While my father prayed earnestly to God, to "protect commerce", I would offer up secretly the proudest prayer a boy could think of: "Lord, make me a great composer. Let me celebrate Your glory through music and be celebrated myself. Make me famous through the world, dear God. Make me immortal. After I die, let people speak my name forever with love for what I wrote. In return, I will give You my chastity, my industry, my deepest humility, every hour of my life. Amen". And do you know what happened? A miracle!
That was Mozart. That! That giggling dirty-minded creature I had just seen, crawling on the floor!
[about a Mozart composition] Extraordinary! On the page it looked nothing! The beginning simple, almost comic. Just a pulse. Bassoons, basset horns - like a rusty squeezebox. And then, suddenly, high above it, an oboe. A single note, hanging there, unwavering. Until a clarinet took it over, sweetened it into a phrase of such delight! This was no composition by a performing monkey! This was a music I had never heard. Filled with such longing, such unfulfillable longing. It seemed to me that I was hearing the voice of God.
[to Father Vogler] All I ever wanted was to sing to God. He gave me that longing... and then made me mute. Why? Tell me that. If He didn't want me to praise Him with music, why implant the desire? Like a lust in my body! And then deny me the talent?
[addressing a crucifix] From now on, we are enemies... You and I. Because You choose for Your instrument a boastful, lustful, smutty, infantile boy and give me for reward only the ability to recognize the incarnation. Because You are unjust, unfair, unkind, I will block You, I swear it. I will hinder and harm Your creature on earth as far as I am able. I will ruin Your incarnation.
So rose the dreadful ghost from his next and blackest opera. There, on the stage, stood the figure of a dead commander. And I knew - only I understood - that the horrifying apparition was Leopold, raised from the dead! Wolfgang had summoned up his own father to accuse his son before all the world! It was terrifying and wonderful to watch. Now a madness begin in me. A madness of a man splitting in half. Through my influence, I saw to it Don Giovanni was played five times in Vienna. But in secret, I went to every one of those five - all alone - unable to help myself, worshipping sound I alone seem to hear. And hour after hour, as I stood there, understanding even more clearly how that bitter old man was still possessing his poor son from beyond the grave, I began to see a way - a terrible way - I could finally triumph over God.
[to Father Vogler] My plan was so simple that it terrified me. First, I must get the death mass and then I must achieve his death....His funeral! Imagine it! The cathedral, all Vienna sitting there. His coffin, Mozart's little coffin in the middle. And then, in that silence, music! A divine music bursts out over them all. A great mass of death! Requiem mass for Wolfgang Mozart. Composed by his devoted friend, Antonio Salieri! Oh what sublimity! What depth! What passion in the music! Salieri has been touched by God at last. And God forced to listen! Powerless, powerless to stop it! I, for once, in the end, laughing at him! The only thing that worried me was the actual killing. How does one do that? Hmmm? How does one kill a man? It's one thing to dream about it. Very different when, when you, when you have to do it with your own hands.
Your merciful God. He destroyed His own beloved rather than let a mediocrity share in the smallest part of His glory. He killed Mozart and kept me alive to torture! 32 years of torture! 32 years of slowly watching myself become extinct. My music growing fainter, all the time fainter till no one plays it at all, and his...
[to Father Vogler] I will speak for you, Father. I speak for all mediocrities in the world. I am their champion. I am their patron saint.
Mozart: "Confutatis maledictis" — when the wicked are confounded. "Flammis Acribus Addictis." How would you translate that?
Salieri: Consigned to flames of woe.
Mozart: Do you believe in it?
Mozart: A fire which never dies, burning you forever?
Salieri: Oh, yes.
Mozart: Why must I submit samples of my work to some stupid committee just to teach a thirteen-year-old girl?
Count Von Strack: Because His Majesty wishes it.
Mozart: Is the emperor angry with me?
Count Von Strack: Quite the contrary.
Mozart: Then why doesn't he simply appoint me to the post?
Count Von Strack: Mozart, you are not the only composer in Vienna.
Mozart: No. But I'm the best!
Constanze: Stop it!
Mozart: I am stopping it! Slowly. There? See? I've stopped. Now we're going back.
Mozart: Yes, yes! You don't know where you are! Here, everything goes backwards. People walk backwards, dance backwards, sing backwards, and even talk backwards.
Constanze: That's stupid.
Mozart: Why? People fart backwards.
Salieri: My plan was so simple. It terrified me. First I must get the death mass and then, I must achieve his death.
Father Vogler: [stares in horror] What?
Salieri: His funeral! Imagine it, the cathedral, all Vienna sitting there, his coffin, Mozart's little coffin in the middle, and then, in that silence, music! A divine music bursts out over them all. A great mass of death! Requiem mass for Wolfgang Mozart, composed by his devoted friend, Antonio Salieri! Oh what sublimity, what depth, what passion in the music! Salieri has been touched by God at last. And God is forced to listen! Powerless, powerless to stop it! I, for once in the end, laughing at Him! [beat] The only thing that worried me was the actual killing. How does one do that? Hmmm? How does one kill a man? It's one thing to dream about it; very different when, when you, when you have to do it with your own hands.
[Mozart has just seen Salieri's mediocre opera]
Salieri: Mozart, it good of you to come!
Mozart: How could I not?
Salieri: Did you my work please you?
Mozart: [hesitantly] I never knew that music like that was possible!
Salieri: [not fooled] You flatter me.
Mozart: [insincerely] No, no! One hears such sounds, and what can one say but... Salieri!
Constanze: [to Mozart's father] May I offer you some tea, Herr Mozart?
Mozart: Tea? Who wants tea? Let's go out! This calls for a feast. You don't want tea, do you, Papa?
Mozart: I know, let's go dancing! Papa loves parties, don't you?
Mozart: What? How you can be so boring? Tea...
Salieri: [reflecting upon a Mozart score] Astounding! It was actually, it was beyond belief. These were first and only drafts of music. But they showed no corrections of any kind. Not one. He had simply written down music already finished in his head! Page after page of it, as if he were just taking dictation! And music, finished as no music is ever finished. Displace one note and there would be diminishment. Displace one phrase and the structure would fall. It was clear to me that sound I had heard in the Archbishop's palace had been no accident. Here again was the very voice of God! I was staring through the cage of those meticulous ink-strokes at an absolute beauty. [he drops the pages]
Constanze: Is it not good?
Salieri: It is miraculous!
[Mozart loses at musical chairs]
Schikaneder: Herr Mozart, why don't you name you son's penalty?
Mozart: Yes, papa. Name it. Name it, I'll do anything you say. Anything.
Leopold Mozart: I want you to come back to Salzburg with me, my son.
Mozart: Papa, the rule is you can only give a penalty that can be performed in the room.
Leopold Mozart: I'm tired of this game, I don't want to play anymore.
Mozart: But my penalty! [jumping up and down like an angry child] I got to have a penalty!
Salieri: Leave me alone.
Father Vogler: I cannot leave alone a soul in pain.
Salieri: Do you know who I am?
Father Vogler: That makes no difference. All men are equal in God's eyes.
Salieri: [derisively] Are they?
[Salieri has played two pieces of music to Father Vogler, who does not recognize either]
Salieri: Can you recall no melody of mine? I was the most famous composer in Europe. I wrote forty operas alone! [suddenly inspired] Here, what about this one?