Tartini, Giuseppe


Tartini, Giuseppe

Violin Concerto in A, D 92 (Piano reduction/Solo)


Tartini, Giuseppe

Violin Concerto in A, D 92 (Piano reduction/Solo)

If his parents had had their way, Giuseppe Tartini would have become a man of the cloth. But by 1708 he had left his home town forever and moved to Padua, where he first studied law. He then entered a monastery for about three years and taught himself to play the violin. As a friend later put it, “Intent on devoting himself to music, he left his parental home and spent eight hours every day entirely on the violin.” He then taught music and played in various opera houses until 1721, when he become concertmaster and solo violinist in the orchestra of St. Anthony’s Basilica in Padua. Apart from a brief interruption, he remained there to the end of his days. At the time of his appointment he must already have been an outstanding violinist, for the church records refer to him as a “unique player of the violin” who was exempted from auditioning “owing to his well-known excellence in this profession.” In 1727 he founded a music academy for violinists that became internationally famous; there he taught both violin and composition. Today he is considered the leading violin virtuoso of his generation, alongside Francesco Maria Veranici and Pietro Locatelli.

The main focus of Tartini’s output lies on violin concertos with string accompaniment, violin sonatas, a few writings on music theory and acoustics, and a manual on embellishments. Among his roughly 135 known concertos for violin, strings, and basso continuo is the present Concerto in A major, which bears the number 92 in Minos Dounias’s thematic catalogue (1935). It survives in a single undated copyist’s manuscript preserved in the Mecklenburg State Library, Schwerin.

To place Tartini’s A-major Concerto in its historical context, it is useful to bear in mind a few stages in the evolution of the solo concerto in Italy. In the late seventeenth century Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1713), in his concerti grossi with string tutti and solo violin, had juxtaposed two contrasting groups of instruments. The solo parts were taken by several instruments, or by one instrument with doublings, while the two first violins of the concertino were often reduced to a purely accompaniment function. In such passages the boundaries between concerto grosso and solo concerto began to blur. The clear separation of the solo violin from the rest of the orchestra was brought about by Tomaso Albinoni (1671-1751), who occasionally freed the solo instrument, and especially by Giuseppe Torelli (1658-1709), who gave the solo violin an independent role in his concerti grossi and made it the equal of the tutti in the formal design. Both composers abandoned the earlier four-movement layout in favor of three movements (fast, slow, fast), in which the middle movement is often nothing but a brief quiet episode between the fast outside movements. Albinoni’s contemporary Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) continued to develop this form in the early eighteenth century by clearly separating the tutti and solo sections (at least four tuttis and three solos) and enhancing the expressive powers of the solo violin. This is the tradition that Tartini drew on for his A-major Concerto, whose stylistic features place it among his early works (ca. 1721-35).

The first movement (Allegro ma non molto) has four tutti and three solo sections:

Tutti I mm. 1-15 = 15 mm.

Solo I mm. 16-37 = 12 mm.

Tutti II mm. 38-46 = 9 mm.

Solo II mm. 47-66 = 20 mm.

Tutti III mm. 67-73 = 7 mm.

Solo III mm. 74-96 = 23 mm.

Tutti IV mm. 97-102 = 6 mm.


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