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John A. Rice

(b Vienna, March 13, 1741; d Vienna, Feb 20, 1790). Holy Roman Emperor, Archduke of Austria, first son of Maria Theresa and Francis of Lorraine. As a patron of music and supervisor of the court theatres in Vienna, he helped to shape the city’s operatic life. During the first part of his long reign he shared power with Maria Theresa, but even before her death in 1780 he exercised considerable influence over operatic policy. Especially fond of the young Antonio Salieri, Joseph supported him with commissions and recommendations from 1770 onwards.

In the mid-1770s Joseph dismissed the impresario who was struggling to present Italian opera in the court theatres, and transformed the Burgtheater into a national theatre for the performance of spoken plays in German. In 1778 he organized a troupe of German singers to perform Singspiels there and it was for this troupe that Mozart wrote Die Entführung aus dem Serail...