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Title: Nicolo Paganini: His Life and Work

Author: Stephen S. Stratton

Release date: April 29, 2012 [eBook #39571]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Bryan Ness, Henry Flower and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at (This
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Plate I.—See Appendix.
Portrait of Nicolo Paganini by Maurin.





"Natura il fece, e poi ruppe la stampa."


"THE STRAD" Office, 3, Green Terrace, Rosebery Avenue, E.C.
J. LENG & CO., 186, Fleet Street, E.C.

New York:
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS, 153-157, Fifth Avenue.




The author of this work did not live to see the final sheets in print. Although it has not received his revision, yet the book has had careful editing. Mr. Stratton did not undertake the Life of Paganini without adequate preparation. He had during many years thoughtfully studied the artist and his attributes, and became an acknowledged authority on the subject. He gathered from all available sources the most reliable information. Almost his last journey was a pilgrimage to Paganini's birthplace. This volume will exhibit his versatility, particularly the chapter giving the analyses of Paganini's compositions. It is therefore the most complete account of the greatest virtuoso recorded in the annals of music. Those who peruse this most interesting biography of Paganini, will naturally desire to learn something of the writer.

Stephen Samuel Stratton was born in London on December 19th, 1840. He began his career as a chorister of St. Mary's Church, Ealing. He studied harmony and composition under Charles Lucas. As an organist, he held these appointments—St. Mary the Virgin, Soho; and St. James's Church, Friern Barnet. On his removal to Birmingham in 1866, he was organist at St. Barnabas Church; Edgbaston Old Parish Church; St. John's,[ix] Harborne; and the Church of the Saviour (1878-1882). In 1879 he commenced a series of chamber concerts in Birmingham.

From 1877 until the day of his death, Mr. Stratton was the musical critic of the "Birmingham Daily Post." In that position his influence was decidedly beneficial. He was also a contributor to the London Musical Press. He will be remembered as the joint author (with Mr. James D. Brown) of "British Musical Biography." His "Life of Mendelssohn" was written for Messrs. Dent's "Master Musicians." Among other items may be mentioned "Musical Curiosities," and valuable papers read before the "Incorporated Society of Musicians."

In private life he was highly esteemed—an honorable citizen—a genial, kind hearted man, with a genuine love of his profession. He died, after a short illness, in Birmingham, on June 25th, 1906.

R. H.



Early Triumphs9
Italian Tours22
Tours on the Continent35
First Visit to England50
Final Tour61
Paganini, the Man85
[xi]The Artist and his Contemporaries107
His Methods in Playing128
His Compositions148
APPENDIX.—Notes on the Illustrations195




There are some names, the mere mention or thought of which conjure up distinct personalities; such are Handel, Bach, Beethoven, Wagner; but not one has the extraordinary individuality of that of Paganini. Though few can be living who ever saw the man, though his portraits are not now commonly to be met with, the name of Paganini at once calls up a picture—weird, uncanny, demoniacal; brings back the faint echo of performances long lost in the corridors of time; and excites the imagination in a manner altogether unique. The last few years have witnessed the appearance of an unprecedented number of wonderful young violinists, whose achievements culminate in the marvellous playing of the boy Franz von Vecsey. These manifestations are almost enough to induce belief in the theory or doctrine of reincarnation, and to make one fancy that the great Genoese is once again in the flesh. These violinists, too, are all playing Paganini's music; they seem to glory in it, and so do the audiences, although[2] to many serious and worthy folk it is mere clap-trap stuff. This revived interest in Paganini and his music seems to render the present an appropriate time to restate the case of the man and the artist, notwithstanding the extensive literature already associated with his name.

It is a curious fact that nearly every distinguished musician, composer or executant, has his namesakes. There was a constant succession of Bachs in Thuringia for nearly two centuries; Beethoven's father and grand-father were musicians; there were four Mozarts, musicians; and more than twenty Wagners of some standing in the musical world. No one seems to have traced the pedigree of Paganini, but he was preceded and followed by others bearing the same name, and such particulars as can be gleaned concerning these Paganinis may not be without interest, and at least may serve by way of introduction to the greatest of them all.

Dr. Burney, in his account of Italian Opera in London during the last half of the eighteenth century, names a Signor and Signora Paganini as engaged for the season of 1760-61. They came from Berlin, and the Doctor is ungallant enough to say that the lady, known as "The Paganini," was not young. She made her début on November 22, 1760, in Galuppi's "Il Mondo della Luna," in a buffa part, and was very captivating. At her benefit, when another opera by Galuppi was given—"Il Filosofo di Campagna,"—such a crowd assembled as had never been seen on any other occasion. Not one third of those who presented themselves at the Opera-house were able[3] to obtain admission. "Caps were lost, and gowns torn to pieces, without number or mercy, in the struggle to get in. Ladies in full dress, who had sent away their carriages, were obliged to appear in the streets and walk home without caps or attendants." "Luckily the weather was fine," adds the Doctor, who witnessed this uncommon spectacle. "The Paganini" thus anticipated the extraordinary triumphs of the more famous artist of half a century later. Signor Paganini, the husband, was only "a coarse first man," and sang almost without a voice. Next comes Ercole Paganini, born at Ferrara, about 1770, the composer of several operas, produced at La Scala, Milan, and at Florence, from 1804 to 1810. A tenor singer named Paganini appeared in opera at Florence in 1830, was decidedly successful and became highly popular in Genoa in 1836. After Francesco Lamperti was appointed (in 1850) professor of singing at the Conservatorio, Milan, among the good pupils he turned out was one named Paganini, of whom, however, no particulars are forthcoming. In 1865, Cesare Paganini, a theoretical writer, published a treatise at Florence; and in November, 1898, Signora Franceschati-Paganini was the Brünnhilde in a performance of "Götterdämmerung," at Bologna. Then there was Dr. Paganini, who was perhaps the brother in whose charge young Nicolo was allowed to go to Lucca in 1798. Whomsoever he may have been, this Dr. Paganini died in 1835, which event gave rise to a rumour that the great violinist was dead—a rumour happily untrue. This Dr. Paganini was not a fiddle-player, but a fiddle-fancier.[4] He possessed a violin ornamented with mother-o'-pearl and ebony, which had belonged to a Shah of Persia, the favourite violin of Lord Byron (so it was said), one that had belonged to Stanislaus of Poland, father-in-law of Louis XV., one that had been played upon by Charles IV. of Spain (the enthusiast who had quartet performances at six in the morning, and who scorned to "keep time,") and another, once the property of that monarch's favourite, Don Manuel de Godoy, Duke of Alcudia.

All the Paganinis mentioned above were eclipsed by the Paganini (pace Dr. Burney), the artist who stood alone, whose life was full of strange vicissitudes, who was worshipped and calumniated, who was applauded as perhaps never artist was before nor since, yet who was laughed at, hissed—only once—brought before the law-courts—threatened with imprisonment and mobbed within an ace of being lynched. As a child of four, Paganini narrowly escaped being buried alive; from youth up he was a constant sufferer from physical disorders; he had no real home till he was fifty-two; after death his remains were refused burial for five years; and when his body had rested in the grave for half a century it was exhumed, apparently in order that his features might once more be gazed upon. Truly, Paganini's story is a romance, a drama, a tragedy. We may not look upon his like again, nor is it desirable that we should; for his life conveys a moral that few can fail to discern.

The artist is the child of his age. What kind of age was it that produced Paganini? A few years before he was born there came into the world one who was to set[5] Europe aflame. The age was the age of revolution. Thrones tottered; armies devastated the Continent, and Italy became a mere appanage of the French Empire. The political upheaval was accompanied by a revolution in art. The romantic school in music arose, and Beethoven, Schubert, Berlioz, Chopin, Schumann, Liszt, and Wagner, were the psychic results of the turmoil into which the world was thrown. Into such a world, already feeling the premonitory tremors of the great Revolution, was Nicolo Paganini born, at Genoa, on October 27th, 1782.[1]

Plate II.—See Appendix.
The Birthplace of Paganini.

The Genoese—thrifty and industrious—bore no very good moral character at that time; but they were then perhaps not alone in that respect. Little information is available concerning the family of Paganini. The father, Antonio Paganini, kept a small shop in the vicinity of the port; he is described as a man of extraordinarily avaricious character, hard and brutal, but possessing the redeeming quality of a love for music, and showing some skill in the art; his instrument was the mandoline, though Laphaléque says he was a violinist. The mother must have been of a lovable disposition, from what little has been recorded of her. The family consisted of two sons and two daughters. Of the elder son, mention is made but once; of the daughters, nothing seems to be known. Little Nicolo must have given[6] evidence of musical talent very early, but ere he was put to his studies he was attacked by the measles, and that so severely that he remained for a whole day in a state of catalepsy. He was given up for dead and was wrapped in a shroud, and only a slight movement at the last, showing symptoms of life, saved him from the horror of premature burial. Scarcely had he recovered, when his father began his lessons in violin playing. The child's evident disposition for the art excited the father's avarice, which found little scope for gratification in his small business undertakings. He indulged in golden dreams of the future, and to hasten their realisation was unremitting in his work of instruction. His method was cruel in the extreme. The poor child was kept to his task from morn till night; slight faults were punished with rigour, even blows and starvation being resorted to in order to force the talent which nature had bestowed. This unnatural treatment must have wrung the heart of the gentle mother, and doubtless by way of encouragement she told the poor little fellow of her wonderful dream. An Angel had appeared to her, and promised her the fulfilment of any desire. She asked that her son might become the greatest of violinists, and her prayer was to be granted. This disclosure may have fired the ambition of the child, for he was the hardest of workers, and needed no spur. Already, at six years of age, he was a tolerable player, and was even beginning to find out new paths. His performances excited the admiration and amazement of the neighbours, and even the Maestro Francesco Gnecco visited the little house by the[7] harbour to listen to the wonder-child. He introduced the boy to the circle of his own friends, and made the father understand that he had long outgrown his training. In short, the germ of the virtuoso of later days was already manifesting itself. Nicolo was now placed under Giovanni Servetto, leader of the theatre band—a man of slight attainments, with whom the boy did not stay long. His next master was Giacomo Costa, the foremost violinist in Genoa and maestro di capella of the Cathedral, a genial man, who took a lively interest in the boy. Under Costa, Nicolo made rapid progress, and was introduced to a new world, though the pedantry of the master frequently came into collision with the peculiarities of the pupil. Young Paganini now had to play a new concerto each week at one of the churches: that was one of the conditions Costa imposed when taking him as a pupil. Paganini's extraordinary powers as a player at sight were in great measure due to this early experience. The father still exercised stern oversight, and there was little relaxation or youthful pleasure for Nicolo. His health was already undermined, and, as Dubourg touchingly puts it:—"the sickly child, incapable of attaining a healthy maturity, was merged into the suffering man."

In his eighth year Nicolo composed a sonata for the violin—since, with other works, lost. About that time a very vivid, almost shamefaced, impression was made upon him by hearing that Mozart, at the age of six, had composed a pianoforte concerto, with parts for orchestra, and so difficult that only a virtuoso could execute it. For[8] long Nicolo tormented himself with the thought of this musical superiority, and strove day and night to remedy his own imperfection in the art.



In 1793 Paganini made his début in the great Theatre of Genoa (the Carlo Felice?). He was in his eleventh year, and his reputation must have been considerable, for the occasion was of some importance, being the benefit concert of two singers of repute, Luigi Marchesi and Teresa Bertinotti.[2] Marchesi was second only to Pacchierotti among the male soprani of the time, and sang at the King's Theatre, London, during the season of 1788; in the "Musical Reminiscences" of the Earl of Mount Edgcumbe he is highly praised as the most brilliant singer of his day. It was a great compliment to the talent of the young Nicolo that these singers should apply for his assistance. Moreover, they promised to sing for him when he should give a concert. Both functions duly took place, and the boy-artist at each played a set of variations of his own composition on "La Carmagnole"; an air then greatly in vogue. That old melody "Malbrough s'en-va-t-en guerre,"[10] pressed into the service of the French Revolution, was appropriately associated with the young artist, himself a revolutionist. His success was phenomenal, performers and audience being thrown into transports of admiration.

It would appear that young Paganini studied with Giacomo Costa for a period of six months only. He must then have continued to work by himself, for it was not until about 1795 that his father took him to Parma, to place him under the "Pride of Italy," Alessandro Rolla, to whom the boy had been recommended by Costa. There was an affecting farewell between Nicolo and his mother, for they were tenderly attached to each other. Paganini has himself related the story of his interview with Rolla, which, for the sake of completeness, must be summarised here.

When Nicolo with his father arrived at Rolla's house, the famous violinist was ill in bed. His wife showed the visitors into an apartment adjoining, and went to inform her husband of their arrival, but he was disinclined to receive the strangers. On a table in the room where they were waiting lay a violin, and a composition in manuscript—Rolla's latest concerto. Paganini, prompted by his father, took up the violin, and played the concerto through. Astonished at the performance, Rolla asked what virtuoso was in the next room, and on being told it was only a boy he had heard, would not credit the statement without the evidence of his own eyes. To the father's entreaty Rolla replied that he could teach the boy nothing; it would waste his time[11] to remain with him. He must go to Ferdinando Paer, who would teach him composition.

There are several versions of this story, and much uncertainty respecting some points. Rolla was chamber virtuoso, and director of the concerts at the Court of Parma. Paer, whose first opera was produced in 1789, was at this time in great request at Venice, where he brought out a succession of operas. In 1796 he may have been in Parma, for his "Griselda" was produced there that year. Paganini, at some time or other, doubtless did profit by Paer's friendly assistance; but his real teacher was Gasparo Ghiretti, chamber musician to Prince Ferdinand of Parma, and the master of Paer. Ghiretti was a violinist, as were nearly all the Italian composers of that period. Under Ghiretti, Paganini went through a systematic course of study in counterpoint and composition, devoting himself to the instrumental style. He must, about the same time, have received violin lessons from Rolla, though he afterwards refused to acknowledge that he had been his pupil. Fétis tells of discussions between Rolla and Paganini concerning the innovations the latter was attempting, for he was always striving after new effects. As he could but imperfectly execute what he aimed at, these eccentric flights did not commend themselves to Rolla, whose taste and style were of a more severe order. Of Paganini's work in composition little appears to be known. Anders states that Paer when in Parma devoted several hours daily to Paganini; and at the end of the fourth month entrusted him with a composition of a duo, in which[12] Nicolo succeeded to the complete satisfaction of his master. Paganini may also at that time have sketched, if he did not complete, the Studies, or Caprices, Op. 1.

In 1797 the father took the boy from Parma, and set out with him on a tour through Lombardy. Concerts were given in Milan, Bologna, Florence, Pisa, and Leghorn.

The young artist achieved an extraordinary reputation; the father took possession of the more material rewards of art. The "golden dreams" were in process of realisation! Returning to Genoa, young Paganini finished the composition of his Twenty-four Studies, which were of such excessive difficulty that he could not play them. He would try a single passage over in a hundred ways, working for ten or eleven hours at a stretch, and then would come the inevitable collapse. He was still under the stern domination of his father, and his spirit must have chafed under the bondage. His own ardour was sufficient to carry his labours to the verge of exhaustion, and he needed no spur as an incentive to exertion. In all directions save that of music his education was utterly neglected. The moral side of his nature was allowed to grow wild. There was the restraining influence of a mother's love, but there was little else. It might indeed be said that, musically, Paganini was self-educated; but that one of the world's great geniuses should lack the intellectual and moral training that go to make the complete man was sad in the extreme. Paganini's was a nature warped; on the one side phenomenal power, on the other bodily suffering, intellectual and spiritual[13] atrophy. But more of this when we turn from his career to the man himself.

As the youth grew older the spirit of revolt arose. He must and would escape from the tyranny of his avaricious father. But how? A way soon offered itself. At Lucca, the festival of St. Martin, held each November, was an event of such importance, musically, that it drew visitors from all parts of Italy. As the November of 1798 drew near, young Paganini besought his father's permission to attend the festival, but his request was met by a point-blank refusal. The importunities of the youth, aided by the prayers of the mother, at length prevailed, and in care of the elder brother afterwards Dr. Paganini (?)—Nicolo was allowed to leave home.

Free at last, the youth, now in his seventeenth year, went on his way, his whole being thrilled with dreams of success and happiness. At Lucca he was most enthusiastically received, and, elated by his good fortune, Paganini extended his tour, playing in Pisa and other towns. Enabled now to earn his own living, Paganini determined never to return to the home where he had suffered so much. His father must have obtained information as to the youth's whereabouts, for it has been stated that he managed to obtain a large part of the young artist's earnings. The money was freely yielded to a certain extent, and the residue was obtained by threats. But no threat or entreaty could induce Nicolo to return to his paternal home. The bird had escaped, and liberty was sweet. But young Paganini was scarcely fitted for an independent, uncontrolled career. He had no[14] moral ballast, and much would depend upon what kind of company he kept.

One has to bear in mind that at the period now under notice—1798—Europe was in a very unsettled state. The very pillars of society were shaken, and there were many dangers in the path of the young and inexperienced. But that is a very trite observation, for it applies to all times and places. However, Paganini seems to have become acquainted with what Fétis terms "artists of another kind," who encouraged "play" of a more exciting, if less exalted order, than the young musician had hitherto devoted himself to. With his ardent southern temperament Paganini threw himself with the greatest zest into the vortex of gambling, and frequently lost at a sitting the earnings of several concerts and was reduced to the greatest embarrassment. Soon his talent provided fresh resources, and his days ran on in alternations of good and evil fortune. Tall, slight, delicate and handsome,[3] Paganini, despite his frail constitution, was an object of attraction to the fair sex. Incidents in his early manhood probably formed the foundation for some of the stories told of him later. As Fétis puts it; the enthusiasm for art, love and "play," reigned by turns in his soul. He ought to have been careful of himself, but he went to excess in everything. Then came a period of enforced repose, of absolute exhaustion, lasting sometimes for weeks. This would be followed by a display[15] of extraordinary energy, when his marvellous talent took its highest flights, and he plunged once more into the wildest bohemianism. Such a course of life was enough to wreck the artist, and no friend seemed to be at hand to save him from himself. Frequently he had to part with his violin in order to raise money to pay his debts of honour, and it was upon one such occasion that he met with the greatest good fortune he had yet experienced, and acquired a violin which became the instrument of his conversion from the fatal passion for gambling.

Plate III.—See Appendix.
Paganini's Violin in the Municipal Museum at Genoa.

Arriving at Leghorn, where he was to give a concert, Paganini yielded to his weakness for the other kind of play and lost his money and his violin. He was in a dilemma indeed, but was fortunate in meeting with an enthusiastic musical amateur, M. Livron, a French merchant, the owner of a superb Guarnerius violin. This instrument M. Livron lent to the young artist, and attended the concert. When Paganini went to return the violin to its owner, M. Livron at once exclaimed, "I shall take care never to profane the strings your fingers have touched. It is to you now that my violin belongs." A noble benefactor, that M. Livron. The Guarnerius became Paganini's inseparable companion; he played upon it throughout all his tours, and its subsequent history will be duly related.

Paganini acquired another instrument on the same easy terms, but attended by different circumstances. Signor Pasini, of Parma, a painter of some distinction, and an amateur violinist, had heard of Paganini's wonderful powers as a reader of music at sight, but refused to[16] credit the statements. Pasini one day placed before Paganini a manuscript concerto, in which difficulties of all kinds were brought together, and putting into the artist's hands a splendid Stradivari violin, said: "This instrument is yours if you can play that at sight, like a master, without studying its difficulties in advance." "If that is so," replied Paganini, "You may bid farewell to it at once." His terrific[4] execution made the music seem as if it played itself as his eye fell upon it. Pasini was petrified with astonishment.

The abandonment of the vice of gambling came about in this way, his own words being quoted. "I shall never forget," said he, "one day placing myself in a position which was to decide my whole career. The Prince De * * * * * had long desired to possess my excellent violin (the Guarnerius), the only one I then had, and which I still possess. One day he desired me to fix a price; but, unwilling to part from my instrument, I declared I would not sell it for less than 250 gold Napoleons. A short time after, the Prince remarked that I was probably indulging in banter in asking so high a price, and added that he was disposed to give 2,000 francs for it. Precisely that very day I found myself in great want of money, in consequence of a heavy loss at play, and I almost resolved to yield my violin for the sum he had offered, when a friend came in to invite me to a party that evening. My capital then consisted of thirty francs, and I had already deprived[17] myself of my jewels, watch, rings, pins, etc. I instantly formed the resolve to risk this last resource, and if fortune went against me, to sell the violin and to set out for St. Petersburg, without instrument and without funds, with the object of retrieving my position. Soon my thirty francs were reduced to three, and I saw myself on the road to the great city, when fortune, changing in the twinkling of an eye, gained me one hundred francs with the little that yet remained. That moment saved my violin and set me up again. From that day I withdrew from play, to which I had sacrificed a portion of my youth: and convinced that a gambler is universally despised, I renounced for ever that fatal passion."

It would be interesting to know when these things occurred, but dates are wanting; it is sufficient to find the artist triumphant in one great crisis in his life. Gambling, to which, however, he was not a party, was destined to trouble the last years of his life, as will be seen further on.

Paganini's career, gambling apart, was by no means of a conventional character. His irregular habits, fits of extraordinary energy followed by langour and depression, led to frequent disappearances from public view. One such disappearance lasted for about four years, and only the romantic aspect of it has been described; the prime cause may have been overlooked. Here is one view of the matter. Enter Napoleon; exit Paganini. In 1800 Napoleon crossed the Alps; in 1804, he proclaimed himself Emperor. He parcelled out Europe, providing for his brothers and sisters, creating sovereigns at his own[18] sweet will. Italy, invaded by a foreign foe, shaken with wars, "alarums and excursions," was not a happy hunting ground for a travelling virtuoso. Paganini vanished from view. In absolute retirement he lived for over three years at the chateau of a Tuscan lady of rank, who was a performer upon the guitar. Paganini threw himself with ardour into the study of that instrument, and became as great a virtuoso upon it as upon the violin. He composed a number of pieces for guitar and violin. According to Fétis, Paganini also devoted himself to the study of agriculture.

But eventually he tired of a life of indolence and dalliance, and in 1804—the country settled now under French government—Paganini returned to Genoa, but whether to the paternal roof is not clear. He was doubtless invigorated by his long rest, and now resumed his arduous course of study. It has been remarked that it was only after Paganini had attained an almost perfect mastery over his instrument that he began to investigate the methods of other virtuosi[5]; even so, he had formed his own style of composition before studying the works of others. Now, he busied himself with the studies of Locatelli, whose extravagances almost equalled his own. It is said that he even gave lessons while in Genoa, and mention is made of one pupil, Catarina Calcagno, who had a brilliant, but brief career.

In 1805, Paganini resumed his artistic tours, and arriving at Lucca, played a concerto at an evening festival in a convent church. So great was the enthusiasm of the[19] audience (or congregation), that the monks had to leave their stalls to put a stop to the applause. At that time, Maria Anna (Elise), sister of Napoleon, was Princess of Lucca, and the Tuscan court was held in that Capital. The fame of Paganini could not fail to have reached the ears of the Princess, and it was but natural that the first virtuoso of Italy should receive an official appointment. So it happened that in the year 1805 he was offered, and accepted, the post of leader of the Court orchestra, and solo violinist. He also gave violin lessons to Prince Bacciochi, the husband of Maria Anna. It was during this period that Paganini began his experiments of employing less than the four strings of his violin. He gave an account of the origin of the practice to a friend at Prague many years later.[6] "It fell to my lot," he said, "to direct the opera whenever the reigning family visited it, as well as to perform at Court three times a week, and to get up a public concert for the higher circles every fortnight. Whenever these were visited by the Princess, she never remained to the close, because the flageolet tones of my violin were too much for her nerves. On the other hand there was another fascinating creature ... who, I flattered myself, felt a penchant for me, and was never absent from my performances; on my own side, I had long been her admirer (Paganini was now twenty-three years of age, susceptible, and possibly himself fascinating.) Our mutual fondness became gradually stronger and stronger; but we were forced to conceal it, and by this means its strength and fervour were sensibly enhanced.[20] One day I promised to surprise her at the next concert, with a musical joke, which should convey an allusion to our attachment; and I accordingly gave notice at Court that I should bring forward a musical novelty, under the title of 'A Love Scene.' The whole world was on tiptoe at the tidings; and on the evening appointed, I made my appearance, violin in hand; I had previously robbed it of the two middle strings, so that none but E and G remained. The first string being designed to play the maiden's part, and the second (fourth) the youth's, I began with a species of dialogue, in which I attempted to introduce movements analogous to transient bickerings and reconciliations between the lovers. Now my strings growled, and then sighed; and anon they lisped, hesitated, joked and joyed, till at last they sported with merry jubilee. In the course of time, both souls joined once more in harmony, and the appeased lovers' quarrel led to a pas de deux, which terminated in a brilliant coda. This musical fantasia of mine was greeted with loud applause. The lady, to whom every scene referred, rewarded me by looks full of delight and sweetness, and the Princess was charmed into such amiable condescension, that she loaded me with encomiums—asking me, whether, since I could produce so much with two strings, it would not be possible for me to gratify them by playing on one. I yielded instant assent—the idea tickled my fancy—and, as the Emperor's birthday occurred some weeks afterwards (August 15th,) I composed a sonata for the G string, which I entitled 'Napoleon,' and played before the Court to so much effect, that a cantata, by Cimarosa, given the same evening, fell through without[21] producing any impression on its hearers.[7] This is the genuine and original cause of my prejudice in favour for the G string. People were afterwards importunate to hear more of this performance, and in this way I became day by day a greater adept at it, and acquired constantly increasing confidence in this peculiar mystery of handling the bow." More of the "Napoleon Sonata" later.

Plate IV.—See Appendix. Caricature of Paganini published 1831. Plate IV.—See Appendix.
Caricature published 1831.

When the Princess became Grand Duchess of Tuscany, the Court removed to Florence, and Paganini, as a matter of course, was in the retinue. His official career, however, came to an abrupt termination in the early part of 1813. When appointed Court Musical Director, Paganini was accorded the rank of Captain in the Royal Guard, and, as such, was permitted to wear a brilliant uniform. Appearing in this garb at a State function at Florence, in 1813, the artist was "commanded" to change it for the ordinary dress suit. This request Paganini construed as an insult, and refused compliance; whereupon there was a sudden rupture, and instant resignation of office. Paganini, at different times, obtained leave of absence, and undertook various professional tours; and as he met with some strange experiences, we will follow him in his wanderings.



In 1808 occurred the first of these excursions. Paganini went to Leghorn, the scene of his early triumphs. He had not been there for seven years, but his first concert, this visit, was attended with some unpleasant mishaps. He had run a nail into his heel, and came limping on the stage, whereupon the audience set up a titter—an incident quite enough to upset a sensitive artist. Then, just as he was commencing his concerto, the candles fell from his music-stand, and the laughter was unrestrained; after a few bars of his solo, the first string of his violin snapped, and the merriment became uproarious; but he finished the performance upon the three strings, and the artist soon converted the audience to a demonstration of a more grateful character. Thus his "one string" experience served him in good stead.

At Ferrara something worse befell. For his concert there, Paganini had engaged a vocalist, Signora Marietta Marcolini; but at the last moment, the lady, either from indisposition or caprice, refused to sing. Paganini went to his hostel boiling with rage, but was somewhat mollified on being told there was a lady occupying an apartment in the same house, who might perhaps take the place of[23] the recalcitrant singer. This was Signora Pallerini, the principal dancer at the theatre, who had a very agreeable voice, but who made no pretension to being a singer, although she was not without training and talent. Paganini lost no time in seeking the young dancer, and by dint of perseverance obtained her consent to his wish.

But when the Signora came on to sing she was seized with stage-fright. Her voice failed her, and her song produced no effect. Paganini offered his arm to conduct her behind the scenes, but just before they reached the wing, a shrill whistle was heard—equivalent to a hiss in England. This was too much; the poor débutante lost consciousness, and fell into the arms of her friend. Pale with rage, Paganini promised himself a signal vengeance. The concert was drawing to a close when the angry artist whispered to Signora Pallerini, "Come! Listen!" He rushed on the stage, and announcing to the audience that he would conclude the concert with a musical jest, proceeded to imitate the cries of various animals, the chirping of birds, the howling of dogs, and the crowing of cocks; then, with a stolen glance towards the wing, as if to make known the carrying out of his revenge, he advanced to the footlights, rested his bow on the "chanterelle," close to the bridge, and with a single stroke brought it violently on the "G," producing distinctly the sound of the donkey's hee-haw! "This is for the man who whistled," he exclaimed, with an air of triumph, and for the second time gave his imitation—with added energy. Then he awaited the shouts of laughter that should assail the poor whistler, but something quite different happened. The pit rose to a man,[24] and howling, whistling, and stamping, the audience proceeded to storm the stage; and only precipitate flight by means of a private door, saved the unlucky artist's life.

The explanation came to Paganini later. The inhabitants of the villages around Ferrara had from time immemorial a strong prejudice against their Capital. The citizens they alleged were stupid in their nature, and deserved the sobriquet "hee-haw." If a countryman, returning from Ferrara, were asked where he came from, he replied by throwing back his head and braying like an ass! Paganini had no knowledge of local history; he was not a reader, he never even glanced at the papers, except when they contained something concerning himself. His revenge caused quite a tumult, in what way can be well perceived: and the magistrate, to restore quiet, advised Paganini not to give his second concert in the town, so that the offenders were really punished all round.

It is not necessary to enter into details concerning all Paganini's tours. It appears to have been in 1810 that he wrote the "Napoleon Sonata," and he performed it in public at a concert given by him at Parma, August 18th, 1811. His fame was spreading beyond his own country, and Schilling states that from 1812 the German musical journals bestowed much attention upon him. He was at Milan in 1813, and his success there was greater than ever. For that city he appeared to have a predilection, for he was there, with the exception of a short stay at Genoa, until the autumn of 1814. At that time he was by no means a recluse. He visited the theatre, La Scala, and witnessed a performance of Vigano's ballet, "Il Noce di Benevento," to which Süssmayer wrote the music; and[25] from a certain scene he took the theme of his variations known as "Le Streghe." At a theatre he was inspired to write one of his finest movements. He went to hear Demarini, Italy's greatest tragedian, and was so affected by one scene that he could not sleep, and his emotion ultimately found expression in music. This will be dealt with when noticing his compositions.

In October, 1814, Paganini went to Bologna, and there met Rossini for the first time. Rossini, nine years the junior of Paganini, had already produced a dozen operas—two in Milan that year. By Court favour Rossini had just escaped the conscription, and had hastened away to Bologna. The meeting of these artists was of importance to both. Meyerbeer went to Italy in 1815, and was there for some years, producing several operas. Laphaléque tells a story to this effect: Meyerbeer was on the eve of leaving Florence to proceed to Naples to bring out one of his works. He did not yet know that place, and it offered a double attraction; he wanted to enjoy the beautiful blue sky as well as his artistic triumph. But he went to hear Paganini, and dreamt no more of Naples, nor of his opera. Paganini travelled all through Tuscany, and Meyerbeer followed; and not until he had heard Paganini eighteen times could he tear himself away from him.

Within the period of five years, Paganini returned to Milan five times, making a long stay on each occasion, and giving a great number of concerts. He played at Verona, Padua—where the "prison" stories seem to have originated—returned to Milan early in 1816, when he met[26] the French violinist, Charles Lafont, with whom he played and of whom more will be said. Then to Venice, Trieste, and back to Venice in time to hear Spohr (October 18th), on whom he called both before and after the concert. Spohr greatly desired to hear Paganini play, but the latter excused himself.

