Tartini, Giuseppe

views updated May 21 2018

Tartini, Giuseppe

Tartini, Giuseppe, famous Italian violinist, teacher, music theorist, and composer; b. Pirano, Istria, April 8, 1692; d. Padua, Feb. 26, 1770. His parents prepared him for a monastic life by entrusting his education to clerics in Pirano and Capodistria, where he received some violin instruction. In 1708 he renounced the cloister but remained a nominal candidate for the priesthood. In 1709 he enrolled at the Univ. of Padua as a law student, and at the age of 19 contracted a secret marriage to the 21-year-old Elisabetta Premazore, a protegee of the powerful Cardinal Cornaro, who vengefully brought a charge of abduction against him. Tartini had to take refuge from prosecution at the monastery of the Friars Minor Conventual in Assisi, where he joined the opera orch. He was pardoned by the Paduan authorities in 1715, after which he lived in Venice and Padua, being made primo violino e capo di concerto at the basilica of S. Antonio in Padua in 1721. He also was allowed to travel as a virtuoso, and soon acquired a distinguished reputation. From 1723 to 1726 he served as chamber musician to Count Kinsky in Prague, then resumed his residence in Padua, where he organized a music school in 1728; among his students there were Nardini and Pugnani. He subsequently developed a brilliant career as a violinist, making numerous concert tours in Italy. He retained his post at S. Antonio until 1765, and also remained active at his school until at least 1767. In 1768 he suffered a mild stroke that effectively ended his career. His style of playing, and in particular his bowing, became a model for other concert violinists. Tartini was a prolific composer of violin music, including concertos, sonatas, and chamber combinations. An ed. of his collected works was initiated in Milan in 1971 under the editorship of E. Farina and C. Scimone as Le opere di Giuseppe Tartini.

Although Tartini lacked scientific training, he made several acoustical discoveries, the most important of which were the summation and differential tones. He observed these effects in 1714 and summarized his findings in his Trattato di musica secondo la vera scienza dell’armonia (Padua, 1754); the differential tone became known also as Tartinas tone, or “terzo suono” Tartinas tones were actually described in an earlier German publ. Vorgemach der musicalischen Composition by G. Sorge (1745-47). These tones were also known, rather misleadingly, as “beat tones” They are in fact produced by the interference of frequencies of higher overtones. The “wolf tones” of string instruments are different in origin, and are produced by vibrations of the body of the instrument. Violinists are usually aware of interferences from differential tones and also from the less audible summation tones resulting from added frequencies; they correct them experimentally by a slight alteration of tuning. Among Tartini’s compositions the most famous is his violin sonata known under the sobriquet Trillo del Diavolo, supposedly inspired by Tartini’s dream in which the Devil played it for him; the eponymous diabolical trill appears in the last movement of the sonata. A complete ed. of his works commenced publication in Milan in 1971.


instrumental: About 135 violin concertos, as well as concertos for several other instruments; a Sinfonie; 4 sonatas a 4 for String Quartet and Basso Continuo; some 40 trio sonatas for 2 Violins and Basso Continuo; about 135 sonatas for Violin and Basso Continuo; some 30 sonatas for Solo Violin or with Basso Continuo ad libitum. The following instrumental works were publ. during his lifetime although some are now considered dubious (all publ. in Amsterdam unless otherwise given): Sei concerti a 5, op. 1, lib.l (1728); Sei concerti a 5 del‖Tartini a G Visconti, op. 1, lib.3 (c. 1728); Sei concerti a 5, op. 1, lib.2 (1730); VI sonate for Violin and Basso Continuo, op. 1 (1732); (12) Sonate e una pastorale, op. 1 (1734); VI concerti a 8, op. 2 (e. 1734); VI concerti…d’alcuni famosi maestri, lib.2 (e. 1740); VI Sonate for Violin and Basso Continuo, op. 2 (1743); (12) Sonate for Violin and Basso Continuo, op. 2 (Rome, 1745; also publ. as op. 3, Paris, c. 1747); Nouvelle étude...par Mr. Pétronio Vinelli (Paris, c. 1747); (6) Sonates, op. 4 (Paris, 1747); (6) Sonates, op. 5 (Paris, c. 1747); Sei sonate, op. 6 (Paris, c. 1748); (6) Sonate, op. 7 (Paris, 1748); Sei sonate a tre, op. 8 (Paris, 1749); XII Sonatas for 2 Violins and Bass (London, 1750); VI sonate for 2 Violins and Basso Continuo (e. 1755; also publ. as op. 3, London, 1756); L’arte del arco (Paris, 1758); Sei sonate, op. 9 (Paris, c. 1763). His famous Le trille du diable was first publ. in J. Carrier’s L’art du violon (Paris, 1798). SACRED VOCAL: Canzonane sacre for 1 to 3 Voices; Stabat mater for 3 Voices; 2 Tantum ergo for 3 Voices; 3 Miserere for 3, 4, and 5 Voices; Salve regina for 4 Voices; Pange lingua for 3 Voices.


