Trattato di Musica secondo la vera scienza dell'armonia

Autore: TARTINI, Giuseppe (1692-1770)

Tipografo: Stamperia del Seminario, Giovanni Manfré

Dati tipografici: Padova, 1754

4to (255x189 mm). [8], 175, [1] pp. and 1 engraved folding plate, showing a pentagram and geometric figures. Collation: a4 A-Y4. With several diagrams in text and a music engraving on l. X1r. Woodcut ornament on title page. Slightly later half vellum, lettering piece on spine. Small restoration to the lower outer corner of the title page. A very nice copy. Uncut with deckle edges.


First edition of this important and controversial music treatise, in which the author for the first time describes the phenomenon of the third sound, defining it as a “combination sound” produced by the impact of the air volumes of two other sounds protracted in time. Many years later, the German physicist Hermann Helmholtz will call it differential sound, because it is the result of the difference of the vibrations of the two generating sounds.

Tartini was a profound innovator of violin technique and a great music teacher. As a result of his theoretical commitment, his “Treatise on Music” immediately aroused great controversy. In it, in fact, the musical aspect often ends up being confusedly mixed with vague physical-mathematical interpretations, which were bitterly contested by his contemporaries. The mathematical skills of the author were questioned by Le Serre, to whom Tartini replied in 1767 with Risposta alla critica. However, even his mathematical friend Giordano Riccati, with whom Tartini corresponded for many years, could not help but notice the approximate mathematical preparation of the great violinist.

Giuseppe Tartini, originally from Pirano in Istria, was educated first in Capo d'Istria, then from 1710 at the University of Padua, where he studied law. A great fan of fencing, he secretly married a girl related to the bishop of Padua, Giorgio Cornaro. Fearing a possible retaliation of the latter, he preferred to flee, finding refuge at the convent of the Minorites of Assisi, where he remained for two years assiduously practicing the violin.

Later, forgiven by Cornaro, he returned to Padua. After a short stay in Ancona, where around 1716 he developed a new way to play the violin and discovered the phenomenon of the third sound, in 1721 he became director of the orchestra of St. Anthony of Padua. From 1723 to 1726 he was in Prague at the imperial court. In 1728 he founded in Padua a school of music of international renown, in which were trained not only violinists such as Maddalena Lombardelli, better known as Madame Sirmen, to whom Tartini addressed the famous Lettera inserviente ad una importante lezione per i suonatori di violino (Venice, 1770), but also famous composers such as Antonio Salieri.

He died in Padua in 1770. Tartini also wrote the dissertation De' principi dell'armonia musicale contenuta nel diatonico genere (Padova 1767) and the Traité des agréments, which was published posthumously in Paris in 1771.


Fetis, VIII, 186; RISM, II, 820; Gaspari, I, 259.