Antonio Salieri

Born 18 August 1750. Died 7 May 1825.
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Antonio Salieri

Donald Macleod surveys the life and music of Antonio Salieri.

Featured in BBC Music Clips

Biography

Antonio Salieri (18 August 1750 – 7 May 1825) was an Italian classical composer, conductor and teacher born in Legnago, south of Verona, 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 protégé 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 lifetime. 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.

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