Confession: Antonio Salieri

As a child I was quite overwhelmed by the film Amadeus. When I see it now I am still transfixed and empassioned by the score and the ardour of Salieri’s narrative!

The film is about Salieri’s ecstatic musical sensuality. Salieri is given to music, with all his heart and all his soul and all his mind. He yearns to create the most beautiful music, and he can accept no value in his life other than in this.

His jealousy of Mozart was one of purest love, of ardour for G-d alone. Salieri, who has wealth and status, only wants to be as near to divine beauty as Mozart’s compositions are. He prays and sacrifices to G-d to participate in the creation of this divine beauty. But G-d denies him, cruelly; G-d gave him the desire – Salieri can feel, almost uniquely, the beauty of Mozart’s music; he recognises G-d in it – but G-d does not fulfil the desire he creates. This is illustrated in a scene in which Salieri is composing; G-d’s music does not come to him. So the spurned lover Salieri throws his crucifix into the fire and vows to destroy Mozart, the one G-d chooses.

Salieri’s confession is elicited by a compassionate priest, the narrative is Salieri’s confession of his hatred of G-d, for G-d’s wooing him but chosing another. Salieri offered his life and all his love to G-d, like a saint, and this is the movement the film’s score, above all the Requiem, describes.

 

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