Paganini must ere this have received invitations to visit other countries, for Spohr in his diary remarks, when referring to Paganini's first visit, that he had apparently abandoned his project of going to Vienna. In 1817, Paganini visited Piacenza, where he met the Polish violinist, Karl Joseph von Lipinski, who had gone to Italy expressly to hear Paganini. The Italian treated his Polish brother artist generously, and played with him at two concerts. Paganini was also again at Milan that year and paid a visit to his mother at Genoa. According to Anders, his father died in 1817. At the close of the same year Paganini was in Rome, where Rossini's opera "La Cenerentola" was produced at the opening of the Carnival season, December 26th. It is related that Meyerbeer was also in Rome at this time, and that Rossini's "Carnovale" was sung in the streets by the composer, Meyerbeer, and Paganini, who disguised themselves for the frolic. Paganini in the Palace of Prince von Kaunitz, the Austrian Ambassador, was introduced to Prince Metternich, who, charmed with his talent, pressed him to visit Vienna. But the violinist's health was in a precarious state. He suffered from an intestinal disorder, aggravated by his addiction to some quack remedy. He gave concerts in Rome, of which Schilling, who gives the date, however,[27] as 1827, gives a very curious account. The first concert, though held in a Palace—such buildings being met with at every step—was in a room like a hay-loft. The orchestra consisted of some half-dozen shabbily dressed players, the singers were mechanics, members of the chorus of the Teatro Argentina, and the audience scarcely numbered fifty. Rome, professedly the first musical city of Italy, and of Europe, was ignorant of Paganini, the greatest violin virtuoso of Italy and the world. But his extraordinary genius kindled coldness into enthusiasm. At his second concert the attendance increased tenfold; at the third the success was even greater.

In 1818, and the following year, he gave concerts at Verona, Turin, Florence, and other towns. At Verona, the conductor of the theatre orchestra, one Valdabrini, persuaded himself that Paganini was little else than a charlatan, one who might play the pieces of his own repertory very well, but who could not execute a work such as a concerto of his, Valdabrini's, composition. Paganini was informed of this estimate of his abilities, and hastened to assure Valdabrini that he would be happy to reproduce the inspirations of the chef d'orchestre of Verona; and as this trial would be a powerful attraction, he would reserve it for his last concert. The day of rehearsal arrived, and Paganini was in his place. Instead of the music of the concerto, however, the artist improvised all kinds of fanciful passages, insomuch that the astonished orchestral players, lost in admiration, forgot to go on with their own work. The disappointed Valdabrini exclaimed: "My friend, this is not my concerto[28] you are playing, I can recognise nothing of what I have written." "Don't distress yourself," replied Paganini, "at the concert you will recognise your work well enough, only now I claim a little indulgence."

The concert night arrived, and Paganini commenced with pieces of his own choice, reserving the concerto for the end. All were attention for the great event. Paganini came on at last, holding in his hand a Malacca walking cane. Everyone asked himself: What will he do with that? Suddenly he seized his violin, and, employing the cane as a bow, played the concerto (thought by the composer to be practicable only after long study) from beginning to end, not only rendering the most difficult passages, but introducing charming variations, never failing for an instant to display the purity, grace and verve that characterised his art.[8] This pleasantry was not to the taste of Valdabrini, we may be sure; but it was a rebuke to his presumption. Such amenities are scarcely possible now-a-days.

Paganini visited Naples in 1819 for the first time. When he arrived he found the local musicians badly disposed towards him, and he had something like a repetition of his experience at Verona, only he used the cane no more! These musicians affected to doubt the reality of the marvels fame attributed to Paganini, and proposed to amuse themselves at his expense. They engaged a young composer, Danna (Dana?)[9] fresh from the Conservatorio, to write a string quartet, filled with difficulties[29] of every kind—for the first violin—persuading themselves that the great violinist could not overcome them. When all was ready—no doubt the other parts had been well practised—Paganini was invited to a musical réunion, where he found the violinists Onorio de Vito, Giuseppe Mario Festa, the violoncellist Ciandelli, and the composer Danna. Hardly had he arrived, when they placed the music before him, and invited him to play it at sight. Perceiving that they had set a trap for him, Paganini cast a hurried glance at the music, and played it off as though it had long been familiar to him. Confounded by what they heard, his assistants were prodigal in their admiration, and declared him incomparable.

Paganini's health now gave way to an alarming degree, and his landlord, fearing the malady was consumption—infectious, according to current opinion—proceeded to turn the violinist and his belongings into the street. Medical science has confirmed the views of the Neapolitans in respect to the contagious character of consumption, and the open-air treatment is now considered the proper method to adopt; but the landlord's rough and ready application of the remedy was highly objectionable, and so thought Ciandelli, who chanced to be passing at the time. He gave the landlord a severe thrashing, and conveyed Paganini to more comfortable lodgings, where he was carefully tended. Paganini repaid this act of kindness, as will be seen. These little scenes throw curious side-lights on life in Naples at that period.

In 1820, Paganini returned to Milan, where he founded an Amateur Society, Gli Orfei, and conducted its concerts[30] for a time; but the roving habits he had acquired rendered a settled life irksome, and he was soon again on the move. The winter found him once more in Rome, where he must have stayed on and off for another year; for he was there in December, 1821, when Rossini was about to produce his opera, "Matilda di Sabran," at the opening of the Carnival season. On the day of the last rehearsal the conductor fell ill, and Rossini was in despair to replace him. Paganini, hearing of his friend's dilemma, offered to conduct the rehearsal and the first performance—his operatic experience at Lucca must not be forgotten—an offer Rossini gratefully accepted. Without a moment's preparation, Paganini set to work to communicate to an unskilled orchestra—it was at the Teatro d'Apollone—the composer's intentions and the manner in which they should be interpreted. Having no time for verbal explanation, he did everything by example, playing the first violin part an octave higher than it was written, and making himself heard above the strongest fortissimo. At a glance he penetrated the meaning of every movement, and he so worked upon the executants that they obeyed him as if by enchantment. This single rehearsal sufficed to bring about an irreproachable performance, the orchestra undergoing a veritable metamorphosis, to the astonishment of everyone, Rossini included. So far Laphaléque. Sutherland Edwards[10] says Paganini conducted the first three performances, adding, "Never, it is said, did the band of the 'Apollo' play with so much spirit before."

For the next two years Paganini was constantly travelling,[31] and in the year 1823 we have the first glimpse of him through the medium of an English musical journal.[11] This first reference is quite incidental. Giuseppe Rastrelli was playing in Naples in 1822 (or 1823), and was well received, "although his predecessor, the celebrated Paganini," was still fresh in the public remembrance. This assumes that Paganini was well known to English readers. He had indeed been mentioned in books published before this date. On his way to Pavia in 1823, Paganini was attacked with illness, and his life was despaired of. At that time he had again intended going to Austria, but a long rest was needed to restore his health. This repose he enjoyed at Genoa, and recovered sufficiently to give two concerts in the Teatro da Sant'Agostino, in 1824. The second concert introduced two youthful claimants to public favour. The first was a Signora Bianchi, under twenty years of age, who was characterised in the bills as the little virtuosa forestiera, and who sang three airs; the other was a Signora Barette, who played a Pezzo Cantabile and a Sonatina upon the violoncello. They both experienced a flattering reception.[12] The young violoncellist was not more than fourteen years old, and there is no reason to suppose that she was the first of her sex to appear in public as a violoncellist.[32] The other "little guest" or stranger was to play an important part in Paganini's history.

This concert afforded another proof of Paganini's power of attraction. A certain M. Bergman, a (Swedish?) traveller and passionate lover of music, reading accidentally the evening before in the journal at Leghorn, an announcement of Paganini's concert, lost no time, but instantly set out for Genoa, a distance of a hundred miles, and luckily reached the spot just half an hour before the concert began. He went with his expectations raised to the utmost, but, to use his own expression, the reality was as far above his anticipations as the heavens are above the earth. Nor could this enthusiastic amateur rest content with once hearing Paganini, but actually followed him to Milan, in order to hear him exercise his talents a second time. Now-a-days the enthusiasts are young ladies, who mob their favourites in the artists' room!

In 1824 Paganini gave two concerts in La Scala, Milan, which was crowded to excess. At the first he played a concerto, and three airs with variations—all on the fourth string, so said the report. A surfeit, this, even for his fervent admirers. In the same year at Pavia, he gave two concerts, the bills being headed:


Farà sentire il suo Violino.

(Paganini will cause his violin to be heard.) He was received with no less enthusiasm than at Milan. Paganini then returned to Genoa, but soon left for Venice.[33] There he formed an union with Antonia Bianchi, the young singer he introduced at Genoa, who became his companion, sang at his concerts, and shared his triumphs.

In 1825, Paganini was again at Naples, where he gave a concert, causing his name to be announced in the bills as—


a term which gave rise to much discussion, some considering it as indicating modesty, others just the reverse; but at all events it savoured of affectation. In the summer of 1825, Paganini went to Palermo, where he also gave a concert. The delicious climate of Sicily had a great charm for him, and he remained there for nearly a year, giving concerts at different places, but enjoying prolonged intervals of repose. His health strengthened, Paganini again entertained the idea of leaving Italy, but determined upon one more tour before carrying out his intention. In 1826, he visited Trieste, Venice, and finally Rome, where he gave five concerts. In April, 1827, Pope Leo XII. invested Paganini with the order of the Golden Spur, a distinction so rare that it afforded a topic for conversation for some time. From Rome Paganini went to Florence, and as "Il Cavaliere Paganini" gave a concert at the Teatro Pergola, which was attended by all the rank and fashion of the place. He was detained for some time at Florence owing to a disease breaking out in one of his legs. As soon as he was able to travel he set out for Milan, where he was received with every demonstration of affection. He gave four musical soirées at the close of 1827, and in[34] the early part of 1828, two concerts in La Scala, when he appears to have played for the first time the concerto with the "Rondo ad un Campanello;" the piece created a great effect. Paganini had now traversed the whole of Italy at least three times, giving hundreds of concerts, building up an ever growing reputation and exciting universal admiration, despite those detractors whose machinations have been exposed. At last, on the 2nd of March, 1828, Paganini started on his long projected visit to Vienna.



Paganini arrived at Vienna, March 16th, 1828, and gave his first concert in the Redouten-Saal[13] on the 29th of the same month, creating a furore the like of which had never been witnessed. It must be borne in mind that Paganini was now no romantic-looking youth to move the feelings of sentimental or hysterical young ladies. He was in his forty-sixth year, and his face bore the marks of suffering; he wore his long hair in ringlets falling over his shoulders, but physically he was a wreck. Yet no youthful artist of to-day has made a more sensational début than that of Paganini in the Austrian Capital in 1828. To repeat the oft-quoted account given by Schilling: "At the first stroke of the bow on his Guarnerius, one might almost say at the first step he took into the hall, his reputation was decided in Germany. Kindled as by an electric flash, he suddenly shone and sparkled like a miraculous apparition in the domain of art."

Another account, if less familiar, is equally interesting. In a letter from Vienna, addressed to the Literary Gazette, the writer says:—"The great novelty and prodigy of the[36] day is one M. Paganini, an Italian performer on the violin.

"This is the first time he has left Italy; but I heard him previously, about five years ago, at Milan, in competition with M. Lafont, whom he beat fairly.[14] He is, without contradiction, not only the finest player on the violin, but no other performer, upon what instrument soever, can be styled his equal: Kalkbrenner, Rode, Romberg, Moscheles, Jew and Gentile, are his inferiors by at least some thousand degrees; they are not fit, as we say in Germany, to reach him water. He is Mathews of the violin, performs a whole concert on a single string, where you are sure to hear, besides his own instrument, a harp, a guitar, and a flute. In one word, he is a necromancer, and bids fair to beat la Giraffe. We have here hats, shawls, gloves and nonsense of every description, à la Giraffe; but yesterday I actually ate Auflaufy—a very innocent, rather insipid sweetmeat—à la Paganini.... He has already performed twice to crowded houses in our great masquerade-hall. The beginning of the concert was, as usual, advertised for half-past eleven [in the morning]: at eleven o'clock not a pin dropping from the roof would have reached the ground; people were already there at nine o'clock. He came hither with six florins in his pocket; now you may style him a warm man. From Vienna he intends to proceed to Paris, and thence to London."[15]

Here a brief digression is pardonable. The Pasha of[37] Egypt, a short time before Paganini's visit, had presented to the Emperor of Austria a Giraffe, an animal then new to Europe. That interesting quadruped, a superb specimen of its kind, created such a sensation, and so completely absorbed public attention, that as seen in the letter just quoted, everything was à la Giraffe.[16] Paganini's phenomenal success gained him a popularity that quite eclipsed the poor Giraffe, and now the mode was à la Paganini. All kinds of articles were named after him; a good stroke at billiards was a coup à la Paganini; his bust in butter and crystallised sugar figured on every banquet table; and portraits, more or less faithful, adorned snuff-boxes, cigar-boxes, or were carved on the canes carried by the fops. Paganini himself went into a shop one day to buy gloves. "A la Giraffe?" asked the salesman. "No, no, some other animal," said the maestro, whereupon he was handed a pair à la Paganini! It is said that a certain driver, whom Paganini had once engaged, obtained permission to paint on his vehicle the words Cabriolet de Paganini, by which means he gained notoriety and enough money to set up as a hotel-keeper. Paganini was much sought after by the leaders of society and fashion; but Prince Metternich alone received the favour of a visit.

It may be remembered that Franz Schubert gave his first, and as it turned out, his only concert, in the hall of the Musik-Verein, Vienna, on the 26th of March, three[38] days before that of Paganini. Schubert cleared over £30—the first piece of luck that came to the poor composer. The money flowed freely; he paid his five Gulden (something over six shillings) to hear Paganini, and went a second time, not so much for his own sake, as to take his friend Bauernfeld,[17] who had not five farthings, while with him (Schubert) "money was as plentiful as black-berries." Generous, simple Schubert! Did he and Paganini ever meet? What a pair they would have made!

Paganini's Vienna concerts were so successful that he increased the number from six to twelve. It is said that poor musicians actually sold their clothes to raise the needful in order to hear him; and that no halls were large enough to contain all who wished to attend his concerts. Paganini's last concert was given by express command of the Emperor of Austria, who honoured the occasion by his presence. Among other things, Paganini introduced the National hymn "God preserve the Emperor," which he performed with a truth and fervour of expression that seemed to impart a novelty even to so familiar a theme. He did some wonderful things on the G string, astonishing and delighting all present, especially rivetting the attention of the Emperor, who led the applause.

The Court Gazette announced that His Majesty, as a testimony of his admiration, had sent Paganini a diploma, appointing him one of the Emperor's chamber musicians, and exempting him from the usual fees of office; this was accompanied by a splendid gold snuff-box set with[39] brilliants. The chief magistrate of Vienna presented Paganini with the gold medal of San Salvador; and, to crown all, a medal was struck in Paganini's honour. This, the work of J. Lang, has on the face a portrait in relief of the violinist, with the inscription:—



and on the back the words:—

Perituris Sonis non Peritura Gloria.

surrounding an open music book with the theme of the "Bell Rondo," upon which lies the famous Guarnerius wreathed with laurel. This was the city's parting gift to the great artist.

These doings were too good to escape the notice of the caricaturist, and a two-act piece was produced at the Theater an der Wien, entitled "The Counterfeit Virtuoso; or, the Concerto on the G string," the music by Kapellmeister Franz Gläser. The overture was ingeniously made up of the principal subjects of Paganini's concertos, ludicrously contrasted with counter subjects of a popular kind. Several of the quodlibets were full of humour, and, with the bon mots and anecdotes, tended to make it a very amusing production for the moment.

It was at Vienna that the rumour spread abroad of Paganini being in league with the Devil, which accounted for his marvellous performances. The great violinist was much disturbed and annoyed by these calumnies, and had to appeal to the press for aid in refuting them. It may be that his estrangement from the world, his[40] love of solitude, morose temper, and the avarice which displayed itself, all had their origin in the hostile attitude assumed by a section of the public during his foreign tours, for when in Italy Paganini seems to have lived much as others did. Paganini was accompanied by his companion Signora Bianchi, and the son born to them, when he visited Vienna.

It was in May the little party left Vienna. The concerts had quite prostrated Paganini, and the family went to Carlsbad. After resting there some time Paganini departed for Prague, but an abscess in the face kept him a prisoner for three weeks. Here is a contemporary account which is interesting. Paganini was obliged to place himself under the care of two celebrated medical men, Krumblholz and Nusshardt, and they were the only visitors he received during his lonely residence up three pair of stairs. After a successful operation on the jaw-bone, one of his physicians expressed a desire which was cherished in vain by the whole city—that of hearing some notes from the hitherto silent instrument of the great master; and he entreated him to try if he could rest his violin on his hardly healed chin. Paganini confirmed what has long been said, that even before friends he was very niggardly in the display of his talents. He took his instrument, played one stroke with his bow, and said, "Es geht schon" (that will do). "For eight days before the first concert," continues the writer, "every place was engaged. When I reached the theatre at four o'clock in the afternoon, it appeared as if the house was about to be stormed, so great was the throng on the outside. Many[41] magistrates and people of the first rank were amongst the crowd, and shared my anxious expectation. At last I found myself, I scarcely know how, in the pit, and there awaited for two hours and a half the opening of the concert." The writer then goes on to describe the violinist, his appearance, his smile that made everyone shudder, and the extraordinary performance which roused the audience to the wildest enthusiasm. He then quotes the saying of a Vienna critic: "Paganini has nothing in common with other players but the violin and the bow," and regrets that his friend will not for some time have the opportunity of hearing the superb performer, for he learns that Paganini does not yet intend to visit Paris or London.[18]

Plate V.—See Appendix. Portrait of Paganini from a contemporary German picture. Plate V.—See Appendix.
From a Contemporary German Picture.

Paganini's first concert only was well attended. There was then a reaction. Some attributed the falling off to the high prices charged for admission, but there was, in fact, a traditional hostility in art matters between Prague and Vienna; that which was praised in Vienna must be condemned in Prague, and what was approved in Prague must not be tolerated in Vienna. It was at Prague that Paganini actually published this letter from his mother as proof that he was not the son of the devil!

Dearest Son,—At last, after seven months have elapsed since I wrote to you at Milan, I had the happiness of receiving your letter of the 9th current, through the intermediary of Signor Agnino, and was much rejoiced to find that you were in the enjoyment of good health. I am also delighted to find that, after your travels to Paris and London, you purpose visiting Genoa expressly to embrace[42] me. I assure you, my prayers are daily offered up to the Most High, that my health may be sustained, also yours, so that my desire may be realised.

My dream has been fulfilled, and that which God promised me has been accomplished. Your name is great, and art, with the help of God, has placed you in a position of independence. Beloved, esteemed by your fellow citizens, you will find in my bosom and those of your friends, that repose which your health demands.

The portraits which accompanied your letter have given me great pleasure. I had seen in the papers all the accounts you give me of yourself. You may imagine, as your mother, what an infinite source of joy it was to me. Dear son, I entreat you to continue to inform me of all that concerns you, for with this assurance I shall feel that it will prolong my days, and be convinced that I shall still have the happiness of embracing you.

We are all well. In the name of your relations, I thank you for the sums of money you have sent. Omit nothing that will render your name immortal. Eschew the vices of great cities, remembering that you have a mother who loves you affectionately, and whose fondest aspirations are your health and happiness. She will never cease her supplications to the All-powerful for your preservation.

Embrace your amiable companion for me, and kiss little Achille. Love me as I love you.

Your ever affectionate mother,

21st July, 1828. TERESA PAGANINI.

From Prague, Paganini went to Berlin, where he remained four months. He was received with the utmost enthusiasm, and on the evening of his first concert he exclaimed: "I have found my Vienna public again." Wherever Paganini stayed for any length of time it suddenly became the fashion to learn to play the violin; and the fair members of the aristocratic families were among the most eager to become pupils of the famous man. Paganini made a great deal of money in Berlin. The critics were divided in opinion as to his merits; but[43] Rellstab, whom Schumann once called "Wretched Berlinese reviewer," was favourably impressed. Paganini is said to have received a challenge from Baron Sigismond von Praun, to a public contest for supremacy in performance, but as the would-be opponent was a youth of seventeen, Paganini disdained him. Perhaps he thought of his own presumption in his young days!

Paganini's tour was one continual triumphal progress. At Königsberg his first concert realised about £330, an unprecedented sum in that place; at Frankfort his four concerts produced something like £1,000. A critic wrote of him: "One striking peculiarity of his playing is the extraordinary effect it produces on persons wholly devoid of musical cultivation. Most virtuosi play only for the learned; not so Paganini. His performance is alike appreciated by men of business and connoisseurs, by children and grown persons—it is felt and understood by all. This is the distinctive characteristic of all that is great in art."

He was at Leipzig in 1829, and was among the visitors at the house of Abraham Mendelssohn—the pleasant garden-house in the Leipziger Strasse—and his portrait figures in Hensel's collection. In June, 1830, Paganini was in Cassel, when Spohr heard him for the first time—of which more later. In Hamburg the same year Heine heard him, and his vivid and extraordinary notice of the artist must be briefly quoted. "I believe," said Heine, "that only one man has succeeded in putting Paganini's true physiognomy upon paper—a deaf painter, Lyser by name, who in a frenzy full of genius has with a few[44] strokes of chalk so well hit the great violinist's head that one is at the same time amused and terrified at the truth of the drawing. 'The devil guided my hand,' the deaf painter said to me, chuckling mysteriously, and nodding his head with a good-natured irony in the way he generally accompanied his genial witticisms.... The Hamburg Opera House was the scene of this concert, and the art-loving public had flocked there so early, and in such numbers, that I only just succeeded in obtaining a little place in the orchestra." Then he goes on to describe the audience and the entrance of Paganini. "Is that a man brought into the arena at the moment of death, like a dying gladiator, to delight the public with his convulsions? Or is it one risen from the dead, a vampire with a violin, who, if not the blood out of our hearts, at any rate sucks the gold out of our pockets? Such questions crossed our minds while Paganini was performing his strange bows, but all those thoughts were at once still when the wonderful master placed his violin under his chin and began to play. As for me, you already know my musical second-sight, my gift of seeing at each tone a figure equivalent to the sound, and so Paganini with each stroke of his bow brought visible forms and situations before my eyes; he told me in melodious hieroglyphics all kinds of brilliant tales; he, as it were, made a magic lantern play its coloured antics before me, he himself being chief actor.... A holy, ineffable ardour dwelt in the sounds, which often trembled, scarce audibly, in mysterious whisper on the water, then swelled out again with a shuddering sweetness, like a bugle's[45] notes heard by moonlight, and then finally poured forth in unrestrained jubilee, as if a thousand bards had struck their harps and raised their voices in a song of victory." Thus, a poet on a poet in tones.

In 1829 Paganini was in Warsaw, and Chopin was among those who heard him. As he was leaving, in July, he was stopped some distance from the city by a numerous company who had met together in a garden. They drank the health of the artist, and Joseph Xaver Elsner, Director of the Conservatoire, handed him a costly snuff box, bearing this inscription: "Al Cavaliere Nicolo Paganini, gli ammiratori del suo talento, Varsovia 19 Luglio 1829." Paganini pressed it to his lips, speechless with surprise, and affected almost to tears. At Munich he gave three concerts in November of the same year; and at the close of the last soirée the artist was crowned by Stunz, the Kapellmeister, while thousands of laudatory poems were showered from different parts of the hall. At Stuttgart, the King of Würtemberg presented him with 100 louis d'or, and it is said that before leaving Germany Paganini sent over £6,000 to the Bank of England for safe custody, a proceeding which showed his good sense, and perhaps revealed a mistrust of his continental friends.

Paganini's tours, extending over three years, embraced Bohemia, Poland, Saxony, Bavaria, Prussia, and the Rhine provinces. Many more details might be given, but they are really needless: it was always the same story of the artist's success, excepting, indeed, at Augsburg, where the criticisms were adverse, as at Prague.[46] An anecdote may fitly close the narration of Paganini's long stay in Germany, as it reveals an interesting trait in the character of the peasantry. Paganini, in the autumn of 1829, was summoned to appear before the Queen Dowager of Bavaria, at the Castle of Tegernsee, a magnificent residence of the Kings of Bavaria, situated on the banks of a lake of the same name. At the moment the concert was about to begin, a great bustle was heard outside. The Queen, having enquired the cause, was informed that about sixty of the neighbouring peasantry, having been told of the arrival of the famous Italian violinist, were come with the hope of hearing some of his notes, and requested that the windows should be opened, in order that they also might enjoy his talent. The Queen went beyond their wishes, and with truly Royal good-nature, gave orders that they should all be admitted into the saloon, where she had the pleasure of remarking their discernment, and the judicious manner in which they applauded the most striking parts of the distinguished artist's performance.

Frankfort seems to have been a favourite stopping place with Paganini, and from there, at last, he quitted the fatherland, and arrived at Strasburg, where he gave two concerts, and thence proceeded direct to Paris.

It has to be observed that France had just been through another Revolution, and the turmoil, social and political, had not subsided. To a populace seething in this fevered atmosphere anything by way of diversion would be welcome. The man of the hour was Paganini, for in a sense he combined within himself the surrounding[47] elements and influences. At the moment the public was just in the mood for Paganini, and the artist met the craving for excitement. He gave his first concert in the Opera House on March 9th, 1831, and notwithstanding that the prices of admission were tripled, the house was crammed. It would be impossible, says Fétis, to describe the enthusiasm with which the audience were seized when listening to the extraordinary artist, an enthusiasm approaching delirium, frenzy. Paganini's Studies had long been known to Parisian violinists, but they remained enigmas impossible of solution. At his third concert, March 25th, Paganini introduced a new concerto, in D minor, which, like so much of his music, is lost. In Paris the infamous persecution of the artist seems to have reached its climax. Fétis states that Paris was above all places hostile to Paganini, although that city had contributed more than any other place to the éclat of his success. His portrait was on every wall, and exhibited in the windows of print shops. Paganini himself stopped to look at one representing him in prison; and while scanning it with some amusement, found he was being surrounded by a crowd who were scrutinising him with close interest, evidently comparing his features with those of the lithograph. This was too much, and Paganini sought his friend Fétis, and confided to him his troubles, seeking his aid for their amelioration. Fétis requested Paganini to supply him with particulars, and then indited a long epistle, which, signed by Paganini, appeared in the Revue Musicale. Quotation may be deferred until the narration of Paganini's public career[48] is completed, and a more detailed consideration of the character of the man and the artist is entered upon.

One incident that occurred during Paganini's visit to Paris may be related. The officers of the different legions of the National Guard combined to organise a grand ball to be held in the Opera House for the benefit of the poor. They thought it would add greatly to the attractions of the function if they could prevail upon Paganini to attend and play a few pieces. To ask for violin solos in a place prepared for a ball, and among an assemblage met for dancing, argued a very curious taste, or want of it. Paganini owed it to his dignity as an artist to refuse the invitation, which he did. For this he was bitterly assailed by a section of the press, and was compelled to publish a letter justifying himself.[19] He explained that he had already given up the Opera House, which was at his disposal, for the preparations for the ball, and that involved the loss of receipts for one concert—from 15,000 to 20,000 francs. He added that in Berlin, Vienna, and all the towns where he had continued any time, he made it a duty to perform for the benefit of the unfortunate; and he certainly should not leave Paris without devoting the proceeds of one of his soirées to the relief of the poor of that capital. He kept his word; gave the promised concert, and the poor profited by a refusal that was attributed to him as a crime.

Berlioz, then in Italy—he had just won the Grand Prix de Rome—passing through a crisis in his life,[49] stayed a few days in Genoa. In his autobiography he wrote: "All Paris was raving about Paganini, while I, with my usual luck, was kicking my heels in his native town instead of listening to him. I tried to gather some information about their distinguished townsman from the Genoese, but found that, like other people engaged in commerce, they cared little for the fine arts, and spoke quite indifferently of the genius whom Germany, France and England had received with open arms. They could not even show me his father's house." So quickly and easily can one be forgotten! England had not yet received Paganini, but it was many years after this time that Berlioz penned his autobiography.

Liszt, in Paris, his first dream of love cruelly dispelled, shunned the world and buried himself in seclusion. For the time the artist within him was dead, and his thoughts turned to the priesthood. The revolution of 1830 awoke him. The Magyar blood was aroused, and sympathising with the people's struggles Liszt planned a Symphonie révolutionnaire. But it was Paganini who, the next year, touched Liszt as it were with a magic wand, and gave the direction to the genius and energy of the young artist. Of this more in its proper place. Early in May, 1831, Paganini left Paris for London.



Fétis stated that Paganini's visit to London excited the most lively curiosity, but did not awake that intelligent interest which welcomed him in the Capital of France. This does not sound complimentary to London, but perhaps Fétis read some of the introductory comments of the press when Paganini was about to reach our shores. This is a specimen: "We shall talk of Paganini very much till he comes. When he arrives nobody will speak or think of anything else for nine, perhaps eighteen, days: he will be everywhere: all other violinists will be utterly forgotten: it will be agreed that the instrument was never before heard; that his predecessors were all tyros; all other fiddles mere kits. There will be Paganini rondos and waltzes; variations, long, short, hard, easy, all à la Paganini. We shall have Paganini hats, caps, etc., and the hair of all the beaux patronised by beauty, will be after his curious pattern. His influence will extend to our tables, and there will be Paganini puffs served up daily. Then, all at once, his very name will cease to be pronounced by persons of ton; and, as a matter of course, people not of ton—not of the Devonshire circle, not of Almack's—will imitate those who are: and the Italian player, like the penultimate fashion, will be utterly forgotten!—in good society. I will even allow him to flourish here two whole months, provided no new chin-chopper[20] arrive in the interim, no danseuse with a miraculous toe, to contest the supremacy of his wonderful bow: should any such rival enter the lists with him, his glory will set in less than a moon, and never blaze again above our fashionable horizon."[21]

Plate VI.—See Appendix. Cartoon of Paganini frm the title-page of a comic Song, 1831. Plate VI.—See Appendix.Title-Page of Comic Song, 1831.

Here is another from The Examiner:—"There cannot be a more inoffensive creature. His sole propensity is to gain money by his art, and his passion to lose it at the gambling table. Paganini's bow (Scotticé, boo) is almost as wonderful as his bow (Anglicé, fiddle-stick)—the craw-fish would attempt something like it were he on the stage, but not so well."

Well, we've improved in manners somewhat since 1831. No respectable paper would publish now such notices in advance of any distinguished artist, however eccentric he might be. Paganini duly arrived in London in May, 1831. His first concert was announced for the 21st in this manner:

The King's Theatre.

Signor Paganini respectfully informs the Nobility, Subscribers, and Frequenters of the Opera, and the public, that he will give a Grand Miscellaneous[51]
CONCERT of Vocal and Instrumemtal Music, at this theatre, To-morrow Evening.

Prices of Boxes:—Pit Tier, 8 Guineas; Grand Tier, 10 Guineas; One Pair, 9 Guineas; Two Pair, 6 Guineas; Three Pair, 4 Guineas; Stalls, 2 Guineas; Orchestra, 1-1/2 Guineas; Admission to the Pit, 1 Guinea; Ditto to the Gallery, Half a Guinea.

This announcement produced a storm of indignation. Articles appeared in The Times, The Courier, The Observer, The Chronicle, and correspondence of a heated character was carried on. The editor of The Harmonicon, calculated that a full house at the prices would realise more than 3,000 guineas, and M. Laporte, the manager of the King's Theatre, was virtually accused of conspiring to rob the public. It must be explained that Laporte "farmed" Paganini; and as the latter invariably doubled the ordinary prices of admission, his impressario naturally desired to share in the golden harvest. Laporte wrote to The Times a hurried note on May 19th, at eleven p.m., stating that at some future time he would refute the charges brought against him; and the next day a letter from Paganini to Laporte, and advertised in the newspaper, gave pause to the wordy warfare. It was as follows:—

Sir, Friday, 29th May.

Finding myself too unwell, I request you will respectfully inform the public that the Concert announced for to-morrow will not take place.

Your obedient Servant,

Nicolo Paganini.

To M. Laporte.


Paganini was in a wretched state of health when he reached London, and his condition was not improved by the turmoil his announcement had created. The terms of his contract with Laporte were published in The Observer, and it was shown that Paganini had practically surrendered his freedom of action. This may be illustrated by a story that I have not met with in any English publication, though it may be true all the same. It is from the notice of Paganini in Mendel's "Musikalisches Conversations-Lexikon." His Majesty William IV. sent to enquire what honorarium Paganini required to play at the Court. Paganini answered: £100, a mere bagatelle. As the messenger tendered him one half that sum, Paganini haughtily replied, "His Majesty can hear me at a much cheaper rate if he will attend my concert. But my terms are not left for me to settle."

