Antonio Salieri (18 August 1750 – 7 May 1825) was a classical composer, conductor and teacher born in Legnago, south of Verona, in the Republic of Venice, but who spent his adult life and career as a faithful subject of the Habsburg monarchy. Salieri was a pivotal figure in the development of late 18th-century opera.
Antonio Salieri (1750-1825) was not only known for his victory over Mozart in the legendary composer contest in Schönbrunn Castle. Salieri was also the most distinguished music pedagogue of his time. As the imperial ‘Kapellmeister’, he directed the Boys’ Choir at the Hofkapelle in Vienna. This is where Franz Schubert (1797-1828) caught his attention. [...] Even though Salieri supported him for years due to his unique musical talent, Schubert was never able to find a publisher for his work.
Much has been made of the supposed rivalry between Mozart and Salieri [...] However, if such an intense rivalry did indeed exist it probably only served to drive a healthy output of compositions from the two men. There is no evidence, for instance, that Salieri poisoned Mozart or that he regularly tried to sabotage his career. Salieri was in fact a respected and successful composer in his own right. It is interesting to note that during his tenure as Hofkapellmeister at the Hapsburg court, Salieri regularly programmed masses that were written by Mozart. He also served as a pallbearer at Mozart’s funeral.
He arrived in the city at the age of seventeen and modelled himself on his revered master Gluck. International success followed as a composer of operas (works like Axur and Die Danaïden), and he was created Hofkapellmeister in Vienna three years before Mozart’s death in 1791, a post he held for thirty-six years. By the time of Salieri’s own death in 1825 Mozart had become a god among the Viennese, but the Italian was the survivor, and he numbered among his flock countless students who felt varying degrees of gratitude—among them Schubert, Beethoven, Hüttenbrenner, Hummel, Liszt, Meyerbeer, Randhartinger, Sechter, Weigl and Karoline Unger.
Defending Salieri against the rumors of murder were all of Mozart's principal biographers, and Salieri's other pupils, which included Mozart's closest confidant, his own student Süssmayr, who completed Mozart's Requiem after his death. Süssmayr was with Mozart nearly daily throughout his final months, and knowing the causes of Mozart's illness as well as anyone, he did not hesitate to continue his studies under Salieri. It's also noteworthy that Salieri was never under any kind of official suspicion of criminal activity. Indeed, his professional career continued to flourish despite the rumors. Many great composers continued studying under him, including the young Franz Liszt and Franz Schubert.
The much maligned Antonio Salieri, mainly remembered today for supposedly poisoning Mozart through jealousy of the younger composer's talent, is the focus for this week's Composer of the Week. This rumour of murder has travelled over two hundred years, inspiring verse by Alexander Pushkin, an opera by Rimsky-Korsakov, to Peter Shaffer's film "Amadeus". But is it right that this once highly celebrated composer should be remembered for an unsubstantiated rumour? Salieri was at one time the most famous composer in all Europe, with the Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II as his patron.
...in 1774, Salieri became court composer and conductor of the Italian opera; in 1788 he succeeded Giuseppe Bonno as court Kapellmeister. Receiving a two-year leave of absence from Joseph II in 1778, he traveled to Milan, Venice, Rome, and Naples. His greatest successes were at the Paris Opéra, most notably with Tarare(1787); the opera was subsequently recomposed and the libretto translated by Da Ponte for a 1788 production at the Vienna Burgtheater under the title Axur Re d'Ormus.From 1788 to 1804 Salieri wrote sixteen operas, of which only Palmira, Regina di Persia(1795) had international success. He cited a distaste with modern trends for his abandonment of dramatic music after 1804.
While attending concerts and musical gatherings with Gaßmann, Salieri became fast friends with the Emperor. He slowly worked his way into the musical world and began to participate in varied and abundant musical gatherings for the Emperor. He continued his close friendship with the Emperor and performed him many favors, including daily music lessons. The Emperor also helped Salieri with the securing of a wife
Salieri received considerable public acclaim in his day. After displaying exceptional musical talent as a child , he was invited in 1766 to attend the royal court of Vienna. He remained in Vienna for the remainder of his life. In 1788 he was appointed court composer, a position he retained until 1824. During his time in Vienna Salieri acquired great prestige as a composer and conductor, particularly of opera, as well as of chamber and sacred music. The most successful of his 43 operas were Les Danaïdes (1784) and Tarare (1787).
[Salieri] played a crucial role in the evolution of Viennese opera during thirty-five years as composer and conductor. Florian Gassmann, music director of the Viennese court theatres, brought Salieri from Venice to Vienna in 1766. The sixteen-year-old orphan's charm and musicality won the patronage of Joseph II, under whose protection his education and career flourished, From 1770 to 1804 he wrote many operas for the court theatres and fulfilled commissions in Italy, Munich and Paris. In 1788 Joseph appointed him Hofkapellmeister, a position he occupied for the rest of his career.
One of the most successful European composers of the late 18th century, Antonio Salieri (1750-1825) was active in all spheres of musical life but was known, above all, as an opera composer. [...] He was also crucial in promoting the works of other composers; favorites included contemporaries such as Joseph and Michael Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (in whose death he played no part, though the story made good dramatic fodder for Peter Shaffer's Amadeus) as well as younger composers such as his pupils Beethoven and Schubert.