Wednesday Music: Tartini’s Violin Sonata in G Minor

Today’s piece for this Wednesday Music series is Giuseppe Tartini’s Violin Sonata in G minor, Bg 5, more commonly known as the Devil’s Trill Sonata. No, it isn’t nicknamed this because it’s devilishly difficult to play (though I do think it is difficult). Here’s a bit about it, including the reason it has this nickname.

  • The name Devil’s Trill refers to a dream Tartini allegedly had in which he sold his soul to the Devil, who then played him a beautiful sonata. Tartini awoke from the dream and immediately set out to write down what he’d heard. Unfortunately for us, Tartini said the piece he wrote was not nearly as beautiful as what he heard in his dream.
  • Tartini claimed he composed the sonata in 1713, but it was probably closer to 1740 when he wrote it. It wasn’t published until 1798 or 1799, which was more than thirty years after his death.
  • The sonata is written in four movements. The fourth contains a cadenza with the trills referred to in the nickname.


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