Giuseppe Tartini, classical music composer

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Giuseppe Tartini


Despite his important place in musical history, Giuseppe Tartini is known more today as one of the Baroque's great violin virtuosi and as a theorist, instead of his compositional efforts. His output as a composer, however, was considerable. Over one hundred violin concerti and some two hundred violin sonatas make up the lion's share of his oeuvre (though some are considered to be spurious), with the remainder consisting of trio sonatas, sinfonias, and a few sacred works. As a composer, he is best remembered for his "Devil's Till" sonata, a demanding solo piece even by modern standards. Since Tartini did not actively seek out fame as a composer, very few of his composition were published during his lifetime.

Tartini was born on April 8, 1692 in Pirano (now Piran, Slovenia) on the Istria Peninsula in the Republic of Venice. His parents originally intended for their son to become a Franciscan friar, but in 1708, Tartini rejected their wishes and pursued music instead. Soon thereafter, however, it appears he enrolled at the University of Padua to study law. Though still eligible to enter the priesthood, Tartini married Elisabetta Premazone in 1710. The marriage drew the wrath of the powerful Cardinal Giorgio Cornaro, and Tartini was forced to flee from Padua. While in exile, he nonetheless put his time to good use, making a thorough and rigorous study of music.  

By 1714, Tartini found employment with the opera orchestra in Ancora as a violinist. The following year he was reunited with his wife. During the succeeding years, he continued to perfect his technique on the violin. According to legend, in 1716, he heard Francesco Maria Veracini perform, and subsequently locked himself in a room with the intention of practicing until he had acquired the same degree of agility and skill. Tartini's diligent practice certainly paid off, and by 1720 he was employed as maestro di cappella at the Basilica di Sant'Antonio in Padua. His contract left him free to play elsewhere, and Tartini gradually built a reputation as one of Europe's leading violinists.

An arm injury in 1740, however, severely limited Tartini's ability to perform, and he eventually retired from his position at Sant'Antonio in 1765. During these later years, he turned to theory, producing in 1754 his theoretical treatise Tratto di musica secondo la vera scienza dell'armona, which outlined his discovery of sum and difference tones. A stroke in 1768 crippled Tartini even further. He died on February 26, 1770.

Composer Title Date Action
Giuseppe Tartini Fugue in A Major 01/23/2012 Play Add to playlist
Giuseppe Tartini Sonata in G minor "Didone Abbandonata" - 1st mov. 10/16/2015 Play Add to playlist
Giuseppe Tartini Violin Sonata in G minor “Devil’s Trill Sonata” 08/04/2017 Play Add to playlist