Devil’s Trill sonata story … How the Devil inspired Tartini in a dream?

devil's trill

Giuseppe Tartini’s ‘Violin Sonata No. 3 in G minor’ is better known as the Devil’s Trill Sonata, was composed by Venetian Baroque composer Giuseppe Tartini. This piece has a very special story related to a dream that the composer saw.

The piece is played by Itzhak Perlman in this video below.

The movements:

1. Larghetto affettuoso
2. Allegro moderato
3. Andante
4. Allegro assai- Andante- Allegro assai


Tartini Devil’s Trill story

There’s a reason this is known as the Devil’s Trill sonata, with its crazy ornaments and scope for impressive virtuosity. The story behind the technically very difficult piece goes as, Giuseppe had a hard time getting money and getting booked for playing his violin, one day he decided to kill himself but before he wanted to sleep one more night. That night, He had a strange dream.

Later, The original composer Tartini allegedly told the French astronomer Jerome Lalande that he dreamed the devil appeared to him and asked to be his servant. At the end of their lesson he gave the devil his violin and asked him to play to test his skill- the devil began to play with such veracity that Tartini felt his breath taken away, Tartini awoke in the middle of the night and jumped out of bed, he immediately jotted down the sonata, desperately trying to recapture what he had heard in his dream. The Sonata was successful with all his audiences, written in diaries and notebooks from the mid 17 century it is said that during the performance you could hear bells and chimes while feeling like the room gets smaller and smaller, but Tartini lamented that the piece was still far from what he heard in his dream. In his words: “So inferior to what I’ve heard, that if I could have subsisted upon other means, I would have broken my violin and abandon music forever.”

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