Sunday, August 24, 2008

Violinist/Composer: Niccolò Paganini

Niccolò Paganini (born Genoa, October 27, 1782, died Nice, May 27, 1840) was an Italian violinist, violist, guitarist, and composer. He was one of the most celebrated violin virtuosi of his time, and left his mark as one of the pillars of modern violin technique. His 24 caprices is among his best known compositions, and serves as inspiration for other prominent artists from Johannes Brahms to Sergei Rachmaninoff.

Paganini's signature violin, Il Cannone fabricated in 1742 by Giuseppe Antonio Guarnieri del Gesù, was his favourite. He named it "The Cannon" because of the powerful and explosive resonance he was able to produce from it. Its strings are nearly on the same plane, as opposed to most violins, the strings of which are distinctly arched to prevent accidentally bowing extra strings. The stringing of Il Cannone may have allowed Paganini to play on three or even four strings at once. Il Cannone is now in the hands of the City of Genoa, where it is exhibited in the town hall. It is taken out and played by its curator once monthly, and periodically loaned out to virtuosi of today.

I enjoy watching violinists on Youtube playing Paganini's Caprices. Here is Jascha Heifetz , one of my favorite violinist (I will feature him soon here) playing the Paganini Caprice #24. Enjoy!

No comments: