Niccolò Paganini, classical music composer

Niccolò Paganini image

Niccolò Paganini

Biography

An influential figure in the development of violin technique and an inspiration for composers after him, Niccolò Paganini was the leading and most celebrated violin virtuosi of his time. Born in Genoa, Italy on October 27, 1782, the son of an unsuccessful trader, Paganini's musical abilities were recognized early. His father supplemented his income by playing the mandolin and began teaching his son the instrument when he was five. At the age of seven, Paganini took up the violin and studied with various local violinists. However, his skill and abilities quickly surpassed those of his teachers.

With the French invasion of northern Italy in 1796, Paganini and his father were forced to flee Genoa and by 1800, the young violinist was giving concerts in Livorno. By the time he was eighteen, he had achieved local fame as an exceptional violinist, but also a rather infamous reputation as a gambler and womanizer. When Lucca was annexed by Napoleonic France in 1805 and Napoleon's sister, Elisa Baciocchi was installed as "Queen of Etruria," Paganini became a violinist for the Baciocchi court. However, his tenure there was short-lived and he had left by 1809 to continue his freelance career.

Paganini spent the following years touring the surrounding areas of Parma and Genoa, though his fame did not spread much beyond these local areas. An 1813 concert at La Scala in Milan, however, brought him to the attention of more prominent figures in Europe's musical scene. His wider reputation throughout the European continent was established later with a concert tour beginning in Vienna in August 1828, stopping in major cities throughout Germany, Poland and Bohemia and concluding in Strasbourg in February 1831. After the completion of this tour, he later toured Paris and Britain. Paganini was eager and willing to display his technical abilities, which many of his compositions, such as the famous 24 Caprices, were designed to do. Many of the techniques for which Paganini was famous for were already known but shunned by established violinists and his concerts ultimately helped revive them.

The strenuous demands of his concert schedule, along with his extravagant lifestyle, ultimately led to a decline in Paganini's health. In September 1834, he ended his concert career and returned to Genoa. He devoted his time to the publication of his compositions and violin methods, as well as taking on a few students. Two years later in 1836, he returned to Paris to establish a casino. However, its failure left him in considerable debt and he was forced to auction off his personal effect, including his instruments, to repay his creditors. His health condition worsened in the following years. On May 27, 1840, he died of internal hemorrhaging.

Though more known as virtuoso than a composer, Paganini nevertheless had a wide-ranging influence both during his life and after his passing. Franz Liszt was greatly inspired by Paganini's abilities and the latter was the impetus behind Liszt's determination to become an equally exceptional virtuoso on the piano. Liszt, along with Robert Schumann, was also the first to compose a set of variations on Paganini's melodies, which became a trend that would be followed up by Johannes Brahms, Sergei Rachmaninoff and others.


Composer Title Date Action
Niccolò Paganini Le Streghe 02/23/2009 Play Add to playlist
Niccolò Paganini Sonata No. 2, Op. 2 02/23/2009 Play Add to playlist
Niccolò Paganini Sonata No. 6, Op. 2 02/23/2009 Play Add to playlist
Niccolò Paganini Concerto No. 2, Op. 7 02/23/2009 Play Add to playlist
Niccolò Paganini Moto Perpetuo 03/18/2009 Play Add to playlist
Niccolò Paganini Cantabile 03/18/2009 Play Add to playlist
Niccolò Paganini La Campanella, from Concerto No. 2, Op. 7 06/06/2009 Play Add to playlist
Niccolò Paganini La Campanella, from Concerto No. 2, Op. 7 03/01/2009 Play Add to playlist
Niccolò Paganini Caprice No. 23 "Posato" 09/05/2010 Play Add to playlist
Niccolò Paganini Moses, Variations on One String for cello and piano 09/28/2010 Play Add to playlist
Niccolò Paganini Caprice No. 23 "Posato" 10/20/2010 Play Add to playlist
Niccolò Paganini Sonata per la Gran Viola 03/21/2011 Play Add to playlist
Niccolò Paganini La Campanella 03/27/2011 Play Add to playlist
Niccolò Paganini Carnevale di Venezia (arr. Markov) 02/21/2009 Play Add to playlist
Niccolò Paganini Moses, Variations on One String 02/21/2009 Play Add to playlist
Niccolò Paganini Caprice No. 17 in E-flat Major 03/08/2012 Play Add to playlist
Niccolò Paganini Capriccio XI per violino 04/06/2012 Play
Niccolò Paganini Caprice No. 24 03/31/2013 Play Add to playlist
Niccolò Paganini Caprice for solo violin no. 1, op.1, no.1 in E Major 10/28/2013 Play Add to playlist