Poor Salieri

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I was thinking about “the Bad Guy” in the play and film, “Amadeus.”  Antonio Salieri’s birthday was last week (May 18) and I’ve been working on the NW Sinfonietta/Seattle Choral Company broadcast of the Mozart Requiem on Friday.

Mozart died before the piece was completed and his wife, Constanze, asked a student of Wolfgang, Franz Xaver Süssmayr to complete the piece. He did and the rest is history, at least until Peter Shaffer wrote his play and the subsequent movie came out.  For very fine artistic reasons the completion of the Requiem was given to Salieri, a way of giving some emotional tension and depth to the final scenes of the piece.

The funny thing is, in “Amadeus”, Salieri bemoans his fate as a just a footnote of history while his rival, Mozart, will be a composer for the ages.  The fact is, Salieri was a successful, much-admired composer in his lifetime and wrote some really fine music that we enjoy today. And we wouldn’t likely give him his due were it not for Shaffer.  Maybe I should have titled this blog post, “Poor Sussmayr.”

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