Giuseppe Tartini and the Devil's Violin

Classical Academy | Composers | Performers | Around the World | Instruments

Baroque violinist and composer Giuseppe Tartini lived for much of his life in Padua in Italy and was one of the most famous violinists of the eighteenth century.


Tartini owned a violin by the famous violin maker Antonio Stradivari. Stradavarius instruments are still playing by some of the world's greatest performers today and are worth a fortune.


As well as being a renowned performer he also composed over a hundred sonatas and concerti for the violin, including the notoriously difficult "Devil's Trill Sonata". According to legend, Tartini composed this work after waking from a dream in which he made a pact with devil. In return, the devil played for him the most fiendishly difficult but beautiful sonata, and when Tartini awoke, he ran to write it all down.


No recording of Tartini playing survives, but many of his compositions do. Take a listen to Jean Estournet, Thérèse Pollet and Hans Ludwig Hirsch performing four of Tartini's sonatas and see if they stir the devil in you!