Amadeus. In my language, the name is Amadeo. Beloved of God. Wolfgang Amadeus.
For quite some years I made it my business to hate you. You were the enfant terrible, the screaming brat thrown into my ordered, powdered world. Of course, it was not so very long before you destroyed it, piece by piece, never once realising that anything you did could ruin or offend or distress. How I loved to hate you.
I cherished fantasies of your operas being booed, of stony silences following your concertos and your symphonies, of the Emperor yawning not once, but three or four or five times during your finales. These dreams became so real I could see the sweat of disbelief on your brow, feel the agonised tension in the theatre… but of course, when it came to it, they all cheered and the Emperor was not seen to yawn again after that first miserable time in La Nozze di Figaro and your music triumphed over all.
Oh yes. Your music. The one reason why I found myself unable to hate you completely. I hated your boyish bragging, your posturing, your dreadful snobbish little common wife and your laugh… your awful, braying excuse for a laugh will haunt me to the end. I hated your cheap friends with their bawdy games and I loathed the way the Emperor so admired your work. I was a foreigner in Vienna, one of a group of elevated and disapproving Italians who thought the Germans knew nothing of music. Then I heard you play. It was in Salzburg, I believe, at the Archbishop's Palace, and it was a kind of music I had never heard before. It fired me and doubled me over with jealousy; it tormented me when I found I could write nothing of the sort. All my life I had longed to write music like that. Through hours of drafts and revisions, I created something approaching it… but for a mere boy to scribble it down once on a piece of paper and reach perfection! It was intolerable!
How many ways I planned for disposing of you… a misplaced fencing thrust, a weight dropping onto the stage, the conventional assassin… but nothing was good enough for you. I planned to usher you off this mortal plane with a finale that everyone remembered, but in the end my assistance was not required. You did it yourself, unknowingly, drenching your health with wine, sleeping barely an hour a night in desperation to finish your music, torn between your Requiem for a dead father and an opera for a cheap theatre that your friend promised you good money for. Your end, when it came, was understated. Quiet. Heartbreaking.
I sat in that pathetic excuse for a theatre on that last night and watched you. I hated you with a passion so sharp it hurt me, but I had never missed a single one of your operas. It was I who ruined your run of Don Giovanni. It infuriated me, and with the aid of the Kappelmeister I made sure it only saw five performances, but I went to each one and sat hidden in the shadows, listening to the music with my heart simultaneously thrilling and despairing. You drove me mad. And, on this last night, when the soprano had sung her triumphant aria Der Hölle Rache, you faltered. I heard it. No one else would have noticed, but I did. I had heard this before, and I knew when you made a mistake.
Minutes later, you collapsed. The singers were slow to realise, and the audience even more so, but I fled from that box as though the hordes of Hell were after me. I had intended to leave, so sure I was that my hate had finally killed you, but instead I ended up at your side. I took you back to your cold quarters in the middle of Vienna, which your wife and son had deserted in her disgust at your methods of working, and there I sat with you. My enemy. Through the whole night, we worked on your father's Requiem. You dictated from your deathbed and I wrote, while the candle burned down and your face grew paler and paler. Then, in the early morning, you asked me to forgive you. For thinking I cared nothing for you and your music. Forgive you? You were right; I cared nothing for you. I maintain that now. You were a foolish and arrogant boy whose talent was far beyond his deserving, but you could write music like a god. You were my god.
And in time the funeral wound its way through the streets of Vienna and I followed it, triumphant and grief-stricken. The Emperor would ask me to write his operas again, but the music had left the world. Never again would I hear your chords, your adagios, your andantes, played with your hand. But they lived on. Scholars and musicians throughout Vienna played them, tormenting and delighting me; I heard your melodies drifting out of windows, across squares, through gardens. No one remembers my work. I was the toast of the moment. They have forgotten me now. Perhaps a few pieces survive, here and there, but no one really recognises them. I am the lost composer. Flung into the dark shadow of your star. God damn you, Amadeus. What daring, what longing you put into your work! Never have I had an enemy like you. Never did I hate a man so much or love a composer so well.
God damn you.
Wonderfully written short piece that caputures the foundation - if now quite the intensity of Salieri's hatred, and the realisation of his condemnation to obscurity.
I had an ex girlfriend who *liked* listening to Salieri... odd girl was Christine...
WELL DONE! Amadeus is my favorite movie, and Mozart is my inspiration. I'm glad to see people writing about it. You have done a perfect job in expressing Salieri's feelings...Keep it up ^_^
Nice. It captures the character of Salieri very well.
Hey, AM, that was a great story. I too found Salieri's mixed emotions about Mozart intriguing and I think you really captured it well in this story. I wish more people would write about this subject. Thanks for sharing and again, it was awesome!
YAY! Finally more Amadeus fic. i absolutely adored the movie and you did a great job of capturing Salieri's feelings...