Niccolo Paganini was a Romantic Italian virtuoso violinist and composer. Born in what is now known as Liguria, Italy, on October 27, 1782, Paganini was probably the most celebrated violinist of his time, and still today is considered one of the greatest, if not the greatest, violinists ever. While being known for and beloved for his amazing virtuosity on the violin, he also had some great compositions involving the violin. He died in Nice, France on May 27, 1840.
Today, Wednesday October 27, 2021 is Paganini’s 239th birthday.
Paganini was not a prolific composer, but had some important and great works. His 24 caprices for solo violin are in the form of etudes [studies] that many young people today use today for practice of their fundamental violin technique. From the Paganini web site, Paganini composed 12 sonatas for violin and guitar; 6 violin concerti; and 6 quartets for violin, viola, cello, and guitar.
I have called Frederic Chopin, Mr. Piano, for being one of the greatest pianist of all time and for his so many beautiful compositions, that were almost all exclusively for solo piano. I think in that same vein we can call Paganini, Mr. Violin, for being one of the greatest virtuoso violinists of all time and for his great compositions [although not prolific like Chopin was for the piano] for the violin.
When listening to my local classical music station here in Houston [this was a couple of years ago], [now available online on Houston Public Media and on the “Tune In Radio” App- “Houston Public Media Classical” station], I learned something I didn’t know about Paganini. As a youngster he loved the guitar and became a virtuoso on the guitar and wrote compositions for that instrument. In fact, Niccolo Paganini often used the guitar [instead of the traditional use of the piano] in aiding his compositions for the violin. The classical station then played Paganini’s Grande Sonata for guitar that I really enjoyed. This sonata is in A-Major with three movements: 1. Allegro Risoluto; 2. Romance; and 3. Andantino variato.
Then, “Mr. Violin’s” great violin concerto #1 in D-Major. This melodic and virtuosic concerto is in 3 movements: 1. Allegro maestoso – Tempo giusto; 2. Adagio; and the exciting 3. Rondo – Allegro spirituoso
Then watch the amazing technical wizardry it takes to play Paganini’s Caprice #5. On the video below watch the virtuosity of this violinist in performing this caprice. Remember these caprices for solo violin are in the form of etudes [studies] for students of the violin to practice their technical skills. Just imagine yourself a young violin student and your teacher telling you to practice this every day. 🙂
As difficult as that may be, Paganini’s final Caprice #24 in A-minor is considered one of the most difficult pieces ever written for the solo violin. It is in the form of theme and variations which includes 11 variations on the original theme.
Then enjoy Paganini’s famous “La Campanella” a showpiece that sometimes is played as a stand alone piece or as an encore by the violinist after a concerto. It is the rondo final movement of his second violin concerto in B minor.
Please turn up the volume and enjoy some great music for the violin [and one for guitar] by “Mr. Violin”, Niccolo Paganini.
Niccolo Paganini: Grande Sonata in A-Major For Guitar:
Niccolo Paganini: Violin Concerto #1 in D-Major:
Niccolo Paganini: Caprice #5 for solo violin:
Niccolo Paganini: Caprice #24 in A-minor for violin:
Niccolo Paganini: Violin Concerto #2 in B minor, Movement 3, Rondo – “La Campanella”:
Happy Birthday Niccolo Paganini!