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Nicolo Paganini

Biography

With Nicolo Paganini, the age of the virtuoso truly began. Of course, Mozart was a consummate musician and undeniable virtuoso, but the climates of the Classical and Romantic periods were very different. Whereas Mozart and other composers of his age were servants to clergymen and the nobility, Paganini was considered a giant among men, a true magician, a superstar, and (although highly unlikely,) perhaps a devil-worshiper. That is what the superstitious believed, anyway, for his technique was simply too overwhelming to comprehend. And to this day this enigmatic, thin, lascivious and ostentatious Italian inspires everyone from Jascha Heifetz to Yngwie Malmsteen, his ghost pushing the musician to the outer limits of dazzling technical ability. Not many of his compositions are well-known today, but any aspiring violinist will certainly undertake the daunting task of performing from the Caprices, the hallmark of Paganini's craft. The twenty-fourth caprice, in fact, transfixed other composers as well: Liszt, Schumann, Brahms and Rachmaninoff all wrote piano works based upon it. The Romantic era and Paganini will forever be comfortably married.
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