Tartini Violin Sonata in G minor ''Devil's Trill Sonata''

Tartini Violin Sonata in G minor ''Devil's Trill Sonata''


Giuseppe Tartini (1692-1770) was an Italian composer and violin virtuoso. Tartini was most influenced by Corelli's music and often followed his structures in composition. 

Tartini's most famous work, "Le trille du diable" (or "Devil's Trill"), was written supposedly after a dream in 1713 where the Devil visited the bedside of Tartini playing the violin.

A retelling of his own words:

"He dreamed one night, in 1713, that he had made a compact with the Devil, who promised him to be at his service on all occasions; and during this vision everything succeeded according to his mind. In short, he imagined he gave the Devil his violin, in order to discover what kind of musician he was; when to his great astonishment, he heard him play a solo so singularly beautiful and executed with such superior taste and precision, that it surpassed all he has ever heard of conceived in his life.

So great was his surprise and so exquisite his delight upon this occasion that it deprived him of the power of breathing. He awoke with the violence of his sensation and instantly seized his fiddle in hopes of expressing what he had just heard, but in vain; he, however, then composed a piece, which is perhaps the best of all his works (he called it the "Devil's Sonata") but it was so inferior to what his sleep had produced that he declared he should have broken his instrument and abandoned music forever, if he could have subsisted by any other means."


A link to the full score can be found at: Tartini: Sonata in g minor. What places this work in the Baroque era was its loose form and structure. It was more freely composed with its long phrases and melodies. The harmonies were becoming much more predictable, however. The ornamentation in the violin part also placed this piece in the Baroque era. With much credit to Corelli, the developed and extended violin technique (ex.: double-fingered trills) placed this piece past the middle Baroque period.


This sonata was written in typical four movement structure, but the last two movements contained numerous alternations of tempi and had no clear break between them. This was also seen in Corelli's Violin Sonata No. 1 in D major. The difference here was that in the "Devil's Trill," the last two movements could be considered an alternation of characters (one being Tartini himself and the other the Devil).

The virtuosic violin playing was greatly inspired by Corelli. This sonata, however, went far beyond a typical virtuosic Corelli piece. To play this piece well required a master of violin. 


I chose this work because I always wanted to play this sonata for myself back when I still had a violin. I also thought this work would prove to be a good comparison to that of the Corelli sonata I did for the middle Baroque period.


Elias, Gerald. "Music from Devil's Trill." Excerpt from Devil's Trill.

Petrobelli, Pierluigi. "Tartini, Giuseppe." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accesseed March 24, 2014.

Tartini, Giuseppe. "Tartini Violin Sonata in G minor "Devil's Trill Sonata" (video). Accesseed March 24, 2014.

Tartini, Giuseppe. "Violin Sonata in G Minor."