Composer Profile: Antonio Salieri, From Italian Court Composer To Star of ‘Amadeus’

By David Salazar

Antonio Salieri is one of the most well-known classical composers in pop culture. And yet his music remains rather obscure to almost everyone.

Of course, his fame comes from the film “Amadeus” in which Salieri’s rivalry with Mozart comes to the forefront. The Academy Award-winner is undoubtedly a major source of interest for the composer, but that has not translated to any major success in the theater.

Born on August 18, 1750, he was a major proponent of opera’s evolution in the late 18th century. Because of his position as a court musician for the Habsburg monarchy, he dominated Italian opera in Vienna. In sum, he composed 37 operas, his first, “Le Donne Letterate” premiering in 1770, and his last, “Die Neger,” appearing in 1804.

Salieri lived a very prosperous career and even when he stopped composing opera after 1804, he became a noted teacher with such eventual legends as Liszt, Schubert, and Beethoven, among his pupils.

He died on May 7, 1825.

Major Works

As noted, Salieri isn’t as popular as he once was and his operas are not a part of the repertory canon. Perhaps his most recognized is “Les Danaïdes” and “Armida.” The former is noted for its stylistic similarities to the works of Lully. Interestingly, he actually composed the opera because Gluck, the original composer, fell ill and did not feel up to the task.

Read More on Salieri

Four Operas To Listen To

Watch and Listen

Here is a recording of “Les Danaïdes.”


Opera Wiki