I was drinking a beer last night and listening to
Music Choice, a cable radio channel that I get on
my television, when a work of Vivaldi came on. As
usual the channel gave a bar containing bits of
information about the work, the composer, or the
performers running across the top or bottom of
One bit of information they gave was that Vivaldi
squandered his money and was in poverty at the end
of his life, so much so that he was buried in a
Well, not entirely true.
For a good portion of his life Vivaldi was extremely
popular all over Europe. He traveled from court to
court winning favor everywhere he went, making a lot
of money in the process. They called him The Red
Priest due to the fact that A) he had red hair; and
B) he was a priest.
But like many priests of his day Vivaldi had a mistress.
Most people pretty much turned a blind eye to this type
of thing back then, helped by the fact that clerics tended
to keep their affairs quiet. But eventually Vivaldi made
a big mistake. Attending a large court function in France
he decided to bring his mistress along. People were shocked
at such a blatant display. The French court turned against
As we frequently see today with celebrities, people can
praise you one minute and curse you the next. Word got
around about Vivaldi's behavior. And, helped by the fact
that his music was beginning to sound a bit old fashioned
at that point anyway, fewer courts wanted to feature him.
His sources of revenue shrank and his fame dwindled. And
it is true that he was buried in a pauper's grave.
All of which could teach us two good lessons: First, no
matter how rich you are it is still possible to lose it.
And second, if you are a priest, don't go flaunting your
mistress all over the place. You would think this second
one would be obvious. But evidently it wasn't obvious to
Oh well. Today we don't remember the people who, filled
with spite, spoke against him. But we do certainly
remember Antonio Vivaldi.