Giuseppe Tartini (1692–1770)
Giuseppe Tartini was born in Piran on 8th April 1692. His father, Gian Antonio, was a native of Florence and probably came to Piran for trading. Later, he started to work as a public notary in the salt trade. Tartini’s mother, Caterina Zangrando, was a descendant of one of the oldest aristocratic families, which lived in Piran. Tartini acquired his first knowledge from the Fathers of Oratory in Piran, and later was registered at “Collegio dei padri delle scuole Pie” in Koper. He probably also attended the academy "I virtuosi" in Piran, which gathered all Piran scholars to discuss music, art and literature.
He continued his schooling at the Koper college. His father wanted him to become a priest, yet the restless spirit led the son elsewhere. He continued his studies at the Law Faculty of the Padova University. After some unpleasant strife following his marrying the Bishop’s niece, he was obliged to leave Padova behind. He sought sanctuary at Assisi, where he studied violin and the basics of composition at the local monastery. During this period, he also studied the basics of acoustics law. There is very scarce data on his life for the following years. It is known that he played in various theatre orchestras and performed as a soloist; he improved his violin technique in Ancona, where he studied for two years.
"The maestro of nations"
In the year 1721, he was invited to play first violin and be concert master in the St. Anthony Cathedral in Padova. He was appointed without any audition, a fact confirming the great reputation he had already achieved as a virtuoso. After a short stay in Prague, he returned to Padova, where in his prime, he took on the supervision of the music chapel in the cathedral. In the year 1728, he founded a well-known violin school "La scuola delle nazioni". The students began arriving there from all different European countries, and so he was eventually given the name “il maestro delle nazioni”.
In the year 1770, he died in Padova, where he is buried. He left a large opus: around 130 concertos, over 170 sonatas, etc. He mainly wrote for the violin. His most famous work is "The Devil’s Trill”. Legend has it that the devil himself, playing the violin, appeared in his dream. Immediately upon waking up, he wrote the melody down. This is how one of the most challenging European violin compositions was created.
On the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the birth of their great artist, the people of Piran wished to erect a monument. However, the work protracted somewhat, such that it was only in the year 1896 that the larger-than-life bronze statue of the “Maestro” was mounted on its pedestal. The monument is the work of the Venetian Antonio dal Zotto. With its well-thought-out positioning, it dominates the square and forms a unified entity with St. George Cathedral, which dominates the town.
This is one of the oldest of the houses encircling the square. Municipal documents from the year 1384 mention it as the Gothic building “Casa Pizagrua”; later, its exterior was renovated in the classical style. Guiseppe Tartini was born here. The house was finally renovated between the years 1985 and 1991, when interesting frescoes were uncovered during the renovation work.
The Tartini House is the main office of the Italian Community and is used for cultural events, exhibitions and various art workshops. On the 1st floor is the Tartini Memorial Room, containing the objects left to the family Tartini by the artist. The most interesting exhibits are the death mask, the master’s violin, the music score pages, the copper engraving depicting Tartini’s dreams and an oil portrait painting of Tartini. Among the manuscripts, the most interesting is a letter to a violinist, Tartini’s pupil Maddalena Lombardini, in which Tartini explains the rules of the violin bow technique.
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