Mozart and Salieri - Amadeus Versus Actuality

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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. 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...
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