Wolves and Eagles part 1
I HAVE DONE IT.
Yes, I wrote this over 2 nights. It's not too long. Open for suggestions and corrections etc.
I did some research for Salieri, though I know this is not how he was introduced to the court. Artist's licence.
This is an Amadeus fan fiction. Characters (c) to history, Amadeus, Schaffer, Foreman, respective actors etc.
Writings, Wolves and Eagles (c) to me.
Part 1: Salieri's Audition.
Salieri stood in the parlour, fretting and restless. A servant pulled up a chair.
"Would you care to sit, Signore?" he asked politely.
Salieri shook his head. "No, thank you." The servant bowed and moved the chair out of the way, leaving Salieri to fix his attention once again on the chamber door, chewing his lip. With a metallic wrench that almost made him jump out of his skin, the door flew open and the previous audition stormed out, his face a mask of disappointment and hurt.
Salieri had heard him play. Even he himself, being a man of great musical experience, was greatly impressed by the work he had just heard.
"The standard is pretty high," he thought despairingly. "What kind of chance do I have?"
Salieri whirled around. Chamberlain von Strack was standing in the doorway with a sheet of parchment.
"Signor Salieri," von Strack repeated. "The Emperor is waiting for you now. If you please," he gestured towards the chamber.
Salieri took a deep breath and entered the room. The Emperor was clearly visible, in his dark blue coat, adorned with the imperial medals. He was conversing quietly with his court, fiddling with his imperial sash. His eyes met Salieri's and the corners of his mouth twitched. He coughed and gestured for his men to pay attention. Salieri bowed and greeted the Emperor.
"Your Imperial Majesty," he said. "It is an honour."
"The honour is all mine, Signor..." he glanced sideways at his Chamberlain.
"Salieri," von Strack murmured.
"Signor Salieri!" he smiled, getting to his feet and approaching Salieri with the grace of a lion, hand outstretched.
Salieri, taken somewhat aback, shook the Emperor's hand and went to kiss his ring.
"None of that," the Emperor chuckled. "It's not a Holy Relic. Now, allow me to introduce you to the imperial court," He gestured to the tall man in the pale wig. "I see you have already met our chamberlain, Count von Strack.."
Von Strack smiled and inclined his head slightly.
"This is Baron von Swieten," the Emperor gestured to a man in a dark grey wig and a heavy blue greatcoat. Von Swieten bent his knees slightly in a bow.
"And, as always, no imperial court is complete without culture. Our music committee; the director of opera, Count Orsini-Rosenberg," the man with small round glasses and a pale blue jacket smiled and bowed, "and Kappellmeister Bonno." A stout, smartly dressed man bowed, grinning broadly.
"Both are Italian," the Emperor added. "So, Signor Salieri, tell us a little about yourself."
"Well, your Majesty," Salieri began. "I come from the little town of Legnago, in Venice. I have studied very hard in the fields of music. It is my dream to become a great musician. It would be a great honour for me if you were to accept me as court composer. I will write the most amazing music you will ever hear." He forgot himself slightly. After all, he was terribly nervous about the audition.
"Mmm-hmm," the Emperor chewed his lip slightly. "Well, let's see what you're capable of." He gestured towards the harpsichord. "Sit. Play for us."
Salieri did as he was told and took his seat at the instrument. He took out a roll of parchment which he held under his arm and laid it against the music stand.
"This is one of my early concertos," he informed the court, and began to play.
His playing lasted about three minutes. As he played, the whole court listened intently, not moving a muscle or making a sound, until near the end, he could hear hushed whispering between the two Italian gentlemen, speaking their native tongue. From what Salieri caught from their conversation, they quite enjoyed his music. Salieri couldn't help but smile to himself. He polished off his concerto with a flourished scale before taking to his feet and bowing sharply.
"Thank you, gentlemen."
The court applauded gratefully, apart from the Emperor, who was sitting on his throne, his fingers resting on his cheek. Salieri noticed this, and his smile dropped.
The Emperor saw Salieri's expression change and burst into laughter.
"Marvellous, Signor! Absolutely charming," he grinned, taking again to his feet and wringing Salieri's arm.
"Why do you look so shocked, Signor? Did you think you played badly?" he laughed again and patted Salieri on the back. "Absolutely marvellous, Signor." He turned to his court.
"Gentlemen," he called. "What did you make of this charming young man's concerto?"
Salieri heard a chattering cacophony of agreement. Count Orsini-Rosenberg, man in the glasses stepped forward.
"It was a delight, Signor," he mused, shaking Salieri's hand with great vigour. "Such a delight."
"I'm glad you think so, gentlemen. Your Majesty," Salieri said shakily, bowing to each of them in turn.
"Well, there it is," the Emperor grinned. "It looks like we have found our new court composer. Well done Signor- or should I say Maestro Salieri!"
Salieri felt such joy that he could barely contain his heart within his chest. He bowed, in total shock.
"Oh, your Majesty! What a great honour this is for me, for my village! A thousand thanks, your Majesty, gentlemen," he thanked them breathlessly.
"Now, now, Maestro," the Emperor chuckled. "Don't get too over-excited. We'll need you in good form tomorrow morning for the imperial music lessons. Come! You've earned yourself a drink."
"What of the other auditions, your Majesty?" von Strack asked, frowning.
