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Paganini: The Devil's Violinist

by Bernard Rose

Paganini: The Devil's Violinist

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In the early 1830s Niccolo Paganini, the great virtuoso violinist, takes Paris by storm. “I am at present marveling at the astounding miracles performed by Paganini in Paris,” writes French novelist Balzac. “Do not imagine that it is merely a question of his bowing, his fingering, or the fantastic sounds he draws from his violin. There is, beyond all doubt, something mysterious about this man. I go to every one of his concerts. The opera house is packed to overflowing and the cashier raking in 20,000 francs a night.” It is said, in his native Italy, that to play with such virtuosity, Paganini has sold his soul to the devil. Women faint at his concerts, claiming to see a demon guiding his bow at amazing speeds. Rumors abound; he‘s been in prison for seducing a minor, he‘s seduced half the noble women of Europe, he is capricious, vain, difficult.

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