For some reason there are many depictions of the devil playing a violin. I’m not sure where this came from, but it has existed for centuries. One of the earliest pieces of music I can find that represents the devil playing a violin is Tartini’s Violin Sonata in G Minor, “The Devil’s Trill.” The inspiriation supposedly came from a dream where the composer made a deal with the devil.
Here is Tartini’s description of his dream.
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.
Enjoy this beautiful masterpiece as Halloween approaches.
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