Wednesday, August 18, 2004

254 Years Ago Today


Born: August 18, 1750, Legnago, Italy

Died: May 7, 1825, Vienna, Austria

Today is the birthday of a classical composer whose music pretty much fell into obscurity in his lifetime. Antonio Salieri wrote over 40 operas and numerous instrumental works, including two symphonies, a concerto for flute and oboe, a triple concerto, an organ concerto, two piano concertos, and several chamber works and string quartets. This guy even wrote music for ballet. And masses. And cantatas. In addition to that, he served as court composer and later court Kapellmeister in Vienna for many years. His students included the rather more well-remembered Franz Liszt and Ludwig van Beethoven.

However, most of us remember Salieri as the villain of the Peter Shaffer play Amadeus and the Oscar-winning film of the same name (which happens to be my very favorite movie in the whole wide world). In truth, there is no proof that Salieri killed W.A. Mozart, though the rumors abounded in Vienna after Mozart's death in 1791. Salieri became mentally unstable in later years and spent his final years in an asylum.

You can listen to samples of Salieri's music here (operatic stuff) and here (pianner stuff).

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