The Devil's Trill Sonata

In 1765, the violin virtuoso and composer Giuseppe Tartini (1692–1770) allegedly told the French astronomer Jérôme Lalande that back in the year of 1713 he dreamed The Devil appeared to him and asked to be his servant. Then he had made a deal with the Devil to whom he gave his violin who then played a solo so beautiful. Tartini suddenly awoke, tried to remember and transcribe what he had heard but the resulting "Devil's Trill" Sonata also known as The Violin Sonata in G Minor, even though better than anything he had written before, was apparently a pale reflection of the original.

The complete story is told by Tartini himself in Lalande's Voyage d'un François en Italie (1765 - 66):


"Tartini's Dream" by Louis-Léopold Boilly (1824)

‘One night I dreamt that I had made a pact with the devil; he was my servant and anticipated my every wish. I had the idea of giving him my violin to see if he might play me some pretty tunes (beaux aires), but imagine my astonishment when I heard a sonata so unusual and so beautiful, performed with such mastery and intelligence, on a level I had never before conceived was possible! I was so overcome that I stopped breathing and awoke gasping. Immediately I seized my violin, hoping to recall some shred of what I had just heard – but in vain. The piece I then composed is without a doubt my best, and I still call it The Devil’s Sonata, but it falls so short of the one that stunned me that I would have smashed my violin and given up music forever if I could but have possessed it.’ 

Today,
the "Devil's Trill Sonata" is Tartini's most famous work. 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. 
The Devil's Trill Sonata The Devil's Trill Sonata Reviewed by Tripzibit on 02:41 Rating: 5

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