Nicolo Paganini was born October 27, 1782 in Genoa, Italy. He was considered by many to be the greatest violin virtuoso to have ever lived. He began studying the mandolin and violin at the age of 5 under the instruction of his father and was already composing at the age of 7. He gave his first public violin performance at 12 and by 13 he was already known through Genoa as the “wonder-child.” Paganini quickly outgrew each and every one of his teacher’s abilities. His father quickly realized Nicolo’s potential and realized that money could be made from young Nicolo’s talent. He put his son to work good and hard; so hard that it took its toll on his health. The relationship became complicated. If the boy failed to practice for long hours, he was beaten and given no food. At the age of 15, Paganini began touring Lombardy with his father and by the age of 19, the Minister of the Interior Adriano Mancarelli, appointed young Paganini as the solo violinist to the court in Lucca; where he started his compositions of his famous “24 Violin Caprices.” Elisa Bonaparte Baciocchi, younger sister of Napoleon Bonaparte, Dutches of Lucca, heard and immediately fell in love with Nicolo Paganini’s music and appointed him Music Director of Italy a year later. His fame as a virtuoso violinist grew as he continued to tour Europe from 1810 onwards. He enjoyed tremendous success in the years that followed.
Paganini was credited with bring about radical modern violin techniques, and his innovations in this area bordered on the miraculous. In 1829, the German music director and violinist, Carl Guhr was asked to publish an account of the differences between Paganini and all other violinists. He indentified the following principal innovations and techniques: 1) His method of tuning his instrument. In some works, Paganini raises the pitches of all 4 strings by a semi-tone. And when he plays on the G-String alone, it is tuned a minor 3rd high. This had a surprising...
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