Niccolo Paganini  
Niccolo Paganini
Niccolò Paganini, (born October 27, 1782, Genoa, republic of Genoa [Italy]—died May 27, 1840, Nice, France), Italian composer and principal violin virtuoso of the 19th century. A popular idol, he inspired the Romantic mystique of the virtuoso and revolutionized violin technique.
After initial study with his father, Paganini studied with a local violinist, G. Servetto, and then with the celebrated Giacomo Costa. He made his first appearance in 1793 and then studied with Alessandro Rolla and Gaspare Ghiretti at Parma. In 1797, accompanied by his father, he toured Lombardy, where with each concert his reputation grew. Gaining his independence soon after, he indulged excessively in gambling and romantic love affairs. At one point he pawned his violin because of gambling debts; a French merchant lent him a Guarneri violin to play a concert and, after hearing him, gave him the instrument.

Between 1801 and 1807 he wrote the 24 Capricci for unaccompanied violin, displaying the novel features of his technique, and the two sets of six sonatas for violin and guitar. He reappeared in Italy as a violinist in 1805 and was appointed director of music at Piombino by Napoleon’s sister, Élisa Bonaparte Baciocchi. He later gave recitals of his own compositions in many towns in Italy and about 1824 formed his long attachment with the singer Antonia Bianchi.

In 1828 Paganini experienced great success in Vienna, and his appearances in Paris and London in 1831 were equally sensational. His tour of England and Scotland in 1832 made him a wealthy man. In 1833 he settled in Paris, where he commissioned Hector Berlioz to write his symphony Harold en Italie. Paganini thought that the challenge of its viola solo was too slight, however, and he never played it. Following the failure of the Casino Paganini, a gambling house in which he had invested, he went to Marseille in 1839, then to Nice.


1831 bulletin advertising a performance of Paganini
Paganini’s romantic personality and adventures created in his own day the legend of a Mephistophelean figure. Stories circulated that he was in league with the devil and that he had been imprisoned for murder; his burial in consecrated ground was delayed for five years. He was long regarded as a miser, but a more accurate portrait would consider his desire to be free from a train of dependent followers and their importunities for his largesse. His gift of 20,000 francs to the struggling composer Berlioz was an act of generosity seemingly uncharacteristic; possibly Paganini, recognizing in “Beethoven’s successor” a worthy talent, thought it was his duty to come to the composer’s aid.

His violin technique, based on that of his works, principally the Capricci, the violin concertos, and the sets of variations, demanded a wide use of harmonics and pizzicato effects, new methods of fingering and even of tuning. In performance he improvised brilliantly. He was also a flamboyant showman who used trick effects such as severing one or two violin strings and continuing the piece on the remaining strings. His technical innovations were imitated by later virtuosi, notably Pablo Sarasate and Eugène Ysaÿe. His other works include 6 violin concertos, of which the first, in D major, is especially popular; 12 sonatas for violin and guitar; and 6 quartets for violin, viola, cello, and guitar. The influence of his virtuosity extended to orchestral as well as to piano music. His influence on Franz Liszt was immense. Themes from the Capricci inspired works by Liszt, Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms, and Sergey Rachmaninoff.

Encyclopædia Britannica


Bust of Niccolò Paganini by David d'Angers

Paganini was born in Genoa m Italy. He was given a violin by his parents, who cherished hopes he would become a great virtuoso - something his father sought to encourage by locking the boy in a room to practise for hours at a time. At the age of 11 he made his first public appearance, performing a set of his own variations to a rapt audience; at 13 he made His first tour.

In 1801 Paganini moved to Lucca and soon became leader of the new national orchestra. There he was persuaded by his lover to take up the guitar, and wrote several delightful compositions, including 12 sonatas for violin and guitar. In 1805 Napoleon Bonaparte's sister. Princess Elisa, was installed m Lucca. Paganini improvised for her a piece on two strings of his violin, intending to represent a pair of lovers; he commemorated Napoleon's birthday with his Sonata Napoleone for performance entirely on one string.

Paganini left Lucca m 1809 and toured Italy, mesmerizing audiences with his brilliant musicianship, performing any piece of music at sight. In order to show off his abilities he composed pieces ot exceptional difficulty, one such being the 24 Caprices for solo violin, whose technical demands are so great that for a long time they were thought of as unperformable except by their composer. He turned his hand to orchestral works as well, writing numerous violin concertos and the Le streghe (Witches' Dance) variations for violin and orchestra. An aura of mystery began to surround Paganini. With his unkempt appearance and wild stare, he was thought by many to derive his uncanny gifts from a pact with the devil, and was dubbed "the devil's son."

In 1824 Paganini started a liaison with Antonia Bianchi. When the relationship later faltered, he gained custody of their son, Achille. Paganini gave triumphant performances in Vienna, Berlin, and Pans

from 1828 to 1831, but his experiences in London were less happy. Exorbitant ticket pricing gave rise to a furore of protest conducted through the pages of The Times. The admission prices were reduced, and The Times was forced to acknowledge Paganini's genius, although a reputation for meanness was less easily dispelled. From 1834 increasing illness put an end to Paganini's playing career. He developed an interest in gambling and even bought a stake in a Parisian casino, before succumbing in 1 840 to cancer of the larynx.

Paganini's influence was twofold. For other performers he provided a model of technical brilliance and advanced the cult of the virtuoso; for composers he pointed to the possibilities of including virtuoso elements m their music. Chopin's dazzling Etudes owe a debt to Paganmi; Brahms and Schumann were also admirers. A final indication of his appeal is the range of composers who have composed variations based on his Caprice Nо. 24 in A minor, including Brahms, Rachmaninov, Lutoslawski, and Andrew Lloyd Webber.


Ilia Gringolts
Capriccio No. 1


Kim Soovin
Capriccio No. 11


Nate Robinson
Capriccio No. 17


Alexander Tomescu
La Campanella


Volodja Balzalorsky


Sayaka Shoji
I Palpiti, op. 13


Ilia Gringolts
Nel cor piu non mi sento


Jan Cerkow
Violin concerto No.1 in D major

The Best of Paganini
Published on Jul 1, 2013
Niccolò Paganini

1. Allegro Maestoso
2. Adagio Espressivo
3. Rondo - Allegro Spiritoso
4. Allegro Maestoso
5. Adagio
6. Rondo à La Clochette
7. Capricho Nº 1
8. Capricho Nº 9
9. Capricho Nº 13

Jascha Heifetz plays Paganini Caprice No. 24
Niccolò Paganini: Caprice No. 24 In A Minor
Niccolo Paganini - 24 Caprices Op.1 - Itzhac Perlmann
Paganini - 24 caprices played live in one concert - Nicolay Madoyan
Nicolay Madoyan
Paganini - Concerto per Violino e Orchestra n.1 - Shlomo Mintz
Paganini - Violin Concerto No. 2 ' La Campanella ' - Salvatore Accardo - violin
Paganini - Violin Concerto No. 3 - Salvatore Accardo - violin
Paganini - Violin Concerto No. 4 - Salvatore Accardo - violin
Niccolò Paganini: Sonata for violin & guitar in D major Centone di sonate
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