The Mozart/Salieri Rivalry
Tue, 20 Feb 2018

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri: Two superb 18th-century composers based in Vienna. Most people know Mozartís name, but what about Salieri? His name has been clouded over time by rumors related to his competitive relationship with Mozart. Is there truth amongst these rumors? Or has history exaggerated the story, thus harming Salieriís reputation?

Similar to artists today, Mozart and Salieri were competitors within the music realm. Salieri worked as the Kapellmeister for Emperor Joseph II. Believing he was better qualified for the post, Mozart applied for the job following the emperorís death. He was astounded when they turned him away. As to be expected, the two menís paths crossed as they composed in similar mediums vying for public approval. Though Salieri admitted to close friends in confidence that he did not like his competitor or his work, he never wanted to make his sentiments known as to avoid attracting attention. Historians also note that Salieri grew bitter toward Mozart with age as his works continued to gain fame following his premature death. Despite these supposed negative reactions toward Mozart, did Salieri perhaps have a deeper respect for his rivalís talents? Following Mozartís death, Franz Xaver Niemetschek quoted Salieri in his Mozart biography: ďIt is indeed sad, the loss of so great a genius; but well for us that he is dead. For had he lived longer, verily, the world would not have given us another bit of bread for our compositions!Ē Perhaps Salieri revered Mozart but feared his ability would soon drown out his contemporariesí work in the public eye.

What seems a relatively harmless rivalry between Mozart and Salieri started what became a gruesome rumor that many people still believe today. Not long after Mozartís death, people began to gossip that Salieri killed Mozart with poison due to jealousy. Historians now know that evidence proves that the great composer actually died at a young age as a result of acute rheumatic fever, an ailment he suffered multiple times throughout his life before it ultimately proved fatal. Despite the inaccuracy of the rumors, most people remember Salieri as Mozartís enemy rather than associating him with his own work.

Do you tend to have less interest when Salieri comes on the radio because of these exaggerated stories passed through history?

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