#NonMetalWednesday: Niccolò Paganini

Born in Genua, Italy in ’82 (1782, that is), Niccolò Paganini was a virtuosic violinist, violist, guitarist and composer whose technical skills are revered to this day. He was so abnormally skilled for his time that all who listened to him believed he had sold his soul to the devil, and for that reason, he was not buried for 36 years following his death in May of 1840.

During the earlier years of his life, Paganini was often swept up in the political instability of Europe in his time period, forced to take refuge in the Italian countryside due to the French invasion of 1796. It was during these years that Paganini developed his passion for guitar.

It is not widely known that he was a guitarist, due to the fact that he preferred not to play it in public. He believed it to be his constant companion and often played while he was alone. In fact, he composed a staggering 47 caprices and 37 sonatas for either guitar or for a guitar/violin duet, in addition to various smaller pieces comprising mainly of sonatinas.

By the age of 18, Paganini was the first violin of the Republic of Lucca, and also enjoyed a relatively successful freelance career, although he was not well known in Europe until an 1813 concert in Milan. He made good money. However, he had a horrible gambling addiction to the point where he couldn’t even afford to buy a violin.

Due to his virtuosic abilities, it was not just believed that he had made a pact with the devil, but also that he was the son of the devil himself. He was once made to publish a letter from his mother in order to prove that he had human parents. He also had unnaturally long fingers, which, aside from adding to the suspicion concerning his supernatural origins, points to the fact that he may have had Mafan Syndrome (a genetic disorder which causes abnormal thinness in limbs, longer fingers and toes, and abnormally flexible joints).

Paganini Caprice no.24 [HQ]

Paganini continues to be a huge influence to a great many musicians of our modern times. Perhaps most notably in the metal community, this includes virtuosic ’80s Swedish shredder Yngwie Malmsteen, who specifically cites Paganini as a great influence.

Classical music and its musicians have lent inspiration to a great deal of other well known metal musicians, and for this reason, I thought it was a suitable post for #NonMetalWednesday. Thanks for reading everyone!


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