2003 Abstracts Stage 3

Redeeming Mozart: a philosophical exploration of “Amadeus”

Suzi Adams, 2003, Stage 3

The investigation is based on Peter Shaffer’s screenplay Amadeus, an elaborate story of the relationship between the legendary musician Wolfgang Mozart and his contemporary counterpart Antonio Salieri. Critics have interpreted the film in various ways, however its philosophical content had been left untouched. The project’s first concern is the identification of two philosophical trends within the characters of the play – Mozart being aligned to the baroque and Salieri portraying notions of traditional philosophy. The interaction of the characters in the plot in this context raises new philosophical issues such as creativity, genius, autonomy and the concept of God and also displays the philosophical influence over mans interaction with his surroundings. This discussion takes place alongside Walter Benjamin’s similar interpretation of Trauerspiel, The Origin of German Tragic Drama. The project’s second concern lies not in the content of the film but in its creation and subsequent afterlife. Shaffer constructed the play on fragments of truth regarding the real Mozart, which he then exaggerated and developed into a fictional story. This process of destruction and reconstruction is investigated in relation to Walter Benjamin’s theory of the mortification of art in which art is constantly reinterpreted to produce new meaning. Benjamin argues that through the creation of new meaning the original object is redeemed. It is the final concern of the project to investigate this theory and explore to what extent Mozart has been redeemed by Amadeus. The result is a project that not only investigates the baroque concepts of afterlife, mortification and redemption but also illustrates these notions in its method of exploration.

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