excerpt from 'Reminiscences of Michael Kelly' pp. 106-107 (325 words)

excerpt from 'Reminiscences of Michael Kelly' pp. 106-107 (325 words)

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Reminiscences of Michael Kelly

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In the evening, Lady Cowper gave a concert to a large party. There I had the gratification of hearing a sonata on the violin played by the great Nardini ; though very far advanced in years, he played divinely. He spoke with great affection of his favourite scholar, Thomas Linley, who, he said, possessed powerful abilities. Lord Cowper requested him to play the popular sonata, composed by his master, Tartini, called the Devil's Sonata. Mr. Jackson, an English gentleman present, asked Nardini, whether the anecdote relative to this piece of music was true, for Mr. de la Lande had assured Dr. Burney that he had it from Tartini's own mouth.

Nardini answered, that he had frequently heard Tartini relate the circumstance, which was neither more nor less than this : He said that one night he dreamed that he had entered into a contract with the devil, in fulfilment of which his satanic majesty was bound to perform all his behests. He placed his violin in his hands, and asked him to play ; and the devil played a sonata so exquisite, that in the delirium of applause which he was bestowing, he awoke, and flew to the instrument to endeavour to retain some of the passages ! but in vain, they had fled ! yet the sonata haunted his imagination day and night, and he endeavoured to compose one in imitation, which he called " The Devil's Sonata :" but it was so inferior to the sonata of his dream, that he has been heard to say, that if he had had any other mode of gaining a living, he would have left the musical profession. I hope my being able to add the additional authority of Nardini himself, as to the truth of this anecdote, will be my excuse for repeating what has been so ably related by Dr. Burney. Nardini was the favourite scholar of Tartini, and was allowed to possess more of his master's excellence than any other.

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excerpt from 'Reminiscences of Michael Kelly' pp. 106-107 (325 words)


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