The concert postponed from May 21st was then announced for June 3rd, but the question of the high prices had yet to be disposed of. Conflicting statements were made—one to the effect that Paganini expressed his regret that they had not been fixed still higher! Be that as it may, that was not the time to trifle with an angry public. There was not a moment to be lost, and some one must give way. The matter was soon decided. On June 2nd, appeared in The Courier and The Globe the translation of a letter from Paganini, which may be reproduced for the sake of its contents:

"The time appointed for my first Concert at the King's Theatre so nearly approaches, that I feel it my duty to announce it myself, and to claim the favour of the English[54] nation, which honours the arts as much as I respect her. Having been accustomed in all the towns of the Continent to double the usual prices at the theatres where I have given my Concerts, and, but little acquainted with the customs of this Capital, where I present myself for the first time, I thought I might do the same here. But having been informed by several papers that the existing prices here are higher than those on the Continent, and having myself ascertained that the statement was correct, I willingly second the wish of a public whose esteem and protection I desire as my greatest recompense.



London, June 1st, 1831."

At last the concert took place in the King's Theatre, June 3rd, 1831. There was an orchestra erected on the stage. Many musicians have left a record of the extraordinary impression made by Paganini on that occasion, and have attempted to describe the man. In the present place quotation may be limited to the remarks of the editor of The Harmonicon, William Ayrton, a cultivated musician, and a sober-minded critic. He wrote thus: "The long, laboured, reiterated articles relative to Paganini, in all the foreign journals for years past, have spoken of his powers as so astonishing, that we were quite prepared to find them fall far short of report; but his performances at his first concert, on the 3rd of last month, convinced us that it is possible to exceed the most sanguine expectation, and to surpass what the most eulogistic writers have asserted. We speak, however, let it be understood, in reference to his powers of execution solely. These are little less than marvellous, and such as we could only have believed on the evidence of our own senses; they imply a strong natural propensity to music, with an industry, a perseverance, a devotedness, and also a skill in inventing means, without any parallel in the history of his instrument."

Plate VII.—See Appendix. Sketch of Paganini by D. Maclise, R.A. Plate VII.—See Appendix.
Sketch by D. Maclise, R.A.

So far, the musician. The critics on the press may also have been musicians, though at that time it was not usual to have a musical department, if such a term may pass, in the daily or weekly papers. The Athenæum, in its notice, does not reveal the polished style of a high-class literary journal. This is how it deals with the concert:—"At length all differences have been arranged, and the mighty wonder has come forth—a very Zamiel in appearance, and certainly a very devil in performance! He is, beyond rivalry, the bow ideal of fiddling faculty! He possesses a demon-like influence over his instrument, and makes it utter sounds almost superhuman.... The arrival of this magician is quite enough to make the greater part of the fiddling tribe commit suicide."

And now let us turn to the concert itself. The fashionable world did not rush to the theatre, and only two boxes were let. The stalls and orchestra were full, and also the pit, but not crowded. The audience consisted in great part of musicians; and even those engaged in the orchestra were listeners for the first time, as Paganini at rehearsal only played such passages as served for "cues," and in nowise revealed his powers.

The object of a great virtuoso would naturally be an exhibition of his own talent, but Paganini was not[55]
prodigal of his playing at the first concert. He had engaged the orchestra of the Philharmonic Society, then probably the finest in Europe, and his programme opened with Beethoven's Symphony, No. 2, in D. It will be shown later that Paganini had a great veneration for Beethoven. Then Signor Lablache was the solo vocalist, so Paganini was in the best of company. His first piece was the Concerto in E flat[22], and his second solo the Military Sonata for the G string, the theme being Mozart's "Non più andrai." The receipts were £700. Paganini had a most flattering reception, and his performances were greeted with acclamations, and waving of hats and handkerchiefs. The members of the orchestra were astounded. Mori avowed that if he could not sell, he would at least burn, his fiddle; Lindley, who stammered terribly, said that "it was the d-d-devil"; and Dragonetti (whose "he's were she's") growled out, "She's mighty esprit!" Cramer thanked heaven that he was not a violinist. A striking feature of Paganini's performance was his playing from memory. The Athenæum remarked, "He plays without a reading desk or book stand; this gives an air of improvising to his performance, which we hope to see imitated, if any one be found hardy enough to undertake a violin solo for the next seven years." No violinist would venture to play a concerto now with the music before him, but he may not be aware that it was Paganini who set the fashion of playing without book.


The public now forgot all about the trouble of the high prices, and the second concert, given in the same place on the 10th, was so well attended that the receipts were about £1,200. On this occasion Paganini played his Concerto in B minor, and Lablache struck the little silver bell in the Rondo. He also gave his variations on "The Carnival of Venice," and a Sonata on the fourth string, in which the Prayer from Mosé in Egitto was introduced. The third concert took place on the 13th, when Paganini brought out another new Concerto. Something like £900 was realised. At the fourth concert, on the 16th, Paganini played a Cantabile on two strings, a Rondo Scherzoso, by Rodolphe Kreutzer—a detail to be noticed,—a Larghetto gajo, the Military Sonata, and the variations on "Non più mesta," from Rossini's La Cenerentola. The fifth and last Concert was on the 22nd, when the house was crowded to excess, and the enthusiasm greater than ever.

But Paganini, or his astute manager, began to presume a little too much on the good nature of the public. Parting was "such sweet sorrow," that, like another Juliet, Paganini was inclined to prolong that process as long as possible. Final concerts succeeded each other—much like the "Farewells" of popular singers—until the audiences began to dwindle. At one, at the King's Theatre on July 4th, Paganini played a new Concerto in E major, "all expression and grace," and by far the best proof given of his talent since his arrival in London. Paganini gave two concerts at the London Tavern in July. The first was well attended, but at the second there[58] was no orchestra. The concert was a failure—"and no wonder, for the Signor tried an experiment on the forbearance of the citizens, and actually took only a pianist and one or two second-rate singers with him to make up a half-guinea concert! This was too much even for John Bull to submit to."[23]

What a curious side-light this shows upon concert matters in the first half of the nineteenth century! Now-a-days the "experiment" is for the virtuoso to engage an orchestra.[24]

Paganini played at some of the benefit concerts during the season, taking one-third of the gross receipts. There was evidently ill-feeling on this point, for Lablache and Rubini now refused to sing where Paganini played. It was said, even, that the leader of his orchestra had to sue Paganini for recovery of his fees, but the artist in question, Spagnoletti, put the matter right by publicly stating that his action was against M. Laporte, and that against Signor Paganini he had never had the slightest cause of complaint. Time was found for a few provincial visits. In July Paganini gave two concerts at Cheltenham, and there he got into trouble. It was announced that his engagements would not permit his remaining beyond the second day. His concerts were well supported, and one of the Subscription Balls, at the Rotunda, was relinquished in order that no hindrance[59] should stand in the way of those desirous of hearing the violinist. But when it was given out that Paganini would give a third performance, there was a disturbance. Some leading residents had a handbill printed calling upon the "nobility and gentry" to support the established amusements of the town, by patronizing the Ball, if only as an act of justice to the proprietor. The effect was to secure a thronged attendance at the Rotunda, and so poor an assemblage at the theatre, that Paganini refused to perform. Of course the manager had to communicate this unpleasant piece of information to the audience, at the same time offering to return the admission money; but the people were in no pacific frame of mind, and they marched straightway to the hotel where Paganini was staying, and demanded the fulfilment of his engagement. A mob soon collected, and their demeanour became so threatening that there was nothing left but compliance with their demand. Paganini went to the theatre, played two of his most favourite pieces with great success, and at midnight posted off for London. It appeared that he had agreed to perform for two-thirds of the receipts, but finding the house not half full, demanded two hundred guineas in advance. This the local manager refused, and informed the audience of the fact; and the outbreak was the natural result. The local paper remarked: "We believe this is the only instance as yet upon record of Paganini's playing to empty benches, and himself unpaid." Paganini addressed a letter to the Times, giving another version of the incident, but he did not appear to have come out of the affair very well.[60] His manager's share in the business may be left to conjecture.

One other little circumstance seems to have caused a certain amount of irritation. Paganini was engaged for the Lord Mayor's banquet at the Mansion House on July 9th. When the Lord Mayor proposed the toast of the Lord Chancellor, before Lord Brougham's rising to return thanks, Paganini played a solo. He evidently displaced the usual glee party, but in any case it was not the most artistic function to assist at, and money must have been the chief consideration.

Paganini carried his London concerts into August, and visited Norwich, where again a third performance took place when only two were announced. The local manager was a heavy loser, as Paganini (or his agent) had arranged for a specific sum, and there was very little in excess for the payment of vocalists, and general expenses. There was also a clashing with an important fixture at the theatre, and feeling ran high, though there was no violent demonstration as at Cheltenham. Towards the end of August, Paganini set out for Dublin, being engaged for the first Musical Festival held in that city.

Plate VIII.—See Appendix. Celebrated Statuette (Caricature) of Paganini by Dainton. Plate VIII.—See Appendix.
The Celebrated Statuette (Caricature),
by Dainton.



Dublin held her first Musical Festival from August 30th to September 3rd, 1831, and in connection with this event, it is interesting to note, Henry Fothergill Chorley contributed his first musical criticism to the Athenæum.[25] There was very little about Paganini, but much about the oratorio, "The Triumph of Faith," of Ferdinand Ries. It may be observed, in passing, that in the first half of the nineteenth century musical festivals were more numerous than they are now—there were five in 1831. With the exception of those given in York Minster (1823-1835), they were not on the large scale of the principal present day celebrations; but they were relatively of more importance, inasmuch as there were then fewer musical centres beyond the metropolis, and small towns would have had little music but for those periodic gatherings.

Dublin's scheme was ambitious; for Paganini's fees for the three evening concerts was 500 guineas. Braham and Henry Phillips were among the vocalists engaged, and the latter, in his "Musical Recollections," gives a[62] very interesting and amusing account of Paganini at the festival. No one seemed to know how Paganini arrived in Dublin, which gave rise to a vague idea that he was wafted across by the Flying Dutchman. Where he lodged was equally a mystery. He arrived at the stage door of the Theatre Royal on the evening of the first concert, and immediately ordered an apartment to be got ready, and the room to be perfectly darkened. There he paced up and down, playing snatches of his music until the time for his début before a Dublin audience.

The Theatre was crammed to suffocation. The Lord Lieutenant and his Suite attended in State, and all the élite of Dublin were in the dress tier. When the Conductor, Sir George Smart, led Paganini to the centre of the stage there was a terrific outburst of applause, followed by breathless silence, as the great artist went through his deliberate process of adjusting his violin, raising his bow, and letting it rest upon the strings before commencing. This was too trying to the mercurial temperament of the occupants of the gallery, and before many seconds there was a stentorian shout, "Well! we're all ready!" The house was convulsed with laughter, peal after peal rang through the theatre. Paganini, stamping with rage, turned to Sir George Smart, and cried, "Qu'est ce que c'est?" The explanation seemed to make matters worse, and Paganini left the orchestra. Some time elapsed before he could be induced to return; but when he did so, and began to play, he created the same effect as elsewhere. The next day everybody was exclaiming: "Ah! sure, have you heard[63] the Paganini; och murther! and his fiddle?" Such is the account Henry Phillips gives, but it is not easy to attach credence to all he has put in his book.

At one of the concerts Paganini played the concerto in B minor, with the Rondo à la clochette, when an excited Hibernian shouted above the storm of applause, "Arrah now, Signor Paganini, have a drop of whiskey, darling, and ring the bell again!" Paganini's departure from Dublin was as mysterious as his arrival. On his return to London he failed to attract much attention, and seems to have been mostly on tour in the provinces and in Scotland. One incident in London was so singular that it deserves mention. Carlyle was supposed to have taken a walk with Paganini. Fancy "the Sage of Chelsea" in company with "the magician of the bow"! Thomas Carlyle was in London in 1831 vainly negotiating for the publication of "Sartor Resartus." One day his friend, Edward Irving, took him to Belgrave Square to dine with Henry Drummond. They walked along Piccadilly, thronged with fashionable promenaders; and as both men were of pecular personal appearance, they doubtless attracted some attention. This is what Carlyle subsequently wrote:—"Irving, I heard afterward, was judged, from the broad hat, brown skin, and flowing black hair, to be in all probability the one-string fiddler, Paganini—a tall, lean, taciturn abstruse-looking figure—who was then, after his sort, astonishing the idle of mankind."[26] Carlyle has said many true, and many[64] beautiful things about music, but one may search his writings in vain for a good word about musicians!

In December of this year (1831) Paganini was announced to play in Bristol. The following "squib" or lampoon was issued:—

To the Citizens of Bristol.

Fellow Citizens,—It is with feelings of unqualified disgust that I witness the announcement of Signor Paganini's Performance to take place in this City: Why at this period of Distress? With the recollection of so many scenes of misery still fresh in our minds, and whilst Subscriptions are required to the extent of our means in order to Feed and Clothe the Poor: why is this Foreign Fiddler now to appear? for the purpose of draining those resources which would be infinitely better applied in the exercise of the best feeling of man—Charity. Do not suffer yourselves to be imposed upon by the Payment of Charges which are well worthy the name of extortion; rather suffer under the imputation of a want of Taste than support any of the tribe of Foreign Music-Monsters, who collect the Cash of this Country and waft it to their own shores, laughing at the infatuation of John Bull.

December 10th, 1831. PHILADELPHUS.

A. Saint. Typ. Castle Printing Office, 54, Castle Street, Bristol.

Paganini's concerts at Leeds, early in 1832, were so well managed that, out of the profits, a liberal donation was presented to the fund for the relief of the poor. At Birmingham, in February of that year, his visit caused such an influx of strangers to the town, that neither lodgings nor stabling could meet the demand made upon them. A popular song was written for the occasion, and the streets rang with it long after the violinist had left the place. Two lines ran thus:—

"It's well worth a guinea to see Paganini,
To see how he curls his hair."

At Brighton some time earlier, the high prices were nearly causing a riot, through the issue of an inflammatory placard against them. Mr. William Gutteridge, a well-known musician of that place, who had arranged for the concerts, had to ask the protection of the magistrates, but fortunately no outbreak occurred. The squabbles about prices, the charges of avarice brought against Paganini, and the acrimonious tone of part of the press, afford melancholy reading. His gains were said to reach £20,000. In March, 1832, he left London for Paris. There, he gave a concert for the poor on March 18th. He did not stay very long in France, and on his way again to this country, occurred the incident referred to as one of the indignities to which he was subjected. This is the story.

Paganini having to pass through Boulogne on his way to England, decided to give a concert in that town, which boasted of a Philharmonic Society. Paganini deputed a friend to arrange for that Society to assist at the concert.

All seemed going well until Paganini arrived on the scene, when the amateurs stipulated for a certain number of free admissions for their friends and families, as a recognition for their assistance. Paganini represented to them that in a small concert room so many free admissions would leave little room for the paying public, and he could not accede to their demand. However, they would not give way, so Paganini declared his intention to engage a professional band. This did not suit the views of the amateurs, and they threatened the professional players[66] with the loss of patronage and pupils if they dared assist Paganini; and the unfortunate artists, dependent as they were upon that support, had to refuse the offer made them. But Paganini was not to be baffled; he determined to give the concert, and to perform without any accompaniment at all. This he did; and now came the ludicrous sequel. A number of those amateurs actually paid for admission to the concert, on purpose to hiss the independent artist. This they did as soon as he entered the concert-room. Despising such petty spite, Paganini entrusted his revenge to his art, and the rapturous plaudits of the audience proper soon reduced to a pitiable silence those who had offered so gross an insult. As a writer said at the time: "The amateurs of Boulogne have earned for themselves a niche in the history of the art—they have hissed Paganini."

To digress, for a moment. Paganini's performance, solus, was a recital pure and simple; perhaps the first ever given in a concert room. In Grove's "Dictionary of Music and Musicians" there is this definition: "Recital, a term which has come into use in England to signify a performance of solo music by one instrument and one performer." It was probably first used by Liszt, in 1840, when he advertised his performances as "Recitals." The first was given at the Hanover Square Rooms, on June 9th, and was called by the Musical World a curious exhibition. The "one man show," as the recital has been irreverently termed, may not conduce to the highest interest of art, but Paganini—not Liszt—was its inventor.


PLATE 9. (See Appendix.) Drawing of Paganini playing the violin with Rossini and Pasta, circa 1832. PLATE 9. (See Appendix.)


Paganini made his rentrée at Covent Garden Theatre on July 6th, but he did not appear to have played anything new. Neither did he attract much attention, and little need be said respecting his visit. He was back again in London in 1833, but was out of favour, and was advised to postpone his concerts until the public anger, caused by his refusal to play for the distressed English actors in Paris, had subsided. His first concert was given in the King's Theatre, on June 21st, when apparently he played nothing new, and had but a small audience. The press in general appeared to be hostile—the Athenæum did not notice him at all—and it is probable that his stay was not prolonged. He was in Paris later in the year, and was present at the concert given by Berlioz on the 22nd of December, when he heard the Symphonie Fantastique, and was so impressed that he wished Berlioz to write a solo for the wonderful Stradivari viola he possessed.[27]

Between Paganini and Berlioz there was a mutual attraction. Both had something of the volcanic in their nature; both did much battling with the hostile outer world. But more of their friendship later.

Paganini was in London once more in 1834, and gave a concert at the Adelphi Theatre on April 7th. Again nothing new, according to report. The next morning he gave a second concert at the Hanover Square Rooms, at which it was said not more than one hundred persons were present, and half of those went in with free tickets.[69] The erstwhile popular idol was now dethroned. Paganini fell ill after this, and postponed his third concert.

The Athenæum referred to Paganini's playing to crowded houses at the Adelphi, and empty benches at the Hanover Square Rooms, and then went on to say: "His performance on the Viol di Gamba,[28] or some such instrument, is yet to come as is also a duet with Dragonetti, which, we are told, is to be the ne plus ultra of what is beautiful and amazing. He has, hitherto, only repeated his best compositions, and, as before, left every other violinist, ancient and modern, at an inconceivable distance behind him." This concert was to be the last, which induced the writer of the Athenæum notice to attend it. He found the "new instrument" nothing but a full-sized viola, tuned in the ordinary way. "Considering the difference of stop between this and the violin, his precision and brilliancy upon the former, as displayed in double stop passages, harmonics, and arpeggi, of extraordinary difficulty, were most amazing.... In his grand concerto in E flat, his cadenza was one of the most wonderful combinations of novel harmony, and passages of execution, we ever heard." Apparently the duet with Dragonetti was not played, as nothing was said of it.

The directors of the music at the Oxford Commemoration week, May, 1834, were anxious to add Paganini's[70] name to the attractions offered. He was approached, accordingly, and, through his manager, announced his terms—one thousand pounds. Astounded by the answer, the Oxford Delegate desired that it might be committed to writing. This was done, but when shown to Paganini, he directed that guineas should be substituted for pounds. He knew that art was not commerce! There is no record of his playing at Oxford.

This last visit of Paganini to England had a romantic termination. He had separated from Signora Bianca on account of her jealous temper, and had fallen in love with a young English girl—that is if current report may be trusted. He proposed, for the purpose of securing her a proper legal settlement, that the marriage should take place in Paris, and he left London on June 26th, arranging for her to follow him to Boulogne. The young lady secretly left her home, but her father had his suspicions, and apparently arrived at Boulogne first, for the daughter, instead of meeting Paganini, was confronted, on landing, by her father, with whom she returned home. There is no doubt as to the occurrence, for it was "in the papers," and names were given. Schilling, whose Encyclopædia was published in 1837, gives a long account of the affair, which he would not have done had there been no truth in it, even though the law of libel was not then very stringent. Here it will suffice to say that the young lady was the daughter of a man with whom Paganini lodged, and who was associated with the concert work of the artist. Moreover, the girl herself had, it would seem, sung at some of the concerts,[71] and had become fascinated with the great violinist.

The incident might be passed over, only for the fact that to it was owing the impression that Paganini visited America before returning to Italy. Dubourg, in the later editions of his work "The Violin," states that Paganini spent part of his time in America, previous to his return to Italy in 1834. Now George Dubourg was a contemporary of Paganini, and his statement is not to be dismissed lightly, though he offers no evidence in support of it. At the present time it is difficult to find proof, one way or the other. The American papers in 1835 were speculating as to the birthplace of Paganini, and some of the explanations were meant to be funny, but are too vapid for repetition now. The Musical World for August 4th, 1837, in quoting an anecdote concerning Paganini's kindness to a poor musician, ends by saying Paganini took the poor man with him to America. The question was raised in the Musical World for January the 9th, 1886, and decided in the negative. The legend had this slender foundation. In the early part of 1835, the young lady whom Paganini wished to marry, went to the United States—she was an actress and vocalist of moderate ability—but her stay was brief. Still, everybody wished to see her, for wherever she went she was looked upon as the heroine of a romantic episode, and her name was always coupled with Paganini's. The story of the elopement had been carried across the Atlantic by scandal's winged feet; and it was said that Paganini sent a special messenger to America to reopen negotiations on the[72] delicate subject—arrangements that came to nothing. The agent might have been taken, by Dubourg, for the principal—hence the mistake. Paganini never went to America, neither did he again return to the shores of Albion.



In the summer of 1834, Paganini, after an absence of six years, returned to his native land. He was now a rich man, and he invested part of his fortune in landed property, purchasing, among others, the Villa Gajona, near Parma, which he made his home—the first he could really call his own, and he was in his fifty-second year! His health was irretrievably broken down; he suffered from consumption of the larynx, and was losing the power of speech. He now sought peace and quiet, and thought of preparing for publication a complete edition of his compositions, which, if he had accomplished it, might have led to the explanation of his alleged secret. In November, or December, Paganini gave a concert at Piacenza—on the very same boards where he almost began his brilliant career—for the benefit of the poor; this was the first time he had been heard in Italy since 1828. The year 1835, Paganini passed alternately at Genoa, Milan, and his villa near Parma. The cholera then raging at Genoa was the cause of the rumour of Paganini's death. The dread scourge had claimed him for a victim, it was said, and the Continental journals devoted columns to him in the form of obituary notices.


The only English contribution to the necrology of Paganini known to me was written by Chorley in the Athenæum. It is both interesting and curious: for Chorley manages to squeeze in his account of Paganini at the Dublin festival, which the editor evidently cut out in 1831. That scarcely concerns us now, though it relates that the furore caused by Paganini's performance could not be appeased until he had mounted the grand pianoforte, in order that the audience might obtain a better view of his lank proportions! An extract from his notice must be given. It begins thus:—"E Morto!—the words which the silent and absorbed man murmured to himself, in a tone of deep feeling, after listening to one of Beethoven's magnificent symphonies, are now—alas!—to be uttered sadly for their speaker—Paganini is dead!

"We would fain believe that the newspaper reports are in error.... Let us hope that the intelligence from Genoa, received this week [September], that the artist had been carried off by the sudden and fearful death of cholera, may, by some happy chance, prove one of those 'mistakes which it gives them pleasure to contradict.' But, should it not then, indeed, may Music put on sackcloth and sit in ashes for her High Priest!" Then follows an "appreciation," to use a modern expression, to which reference may be made later.

Chorley was an impressionable young man, in his twenty-third year, when he attended the Dublin festival, and so excited did he become over Paganini's performances, that he gave vent to his feelings in verse. That[75] poem he now inserted in the Athenæum, "as a farewell to one whose like we shall never hear again!" There are really fine thoughts in the poem, and, though too long to quote in its entirety, a few stanzas may well be rescued from the periodical in which they are buried.

O Paganini!—most undoubted king
Of St. Cecilia's flock, alive or dead,
Whether their pasture be of pipe, or string,
Or mighty organ, which doth overspread
Ancient Cathedral aisles with flood of sound,—
In all the wizard craft, matured by labour,
That doth the spirit move, delight, astound,
Thou hast no peer—thou hast not even a neighbour,
In the long lapse of years from Tubal Cain to Weber.
Sages have said, who read the book of night,
That once each hundred years some meteor flares
Across the startled heavens with brilliant flight,
Making strange tumults in the land of stars;
And, 'mid the realm of constellations vast,
In steady splendour ever rolling on,
Sweeps far and wide with fierce and furious haste,
Rushing from pole to distant pole anon;
And, like the monarch's ghost—"'Tis here—'tis there—'tis gone!"
Thou dost to these, the meteor-born, belong,
O mighty monarch of the strings and bow!
And though it were to do sweet Cupid wrong
To call thee else like him—yet on thy brow,
And in thy curved lips and flashing eyes,
His clearest seal hath god-like Genius set,
Who bade thee from the common herd arise
And win thyself a crown—nor ever yet
Hath Art her votary graced with brighter coronet.[76]
O that a stately temple might be reared
On some wide plain—and open to the sky—
Where all the great, the gifted, the revered
Side close to side, ensepulchred might lie!
And there, where many a breeze at evening's close
In solemn dirge around their tomb should sweep,
Should all the sons of melody repose,
That pilgrims from afar might come and weep,
And by their sainted dust a silent vigil keep!
And there together in renown should rest,
The Italian minstrel of the broken heart![29]
And he whose Requiem for a spirit blest
Was his own dirge—too early lost Mozart!
And he of the Messiah—and the flight
Of Israel's children from their bonds abhorred,
When God was cloud by day, and fire by night!
And he, who sung of darkness, at one word
Bursting to light—and Earth created by its Lord!
And many more—with whom ungentle Time
Forbids my weak and wandering verse to say;
Save one great master-spirit, whom my rhyme
Must pause to honour—for the meteor ray
Burnt with intensest radiance o'er his head;
Albeit too soon within his eager ear
The realm of sound deep silence overspread,
Whom yet the world is learning to revere—
Beethoven! he should sleep with thee—the Wizard—near!
There's left a space, beside his hallowed dust,
For thee with whom began my feeble song;
But be it long before the encroaching rust
Of Time wear out thy energies—and long
Ere the grim Tyrant with resistless call
Beckon thee hence—before thy bow be hung
In some gray chapel—and thy brethren all
Strive for thy magic instruments unstrung;
If Heaven were kind to man, thou shouldst be ever young!


A fortnight later, Chorley was able to reassure his readers by contradicting the report. It seems that the rumour was started through the death of Dr. Paganini (referred to at the beginning of this essay), and there seems little doubt but that he was the brother of the violinist.

Plate X.—See Appendix.
Copy of Oil Painting of Paganini in the Municipal Museum at Genoa.

In 1836, some speculators applied to Paganini to give the support of his name and his talent to the founding of a Casino in Paris, of which the ostensible object was music, the real end, gambling. It has been suggested that the project appealed to Paganini's avarice, which caused him to lend himself to the accomplishment of the undertaking. On the other hand, it is fair to assume that the artist was in ignorance of the true motive of the promoters of the scheme; and the fact that certain instructions to the trustees of the fortune settled on his son had been made public some four years earlier lends countenance to the impression that he was disgusted with gambling, and had long ceased to indulge in the vicious pastime.

In the early summer of 1837, Paganini's health having improved, he gave several concerts in Turin, both for the benefit of the poor, and on his own behalf. Later in the year, however, he was in Paris, living in the greatest seclusion. The Casino Paganini was opened, apparently in October, 1837. The building was situated in the Rue Mont Blanc, and was supposed to be a kind of Club of Art and Literature. An orchestra of some fifty performers was engaged for concerts, which were open to subscribers only. In the grounds a brass band played to those[78] assembled, and admission there apparently was free to the public. The object of the undertaking was not made known. A French paper stated by way of a joke that Paganini's part in the proceedings was to walk round the garden when the weather was fine. The Government refused to license the place as a gambling-house, and the management had to rely upon the concerts alone. It would appear that Paganini had signed a contract to play at the concerts, but the wretched state of his health was the excuse for his not doing so. He had been in Paris off and on from 1837 to some time in 1839. In 1838, certainly before April, he was there, and went to hear a newly invented instrument termed the Harmoniphone. This was the work of an ingenious musician, Jacques Reine Paris. It was a small key-board instrument designed to imitate the oboe, and intended as a substitute for it, in places where oboe players were not available. A distinguished company was invited to meet Paganini, who was greatly interested and pleased with the invention. Then, in December, Paganini witnessed what Berlioz described as the massacre of his "Benvenuto Cellini" at the opera. In the same month was inaugurated a society for the production of classical compositions, and for the encouragement of musical artists, and at this brilliant function, held in the Salle Erard, Paganini was present, with Meyerbeer, Auber, De Beriot, Donizetti, and a host of other celebrities. On the 16th of the month Paganini attended the concert given by Berlioz at the Conservatoire, when the symphony, "Harold," was performed. Paganini heard it for the first time, and at the close of[79] the concert occurred the affecting incident of Paganini kneeling on the stage and kissing the hand of Berlioz, the demonstration being followed by a magnificent donation of 20,000 francs. Paganini seems to have had a transient recovery, for the papers spoke of his becoming corpulent.

Still, he did not play at the Casino Concerts, and a crisis soon arose. Early in 1839, the directors of the Casino brought an action against Paganini for breach of contract, and he was decreed to pay damages to the amount of 20,000 francs. This decision so much displeased both plaintiffs and defendant that they appealed against it. The case did not come on again for some time, and Paganini sought rest and change in the south of France. He stayed for some time at Marseilles, where, at the house of a friend, he once more abandoned himself to his art, devoting his time alternately to his violin and his guitar. Fétis states that notwithstanding his feeble health, Paganini attended a performance of Cherubini's Requiem for men's voices; and on June 21st went to one of the churches to take part in the performance of Beethoven's Mass in C.

But his malady could only be alleviated by frequent change of clime. Accordingly, in October we find him at Genoa, in the vain hope that his native air would prove beneficial; but he was prostrated by a violent nervous attack almost immediately following his arrival. He must, soon after, have left for Nice, which he never quitted alive. Nice, though a pleasant place, was not regarded as at all a favourable retreat for persons suffering[80] from pulmonary or bronchial affections, and it proved fatal to the great artist. But we must, for the moment, return to Paris.

The rehearing of the Casino case came before the Cour Royale, Paris, on January 3rd, 1840. Paganini could not, of course, attend in person, but he was represented by Counsel, and it may be of interest to name the man who was entrusted with his defence. It was a certain Mons. Chaix-d'Est-Ange. From accounts of the proceedings, this legal luminary addressed the Court at great length. He described the prayers and entreaties of the proprietors of what he termed "this catchpenny establishment" to induce the grand Maestro to lend his mighty arm and name to their speculation. He had promised, in writing, to play nowhere but at their concerts; but as he had played nowhere else, the proprietors could have no legal right to such excessive damages. The counsel for the plaintiff, Mons. Barillon, declared that as Paganini's defection had ruined the speculation, the damages ought to be proportionate to his transcendent talent. Going into details, he stated that Paganini was installed in a splendid suite of apartments at the Casino, one boudoir being lined with flannel expressly for him; and that when he was complaining of his wretched health, he accepted a dinner offered him by the musicians of the orchestra, and gave toasts in both French and Italian. After that, he allowed bills to be printed, announcing that he would play at the Casino concert. Hundreds of tickets were eagerly bought at twenty francs each, when suddenly Paganini refused to[81] play. Entreaties were in vain; Paganini, in his own room, with closed doors, would practise, but would not play at the concert. Recourse was had to the musicians of the Grand Opera, so as not to disappoint the audience, but the prefect of police would not allow the employés of the opera to be taken from their theatre, and ordered the Casino to be closed. Ruin stared the proprietors in the face, and 20,000 francs was no adequate compensation. The former decision was reversed, and Paganini was condemned by the Court in 50,000 francs[30] damages, and ten years imprisonment in default of payment.

Plate XI.—See Appendix.
The House in which Paganini died.

Whether the fine was actually paid, I have found no evidence to prove, but the imprisonment was certainly not enforced. In a few months' time, the gaoler whom none can deny, touched Paganini with his icy hand, and the troubled spirit left its frail earthly tenement on May 27th, 1840.

Plate XII.—See Appendix.Tablet on House in which Paganini died.

