Giuseppe Tartini, 1692-1770


Selected Recordings

Violin Concerto Vol. 11

Violin Concerto Vol. 7

Concerto per Violoncello

Selected Sheet Music

Stabat Mater
tartini stabat mater


Showcase Piece

Devil’s Trill Sonata, Allegro Assai

Notes and Commentary

“Among Corelli’s many successors in the art of playing the violin and of writing music for the instrument, Giuseppe Tartini was the most significant. He wrote some 150 violin concertos and a hundred violin sonatas in which the technique of violin performance made significant progress over that established by Corelli. At the same time, Tartini’s thematic material reveals a deepening of thought and an enrichment of expression far beyond any realized by Corelli.”—David Ewen, The Complete Book of Classical Music

Giuseppe 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. 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, of which there are 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, and a Stabat Mater, composed in 1769. 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, making it difficult to determine when a work was written, when it was revised and what the extent of those revisions were.

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 sum and difference tones, an acoustical phenomenon of particular utility on string instruments (intonation of double-stops can be judged by careful listening to the difference tone, the “terzo suono”). He published his discoveries in a treatise “Trattato di musica secondo la vera scienza dell’armonia’.” It was eventually translated into French, and later published in an English translation by Sol Babitz in 1956, and that was later translated into German.

Tartini was born in Piran, a town on the peninsula of Istria, in the Republic of Venice (now in Slovenia). He lived from April 8, 1692, to February 26, 1770.—Excerpted from Wikipedia

Books and Music

Selected Books

Trattato Di Musica: Secondo La Vera Scienza Dell’ Armonia
Kessinger Publishing (Italian edition of 1754 work)
Giuseppe Tartini
$16.52 on Amazon

“Tartini, a music theorist as well as composer, published his ideas on what is now known as ‘sum and difference tones,’ in which the intonation of double-stops can be determined by noting the difference in tones. This is called the terzo suono in Italian.”—On Baroque

Giuseppe Tartini
Garzanti, 1945
Antonio Capri
$62.16 on Amazon

a. capri

The Art of Bowing for the Violin
Monzani & Hill, 1825
Giuseppe Tartini
Currently unavailable on Amazon


Selected Music

Devil's Trill The Devil’s Sonata and Other Works (1998), 1 CD

T-concertos Violin Concertos (2007), 1 CD

T-sonatas Trio and Violin Sonatas (2008), 3-CD set

More Giuseppe Tartini music

Complete Works

Tartini composed more than 130 Concerti for violin, two Concerti for flute and two Cello concerti as well as over 170 Sonatas for violin, with or without continuo, some 50 Sonatas a Tre and 4 Sonatas a Quatre. Only some 20 conerti and 50 sonatas were published, so the remainder exist only in the forms of manuscripts. A catalogue of Tartini’s concerti was drawn up by Minos Doumias, numbered according to their keys. The most accurate dating applies to some of the works published during Tartini’s life time. Doumias has divided the remainder of the works based on style, sorting the concerti into three main periods: prior to 1735, 1735-1750, and after 1750.—Excerpted from Marcel Safier’s Tartini page

Concertos and Sonatas:
Concerto in A major D.96
Concerto in B minor D.125
Concerto in C major D.2
Concerto in G major for Flute, Strings and Continuo
Concerto in D minor D.115
Sonata A Quatre in G major for String Orchestra
Concerto in D major for Cello, Strings and Continuo
Variations on a Theme by Corelli for Violin and Continuo Sonata a tre in D minor
Sonata in D minor for solo Violin
Sonata in A major “Pastoral” for Violin and Continuo
Sonata a tre in D major
Sonata in G minor Op.1 No.10

2 Concerti for Violin:
Concerto in E minor D.56
Concerto in G for Violin, Strings and Conitnuo D.83

For complete list, go to Marcel Safier’s Tartini page.

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