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Niccolò Paganini


1782 - 1840

Composer, Violinist

Date of birth:
Date of death:

Paganini learned to play the mandolin and then the violin with his father, who was an amateur musician, before going on to complete his instrumental education with professional musicians Antonio Cervetto and Giacomo Costa in his native Genoa. At the age of twelve the young virtuoso gave his first concerts and composed a set of variations on La Carmagnole. Then he went to Parma to study composition with Gasparo Ghiretti and Ferdinando Paer, before moving to Lucca, where he was engaged as an orchestral musician. He did not decide to devote himself exclusively to a career as a soloist until 1810. He was soon making triumphant tours of Italy (which were interspersed with periods of rest imposed by his fragile state of health). Eyewitness accounts show that the spectacular, eccentric nature of Paganini’s performances was a feature right from the beginning of his success. His fame began to spread across Europe. In Vienna Schubert heard him play in 1828 and thought he “heard an angel sing”. He won renown in Germany, and his celebrity reached its apotheosis in Paris (1831 and 1832) and London. Paganini was the most highly acclaimed musician of the first part of the nineteenth century. The Romantic world had found a hero in this tall, lean, gaunt man, with his wild dark hair and pale, delicate complexion. His contemporaries (including Chopin, Berlioz, Schumann, Liszt, Stendhal, Balzac and others) were as fascinated by his image as they were by his compositions and his playing. Taking his exploration of the violin to its very limits, Paganini greatly extended violin technique and marked a stride forward in the history of instrumental performance.

Documents and archives

Statuettes Dantan 3

Caricature, Press illustration

Statuettes de Dantan


Caricature, Press illustration

Les musiciens de Paris : 4

Paganini Dantan

Caricature, Press illustration

Niccolò Paganini

See the 21 listed document(s)