Regole per arrivare a saper ben suonar il violino (ed. by E. Jacobi, Musical Quarterly, XLVII, 1961; various other versions); Trattato di musica secondo la vera sienza dell’armonia (Padua, 1754; reprint, 1966 and 1973); De’ principi dell’armonia musicale contenuta nel diatonico genere (Padua, 1767; reprint, 1970); Risposta di Giuseppe Tartini alla critica del di lui trattato di musica di Mons. Le Serre di Ginevra (Venice, 1767).


F. Fanzago, Orazione...delle lodi di G. T.(Padua, 1770; 2nd ed., erti., 1792); F. Fayolle, Notices sur Gorelli, T., Gaviniés,Pugnarti et Viotti (Paris, 1810); M. Dounias, Die Violinkonzerte G. T.s (Wolfenbüttel, 1935; 2nd ed., 1966); H. Schökel, G. T. (Berlin, 1936); A. Capri, G. T. (Milan, 1945); M. Elmer, T’s Improvised Ornamentation (diss., Univ. of Calif., Berkeley, 1962); P. Petro-belli, G. T.: le fonti biografiche (Vienna, Milan, and London, 1968); P. Brainard, Le sonate per violino di G. T.: catalogo tematico (Milan, 1975); P. Petrobelli, T., le sue idee e il suo tempo (Lucca, 1992); A. Bombi and M. Massaro, eds., T.: Il tempo e le opere (Bologna, 1994).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

Tartini, Giuseppe

views updated Jun 27 2018


Violin virtuoso, teacher, and composer; b. Pirano (Istria), Italy, April 8, 1692; d. Padua, Feb. 26, 1770. After learning the rudiments of music in the town of his birth, he went to Padua (1709) to study at the university. His father desired him to enter the Friars Minors Conventual, but the youth gained his own wish to study law, while continuing his violin study. His secret marriage in 1713 to Elisabetta Premazona, a protégée of Cardinal Cornaro, met with strong disapproval, and Tartini fled to Assisi, where he stayed with the Franciscans for two years, composing and perfecting his violin technique. Following his reconciliation with the cardinal he returned to Padua, and from then on devoted himself to teaching, composing, and writing theoretical works such as Trattato di musica secondo la vera scienza dell' armonia (Padua 1754). In 1721 he was appointed violinist to the Cappella del Santo at Padua, and in 1728 he set up a violin school soon recognized throughout Europe for its excellence. In music

history he stands out as a theorist and teacher rather than as a composer. His music follows the standard forms of the day: sonatas, trios, concerti, and church works, many of them still in MS.

Bibliography: e. heron-allen, Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. e. blom 9 v. (5th ed. London 1954) 8:312315. a. capri, Giuseppe Tartini (Milan 1945). p. brainard, Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, ed. f. blume (Kassel-Basel 1949). g. beechey, "Giuseppe Tartini (16921770)," The Consort 48 (1992), 817. p. brainard in in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. s. sadie (New York 1980). m. dounias, Die Violinkonzerte Giuseppe Tartinis: als Ausdruck einer Künstlerpersönlichkeit und einer Kulturepoche (Zurich 1966). f. b. johnson, "Tartini's Trattato di musica secondo la vera scienza dell'armonio: An Annotated Translation and Consideration of Its Historical Significance" (Ph.D. diss. Indiana University, 1985). a. pavanello, "Il Trillo del diavolo di Giuseppe Tartini nell'edizione di Jean Baptiste Cartier," Recercare 11 (1999) 26579. m. pincherle, Tartiniana (Padova 1972).

