by the young Salieri.
Salieri's first French opera contained scenes of great solemnity and festivity, but overshadowing it all was darkness and revenge. The opera depicted politically motivated murder, filial duty and love in conflict, tyrannicide, and finally eternal damnation. The opera, with its dark overture, lavish choral writing, many ballet scenes, and electrifying finale depicting a glimpse of hellish torture, kept the opera on the stage in Paris for over forty years.
Da Ponte wrote his first opera libretto for Salieri, Il ricco d'un giorno A rich man for a day inwhich was not a success. Salieri next turned to Giambattista Casti as a librettist; a more successful set of collaboration flowed from this pairing. In Salieri produced one of his greatest works with the text by Casti, La grotta di Trofonio The cave of Trophoniusthe first opera buffa published in full score by Artaria.
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 backstage antics of two high flown sopranos. This was intended to be the nec 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. Late Viennese operas — [ edit ] In Salieri returned to Vienna, where he remained for the rest of his life.
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In that year he became Kapellmeister of the Imperial Chapel upon the death of Giuseppe Bonno ; as Kapellmeister he conducted the music and musical school connected with the chapel until shortly before his death, being officially retired from the post in His Italian adaptation of Tarare, Axur would prove to be his greatest international success.
Axur was widely produced throughout Europe and it even reached South America with the exiled royal house of Portugal in Axur and his other new compositions completed by would mark the height of Salieri's popularity and his influence. Just as his apogee of fame was being reached abroad, his influence in Vienna would begin to diminish with the death of Joseph II in Joseph's death deprived Salieri of his greatest patron and protector.
During this period of imperial change in Vienna and revolutionary ferment in France, Salieri composed two additional extremely innovative musical dramas to libretti by Giovanni Casti.
Due, however, to their satiric and overtly liberal political inclinations, both operas were seen as unsuitable for public performance in the politically reactive cultures of Leopold II and later Francis II. This 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 a satire on the autocracy and court intrigues at the court of the Russian TsarinaCatherine the Greatand Catilina a semi-comic-semi-tragic account of the Catiline conspiracy that attempted to overthrow the Roman republic during the consulship of Cicero.
These operas were composed in and respectively. Two other operas of little success and longterm importance were composed inand one great popular success La cifra The Cipher.
The beginning of Salieri's opera Palmira, regina di Persia As Salieri's political position became very insecure he was retired as director of the Italian opera in He continued to write new operas per imperial contract untilwhen he voluntarily withdrew from the stage.
His late opera based on William Shakespeare 's The Merry Wives of WindsorFalstaff ossia Le tre burle Falstaff, or the three tricks has found a wider audience in modern times than its original reception promised.
Life after opera — [ edit ] When Salieri retired from the stage, he recognized that artistic styles had changed and he felt that he no longer had the creative capacity to adapt or the emotional desire to continue.
Mozart and Salieri
Also as Salieri aged he moved slowly away from his more liberal political stances as he saw the enlightened reform of Joseph II's reign, and the hoped for reforms of the French revolution, replaced with more radical revolutionary ideas. Mosel noted that these radical changes, especially the invasion and defeat of Austria, and the occupation of Vienna intertwined with the personal losses that struck Salieri in the same period led to his withdrawal from operatic work.
Related to this Mosel quotes the aged composer concerning the radical changes in musical taste that were underway in the age of Beethoven, "From that period [circa ] I realized that musical taste was gradually changing in a manner completely contrary to that of my own times.
Eccentricity and confusion of genres replaced reasoned and masterful simplicity.
Among his compositions written for the chapel were two complete sets of vespers, many graduals, offertories, and four orchestral masses. During this period he lost his only son in and his wife in But the picture drawn by Volkmar Braunbehrens's biography is of a serious, steady, occasionally irascible man.
There are, however, mentions of him as friendly and cheerful, and the Irish singer Michael Kelly, a good friend of Mozart, assures us that Salieri "would make a joke of anything".
Antonio Salieri - Wikipedia
What is certain is that bywhen the year-old Mozart set up home in Vienna, Salieri, six years his senior, was an established star. Born in the northern Italian town of Legnano inhe had been brought to Vienna aged 15, where he was introduced to his later mentor, Gluck, and to the emperor, Joseph II. Salieri was invited to join in chamber music sessions with the emperor, and soon found himself launched on a career in the imperial court.
His appointment in as court composer and conductor of the Italian opera made him one of the most influential musicians in Europe. An ambitious young composer such as Mozart could conceivably have wished Salieri out of the way, but the other way round? Salieri was already working on Tarare, to a libretto by Beaumarchais himself, a work that would be a hit in Paris. And if Mozart's collaborations with the librettist Lorenzo da Ponte bore greater fruit than Salieri's?
Well, no matter - it was Salieri, after all, who could claim credit for bringing Da Ponte to Vienna. True, after their first opera together flopped the composer swore he would rather have his fingers chopped off than work with him again, but he relented in time to write several that were far more successful. However, if what Mozart's wife Constanze reported was true, there was one incident that might conceivably have sparked a rivalry.
She claimed that Salieri had been offered Da Ponte's libretto for Cosi Fan Tutte - and had rejected it as being not worth setting. When Mozart got his hands on it, a humiliated Salieri had to eat his words. Otherwise, though, any tensions between the two seem more like office politics. Salieri had to turn down the prestigious commission for La Clemenza di Tito, but had no real reason to resent Mozart for being the second choice. For his part, Mozart complains in letters to his father of being thwarted by Italian "cabals", but it often seems that he felt he had to make excuses to his grumpy, overambitious parent for any small failure.
Far from blocking its performance, Salieri frequently conducted Mozart's work. And Mozart's death, as one respected musical journal wrote, was almost certainly caused not by poison but by "arduous work and fast living among ill-chosen company". It was only after Mozart's demise that Salieri began to have any real reason to hate him.
Unlike that of any before him, Mozart's music kept on being performed. Cut down at the peak of his powers - and with the added frisson of whispered rumours that he might have been murdered - he became the first composer whose cult of celebrity actually flourished after his death.
Salieri, however, had outlived his talent.