Sunday, May 28, 2006

Death of Niccolo Paganini - May 27, 1840

I must be on a death kick or something, but here's another.

Niccolo Paganini was born October 27, 1782 in Genoa, Italy. He was playing ther mandolin by age five, violin by age seven, composing by age eight and giving public concerts at age twelve. He seems to have suffered from early fame and was drinking by the age of sixteen. A mystery woman saved him by taking him to her estate where he studied violin and guitar until he re-emerged when he was 23.

Paganini became one of the first musicians to tour as a single perfomer. He was so accomplished on the violin that people would say he'd made a deal with the Devil for his virtuoso ability. Actually, he had Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, which lended him extraordinary flexibility of the wrist, as well as his natural genius for music. He was apparently so talented he could make people cry and faint at his concerts. He was the original Elvis.

Paganini played his own compostions on his tours. These compositions were written to be challenging to him and are considered some of the most difficult pieces for a violinist to play. What was new when he was coming up with them is now standard for violinists today.

Paganini died in Nice on May 27, 1840 due to cancer of the larynx. He had already lost his ability to speak, but continued playing the violin the night before he died.

"Pavarotti is a tenor, Paganini was a composer." - The Hunt for Red October

Niccolo Paganini - Wikipedia - May is National Ehlers-Danlos Awareness Month. Personally, I'd never heard of it before this.


Peter Matthes said...

I played the cello as a kid at Allen Stevenson School in New York City.

The Violin players used to dread the Paganini written pieces when they got assigned them. They required super human speed, and the player needed to have limber hands.

Shadowspun said...

I've listened to Paganini and liked his compositions well enough. I'm much fonder of Tchaikovsky, Holst, Williams, Joplin, Copland and Stravinsky. LOL. Does that list make any sense? Add in Gershwin, Hildegard von Bingen and John Mackey and it makes even les sense!

I just got caught by Paganini because I liked the idea of doing a couple of music themed people close together. And I'm getting sick of only finding English and American topics.