Paganini possessed all the necessary qualifications, not only musically, but personality wise as well. His gaunt, aquiline features and somber clothing gave rise to legends of associations with the Devil.
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With a characteristic understanding of the value of public relations, Paganini did not deny these stories as it enabled him to often triple the usual price of a ticket , but instead told of an angelic visitation to his mother, foretelling his birth and his genius. As a result, he became the first major "superstar" of the 19th century, giving a certain degree of credibility to the new techniques and the new style of music which incorporated them.
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In the 20th century, the techniques that Paganini developed are now commonplace in the standard violin repertoire. However, to audiences, critics and musicians alike that were hearing Paganini for the first time, the usual reaction was a combination of shock, veneration and astonishment. For instance, after a performance, a dazed Viennese critic wrote: "Never has an artist caused such a terrific sensation within our walls as this god of the violin.
After Paganini had performed at a concert in Genoa on the 21st of May, , a reviewer wrote ecstatically: "whoever has not heard him, has no idea of how he is totally in command of every aspect of the instrument. Through his absolutely original and brilliant playing, which implies somewhat towards melancholy but is at the same time boisterous and witty, he irresistibly carried the orchestra and audience along with him. Furthermore, many highly respected musicians were also impressed. In Berlin, Felix Mendelssohn wrote to his friend, the pianist Ignaz Moscheles, "His never-erring execution is beyond conception.
You ask too much if you expect me to give a description of his playing. It would take up the whole letter; for he is so original, so unique, that it would require an exhaustive analysis to convey an impression of his style. This statement was actually quite flawed, but it does serve to quantify the excitement that Paganini and the "effects" caused. Even the image of the violin was changing. No longer was the violin gracious, and beautiful instrument of the Classical era.
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Of course, it still could be, but the new style that Paganini popularized allowed players to explore the darker side of the instrument. The London paper, The Courier, described Paganini's violin as "a wild animal which he is endeavoring to quiet in his bosom, and which he occasionally, fiend-like, lashes with his bow". Paganini himself was not above stating the wonder of his brilliant new style, as in he had been quoted as saying " In regard to the Caprices, almost all emphasize one or more of Paganini's "magical" techniques.
Caprice no. Out of all the 24 Caprices, the first is actually one of the most unoriginal. This technique had been used in the Baroque era, especially by Vivaldi in some of his Violin concertos Concerto RV , movement three.
However, Paganini managed to incorporate a modern, Romantic sound, due in part to the extremes in range, as well as the use of double and triple stops at various key places in the Caprice. In contrast to Vivaldi and the Baroque and Classical eras, the left hand became much more important to the violin. Vivaldi's various concertos for violin relied primarily upon a very firm and fluid right bowing hand.
While the right hand was obviously still important, Paganini's works for violin made further use of the left hand, as exemplified by left hand pizzicato tenth variation of the 24th Caprice , extreme range and flexibility. The second and third Caprices, for example, demand wide stretches and extensions in left-hand technique. Unlike what some of Paganini's compositions have been criticized for, the effect is musical, not merely showy.
From beginning to end, this piece has structure, rhythm, melody and style. Most of the Caprices are similarly endowed, with scarcely one exclusively an exercise in technical dexterity. In musical terms, the 24 Caprices have meaning. It is not known if Paganini ever performed the 24 Caprices in public, but it is likely that they would have caused as much excitement as the other well known pieces of his, such as the violin concertos, Moto Perpetuo, Perpetuola, Le Streghe and the Napoleon Sonata. Without the 24 Caprices, violin technique could quite possibly have remained stagnant for many years.
Instead, Paganini's finest composition enabled modern violinists to fully exploit all of the possibilities of the instrument, enhancing a new musical language that influenced instrumental virtuosity throughout the 19th and subsequently, 20th centuries. Related Pages. Hilary Hahn. Strings Magazine Magazine. International Society of Bassists Nonprofit Organization. Contemporary Dance Company Nonprofit Organization. Music Academy of the West. Circle Round Podcast. Natesviolin Musician.
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Related Caprice No. 21 from Twenty-Four Caprices
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