Updated: Nov 13
The story behind “Devil’s Trill” starts with a dream. Tartini allegedly told the French astronomer Jérôme Lalande that he dreamed that the Devil appeared to him and asked to be his servant. At the end, Tartini handed the devil his violin to test his skill—the devil immediately began to play with such virtuosity that Tartini felt overwhelmed. The complete story is told by Tartini himself in Lalande’s Voyage d’un François en Italie:
“One night, in the year 1713, I dreamed I had made a pact with the devil for my soul. Everything went as I wished: my new servant anticipated my every desire. Among other things, I gave him my violin to see if he could play. How great was my astonishment on hearing a sonata so wonderful and so beautiful, played with such great art and intelligence, as I had never even conceived in my boldest flights of fantasy. I felt enraptured, transported, enchanted: my breath failed me, and – I awoke. I immediately grasped my violin in order to retain, in part at least, the impression of my dream. In vain! The music which I at this time composed is indeed the best that I ever wrote, and I still call it the “Devil’s Trill”, but the difference between it and that which so moved me is so great that I would have destroyed my instrument and have said farewell to music forever if it had been possible for me to live without the enjoyment it affords me.”
In this video, the piece is played by Amsterdam Sinfonietta and soloist Ray Chen.
Text by: Deyun Lin/Licha Stelaus Productions
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