The Story of Nicolo Paganini


"Paganini was called,"The Devil's Son" and "Witch's Brat" for his demonic and amazing violin virtuosity! Audiences thought Paganini made a pact with the devil to be able to perform supernatural displays of technique!"


Niccolo Paganini was possibly the greatest violinist of all time. In Italy he was known as the "wonder-child" by the time he was only 13 years old. Thirty years later, he had reached legendary status across Europe.”1

“As a child in Genoa, Niccolo's father forced him to learn the violin at a very early age. His father dreamt that someday, Niccolo's violin playing would make him wealthy. His father savagely would not let Niccolo rest or play; he was constantly practicing. The relentless lessons and practicing led to rapid progress. He composed his first sonata at the age of eight and played at local church functions. By the age of 15 the "wonder-child" had taken his concerts on tour across Italy. At the age of 16, he had earned enough money to escape from his father and live independantly.”2

“Paganini's newly found independence led him down a similar path of excessive womanizing and gambling that would later befall Robert Johnson and Tommy Johnson. He frequently gambled away all of his wages, sometimes amassing so much debt that he would have to pawn off his violin. In one case, he had pawned his violin the night before a performance and had to borrow that of a friend's. When he nearly pawned his friend's violin to gamble, he began to come to his senses.”3

“Paganini soon set off on his world tour. He gave incredible concerts across Europe tempered by long periods of utter disappearance. Paganini became famous for his incredible violin techniques, such as performing an entire composition using only the G String (the "Moses Fantasy" for the G String)! Paganini suffered from the disorder "Ehlers-Danlos"- which allowed him more joint mobility in his fingers and from "Marfan Syndrome"-which gave him long limbs and fingers.”4

“Paganini developed and extended the following violin techniques:
-Impossible fingerings
-Scordatura-the diverse tuning of strings
-Double, triple & quadruple stops
-Ricochet bowing
-Complicated harmonics and double stop harmonics
-Multiple trills
-Double Stop Octive runs
-Right and left hand pizzicato”5

In can be said that after performing and mesmerizing audiences for years, Nicolo Paganini became the first real rock star!


“His ailing health forced him to take long respites during his exhausting tours. He pressed on, despite his health, and amassed a fortune from his concerts. He invested all of his wealth into a casino which would bear his name. His casino was a complete failure and the loss of his wealth seemed to aggravate his fickle health. Paganini became violently ill, and died in May of 1840.”6

“The case of Niccolo Paganini is somewhat similar to that of Robert Johnson. Fans and enemies alike could not understand how Paganini(and Johnson) could possess such musical talent. Like Johnson, he never made any claims to making a deal with any devil-like characters. Unlike Johnson, Paganini did not write songs with references to the Devil or voodoo. What seemed to reinforce the rumors of Paganini forming a pact with the Devil(or being the son of the Devil) was his countenance. One description of his features says: "his pale, long-drawn face with its hollow cheeks, his thin lips that seemed to curl into a sardonic smile, piercing expression fo his eyes which were like flaming charcoals, gave him a diabolic appearance...". The "nail in the coffin", so to speak, was that Paganini refused to see a Bishop that had come to give him the final sacraments when he was on his deathbed. Paganini shooed him away, insisting he was not dying at all. When he did die, the church refused to allow him to be buried on holy ground. Instead, he was buried in a pauper’s grave outside of the city limits in the middle of the night in an unmarked grave for fear that witches would try to unearth his body in an attempt to ‘steal’ his magic powers.It wasn’t until five years after his death, Paganini's son managed to convince the Pope to allows his father's body to be buried on holy ground.”7






1-3,6-7 Dr. Simon Richter. The Life of Nicolo Paganini.
4-5 Kat Thomas. Nicolo Paganini Biography.


Caprice #16
Presto in G minor
by Nicolo Paganini