The Mozart-Saleri Feud: Did “Amadeus” Tell the Real Story?

The film “Amadeus” was a huge hit in the mid-1980s. It depicted Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri as musical rivals in the Austrian court in the late 18th century, which ultimately ends with Mozart’s early death. But was anything in the film accurate? Did Salieri plot to kill Mozart? Was jealousy over musical genius really that serious? Dr. Kristin Franseen explains it all. Rather than being a buzzkill, she shows us that the real story is actually more interesting than the film version! Episode 540.

Buzzkill Bookshelf

William Stafford, The Mozart Myths: A Critical Reassessment 

This book is an ambitious attempt to separate what is actually known (and can be known) about Mozart from the many myths and legends that have grown up about his life, character, and death. It subjects individual myths to critical and scholarly scrutiny―weighing the evidence on which it is based, and critically assessing the reliability of that evidence.

The author first considers the question of Mozart’s death in 1791 at the age of 35, a subject that intrigued his contemporaries and has continued to fascinate posterity. No other aspect of Mozart’s life has engendered so many dramatic and colorful myths. The stage play and movie Amadeus incorporated virtually all these myths and, indeed, most of the other myths associated with Mozart.

In the remainder of this book, the author treats in similar fashion other legends relating to Mozart’s alleged maturity, drinking, extravagance, unreliability, womanizing, and professional failure. There is also much material on the nature of Mozart’s genius, the influence of Freemasonry on his work, and the value of his last compositions. The book is illustrated with 8 pages of halftones and line drawings.

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