Peter Shaffer's Amadeus

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Signet, Jan 1, 1989 - Drama - 156 pages
Captures the world of eighteenth-century Vienna, where court musician Salieri reconstructs his efforts to destroy his archrival, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, efforts that build to a chilling conclusion

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User Review  - angelofmusic_81 - LibraryThing

The play is strikingly different from the film. Pay special attention to the stage directions for the "hissing" noise created by repeating Salieri's name, and the stark modernist set. It makes for a ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Unreachableshelf - LibraryThing

Seeing this play on stage earlier this season is what made me realize how much I loved Peter Shaffer. The film version is far less deep and complex, and does not for a second hint that it came from ... Read full review


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About the author (1989)

The psychiatrist Dysart and the composer Salieri, the protagonists of Shaffer's most successful plays, are overcivilized men, each faced with a figure of tormented inspiration---the horse mutilator Strang and the simpering and sublime Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (see Vol. 3). The envy felt by the cultivated and repressed for a mind capable of confronting its own demons (and angels) is a subject that runs back through Shaffer's earlier pairings of liberal and reactionary in Shrivings (1970), of conquistador and Inca in The Royal Hunt of the Sun (1964). It may even be traceable, in some way, to Shaffer's own equivocal position in the British drama. Shaffer burst into public attention at the very moment the new drama found its voice---Five Finger Exercise won him a citation as the most promising British playwright in 1958, the same year that Harold Pinter and Arnold Wesker had their first London productions. Yet from the start, Shaffer was chided for the impersonality---the overconstructed and underinspired quality---of his playwrighting. (Five Finger Exercise was, as its title suggests, an essay in traditional domestic melodrama.) Director John Dexter made heroic efforts to enrich the texture of The Royal Hunt of the Sun with ritual, mime, and music in a grand National Theatre production. He was more successful in Equus (1973), in which he brought some of the audience onstage and placed horse-head masks on actors. But Dexter's near-collaborative efforts, and the extensive rewriting that marked Peter Hall's production of Amadeus (1980), suggest that Shaffer, despite his successes, is too reticent for the overheated contemporary stage, a Salieri clever enough to acknowledge his own exclusion. Born in Liverpool, Shaffer spent three years working in coal mines before entering Cambridge University, and several more employed by a music publisher and the New York Public Library. The twin of playwright Anthony Shaffer (Sleuth, 1970), he has also written detective novels and music criticism.

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