Italian composer. He taught Beethoven, Schubert, Hummel, and Liszt, and was the musical rival of Mozart at the emperor's court in Vienna, where he held the position of court composer. It has been suggested, without proof, that he poisoned Mozart.
He studied with his brother Francesco Salieri, a pupil of Giuseppe Tartini. He was orphaned at 15, and his education at the school of San Marco in Venice was taken care of by the Mocenigo family. There he met Florian Gassmann, who took him to Vienna in 1766, saw to his further education, and introduced him at court. On Gassmann's death in 1774, Salieri became court composer and conductor of the Italian opera. He visited Italy 1778–80, where his opera Europa riconosciuta was produced at the opening of La Scala, Milan in 1774, and at Paris 1786–87; his Tarare of 1787 had sufficient dramatic strength to be ascribed initially to Gluck. From 1788, when he succeeded Giuseppe Bonno as court Kapellmeister, he lived mostly in Vienna. He was conductor of the Tonkünstler Society until 1818, and played the continuo in the first performance of Haydn's Creation in 1798. Recent revivals of operas such as Les Danaides, La grotta di Trofonio, and Falstaff show Salieri to be a more resourceful and entertaining composer than his reputation suggests.
WorksOpera about 40, including Armida (1771), La fiera di Venezia (1772), La locandiera (1773), Europa riconosciuta (1778), La scuola de gelosi (1778), La dama pastorella, Der Rauchfangkehrer (1781), Les Danaïdes (1784), Tarare, Les Horaces (the last three for Paris), La grotta di Trofonio (1785), Il talismano, Palmira, regina di Persia (1795), Falstaff (after Shakespeare, 1799), Cesare in Farmacusa, Angiolina (1800).
Sacred and secular music incidental music to Kotzebue's Die Hussiten vor Naumburg; Passion oratorio and others; seven Masses, Requiem, Litanies, and other church music; cantatas including La riconoscenza for the 25th anniversary of the Tonkünstler-Societät (1796); three symphonies and sinfonia concertante; concertos, serenades, arias, duets, canons, and miscellaneous other small vocal pieces.
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