- Jane Schatkin Hettrick
- and John A. Rice
(b Legnago, Aug 18, 1750; d Vienna, May 7, 1825). Italian composer, mainly resident in Vienna. A major contributor to and shaper of Viennese musical life from 1770 to 1820, he also composed successful operas in Italy and Paris, and won admiration from German operagoers as a composer who, in the words of one contemporary critic, ‘could bind all the power of German music to the sweet Italian style’.
Born in Legnago in the Veneto, Salieri studied violin and keyboard with his brother Francesco and with a local organist, Giuseppe Simoni. After the deaths of his parents between 1763 and 1765 he was taken to Venice, where his musical education continued. The Viennese composer F.L. Gassmann, in Venice to oversee the production of his opera Achille in Sciro in 1766, noticed Salieri's talent and ambition and took the youth back to Vienna with him. Under Gassmann's direction he began an intensive programme of musical training. Described by his student Anselm Hüttenbrenner as ‘the greatest musical diplomat’, Salieri won the friendship of people who could help him build a career. Having earned Gassmann's paternal affection, he developed close relations with Metastasio, Gluck and Joseph II. Opportunities to write operas soon offered themselves to Salieri. When Gassmann was in Italy in ...