A Festival for the greatest violinist of all time
Niccolò Paganini was born in Genoa on 27 October 1782 into a modest family originally from Carro in the province of La Speazia). His paternal grandfather, Giovanni Battista Paganini, had lived in Carro until transferring to Genova and marrying in 1745 Maria Angela Teresa Gambero.
They set up home in Vico dei Parmeggiani and had two children, one of whom, Francesco Antonio Maria, became the father of Niccolò. Antonio made containers at the port and was passionate about music; with his mother they
lived in in Vico Fosse del Colle, at Passo della Gatta Mora, in the backstreets of Genoa.
From a very early age Niccolò learned from his father his first musical notes on the mandolin and was subsequently encouraged by his father to take up studying the violin. It is not wrong to consider Paganini self taught in so much as his two teachers were of little value and he only ever received thirty or so lessons in composition from Gaspare Ghiretti.
Despite this, at the age of 12, he was already playing in the churches of Genova and even gave a concert in 1795 at the Sant'Agostino Theater, reciting his variations on guitar and violino the Piemontese aria "La Carmagnola", since lost.
His transfer to Parma
His father sent him to Parma in 1796 at the age of 14 anni. Here, Niccolò became ill with polmonite and was cured with blood letting which weakened him forcing him into a period of rest in his father's house at Romairone in Val Polcevera near San Quirico. Here he studied 10-12 hours a day on a violin made by the Guarneri, which had been given to him as a present by an
admirer from Parma. Paganini imitated natural sounds such as birdsong, anmal noises and the tones of other instruments such as the flute, trombone and horn. He then gave concerts in north Italy and Tuscany. Acheiving a certain majestic ability, he returned again to Tuscany where he recieved a warm welcome.
In 1801 and the age of 19 he interupted his concerts and dedicated time to agriculture and the study of the guitar. In a short time he became a virtuoso anche and wrote many sonatas and unpublished concerts; but he remained unsatisfied and started to sonatas for both the violin and guitar, trios and quartets together with stringed instruments.
Paganini wrote for six string guitars, which at the time were more popular than the "Spagnish Five" (four doubled strings and one in the upper position or 'cantino'). This explains his flair for the tremendous pinched style on the violin.
The Return to Genova
At the end of 1804, at the age of 22, he reappeared in Genova, but headed
rto Lucca the follwoing year where he accepted a position as first solo violin at the court of Princess Elisa (Marianna) Baciocchi, the sister of Napoleon.
When the court transferred to Florence in 1809, Paganini followed them, unti a banal incident saw him distanced with no desire to return, despite many invitation. In Turin he was invitated to play in the Stupinigi Castle by another sister of Napoleon, Paolina Borghese.
In his life, Paganini crossed Italy three times, gaining applause in numeorus citiesà. The first was Milano in 1813, at 31 years of age on the 29 Ottobre at the Carcano theater. The critics acclaimed him the finest violinist in the world. Here he perforend 37 concerts over the year, both at the Scala and the Carcano.