Giuseppe Tartini

1692 - 1770

Giuseppe Tartini (8 April 1692 – 26 February 1770) was a Venetian Baroque composer and violinist.

 

(b. Pirano, April 8, 1692; d. Padua, February 26, 1770)
 

ITALIAN VIOLINIST, COMPOSER, AND TEACHER.

Though Tartini’s family wished him to take holy orders, they allowed him to attend the University of Padua to study law. His real passions, however, were fencing and the violin, and he was extremely good at both. At the age of 18, he fell in love with Elisabetta Premazore and secretly married her. Forced to leave Padua, he sought refuge in Assisi, and was sheltered in a convent supervised by a priest he knew from Pirano. During the three years he spent hiding out, he practiced furiously, experimenting with the violin, bow, and string thicknesses; he was also able to work with the composer Bohuslav Cernohorsky (1684-1742)—known as II Padre Boemo, “the Bohemian priest”—who was organist at the basilica of Assisi.

By 1714 Tartini was once again at large, playing in various opera orchestras and continuing to refine his technique. In 1721 he was appointed primo violino in charge of all instrumental music at the Basilica of San Antonio in Padua, and in 1723 he was allowed to travel to Prague to participate in the musical activities accompanying the coronation of Emperor Charles VI as king of Bohemia. He remained in Prague for three years in the service of Count Kinsky. Suffering from the chilly climate, he returned to Padua in 1726, where he spent the rest of his life. In 1727 he opened an academy for violinists, which became famous throughout Europe. A tireless teacher, often instructing ten students a day, he exerted an enormous influence on the development of the Franco-Italian style that would dominate violin playing in the late 18th and early 19th century. His playing was characterized by a sweet and expressive tone, impeccable intonation,  perfect bowing, and the discreet use of vibrato.

Key Works

The Sonata in G minor, The Devil’s Sonata as Tartini called it, or “Devil’s Trill,”

Sonatas for Violin Cello and Harpsichord 1/2

Sonata 12 in F major, Op. 1/12, B.F4  0:00
Pastorale in A major, Op. 1/13, B.A16  19:50
Sonata 4 in G major, Op. 1/4, B.G17  31:58
Sonata 10 in G minor "Didone abbandonata", Op.1/10, B.G10  40:48
Sonata Terza in C major, Op. 1/3, B.C11  56:22

As a composer, Tartini lived through the mid-18th-century shift from the late Baroque to the galant, and was accomplished in both styles. His output consisted almost entirely of concertos and sonatas for the violin, and his reputation today rests primarily on his fiendishly difficult Sonata in G minor, known as the Trillo del diavolo (Devil’s Trill). Inspiration for the piece came to him in a dream in which he sold his soul to the devil, whereupon his servant played the violin in the most extraordinary way, which he tried to recapture upon waking. Though fanciful, this account is in keeping with what we know of Tartini, who had a taste for mysticism, poetry, and romance, and whose thoughts on music often veered in a speculative direction.

Sonatas for Violin, Violoncello and Harpsichord 2/2

Sonata Prima in D major, Op. 2/1, B.D13  0:00
Sonata 4 in B minor, Op. 2/4, B.H6  19:00
Sonata Quinta in A minor, Op. 2/5, B.a10  31:10
Sonata 11 in E minor, Op. 2/11, B.e8  49:28

Violin Concertos nrs. 1 - 4

01. Tartini: Violin Concerto #1 In G Minor, D 85 - 1. Allegro 5:04
02. Tartini: Violin Concerto #1 In G Minor, D 85 - 2. Fuga A La Breve 2:24
03. Tartini: Violin Concerto #1 In G Minor, D 85 - 3. Largo Cantabile 3:26
04. Tartini: Violin Concerto #1 In G Minor, D 85 - 1. Allegro Assai 4:02
05. Tartini: Violin Concerto #2 In E Minor, D 55 - 1. Allegro 7:06
06. Tartini: Violin Concerto #2 In E Minor, D 55 - 2. Largo 3:11
07. Tartini: Violin Concerto #2 In E Minor, D 55 - 3. Allegro 5:12
08. Tartini: Violin Concerto #3 In F, D 60 - 1. Allegro 5:32
09. Tartini: Violin Concerto #3 In F, D 60 - 2. Adagio 3:14
10. Tartini: Violin Concerto #3 In F, D 60 - 3. Allegro Assai 5:23
11. Tartini: Violin Concerto #4 In D, D 15 - 1. Allegro 8:37
12. Tartini: Violin Concerto #4 In D, D 15 - 2. Cantabile 2:48
13. Tartini: Violin Concerto #4 In D, D 15 - 3. Allegro 7:05

