World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Giuseppe Tartini

Giuseppe Tartini.

Giuseppe Tartini (8 April 1692 – 26 February 1770) was an Italian[1] Baroque composer and violinist.


  • Biography 1
  • Compositions 2
  • Theoretical work 3
  • Fictional portrayal 4
  • Notes 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Monument in the Basilica of Padua.

Tartini was born in Piran, a town on the peninsula of Istria, in the Republic of Venice (now in Slovenia) to Gianantonio – native of Florence – and Caterina Zangrando, a descendant of one of the oldest aristocratic Piranian families.[2]

It appears Tartini's parents intended him to become a Assisi, where he could escape prosecution. While there, Tartini took up playing the violin.

Legend says when Tartini heard Francesco Maria Veracini's playing in 1716, he was impressed by it and dissatisfied with his own skill. He fled to Ancona and locked himself away in a room to practice, according to Charles Burney, "in order to study the use of the bow in more tranquility, and with more convenience than at Venice, as he had a place assigned him in the opera orchestra of that city."[3]

Tartini's skill improved tremendously and, in 1721, he was appointed Maestro di Cappella at the Basilica di Sant'Antonio in Padua, with a contract that allowed him to play for other institutions if he wished. In Padua he met and befriended fellow composer and theorist Francesco Antonio Vallotti.

Tartini was the first known owner of a violin made by Antonio Stradivari in 1715, which Tartini bestowed upon his student Salvini, who in turn bestowed it to Karol Lipiński upon hearing him perform, from which it derives its moniker, the Lipinski Stradivarius. He also owned and played the Antonio Stradivarius violin ex-Vogelweith from 1711.

In 1726, Tartini started a violin school which attracted students from all over Europe. Gradually, Tartini became more interested in the theory of harmony and acoustics, and from 1750 to the end of his life he published various treatises.

His home town, Piran, now has a statue of Tartini in the square, which was the old harbour, originally Roman, named the Tartini Square (Slovene: Tartinijev trg, Italian: Piazza Tartini). Silted up and obsolete, the port was cleared of debris, filled, and redeveloped. One of the old stone warehouses is now the Hotel Giuseppe Tartini. His birthday is celebrated by a concert in the main town cathedral.


Statue of Tartini in Piran, Slovenia

Today, Tartini's most famous work is the "Devil's Trill Sonata," a solo violin sonata that requires a number of technically demanding double stop trills and is difficult even by modern standards. (One 19th-century myth had it that Tartini had six digits on his left hand, making these trills easier for him to play.) According to a legend embroidered upon by Madame Blavatsky, Tartini was inspired to write the sonata by a dream in which the Devil appeared at the foot of his bed playing the violin.

Almost all of Tartini's works are violin concerti (at least 135) and violin sonatas. Tartini's compositions include some sacred works such as a Miserere, composed between 1739 and 1741 at the request of Pope Clement XII,[4] and a Stabat Mater, composed in 1769.[5] He also composed trio sonatas and a sinfonia in A. Tartini's music is problematic to scholars and editors because Tartini never dated his manuscripts, and he also revised works that had been published or even finished years before, making it difficult to determine when a work was written, when it was revised and what the extent of those revisions were. The scholars Minos Dounias and Paul Brainard have attempted to divide Tartini's works into periods based entirely on the stylistic characteristics of the music.

Sixty-two manuscripts with compositions of Tartini are housed at the Biblioteca comunale Luciano Benincasa in Ancona.[6]

Luigi Dallapiccola wrote a piece called Tartiniana based on various themes by Tartini.

Theoretical work

In addition to his work as a composer, Tartini was a music theorist, of a very practical bent. He is credited with the discovery of historically informed performances, once it was published in English translation by Sol Babitz in 1956. Of greater assistance to such performance was Erwin Jacobi's published edition. In 1961, Jacobi published a tri-lingual edition consisting of the French (basis of the following two), English (translation by Cuthbert Girdlestone), plus Jacobi's own translation into German (Giuseppe Tartini. "Traite des agrément de la musique," trans. and ed. Erwin Jacobi. Celle: Hermann Moeck Verlag, 1961). Of significant import, Jacobi's edition also includes a facsimile of the original Italian found in Venice in 1957, copied in the hand of Giovanni Nicolai (one of Tartini's best known students) and including an opening section on bowing and a closing section on how to compose cadenzas not previously known. Another copy (though less complete) of the Italian original was found among manuscripts purchased by the University of California, Berkeley in 1958, a collection that also included numerous ornamented versions of slow movements of concertos and sonatas, written in Tartini's hand. Minnie Elmer analyzed these ornamented versions in her master's thesis at UC, Berkeley in 1959 (Minnie Elmer. "The Improvised Ornamentation of Giuseppe Tartini." Unpublished M.A. thesis. Berkeley, 1959).

Fictional portrayal

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

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.


  1. ^ Giuseppe Tartini Encyclopaedia Britannica on line
  2. ^ Tartini The official web site of Portorož and Piran
  3. ^ Burney, Charles (1789). A General History of Music, from the Earliest Ages to the Present Period. To Which Is Prefixed, a Dissertation on the Music of the Ancients 3 (2 ed.). London: T. Becket , J. Robson, and G. Robinson. pp. 564–565. 
  4. ^ Biography at, under External links
  5. ^ Biography on Allmusic, under External links
  6. ^ Biblioteca Communale Luciano Benincasa (AN)
  7. ^ Typically, Tartini never published the Italian original itself, but it circulated widely in manuscript, and Leopold Mozart appropriated sections of it for his own Violinschule, written in 1754, published at Augsburg, 1756. (Sol Babitz, ed. "Treatise on Ornamentation" Journal of Research in Music Education 4.2 [Autumn 1956:75–102]).


  • Paul Brainard: "Le sonate per violino di Giuseppe Tartini Catalogo tematico" - edition "I Solisti Veneti", Padova 1975
  • Giuseppe Tartini: "Scienza Platonica fondata nel cerchio" by Anna Cavalla Todeschini for Accademia Tartiniana of Padova president Enzo Bandelloni, executive committee Francesco Cavalla, Edoardo Farina, Claudio Scimone. The text reproduces an unpublished work, the manuscript is at the Museo del Mare a Pirano. edizione CEDAM
  • Giuseppe Tartini,Trattato di musica secondo la vera scienza dell'armonia, Nella Stamperia del Seminario, Appresso Giovanni Manfrè, PADOVA, MDCCLIV – Riedizione Anastatica, Edition "I Solisti Veneti", CEDAM, PADOVA, 1973
  • Giuseppe Tartini, De' principj dell'armonia musicale contenuta nel diatonico genere – Dissertazione, Stamperia del Seminario, PADOVA, MDCCLXVII – Facsimile edition, Edizione "I Solisti Veneti", CEDAM, PADOVA, 1974

External links

  • Media related to at Wikimedia Commons
  • Allmusic Biography
  • NNDB entry and biography
  • A Tartini Page with Partial Discography
  • Free scores by Tartini at the International Music Score Library Project
  • Free scores by Giuseppe Tartini in the Choral Public Domain Library (ChoralWiki)
  • Tartini, a computer program that uses combination tones for pitch recognition
  • L'Arte dell'Arco
  • Giuseppe Tartini Statue – Microsoft Photosynth
  • Giuseppe Tartini – Prominent Istrians at
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Hawaii eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.