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Paganini's Compositional Style Its Impact and Challenge

Paganini

This benefit concert marks only the second time in history that the legendary violin, made by Joseph Guarneri del Gesu (pronounced "Jezu") (1705? - 1744) in 1743, which belonged to Nicolo Paganini (October 27, 1782 - May 27, 1840) will be played in a full recital on the American continent. Eugene Fodor will perform. The first time it was heard in the U.S. was in 1982, in New York, as part of Paganini's bicentennial celebration, when his 24 Caprices for unaccompanied violin were played on it.

Paganini's genius extended the technical, emotional and artistic expression of performance art to such a degree that it could be argued it flung open the portals of the Romantic era. His influence extended to nearly every form of art and literature. All of Europe was galvanized by this "Modern Orpheus" -- as he was known -- in his works of masterful classical compositional precision, beautiful original themes and operatic flavor. These were performed with Paganini's electrifyingly faultless playing of whole passages of new innovations, which included ravishing multiple stopping at dazzling speed, astonishing bow technique, dozens of consecutive rapid plucked notes (left hand pizzicato), fiendishly difficult double harmonics, and expressive, dramatic variation of tonal colors in all registers.

His concerts always included a full composition performed entirely on one string -- the fourth, with its mesmerizing silver-wound richness thus fully accomplishing his intent to present violin playing as an extension of the human voice, but with technical resources far beyond vocal imagining.

His fame will never be equaled and his gift to creative imagination can hardly be fully appreciated. His compositions provided technical solutions which were utilized in nearly every great successive violin concerto. His presence changed the lives and destinies of countless artists, including Chopin, Berlioz and Schumann, and served as a starburst of wonder and upliftment to the masses in times of prosperity as well as during oppression and plague. He played many concerts for charity, several times braving exposure to Bubonic plague. His influence is felt to this day by every serious musician who strives to reach his or her true potential.

Schubert, who sold his silver and china in order to buy tickets for his friends to hear Paganini, said "I heard an angel sing when Paganini played his Adagio" and "An artistic comet of this magnitude will...

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