Shaffer, Sir Peter

Shaffer, Sir Peter

(shăf`ər), 1926–2016, English playwright, b. Liverpool, grad. Cambridge, 1950. Before turning to the stage he wrote for radio and television and was the author of several mystery novels. He penned both historical and contemporary dramas, work ranging from the tautly dramatic to the farcically comic. His first successful play, Five Finger Exercise (1958), is a study of the tensions in an upper-middle-class family. The Royal Hunt of the Sun (1964), is an epic of Pizarro's destruction of Incan civilization. His best-known dramas, both Tony Award winners, are Equus (1973), a dialogue between a psychoanalyst and a deranged, horse-obsessed youth, and Amadeus (1979), which relates the rivalry between the composers MozartMozart, Wolfgang Amadeus
, 1756–91, Austrian composer, b. Salzburg. Mozart represents one of the great peaks in the history of music. His works, written in almost every conceivable genre, combine luminous beauty of sound with classical grace and technical perfection.
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 and SalieriSalieri, Antonio
, 1750–1825, Italian composer and conductor. He received his first training in Italy, going afterward (1766) to Vienna, where he remained as conductor of the opera and later (1788–1824) as court conductor.
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. Shaffer's other plays include The Private Ear and The Public Eye (1962), Black Comedy (1965), Lettice and Lovage (1987), and The Gift of the Gorgon (1993). Several of his plays were made into films, and he won an Academy Award for his motion-picture adaptation of Amadeus (1984). Shaffer was knighted in 2001.

Bibliography

See G. A. Plunka, Peter Shaffer: Roles, Rites and Rituals in the Theater (1988); C. J. Gianakaras, ed., Peter Shaffer: A Casebook (1991); M. K. MacMurraugh-Kavanagh, Peter Shaffer: Theater and Drama (1998).

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