child. It had become increasingly clear that the poor health of their
ﬁrstborn would stand in the way of a career as a manual worker.
But Antonio was bright, and so they began to think more in the
direction of training for the priesthood. And it had not taken
Giambattista long to discover that, despite being backward in
physical development, his son was musically gifted.
‘Perhaps one day he’ll play as well as his father,’ Giovanni
Legrenzi had laughingly remarked one afternoon in March, soon
after Antonio’s seventh birthday. Giambattista would never forget
that day because it was the same occasion that Legrenzi, friend but
more signiﬁcantly Primo Maestro of the Cappella Ducale, had asked
him to join his orchestra as violinist - the orchestra of the Basilica
of San Marco. It was huge honour. Since then it had been much
easier for him to get invitations to play in one of the theatre
orchestras, but a real breakthrough had never come his way. His
brushes with the aristocracy had been just enough to give him a
tantalising taste of the life led by the upper classes, whilst
reminding him that his lowly status excluded him forever from
their ranks. This awareness was only conﬁrmed when Antonio, no
sooner had he had got his tonsure, was appointed Maestro di Violino
di Coro at the Ospedale della Pietà. The son was thus suddenly earning
a salary twice that of his father. Giambattista did not mind in the
least. It only proved that Camilla and he had been right about the
young man. And what might yet be in store for Antonio?
Well, not so very much just now.
‘Come on, son,’ his father chides more softly. He rufﬂes
Antonio’s hair. ‘Go outside for God’s sake and get a breath of fresh
air. But whatever you do, don’t stand still and get into conversation
with anyone. Because you stink to high heaven.’
Antonio gives his father a grateful look and stumbles out
of the room. The old man gazes after him, shaking his head.
‘Enough of that daydreaming now!’ Picking up a clean sheet of
paper, he strokes it ﬂat and concentrates on work again. He has
wasted too much time as it is.
A couple of days later the weather thaws. No one in the
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