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(1782-1840).  Paganini's spectacular playing electrified audiences and musicians, and defined a style of violin technique that inspired generations of performers.  He was among the first touring performers to develop a cult following.

His 24th Caprice for Solo Violin inspired compositions by Liszt, Brahms, Rachmaninov, and others.  Paganini's Violin Concertos no 1 and 2 remain popular with violinists.

It was Paganini's admiration and financial support that enabled the French composer Hector Berlioz to compose two of his most important works: Harold in Italy, and Romeo and Juliet.



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Niccolo Paganini is perhaps the most famous violinist who ever lived. He was born on October 27, 1782, in Genoa, Italy. His early studies were on the mandolin, instructed by his father, who played mandolin on the side to supplement his income.

At age 7, Nicolo switched to violin and began studies with Servetto, then Costa, Rolla, Paer, and Ghiretti. By age 18, he had achieved an important appointment to a royal court post (Italian), after which he received a second appointment at a different court (French) in Tuscany. Neither appointment meant a great deal to Paganini since, especially after 1813, he earned a very good living through free-lancing. His stupendous and unmatched virtuosity on the violin made him a legend (and a fortune) in his own time. He is also famous as a composer of prodigiously difficult violin music.

Among many other works, he wrote six violin concertos, but is more famous for his twenty four caprices for solo violin, which have been recorded by nearly every violin virtuoso of our time. His favored instrument was a Guarneri del Gesu of 1742 or 1743. He died young, at age 58, in 1840.
This biography was most recently edited by...
steven - 8 Feb 2010
steven - 24 Sep 2009
violinhunter - 8 May 2009
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