Antonio Salieri

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Antonio Salieri (18 August 1750 – 7 May 1825) was an Italian classical composer, conductor and teacher born 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. As a student of Florian Leopold Gassmann, and a protege of Gluck, Salieri was a cosmopolitan composer who wrote operas in three languages. Salieri helped to develop and shape many of the features of operatic compositional vocabulary and his music was a powerful influence on contemporary composers.

Appointed the director of the Italian opera by the Habsburg court, a post he held from 1774 to 1792, Salieri dominated Italian language opera in Vienna. During his career he also spent time writing works for opera houses in Venice, Rome, and Paris. His dramatic works were widely performed throughout Europe during his life time. As the Austrian imperial Kapellmeister from 1788 to 1824, he was responsible for music at the court chapel and attached school. Even as his works dropped from performance, and he wrote no new operas after 1804, he still remained one of the most important and sought after teachers of his generation and his influence was felt in every aspect of Vienna's musical life. Franz Schubert, Ludwig van Beethoven and Franz Liszt were among the most famous of his pupils.

Salieri's music slowly disappeared from the repertoire between 1800 and 1868, and was rarely heard after that period until the revival of his fame in the late 20th century. This revival was due to his dramatic and highly fictionalized depiction in the play and film Amadeus (1979, 1984) by Peter Shaffer. His music today has regained some modest popularity via recordings, it is also the subject of increasing academic study and a small number of his operas have returned to the stage. In addition there is now a Salieri Opera Festival[1] sponsored by the Fondazione Culturale Antonio Salieri and dedicated to rediscovering his work and those of his contemporaries. It is developing as an annual autumn event in his native town of Legnago where a theater has been re-named in his honor.


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