But not to rest were the mortal remains consigned. No peaceful grave for the wandering, restless being whose fitful fever of life was over at last. Paganini died without receiving the last Sacrament of the Church. He had indeed been visited by a priest, sent by the Bishop of Nice; but not deeming his end so near, made no confession, nor prepared himself for death according to the rite of the Church of Rome. The doubt as to his faith caused the Bishop of Nice to refuse burial in consecrated ground. The son, the friends of Paganini,[82] and the principal artists of the place solicited the authorisation of a solemn service for his eternal repose, but in vain; all that was conceded was the offer of an authentic record of death, with leave to transport the corpse whither they might wish. This compromise was not accepted, and the matter came before the Court of Justice, when the decision was in favour of the Bishop. There was no alternative but to appeal to Rome, when the Bishop's decree was annulled, and the Archbishop of Turin was charged, conjointly with the Canons of the Cathedral of Genoa, to institute an inquiry into the Catholicism of Paganini. Meanwhile the remains—stated by the Athenæum to have been embalmed for interment at Genoa—were subjected to shocking indignities. The landlord wanted to let the house where the artist had died, and the corpse was laid in the cellar until a more fitting resting-place was found. Then it is said to have been moved to the hospital of Nice, thence by sea to the Lazzaretto of Villa Franca, and finally to a country house Polcevera, near Genoa, part of the property of the heir of the illustrious artist. There the body remained four years. Rumours spread abroad of piteous moans and other lamentable noises being heard at night. To put a stop to these unpleasant reports, the young Baron Achille made an application for permission for a solemn service to be celebrated at Parma, in virtue of Paganini having been a knight of St. George. This was not fruitless. The service was celebrated in the church of La Steccata, appropriated to that order of chivalry. After the solemnity the friends of the deceased obtained[83] the permission of the Bishop of Parma to bring the body within the boundary of the Duchy, when it was transferred to the Villa Gajona, for interment in the Communal cemetery. So, at last, in May, 1845, the mortal remains of the illustrious violinist were laid in the grave; by order of the government, there was no display of any kind, no outward symbol of homage. The mourners might, however, hope at least for the repose of the casket that once enclosed the fiery, turbulent, soaring spirit of one who knew no rest in life. But, alas! even that was not the end. In the letter addressed by Paganini to the Editor of the Paris Révue Musicale, the closing sentence breathed a prayer that, however calumniated he might be in life, the world would at least allow his ashes to repose in peace. That appeal was not granted. It has been shown that five years elapsed between his death and his burial; fifty years more, and the repose of the grave was broken. The Athenæum of September 7th, 1895, contained this paragraph:—

"In the Communal Cemetery of Parma the mortal remains of the great violin player, Paganini, have just been exhumed. The violinist was buried there fifty-five years ago, nevertheless his face has been found to be well preserved and easily recognizable. It is proposed to show the body to the public before it is re-interred."

Horrible! But first note the mistake. The body was buried fifty, not fifty-five, years before. Those terrible five years seem to have been unnoticed in this country,[84] and I have been unable to find any reference to the mournful function of May, 1845.[31]

Now, what was the reason for exhuming the remains? For the purpose of removal to a more prominent site! Thus is homage paid to genius! Such, too, was the fate of Beethoven. His remains were removed in 1888 to the Central Cemetery at Vienna, and lamentable incidents attended the exhumation. Schubert, who, by his own desire, was buried by the side of the great master, did not escape the doom; but Mozart was mercifully spared; he was buried in a pauper's grave, and his body has remained undiscovered. The story of the preservation of his skull may be dismissed as apocryphal. But what are gorgeous monuments? Does the true artist value the case more than the instrument? Why seek ye the living among the dead? The artist does not die—he puts off the "muddy vesture of decay"; he lives in his art-work.

Plate XIII.—See Appendix.
The Tomb of Paganini at Parma.



Having traced the career of Paganini "from the cradle to the grave," let us now look a little more closely at the man, the artist. Glimpses of his character have already been revealed, but so curiously interesting a personality will repay further study. Totally uneducated, he yet made himself so much a man of the world, as to enjoy the personal friendship of such notabilities as Lord Byron, Sir Thomas Clifford Constable, Lord Holland, Prince Metternich and others. In his official positions at Court he comported himself with dignity. He had the pride of the artist, and would not play if the conditions were not suitable. One instance has already been given. Here is another, which also occurred in Paris. Paganini was asked to play at a Court concert at the Tuilleries. He went the day before to inspect the salon where the function was to take place, and found the heavy draperies so numerous that the tones of his violin would be deadened, and the effect of his playing would be lost unless the curtains were removed or rearranged; he acquainted an official with his wish to alter them. To that august personage a "fiddler" was a mere nobody, and Paganini was given to understand his proper place. Highly offended with the manner of the[86] official, Paganini resolved not to play. The Court was assembled for the concert, but the great violinist was absent. A messenger was sent to his hotel, and was informed that the Signor had retired to rest very early.

Mobbed by ill-mannered crowds whenever he appeared in the streets, (and this especially in London, when strangers not only spoke to him, but even felt him, to ascertain if he was really flesh and blood), Paganini, with his sensitive nature, shrank more and more from contact with the outer world. He was not a Milton, "whose soul was like a star, and dwelt apart," but he was essentially a solitary, a recluse. His character was the result of his environment. Accustomed to brutal treatment in his childhood, he became hardened; set free from restraint, he tasted the wild joys of youth, only to find them turn to Dead Sea apples. Schumann, in his "Advice to young musicians," wrote: "The laws of morality are also the laws of art." But Paganini had no mentor, and learnt by bitter experience the lesson of life. He was accused of avarice, and many ridiculous stories were told of him. When at Prague, it is said that even the members of the theatre were struck off the free list, and he was annoyed that the police who watched the upper galleries could not be made to pay for their places! He beat down a London laundress a halfpenny in her charge for washing his shirts, and Moscheles gives currency to the story, though he cannot vouch for its truth, that Paganini gave his servant a gallery ticket for one of his concerts on condition that the man served him gratuitously for one day! All these wretched things may[87] have been true, more's the pity. But there is one little story that appears to have been overlooked. The father of Nicolo Paganini was avaricious, and compelled his son to minister to his avarice, even robbing him of the first-fruits of his own earnings; Nicolo in turn became avaricious, but it was for the sake of his little son, whose life he desired might be better than his own. "He saves for his yet uneducated child," wrote Guhr, in 1829. Yes, this man, proud, scornful, despising the crowds whose money made him rich, in the recesses of his heart nourished a love, pure and unselfish. That was the fine gold; his wealth was dross. His affection for the child was boundless, and he allowed the little fellow to tyrannise over him completely. There are pretty stories of his playing with the boy, but there is nothing about teaching the boy to play—the violin. The memory of his own childhood was quite sufficient to deter him from any attempt to force instruction on his boy, and cloud the sunshine of his young life.

The world gave Paganini its plaudits and its money; but there never seemed to be any bond of sympathy between the artist and the public. Yet Paganini could appreciate kindness. Moscheles relates that the father of his wife rendered Paganini some important service before the visit to England. When Paganini first called upon Moscheles he was profuse in expressions of gratitude, and taking down a miniature portrait of his benefactor he covered it with kisses. "Meantime," Moscheles writes, "we had leisure to study those olive-tinted, sharply defined features, the glowing eyes, the scanty, but long[88] black hair, and the thin, gaunt figure, upon which the clothes hung loosely, the deep sunken cheeks, and those long, bony fingers." Moscheles was of service to Paganini during his first days in London, and, to use his own words, he was paid with quite as many honied epithets as his father-in-law received. But he suspected the Italian to be rather too sweet to be genuine. Indeed, the friendship was too fervent to last long, and money was the cause of the rupture. Mori commissioned Moscheles to write a piece "Gems à la Paganini," taking the precaution of obtaining the violinist's consent. His style is imitated, and he expresses his admiration of the piece. A second and third book of "Gems" are published, and down comes Paganini with the charge of musical piracy. His permission extended only to the first book. A lawsuit was commenced, but Paganini effected a compromise with Moscheles, conceding the free sale of the three books of "Gems" in return for pianoforte accompaniments to twelve small violin pieces. Moscheles reluctantly consented to write the accompaniments, but refused to allow his name (which Paganini wanted) to appear on the title-page. Mori had to pay something by way of damages, and Moscheles at last rejoiced at being quit of an episode so little worthy of an artist, and at having done with those dreadful lawyers.[32]

But quite enough has been said in reference to Paganini's avarice: it has been shown that he had a motive for saving money. Is it as easy to account for[89] other traits of his character? That aloofness, that scorn of the world, that hard bargaining: "Take me or leave me," revealing callous indifference, was there no cause for all that? There is a very graphic, and at the same time, appalling, account of the impression produced by Paganini among the Parisians, which is translated at length in Dubourg's "The Violin." Berlioz wrote of the weird genius making his appearance in France during the uproar of the collapse of a dynasty, and arriving in Paris—with the cholera. The terrors of the scourge were powerless to check the tide of curiosity: the people were mad for the time being. This is the conclusion of the notice just mentioned: "Of such a public, and such an artist, how saddening is the sight!... The public, made up of idlers—of beings isolated, cold, corrupt—must be amused, forsooth! and the artist exhausts his taste and his sentiment, and well nigh perspires blood and water, to comply with their exactions—to amuse them! and if he attain this end, the public clap their hands, the manager of the theatre counts out to him a heap of gold, and he goes away, with his ears deafened at the noise which has surrounded him, and which, for a moment, it may be, has made his heart beat high;—he goes away, with a loving grasp tightened over the coin he has so hardly won; and now inwardly exclaims, with a smile of pity, 'The blockheads—the barbarians! who is there among them that can comprehend me—that can feel my intentions!' and then the home-returning public, selfish to the very soul, indemnify themselves for their finger's-end applause by sottish contempt, by remarks[90] that are empty, or worse—that are scornful, bitter, shocking, disgusting even—such as those which may have been buzzed into one's ears in Italy or in Paris, but varied in a hundred ways, and aggravated at will, just as he varies and enlarges, twists and turns, beneath his magic bow, a subject of apparently the most simple and insignificant kind. And now the voices most distinguishable among the ebbing crowd murmur out the words, 'Gambler, Libertine'! or worse.... And the privileged public resort again to the theatre, to admire the talent of him who they comprehend not; and the artist returns, in like manner, to amuse those who provoke his pity, and whom he beholds so far below him! Thus we have contempt on one side, compassion on the other; applause from hands chilled with the touch of gold, on the one part,—on the other, sounds that borrow their animation from no social sympathy! Such are the relations between the public and the professor such the bonds that connect them!" Unhappy artist; miserable public! How shall we account for this pitiful state of things, this gulf between the performer and the auditor? We must seek the explanation in the letter to the Revue, referred to more than once, but now claiming our attention more directly.

Plate XIV.—See Appendix.
Paganini in Prison.

The pictures of "Paganini in Prison," exhibited so lavishly while the artist was in Paris in 1831, provoked him to remark that there were some "honest fellows" making money of a calumny that had pursued his steps for the last fifteen years. He then referred to the different versions of the crime imputed to him: that he[91] killed a rival whom he found in company with his mistress; or that it was his mistress who had been the victim of his jealous fury; the only point of agreement was the imprisonment. "Let me tell you," the letter continued, "what happened to myself in Padua about fifteen years ago (1816), on this very subject. I had given a concert with some success: the next day I went to a table-d'hôte; I entered the room late; was, perhaps, the sixtieth guest, and took my seat unnoticed. One of the company expressed himself in flattering terms of the effect produced by my performance the evening before. His next neighbour agreed in the praises bestowed on me, but added, 'Nobody ought to be surprised at Paganini's ability: he owes it all to an eight years' solitary imprisonment in a dungeon, with nothing but his violin to occupy his time, or soften the rigours of his confinement. He was condemned to this long incarceration for having assassinated a friend of mine, who was unfortunate enough to be his rival.' As you may easily believe, every one was loud in denouncing the enormity of my crime; when I addressed myself to the speaker, begging him to inform me where and when this tragical adventure had occurred. All eyes were in an instant turned upon me, and you may judge the astonishment of the company at finding the hero of this tale of murder and imprisonment one amongst them. The relater of the story was not a little embarrassed. 'It was not a friend of his own that had fallen—he had heard—he had been told—he believed—but after all it was very possible he might have been deceived,' etc. Now see, Sir, how easy[92] it is to play with the reputation of an artist merely because men, inclined to indulge in idleness themselves, cannot conceive it possible that he may have studied as closely in his own chamber and in full possession of his liberty, as he would if he had been chained up in a dungeon."

There was an occurrence that gave rise to these reports, and which Paganini related in the same letter. "A violin player, named D——i,[33] who was at Milan in 1798, associated himself with two other men of bad character, and engaged with them in a plot to assassinate, by night, the curate of a neighbouring village, supposed to be in possession of much wealth. Luckily for the curate the heart of one of the conspirators failed him, and he denounced his companions. The gendarmes watched the spot, and took D——i and his accomplice into custody at the moment they arrived at the curate's dwelling. They were condemned to twenty years' confinement in irons, but General Menou, after he had been appointed governor of Milan, at the end of two years restored the violinist to liberty. Would you believe it, Sir? this is the sole foundation upon which the whole history of my incarceration has been erected. A violin player, whose name ended in i, had been engaged in a murder and imprisoned—it could only be Paganini—the assassinated party was converted into either my rival or[93] my mistress, and it was I, Paganini, who had been so many years loaded with chains, and immured in a dungeon. Solely with the view of wringing from me the secret of my new system, have they complimented me with fetters, whose only effect would have been to paralyze my arms."

Paganini further stated that he called on the Italian ambassador resident in Vienna, to testify that he had known the artist for nearly twenty years, during all which time his conduct has been that of an honest man. He also pointed out that having been constantly before the public from the age of fourteen, he must have had a mistress and a rival when he was seven! for there was no room for an interval of eight years afterwards. It was at Vienna that one of the audience, while Paganini was playing "The Witches' Dance," distinctly saw the devil close to the violinist, guiding his fingers and directing his bow; the said devil was dressed in red and had horns and a tail, and the striking likeness of the countenances of the two, plainly proved the relationship between them. That pretty story followed Paganini everywhere: and, as has been seen, in Prague he had to publish a letter from his mother disproving the rumour of his Satanic parentage. There is something intensely pathetic in Paganini's conclusion: "I see nothing else for it but to leave malignity at liberty to disport itself at my expense."

In this prosaic, materialistic twentieth century, which believes in little besides money, there is no fear of any of our violin wonders being associated with the arch-fiend.[94] They may be regarded as physic problems, but the supernatural is eliminated from the study. But Paganini did not live in the twentieth century, and in his day the devil was a very real personage, notwithstanding the temporary overthrow of much belief through the French Revolution, and the enthronement of the "Goddess of Reason" in the Church of Notre Dame, Paris. It may seem absurd, now, even to recall these calumnies; but we have to deal with the environment of a great genius, to study the cause of his failing to become great as a man; for surely he had the making of a fine character. That he should traverse the greater part of Europe, pursued by tales of devilry and murder, is one of the saddest comments on that period; that the "iron entered into his soul," and the man capable of affection became a miser and a misanthrope, is more mournful still. He was the "Flying Dutchman" of the violin.

How was it that the devil and the violin came into relationship? We have it on the authority of Martin Luther that the devil hates music. Luther not only believed in the devil, but he fancied he saw him: and in the room of the Castle of Wartburg may still be seen the mark on the wall, where he threw his inkpot at the fiend, who tried to thwart his work of translating the Bible. It is curious that the only instrument which, to the present writer's knowledge, Satan has been represented as playing upon, is one of the precursors of the violin. There is a piece of sculpture in the Cathedral of Amiens, depicting Satan playing on an oval three-stringed Vielle, of the[95] thirteenth century.[34] The story of Tartini and his dream, when the devil played so marvellously on the violin, is known to everyone, and is, moreover, perpetuated in the sonata Il Trillo del Diavolo. It is related of Thomas Baltzar, the first great violinist ever heard in England, that when he played at Oxford he astonished everyone by "running up his fingers to the end of the finger-board." John Wilson, the Oxford Professor of Music, "the greatest judge of musick that ever was," according to Anthony à Wood, "did, after his humoursome way, stoop down to Baltzar's feet, to see whether he had a huff on, that is to say, whether he was a devil or not, because he acted beyond the parts of man." As this took place in 1658 there was some excuse for the grim pleasantry; moreover music had suffered an eclipse, and performers in this country were comparatively few. Even the gentle and polite Corelli forgot himself so far as to apply the term, devil, to another violinist. As the story may not be so well known as the foregoing, I shall briefly repeat it. Nicolaus Adam Strungk (or Strunck), violinist to Ernest Augustus, Elector of Hanover, when in Rome (circa 1684) made it his business to see Corelli. Introducing himself to the Italian master as a musician, Corelli asked what was his instrument. Strungk replied that he could play upon the harpsichord, and a little upon the violin; but he particularly wished to hear Corelli on the latter instrument, his fame being widely known. Corelli obligingly consented, and played a piece to the[96] harpsichord accompaniment of Strungk. Strungk afterwards played a toccata, with which Corelli was so much taken that he laid aside his instrument in his transport of admiration. When Strungk had finished at the harpsichord, he took up the violin, and began handling it in a careless manner, whereupon Corelli remarked that he had a good bow-hand, and wanted nothing but practice to become a master of his instrument. At that moment Strungk put the violin out of tune, and played on with such dexterity, attempering the dissonances occasioned by the mistuning with such amazing skill, that Corelli cried out in broken German: "I am called Arcangelo, a name that in the language of my country signifies an Archangel; but let me tell you, that you, Sir, are an Arch-devil!"

There is nothing malicious in these stories of the devil and the fiddler; and if Paganini had experienced nothing worse than what has just been related, he might have treated the matter as a joke. But that which malice or envy originated, a "reptile press" promulgated. Innocent of crime, Paganini was branded as a felon; gifted with genius of the rarest order, cultivated to a perfection absolutely unique, his skill was attributed to the aid received from the devil. Add to this his wretched health, and there is both mental and bodily suffering. In his later years he was cut off from intercourse with others, like Beethoven—but with this difference: Beethoven employed a tablet or note-book for his friends to convey their words to him; Paganini transmitted, through a similar medium, his thoughts to others. He was dumb![97] Is there no brighter side to this picture? If there be, let us turn to it.

It is, perhaps, fortunate that no man can be consistent throughout his life; the morose must smile at times, and the misanthrope mitigate his hatred of mankind. Paganini was but human, and his life was not all shadow. Though his intimate friends were few, there were some who were able to place on record details of the private life of the great violinist. Of such, the most useful to biographers was George Harris. He was an Englishman, attached to the Court at Hanover then connected with Britain; a dramatist of a certain order, he accompanied Paganini on his tours in Germany, acting for a time as his secretary, and apparently he was with him when in England. From him we learn a good deal.

Paganini was always on the move, and travelling in his day was not the rapid, comfortable, even luxurious process it is now. In the post-chaise Paganini stowed his luggage, which was of the simplest—and shabbiest—description. A dilapidated box held his beloved violin, his linen, cash and jewellery; a carpet-bag and a hat-box completed his outfit. He was philosophically indifferent to comfort, but in his later years he always had the windows of his carriage closed. When he arrived at his quarters, the windows of his room were thrown open, and he indulged in a sun-bath—again anticipating modern medical advice. Paganini, when travelling, was fond of taking a stroll when the horses were changed. It was a relief to stretch his legs after the close confinement of the post-chaise, but sometimes his rambles were so[98] prolonged that there was weary waiting for him when all was ready to resume the journey, and drivers became exasperated. Paganini was made to suffer on one occasion. That was when travelling from London to Birmingham. He had already tried the patience of his coachman by causing loss of time, and the man declared he would drive on without him, rather than wait again. At the next stopping place Paganini walked off as usual, leaving Harris asleep in the vehicle. The horses being changed, the driver started, leaving Paganini behind. This caused some trouble, for a post-chaise had to be sent from the next station in search of the derelict, and Paganini in his rage refused to pay the extra expense. He was summoned before the Birmingham magistrates, and the case going against him he was compelled to discharge the debt. Poor Paganini, he always suffered when he came into contact with the law.

PLATE 15. (See Appendix.) Letter in French by Paganini. PLATE 15. (See Appendix.)
PLATE 16. (See Appendix.) Note in Italian by Paganini. PLATE 16. (See Appendix.)
PLATE 17. (See Appendix.) Note in Italian by Paganini. PLATE 17. (See Appendix.)

In his personal habits Paganini was simplicity itself. Frugal to a degree in his repasts, a cup of chocolate sufficed for a meal when starting early on a journey, and often he would fast until evening. When in a happy mood after a concert, he would join the table d'hôte and do as others did, but the slightest indulgence was punished the next day. He preferred solitude, but when he mixed with others he would join freely in the conversation; if music were touched upon he became silent, or left the room. So long as he could find accommodation that was quiet, he cared little for its quality. Scenery had no charms for him, and all climates but his own were equally indifferent to him. His accounts were kept[99] in a little red pocket-book (found under his pillow after his death), in a kind of arithmetical shorthand only decipherable by himself. He never had been taught the science of numbers, or he might have been made a first-rate mathematician.

Harris stated that all the time he was with Paganini he never heard him play a single note except before an audience. That may have been correct so far as Germany was concerned, but the Rev. John Edmund Cox, in his "Musical Recollections," has something very different to say about Paganini. "During his career he visited my native town,[35] and as I had the good fortune then to be able to converse in French, the friends who had engaged him for a sound of concerts in that place and its vicinity placed me in direct communication with him somewhat in the capacity of a secretary; so that I not only travelled in his company and heard him at every concert at which he appeared, but I lived in the same hotels and lodgings which had been secured for him. This kind of semi-official position necessitated my seeing much of him during his leisure hours, when he threw off the suspicious restraint which was always apparent in his manner when he was among strangers, whom he imagined were bent upon getting as much as possible out of him for their own advantage. Then, indeed, he would evince anything but a hard and ungenerous nature, his manner being not only kind but courteous; whilst any attention that was afforded to his wants or to his comforts[100] was sure to elicit not only looks but words of gratitude. In public he confined himself almost exclusively to the performance of his own music,—... but in private—for he had his violin constantly in his hand—he would sit and dash off by the hour together snatches from the compositions of the best masters, and give readings of such originality to passages that had been heard again and again, as apparently have never been supposed to be possible by any other player. As an instance in point, he one morning, whilst I was writing several notes for him, commenced the first motivo of Beethoven's magnificent violin concerto. To write was then impossible; and he, perceiving how entranced I seemed, asked whether I knew what it was. On my replying in the negative, he promised, if it could be managed, that I should hear the whole of that movement before we separated." The promise was redeemed. The above is valuable as showing that Paganini was not quite so wanting in knowledge as was generally supposed. He could converse in French, though at that time—1831—he had only spent a few weeks in France. Education, proper, he had none; but the statement that he could speak no language but his own, is evidently incorrect. The allusion to strangers bent upon getting as much as possible out of him for their own advantage, finds an illustration in the story of the Englishman who is said to have followed Paganini for some six months, watching his every movement, lodging at the same hotels, and employing every means to get at the great secret of the violinist's art. At last his perseverance seemed about to be rewarded. Looking[101]
through the keyhole of Paganini's door, the Englishman saw the violinist take his instrument from its case—raise it to his shoulder, even shift the left hand up and down the neck; but not the ghost of a sound. It was just a study of positions, and the violin was then restored to its place. In despair, the inquisitive amateur gave up the quest.

The concerts Paganini gave for the poor were evidence of his natural goodness of heart. It is true, such efforts cost him little; he gave a few hours' time: the public found the money. One day, when walking in Vienna, he saw a poor little Italian boy playing the violin in front of a large house. He drew from him a touching story of poverty, and a sick mother; and emptying his pockets into the boy's hands, he took from him his violin and began to play. He was soon recognised, and a crowd assembled; the people were immensely diverted, and gave a generous response when the hat was handed round. With "Take that to your mother," Paganini sent the boy off rejoicing, and turning to the companion of his walk, he remarked, "I hope I've done a good turn to that little animal." He was fond of applying the word "animal" to those sometimes spoken of as "the lower classes," but was not altogether singular in that respect.

At the anniversary dinner of the Royal Society of Musicians, in 1832, among the donations announced was one of ten guineas from Paganini. This was thought so excessively mean an acknowledgment of the generosity of the English nation, that the announcement was received with groans and hisses. That was distinctly[105] rude on the part of those who, having dined well, ought to have been in a genial state of mind.

At least one generous action must be placed on record. It was told by George Augustus Sala many years ago.[36] The mother of that voluminous writer was a vocalist, and made her début at Covent Garden Theatre in 1827, as the Countess in Bishop's version (or perversion) of Mozart's "Marriage of Figaro." In 1828 she became a widow, and supported her family by teaching singing and giving annual concerts, chiefly at Brighton, where she lived. For one of her benefit concerts she engaged Paganini. The most distinguished artists of her day had gladly given their gratuitous assistance at similar functions, and Paganini accepted the small fee of twenty-five guineas. Sala was a very small boy at that time (born in 1828), and possibly drew upon his imagination when recounting the event so many years later. This is what he wrote:—"'Take your little boy with you, Madame Sala,' was the shrewd counsel of ——, a valued friend of my mother; 'take the boy with you when you pay Pag.; perhaps that will soften him a little.' I was the smallest and chubbiest of the tribe; then, duly washed, combed and made spruce, my parent took me in her hand, and led me to the Old Ship, where Paganini was staying. We were ushered, not without fear and trembling on my part, into the presence of the mighty musician, who was at breakfast. Then my mother, alluding as far as she in delicacy could to her large family[106] and small means, proceeded to count out—sovereign by sovereign, shilling by shilling—Paganini's fee of five and twenty guineas. I can see with the eye of memory the whole man before me now, his gaunt angular form, his black elf-like locks falling in weird confusion over his neck and shoulders, his cadaverous face and shaggy brows, his long bony hands with the veins standing out like cordage, his amazingly large feet, and especially his neck, disproportionately long, scraggy, and corrugated. I can see the glare—so it seemed to me—which, when he raised his bent brows, darted upon the pile of money, and the spasmodic avidity with which he extended his hand and swept the pile towards him.... 'A very nice little boy,' he was good enough to say, alluding to myself; 'but time is bad, and there is no monish in de vorld: no, never no monish at all.' My mother rose with a heavy heart to depart. 'Stop, little boy,' said the great violinist, and he beckoned to me with a skinny finger, which any of the witches in Macbeth would have been proud to own; 'stop, take this, it will buy you a cake.' He thrust a crumpled piece of paper into my hand, rose from his chair, and, without more ado 'bolted'—that is the only word suited to the action—into his bedroom. He had given me a bank note for fifty pounds! Superstitious people used to whisper that Paganini had sold himself to the enemy of mankind; spiteful people used to draw him as a greedy, flint-hearted miser.... I only know how he acted towards my mother."



From the man we now turn to the artist. Schiller wrote: "The artist is the son of his age, but pity for him if he is its pupil or even its favourite." It has been shown how truly Paganini was the child of his age; the pity was that he became its pupil and its favourite; in consequence he failed to attain the supreme height where dwell the spirits of the greatest. But he was a great artist, in spite of his concessions to the public taste; and he held in reverence that which he found great in others. When in Vienna in 1828, exactly a year after the death of Beethoven, Paganini attended a concert, and heard a performance of the great master's Symphony, No. 7, in A. Profoundly moved by that sublime composition, he remained mute, his gaze fixed and mournful; suddenly the tears rolled from his eyes; his grief and emotion wrung from him the words: E morto! Anders, who relates the incident, adds: "Never was the immortal author of Fidelio more worthily extolled than by those tears, by that simple word. The day may come when some disciple, some friend of the Genoese artist, will say in his turn, seized with bitter sadness, E morto!" Strange, that Chorley should have employed the very words, in the[108] premature obituary notice which has been already referred to.

When in Paris, Paganini once visited the Institution for the Blind. He was so much struck with the beauty and purity of intonation that characterised the singing of the pupils, that he declared that never before had he an adequate notion of what harmony was.

The artist, as well as the art, claimed his respect. There seems to have been no artistic jealousy about him, and to the young performer he was invariably kind, whilst to the established professor he was just. It is said that when Paganini's concerts took place at the King's Theatre, it was proposed to dispense with the services of the "leader" at the Opera. When Paganini heard of this, he paid a well-merited compliment to the abilities of Signor Spagnoletti, and insisted upon his engagement at all the concerts, he, Paganini, might give at the Theatre. It is true, at rehearsal, Paganini never gratified the members of the orchestra as to what the concert performances were likely to be; but he was careful to have the accompaniments well prepared. Quick-tempered, he was irritated at any faulty work, but when all went well he expressed his approbation by exclaiming, "Bravissimi! Siete tutti virtuosi!" ("You are all artists!") Paganini brought the orchestral parts with him to rehearsal, and took them away afterwards; as to the solo part, no one had a chance of looking at that, for Paganini played everything from memory. His kindness to brother-artists has been placed on record. The young violoncellist Ciandelli, who rendered such service to Paganini[109] when he was turned into the street by the brutal landlord, was afterwards well repaid by the instruction Paganini gave him. The great violinist told Schottky, his biographer, that he took a lively interest in young Ciandelli, and that he imparted to him his secret. He gave him lessons, and at the end of three days so transformed his playing, that from being a mediocre performer, he became the first violoncellist at the Theatre Royal, Naples, with a possibility of becoming the first in the world. However, as history is silent respecting the subsequent achievements of Gaetano Ciandelli, he need not claim further attention.

The Bohemian violinist, Joseph Slavik, appeared at Vienna in 1826, when he was twenty years of age. Moscheles heard him play, and said he was considered in Vienna as the second Paganini. Of course that was hearsay; the Paganini had not then been heard outside Italy. When Paganini was in Vienna, in 1828, he become acquainted with young Slavik, and held him in affectionate regard. At all hours the young student had access to the idol of his worship, and received many valuable hints and ideas upon fingering, etc., and friendly encouragement to pursue his daring course with unwearying application. He spent two years in retirement, zealously studying the Paganini method, and when he reappeared in Vienna, he was spoken of as no petty imitator, but a second original. A contemporary notice, comparing Slavik with Paganini, states:—"The only difference between the two at present is, that the pupil, carried away by the ardour of youth, often suffers himself[110] to be seduced into the most gigantic attempts, the success of which on every occasion no mortal can with certainty rely upon; while the other, possessing the plaintive and deeply pathetic tones of a singer, at the same time resembles a consummate piece of musical mechanism, which accomplishes the most extraordinary feats quietly and without effort." Slavik died at Pesth, in 1833, at the early age of twenty-seven; what he might have become his actual achievements plainly indicated.

In his later years, Paganini appears to have had great delight in listening to young artists. In 1836, Antonio Bazzini, then a youth of eighteen, played to Paganini, who was enraptured with his performance. A year later, in Paris, Paganini heard a much younger violinist, the boy Apollinaire de Kontski, and actually went so far as to give him a testimonial. Articles in the musical dictionaries all state that Paganini gave some lessons to the child; some say that the friendship between the two resulted in Paganini bequeathing to De Kontski his violins and compositions. Grove, in quoting Mendel, says this statement requires confirmation. When Apollinaire de Kontski died, in 1879, nothing, so far as I have been able to ascertain, transpired concerning the alleged bequest. But the testimonial seems to have escaped the notice of dictionary compilers, so, as a curiosity, I reproduce it from the Musical World, of June 21st, 1838:—

"Having heard M. de Kontski, aged eleven years, perform several pieces of music on the violin, and having found him worthy of being ranked among the most[111] celebrated artists of the present day, permit me to say, that if he continues his studies in this fine art, he will, in course of time, surpass the most distinguished performers of the age.

(Signed) Paganini."

But if Paganini was fond of hearing and encouraging other artists, he was averse to anything like competitive display. When he met Lafont at Milan in 1816, as already related, he played at the concert given by that artist. The function came to be regarded as a contest, and an account of it appears in Laphaléque's pamphlet. Some paper, early in 1830, having quoted this notice, Lafont wrote a letter of protest, which is interesting enough to reproduce in part. He wrote:—

"Sir, I have just read, in your journal of the 2nd of Feb., an extract from the Notice published on the celebrated violinist, Paganini. As this notice contains statements utterly erroneous, as regards me, I owe it to truth, to the advice of my friends, and to the favour with which the public has been pleased to honour me during twenty-five years, to give an exact statement of the facts of the case. The following is a narration of what occurred. In the month of March, 1816, I gave in conjunction with M. Paganini, a concert in the great theatre, La Scala, at Milan, and, far from making a cruel trial of the powers of my adversary, or of being beaten by him, as is pretended by the author of the Notice, I obtained a success the more flattering, as I was a stranger in the country and had no other support than my talent.

