I want to discuss the talent and brilliance of Niccolo Paganini. Paganini was an Italian composer who was best known for his virtuosic skill with the violin. In fact, he was the most celebrated violin virtuoso of his time period and contributed greatly to the development of the modern violin technique.
In class, we discussed his Caprice No. 24 in A minor for solo violin. This piece is the best known of his compositions and is ranked as one of the most challenging pieces ever written for the solo violin. This piece requires many high level techniques such as parallel octaves, quick string crossing, left hand pizzicato, and rapid shifting across intervals. I saw this video of the work being performed and was left amazed at the skill required to play it perfectly.
Paganini was so skilled with the violin that he actually inspired Fran Liszt to be a virtuoso on the piano. After attending a charity concert of Paganini’s Liszt became determined to be as great a virtuoso with the piano as Paganini was with the violin. Liszt, as some of you may know, was a composer and a virtuoso pianist who during the mid-1800s was widely considered to be perhaps the greatest pianist of all time.
Paganini’s violin technique was inspired from other violinists such as Pietro Locatelli and August Duranowski. In fact, the famous left hand pizzicato that Paganini employs in his Caprice No.24 and which he popularized with his performances was derived from Duranowski. Paganini’s great technique was also due to the flexibility of his fingers. He had exceptionally long finger and was able to play three octaves across four strings, a very difficult feat. Because of his unnatural ability it has been suggested that he may have been suffering from Marfan’s syndrome which is characterized by long limbs and fingers.