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Peter Shaffer's play Amadeus

Peter Shaffer's play Amadeus offers a dramatic representation of a debate that has been waged for some time over the reason for the death of Mozart and the possible involvement of Salieri in that event. Shaffer takes the position that Salieri had much to do with the death of Mozart and indeed poisoned him, while many scholars have suggested that this is simply a fanciful idea with no basis in fact. In the play, however, what is important is the way the issue is presented in dramatic so that the argument is given coherence, suggesting the motivation that might have caused Salieri to murder Mozart. In the scene under discussion, Shaffer uses dramatic ritual to connect the two composers by means of a pseudo-religious rite, showing how the two men are similar, how the death of Mozart means the death of Salieri, and how each is connected to a certain conception of music.

Music is the life force for Salieri, so important to him that he sees more of its reality than do his contemporaries. This is why he is so fearful of Mozart--he knows that the music of this brash and annoying young man will outlive everything he himself has written and will be the ultimate in musical power throughout the ages. Those with less musical acumen see Mozart's music as less important than that and allow their view of the man (Mozart) to color their view of the music. If they see Mozart as a powerless, young, and untried musical talent, then they see his music as well as not so important as that of a man like Salieri, a man tested by time and a man who has served the musical world for some time. Yet Salieri knows that the vagaries of the moment are why he is elevated above Mozart and that posterity will have a different view. He is also resentful that not only is this the case, but in addition Mozart can write his music so quickly and easily, seemingly without effort. For Salieri, on the other hand, composing is a difficult and painstaking chore, and ...

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Peter Shaffer's play Amadeus. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 17:46, June 04, 2020, from