Tuesday, 18 August 2009


“As iron is eaten by rust, so are the envious consumed by envy.” - Antisthenes

Today is the birthday of:
Virginia Dare, first American-born child of English parents (1587);
Brook Taylor, mathematician (1685);
Antonio Salieri, Italian composer (1750);
Meriwether Lewis, American explorer (1774);
Fabian Gottlieb von Bellinghausen, Antarctica circumnavigator (1778);
John Russell, British Prime Minister (1792);
Max Factor, cosmetics empire builder (1904);
Shelley Winters (Shirley Schrift), actress (1922);
Rosalynn Smith, former American first lady (1927);
Roman Polanski, director (1933);
Robert Redford, US actor (1937);
Martin Mull, actor (1943);
Patrick Swayze, actor (1952);

Vinca major, the blue periwinkle is the birthday flower for today. It symbolises early friendship. Astrologically, the plant is ruled by Venus.

Antonio Salieri (1750-1825) was Mozart’s contemporary and during their lifetimes, Salieri was infinitely more popular and more successful than Mozart. His music nowadays sounds curiously simplistic and devoid of expression of feeling, although technically competent and satisfying in form. He appreciated Mozart’s genius and may have even helped the younger composer. But was he also envious of him? Did he, as one playwright would have us believe, have a hand in Mozart’s untimely death? Peter Schaeffer’s “Amadeus” may have done irreparable harm to Salieri’s reputation and unfortunately it may all be groundless slander! Who knows for certain? He wrote over 40 operas, none of which have been revived and his instrumental output although smaller is the only part of his oeuvre that is nowadays available. Some of his works that are entertaining and possibly an illustration of “classical muzak” are his concerti: Concerto for Fortepiano and Orchestra (1773) and Concerto for Flute, Oboe and Orchestra (1774). They are rather light and have no pretensions of being deep and emotionally challenging…

Just by way of comparison, here are the first movements of piano concertos by Salieri (Concerto for fortepiano in B flat-major, composed around 1773 when Salieri was 23 years old) and by Mozart (Piano Concerto No. 9 in E flat major, K271, composed in 1777 when Mozart was 21 years old).

Now compare this to Mozart’s effort in the same genre:


  1. Columbus sailed 1492 and
    95 years later some POMs had a yank in Amerigo VespucciLand.
    well there you go.

    Those born during this astrological phase we know of as LEO, are said to enjoy the spotlight and have hair that is attention-getting:

    Robert Redford would be that guy;
    and five actors on this Leo day alone.

    Can't see periwinkles without thinking of Hyacinth Bucket.

    oops, I haven't followed the Antisthenes link yet ...
    *wanders away wondering whta the antithesis of an Antisthene is*

  2. whta a typo!

    "He adopted and developed the ethical side of Socrates' teachings, advocating an ascetic life lived in accordance with virtue". Later writers regarded him as the founder of Cynic philosophy."

    No argument from me - wanting aesthetics and virtue, will lead surely to cynicism: a cynic has been described as
    'a disappointed romantic'.
    yep again

  3. Just read today that new research shows that Mozart may have died of a kidney complication to strep throat. How sad is that.

    I admit to having the movie Amadeus and watching it far more times than once.

  4. Wow, the difference between the two pieces of music is chalk and cheese, really... Poor Salieri is all scales and conventional riffs. Just goes to show, classics are classics for a good reason.
    I don't think Salieri would have poisoned Mozart, he was too aware of his genius.

  5. Yes, Jacqui, I saw that report also:

    However, this is not news. I remember as an undergraduate student one of my pathology lecturers had mentioned that Mozart probably died as a result of acute glomerulonephritis (an allergic reaction to streptococci in genetically predisposed people).

    Just goes to show, as well as having genius genes in terms of music, he had bad genes in terms of strep susceptibility...

  6. You obviously don't know Salieri. I prefer his music to Mozart's any day. Mozart is cotton candy for the ears, sounds nice at first, but you get tired of it awfully fast.

  7. Salieri is better composer than many of better known composers and perhaps better than 90% of famous composers alive today. His works has his charms and if you don't like his work, I guess you probably don't like Haydn or Gluck, neither. Salieri's influence on future musician may actually be on par with Mozart as he is the first director of the prestigious University of Music and Performing Arts, Vienna. He was a teacher to many famous composers, including Ludwig van Beethoven, Carl Czerny, Johann Nepomuk Hummel, Franz Liszt, Giacomo Meyerbeer, Ignaz Moscheles, Franz Schubert, and Franz Xaver Süssmayr. He also taught Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's younger son, Franz Xaver, some years after Mozart's death.

    There is no reason to think of this period of music history as competition between Mozart and Salieri. The conflict between them was mostly fabrication of vocal minority of Mozart's fans during the late 18th and early 19th century. Our music would have suffered greatly had either one of them not existed.

  8. I would like to say that with no offense, Salieri's music shall never surpass that of Mozart's. Never. Although Salieri is no amateur and obviously well musically trained he never had the expression Mozart had, Salieri was well, in ways to put it, boring. Mozart composed a minuet at the age of 4-5 and his 25th symphony (one of my favorites) at 17. Salieri will never compare to that genius. Although I will not say Salieri is a bad musician he is simply just incapable of surpassing Mozart. Tell me how many people can say they know the name Salieri? I've listened to one of his requiems and it's very....boring. Mozart was only 35 at his death. He was not even at his prime. Had Mozart lived a full life (65-79 years probably in that day) he would have crushed every composer. One like Salieri. He made masterpieces and died young at a measily 35 years. To even compare Mozart to Salieri is a joke.

  9. http://youtu.be/lezueMHmXoU

    The Salieri piece