Nicolò Paganini

Nicolò Paganini

Nicolò Paganini (1782-1840), Italian composer and violin virtuoso, born in Genoa, where he studied with local musicians. He made his first public appearance as a violinist at the age of 9 and toured several towns in Lombardy (Lombardia) at the age of 13. Until 1813, however, he did not actively pursue the career of a virtuoso performer. He preferred to enjoy himself in romantic liaisons, gambling, and, from 1805 to 1813, in the social pleasures of a position as musical director at the court of Maria Anna Elisa Bacciocchi, princess of Lucca, the sister of Napoleon.

In 1813 Paganini left Lucca and began touring Italy, where his technical ability as a violinist attracted wide attention. He extended his tours to Vienna in 1828 and to Paris and London in 1831. In Paris he met the Hungarian pianist and composer Franz Liszt, who was inspired to develop the techniques of piano playing as Paganini had developed those for the violin. The violinist went into partial retirement in 1834. His playing astonished the listeners of his day, many of whom believed he was in touch with supernatural powers. He could perform complex works using only one of the four strings of the violin, and he played chords of two and three notes, creating the illusion that more than one violin was being played. His own works include 24 caprices for violin solo (1801-07), 8 concertos, and many sonatas.

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