Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tartini - Violin Sonata in G Minor 'Devil's Trill'

Giuseppe Tartini (1692 - 1770) was an Italian composer and violinist. He was an influential violin teacher as well as player and composer. He started a very popular violin school that attracted students from all over Europe. He is also one of the first persons known to have owned a violin made by Stradivarius.

He composed almost exclusively for the violin with over 135 violin concertos and many violin sonatas. By far his best known work is the Sonata in G minor for Violin and Basso Continuo, known as 'The Devil's Trill' because of the double stop trills used in the work.  Tartini himself told the story about falling asleep one night and being visited by the Devil:

"One night, in the year 1713 I dreamed I had made a pact with the devil for my soul. Everything went as I wished: my new servant anticipated my every desire. Among other things, I gave him my violin to see if he could play. How great was my astonishment on hearing a sonata so wonderful and so beautiful, played with such great art and intelligence, as I had never even conceived in my boldest flights of fantasy. I felt enraptured, transported, enchanted: my breath failed me, and - I awoke. I immediately grasped my violin in order to retain, in part at least, the impression of my dream. In vain! The music which I at this time composed is indeed the best that I ever wrote, and I still call it the "Devil's Trill", but the difference between it and that which so moved me is so great that I would have destroyed my instrument and have said farewell to music forever if it had been possible for me to live without the enjoyment it affords me."


Tartini's Violin Sonata in G minor 'Devil's Trill'

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