57. GiuseppeTartini [365 Composers for 2013]


26th February – Giuseppe Tartini


Tartini (8 April 1692 – 26th February 1770) is our composer for 26th February, to mark the day of his death.
Nationality: Italian
Lifespan: 77 years
Genre: Baroque
Education: Assisi Monastery
Fame Ranking: 3

Giuseppe Tartini was born in Piran. At the time, Piran was part of the Republic of Venice, so Tartini is classed as an Italian composer, but today the geography has changed and the town is in Slovenia, where a monument to the great man stands.

Tartini was feckless and irresponsible as a youth. He failed at studying Law at Padua University and then made himself a public enemy by marrying the niece of the Archbishop of Padua without consent and in secret. Fearing for his life after he was found out and charged with abduction, Tartini fled to the monastery at Assisi, where he set about learning music theory and how to play the violin, which he taught himself. Incredibly, Tartini mastered the instrument quickly and soon began performing in public, although he remained in hiding. One day (it is said), his identity was discovered after the wind blew aside a curtain he was hiding behind. The Archbishop, noting his reformed character, withdrew criminal charges and took him back under his wing, even allowing him to rejoin his young wife.

Tartini continued to work at his violin technique, this time taking some professional lessons with which he made excellent progress. He went on to found his own violin school, which attracted students from far and wide. Tartini’s compositions are mostly for the violin. They are numerous and many of them are fiendishly difficult, not least the “Devil’s Trill Sonata” which is his most famous work. Legend has it that one night the Devil appeared to Tartini in a dream, and played him the melody. On waking, the composer noted down as much as he could remember and the sonata is the result.

Here is Tartini’s “Devil’s Trill” Sonata:


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