"I played, with M. Paganini, the concerted symphony[112] of Kreutzer, in fa major. For several days previously to the concert we rehearsed this symphony together, and with the greatest care. On the day of the concert it was performed by us as it had been rehearsed, with no change whatever; and we both obtained an equal success in the passages executed together or separately. On coming to the phrase de chant in fa minor, in the second solo of the first part, there was a decided advantage for one of us. This passage is of a deep and melancholy expression. M. Paganini performed it first. Whether the strong and pathetic character of the piece was ill-suited to the ornaments and brilliant notes which he gave in it, or whatever else was the cause, his solo produced but little effect. Immediately after him, I repeated the same passage, and treated it differently. It seems that the emotion by which I was then agitated, caused me to give an expression more effective, though more simple, and it was so felt by the audience, that I was overwhelmed with plaudits from all parts of the house. During fourteen years I have been silent on this trifling advantage obtained over M. Paganini in this instance, only in the symphony, and probably rather by the superiority of the school than by that of talent. It is painful to me to speak of myself; nothing short of the misrepresentation of the article in question could have provoked me to reply. I was not beaten by M. Paganini, nor was he by me. On all occasions, I have taken pleasure in rendering homage to his great talent; but I have never said that he was the first violinist in the world; I have not done such injustice to the celebrated men—Kreutzer, Rode, Baillot,[113] and Habeneck, and I declare now, as I have always done, that the French school is the first in the world for the violin."

After this modest assertion Lafont concludes with an expression of rejoicing in the opportunity of praising a talent of which he felt it an honour to be the rival, but of which no one could make him the adversary.

This epistle provoked a rejoinder from Francesco Cianchettini[37] who wrote:—"As I was present at that contest, I do assert that the account given by Mr. Imbert is not erroneous, but correct. The public decision was in favour of Paganini; Mr. Lafont having acquiesced in silence to such a decision, does not diminish one iota of his acquired fame: as not only himself, but every living violinist who dares to enter into rivalry with Paganini, will be prostrated, although the Signor has not had the advantage of being a pupil of the super-excellent Parisian Violin School. In Paris, I have heard how the talented violinists, mentioned in Mr. Lafont's letter, speak of Paganini. The Coriosi gladiators of the Neronian age spoke with the same freedom of Hercules. Had this demigod suddenly appeared on the arena with his club, all of them would instantly have shrunk into pigmies."

In a footnote Cianchettini added that whatever excellence the Parisian Violin School might lay claim to, was derived from Italians; from Viotti, through Pugnani and Tartini, to Corelli, "the father of the violin."


But the genius of Paganini was fully understood and appreciated by a far greater Frenchman than Charles Lafont:—Hector Berlioz.

The friendship between Paganini and Berlioz has been briefly referred to, but it is a subject for further consideration, as it reveals the influence that the one artist wielded over the other. The first meeting of the two men must be told in the words of Berlioz himself. A few remarks are needed by way of preface. In the summer of 1833, Berlioz married the English actress Miss Smithson, who, still weak from her carriage accident, had, on her wedding day, "nothing in the world but debts, and the fear of never again being able to appear to advantage on the stage." To pay off these debts Berlioz organized a benefit entertainment, beginning with drama and ending with a concert. But his programme was too long, and he had forgotten something—the claque. His poor wife could not conceal her lameness, and though talented as ever, she failed to obtain a recall. Another actress, having taken precautions, had an ovation. Then at midnight the band of the Théâtre Italien, not being obliged to play after that hour, left the place, and the Symphonie Fantastique could not be played. Liszt assisted, and the affair was not quite a failure, financially, though the promoter came in for bitter attacks. Poor Berlioz was in despair, but he took his courage in both hands, and announced a concert at the Conservatoire. He took care to engage artists he could trust, and with his friend Girard as conductor everything went well, the Symphonie Fantastique taking the room by storm. Now let Berlioz[115] speak: "My success was complete, and the former judgment on me was reversed. My musicians looked radiant with delight as they left the orchestra. Lastly, my happiness was completed when the public had all gone, and a man stopped me in the passage—a man with long hair, piercing eyes, a strange and haggard face—a genius, a Titan among the giants, whom I had never seen before, and at first sight of whom I was deeply moved; this man pressed my hand, and overwhelmed me with burning eulogies, which literally set both my heart and brain on fire. It was Paganini (22nd December, 1833). From that date my relations with that great artist, who exercised such a happy influence upon my destiny, and whose noble generosity has given birth to such absurd and malicious comments."

It was some time in January, 1834, that Paganini called upon Berlioz and said he had a wonderful viola, a Stradivari, upon which he should much like to play in public, but he had no music for it. Would Berlioz write a solo for him? Berlioz was flattered by the proposal, but replied that in order to produce a composition sufficiently brilliant to suit such a virtuoso, he—Berlioz—ought to be able to play the viola, and that he could not do. So he thought Paganini alone could meet his own wishes. Paganini, however, pressed his own point, adding that he himself was too unwell to compose anything. Berlioz then set to work. To quote his own words: "In order to please the illustrious virtuoso, I then endeavoured to write a solo for the viola, but so combined with the orchestra as not to diminish the[116] importance of the latter, feeling sure that Paganini's incomparable execution would enable him to give the solo instrument all its due prominence. The proposition was a new one. A happy idea soon occurred to me, and I became intensely eager to carry it out."

Paganini was impatient to see the music, and as soon as the first movement was finished, it was shown to him. He did not like the long silences. "That is not at all what I want," he said; "I must be playing the whole time." "You really want a concerto for the tenor," Berlioz replied, "and you are the only man who can write it." Paganini said no more, and soon afterwards left for Nice. Berlioz then gave free play to his fancy, and wrote the series of scenes for the orchestra, the background formed from the recollections of his wanderings in the Abruzzi, the viola introduced as a sort of melancholy dreamer, in the style of Byron's "Childe Harold." Hence the title "Harold in Italy." Now, this is the point: "Harold" was inspired by Paganini, who indirectly gave a new art-form to the world. The piece was produced on November 23rd, 1834, but Paganini was then in Italy, and he did not hear it until four years later.

But Paganini was destined to inspire something greater still. He was again in Paris in 1838, and, as before related, was present at the "horrible performance" of Berlioz' "Benvenuto Cellini." Sad at heart Paganini said: "If I were manager of the Opéra, I would at once engage that young man[38] to write me three such operas:[117] I would pay him in advance, and should make a capital bargain by it." The failure of the opera threw Berlioz on a bed of sickness. But he had to live, and was soon arranging to give concerts at the Conservatoire. The first barely paid expenses, but the second, at which both the Symphonie Fantastique and Harold en Italie were performed, was more successful, and at this Paganini was present. This has also been incidentally mentioned, but further notice is required on account of the sequel. Again we must allow Berlioz to speak for himself. "The concert was just over; I was in a profuse perspiration, and trembling with exhaustion, when Paganini, followed by his son Achilles, came up to me at the orchestra door, gesticulating violently. Owing to the throat affection of which he ultimately died, he had already completely lost his voice, and unless everything was perfectly quiet, no one but his son could hear or even guess what he was saying. He made a sign to the child, who got up on a chair, put his ear close to his father's mouth and listened attentively. Achilles then got down, and turning to me, said, 'My father desires me to assure you, sir, that he has never in his life been so powerfully impressed at a concert; that your music has quite upset him, and that if he did not restrain himself he should go down on his knees to thank you for it.' I made a movement of incredulous embarrassment at these strange words, but Paganini seizing my arm, and rattling out 'Yes, yes!' with the little voice he had left, dragged me up on the stage, where there were still a good many of the performers, knelt down, and kissed my hand. I need[118] not describe my stupefaction; I relate the facts, that is all."

In his frenzied state Berlioz went out into the bitter cold, met Armand Bertin on the boulevard, told him what had occurred, caught a chill, and again had to keep his bed. Two days later, the little Achilles called, the bearer of a letter, and of a message to the effect that his father would himself have paid the visit, but was too ill to do so. The letter ran as follows:—

"My Dear Friend,

Beethoven dead, only Berlioz now can revive him; and I, who have enjoyed your divine compositions, worthy of the genius which you are, entreat you to accept, in token of my homage, twenty thousand francs, which will be remitted you by the Baron de Rothschild on presentation of the enclosed. Believe me always your most affectionate friend,

Nicolo Paganini.

Paris, December 18th, 1838."

Picture the scene! Berlioz, pale with excitement; his wife, entering the room, imagines some new misfortune has befallen them. Told of what has happened, she calls her son Louis. Berlioz' words again: "And my wife and child ran back together, and fell on their knees beside my bed, the mother praying, the child in astonishment joining his little hands beside her. O Paganini! what a sight! Would that he could have seen it!"

The news soon spread abroad, and there were mixed feelings with regard to Berlioz; delight on the one hand,[119] detractions on the other, and "scandalous insinuations" against Paganini. It was some six days before Berlioz recovered sufficiently to visit and thank Paganini. The latter would not hear a word; it was the greatest pleasure he had ever felt in his life, he said; adding, "Ah! now none of the people who cabal against you will dare to say another word, for they know that I am a good judge, and that I am not easy" the last clause bearing two meanings: "I am not in easy circumstances," or, "I do not part with money easily." I know that this gift of Paganini to Berlioz is now regarded as a myth. One version of the story is that Paganini was merely the agent, the real donor being Armand Bertin, the great friend of Berlioz, who wished to remain in the background. Another version is to the effect that Jules Janin, editor of the Journal des Débats, compelled Paganini to make the gift to Berlioz, who was the musical critic on that paper; and that Paganini, fearing to lose his prestige with the public if Berlioz turned against him, yielded to the pressure put upon him. I am going to give chapter and verse for all this, for it is a matter that should be put at rest. But first, what a condition is revealed of the press in relation to art. Berlioz in money matters was incorruptable, though he was often poor enough; therefore I leave him out of the discussion. But think of the possibility of the transaction! Janin, years before, had written bitter things of Paganini—things I have declined to quote in this memoir; but Janin must have been quite as bad as he asserted Paganini to have been, if he was capable of this[120] monstrous proposition. There are two details to be considered, and the first is the date. In 1838, the public career of Paganini was at an end. There was the wretched Casino business, it is true, but there was no performance by Paganini. In the second place, supposing for a moment that Berlioz could or would employ his pen in disparagement of the great violinist, could he have written anything more violent, more depreciatory, than critics had been writing for the previous twenty years, criticisms which Paganini had survived, and grown rich upon? Besides, if the Janin story be true, the Bertin must be false. Where then is the authority for the former? In 1840, Liszt wrote a memorial notice of Paganini. In it passing reference is made to some deeds of benevolence. Lina Ramann, in her "Life of Liszt," of which the first part was published in 1880, prints this essay, and at the point above mentioned adds a long foot note[39] giving the Janin story, which she averred Liszt knew through Janin himself. That was a safe story to reproduce, though it might have been contradicted by Liszt if he ever saw the book. Now for the Bertin version. The authority quoted for that is always Ferdinand Hiller. In 1868, Hiller published his work "On the Musical Life of our Time," in which he relates some gossiping with Rossini, in 1856. The conversation turned upon Paganini on one occasion, and Hiller asked about the kingly gift to Berlioz. Rossini replied that all Paris knew it, and he must needs believe it, but at bottom he held the thing impossible. Nothing more[121] definite is there recorded. In 1871, Hiller published a new series of similar papers or essays, but of this work I know nothing. Rossini was a raconteur, and fond of saying good things. There is no reason to doubt the good faith of Ferdinand Hiller; he set down what Rossini said, which, after all, was only the expression of a doubt. This reticence was perhaps owing to the fact that Berlioz was still living. But how was Rossini likely to know the facts of the case? He went to Italy in 1836, and returned to Paris about the end of May, 1855; consequently he knew nothing of the alleged gift at the time, and as Armand Bertin died in 1854, Rossini could not have heard the story from him. So far, one would be justified in attaching little credence to Hiller's gossip with Rossini.

But there was a sequel. Rossini died in November, 1868, and Berlioz passed away in March, 1869. His Autobiography was published in 1870, with the Paganini incident as it has already been related. To the last, Berlioz believed that the money came from Paganini. In 1880, Hiller published a work entitled "Künstlerleben," in which a chapter was devoted to Berlioz. Again reference is made to the princely gift, incredible from so mean a man as Paganini. "Rossini gave me the key to this enigma," writes Hiller, "and I do not hesitate to communicate the same, as it can no longer be unpleasant to anyone concerned in the matter." He then goes on to say that Paganini consented to be the agent of Armand Bertin, who really found the money. "Are you sure that this was true?" asked Hiller; "I know it," replied[122] Rossini, seriously. Hiller then states his conviction that Rossini's account must be correct.[40] Now was this the outcome of a subsequent conversation with Rossini, or an amplification of the "gossip" at Trouville? Hiller is candid enough to say that some may doubt, and I should confess to being among the doubters if his evidence was the sole support of the story.

But in 1896, appeared the evidence of one whose testimony was unimpeachable. The late Sir Charles Hallé went to Paris in 1836, when a youth of seventeen. In 1838, he was introduced to Paganini, was invited to visit him, and often played to him; and, once, nearly heard Paganini play! An extract from Hallé's "Autobiography" will show what he thought of the great violinist: "From my earliest childhood I had heard of Paganini and his art as of something supernatural, and there I actually sat opposite to the man himself, but only looking at the hands that had created such wonders. On one never-to-be-forgotten occasion, after I had played and we had enjoyed a long silence, Paganini rose and approached his violin case. What then passed in me can hardly be imagined; I was all in a tremble, and my heart thumped as if it would burst my chest; in fact, no young swain going to the first rendezvous with his beloved could possible feel more violent emotions. Paganini opened the case, took the violin out, and began to tune it carefully with his fingers without using the bow; my agitation became almost intolerable. When he was satisfied, and I said to myself, with a lump in my throat,[123] 'Now, now, he'll take the bow!' he carefully put the violin back and shut the case. And this is how I heard Paganini." Hallé also became acquainted with Berlioz and acquaintance ripened into a close friendship. He saw the change worked in Berlioz through the Paganini incident; how his courage was strengthened, and from a morose, he became a cheerful companion. Then he divulges what had been a life-secret: "Armand Bertin, the wealthy and distinguished proprietor of the Journal des Débats, had a high regard for Berlioz and knew of all his struggles, which he, Bertin, was anxious to lighten. He resolved therefore to make him a present of 20,000 fr., and in order to enhance the moral effect of this gift he persuaded Paganini to appear as the donor of the money. How well Bertin had judged was proved immediately; what would have been a simple gracieuseté from a rich and powerful editor towards one of his staff became a significant tribute from one genius to another, and had a colossal retentissement. The secret was well kept and never divulged to Berlioz. It was known, I believe, to but two of Bertin's friends besides myself, one of whom is (Victor) Mottez, the celebrated painter; I learned it about seven years later when I had become an intimate friend of the house, and Madame Armand Bertin had been for years one of my best pupils."[41] This must be accepted as a true statement of the case, but it proves no more than that Paganini became a party to a benevolent conspiracy; he never boasted of the gift, nor claimed any credit for it. Even when Berlioz, relieved of his financial[124] troubles, set to work with a light heart at the composition which was to be worthy of dedication to the illustrious artist to whom he owed so much (his own words), even when he wrote to Paganini about a subject, all the answer he could get was: "I can give you no advice." He chose Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" as a theme, worked at it for seven months, and produced a masterpiece. Paganini inspired him, but never heard the work "undertaken chiefly to please him."

To Paganini the world owes still more. It has been already stated that Paganini's playing when in Paris in 1831 exerted an extraordinary influence over Franz Liszt, and gave the direction to his genius. I use the word "genius" advisedly, believing that Liszt is one of that sacred band to whom the term belongs of right. This is not the place to discuss the position Liszt occupies among composers; nor is this country yet qualified properly to judge him. Wagner, Schumann and Chopin have passed the ordeal; from persecution they have arrived at deification, so to speak, and even their faults are regarded as merits. But prejudice dies hard, and Liszt has yet to suffer. His earnest disciple Walter Bache sacrificed time and means in his Liszt propaganda, but with scant success. My point here is to try and show that Paganini, despite all shortcomings as a man and as an artist, had a mission—whether he knew it or not—and fulfilled it through others.

Beethoven's pianoforte playing, and pianoforte compositions, led makers of that instrument to extend its compass; Liszt led the way to a new system for the[125] pianoforte, with effects hitherto undreamt of, and the impulse came from Paganini. No other instance is on record of an instrument like the violin absolutely revolutionising the treatment of the pianoforte. I have already referred to Liszt in Paris, how, depressed and suffering, he withdrew from art and buried himself in solitude. The revolution of 1830 aroused him, but it was Paganini who rekindled the flame of art. Here I must have recourse to Lina Ramann's "Franz Liszt."

Liszt went to hear Paganini: "Charmed, stunned, yet seeing clearly at the same time, he could have cried out for sorrow and exultation. This playing! it was the vision of his soul, after which he had sought and grasped and yet could never find or seize. Now here he felt it realised before him. With kindling power it seized his artistic will. Until then Liszt had groped and sought without any conscious aim; following the hidden impulse of his spirit, he had given place to all kinds of whims.... Now, all at once, he was led by Paganini into fixed paths and the lost thread of his development was found again. By Paganini's playing the veil had been torn away which lay between him and his artistic will.... Paganini's playing had fanned the Promethean spark of his genius to a brilliant flame. That for which the poets of the time strove in their literary productions—freedom of form and of subject—he saw here in the domain of reproducing music. With all this the serious defects and onesidedness of the great violinist's capabilities and genius did not escape the youthful pianist. He measured him by the ideals of artistic culture which shone before his own[126] eyes.... He recognised plainly the limits of the influence which Paganini exercised over him, and saw how human was the mission of the artist—a consciousness was awakened that artistic culture is inseparable from human sympathies, that only a great man can become a great artist. This conviction drew from his lips the proud but noble words 'Génie oblige.'[42] With indescribable eagerness, and at the same time with exulting triumph, Liszt, after having heard Paganini, turned again to his instrument. He was seldom seen; in public, as a pianist, never. His mother alone was the silent witness of his perseverance and restless working. As Wieland, he hammered at his piano. He, who, already as a boy, had climbed the Parnassus of study, now sat at the instrument often six hours a day and practised; yes, he exercised the language of his spirit, and created for it an organ of expression." The author then goes on to describe the new ideas that came to Liszt when studying the Twenty-four Capricii of Paganini, and how he discovered new combinations, and also that the hand of the pianist had yet much to learn. "With this perception a bridge was built to new technical triumphs in the art of pianoforte playing.... On the one hand he increased the beauty and breadth of sound of this instrument in a marvellous degree, while on the other, he gave at the same time a fatal blow to the modern pianoforte music of his day. This was the new discovery which Liszt made through Paganini, and on[127] the foundation of which he has created an extension of the arena of sound.... Thus Paganini's capriccios gave Liszt the first impulse towards the modern system for the pianoforte, and at the same time prompted him to enter on the territory till then unknown of transferring effects."[43]

What the influence of Liszt has been, is beyond the present purpose to inquire. But, blot out Paganini and every note he has written, and he reappears in the art work of at least one great French composer, and in that of the greatest pianist the world has yet seen—one to whom the high compliment has been paid in the epithet—"The Paganini of the Pianoforte."



Is it worth while at this distance of time to refer to the actual playing of Paganini? Can one recall "the touch of a vanished hand?" This memoir would not be complete without some account of Paganini's art beyond that given in the story of his life. Here I do not venture to write as a violin expert, and I shall only quote from Guhr's "On Paganini's Art of Playing the Violin"—which is presumably still accessible to students—in so far as it may be serviceable to the general reader. Leaving æsthetic, and higher considerations generally, out of count for the moment and limiting our attention to matters technical, we find much that was absolutely new. As regards mere extravagance and eccentricity of execution, Paganini was surpassed by Locatelli. We have to take into consideration the concert-pitch in use at the time of Paganini's public career. That, I take it, corresponded very closely with the Diapason normal now coming into general use. Paganini employed thin strings, and, for purposes to be named presently, often tuned his violin a semitone higher than the pitch of the band which accompanied him—equivalent to the English pitch, or high pitch still in use in some places. These thin strings[129]
served another purpose—the easy production of harmonics. If there was one thing more novel than any other in Paganini's playing it was the introduction of harmonics, melodies, double notes, and double shakes in harmonics. The natural harmonics were of course known to all violinists, but the artificial harmonics, if not the invention of Paganini, were first employed by him as integral features of his compositions as well as of his performances. Then there was his particular kind of staccato, produced by throwing his bow forcibly on the string, "letting it spring while he runs through the scales with incredible rapidity, the tones rolling like pearls" (Guhr). The Rev. Dr. Fox said the bow seemed to act with the elasticity of a spring fixed at one end, and made to vibrate. The combination of bowing, with pizzicato by the left hand, if not new, was employed by Paganini to a degree never attempted before. Lastly, there was his wonderful performance on the fourth string, which he tuned up to B flat, and sometimes even a semitone higher. Much of his use of these devices is put down as clap-trap, yet since his day many violinists have employed the same means, if they have not achieved the same result.

PLATE 18. (See Appendix.) Programme for a concert by Paganini. PLATE 18. (See Appendix.)
PLATE 19. (See Appendix.) Programme for a concert by Paganini. PLATE 19. (See Appendix.)
PLATE 20. (See Appendix.) Programme for a concert by Paganini. PLATE 20. (See Appendix.)
PLATE 21. (See Appendix.) Programme for a concert by Paganini. PLATE 21. (See Appendix.)
PLATE 22. (See Appendix.) Programme for a concert by Paganini. PLATE 22. (See Appendix.)

Let us consider, for a moment, the performances on the G string. It is certain that Paganini was not the originator of that manner of playing, for Leopold Mozart wrote of Esser[44] as playing on the G string alone with the greatest ease. Compositions for a single string were also written before Paganini's day, for Friedrich Wilhelm Rust (1739-1796) composed a violin sonata for the E[135] string. But Paganini made such a feature of this species of performance because it pleased the public, and, in giving the audiences that which they preferred rather than that which his artistic conscience should have prompted, he became the pupil of his age, and fell from his high estate. On the other hand, he may be said to have discovered the powers of the fourth string, to which, by the employment of harmonics, he gave a compass of three octaves. He was censured for his partiality in this direction, but in these days every violinist plays a solo on the G string. Is not Bach's "Aria" played everywhere as a fourth string solo? Yet, as musicians know, it was not written for that string, nor as a solo, forming, as it does, the theme of the slow movement of the "Overture in D," for strings, two oboes, three trumpets, and drums. Moreover, in Mozart's Violin Concerto in E flat, No. 6, composed in 1766, there is in the slow movement, an eight-bar period for the G string, and also one of the same length in the Finale. In Beethoven's Violin Concerto the principal theme of the Rondo is assigned to the G string, and also when it recurs after the second subject. This work was composed in 1806, a short time after Paganini wrote his "Napoleon Sonata," but was heard in public years before Paganini's was so performed. These two compositions are mentioned merely to show that the charm of the fourth string was not unknown in early days; to refer to later works would be superfluous.

Now, as to Paganini's tuning his instrument a semitone higher than the ordinary pitch. It will be conceded that[136] the different keys have distinctive qualities, to which some musicians are more sensitive than others. Some term it key-colour: I prefer the expression key-character. On the violin some keys are more sonorous than others. The effect may be partly mental, and I believe—though I may be wrong—that a violinist plays with a different feeling in the key of E, to that which would be excited by the key of E flat, and this apart from the æsthetic import of the composition itself.[45] In many concertos the chorus violins—if I may so call them—sometimes play the same notes with the soloist, and so absorb the tone of the latter that the listener can only hear the mass of violin tone. It is on record that Paganini was never overpowered by the tutti in any of the pieces he played, though some writers say his tone was not remarkable for volume. The explanation may be found in what follows. Paganini had an almost morbidly keen musical organisation, an acute sense of hearing, in which he resembled Mozart and Berlioz. Paganini wrote the solo part of his first concerto in D (tuning his violin a semitone higher), and the orchestral parts in E flat. Why? Not because D was an easier key to play in, nor because some passages if viewed as in E flat were marvels of execution; but because he felt the difference in the "power" of the two keys. Mozart's Concertante for violin and viola, with orchestra, is in E flat, but the viola part is in D, and the instrument was to be tuned a semitone higher. This was done "both to give it a clear sound and to make[137]
the execution easier."[46] Mozart's piece was probably written in 1780, so here is one of the expedients ascribed to Paganini as a trick made use of by a great master before the famous violinist was born. Berlioz never heard Paganini play, but he was the first among his contemporaries to understand and appreciate Paganini's intention in this respect. In his Soirées de l'Orchestre he wrote: "He (Paganini) has known how to render distinct and dominating the tones of a solo violin by tuning its four strings a semitone above those of the orchestra; which enabled him to play in the brilliant keys of D and A, while the orchestra accompanied him in the less sonorous keys of E flat and B flat." Berlioz knew, if any one did, what was the distinctive character of a key. It is highly improbable that either he or Paganini ever heard, or even knew anything of Mozart's "Concertante" just mentioned. So much by way of clearing Paganini from the charge of charlatanry. Artistic faults and failings he had, and these no attempt has been made to conceal; but every succeeding generation of violinists has been deeply indebted to the great Genoese for opening up new possibilities, by the way in which he advanced the character and power of the violin. Leaving now the technical side of his art, let us hear what his great contemporaries have to say of his playing from the æsthetic standpoint. We need not refer again to Lafont and Lipinski, but will begin with Spohr. It has been mentioned that Spohr met Paganini at Venice, in 1816. Spohr wished to hear the great Italian play something,[139] but the latter declined. He afterwards explained to Spohr that his style of playing was calculated for the great public only; and that if he were to play to Spohr he must play in a different manner, for which he was not then inclined. So it was not until 1830 that Spohr heard Paganini at Cassel. This is what he wrote: "In June, 1830, Paganini came to Cassel and gave two concerts in the theatre, which I heard with great interest. His left hand, and his constantly pure intonation were to me astonishing. But in his compositions and his execution, I found a strange mixture of the highly genial and childishly tasteless, by which one felt alternately charmed and disappointed, so that the impression left as a whole was, after frequent hearing, by no means satisfactory to me." Paganini was playing to his "great public," and in that respect lost Spohr's esteem; but can a great violinist, of strong personality, be perfectly just to a contemporary of a different temperament? Schumann, as a composer, could look upon Paganini from a different point of view. This is what he says: "When I heard him for the first time, I expected him to begin with a tone such as had never been heard before. But with how small, how thin a tone he commenced! Then he began to weave his spells; invisibly he threw out his magnetic chains among the public; they oscillated above and around. And then the rings became more and more intricate; even the audience seemed to contract, while he interlaced his tones until they seemed melted into one—one with the master himself, all counterbalancing each other with sympathetic influence." This is not criticism; it is scarcely description:[140] it is as fanciful as Heinrich Heine's description, but it is a proof of the great violinist's power to touch the imagination. Ignaz Moscheles, a virtuoso pianist, complains of his utter inability to find language capable of conveying a description of Paganini's wonderful performance. "Had that long-drawn, soul-searching tone lost for a single second its balance, it would have lapsed into a discordant cat's-mew; but it never did so, and Paganini's tone was always his own, and unique of its kind. The thin strings of his instrument—on which alone it was possible to conjure forth those myriads of notes and thrills and cadenzas would have been fatal in the hands of any other violin player, but with him they were indispensable adjuncts." Again: "Nothing could exceed my surprise and admiration; his constant and venturesome flights, his newly discovered source of flageolet tones, his gift of fusing and beautifying subjects of the most heterogeneous kind; all these phases of genius so completely bewildered my musical perceptions, that for several days afterwards my head seemed on fire and my brain reeled. I never wearied of the intense expression, soft and melting like that of an Italian singer, which he could draw from his violin." Yet, later, Moscheles had to say: "I find both his style and manner of playing monotonous." Liszt, many years later said: "No one who has not heard him can form the least idea of his playing." Paganini indeed could soar to the Empyrean, but he had not the Peri's pure gift which would open the gate of Paradise!

PLATE 23. (See Appendix.) A letter by Paganini. PLATE 23. (See Appendix.)

François Joseph Fétis, who befriended Paganini when[141] first he visited Paris, certainly held no brief for the celebrated artist, but rather presided over him as judge. He stated that the art of Paganini was an art apart, which was born with him, and of which he carried the secret to the grave. He further stated that Paganini often assured him that his talent was the result of a secret discovered by himself, a secret he intended to reveal, before his death, in a method for the violin, which should have but few pages, but which should throw all violinists into confusion. Fétis questions the existence of the secret, and thinks the great artist was labouring under a delusion. Yet he has to acknowledge that there was something extraordinary and mysterious in the power that Paganini possessed in the execution of unheard of difficulties in an infallible manner. His intonation was always perfect.[47]

William Gardiner, the Leicester amateur, who became acquainted with Paganini, wrote: "There was no trick in his playing; it was all fair, scientific execution, opening to us a new order of sounds, the highest of which ascended two octaves above C in alt."

An Italian physician, Francesco Bennati,[48] made a physiological study of Paganini, accounting for his wonderful executive powers as due not so much to his[142] musical genius as to his peculiar physical formation. In particular, the flexibility of his wrist, and the great lateral extension of his finger joints, enabled him to execute passages impossible to others. But there must have been something beyond technique. I have heard many persons, professional and amateur, speak of his playing as something beyond conception, not only in regard to execution, but in the power of swaying an audience, playing upon their emotions; the whole man was an instrument. No other artist was so widely quoted by his contemporaries. Mendelssohn, Chopin, and others make reference to Paganini whenever anything wonderful is spoken of. Chopin was a great admirer of Slavik, and considered him only second to Paganini. Every volume of reminiscences down to the present day includes the name of Paganini, if only to relate that somebody once heard him play. But not only musicians, poets also sang his praises. Is there anything more beautiful than the tribute paid him by Leigh Hunt? A few lines may be quoted:

So played of late to every passing thought
With finest change (might I but half as well
So write!) the pale magician of the bow,
Who brought from Italy the tales made true,
Of Grecian lyres, and on his sphery hand,
Loading the air with dumb expectancy,
Suspended, ere it fell, a nation's breath.
He smote—and clinging to the serious chords
With godlike ravishment, drew forth a breath,
So deep, so strong, so fervid thick with love,
Blissful, yet laden as with twenty prayers,
That Juno yearn'd with no diviner soul
To the first burthen of the lips of Jove.[143]
The exceeding mystery of the loveliness
Sadden'd delight; and with his mournful look,
Dreary and gaunt, hanging his pallid face
'Twixt his dark and flowing locks, he almost seem'd,
To feeble or to melancholy eyes,
One that had parted with his soul for pride,
And in the sable secret liv'd forlorn.
But true and earnest, all too happily
That skill dwelt in him, serious with its joy;
For noble now he smote the exulting strings,
And bade them march before his stately will;
And now he lov'd them like a cheek, and laid
Endearment on them, and took pity sweet;
And now he was all mirth, or all for sense
And reason, carving out his thoughts like prose
After his poetry; or else he laid
His own soul prostrate at the feet of love,
And with a full and trembling fervour deep,
In kneeling and close-creeping urgency,
Implored some mistress with hot tears; which past,
And after patience had brought right of peace,
He drew as if from thoughts finer than hope
Comfort around him in ear-soothing strains
And elegant composure; or he turn'd
To heaven instead of earth, and raise a prayer
So earnest-vehement, yet so lowly sad,
Mighty with want and all poor human tears,
That never saint, wrestling with earthly love,
And in mid-age unable to get free,
Tore down from heaven such pity.

