Italian violinist and composer. He was a concert soloist from the age of nine. A prodigious technician, he drew on folk and gypsy idioms to create the modern repertoire of virtuoso techniques.
His dissolute appearance, wild love life, and amazing powers of expression, even on a single string, fostered rumours of his being in league with the devil. His compositions include six concertos and various sonatas and variations for violin and orchestra, sonatas for violin and guitar, and guitar quartets.
Paganini's father taught him to play the guitar and violin. He afterwards studied with the theatre violinist Antonio Cervetto and the cathedral maestro di cappella Giacomo Costa. As a composer he profited by the advice of Francesco Gnecco, and in 1795 his father sent him to the violinist Alessandro Rolla at Parma. While there he also studied composition with Gasparo Ghiretti, and in 1797 made his first professional tour, winning early acclaim for his technical virtuosity and flamboyant platform personality. After that he became increasingly famous, travelled widely, beginning with Vienna and Paris 1828–31, and in the latter year went to England for the first time. In 1834, he invited Berlioz in Paris to write a concert work for viola; Harold en Italie was the result, but he never played it.
WorksOrchestral six violin concertos (1815–30; Op. 7 with the Rondo alla campanella); variations (including one on ‘God save the King’) and concert pieces for violin and orchestra.
Chamber three string quartets with a guitar part; 12 sonatas for violin and guitar; 24 capricci (studies) for violin solo.
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