Salieri "the gizzard" at 256

While the whole world has been busy this year celebrating Mozart's 250th birthday, poor Antonio Salieri, who turns 256 today, remains forever in Amadeus's shadow.

Mozart, of course, has been described as the fillet of the Classical era, while Salieri, on the other hand, has generally been portrayed as the gizzards. That is: the heart, the liver, all that rubbery bluish-red intestinal-looking stuff they wrap up in a wad of paper and stick inside the chicken. My problem with this comparison? It's simply not fair. Forget for the moment that no man should ever be compared to the innards of a chicken. That much is a given. Beyond that, Salieri, while perhaps not the best-dressed (nor most fortunate looking) composer who ever lived, wasn't a bad musician at all. In fact, he was pretty darn good. Good enough to be the teacher of Beethoven, Schubert AND Liszt!

But thanks to Peter Shaffer's play and Oscar winning film, Amadeus, most people regard Salieri as incompetent. So, after the jump, in honor of his birthday, I'd like to set a couple things straight.

First, Salieri did not "kill" Mozart, nor was he obsessively jealous of Mozart's talents. As Peter A. Brown says in his essay on the subject over at the Mozart Project, "In 1825 Salieri's two attendants attested that they had never heard such words from their charge, and a friend of Mozart's physician reported that Wolfgang had died of a fever that was epidemic at that time in Vienna. From an unproved premise Shaffer developed this, the central character in Amadeus, as one obsessed by and murderously jealous of Mozart's genius."

But Shaffer didn't make this up either. It started as a rumor in and around Vienna after Mozart's death. Then, in 1831, about five years after Salieri died, the father of all Russian poets, Alexander Pushkin, wrote a short story called "Mozart and Salieri" in which the rumor was dramatized. In 1898, the Russian composer, Rimsky-Korsakov, perpetuated the rumor by turning Pushkin's verse into an opera. But neither painted such a ridiculously simple portrait of the bumbling Salieri as Shaffer and director Milos Forman did.

All that said, Amadeus remains one of my top-five favorite films. Yes, even though the Salieri caricature is only one of the many distortions. Because: No, Salieri did not commission nor help Mozart finish -- bedside, no less! -- his Requiem, as shown in the film. The anonymous commission, it would later be determined, was from one Count von Walsegg-Stuppach.

And no, I didn't just make that name up—feel free to Google him if you don't believe me. Turns out, Count von Walsegg-Stuppach wanted to pass the requiem off as his own, in memory of his late wife. (The Countess Ham-ikka-Schnim-ikka-Schnam-ikka-Schnoop, perhaps?)

So raise a glass to Salieri, the one who didn't kill Mozart! Happy Birthday you old gizzard you.

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Ernest Hemingway’s Guide to Life, In 20 Quotes
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Though he made his living as a writer, Ernest Hemingway was just as famous for his lust for adventure. Whether he was running with the bulls in Pamplona, fishing for marlin in Bimini, throwing back rum cocktails in Havana, or hanging out with his six-toed cats in Key West, the Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning author never did anything halfway. And he used his adventures as fodder for the unparalleled collection of novels, short stories, and nonfiction books he left behind, The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, Death in the Afternoon, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and The Old Man and the Sea among them.

On what would be his 119th birthday—he was born in Oak Park, Illinois on July 21, 1899—here are 20 memorable quotes that offer a keen perspective into Hemingway’s way of life.

ON THE IMPORTANCE OF LISTENING

"I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen."

ON TRUST

"The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them."

ON DECIDING WHAT TO WRITE ABOUT

"I never had to choose a subject—my subject rather chose me."

ON TRAVEL

"Never go on trips with anyone you do not love."


Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston. [1], Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

ON THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN INTELLIGENCE AND HAPPINESS

"Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know."

ON TRUTH

"There's no one thing that is true. They're all true."

ON THE DOWNSIDE OF PEOPLE

"The only thing that could spoil a day was people. People were always the limiters of happiness, except for the very few that were as good as spring itself."

ON SUFFERING FOR YOUR ART

"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."

ON TAKING ACTION

"Never mistake motion for action."

ON GETTING WORDS OUT

"I wake up in the morning and my mind starts making sentences, and I have to get rid of them fast—talk them or write them down."


Photograph by Mary Hemingway, in the Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston., Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

ON THE BENEFITS OF SLEEP

"I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I'm awake, you know?"

ON FINDING STRENGTH 

"The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places."

ON THE TRUE NATURE OF WICKEDNESS

"All things truly wicked start from innocence."

ON WRITING WHAT YOU KNOW

"If a writer knows enough about what he is writing about, he may omit things that he knows. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one ninth of it being above water."

ON THE DEFINITION OF COURAGE

"Courage is grace under pressure."

ON THE PAINFULNESS OF BEING FUNNY

"A man's got to take a lot of punishment to write a really funny book."


By Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston. - JFK Library, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

ON KEEPING PROMISES

"Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut."

ON GOOD VS. EVIL

"About morals, I know only that what is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after."

ON REACHING FOR THE UNATTAINABLE

"For a true writer, each book should be a new beginning where he tries again for something that is beyond attainment. He should always try for something that has never been done or that others have tried and failed. Then sometimes, with great luck, he will succeed."

ON HAPPY ENDINGS

"There is no lonelier man in death, except the suicide, than that man who has lived many years with a good wife and then outlived her. If two people love each other there can be no happy end to it."

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