Salieri, Commerce and COVID

In Amadeus, Antonio Salieri rejects his father’s bourgeois commercial life and offers himself (?) in exchange for art and fame.

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.

After a month of quarantine and economic lockdown, I offer that Antonio was wrong about the relative diginity, fame, and importance of mere commerce. Commerce is what in fact makes the flourishing of art possible to the degree that 18th century Vienna experienced.

Three cheers for Old Man Salieri and his trade. And while Antonio may be the patron saint of mediocrities everywhere, he may also be the blessed patron of those who cannot see upon whose shoulders they stand.

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