The Sound of Humanity: music as ‘true’ identity

Title: The Sound of Humanity: music as ‘true ‘ individuality in Peter Shaffer ‘sAmadeus.

In his 1979 drama,Amadeus, Peter Schaffer constructed a psychological life of the composer’s life through the eyes of one of his head challengers, if he can be said to hold had any, Antonio Salieri, the tribunal instrumentalist to the Emperor of Austria. Shaffer’s drama deconstructs the directives behind Mozart’s colossal mastermind in order to associate the individuality of the adult male to his music and organize a fatalist relationship between the two which literally proves the ultimate identifier of ‘humanity’ in the work. However, it is necessary to see the manner in which the play maps in order to understand more clearly the methodological analysis which Shaffer employs and accordingly comprehend the psychological informative of the author’s and the play’s directive.

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It has been said that ‘more than any other factor, the Mozart passion of the 1980s was initiated by Peter Shaffer’s dramaAmadeus’ [ 1 ] and significantly, it was the cryptic decease of Mozart which foremost drew Shaffer to the subject and so, decease hangouts the drama, as the immature composer approaches his ain decease haunted by a character he believes to be his late male parent. ‘By several histories Mozart’s male parent was a difficult adult male to like’ [ 2 ] who had taken a really steadfast clasp of his son’s life of all time since his birth and sacrificed his ain calling for the male child. The elder Mozart was disillusioned at an early age and deeply counter towards the church ‘even in Leopold Mozart’s subsequently old ages, he frequently had harsh and sarcastic words for the priesthood’ [ 3 ] holding ‘entered into a wrangle with God’ [ 4 ] . This hostility clearly coloured the spiritual facet of individuality found in the music of his boy, ‘the beloved of God’ , Amadeus.

Within the drama, Salieri sees God foremost as a Divine Muse and subsequently as an enemy since he believes himself to be mocked by the irreverent Mozart’s mastermind which refutes what he saw as a deal between himself and God to do his music genuinely Divine. The fact that Salieri identifies music with the Divine has a dark side, resonant of Leopold Mozart’s, so that the inevitable dichotomy which Shaffer presents as predating Mozart’s diminution into decease is per se linked with this. In fact, it is the self-importance in both the senior Mozart and Salieri that replaces the Divine for each.

The drama was highly of import to Shaffer, in fact he re-wrote it several times with ‘a about obsessional chase of lucidity, structural order, and drama’ [ 5 ] believing that ‘one of the mistakes which I [ Shaffer ] believe existed in the London version was merely that Salieri has excessively small to make with Mozart’s ruin’ [ 6 ] . Thus, when Salieri committees Mozart we are intended to deduce a direct conjunction with the devastation of Mozart at the custodies of Salieri and this is made field in the movie version of the drama. As A. Peter Brown points out:

For the movie version, Shaffer and Forman once more revised the book, non merely for the new medium but besides for a larger and less-sophisticated audience. Both work forces agreed that we were non doing an nonsubjective ‘Life of Wolfgang Mozart’ . This can non be stressed excessively strongly. [ 7 ]

Therefore, the subjectiveness of the angle of vision, about wholly Salieri’s, is connected to and reflective of the desire by Shaffer to show the music of Mozart as a psychological identifier. Clearly, the prodigy’s glare was widely known and remains about mythically so, but Shaffer inverts this to bring forth an interweaving of world and phantasy which the music transmutes:

Even more so than on the phase, the movie translated what could be accepted as compelling play into what for many viewing audiences became the clip, topographic point, and characters of history. [ 8 ]

Set in ‘the most important decennary of the composer’s life’ [ 9 ] , the existent facts of the Mozart’s life are hence subordinated to the idiosyncratic ‘created reality’ which Shaffer wants to advance as an identifier. Therefore, the music as the one interpretative certainty within the drama becomes its true identifier since it is, to invert a common literary term, the lone dependable storyteller throughout.

The drama is set in Vienna and makes much usage of courtly set-pieces to set up the scene and to heighten the individuality of the rival composers, Mozart and Salieri, as seen via the apposition of their music and to develop the thought that position was all important. ( Indeed, when Mozart’s father wrote place to describe on his visit to his boy, ‘Leopold did non neglect to observe the impressiveness of Wolfgang ‘s lodgings’ [ 10 ] . ) Salieri, before Mozart’s reaching, was pre-eminent in position and his resentment at being displaced by a adult male he sees as a vulgar, irreverent clown unworthy to be the receiver of a Divine gift informs the drama throughout. It is a changeless jussive mood of the drama, nevertheless, that the competition exists merely in the consciousness of Salieri and so, possibly, does the attendant aggrandizement of his belief that he killed Mozart:

In his last old ages he [ Salieri ] suffered from dotage. Among the rumours go arounding in Vienna around 1824 was one stating that Salieri had said he poisoned Mozart. [ 11 ]

It is about as if at this point, Salieri is deriving his full impression of individuality from his disparate connexion with Mozart and that even being the orchestrator of his decease would hold been a agency of heightening the placing conjunction with Mozart’s mastermind ; the drama is both Salieri’s confession and his self-praise. The music becomes the cannula by which Salieri’s compulsion permeates non merely the drama but his life and therefore remains the individual desirable individuality for him, resurrected through memory. The thought that such vicarious position could be achieved belongs wholly to the psychological reading which Shaffer seeks and which he finally achieves.

To reason, Shaffer’s drama is concerned less with the biographical inside informations of Mozart’s life than with the psychological rendition of an compulsion, that of his challenger, Salieri, of which music is the remarkable truth and the ultimate individuality. Pulling on a head which had a ‘predilection for playing with words, for anagrams and games of assorted kinds’ [ 12 ] Shaffer might about be said to hold been making a mystifier from an mystery with music as the lone dependable individuality both in life and Art.


Sieghard Brandenburg, Haydn, Mozart, & A ; Beethoven: Surveies in the Music of the Classical Period, ( Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1998 ) .

A. Peter Brown. ‘Amadeus’ and Mozart: Puting the Record Straight, & lt ; hypertext transfer protocol: // & gt ; accessed 20.11.08.

Otto Erich, Deutsch,Mozart: A Documentary Biography, ( Stanford University Press, 1966 ) .

Peter Dimond, A Mozart Diary: A Chronological Reconstruction of the Composer ‘s Life, 1761-1791, ( Greenwood Press, Westport, CT, 1997 ) .

Ruth Halliwell, The Mozart Family: Four Lifes in a Social Context, ( Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1998 ) .

Simon P. Keefe, Mozart ‘s Piano Concertos: Dramatic Dialogue in the Age of Enlightenment, ( Boydell Press, Rochester, NY, 2001 ) .

H. C. Robbins Landon, The Mozart Companion, ( Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1956 ) .

Maynard Solomon,Mozart: A Life, ( Harper Perennial, 1996 )

Andrew Steptoe, The Mozart-Da Ponte Operas: The Cultural and Musical Background to Le Nozze Di Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Cosi Fan Tutte, ( Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1990 ) .

M. F.M. Van Den Berk, The Magic Flute = : Die Zauberflhote An Alchemical Allegory, ( Brill, Boston, 2004 ) .


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