Vivaldi and his ladies
Antonio Vivaldi, 1678-1741, perhaps the greatest Italian (Venetian) baroque music master.
He was a priest and never left his first vocation,
although he was forced by illness out of service.
In his later years, the priests complained
and wondered why he never more said mass.
He hadn’t then for half his life.
He wrote that famous pitiful reply,
that illness of the lungs in all his life
had made it hard for him to say the mass at all,
and when he had, he had been interrupted
by his chest pains, coughings, and so forth.
Instead, he found his comfort in his music,
and his orchestra of ladies was ideal company
throughout his life, performing all his concerts,
oratorios and operas. Although so intimate with ladies
every day and even with most stimulating music,
he remained a virgin all his life
– again because of illness.
It might have been tuberculosis
of some kind or something like it,
and like Mozart he died prematurely
and was forgotten in a pauper’s grave
and even in Vienna. Unlike Mozart’s, though,
Antonio Vivaldi’s graveyard is all gone;
and all that now is left of him
is all that virgin and enchanting music
which he so enjoyed with all his ladies.