It was urged against Paganini as a fault, that he rarely played any other music than his own. Paganini was one of the latter-day examples of the virtuoso and the composer represented by one and the same person. From the days of Handel to the time of Beethoven, the composer was his own interpreter, and never gave concerts with compositions by others. But Paganini did[144] at times play concertos by Rode and Kreutzer, though it was said that in these he was less successful than in his own. The Rev. Dr. Cox heard Paganini play the first movement of Beethoven's Concerto—in fact it was performed for his special edification. This is what he said of it: "Never shall I forget the smile on that sad, pale, wan, and haggard face, upon every lineament of which intense pain was written in the deepest lines, when I caught his eye, or the playing, into which a spirit and sympathy were thrown that carried one wholly away. As soon as he had concluded, and before I could rush up to him to express my thanks, he glided away. I never saw him afterwards." It was also stated that Paganini failed as a quartet player. His strong individuality might have been an obstacle in the way of securing the perfect unanimity of feeling and expression that characterise fine quartet playing; but to imply that he could not perform the music was absurd. As an executant, pure and simple, Paganini never had, and possibly never may have, a compeer.

But the question remains: did Paganini's playing result in any permanent benefit to the art? Had he a permanent influence, and if so, was it for good? To take a material aspect, it was owing to Paganini that the fame of Joseph Guarnerius was published beyond Italy. "The names of Amati and Stradivarius became familiar to the musical world gradually, but Guarnerius, in the hands of a Paganini, came forth at a bound. This illustrious violin was often credited with the charm which belonged to the performer; the magical effects and sublime strains[145] that he drew forth from it, must, it was thought, rest in the violin. Every would-be violinist, whose means permitted him to indulge in the luxury, endeavoured to secure an instrument by the great Guarnerius. The demand thus raised brought forth those gems of the violin maker's art now in the possession of wealthy amateurs and a few professors. When the various works of the gifted Guarnerius were brought to light, much surprise was felt that such treasures should have been known only to a handful of obscure players, chiefly in the churches of Italy."[49]

Plate XXIV.—See Appendix.
A Semi-Caricature of Paganini, 1831.

It has been shown that Paganini's performances caused a revolution in the style of composition and execution in pianoforte music, as exemplified in the works of Liszt. But did violin playing benefit? As Paganini belonged to no school, so he founded no school. He had his imitators, but he had few pupils, and no absolute successor. Camillo Sivori is generally put forth as his only pupil. I have heard that great artist, but—I say it with diffidence—I could never consider him the equal of what I imagined Paganini to have been. According to William Gardiner, Paganini was accompanied by Antonio Oury when he first went to London. It was Oury who introduced Gardiner to Paganini, and the former stated that Oury was Paganini's favourite pupil.[50] Then the Chevalier[146] Robbio, who appeared at Jullien's concerts at Drury Lane Theatre in 1854, claimed to have been a pupil of Paganini. Acknowledged pupils were Teresa Ottavio, who was playing in Vienna, in 1835, and Mlle. Neumann, who gave concerts in Venice and elsewhere, in 1838. But all these were of small account. The question remains. Did Paganini influence the art of violin playing, and in what direction? Let a very recent writer contribute an answer. "We would not miss this greatest of fiddlers in the annals of violin playing—no, not for a Spohr or any other great modern violin master; but his influence can hardly be called beneficial. It forced violin playing into a Procrustean bed unsuited to its true nature and mission. Paganini had temporarily transformed the angel into a devil, and the angel did not escape unscathed—Lucifer burned his wings. Violin-playing will never be quite what it was before Paganini. He helped to hurry the growing old process—brought out the lines, the spots, and the wrinkles on the once fair face. He, before all others, established the iron rule of technique, with its train of other evils, in the place of the gentler reign of charming naiveté of the elder master."[51] There is truth here, and cause for sadness; but can the hand of time be turned back, and music regain the artless joy of the seventeenth century, when technique was unknown? Paganini, after all, was only one of the forces that effected the revolution that produced the music of the last half of the nineteenth century. It is not too much to say that the technique of the modern[147] orchestra, in regard to the string section, is due to Paganini. Compare the scores of the classical composers with those of the most modern writers, and see what an enormous difference there is in the work for the strings—from the violins to the double-basses. The orchestral player of to-day is a virtuoso. For good or evil, music has entered upon a phase that has raised executive skill to a pinnacle never attained before: and this it owes to Paganini: may it be the prelude to higher achievements in the spiritual domain of art!



There remains the consideration of Paganini as a composer. It is a truism to say that a composition has primarily to be judged from the standpoint of the age in which it was written. A Genius, we are told, is not only before his own age, but before all ages. All the same, the great Geniuses come into the world precisely at the right moment. To some music one may fitly apply the epithet "Immortal"; for it seems to be written, "not for an age, but for all time." That title is not claimed for the music of Paganini, but, in view of what has been written for the violin, it is necessary to take into consideration the date of Paganini's compositions. Take the two greatest surviving forms—the symphony and the concerto—and compare works in those forms, belonging to different periods. Mendelssohn and Schumann were innovators, so it was said, in regard to symphonic form. Both wrote symphonies of which the movements were connected, and Schumann by the recurrence of themes anticipated the "organic whole" of the symphonic poem. But in 1776, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach composed symphonies in the modern one-movement style. This is not the time to discuss them, but just[149] taking the first, in D, I may point to the coda of the opening movement, which effects a modulation to E flat, the key of the slow movement. In this the subject enters, for the second time, in B flat; and a deceptive cadence is followed by a passage ending on the dominant of D, and so returning to the primary key for the last movement. The score is for flutes, oboes, one bassoon, horns, first and second violins, viola, violoncello, violone, and cembalo. Now, here is a work quite modern in its disregard of key relationship, and in the linking together of the different movements. Yet it would not be right to judge it by comparison with the symphonies of the last half century.

With regard to the concerto, take that form for the violin only. To go no further back than the works of the great Leipzig Cantor, Johann Sebastian Bach, we find his two concertos, in A minor, and E major, are scored only for strings, though the "continuo" implies the harpsichord. The concerto in D minor for two violins is scored in the same manner; and in all there is evidence that the soloist took part in the tutti sections. Then there is the Symphony movement, from an unknown church cantata, for violin concertante, with accompaniment of two oboes, three trumpets, drums, two violins, viola and continuo. In all these the basic principle is the contrasting of the tutti and solo sections, which sustain a kind of dialogue. Much the same form is observed in Mozart's violin concertos, which, with one exception, are scored for oboes, horns and strings. The exception is the sixth, in E flat, which is scored for one flute, two oboes,[150] bassoons, and horns. In this the form approaches that of the sonata, though the tutti and solo contrasts still remain, and evidently the soloist played in the tutti sections. To Viotti, born in 1753, three years before Mozart, must be assigned the honour of giving the violin concerto its fullest classical form. His orchestral background was rich in colour, he having adopted the complete Haydn Combination; and his solo parts were of prime importance. Beethoven's concerto (1806), and Mendelssohn's (finished in 1844), employ the same orchestra. Beethoven links the slow movement to the Finale, and Mendelssohn connects the whole. The latest concerto form is in part a reversion to the earliest type. The solo part is but a more elaborate line in the orchestral column, and the soloist is scarcely distinguishable from his orchestral colleagues.

In view of the question I wish to raise, I hope the reader will pardon this digression. Paganini sometimes played pieces by Kreutzer and Rode, but I have not been able to find evidence of his acquaintance with the concertos of Viotti. The reason may not be far to seek. Paganini remained in Italy until 1828; Viotti, born in Italy, left his country, and only once returned to it—in 1783, and that for a very short time. His long residence in Paris led to his being identified with the French School of violinists. His works were played by other performers during his life-time, but it is questionable whether they were known to Paganini. What I want to ask is simply this:—upon what work, or whose work, was Paganini's first concerto modelled? It was written in 1811, according[151] to the Musical World (Vol. for 1851, p. 822), or in 1820 according to the "Oxford History of Music" (Vol. VI., p. 225). The form of the work will be dealt with later; here the question is one of instrumentation. Berlioz wrote: "It was said of Weber, 'He is a meteor!' With equal justice it may be said of Paganini, 'He is a comet!'" I would paraphrase Berlioz and say Paganini's First Concerto came upon the world as a comet—a comet with a most portentous tail! Paganini was the Richard Strauss of his day. Fancy, in the scoring of a concerto, trombones, double-bassoon, cymbals, and bass-drum! and that in the year 1811, possibly. Why, it only requires a few more horns and trumpets, some tubas, a rattle and other percussion instruments, to come up to the latest twentieth century scoring. But a truce to badinage. A big score, of itself, is not necessarily a thing to be praised; however, Paganini's full scoring never obscured the solo part, and that is more than can be said of some violin concertos of later date. I do not pretend to a knowledge of the whole of the literature for the violin, but I have heard much of it; yet I can recall no violin concerto going beyond the orchestral resources adopted by Beethoven in his work, of earlier date than Paganini's first concerto. I have further to confess that I have never seen an original score of any of Paganini's works, but I have written out a score from what I believe to be authentic band parts. I have heard the First Concerto, "reduced to one act," with the exordium cut out; and however much such a rendering may be in accordance with modern taste, I can only regard it as unjust to the[152] composer. In the present day Paganini's music is looked upon with pity not far removed from scorn; how did his contemporaries esteem it?

Rossini is reported to have said: "Truly, it is fortunate that Paganini did not devote himself exclusively to lyric composition; he would have become a very dangerous rival."[52] Moscheles wrote: "His concertos are beautiful, and have even their grand moments; but they remind me of a brilliant firework on a summer's eve, one flash succeeding the other—effective, admirable—but always the same. His 'Sonate Militaire,' and other pieces, have a southern glow about them, but this hero of the violin cannot dispense with the roll of the drum; and completely as he may annihilate his less showy colleagues, I long for a little of Spohr's earnestness, Baillot's power, and even Mayseder's piquancy."

Very little was said of Paganini's compositions—I mean by way of description, orchestration, or even criticism—when the composer was in England. The writers seemed always engrossed and absorbed by the performance and personality of the man.

Schumann repeats what was said of Paganini; that he, himself, rated his merit as a composer more highly than his talent as a virtuoso. We know that Rubinstein desired to have his name handed down to posterity as a composer rather than as a pianist. The fates have been unkind to both. To return to Schumann. He remarks that "if general opinion has not, until now, agreed with him (Paganini), it must at least be allowed that his compositions[153] contain many pure and precious qualities, worthy of being firmly fixed in the richer setting required by the pianoforte." This of course referred to the caprices, Op. 1, but the observation is a curious illustration of the way in which individual minds regard things from their own standpoint.

Paganini's music appealed to Liszt as a means of creating a new school of pianoforte technique, as well as composition; very little can be gleaned from Liszt as to his æsthetic views regarding it. Fétis says great worth is revealed in the compositions of Paganini, as much by the novelty of the ideas as by the elegance of the form, the richness of the harmony, and the effects of the instrumentation. These qualities shine above all in the concertos; but, he adds, these works require the magic of his talent to produce the effect he intended. Berlioz was, perhaps, the most appreciative of Paganini's contemporaries. In his Soirées de l'Orchestre he says: "A volume might be written in telling all that Paganini has created in his works of novel effect, ingenious contrivances, noble and grandiose forms, and orchestral combinations unknown before his time. His melodies are broad Italian melodies, but full of a passionate ardour seldom found in the best pages of dramatic composers of his country. His harmonics are always clear, simple, and of extraordinary sonorousness. His orchestration is brilliant and energetic, without being noisy. He often introduces the bass drum into his tutti with unusual intelligence."

During Paganini's lifetime no one else seems to have[154] played his music, although one of his imitators is said to have reproduced some pieces from memory. After Paganini's death, the propagandist of his works was his nephew and pupil, Ernesto Camillo Sivori. He made his début at the Leipzig Gewandhaus Concerts, October 3, 1841, and a week later introduced there Paganini's Variations on the Prayer from Mosé in Egitto. In all, some dozen pieces by Paganini were given at those famous concerts from 1841 to 1876. Sivori also introduced Paganini to the then very conservative concerts of the Philharmonic Society, London, in 1844. But they did strange things in those days. The first movement of the Concerto in B minor was included in the first part of the concert on April 29, 1844; the Adagio and Rondo coming in the middle of the second part! Poor Sivori had to submit to similar treatment of his own concerto at the Society's concerts in 1845. It would be interesting to know how Paganini's music fared at the concerts of the Paris Conservatoire, but I have not been able to procure any reliable data relating to the subject.

Rumour was long busy with the project entertained by Paganini's son, the Baron Achilles, of publishing a complete edition of the compositions of the great violinist; and in 1887 a paragraph in the Athenæum announced on apparently good authority that the Baron was preparing for immediate publication the whole of the works of his father which still remained in manuscript. Several of those were named, but nothing more has been heard of the undertaking. I have scrutinised the musical[155] press from that date to the present time, and have failed to gather any further information on the subject.

From every available source I have compiled the following list of Paganini's compositions:—

Op. 1. Twenty-four Capriccios, for violin alone.

Op. 2. Six Sonatas, for violin and guitar.

Op. 3. Six Sonatas, for violin and guitar.

Op. 4. Three Grand Quartets, for violin, viola, violoncello and guitar.

Op. 5. Three Grand Quartets, for the same.

Op. 6. Concerto, No. 1, in E flat (D), for violin and orchestra.

Op. 7. Concerto, No. 2, in B minor, for the same.

Op. 8. "Le Streghe." Introduction and Variations.

Op. 9. "God Save the King." Variations.

Op. 10. "Carnaval de Venise." Variations.

Op. 11. "Allegro de Concert." "Moto Perpetuo."

Op. 12. "Non più mesta." Introduction and Variations.

Op. 13. "Di tanti palpiti." Introduction and Variations.

All for violin and orchestra.

Op. 14. Sixty Studies in Variation form, on the Air "Barucaba," for violin alone.

Works without Opus number.

Sonata in A, for violin, with accompaniment of violin and violoncello.

Bravura Variations on a theme from Rossini's "Moses in Egypt," for violin and string quartet, or pianoforte.

Bravura Variations on an Original Theme, for violin and guitar, or pianoforte.

Introduction and Variations on the Theme, "Nel cor più non mi sento," for violin alone.

Duo in C major, for one violin. Solo.

Recitative and Variations, on Three Airs, for the fourth string.

"Le Charme de Padua," Divertissement, for violin and pianoforte.

Works that are unpublished, or that have been lost.

Concertos in D minor, E minor, E major.

Concerto in two movements. Violin and orchestra.

Four Concertos, the scoring unfinished.


Concerto, for bassoon, with string trio accompaniment.

Nine Quartets, for violin, viola, violoncello and guitar.

Fantasia. Violin and orchestra.

Dramatic Sonata, "The Storm," for the same.

Military Sonata on Mozart's "Non più andrai."

Napoleon Sonata for the fourth string.

Sonata on a Theme by Haydn. Ditto.

Sonata di un Canto Appassionata, e variazioni sopra un Tema Marziale. Ditto.

Sonata with variations on a Theme from Jos. Weigl's "L'Amor Marinaro."

Sonata Amorosa Galante, e Tema con variazioni.

Sonata for viola and orchestra.

Sonata Sentimentale.

Sonata, "Varsovie."

Sonata for violin alone.

Preludio e Rondo brilliant, violin and orchestra.

Chant of the Monks of the Monastery of St. Bernard.

"La Primavera," Sonata for violin alone.

Preludio e Fandango, con Variazioni.

"La ci darem la Mano," Variations.

Cantabile, violin and pianoforte.

Polonaise avec variations.

Cantabile e Valse.

Cantabile, for two strings.

Three duos, violin and violoncello.

Duets and small pieces for guitar.

Variations sur un thème comique.

"The Vagaries of a Farm Yard."

Romance pour le Chant.

Fantasie Vocale.

Works with Opus Number.

Op. 1. The full title reads:—Ventiquattro Caprici per Violino solo, dedicati agli artisti; Opera prima. It is not necessary to refer to these pieces in detail; they are in the repertory of the leading violinists, and have been played by Joachim and many others. They embrace[157] almost every kind of violin technique, and have merits apart from that standpoint. Schumann in his Etudés d'apres les Caprices de Paganini, Op. 3, has transcribed for the pianoforte six numbers. They are, No. 5, Agitato, in A minor, without the alteration of a single note; No. 9, Allegretto in E, quite as closely; the Andante of No. 11, in C; No. 13, Allegro, in B flat, beautifully harmonized; No. 19, Lento, Allegro assai, in E flat, more freely treated; and No. 16, Presto, in G minor, the melody assigned to the left hand, and written two octaves lower. These studies were the result of Schumann's hearing Paganini at Frankfort in 1830. The impression the great violinist made on the susceptible youth was so deep, that Wasielewski stated that it was more than probable Schumann's decision to devote himself to music dated from that experience. So here is another debt the musical world owes to Paganini. Schumann's Op. 3 bears the date of 1832. The next year he returned to the Italian master, and his Six Studies, Op. 10, are further transcriptions of the Capriccios. The first is a very free arrangement of No. 12, Allegro molto, in A flat; next is a paraphrase of No. 6, Adagio, in G minor, in which different figuration was absolutely necessary for the keyboard instrument. In No. 10, Vivace, in G minor, he divides the melody for the two hands, and accompanies with bold harmonies. The transcription of No. 4, Maestoso, in C, is almost literal, but there are "cuts," as also in No. 12. No. 2, Moderato, in B minor, with its "leaps and bounds," is altered to bring the intervals more within reach of the hand. The bare octaves which form[158] the opening of No. 3, have been filled in with rich harmonies, and to the Presto movement a counterpoint in semiquavers has been added, making it a very attractive piece of the Tocatta order. It will be remembered that one short movement of Schumann's "Carnival" is entitled Paganini, but it is a reflexion of his style rather than an adaptation of his music. Liszt has borrowed much, in regard to form and melodic outline, from the Capriccios, in his Etudés d'exécution transcendante. Of his Grandes Etudes de Paganini notice will be taken later. Brahms has written two sets of variations on the theme of the Capriccio, No. 24, Quasi presto, in A minor. These are extraordinarily difficult and brilliant. They were published in 1866, and Carl Tausig was fond of playing them. Paganini's Op. 1, was published by Ricordi about the year 1820.

Op. 2, and Op. 3. The house of Ricordi publish the Twelve Sonatas for violin and guitar, and Breitkopf and Härtel publish an edition for violin and pianoforte, edited by Ferdinand David. There is no clue as to the arranger of the pianoforte part, but it may be the work of Moscheles, who, it will be remembered, was induced "to make a pianoforte accompaniment for twelve small violin pieces," but who refused to have his name affixed to the title-page. Anyway, the pianoforte accompaniment is the work of a good musician. The title page of Op. 2 runs thus: Sei Sonate per Violino e chitarra, Composte e Dedicate Al Signor Dellepiane, Da Nicolo Paganini. The pieces are sonatas in the primitive sense of the term. Each contains two movements only. No. 1, Minuetto,[159] Adagio in A, three-four, the violin part in the nature of a florid cadenza but very clear in rhythm, the guitar accompaniment in semiquaver groups of broken chords. Second movement, Polonese, Quasi allegro, A major, three-four, tuneful, all derived from a short motive, not difficult. No. 2, Larghetto expressivo, C major, six-eight, lyrical, melody highly embellished after the first phrase, varied bowing. Allegro spiritoso, same key and measure, in the style of a Canto popolare. No. 3, Adagio maestoso, D minor, two-four, principal motive of a dramatic kind, with brilliant passages intervening. Andantino gallantement, a crisp, staccato melody, with middle section in D major. No. 4, Andante calcando, A major, four-two, theme, in sixths, thirds and octaves. The movement is entitled La Sinagoga, but I can trace no Jewish melody corresponding to its subject. The second movement, Andantino con brio, in two-four measure is as bright and sparkling as the corresponding movement in No. 3. No. 5, Andante moderato, D major, two-four, two strains of eight bars, with a lyrical theme. The second movement in six-eight rhythm, is another specimen of the Italian Cantilena. No. 6, Largo, A minor, six-eight, a combination of recitative and Cadenza passages. Tempo di Valse, in three-eight measure, a tripping, fluent theme, for light bowing. The music altogether is light and pleasing, abounding in showy passages, and with the real Italian gift of melody. The accompaniments are in no way difficult.

The Six Sonatas, Op. 3, have rather a curious dedication: Alla Ragazza Eleonora. "Ragazza" is a familiar[160] term for a girl, and may be translated as "lass," or even "wench." The Eleonora it may be impossible now to identify, though the lady possibly was connected with the period of Paganini's disappearance when Napoleon invaded Italy. Sonata, No. 1, is in two movements, as are all the others. The first, Larghetto, A major, six-eight measure, has a theme resembling a popular melody, the close of each strain being highly embellished. Ricordi's edition gives an alternative reading of the penultimate bar, in the style of a cadenza. The second movement, Presto variato, in two-four rhythm, has a dance-like theme, with one variation. The two bars preceding the final cadence have semiquaver groups to be played pizzicato, each note with right and left hand alternately. No. 2, Adagio, con dolcezza, G major, three-eight, theme, pure Italian cantilena, in thirds or sixths throughout. Andantino scherzoso, two-four, crisp, tripping melody, chiefly for staccato bowing, ending with arpeggios extending to four octaves. No. 3, Andante sostenuto, D major, two-four, theme for six bars to be played on the second string. Rondo, Molto allegro, six-eight, bright and spirited; the opening might have been inspired by the Irish air "Garyone"—the lilt is so much the same. The movement ends with a rapid descending chromatic scale of three octaves. No. 4, Andante largo, A minor, two-two, the opening bars of the theme for the third string, declamatory, sad. Allegretto mottegiando, two-four, light, tripping melody, to be delivered in a spirit of banter. No. 5, Adagio amorosa, A major, two-four, theme, Italian melody embellished, in thirds[161] throughout, with some semi-staccato bowing. Allegretto energicamente, two-four, a merry, quick-step movement of two eight-bar periods. The second part, in the tonic minor, has the theme divided equally for guitar and violin, in each strain. A coda of four bars, major, is added by way of close. In the arrangement for pianoforte, the violin has the theme throughout. No. 6, Andante innocentemente, E minor, four-four, a pathetic melody, simple, but touching. Allegro vivo e spiritoso, six-eight. One could imagine an Italian peasant singing this melody; it has all the characteristics of a folk-song. It is written throughout in double-notes, mostly thirds. The second part, in the minor, is in a different manner to the first part, which is repeated after it. The guitar accompaniments, with the exception named, are all in chords or arpeggios. The pianoforte part has more variety. It may be observed that the movements in two-four measure have much of the spirit of Haydn's Allegros.

Op. 4, Three Quartets for violin, viola, violoncello and guitar. These were once in the Circulating Music Libraries of the firms of Novello and Augener, but are no longer to be met with. I have failed to obtain copies elsewhere.

Op. 5, Tre Quartetti a Violino, Viola, Chitarra e Violoncello. Composti e Dedicati Alle Amatrici Da Nicolò Paganini. Milano. Presso Gio. Ricordi. By the courtesy of the firm of Novello, I have been enabled to examine this set, the title page of which I quote. The copy I examined is evidently of the original edition. Each[162] quartet is in four movements. No. 1, Presto, D major, sixteen-eight, a peculiar signature, but apparently adopted by reason of the "figures" in quavers. This movement is very much in Rossini Overture form. Andante sotto voce e staccato, D minor, three-four, Canone a tre. The violin begins, the viola answers one bar later, an octave lower, and the violoncello follows in like manner. The guitar is silent. The Canon is kept up strictly to the end. The Trio—not in Canon—is in B flat major, and the guitar supports the strings with full chords. Tema con variazioni, Cantabile quasi Larghetto, D major, two-four, two strains of eight bars, the theme in each begun by the viola, and repeated by the violoncello. Three variations follow, the theme being allotted to each instrument in turn, the guitar included. Finale, Prestissimo, D major, three-eight, a brilliant, showy movement.

No. 2, Allegro, C major, four-four measure, in binary form, the subjects given to the violin and violoncello. Minuetto, Allegretto, A minor, three-four, with Trio in two sections, F major and D minor. The violin has the theme, the others accompany with chords. Cantabile, Larghetto, A major, six-eight, the melody, floridly embellished, for violin, the other instruments accompanying. Polacca, Quasi presto, C major, six-four. The violin has the chief melody, subordinate parts being given to the viola and violoncello. The guitar has full chords throughout.

No. 3, Allegro, D minor, four-four rhythm, Coda in D major, principal themes for the violin, the viola and violoncello taking up portions here and there with chords[163] and arpeggios for the guitar. Allegro moderato, D minor, three-four, Canone a tre, theme for violin, answered by viola and violoncello at one bar interval, an octave below, as in No. 1. Guitar tacet. Tema Cantabile, Quasi adagio, B flat major, two-four. The movement consists of two periods, the theme for viola and violin alternately, in each. Variation I., florid, violoncello and violin in response; II., in G minor, more elaborate, theme for violoncello and violin, rapid arpeggios for guitar; III., in B flat major, theme for viola and violin, alternately, and finally for guitar. Polacchetta, Allegro con brio, D minor, three-four, a brilliant movement, with themes for the violin; the viola and violoncello share in the figurated passages, and the guitar has an accompaniment in chords and arpeggios.

Paganini is said to have repudiated this work, although according to Fétis, the quartets were published at Genoa under his very eyes. I should rather say that the Milan edition was the first, and perhaps the only one. Paganini's assertion was that some one had taken a few of his themes, and badly arranged them. Fétis further states that various pieces published before, and up to, 1851, must be considered as "commercial frauds." Some of them are named, and will be referred to in due course. The music of Op. 5 cannot be regarded as in any way great, but there are graceful melodies, and the movements in Canon form are ingeniously worked out.

Op. 6, Premier Concerto (Mi Bémol), pour le violin avec accomp. de l'orchestrè. This was the first of the posthumous works, published by the firm of Schott and Co., Paris, in[164] 1851. It is scored for two flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoon, double bassoon, two horns, trumpets, three trombones, kettle drums, bass drum, cymbals, and the usual quintet of strings. The solo violin is tuned a semitone higher, and the part is in D, while the orchestra plays in E flat. Breitkopf and Härtel publish the orchestral parts in the key of D. There is an arrangement of the first movement, by August Wilhelmj, but with that I have nothing to do here. First movement, Allegro maestoso, E flat, four-four. The orchestral exordium extends to ninety-four bars, six more than in the introduction of Beethoven's Concerto. The movement—so it may be termed—is symphonic in form, with second subject in the dominant, and it is richly scored. The exception I take to it is the persistent employment of the cymbals with the bass drum. There is a delightful little touch in the canonic imitation for first violins and violoncellos. The solo has a principal theme scarcely indicated in the introduction, and also several important episodes. The slow movement, Adagio, C minor, four-four, was inspired, as already mentioned, by the Italian tragedian, Demarini. Paganini witnessed his performance in a prison scene, where, after recapitulating his misfortunes, he supplicated Providence to relieve him of the burden of his life. Paganini retired to rest still under the influence of the emotions excited by the actor. He could not sleep: he rose and sought through his violin a means of expression by which he could pour out the feelings that consumed his soul. Thus, genius tortures and produces. It must have been this movement in[165] which William Gardiner heard "tones more than human, which seemed to be wrung from the deepest anguish of a broken heart." Observe, especially, the recitative passages that close the movement. Finale, Rondo, Allegro spiritoso, E flat, two-four. This is the longest concerto movement known to me, running on to four hundred and eighty-three bars, but the "measure" is short. The concerto is not so long as that of Beethoven, the first and second movements containing fewer bars. It may be noted that in the first and last movements Paganini introduces harmonics, and passages in tenths, most probably for the first time in a concerto. In the slow movement there is no double stopping. The Cadenzas were improvised, and Paganini, like Beethoven, in his improvisations surpassed anything he ever committed to paper.

Op. 7, Concerto No. 2, in B minor. Allegro maestoso, B minor, twelve-eight. Adagio, D major, two-two. Rondo, Andantino allegretto moderato, B minor, six-eight. This is not so long as the first concerto by some two hundred bars, and is not so fine a work, but it is a piece worthy of being occasionally heard. In the principal theme of the Rondo occur the passages where the silver bell three times echoes the violin note—the top F sharp of the pianoforte keyboard. Failing the bell, the violinist produces the sound by an artificial harmonic. It is this Rondo that Liszt has included in his Grosse Etüden von Paganini. His treatment of Paganini must be briefly described. There are six "studies," the first a transcription of Paganini's Caprice, No. 6, Adagio, G[166] minor. To this Liszt adds a prefix, the arpeggio prelude of No. 5. The Caprice itself is very literally copied, the whole being an octave lower, and at first assigned to the left hand alone. After the sixteenth bar the treatment becomes more free, while the figuration is much the same. The study ends with the arpeggio passage as at the beginning. The second takes for subject No. 17, Andante, E flat. Scarcely a note is omitted, but the passages are placed higher or lower, and the runs given to either hand. This is a marvel of ingenuity, forming a most brilliant pianoforte solo. It is followed, as by a second sonata movement, by the "Campanella" Rondo, the two being intended to be performed in succession. For this purpose the Rondo from the Concerto is transposed to G sharp minor, the closing E flat of the previous movement changing enharmonically to D sharp.

The first exposition of the subject follows Paganini very closely, but in the development and further progress of the movement Liszt follows his own bent, repeating the principal theme again and again with ever varying treatment. This is a piece for the virtuoso, and one of the most showy in the pianist's repertory. The fourth study is an extremely clever transcription of the Caprice No. 1, Andante, E major. Not a note of Paganini's piece is left out, and the arpeggios are ingeniously set out for interwoven fingering, causing the performance to be something to look at as well as to hear. It is nearly all cross-handed work. The fifth study is an arrangement of the Caprice No. 9, Allegretto, E major. On paper it appears easier than the setting by Schumann, but it is[167] more difficult to play. Here, again, the phrases are divided for both hands. The glissando passages in sixths are impossible on modern instruments. The sixth and last study, on the Caprice, No. 24, Tema, con variazioni, A minor, is the most ingenious of all. The theme is simply harmonised at first, then used as a counterpoint to the arpeggios in the first variation. The next is more simply treated, and in the third variation Paganini's theme forms the bass upon which the figuration of the initial motive is superposed. To the end Liszt shows what possibilities in keyboard execution were latent in Paganini's violin figures; and if the latter had written only these Capriccios he would survive as the cause of the most original inventions in pianoforte technique that have yet seen the light.

Op. 8, Le Streghe. Variations on the "Witches' Dance," theme from the Ballet, "Le Nozze di Benevento," by Vigano, music by Süssmayer. It has already been stated that Paganini witnessed a performance of this ballet, at La Scala, Milan, in 1813. He took the theme from a fantastic scene where the witches appear. In his London programmes Paganini thus described the piece; "Variations on the Country Dance Della Streghe alla Noce di Benevento (or the comic dances of the Witches under the walnut tree of Benevento), composed and performed by Signor Paganini." The piece is in the key of E flat, and the violin is to be tuned a semitone higher, the soloist playing in D. There is an orchestral prelude of eighteen bars, Maestoso, followed by a solo, Larghetto, a beautiful Italian melody, embellished, in[168] two short strains. The theme is simply set forth, and the variations serve for the display of bravura playing with pizzicato and harmonics in the second movement, fourth string melody, and double harmonics in the third, and with the Finale resembling a Galopade. Orchestral parts are published, as well as the arrangement with pianoforte.

Op. 9, Variations on "God save the King." Théme, Andante, G major, with Six Variations. One principal feature is the intermingling of left hand staccato with bowed notes. At the close there are sustained open notes on the G and D strings, bowed, with double pizzicato, in sixths, above.

Op. 10, Variations on "The Carnival of Venice." For this the violin is tuned a semitone higher, the solo being played in A, and the accompaniment in B flat. The theme is a popular Venetian air, "O Mamma!" Paganini heard it when in Venice in 1816, but whether he then composed the variations is not certain. It was not long, however, before Paganini made the air a favourite everywhere he went, and it is to him the melody owes its world-wide popularity. The composer of the air remains unknown. Joseph Ghys published, at Paris and Berlin, what purported to be Paganini's variations; Ernst and Sivori played versions more or less exactly in accordance with the original; but the text was finally settled by the publication of the piece in 1851. There are twenty variations. The 9th and 14th are for the fourth string; the 11th has alternate bowed and pizzicato notes; the 15th and 18th are pizzicato throughout; the 19th is[169] in tenths and thirds; and the piece ends with a short brilliant coda.

