Today in Music History
A Daily Look at Music History For Violin Students
A Look at What Happened on Today's Date
Long, Long Ago . . . Or Maybe Just Last Year
April 8
1708 - Premiere of G. F. Handel┤s oratorio La Resurrezione "The Resurrection", with Arcangelo Corelli conducting.

- Franz Xaver Mozart (son of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart) played his first public concert.  Haydn attends, and publicly praises the boy's performance.

- Nikolai Miakovsky, Russian composer, was born.

- Charles Tomlinson Griffes, US composer, died.

- Arturo Toscanini conducted American music for the first time. Abram Chasins ┤Flirtation in a Chinese Garden and Parade. Toscanini and the New York Philharmonic.

- Premiere of Bela Bartˇk┤s String Quartet No.5, by the Kolisch Quartet.

- Premiere of Leonard Bernstein┤s Symphony No. 2 The Age of Anxiety by the Boston Symphony.

- Premiere of John Harbison's Cello Concerto. Yo-Yo Ma and the Boston Symphony, Seiji Ozawa conducting.

- Premiere of Bright Sheng┤s Three Songs for Pipa and Cello. Wu Man played the pipa and Yo-Yo Ma played the cello.

Did You Guess?
A Pipa is a Chinese lute.  See the picture of Wu Man and her pipa below.  Click her picture to go to a page where you can hear sound samples at Amazon.
Can You Guess?
We read of the performance of Three Songs for Pipa and Cello in 1999.  Can You Guess what a pipa is?
What Else
Giuseppe Tartini was born April 8, 1692, in Pirano, Istria a part of the republic of Venice (now a part of Slovenia).  Tartini's parents wanted him to become a Franciscan priest, and in this way he received a basic musical training at the Capo d'Istria.
Giuseppe Tartini
Violinist Tartini's music at Amazon
In 1710, shortly before he was twenty Tartini secretly married Elisabetta Premazore, who was the ward (perhaps the daughter or niece) of Cardinal Giorgio Cornaro, the Bishop of Padua. The Cardinal immediately ordered Tartini's arrest, and the young man's parents quickly disowned him. Disguised as a monk, the Tartini hastily fled, taking anonymous refuge in a monastery in Assisi.

While at the monastery, Tartini undertook intensive study of the violin and resolved to become a professional violinist.  It is said that his skills improved very rapidly there, to the extent that people visited the monastery just to hear him play.

He soon gained such a favorable a reputation as a violinist that both his family and Cardinal Cornaro forgave him. He returned to Padua in 1721 to rejoin his wife and to take the position of "primo Violino, e Capo di concerto" in St. Anthony's Church. He remained in this position for the rest of his life, except for a two-year stay in Prague, when he directed the orchestra of the chancellor of Bohemia.

In 1728 Tartini founded a school of violin playing and composition in Padua, which became known as the "School of Nations" since it attracted students from many countries. Pietro Nardini was his most famous pupil. Tartini's playing was notable for its poetic and technical perfection.  His early compositions were known for their technical demands, but as he aged his compositions became more melodic and lyrical.

In addition to his 175 sonatas and 125 concertos, he wrote and published several influential treatises on violin and bowing technique and on theoretical and acoustical aspects of music.

Tartini's most famous piece, the Sonata in G Minor, is known as "The Devil's Trill."  According to Joseph Jerome de Lalande:
"One night in 1713, [Tartini] dreamed that he had made a contract with the Devil, who happened to be in his service. Whatever Tartini wanted was granted to him, and all his wishes were anticipated by his new servant, who gave him a violin to see if he could play anything harmonious. But what was Tartini's surprise when he heard [himself play] a sonata so original and lovely and performed with such perfection and meaning that he could never have imagined anything like it! He experienced such amazement, admiration, and delight that he was breathless. His strong emotion woke him, and he immediately seized his violin in the hope that he would be able to remember at least part of what he heard, but in vain. The piece that Tartini composed then is indeed the best of all that he has ever done, and he calls it The Devil's Sonata. But the former one that amazed him was so much better than his own that he would have broken his violin and given up music forever if only he could have had it."
The sonata's final movement alternates slow segments, entitled "The Dream of the Master," alternate with faster portions containing the celebrated "Devil's Trill."  The trill itself features double-stopped trills. It is still performed regularly as a show piece.

Giuseppe Tartini died February 26, 1770.
Wu Man and her Pipa
Violinist Rachel Barton and Tartini's Devil's Trill
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Sheet Music by
Giuseppe Tartini
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Devil's Trill
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Click Picture to See Tartini's Music at Amazon
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