"Oh, those!" the Emperor grinned, smacking his forehead. "Tell them they can all go home. But break it to them lightly."
"Anything else, your Majesty?" von Strack asked politely, standing in the doorway.
"No, nothing at all," the Emperor shook his head. "Oh wait, send them a gift basket or something."
"Very good, your Majesty." von Strack bowed and left the room.
"Well, gentlemen," the Emperor lead his court and Salieri to a narrow table. "Sit. Let us celebrate this momentous occasion! Another addition to the Imperial court."
The gentlemen sat, and a servant went around the table, filling their glasses with wine.
"I propose a toast to our new court composer!" the Emperor beamed, raising his glass. "To Maestro Salieri!"
The court followed suit. Salieri sat at the table, trying to suppress a smile. It was no use, he was so proud that he couldn't help but grin and laugh, and still he felt as if he would explode.
"So, Maestro," Rosenberg chimed, adjusting his glasses. "How do you feel about being our new court composer?"
Salieri shook his head, still smiling.
"Words cannot describe the joy within my heart this very moment," he said, a lump rising in his throat. "To think that I was once just a poor merchant's son, and now I will compose music for the imperial court! This is incredible."
"So it is," the Emperor agreed. "You've come a long way, Maestro," he sipped his wine and repeated "You've come a long way indeed."
Count von Strack returned to the chamber.
"The auditions have left now, your Majesty," he noted.
"Good, good!" the Emperor beamed. "Come, Chamberlain. Sit and join us. Drink!"
"Thank you, your Majesty," von Strack smiled and joined the court at the table.
"So how did they take it?" Rosenberg asked von Strack as he took his seat.
"Not too well," von Strack murmured, watching a servant pour his drink. "They thought it was unfair, that the choice was made without fully reviewing all the auditions."
"I concur," von Swieten nodded in agreement. "His Majesty's decision was rather rash."
"Gentlemen, please!" the Emperor groaned. "I stand by my choice. I enjoyed Maestro Salieri's music immensely." He smiled sweetly at Salieri.
"But, your Majesty," von Swieten interrupted. "What if one of these gentlemen were even better than Herr Salieri?"
"I don't see how they could be."
"But, your Majesty..."
The Emperor silenced von Swieten by raising his hand, his expression serious. "I will hear no more of this, gentlemen."
"Very good, your Majesty," von Swieten and von Strack murmured, exchanging defeated side-glances. As Salieri sipped his wine, he thought about what they said. What if there was someone truly better than him? He himself noticed so many musicians whose work he found much more impressive than his own. Was this some sort of trick? Some sort of entertainment for the court, seeing how far along they could lead him before he caught on.
"You look worried, Maestro."
"Hm?" Salieri blinked, returning to reality.
"I said you look worried, Maestro," Rosenberg repeated, concerned.
"What is the matter, Salieri?" the Emperor enquired as his servant refilled his glass.
"It's not important, your Majesty," Salieri said, ashamed.
"Come, Salieri!" the Emperor clapped his hand on the table. "Tell us what is the matter. You need not fear anything. After all, what happens within the imperial court stays within the imperial court."
Kappellmeister Bonno gave a little giggle at this. Rosenberg silenced him with a chastising look and elbowed him sharply in the ribs.
The Emperor ignored them. "Maestro Salieri?"
"Forgive me, your Majesty," Salieri said, shaking his head. "Your Highness and his men have been so kind in receiving me as part of the imperial court. I have just been having doubts, your Majesty." He fought to maintain eye contact with the Emperor, and started to wring his hands under the table.
The Emperor stared at him with an emotionless expression, smacking the wine from his lips.
"My heart fills with so much joy at the thought of being court composer," he said honestly. "It is what I want most in the world. And always has been. For you all to receive me so soon, so immediately... it is beyond belief. As if it were too good to be true."
The court was transfixed on Salieri as he continued to wring his hands under the table.
"I can scarce come to terms with it all, gentlemen," he concluded, pursed his lips and lapsed into awkward silence.
The Emperor broke the stillness by laughing heartily.
"Oh, Salieri!" he chuckled. "You needn't fear. Really." His expression changed to a somewhat comforting one as he laid both hands on the table. "I am speaking for myself and for everyone," he was interrupted by a hollow grumble from von Strack and von Swieten, "...everyone in this room," he repeated, his face stern, "that it is an honour to have you amongst us. It really is." He smiled sweetly at Salieri. "You need have no fear. You are one of us now. That is, for as long as you desire."
Salieri smiled nervously.
"Thank you, your Majesty," he said hollowly, inclining his head in gratitude.
"Well, there it is," the Emperor grinned, getting to his feet. "I'm terribly sorry to cut this meeting short, Maestro, but I have an appointment with the Archbishop. If you'll excuse me."
He walked towards Salieri and shook his hand. He then bent his head down and spoke quietly into Salieri's ear.
"Come back tonight."
Salieri looked at the Emperor in disbelief. The court did not take notice, they were speaking amongst each other and readying the room for his appointment.
"It's quite obvious," the Emperor murmured. "Such service deserves service in return. Come back tonight. Alone."
"I don't understand..."
"Come back tonight," he repeated in an abrupt mutter, wringing Salieri's hand one last time.
"Until then, Maestro."
Salieri bowed, successfully masking an expression of confusion with a polite smile and left the chamber.