Happy Birthday Niccolo Paganini

On this date, October 27, was born one of the greatest, if not the greatest, virtuoso violinist of all time, the Italian Romantic Era composer, Niccolo Paganini. He was born in the year, 1784 in Genoa, Italy and he died on May 27, 1840 in Nice, France. Happy Birthday, Niccolo Paganini!

Niccolo Paganini [1784 – 1840]

Born in what is now known as Liguria, Italy, Paganini was probably the most celebrated violinist of his time. While being known for and beloved for his amazing virtuosity on the violin, he also had some great compositions involving the violin.

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 [a couple of years ago] here in Houston on Houston Public Media-Classical – on the “Tune In Radio” App, I learned something I didn’t know about Paganini.  As a youngster Paganini 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. 

Niccolo, Mr. Violin, Paganini, composed a great Violin Concerto 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.

Paganini composed many caprices for solo violin that 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 Caprice #5 or Caprice #24, [which takes amazing technical wizardry] every day.  🙂

Then I have on You Tube video, 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. La Campanella is the rondo, final movement of Paganini’s second violin concerto in B minor.

So, please on this birthday of Niccolo Paganini, please turn up the volume and play in full screen to enjoy some wonderful music from Mr. Violin!

Paganini: Grande Sonata for Guitar:

Paganini: Violin Concerto in D Major:

Paganini: Caprice #5 for solo violin:

Paganini: Caprice #24 for solo violin:

Paganini: La Campanella:


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