Born August 18 1750 in Legrano, Italy Died May 7, 1825 in Vienna
Salieri was the fifth son of an Italian merchant and he learned the violin and harpsichord from an early age. He was orphaned in 1765 and thereafter taken to Venice and Vienna by family friends in order to complete his musical education.
Italian opera was very popular in Vienna, as indeed it was throughout Europe. Salieri was appointed to the Viennese court in 1774 to compose and conduct Italian opera. He became Kapellmeister (the most senior music position in the court) in 1788. Salieri was also a lifelong friend of Gluck and he travelled with him to Paris where he composed a number of operas in the French style which met with enormous success. He wrote no more operas after 1804 due to his disagreement with changing operatic styles imposed upon him by Joseph Il’s successor, Leopold II.
Salieri served the Viennese court for fifty years during which time his works were popular and regularly performed throughout Europe. He was also noted for his excellent administration of the court musical establishment and in particular for his concern for the social welfare of the musicians. He made generous contributions to Vienna’s musicians benevolent scheme and he involved himself in fund-raising activities. As a teacher he was extremely important and highly regarded, his pupils including Beethoven, Schubert and Liszt.