retaliate when persecuted. But the bullies had learnt their lesson
too and decided to ignore him from now on. They were terriﬁed.
What if he had died? Then they would certainly have been had up
before the Inquisition, put on the rack and hanged next day like
common criminals from the outside wall of the Palazzo Ducale.
Antonio was only too happy to be left in peace, although
he was still scared. Oh, how good it would be to have revenge on
them! But how? He knew he was too weak to do anything about it
now and had to bide his time. But all his fear and anger melted
away when he played his violin. The warm tones of the instrument
offered consolation and in his private dream world there existed
neither teaser nor torturer.
The pattern of bullying and retreat recurred at the scuole sestierali,
the seminary of San Giovanni. Antonio put up with training for the
priesthood, knowing all the time that his only real interest lay with
the violin and any teacher who could enrich his knowledge of it.
His mother, always full of concern, very often had the idea that the
world was passing him by completely. ‘What in heaven’s name will
become of him?’ she would anxiously ask of herself and his father
time and again. Her husband was much more phlegmatic, calming
his wife with the observation that once Antonio was ordained his
future would be assured; a priest could always earn a living. And of
course Giambattista kept his eyes and ears open, and when he
heard that the new Maestro di Coro at the Ospedale della Pietà was
looking for a teacher for the string section he wasted no time in
arranging an audition for Antonio. But it was thanks purely to
Antonio’s own abilities that Maestro di Coro Francesco Gasparini
gave him the appointment. Antonio felt as if awoken from a long
dream. He took an immense liking to the Maestro di Coro and could
not have wished for a ﬁner position. He fulﬁlled his task with
unparalleled enthusiasm and it looked as though he had found his
vocation. For the ﬁrst time in her life, Camilla stopped worrying
about her son.
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