The Devil's trill sonata, Tartini and his teachings

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Date

2003-05

Authors

Wallace, Susan Murphree

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Abstract

A musician performing an historical composition should first gain as much knowledge as possible about the original intent of the composer. With this understanding, the performer can add his own appropriate contribution, breathing new life into the work and making it attractive to the audience. Tartini taught that the musician should have great freedom to enhance the piece and had guidelines for performing these personal ornamentations and cadenzas. He was a prolific composer, but most of his pieces are no longer performed possibly because musicians today are unaware of the great freedom the works offer them. In contrast, his Devil’s Trill Sonata is a popular performance piece today, but it is almost always done in a standard edition. It is wonderful music, but the violinist loses Tartini’s instruction to add original contributions, which might add to the piece’s enjoyment. The Treatise provides a biographical sketch of Giuseppe Tartini, the historic background of his Devil’s Trill Sonata, and a discussion of his Treatise on Ornamentation. The treatise gives a musical analysis of the Urtext edition of the Devil’s Trill Sonata and helpful tips for performing the sonata. A cadenza to the third movement and Vieuxtemps’ rare quartet arrangement of the sonata are provided in the appendices. The treatise can provide violinists with a fresh insight to a popular piece so that they can approach it differently and possibly achieve new beauty of expression.

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