Violin Concertos nrs. 5 - 8

01. Tartini: Violin Concerto #1 In G Minor, D 85 - 1. Allegro 5:04
02. Tartini: Violin Concerto #1 In G Minor, D 85 - 2. Fuga A La Breve 2:24
03. Tartini: Violin Concerto #1 In G Minor, D 85 - 3. Largo Cantabile 3:26
04. Tartini: Violin Concerto #1 In G Minor, D 85 - 1. Allegro Assai 4:02
05. Tartini: Violin Concerto #2 In E Minor, D 55 - 1. Allegro 7:06
06. Tartini: Violin Concerto #2 In E Minor, D 55 - 2. Largo 3:11
07. Tartini: Violin Concerto #2 In E Minor, D 55 - 3. Allegro 5:12
08. Tartini: Violin Concerto #3 In F, D 60 - 1. Allegro 5:32
09. Tartini: Violin Concerto #3 In F, D 60 - 2. Adagio 3:14
10. Tartini: Violin Concerto #3 In F, D 60 - 3. Allegro Assai 5:23
11. Tartini: Violin Concerto #4 In D, D 15 - 1. Allegro 8:37
12. Tartini: Violin Concerto #4 In D, D 15 - 2. Cantabile 2:48
13. Tartini: Violin Concerto #4 In D, D 15 - 3. Allegro 7:05

"Devil's Trill"

Flute Concertos

Monument in the Basilica of St Anthony in Padua

Tartini is mentioned in Madame Blavatsky's "The Ensouled Violin," a short story included in the collection Nightmare Tales.
 

Tartini, the great composer and violinist of the XVIIIth century, was denounced as one who got his best inspirations from the Evil One, with whom he was, it was said, in regular league. This accusation was, of course, due to the almost magical impression he produced upon his audiences. His inspired performance on the violin secured for him in his native country the title of “Master of Nations.” The Sonate du Diable, also called “Tartini’s Dream”—as every one who has heard it will be ready to testify—is the most weird melody ever heard or invented: hence, the marvellous composition has become the source of endless legends. Nor were they entirely baseless, since it was he, himself; who was shown to have originated them. Tartini confessed to having written it on awakening from a dream, in which he had heard his sonata performed by Satan, for his benefit, and in consequence of a bargain made with his infernal majesty.
 

The folklore of the "Devil's violin," classically exemplified by a similar story told of Niccolò Paganini, is widespread; it is a subset of the "Deal with the Devil." Modern variants are Roland Bowman's The Devil's Violin, the country song The Devil Went Down To Georgia; the PBS segment on violin in its series "Art" was titled "Art of violin: the devil's instrument."

Tartini's The Devil's Trill is the signature work of a central character in Daniel Silva's The English Assassin. Anna Rolfe, the daughter of a Swiss banker, is a famous violinist and the sonata features prominently in the novel. The story of Tartini's inspirational dream is told.

Tartini's "The Devil's Trill" is also featured in the Japanese Anime Descendants of Darkness (Yami no Matsuei). The three part story is also named after the song.

Solo Violin Sonatas

Violin Concertos Vol 9 - D70, 42, 109, 123, 54, 45, 115, 13, 125, 110

L' arte dell' arco - 50 Variations for violin on a gavotte by A. Corelli.

Violin Concertos

1. Concerto grosso No.3 in C Major  0:00
2. Concerto in  A Minor 'Lunardo Venier  8:46
3. Concerto for Cello in D Major  24:57
4. Concerto in G Major  46:30
5. Concerto No.5 in E Minor  1:03:33

Six Sonatas op 2

Solo Violin Music

1 - 3 Devil's Trill Sonata (unaccompanied solo)
4 - 13 Excerpts from 'L'Arte del arco'  14 variations on the Gavotta from Corelli sonata op5 no10
14 - 23 Sonata in A min
24 - 26 'Pastorale' for violin in scordatura

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