Op. 11, Moto Perpetuo. Allegro vivace, C major. Fétis terms this piece a movement from a Sonata for violin and orchestra. It is in the repertory for all violinists, and its running passages of staccato semiquavers need no description.

Op. 12, Introduction and Variations on the air "Non più mesta accanto al fuoco." The theme is from Rossini's opera "La Cenerentola" (Cinderella), produced at Rome during the Carnival season of 1817, and forms the concluding number of the work. Paganini again directs the violin to be tuned a semitone higher, writing the solo part in D, and the accompaniment in E flat. The Introduction, Adagio Cantabile, is another example of Paganini's pure Italian style of melody. The theme seems to have appealed to him—doubtless he witnessed the première of the opera—for the variations have a spontaneity and brilliance of their own. There are four variations, and a Finale full of dashing bravura.

Op. 13, Introduction and Variations on the air "Di tanti palpiti," from Rossini's first serious opera, "Tancredi," produced at Venice in 1813. Rossini is said to have taken the theme from a Greek Litany he heard sung in a church on one of the Islets of the Laguna, near Venice. A Signora Righetti, a singer, writing in 1823 (?), stated that there was no truth in the assertion. Be that as it may, "Di tanti palpiti" made the opera, and Paganini's variations extended its popularity. The introduction is an elaborate movement, the violin tuned a[170] semitone higher, and the part written in A, with accompaniment in B flat. There are three variations, the second being almost throughout in harmonics, single and double, and excessively difficult. This piece is very rarely played.

Op. 14, Sixty Studies in Variation form, on the air known at Genoa as "Barucabà," for violin alone. This is one of the composer's latest works, and was written at Genoa in February 1835, and dedicated to Paganini's friend the Advocate, L. G. Germi. The theme is short, in simple ternary form, the opening sentence of four bars being repeated after the middle period of eight bars. The theme is in A major, Maestoso. The variations are studies upon various species of difficulties, and a special feature is the order of keys. Of the fifteen possible major keys, Paganini employs thirteen, and he is quite modern in the way in which he causes the one to succeed the other. Thus the second variation is in D, the third in B flat, the fourth in F sharp, and the fifth in D—in each case the drop of a major third or its enharmonic equivalent. Then he starts a new series, from D to B, thence to G, E, C, A flat, F, D flat, back to A. In 1835 such a sequence was very uncommon; even Beethoven, in his Variations, only has one such, in the Variations in F, Op. 34. The Variation form is again in full vogue; at this distance we can afford to be just in our estimate of Paganini's achievements. He was not a Beethoven, but his Variations are not to be despised.

Works without Opus Number.

Sonata in A major. As published in the collection of[171] posthumous compositions, this Sonata is for violin, with pianoforte accompaniment. The piece consists of an Introduction, Theme, Three Variations and Coda, the term "Sonata" being employed quite in its primitive sense:—a piece to be played. The Introduction is only eight bars in length, ending with a short cadenza leading to the theme, Andantino, A major, two-four measure. The first part consists of two four-bar phrases, repeated; the second has a phrase extended, by a Codetta, to six bars, and ends with a repetition of the first phrase, with close in A. The first variation has a more florid version, in triplets, of the melody; the second begins with a simple form of the theme for the fourth string, and introduces harmonics; the third is a bravura movement, chiefly for staccato bowing in demisemiquaver passages. The coda, termed Finale, is made up of cadences, on a tonic pedal for eight bars. The accompaniment is easy. Messrs. Schott also publish the Sonata for violin, with accompaniment of violin and violoncello, very easy parts for these last.

Variazioni di bravura sopra Temi del Mosè di G. Rossini, per Violino sulla quanta corda, di Nicolo Paganini. This was originally for violin and orchestra. Berlioz has a reference to this piece, in which he states that Paganini employed the bass-drum with better effect than did Rossini himself in the accompaniment to the prayer, "Del tuo stellato soglio." Paganini placed the stroke of the drum on the syncopated beat to which the verbal accent was assigned, whereas Rossini gave the drum stroke on the first beat of the bar. Some one, complimenting[172] Paganini upon his composition, added; "It must be confessed that Rossini furnished you a very beautiful theme." "That's very true," replied Paganini, "but he didn't invent my bang of the big drum." It is said that in this piece Paganini produced a tone that dominated the whole orchestra even in fortissimo passages.

The firm of Ricordi publish an arrangement, for string quintet, and for pianoforte accompaniment. The G string of the solo violin is raised to B flat, and the Adagio is played in C minor and major, while the accompaniment is in E flat minor and major. The strain in the minor key is played three times. The second time, the first eight bars are to be played an octave higher then the first time; the third in harmonics. The Introductory Adagio is the celebrated Prayer. Then follows a Tema, Tempo alla Marcia, E flat, four-four, the violin part in C. This is a different theme, and appears to be a paraphrase of part of the March and Chorus (in the Oratorio), "Hail, happy day!" There are three variations, and a short coda. Harmonics are sparingly introduced. Rossini's opera, "Mosè in Egitto," was produced at Naples in 1818, and was remodelled by the composer some years later, for performance at the Grand Opera, Paris (1827). It is not known when Paganini wrote his variations, but his themes were most probably taken from the first version of the opera.

Variazioni di Bravura per Violino sopra un tema originale con accompagnamento di Piano o Chitarra. The theme is that of the Twenty-fourth Caprice, from Op. 1, and the variations are the same, only the notation of the eighth is[173] different. The accompaniment, for either guitar or pianoforte, is extremely simple. There is a short interlude (called Tutti in Ricordi's edition) of six bars to be played between the variations.

Introduzione e Variazioni sul Tema nel cor più mi sento per Violino solo di Nicolò Paganini. So runs the title in the edition published by Ricordi and Co. The theme is the duet in Paisiello's opera, La Molinara, which Beethoven also took as a subject for variations (in 1795). Ricordi's publication agrees in every particular with the version to be found in Guhr's treatise on Paganini's "Art of Playing the Violin," published in 1831—preface dated Frankfurt, November, 1829. Guhr[53] heard Paganini many times, closely watched his playing, and frequently conversed with him on the subject. This piece was written from memory, and is certainly a great accomplishment; but it can scarcely be regarded as an authentic version. The introduction is brilliant, the theme, Andante, G major, six-eight measure, is profusely ornamented, and each of the seven variations—No. 6 is in G minor, the others in G major—has some special form of virtuosity. In the third there are double shakes in harmonics, which Guhr explains. The last is in widespread ascending and descending arpeggios throughout. The theme and third variation are written on two staves, one for bowed melody, the other for left hand pizzicato.

That Paganini did not always play the piece in the[174] form in which Guhr wrote it down, is proved by the existence of another manuscript, which is, perhaps, very little known. It was written by the late Mrs. Tom Taylor, who gave it to Mr. Alfred Burnett many years ago, and that gentleman has kindly permitted me to examine it. For this the violin is tuned a whole tone higher. The Introduction is altogether different, and the theme much less floridly embellished. The first variation corresponds to Guhr's No. 2, but the harmonics are not quite the same. In this the melody floats above tremolando chords. The second, in outline, resembles Guhr's No. 4, but whereas the latter has alternate natural notes and harmonics, Mrs. Taylor gives alternations of detached bowed notes and pizzicati. The third is like Guhr's No. 3, in that it has short figures in double notes, alternately for fundamental and harmonic sounds. Guhr's variation consists of twenty-five bars; Mrs. Taylor's of thirty-one, there being a short cadenza. The fourth resembles Guhr's No. 7 in the wide-spread arpeggios, but the harmonics are differently distributed, and the coda is not the same as in Guhr.[54]

PLATE 25. (See Appendix.) Musical manuscript by Paganini. PLATE 25. (See Appendix.)
PLATE 26. (See Appendix.) Musical manuscript by Paganini. PLATE 26. See Appendix.)

In the Imperial Library, Berlin, there is a manuscript by Paganini, inscribed "Capriccio a Violino Solo di Nicolo Paganini In cor più non mi sento," in which the embellished theme differs from both those already described.[175] The first page is reproduced in facsimile in Paul Stoeving's "Story of the Violin," p. 213. Then there is an autograph copy in the British Museum with this inscription: "In cuor più non mi sento, Thema con variazioni per Violino, con Accompagnementi di Violino e Violoncello Composta da Niccolo Paganini." The piece consists of an Introduction, Theme and four Variations, and, so far, agrees with Mrs. Taylor's copy. Finally, Paganini played the piece with the orchestra, as will be seen from this extract from a programme: "Prelude and Variations on the Tema, 'Nel cor più non missento,' with orchestral accompaniment, by Signor Paganini." This was played at the concert of June 27th, 1831, at the King's Theatre, and the programme from which this extract is taken is in possession of Mr. Richard Harrison, of Brighton, who most obligingly copied it for me.

Duo pour le violon seul. This begins with an Adagio, C major, three-four measure, with a melody for the bow, and left hand pizzicato accompaniment. A short Allegro molto follows, in square time, the pizzicato accompaniment being chiefly in double notes, with occasional chromatic harmonics. This little piece must have been on sale in London a year before Paganini arrived, for the following anecdote was in print in May, 1830. "A few days since, a footman went into Mori's music shop to buy a fiddle string. While he was making his choice a gentleman entered the shop, and began to examine various compositions for the violin. Among the rest he found Paganini's celebrated Merveille—duo pour un seul Violon and, perceiving the difficulties in which it abounded,[176]
asked the shopman if he thought that Mori himself could play it. The young man, a little perplexed and unwilling to imply that his master's powers had any limits, at length replied, that he had no doubt he could perform it, provided he practised it for a week. Upon which the footman, who stood intent upon the conversation, broke in on the discourse and swore that Mori could do no such thing, for that he himself had been practising the piece for three weeks and could not play it yet."

Trois Airs Variés pour le Violon, pour étre éxécutes sur la Quatrieme Corda seulement, avec accompagnement de Piano par Gustavo Carulli. Fétis says these are merely souvenirs arranged by the author of the accompaniments.[55] Antonio Minasi includes them in the lists of works performed by Paganini in England. The fourth string is to be raised to A, for all three. The first is in C, with two easy variations; the second, in G, resembles a folk song, and has three variations; the third, in C, also has three variations. The first two are marked Andante; the third, Andantino. The accompaniments are of the easiest song kind.

Le Charme de Padua, Divertimento pour Violon et Piano concertant, composé par Nicolo Paganini. This piece was published in London before the date of Paganini's first concert, and possibly before the arrival of that artist in England. It was issued by a firm of repute, Wessel and Stodar, who were the first publishers in England of the works of Chopin. The music was[179] reviewed in The Harmonicon, June 1831, the notice concluding thus: "It perhaps is a bagatelle on which he (Paganini) has bestowed little time and less thought. It certainly is a flimsy affair, and might have been produced by the dullest and most mechanical repieno in the band of a suburb (sic) theatre." The piece consists of a Larghetto and Presto, in C major, the slow introduction being in six-eight rhythm, the Presto in six-four. There is one principal theme in the first part, given out by the violin and repeated by the pianoforte, a simple melody, with embellishments. The Presto is in Rondo form, with leading theme for pianoforte, continued by violin, and relieved by an episode contrasted in character. The music is not great, but unprejudiced musicians will scarcely endorse the captious remarks of the reviewer. The firm of Edwin Ashdown (successor to Wessel) publish the composition, also a version by S. Godbé for viola and pianoforte. In this the themes are written an octave lower, and modifications occur in double-stops, and so forth, to suit the viola. There is likewise an arrangement for flute and pianoforte, by J. Sedlazek. It is not stated by whom the pianoforte part was written, but it is very well done, and is not a mere accompaniment.

Works Unpublished, or Lost.

Concerto in D minor. Fétis terms this a magnificent concerto; it was performed by Paganini at the first concert he gave in Paris, March 25th, 1831, and that seems to be all that is known about the piece. Concerto in E minor. This was in three movements; Allegro[180] maestoso; Adagio flebile, con sentimento; Rondo, Andantino Gàjo, "with a triangle accompaniment." It was played by Paganini at the King's Theatre, June 13th, 1831. Concerto in E major. The three movements of this piece were; Allegro Marziale; Cantabile Spianato; and Polacca brillante. Paganini played this concerto at his concert, July 4th, 1831. Concerto in two movements. This was a medley. The one movement, Cantabile a doppie corde, was by Paganini; the other, Ronda scherzoso, by Rodolphe Kreutzer. Played, August 17th, 1831.

Four Concertos, of which the instrumentation was not written. Of these nothing seems now to be known. Fétis says that the last of the four was composed at Nice a short time before the death of Paganini.

Concerto for bassoon, with string trio accompaniment. This was discovered at Stockholm in 1890, and the manuscript was said to be in the composer's hand-writing. The announcement of the discovery will be found in The Musical Times, of November, 1890, page 681. I have found no further reference to the subject.

Nine Quartets for Violin, Viola, Violoncello and Guitar. These are in the list drawn up by Constabile as being among the manuscripts preserved by the son of the composer. It is impossible now to say where these manuscripts are; the first three seem completely lost. A copy, probably unique, of the Quartets, Nos. 10 to 15, is among the treasures in the possession of Mr. Alfred Burnett, and by his kindness I am enabled to give a description of the music. Five of the Quartets, Nos. 10[181] to 14, were composed and dedicated "Al suo Amico Il Sig. Avvocato Luigi Guglièlmo Germi." No. 14 was composed "expressly" for that friend. The Quartets dedicated to Germi might be designated "house music," for though they are difficult, they do not seem to have been written for the "great public." They contain the most lovely music Paganini ever penned. If only the guitar were once more in fashion, these pieces might be heard, and I feel certain they would charm lovers of pure melody.[56] But this is to anticipate.

Quartet, No. 10, in A major, in four movements (as indeed are five out of the six). Allegro, A major, four-four rhythm, in free sonata form, with first and second subject—both lyrical—middle modulatory section, and recapitulation. The violin has the melody, the other instruments accompanying. Minuetto Scherzo, Allegretto, A major, three-four measure, with first short strain on a figure in triplets. Trio in D major, Cantabile theme for violin, doubled by the viola in the octave below. Adagio Cantabile, D major, two-four rhythm. A melody that might be signed Haydn or Mozart, but embellished with a grace peculiar to Italian art. Here the violin is the solo instrument, the others supporting with rich harmonies, the 'cello emphasising the rhythm with frequent pizzicato notes. Rondo Andantino con brio, A major, two-four measure, a bright, sparkling principal theme, staccato, with contrasting episodes, one in D, with fourth string[182] phrases, also with brilliant passages in thirds for the violin, which again has all the thematic work. This is a well developed movement.

Quartet, No. 11, in B major. For this the guitar is tuned a tone higher, the capo tasto raising the E strings to F sharp, and the guitar part is written in the open key of A. The first movement, Allegro moderato, B major, four-four rhythm is free in form, with repeat of the first part. The thematic material is assigned chiefly to the violin, but in the second part there is an episode, a sort of folk-tune, given to the violoncello. Minuetto, Allegretto, B major, three-four, with Trio in G major. The melodies are fresh, and move step-wise, very much like those in the Minuet of Beethoven's first Symphony. They are in scale formation, up and down, and there is only one skip of a third in the first sixteen bars. Again the violin takes all the themes. Larghetto con passione, F sharp minor, six-eight measure, a Lament, a fine expressive theme, opening nobly, but with the elevated style not maintained throughout. The viola and violoncello parts are in keeping with the pathetic feeling of the movement, but the rhythmic figure of the guitar part detracts from its dignity. Polacca, Andantino mosso, B major, three-four measure, a well-written movement, with three clearly defined subjects, two of which are taken up by the viola and violoncello. The violin part in this quartet is brilliant, but not particularly difficult; there is no double-stopping, excepting in chords of accompaniment.

Quartet, No. 12, in A minor. This number is in three[183] movements only. The first, Allegro giusto, A minor, four-four rhythm, is quite orchestral in character, and opens with a theme of symphonic breadth. There is science displayed in the development of this movement. In the first part the second subject is in C major, and in the recapitulation in A major. The slow movement, Adagio tenuto, con precisione, C major, three-four measure, has at first a very broad and declamatory theme for the violin. The writing becomes very elaborate, and the rhythmic figuration complex, passages with four and five-stroke notes occurring. The Finale, Minuetto, Allegretto mosso, is a fully developed movement quite in sonata form, with first part repeated. The exposition has a first subject of two extended members, the second in the major mode. The second subject, in E, is well contrasted. There is a long working out section, with episodial matter, and the recapitulation is very happily led up to. The music has a lilt that is irresistible, and the writing is interesting for each instrument.

Quartet, No. 13, in F. The first movement, Allegro con brio, F major, four-four time, opens with a theme of a declamatory type, and the expression is dramatic. The second subject in C, is in the style of the Italian aria, concluding with the lively Cabaletta strain. A short Coda ends the first part. In the working out section there is an important episodial theme for the violoncello, and in the recapitulation the second subject, now in F, is allotted to the viola, the violin taking up the Cabaletta. Both parts are marked for repetition. Minuetto, Allegretto,[184] F major, three-four measure. The violin has the theme of the first strain of eight bars repeated; the violoncello responds with the subject of the next strain of twenty-five bars, one phrase lengthened to five bars. The Trio in B flat has a tripping theme for the viola, legato and staccato bowing in the same "figure." Later the phrases are broken into dialogue for violin and viola. In the Minuet the guitar has a "second" to the violin melody. Larghetto tenuto, con anima, D flat major, six-eight rhythm, a broad, cantabile theme for the violin, with spare embellishment. The movement must be slow, for there are arpeggios of eight notes to the quaver beat in the guitar part. Finale, Prestissimo, F major, two-two measure. The theme for the violin resembles very much some of those merry "tributary" motives found in Mozart's symphonies towards the close of the first part of a movement—the "Jupiter," first movement for instance. The second subject affords contrast. The whole is most spirited and light-hearted. Paganini must have been in a happy mood when he wrote this quartet.

Quartet, No. 14, in A major. The first movement, Allegro maestoso, A major, four-four measure, is very brilliant, opening with a theme in which arpeggio and scale figures abound. This closes in B, and the second subject begins in E. Here occurs some very free chromatic writing, suggestive of Richard Strauss, as, for instance, D sharp for violoncello against E flat for guitar and viola; and C natural opposed to B sharp. But it is a mere matter of spelling. The first part ends in E, and is marked for repetition. Then, with a single[185] prefatory chord of E minor, the working out section begins in C, with a new motive, which passes through a number of keys, the primary returning with the second subject. Minuetto, Scherzo affettuoso, A major, three-four. The subject is based on a three-note figure, giving, by cross accents, to the four-bar phrase the effect of a six-bar phrase in duple measure—Tempo rubato. The Trio, in D, has a theme in triple measure, but the middle sentence has the displaced accents of the Minuet. Largo, con sentimento, G flat major, four-four measure. For this the pitch of the guitar is raised a tone, and the part written in E major. The movement is in song form, the melody opening in stately fashion, but the writing soon becomes florid. At the second entry the theme begins in A major, the return to G flat being ingeniously effected. There are some rapid pizzicato passages for the violoncello. Finale, Allegro vivace, A major, four-four rhythm. This is a moto perpetuo, sempre staccato, for the violin. The theme is quite unlike that of the movement known as Op. 11. After the exposition of the subject, the violin has figure-playing of an easy kind, while the violoncello has a Cantabile theme. This recurs, and snatches of it are heard in the brief coda. The other instruments merely accompany. This quartet has distinct character.

Quartet, No. 15. The title simply runs: "Composto da Nicola Paganini," without any dedication. Note the copyist's spelling of the Christian name. In the first movement, Maestoso, A minor, four-four measure, the first subject is given out by the viola. It begins with a mournful, somewhat stern motive, bold, and with an[186] embellished subordinate theme. The second subject, also assigned to the viola, is an impassioned lyrical theme in C major. In the working out section, the violin takes the first subject, and joins the violoncello in an episodial theme, the viola contributing a florid counterpoint. There are modifications in the recapitulation, but the viola again has the second subject now in the tonic major. The guitar is busy throughout the movement, with full chords and extended arpeggios. Minuetto a Canone, Andantino, A major, three-four measure. The Canon is confined to the violin and viola, the latter starting with a theme in short, detached figures, the violin following, an octave higher, one beat later. Guitar and violoncello give supporting harmonies. In the Trio, in D major, the melody is given to the guitar, with a pizzicato accompaniment for the other instruments. At the seventeenth bar, there are again four bars of canon, this time in the unison, staccato bowing. The Minuet, abbreviated, is then repeated. The canon is not continuous, a cadence occurring at the end of each eight bars. Next comes an Interlude, Recitative, Andante sostenuto, con sentimento, D major. This is for the viola, and extends to twenty-one bars, the expression being dramatic. The other instruments have a rather elaborate accompaniment. The slow movement immediately ensues, Adagio Cantabile, D major, two-four rhythm. The viola has the melody, in the form of the Italian aria, embellished with prima donna fioriture. The movement is short, only running to forty-six bars. Rondo, Allegretto, A minor, two-four. The leading[187] theme, marked by syncopations, is given to the viola, the violin joining in the repetition. The tonality is constantly changing from the minor to the major and back again. There is a new theme in the middle section, and some elaboration before the first subject returns. The close is abrupt. The viola has the chief part in this quartet, which is quite different to the others.

I have only a few notes concerning some of the works yet to be considered. Dramatic Sonata, "The Storm," for violin and orchestra. This was evidently a piece of programme music, for it was thus described:—Part I., the approach of the storm; II., the commencement of the tempest; III., the prayer; IV., the fury of the sea; V., the hurricane; VI., the tumult at its height; VII., the stilling of the tempest; VIII., an outburst of the most lively joy. It was played at Paganini's third and last concert at Prague, December 20th, 1828, and one account refers to it as a "dramatic sonata for a full orchestra, with analogous embellishments and solos and variations, by Paganini on the fourth string."[57]

"Sonata Militaire," in G, for the fourth string, theme, the air "Non più andrai," from Mozart's opera "Le Nozze di Figaro." This piece was composed expressly for the second of the two concerts Paganini gave in Genoa in 1824, when the young singer, Antonia Bianchi, made her début. The Sonata was played by Paganini at his first concert in London. All traces of it appear to have been lost.

"Napoleon Sonata," for the fourth string. Paganini[188] gave an account of the origin of this piece to his friend, Julius Schottky, and to what has already been related in connection therewith may now be added the further statement he made. Paganini sang to his friend the first movement of this Sonata "in an animated though feeble tone," and said that Rossini transferred the theme into one of his earlier operas. It would be interesting to know the opera in question, but the early works of Rossini would be searched in vain without the clue afforded by the Sonata, which appears to have vanished completely.

"Sonata Maestosa Sentimentale," with variations on a theme by Haydn, for the fourth string. It is probable that the theme for these variations was the well-known Emperor's Hymn, and that this Sonata was performed by Paganini before the Austrian Court in 1828.

Sonata with variations on a theme from the opera "L'Amor Marinaro." Nothing is now known of this Sonata, nor of the particular theme chosen from the opera. "L'Amor Marinaro" (the Corsair in Love) was one of the early productions of Joseph Weigl, being written in 1798. An opera buffa, it was distinguished by natural charm, freshness of colouring and beauty of melody, and to the latter quality Paganini's choice of it must doubtless be attributed.

"Chant of the Monks of the Monastery of St. Bernard." This was the title given to a piece in the programme of a concert at Covent Garden Theatre. It was performed on a darkened stage and the solemn character of its music was emphasized by a beautiful scene representing a monastery with stained glass windows. The introduction,[189] a movement of some length of the basses in unison, was followed by a chant "of lovely harmonies, performed in harmonics (I believe, on the fourth strings) in combination with the wood instruments." Minasi, who gives this account of the piece, states that he believes it to be merely the second movement of the Concerto in B minor, Op. 7.

Cantabile for two strings. This piece was performed at the King's Theatre, on June 13th, 1831. Possibly it was the same as the musical fantasia already referred to as played at Lucca under the title of "A Love Scene." Of the remaining pieces, except the one mentioned below, nothing seems now to be known save the names.

The one exception is the piece entitled "The Vagaries of a Farmyard," which contained a wonderful series of imitations of farmyard sounds. In this connection the following anecdote, illustrating Paganini's extraordinary power of portraying curious sounds on his violin, may be worth repeating. One fine night, when staying at a little inn just outside Frankfort, he was sitting at his window lost in the contemplation of the glorious heavens. The striking of a clock broke through his reverie and called back to his mind an occurrence of which he had but recently been an ear-witness. He seized his violin, and there arose on the stillness of the night the moans and cries of a mother and her new-born babe. The landlord of the inn, awakened by the unusual sounds and wondering how such visitors had found their way into his house without his knowledge, called his son and hastened to the[190] room whence the plaintive cries proceeded; and he found Paganini, too deep in thought to perceive his entrance, making his violin bring forth these human sounds. It is stated of Paganini that he was wont to produce his animal cries under the stress of special excitement or during an access of fever, and that with his farmyard piece he electrified the audience at one of the last of his concerts in London.



Plate 27.—See Appendix.
Medal struck in Paganini's honour in 1831.

This may have been the concert at which, according to a lithograph,[58] Paganini received "the homage of five thousand persons after having pocketed £2,000 for two hours' performance." While the great world showed their appreciation of his playing in this way, and Royal patrons delighted to invest him with noble orders, the more humble admirers of Paganini caused medals to be struck in his honour. One of these, a tribute from the city of Vienna, has already been referred to; another very fine medal, struck in Paris during Paganini's first visit there in 1831 is reproduced here. The inscription round Paganini's head fills one with a strangely ironical feeling, when one remembers that the fame of Paganini did but survive to lead to the homage of exhumation.

True, the world has remembered him sufficiently to place memorial tablets on the houses where he was born and died. Fifty years after his death a tablet was affixed to the house wherein he breathed his last, and at the centenary celebration of his birth the following inscription was placed on the house wherein he first saw the light: "A great honour fell to the lot of this modest house, in which, on the 27th October, 1782, Nicolo Paganini, unsurpassed in the divine art of tone, was born, to the glory of Genoa and to the delight of the[192] world." At present one may enquire in vain of most Genoese people as to the position of Paganini's birthplace, and chance alone will direct one, who trusts to them for the information, to the slum quarter and the narrow street where the building stands. Difficult though it may be, however, to find this spot, it is an easy task to find the Palazzo Municipale where reposes the famous Guarnerius violin of Paganini.

This superb instrument, bequeathed to the city of Genoa by Paganini himself, has been most carefully preserved by the civic authorities. It has only twice been heard in public—once at the 1882 celebrations—since Paganini's death, and on both occasions it was played by his favourite pupil Sivori. It was carefully examined and photographed by Mr. Edward Heron-Allen in 1885, and a very interesting account was given by him[59] of the manner in which the violin was worn away by Paganini's peculiar method of playing. After describing its general condition he says, "The patch by the side of the tailpiece and the large wear on the back tell of the force with which he held the instrument in those high and pizzicato passages, which account for the long groove down the side of the fingerboard and the broad patch at the side of the neck, on the table of the instrument. The wearing away of the edges in the curves of the instrument bear a striking testimony to the force with which he sawed the gut in his bravura passages on the first and fourth strings." In the same glass case as the violin is placed the medal presented to[193] Paganini by the Decurional Council of Genoa in 1834. On the reverse it bears this inscription:—

Nic. Paganino, Fidicini, cui nemo par fuit civique bene mecrenti A.D. MDCCCXXXIIII.

Such outward honours as the world gives to its dead have indeed been offered to the memory of Paganini; but it is doubtful whether the higher honour of a frank recognition by the musical world of the work that he did for it, has ever been his. Unlike the great composer the instrumentalist leaves behind him no visible proof of the part he has played in the development of his art. And the world has easily forgotten that from the day of Paganini not only was the violin transformed into a new instrument, not only were its capabilities, previously undreamt of, newly revealed, but also in other branches of musical art, in orchestral music especially, a fresh field was opened up before the composer. It is scarcely too much to say that the scores of Tchaikovsky and Richard Strauss could not have been written, had Paganini never lived. We do not desire to see another Paganini, so complete a slave to his instrument, albeit its master; we do not desire to see another such life, with bodily health and moral vigour sacrificed to so absorbing a devotion to one single end. We would fain believe that Nicolo Paganini did not live in vain, that like a real artist he had and fulfilled his mission, that the evil he did died with him and that the good lives on to benefit the world.

The End.




Plate 1—Frontispiece.

Portrait of Nicolò Paganini, by Maurin, a French Artist. Free from caricature, it is probably the most authentic picture of the great virtuoso. It appeared in the seventh volume of the "Revue Musicale."

Plate 2—Facing page 4.

The Birthplace of the Celebrated Paganini in the Passo di Gatto Moro, Genoa, Italy. The house is in a squalid neighbourhood—a dirty, narrow alley now occupied by the poorest of the city. Probably no worse than at the time of Paganini's birth. There is a tablet which reads as follows:—

Alta ventura sortita ad umile luogo
in questa casa
il giorno XXVII di Ottobre dell' anno
a decoro di Genova a delizia del mondo
Nicolò Paganini
nella divina arte dei suoni insuperato maestro.

The date 1782 given here confirms the latest research that Paganini was born in that year and not in 1784 so usually quoted.


Plate 3—Facing page 14.

Paganini's Violin, Bow, Case, etc., in the Municipal Museum at Genoa. This is the celebrated Joseph Guarnerius on which the great virtuoso invariably performed. The instrument is under a glass shade, and with other relics of Paganini, preserved in a strong safe. It is stated that £5,000 has, in vain, been offered for the violin.

Plate 4—Facing page 20.

This is another Caricature—Paganini performing on a tight rope—under which is printed "Exercices sur une seule corde,"—in reference to his one string solos. This was published by Mori and Lavenu, London, circa 1831.

Plate 5—Facing page 40.

This is, we believe, from a contemporary German picture.

Plate 6—Facing page 50.

This humorous picture is on the title-page of a comic song, "The wonderful Paganini, or London fiddling mad." The poetry by W. T. Moncrieff, Esq., and the melody by one of the first composers of the day! London, published by Leoni Lee, circa 1831. The "poetry" is not of a classical standard.

"What a hubbub! what a fuss! all London sure are frantic Sirs,
The Prince of Fiddlers has arriv'd, great Paganini has come.
So wonderful, exorbitant, so frightful, so romantic, Sirs, the world of Music at his mighty presence are struck dumb.
So firm his touch, so fine his stop, everyone must own his sway,
Great King King of Catgut! Agitato! presto! Who but he Sirs,
Mori, Spagnoletti, now must second fiddle play, Sirs—
Glory be to Tweedle dum! Success to Tweedle dee! Sirs[197]
Such golden sounds, he from one string can draw, no sum can pay him, Sirs,
Germany, France, Italy, combined his fame to puff
The prices must be doubled, all the world crowd to survey him, Sirs,
Four thousand pounds a night to pay him is not half enough,
Sixpences, none, after this, must dare call fiddlers' money Sirs.
Thousands, tens of thousands, must the wondrous man reward,"
etc., etc.,
and so on for five verses!

Plate 7—Facing page 54.

Sigr. Paganini. During one of his performances at the King's Theatre, June, 1831. From a contemporary lithograph of the celebrated sketch by D. Maclise, R.A., now in the Foster Collection, South Kensington Museum. In the background are J. B. Cramer, Lindley, Dragonetti, Mori, etc. This is, perhaps, the most interesting print of the great violinist. It was published on July 12th, 1831, by W. Spooner, 259, Regent Street, London.

Plate 8—Facing page 60.

Reproduction of the celebrated Statuette (caricature), by Dainton.

Plate 9—Facing page 66.

Paganini with the Violin, Rossini at the pianoforte and the celebrated prima-donna Pasta. (Jos. McGuire, delt., printed by Englemann & Co.), circa 1832.

Plate 10—Facing page 76.

A Copy of the Original Oil Painting of Paganini in the Municipal Museum at Genoa. The face full of intellect, shows the ravages of the disease which was so soon to terminate his existence.


Plate 11—Facing page 80.

The House at Nice in which Paganini died on the 27th May, 1840. It was formerly the residence of the Count de Sessol. The lower part has been converted into shops.

