Tartini, Giuseppe



Musician, who figured prominently in three important branches of music: composition, teaching and violin-playing. Born at Pirano, in Istria, on April 12, 1692. His father, a native of Florence and an elected Nobile of Parenzo, wished him to enter the Franciscan Church, and with that object in view sent him first to the School of Oratorians in Pirano and later to a church school at Capo d'Istria. Here he took violin lessons, and developed such a decided distaste for an ecclesiastical career that he was sent to the University of Padua to study law. He soon discovered that he was as unfitted for law as for the church, and devoted himself to fencing, soon becoming so skilful that at one time he seriously thought of making that his profession. About that time he secretly married a young lady related to the Archbishop of Padua. On the discovery of his marriage, Tartini's father refused him any further assistance, and the Archbishop forced the young man to flee from Padua. He went to Rome, then sought refuge in the Minorite Monastery at Assisi. Surrounded by the simple and deeply religious life of the brotherhood his disposition greatly changed. He became gentle and serene, and in after years was noted for the beauty of his character. During the two years that he spent in the monastery he studied music with Padre Boemo, a competent musician and organist of the monastery, who took the greatest pains to teach his promising pupil. Tartini played the violin in the chapel orchestra. While serving in this capacity the Archbishop's pride softened, and the young musician was allowed to join his wife. They went to Venice, where he heard Veracini play. He then went to Ancona and put himself through a most severe course of practise. Returned to Padua about 1721 and became solo violinist at the chapel of San Antonio. In 1723 he was invited to Prague to play at the coronation festivities in honor of Karl VI. While there Count Kinsky persuaded him to accept the post of conductor of his private orchestra. After three years in this positon he returned to Padua,   refusing a very remunerative post in London. He continued to work at San Antonio until his death. In 1728 he founded his famous violin school, which was one of the very best and in which he trained some very fine violinists. He was buried in the church of Sta. Catherine. His statue was erected in the Prato della Valle, among those of other famous men who attended the University of Padua.


As a composer Tartini stands far ahead of any of his predecessors, both in the conciseness and clear development of his form and in the beaut}' and nobility of his ideas. His works are classics, of which the best known is the Devil's Sonata, which he claims to have been the result of a dream. He composed many pieces and wrote many treatises on musical theory and acoustics. He had wonderful ability as a teacher, and his relation to his students was always an affectionate  and intimate one. Among his pupils may be named Alberghi, Nardim, Ferrari, Bini, Capuzzi, Pagin, Domenico, Carminati, Maddalena de Lombardini-Sirmen, Pasqualino and Lahoussaye. For the use of pupils he wrote L'Arte dell* Arco, consisting of fifty variations on a composition of Corelli's. He was a master of his instrument, and the finger positions that he worked out and the system of bowing that he adopted are in use today. He was one of the very greatest of violinists.


He wrote many compositions, including one hundred and twenty-seven concertos, and forty-eight sonatas, unpublished. His Miserere was performed in the Sistine Chapel during Holy Week of 1758, but, according to Fetis, is of little importance. His published works are six concertos; twelve violin sonatas; six concertos with violin solos; the Trillo del diavolo, and many theoretical writings.