1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Tartini, Giuseppe
TARTINI, GIUSEPPE (1692-1770), Italian violinist, composer and musical theorist, was born at Tirano in Istria on the 12th of April 1692. In early life he studied, with equal want of success, for the church, the law courts, and the profession of arms. As a young man he was wild and irregular, and he crowned his improprieties by clandestinely marrying the niece of Cardinal Cornaro, archbishop of Padua. The cardinal re- sented the marriage as a disgraceful mesalliance, and denounced it so violently that the unhappy bridegroom, thinking his life in danger, fled for safety to a monastery at Assisi, where his character underwent a complete change. He studied the theory of music under Padre Boemo, the organist of the monastery, and, without any assistance whatever, taught himself to play the violin in so masterly a style that his performances in the church became the wonder of the neighbourhood. For more than two years his identity remained undiscovered, but one day the wind blew aside a curtain behind which he was playing, and one of his hearers recognized him and betrayed his retreat to the cardinal, who, hearing of his changed character, readmitted him to favour and restored him to his wife.
Tartini next removed to Venice, where the fine violin-playing of Veracini excited his admiration and prompted him to repair, by the aid of good instruction, the shortcomings of his own self- taught method. He left his wife with relations and returned to Ancona, where he studied for a time. In 1721 he returned to Padua, where he was appointed solo violinist at the church of San Antonio. From 1723 to 1725 he acted as conductor of Count Kinsky's private band in Prague. In 1728 he founded a school for violin in Padua. The date of his presence in Rome does not seem to be clearly established, but he was in Bologna in 1739. Afterwards he returned to his old post in Padua, where he died on the 16th of February 1770.
Tartini's compositions are very numerous, and faithfully illustrate his passionate and masterly style of execution, which surpassed in brilliancy and refined taste that of all his contem- poraries. He frequently headed his pieces with an explana- tory poetical motto, such as " Ombra cara," or " Volgete il riso in pianto o mie pupille." Concerning that known as II Tritto del Diavolo, or The Devil's Sonata, he told a curious story to Lalande, in 1766. He dreamed that the devil had become his slave, and that he one day asked him if he could play the violin. The devil replied that he believed he could pick out a tune, and thereupon he played a sonata so exquisite that Tartini thought he had never heard any music to equal it. On awaking he tried to note down the composition, but succeeded very imperfectly, though the Devil's Sonata is one of his best productions.
produces it be doubled. The law is without exception throughout the compass in which our ears can distinguish pitch, and so, of necessity, a string of twice the length of that whose vibrations induce the deepest perceivable sound must stir the air at such a rate as to cause a tone at an 8th below that lowest audible note. It is hence manifest that, however limited our sense of the range of musical sound, this range extends upward and downward to infinity. Tartini made his observations the basis of a theoretical system which he set forth in his Trattato di Musica, secondo la vera scienzia dell’ Armonia (Padua, 1754) and Dei Principij dell' Armonia Musicale (Padua, 1767). He also wrote a Trattato delle Appogiature, posthumously printed in French, and an unpublished work, Delle Ragioni e delle Proporzioni, the MS. of which has been lost.