Paganini, Nicoló
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Born: 27 October 1782, Genua, Italy
Died: 27 May 1840, Nice, France

Paganini by Pierre de Pommayrac, Doria-Tursi Pallace, GenovaPaganini, Nicoló

One of the greatest violin players of all times, and the predominant virtuoso of this instrument. His father taught him to play, and when he was as young as 9 years old, he began appearing in concerts. As a violinist, he was outstandingly successful, and made a fortune. He was the first player who made performance tours around Europe, and his success was unprecedented. His performance was so astonishing, his appearance so bizarre and his playing so fascinating - superstitions and gossip claimed him to have made a pact with the devil. People did not know such perfect playing of any instrument back then, and insisted on touching him before they believed he was human. In one Italian town, a rich merchant lent him his expensive "Guarneri" violin, but when the concert was over he refused to accept it back and gave it to Paganini as a present. In another place he was given a "Stradivarius" violin, having interpreted "prima vista" a particularly hard work.

As a performer, Paganini barely played the conventional violin repertory and concentrated on his own pieces, in which he introduced the amazing playing techniques he developed. Although he rarely played works by other musicians, he ordered a Viola piece from Berlioz (and the result was "Harold in Italy", which he had never performed) and paid him a fortune, surprisingly, since he was known to be a miser (some say he did a favor for Berlioz's friend, who did not want to embarrass him with such a large donation).

Many 19th century composers were dazzled by his talent, and were so deeply affected by him that they incorporated difficult technical elements in their work. Liszt, who was a virtuoso pianist himself, admired him and tried to build himself a reputation as "the piano's Paganini". Like Liszt, Schumann arranged Paganini's 24 Violin Capriccios24 Violin Capriccios - Paganini for piano. Chopin wrote etudes in which Paganini's influence is evident, and Brahms composed variations on one of the themes in one of those capriccios. Paganini did not publish much of his work, and for this reason, only a few are nowadays heard in concerts, and among those few the Violin Concerti Nos. 1 and 2 and the Sonatas for Guitar, an instrument he played and for which he wrote several other pieces.

Paganini-Variations "God save the King" (by Frank Peter Zimmermann)

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