Giuseppe Tartini (April 8, 1692 ? February 26, 1770) was an Italian composer and violinist. Today, 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. (One 19th-century myth had it that Tartini had six digits on his left hand, making these trills easier for him to play.) 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 (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. Tartini's music is problematic to scholars and editors because Tartini never dated his manuscripts, and he also revised works that had been published or even finished years before, making it difficult to determine when a work was written, when it was revised and what the extent of those revisions were. The scholars Minos Dounias and Paul Brainard have attempted to divide Tartini's works into periods based entirely on the stylistic characteristics of the music.
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 (Padua, 1754). His treatise on ornamentation was eventually translated into French? though when its influence was rapidly waning, in 1771? by a certain 'P. Denis', whose introduction called it 'unique'; indeed, it was the first published text devoted entirely to ornament and, though it was all but forgotten, as only the printed edition survived, has provided first-hand information on violin technique for modern historically informed performances, once it was published in English translation by Sol Babitz in 1956.
Luigi Dallapiccola wrote a piece called Tartiniana based on various themes by Tartini.
His home town, Piran, now has a statue of Tartini in the square, which was the old harbour, originally Roman, named Tartinijev trg. Silted up and obsolete, the port was cleared of debris, filled, and redeveloped. One of the old stone warehouses is now the Hotel Giuseppe Tartini. His birthday is celebrated by a concert in the main town cathedral.
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