Saturday, November 2, 2019

Niccolo Paganini - Mister Violin

As just 5 days ago on October 27 it would have been Niccolo Paganini's 237th Birthday, please enjoy this post first published in June of 2017.  

Niccolo Paganini was a Romantic Italian virtuoso violinist and composer.  Born in what is now known as Liguria, Italy, Paganini was probably the most celebrated violinist of his time, and still today is considered one of the greatest, if not the greatest, violinists ever.  While being known for and beloved for his amazing virtuosity on the violin, he also had some great compositions involving the violin.

Niccolo Paganini  [Oct 27, 1782 - May 27, 1840]
Paganini was not a prolific composer, but had some important and great works.  His 24 caprices for solo violin are in the form of etudes [studies] that many young people today use today for practice of their fundamental violin technique.  From the Paganini web site, Paganini composed 12 sonatas for violin and guitar; 6 violin concerti; and 6 quartets for violin, viola, cello, and guitar.

I have called Frederic Chopin, Mr. Piano, for being one of the greatest pianist of all time and for his so many beautiful compositions, that were almost all exclusively for solo piano.  I think in that same vein we can call Paganini, Mr. Violin, for being one of the greatest virtuoso violinists of all time and for his great compositions [although not prolific like Chopin was for the piano] for the violin.  

When listening to my local classical music station here in Houston, KUHA, I learned something I didn't know about Paganini.  As a youngster he loved the guitar and became a virtuoso on the guitar and wrote compositions for that instrument.  In fact, Niccolo Paganini often used the guitar [instead of the traditional use of the piano] in aiding his compositions for the violin.  KUHA then played Paganini's Grande Sonata for guitar that I really enjoyed.  This sonata is in A-Major with three movements:  1. Allegro Risoluto;  2. Romance;  and 3. Andantino variato.  I have the Allegro Risoluto movement here thanks to Wagner Rodrigues for this video on You Tube featuring Ana Vidovic on guitar.

Then thanks to My Violin Channel on You Tube the great Israeli violinist [and viola and conductor] Shlomo Mintz is soloist in "Mr. Violin's" great violin concerto #1 in D-Major. This melodic and virtuosic concerto is in 3 movements: 1. Allegro maestoso - Tempo giusto; 2. Adagio; and the exciting 3. Rondo - Allegro spirituoso

Then watch the amazing technical wizardry it takes to play Paganini's Caprice #5.  On the video below watch the virtuosity of 19 year old Sumina Studer performing this caprice.  Remember these caprices for solo violin are in the form of etudes [studies] for students of the violin to practice their technical skills.  Just imagine yourself a young violin student and your teacher telling you to practice this every day.  :-)

As difficult as that may be, Paganini's final Caprice #24 in A-minor is considered one of the most difficult pieces ever written for the solo violin.  It is in the form of theme and variations which includes 11 variations on the original theme.  Note Thanks to Cleberson Carvalho on You Tube for this wonderful video of the great virtuoso Hilary Hahn on violin. 

Then enjoy Paganini's famous "La Campanella" a showpiece that sometimes is played as a stand alone piece or as an encore by the violinist after a concerto.  It is the rondo final movement of his second violin concerto in B minor.  Virtuoso violinist David Garrett is the soloist.

Finally, Paganini's melodic "Moses Fantasy" aka Variations on the G String of Rossini's "Moses" for violin and piano, thanks via Kin Fung Leung on You Tube.

Please turn up the volume and enjoy some great music for the violin [and one for guitar] by "Mr. Violin", Niccolo Paganini. 

Niccolo Paganini: Grande Sonata in A-Major For Guitar, movement 1 Allegro Risoluto: 

Niccolo Paganini:  Violin Concerto #1 in D-Major:

Niccolo Paganini: Caprice #5 for solo violin:

Niccolo Paganini: Caprice #24 in A-minor for violin

Niccolo Paganini: Violin Concerto #2 in B minor, Movement 3, Rondo - "La Campanella":

Niccolo Paganini: 'Variations on the G string' of Rossini's 'Moses':

A five day belated Happy Birthday, Niccolo Paganini!

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