Antonio Salieri and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart were immediate contemporaries, colleagues and competitors. While Mozart had to survive as a freelance artist on the Viennese music scene, which he succeeded in doing mainly through his impressive piano concertos in the 1780s, Salieri had a better position as court conductor.
In 1815, Salieri composed a series of colourful orchestral variations on a theme that was already popular in the Baroque era. The British composer Edward Elgar also wrote an important work of variations shortly before 1900, the style of which is enigmatic yet highly expressive.
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