[f. j. guentner]

Giuseppe Tartini

views updated Jun 27 2018

Giuseppe Tartini

Giuseppe Tartini (1692-1770) was an Italian violinist, composer, and theorist. He laid the foundation of the modern school of bowing in a manner more "singing" than that of his contemporaries.

Giuseppe Tartini was born in Pirano, Istria, on April 8, 1692. At his father's wish he studied for the priesthood. In 1710 he entered Padua University as a law student, where he remained until 1713, when he secretly married a niece of Cardinal Cornaro, which led to accusations of abduction. Leaving his wife in Padua, Tartini took refuge in a monastery at Assisi, where he practiced the violin and studied music theory. Here he wrote the Trillo del diavolo (Devil's Trill), an attempt to reconstruct a sonata he said the devil had played to him in a dream. In 1714 he discovered the "resultant" tone, a means for improving intonation. While this tone cannot be heard on a modern violin, it is clearly audible on an old one with its smaller bass-bar and other fittings.

In 1715 the cardinal withdrew his objections to the marriage, and Tartini and his wife were reunited in Padua. In 1716 Tartini heard the violinist Francesco Maria Veracini in Venice and was so impressed with his playing that he sent his wife to relatives so that he could continue his studies in Ancona.

Tartini was solo violinist and director at S. Antonio in Padua (1721-1723) and chamber musician in Prague to Count Kinsky (1723-1725). Tartini returned to Padua in 1726. Two years later he founded a school of violin playing, which became known as the School of the Nations. Among his pupils was Maddalena Lombardi-Sirmen, to whom he addressed an important letter on performance which is mistakenly called the Art of Bowing by some writers. That title, however, refers to a series of variations Tartini wrote on a theme by Arcangelo Corelli. In the letter Tartini provides clear evidence that even the fastest notes were separated by a silence, which is not the case today.

Although Tartini's Treatise on Music, which dealt mainly with acoustics, was published in Padua (1754), it had less of an impact upon performance than his unpublished Treatise on Ornamentation (ca. 1750), which circulated widely in manuscript. Whole sections of it were incorporated into Leopold Mozart's Violin School (1756) without any acknowledgment, and it was published in French as Treatise on the Ornaments of Music (1771).

Tartini wrote about 150 concertos and 100 violin sonatas with figured-bass accompaniment. They combined the dignity and serenity of Corelli with a passion and grace all his own. Tartini's violin works were technically more complicated and advanced than those of his predecessors. He died in Padua on Feb. 26, 1770.

Further Reading

Tartini's Treatise on the Ornaments of Music was translated and edited by Sol Babitz (1949; reissued in enlarged form 1970). A contemporary account of Tartini is in Charles Burney, An Eighteenth Century Musical Tour, edited by Percy Scholes (1959). He is discussed or referred to in Grace O'Brien, The Golden Age of Italian Music (1950); Siegmund Levarie, Musical Italy Revisited (1963); and David D. Boyden, The History of Violin Playing (1965). □

Tartini, Giuseppe

views updated May 09 2018

Tartini, Giuseppe (b Pirano, Istria, 1692; d Padua, 1770). It. violinist, composer, teacher, and inventor. Fled from Padua 1710 because of disapproval of his marriage. Took refuge in monastery at Assisi where he studied comp. and acoustics, invented new vn. bow, and gave vn. recitals. Returned to Padua, forgiven, 1715. Played as orch. violinist; became first vn. at Cappella del Santo, Padua, 1721–3. Kapellmeister of Count Kinsky's band, Prague, 1723–5, playing also in Vienna. On return to Padua founded, 1728, school of vn.-playing , becoming known as ‘Master of Nations’ and numbering many subsequently celebrated violinists among his pupils. Was teaching up to 1768. Discovered resultant tones, which he then called terzo suono (3rd sound), though it was left to Helmholtz to explain them years later. Wrote several treatises and comp. some religious vocal mus. and canzone in addition to 42 vn. sonatas, 12 sonatas for vn. and vc., 135 vn. concs., vc. concs., and concs. for other instr. incl. cls., obs., and tpt. Celebrated ‘Devil's Trill’ sonata was almost certainly composed after 1745, but no autograph exists.