Plate 12—Facing page 80.

The Tablet, with inscription, fixed on the front of the house, Rue de la Prefecture, Nice, France.

Plate 13—Facing page 84.

The Tomb of Paganini at Parma. Neither religious nor political martyr ever had so many objections made to his obsequies. To the cemetery, near Parma, in November, 1876, the embalmed remains of Paganini were transposed from the family villa at Gaione, by order of his son, the Baron Achille (who died in December, 1895). The funeral was held at night by torchlight. A nephew, the Baron Attila Paganini, followed, and crowds of curious sightseers joined the procession. In 1893 there was erected the beautiful mausoleum which is now depicted from the only known photograph, taken expressly for The Strad. It bears this inscription:—

Qui riposano le ceneri
di Nicolò Paganini
Che traendo dal violino armonie divine
Scosse genio insuperabile tutta Europa
e cinse all'Italia,
Nuova sfolgorante corona.

Mente elettissima
Compose stupendamente in musica
Ammirato dai piu illustri maestri.

Cuore oltremodo generoso
donò largamente
ai parenti, agli artisti ai poveri.


Beneath this cupola of white marble, with its granite columns, may the ashes of Paganini rest in peace. His true remains—his reputation, his influence, his music, are with us for ever.

Plate 14—Facing page 90.

Paganini in Prison. One of the many scandals which is contradicted in the text. (See page 90.) There is another prison story that during Paganini's incarceration, he was reduced to the G, in consequence of the other strings having broken—hence his wonderful development of the fourth. This is again apocryphal. Paganini has greater claim to a scientific knowledge of the acoustical property of strings.

Plates 15, 16, and 17, see pages 101, 102, and 103,

are reproductions of Paganini's MSS. in the British Museum. No. 15, a letter (dated April 16th, 1832, and in French) thanking the person addressed, for kindness shown to his "cher fils Achille," Nos. 16 (dated February 19th, 1835) and 17 (dated May 5th, 1838); short notes (in Italian) are interesting autographs. Paganini was proverbially a "silent man"—his epistles are very rare.

Plates 18, 19, 20, 21, and 22—Pages 129-133.

These reproductions of rare programmes tell their own tales—they are interesting, because there are seen the items and the arrangement of concerts, also the prices, for admission, etc.—in those years.


Plate 23—Facing page 136.

Facsimile of a Letter by Paganini, dated 1829. It was formerly in the possession of the late Mr. Carrodus, the great English violinist.

Plate 24—Facing page 144.

A Semi-Caricature of Paganini with the inscription.

The Modern Apollo (not Belvedere)
Receiving the homage of 5,000 persons, after having pocketed
£2,000 for two hours' performance.

Sketched at his last Concert at the King's Theatre. Published by G. Madeley, Wellington Street, Strand, 1831.

Plates 25 and 26, see pages 176 and 177.

Reproductions of music MS. in British Museum. A Theme, with variations for violin, with accompaniment, is a curious example of the great master's compositions.

Plate 27—Facing page 190.

Copy of a rare Copper Medal struck in Paganini's honor in 1831.



The extraordinary career of Paganini has received more attention than the life of any other instrumentalist. Of these biographies, it is impossible to give a complete list.

The following may, however, be commended.

"Paganini in seinem Reisewagen und Zimmer, in seinen redseligen Stunden, in gesellsschaftlichen Kirkeln, und seinen Concerten." Brunswick, Vieweg, 1830. Mr. George Harris, the writer of this pamphlet, was an Englishman, who in order to study Paganini, became the Violinist's secretary and interpreter.

"Leben, Charakter und Kunst N. Paganini's—Eine Skizze,"—by M. F. Shütz, a Professor at Halle. Leipzig, 1830.

"Paganini's Leben und Treiben als Künstler und als Mensch." Prague, 1830. Written by Professor Schottky.

"Paganini's Leben und Charakter," by M. L. Vinela. Hamburg, 1830.

"Notice sur le célèbre violoniste Nicolò Paganini," by M. J. Imbert de Laphaléque. Paris.


"Paganini et de Bériot, ou Avis aux artistes qui se destinent à l'enseignement du Violon," by F. Fayolle. Paris, 1831.

"Paganini, his life, his person, and a few words upon his secret," by J. L. Anders. Paris, 1831.

"Vita di Nicolò Paganini di Genova, scritta ed illustrata da Giancarlo Conestabile, socio di varie Academie." Perugia, 1831.

"Nicolo Paganini," by F. J. Fétis. Published by Schott and Co.

"L'Album." "Paganini." Rome, 1840.

"Good Words." Three articles by Rev. H. R. Haweis, M.A.

"Musical Gem." "Paganini." Portrait by R. J. Hamerton. London, 1832.

"The Violin," with some account of that leading instrument and its most eminent professors, by George Dubourg, 1836 and 1878. This interesting book contains a long account of Paganini (illustrated.)

"Life of Moscheles." Two vols. 1873. In Vol. I., chapters 13 and 14, "Paganini."

"Louis Spohr's Autobiography," vide "Paganini," Vol. I., page 279, and Vol. II., page 168. Spohr says: "His (Paganini's) left hand and his constantly pure intonation were to me astonishing."

"Dictionary of Music and Musicians," by Sir George Grove, D.C.L., vide article Paganini.


"Encyclopädie der gesammten musicalischen Wissenschaften," by Dr. Gustav Schilling. Article Paganini.

Dr. Riemann's "Dictionary of Music," article Paganini.

"The Strad," various articles and paragraphs in the series of this journal.

"The Violin," by George Hart. Engravings of Paganini's Violin.

"Old Violins and their Makers," by James M. Fleming.

"Ole Bull," by Sara C. Bull. Various notices of Paganini.

"Musical Opinion," July, August, and September, 1888. A renowned fiddler (Paganini.) Three articles by Richard Harrison.

"Musical News," 1903.

"A Wooden Shoe" (Story of Paganini) by M. P. Audebrand.

"Paganiniana," (circa 1865.)

"Troubadour," August, 1899. Paganini, by Richard Harrison.

"The Athenæum," 1831. Critiques on Paganini.

"The Tatler," 1831.

"An account of Paganini's début in London," June 3rd, 1831, by Mr. Gardner of Leicester, appears in Dubourg's "Violin."

"Paganini's Concerts in Paris." A clever description was published in "Le Globe."

"Foreign Quarterly Review" (circa 1832).


"Catalogue of Paganini's compositions," by M. Conestabile.

Paganini's works are published by Ricordi and Co., of Milan, and Schott and Co., of Mayence and London.

"Revue et Gazette Musicale de Paris," December 23rd, 1840. Article Paganini.

"Story of the Violin," by Paul Stoeving.

"The Quarterly Musical Magazine and Review," Vol. X.

"Ueber Paganini's Kunst, die Violine zu spielen," by Carl F. W. Guhr, original edition 1831. Modern. Schott and Co.

"Biographical Sketches of Celebrated Violinists." London: Bentley, publisher.

"Celebrated Violinists, Past and Present." Translated from the German of A. Ehrlich, and edited with notes and additions by Robin H. Legge (eighteen pages devoted to Paganini). Portraits. Strad Office, London.

"Notice of Antony Stradivari," by F. J. Fétis. Translated by John Bishop. London, 1864.

"The Harmonicon." An excellent musical journal. Published in London (contemporary with Paganini).

"The Life of Rossini," by Sutherland Edwards.

"History of Music," by Emil Naumann. 2 vols. Cassell and Co., London, 1886.

"Life and Letters of Sir Charles Hallé." Paganini is mentioned by a musical amateur (Count de Stendhal), 1814 and 1817.


"Diary of an Invalid," by Mathews, 1818.

"History of the Violin," by William Sandys and S. A. Forster, 1864.

"Old Violins," by Rev. H. R. Haweis, M.A. 1898.

"Researches into the History of the Violin Family," by Carl Engel. 1883.

"Musical World." 1836.

"Musical and Personal Recollections," by Henry Phillips, 1864.

"Music and Manners in France and Germany," by Henry F. Chorley. 1841.

"The Student's History of Music," by F. L. Ritter. 1880.

Collectors will be interested in the Medals and Busts of Paganini.

The English and Continental contemporary Press notices, etc., would alone make a Paganini volume.

Of Paganini, there are many portraits, though too generally caricatures. M. Fétis, in his Life of Paganini, gives a short but incomplete catalogue. Those included in this volume have been carefully selected from contemporary prints, etc.



Crown 8vo., Cloth, 2/6, Post Free, 2/9.

"THE STRAD" LIBRARY EDITION is the only Authorised Edition of

Technics of Violin Playing



With Folding Plates, containing Fifteen Illustrations.


My Dear Mr. Courvoisier: I have read the book on Violin Playing you have sent me, and have to congratulate you sincerely on the manner in which you have performed a most difficult task, i.e., to describe the best way of arriving at a correct manner of playing the violin.

It cannot but be welcome to thoughtful teachers, who reflect on the method of our art, and I hope that your work will prove useful to many students.

Believe me, my dear Mr. Courvoisier, to be most faithfully yours,


Berlin, November 3rd, 1894.

The New and Revised Edition of "Technics of Violin Playing," issued by The Strad, is the only authorised edition of my work. The several English Editions which have all appeared without my knowledge are incomplete and faulty.



Crown 8vo., Cloth, 2/6, Post Free, 2/9.




Strings and Tuning. The Bow and Bowing. Faults and their Correction. Scales and their Importance. Course of Study. Advice on Elementary Matters. Concerning Harmonics, Octaves, etc. Orchestral Playing. Some Experiences as a Soloist. With full page portraits of Carrodus, Molique, Paganini, Spohr, Sivori, De Beriot, Blagrove and Sainton, and a photo-reproduction of Dr. Spohr's testimonial to Carrodus.

"An interesting series of articles 'How to Study the Violin,' which Carrodus contributed to The Strad, and completed only a week or two before his death, have now been collected in cheap book form. The technical hints to violin students, which are practical, plainly worded, and from such a pen most valuable."—Daily News.

"But a few weeks before his sudden death the most distinguished of native violinists completed in The Strad a series of chats to students of the instrument associated with his name. These chats are now re-issued, with a sympathetic preface and instructive annotations. All who care to listen to what were virtually the last words of such a conscientious teacher will recognise the pains taken by Carrodus to render every detail as clear to the novice as to the advanced pupil. Pleasant gossip concerning provincial festivals at which Carrodus was for many years 'leader' of the orchestra, ends a little volume worthy a place in musical libraries both for its practical value and as a memento of the life-work of an artist universally esteemed."—Daily Chronicle.

"It is surely, hardly necessary to direct the attention of students to the unique value of the hints and advice given by so experienced and accomplished a virtuoso as the late Mr. Carrodus, so that it only remains to state that the 'Recollections' make delightful reading, and that the book, as a whole, is as entertaining as it is instructive. The value of the brochure is enhanced by an excellent portrait of Mr. Carrodus, as well as of a number of other violin worthies, and the printing, paper, and get up generally are good as could possibly be."—Musical Answers.


Crown 8vo, Cloth, 2/6, Post Free, 2/9.

Its History, Manufacture and Use


With Full Page Illustrations (exact size) by Photo Process.

MONS. EMILE SAURET writes—"I have read it with great interest, and think that it supplies a real want in giving musicians such an excellent description of all matters referring to this important instrument."

SIGNOR GUIDO PAPINI writes—"Thanks so much for your splendid and interesting book. You are quite successful and all the artists and amateurs are indebted to you for so exact and correct a 'Texte' on the subject."

ADOLF BRODSKY writes—"I am delighted with the book and find it very instructive, even for those who think to know everything about the bow. It is very original and at times very amusing. No violinist should miss the opportunity to buy it."

THE TIMES—"A useful treatise on the Bow, in which the history, manufacture and use of the bow are discussed with considerable technical knowledge."

DAILY TELEGRAPH—"To the student there is much of interest in the work, which has the advantage of being copiously illustrated."

DAILY NEWS—"This book seems practically to exhaust its subject."


Crown 8vo., Cloth, 5/-, Post Free, 5/4.


Translated from the German of

And Edited with Notes and Additions by



"Those who love their fiddles better than their fellows, and who treasure up every detail that can be found and recorded about their favourite and cherished players, will not fail to provide themselves with a copy of this book."—Musical Opinion.

"This book of 280 pages is a most interesting and valuable addition to the violinist's library. It contains 89 biographical sketches of well-known artists, ancient and modern, of all nations. This is not intended to be a perfect dictionary of violinists; the aim of the Editor of the present volume being merely to give a few more up-to-date details concerning some of the greatest of stringed instrument players, and we must concede that no name of the first importance has been omitted. Germany is represented by 21 names, Italy by 13, France by 10, England by 4, Bohemia by 8, Belgium by 7, and the fair sex by seven well-known ladies, such as Teresina Tua, Therése and Marie Milanollo, Lady Hallé, Marie Soldat, Gabrielle Wietrowetz, and Arma Senkrah. Altogether this is most agreeable reading to the numerous army of violinists, both professionals and amateurs, and after careful examination we can find nothing but praise for this translation into English of a book well known on the Continent."—The Piano, Organ and Music Trades Journal.


Crown 8vo., Cloth, 2/6, Post Free, 2/9.




Copy of Letter received by the Author from the great 'cellist, SIGNOR ALFRED PIATTI.

Cadenabbia, Lake of Como, March 9th, 1898.

Dear Sir,—I received the book you kindly sent me on "The Technics of Violoncello Playing," which I found excellent, particularly for beginners, which naturally was your scope. With many thanks for kindly remembering an old ex-violoncello player.

Believe me, yours sincerely,


Copy of Letter received by the Author from the eminent 'cellist, HERR DAVID POPPER.

Budapest, February 22nd, 1898.

Dear Sir,—In sending me your book on "The Technics of Violoncello Playing" you have given me a real and true pleasure. I know of no work, tutors and studies not excepted, which presents so much valuable material, so much that is absolutely to the point, avoiding—I might say, on principle—all that is superfluous and dispensable. Every earnest thinking violoncello student will in future make your book his own and thereby receive hints which will further and complete the instructions of his master.

I congratulate you and ourselves most heartily on the new violoncello book. With kind regards, Yours most sincerely,



Crown 8vo., Cloth, 2/6, Post Free, 2/9.




Introductory—Qualities indispensable to the ideal Violinist—Hints on the Choice of a Teacher—Some Tricks of pretending professors exposed.

On the Choice of a Violin and Bow—Advice regarding general adjustment and repairs.

On the Choice of Strings—Stringing the Instrument and keeping the Pegs in Order.

On the General Posture—The manner of holding the Violin and Bow as accepted by the leading artists of the day.

On Fingering Generally—The various positions—Scales recommended—The Modern Orchestral "Principal" or (so-called) Leader.

On Gliding—Special Characteristics of some of the most Eminent Players.

Double Stopping—The main difficulty in Double Stopping—How to gain Independence of Finger.

Bowings—Smooth Bowings—Solid Staccato—Spiccato—Spring Bow—Mixed Bowings.

Tone Production—Character of Tone—Rules and Conditions necessary to produce a good tone—Style and Expression.


Crown 8vo., Cloth, 2/6, Post Free, 2/9.

Chats to 'Cello Students


"Musicians, devotees of the 'cello in particular, will welcome the latest volume of The 'Strad Library,' 'Chats to 'Cello Students,' by Arthur Broadley.... Mr. Broadley not only knows what he is talking about, but has practised what he says. From the choice of an instrument to finished delivery and orchestral playing, 'Chats to 'Cello Students' leaves nothing undiscussed. The treatment is simple and practical. The exhaustive chapter on 'bowing' should be an invaluable aid to students. In the last chapter of his book, 'On Delivery and Style' Mr. Broadley has given a lucid expression to a subject which has sadly needed voicing."—The Tribune, Nuneaton.

"Is a brightly written little volume filled with practical information for those who seek to bring out the wealth of expression of which the violoncello is capable. The instruction is presented in homely, common-sense fashion, and there are upwards of fifty examples in music type to illustrate the author's meaning."—Lloyd's Weekly.

"Every kind of bowing and fingering, the portamento, harmonic effects, arpeggios and their evolution from various chords, are all ably treated, and the work concludes with a few remarks on orchestral playing which are of especial interest."—Musical News.

"As a writer on the technique of his instrument Mr. Broadley is known all over the world, perhaps his most successful work being a little book published by The Strad, 'Chats to 'Cello Students.'"—The Violinist.


Crown 8vo., Cloth, 2/6, Post Free, 2/9.



Of the Music Jury, International Inventions Exhibition, South Kensington, 1885; International Exhibition, Edinburgh, 1890; Expert in Law Courts, 1891; President of the Cremona Society.


"This is the history of the life-work of the great Italian stringed musical instrument maker.... There is a most interesting analysis of Stradivari's method of mechanical construction which again is illustrated by original drawings from the many Strads which it has been Mr. Petherick's privilege to examine. All lovers of the king of instruments will read this delightful little volume."—Reynolds.

"Among makers of violins Stradivari perhaps occupies the premier position, and this account of his work, designs, and variations in finish of details will afford pleasure to many readers."—Morning Post.

"This is a monograph which all students of the violin will be happy to possess. The author is a connoisseur and expert, and his account of the great Cremonese master and his life-work, is singularly well and clearly told, whilst the technical descriptions and diagrams cannot fail to interest everyone who has fallen under the spell of the violin.... Mr. Petherick traces the career of Stradivari from his earliest insight into the mysteries of the craft to his highest achievements. Numerous illustrations lend attraction to the volume, not the least being a view of Stradivari's atelier, from a painting by Rinaldi, the sketch of which was made on the premises."—Music.

"Mr. Petherick is well known in the musical world as a violin expert with a special knowledge of the instruments made by the Cremonese master, whose biography he has here given us. He tells us how the master worked, what his pupils did, and where their work differs from that of their preceptor. In fact, the volume is as much a dissertation on the violins of Stradivari as a biography of the master, and is full of deeply interesting matter."—Lloyds.


Crown 8vo., Cloth, 5/-, Post Free, 5/4.



With Thirty-one Full-page PHOTO ETCHINGS,
Illustrating the process of Violin-making in every stage—from the rough slab of wood to the finished Instrument.

The text is written by an Actual Violin Maker, in a very clear and lucid style.

"'Popular lecture' style, with photographic illustrations."—The Times.

"A feature of the book is the clearness of the illustrations."—Morning Post.

"Describes a very fascinating art from start to finish."—Morning Leader.

"This new booklet, on how to make a violin, is an admirable exposition of methods. Mr. Mayson avoids learned terminology. He uses the simplest English, and goes straight to the point. He begins by showing the young learner how to choose the best wood for the violin that is to be. Throughout a whole chatty, perfectly simple chapter, he discourses on the back. A separate chapter is devoted to the modelling of the back, and a third to its 'working out.' The art of sound-holes, ribs, neck, fingerboard, the scroll, the belly. Among the illustrations is one showing the tools which the author himself uses in the making of his instruments. To learners of the well-known Manchester maker's delicate art we commend this little volume."—Daily News.


Crown 8vo., Cloth, 2/6, Post Free, 2/9.

(Dedicated, by permission, to Dr. JOSEPH JOACHIM)


Critically discussed, and Illustrated with over


⁂ The book contains analytical and historical notes upon the Chamber Music of Beethoven, in which the violin takes part as a solo instrument, with some account of the various editions of the principal works; Beethoven's method of working, as shown by his Sketch Books, etc. It is dedicated to Dr. Joachim, who has furnished some notes respecting the stringed instruments possessed by Beethoven.

Extract from Author's Preface:—

"Young students often suppose that they ought to admire every work which proceeds from a great genius; an attempt therefore has been made to convey some idea of the relative art-value and importance of the various compositions discussed in these pages. For between the best work of any man and his least inspired, there is a wide difference. Certainly nothing annoyed the great master more than to hear his least mature works praised, especially at a time when many of his greatest creations were too little studied to be understood save by a few."

"Mr. John Matthews—dealing with Beethoven's music in pleasant fashion, and at not too great length—gives an historical account, and in many instances short analyses, with illustrations in music type of Beethoven's works for this instrument, and particularly the sonatas (to which considerable space is devoted), the trios, the quartets, and other compositions in which the master employed the violin. The book will be found by amateurs both interesting and instructive."—Daily News.

"STRAD" OFFICE, 3, Green Terrace, Rosebery Avenue, E.C.



12mo., Cloth, 1.00.

"THE STRAD" LIBRARY EDITION is the only Authorised Edition of

Technics of Violin Playing



With Folding Plates, containing Fifteen Illustrations.


My Dear Mr. Courvoisier: I have read the book on Violin Playing you have sent me, and have to congratulate you sincerely on the manner in which you have performed a most difficult task, i.e., to describe the best way of arriving at a correct manner of playing the violin.

It cannot but be welcome to thoughtful teachers, who reflect on the method of our art, and I hope that your work will prove useful to many students.

Believe me, my dear Mr. Courvoisier, to be most faithfully yours,


Berlin, November 3rd, 1894.

The New and Revised Edition of "Technics of Violin Playing," issued by The Strad, is the only authorised edition of my work. The several English Editions which have all appeared without my knowledge are incomplete and faulty.



12mo., Cloth, 1.00.




Strings and Tuning. The Bow and Bowing. Faults and their Correction. Scales and their Importance. Course of Study. Advice on Elementary Matters. Concerning Harmonics, Octaves, etc. Orchestral Playing. Some Experiences as a Soloist. With full page portraits of Carrodus, Molique, Paganini, Spohr, Sivori, De Beriot, Blagrove and Sainton, and a photo-reproduction of Dr. Spohr's testimonial to Carrodus.

"An interesting series of articles 'How to Study the Violin,' which Carrodus contributed to The Strad, and completed only a week or two before his death, have now been collected in cheap book form. The technical hints to violin students, which are practical, plainly worded, and from such a pen most valuable."—Daily News.

"But a few weeks before his sudden death the most distinguished of native violinists completed in The Strad a series of chats to students of the instrument associated with his name. These chats are now re-issued, with a sympathetic preface and instructive annotations. All who care to listen to what were virtually the last words of such a conscientious teacher will recognise the pains taken by Carrodus to render every detail as clear to the novice as to the advanced pupil. Pleasant gossip concerning provincial festivals at which Carrodus was for many years 'leader' of the orchestra, ends a little volume worthy a place in musical libraries both for its practical value and as a memento of the life-work of an artist universally esteemed."—Daily Chronicle.

"It is surely, hardly necessary to direct the attention of students to the unique value of the hints and advice given by so experienced and accomplished a virtuoso as the late Mr. Carrodus, so that it only remains to state that the 'Recollections' make delightful reading, and that the book, as a whole, is as entertaining as it is instructive. The value of the brochure is enhanced by an excellent portrait of Mr. Carrodus, as well as of a number of other violin worthies, and the printing, paper, and get up generally are good as could possibly be."—Musical Answers.



12mo., Cloth, 1.00.

Its History, Manufacture and Use


With Full Page Illustrations (exact size) by Photo Process.

MONS. EMILE SAURET writes—"I have read it with great interest, and think that it supplies a real want in giving musicians such an excellent description of all matters referring to this important instrument."

SIGNOR GUIDO PAPINI writes—"Thanks so much for your splendid and interesting book. You are quite successful and all the artists and amateurs are indebted to you for so exact and correct a 'Texte' on the subject."

ADOLF BRODSKY writes—"I am delighted with the book and find it very instructive, even for those who think to know everything about the bow. It is very original and at times very amusing. No violinist should miss the opportunity to buy it."

THE TIMES—"A useful treatise on the Bow, in which the history, manufacture and use of the bow are discussed with considerable technical knowledge."

DAILY TELEGRAPH—"To the student there is much of interest in the work, which has the advantage of being copiously illustrated."

DAILY NEWS—"This book seems practically to exhaust its subject."



12mo., Cloth, 2.00.


Translated from the German of

And Edited with Notes and Additions by



"Those who love their fiddles better than their fellows, and who treasure up every detail that can be found and recorded about their favourite and cherished players, will not fail to provide themselves with a copy of this book."—Musical Opinion.

"This book of 280 pages is a most interesting and valuable addition to the violinist's library. It contains 89 biographical sketches of well-known artists, ancient and modern, of all nations. This is not intended to be a perfect dictionary of violinists; the aim of the Editor of the present volume being merely to give a few more up-to-date details concerning some of the greatest of stringed instrument players, and we must concede that no name of the first importance has been omitted. Germany is represented by 21 names, Italy by 13, France by 10, England by 4, Bohemia by 8, Belgium by 7, and the fair sex by seven well-known ladies, such as Teresina Tua, Therése and Marie Milanollo, Lady Hallé, Marie Soldat, Gabrielle Wietrowetz, and Arma Senkrah. Altogether this is most agreeable reading to the numerous army of violinists, both professionals and amateurs, and after careful examination we can find nothing but praise for this translation into English of a book well known on the Continent."—The Piano, Organ and Music Trades Journal.



12mo., Cloth, 1.00.




Copy of Letter received by the Author from the great 'cellist, SIGNOR ALFRED PIATTI.

Cadenabbia, Lake of Como, March 9th, 1898.

Dear Sir,—I received the book you kindly sent me on "The Technics of Violoncello Playing," which I found excellent, particularly for beginners, which naturally was your scope. With many thanks for kindly remembering an old ex-violoncello player.

Believe me, yours sincerely,


Copy of Letter received by the Author from the eminent 'cellist, HERR DAVID POPPER.

Budapest, February 22nd, 1898.

Dear Sir,—In sending me your book on "The Technics of Violoncello Playing" you have given me a real and true pleasure. I know of no work, tutors and studies not excepted, which presents so much valuable material, so much that is absolutely to the point, avoiding—I might say, on principle—all that is superfluous and dispensable. Every earnest thinking violoncello student will in future make your book his own and thereby receive hints which will further and complete the instructions of his master.

I congratulate you and ourselves most heartily on the new violoncello book. With kind regards, Yours most sincerely,




12mo., Cloth, 1.00.




Introductory—Qualities indispensable to the ideal Violinist—Hints on the Choice of a Teacher—Some Tricks of pretending professors exposed.

On the Choice of a Violin and Bow—Advice regarding general adjustment and repairs.

On the Choice of Strings—Stringing the Instrument and keeping the Pegs in Order.

On the General Posture—The manner of holding the Violin and Bow as accepted by the leading artists of the day.

On Fingering Generally—The various positions—Scales recommended—The Modern Orchestral "Principal" or (so-called) Leader.

On Gliding—Special Characteristics of some of the most Eminent Players.

Double Stopping—The main difficulty in Double Stopping—How to gain Independence of Finger.

Bowings—Smooth Bowings—Solid Staccato—Spiccato—Spring Bow—Mixed Bowings.

Tone Production—Character of Tone—Rules and Conditions necessary to produce a good tone—Style and Expression.



12mo., Cloth, 1.00.

Chats to 'Cello Students


"Musicians, devotees of the 'cello in particular, will welcome the latest volume of The 'Strad Library,' 'Chats to 'Cello Students,' by Arthur Broadley.... Mr. Broadley not only knows what he is talking about, but has practised what he says. From the choice of an instrument to finished delivery and orchestral playing, 'Chats to 'Cello Students' leaves nothing undiscussed. The treatment is simple and practical. The exhaustive chapter on 'bowing' should be an invaluable aid to students. In the last chapter of his book, 'On Delivery and Style' Mr. Broadley has given a lucid expression to a subject which has sadly needed voicing."—The Tribune, Nuneaton.

"Is a brightly written little volume filled with practical information for those who seek to bring out the wealth of expression of which the violoncello is capable. The instruction is presented in homely, common-sense fashion, and there are upwards of fifty examples in music type to illustrate the author's meaning."—Lloyd's Weekly.

"Every kind of bowing and fingering, the portamento, harmonic effects, arpeggios and their evolution from various chords, are all ably treated, and the work concludes with a few remarks on orchestral playing which are of especial interest."—Musical News.

"As a writer on the technique of his instrument Mr. Broadley is known all over the world, perhaps his most successful work being a little book published by The Strad, 'Chats to 'Cello Students.'"—The Violinist.



12mo., cloth, 1.00.



Of the Music Jury, International Inventions Exhibition, South Kensington, 1885; International Exhibition, Edinburgh, 1890; Expert in Law Courts, 1891; President of the Cremona Society.


"This is the history of the life-work of the great Italian stringed musical instrument maker.... There is a most interesting analysis of Stradivari's method of mechanical construction which again is illustrated by original drawings from the many Strads which it has been Mr. Petherick's privilege to examine. All lovers of the king of instruments will read this delightful little volume."—Reynolds.

"Among makers of violins Stradivari perhaps occupies the premier position, and this account of his work, designs, and variations in finish of details will afford pleasure to many readers."—Morning Post.

"This is a monograph which all students of the violin will be happy to possess. The author is a connoisseur and expert, and his account of the great Cremonese master and his life-work, is singularly well and clearly told, whilst the technical descriptions and diagrams cannot fail to interest everyone who has fallen under the spell of the violin.... Mr. Petherick traces the career of Stradivari from his earliest insight into the mysteries of the craft to his highest achievements. Numerous illustrations lend attraction to the volume, not the least being a view of Stradivari's atelier, from a painting by Rinaldi, the sketch of which was made on the premises."—Music.

"Mr. Petherick is well known in the musical world as a violin expert with a special knowledge of the instruments made by the Cremonese master, whose biography he has here given us. He tells us how the master worked, what his pupils did, and where their work differs from that of their preceptor. In fact, the volume is as much a dissertation on the violins of Stradivari as a biography of the master, and is full of deeply interesting matter."—Lloyds.



12mo., Cloth, 2.00.



With Thirty-one Full-page PHOTO ETCHINGS,
Illustrating the process of Violin-making in every stage—from the rough slab of wood to the finished Instrument.

The text is written by an Actual Violin Maker, in a very clear and lucid style.

"'Popular lecture' style, with photographic illustrations."—The Times.

"A feature of the book is the clearness of the illustrations."—Morning Post.

"Describes a very fascinating art from start to finish."—Morning Leader.

"This new booklet, on how to make a violin, is an admirable exposition of methods. Mr. Mayson avoids learned terminology. He uses the simplest English, and goes straight to the point. He begins by showing the young learner how to choose the best wood for the violin that is to be. Throughout a whole chatty, perfectly simple chapter, he discourses on the back. A separate chapter is devoted to the modelling of the back, and a third to its 'working out.' The art of sound-holes, ribs, neck, fingerboard, the scroll, the belly. Among the illustrations is one showing the tools which the author himself uses in the making of his instruments. To learners of the well-known Manchester maker's delicate art we commend this little volume."—Daily News.



12mo., Cloth, 1.00.

(Dedicated, by permission, to Dr. JOSEPH JOACHIM)


Critically discussed, and Illustrated with over


⁂ The book contains analytical and historical notes upon the Chamber Music of Beethoven, in which the violin takes part as a solo instrument, with some account of the various editions of the principal works; Beethoven's method of working, as shown by his Sketch Books, etc. It is dedicated to Dr. Joachim, who has furnished some notes respecting the stringed instruments possessed by Beethoven.

Extract from Author's Preface:—

"Young students often suppose that they ought to admire every work which proceeds from a great genius; an attempt therefore has been made to convey some idea of the relative art-value and importance of the various compositions discussed in these pages. For between the best work of any man and his least inspired, there is a wide difference. Certainly nothing annoyed the great master more than to hear his least mature works praised, especially at a time when many of his greatest creations were too little studied to be understood save by a few."

"Mr. John Matthews—dealing with Beethoven's music in pleasant fashion, and at not too great length—gives an historical account, and in many instances short analyses, with illustrations in music type of Beethoven's works for this instrument, and particularly the sonatas (to which considerable space is devoted), the trios, the quartets, and other compositions in which the master employed the violin. The book will be found by amateurs both interesting and instructive."—Daily News.



12mo., Cloth, 1.00.

Advice to Pupils & Teachers
of the Violin,


Strongly recommended by AUGUST WILHELMJ & GUIDO PAPINI.

London, March 18th, 1903.

Dear Mr. Althaus,

I read your book, "Advice to Pupils and Teachers of the Violin," with great interest, and find it very useful. Hoping your book will meet with the success it deserves.

I am, yours sincerely,


London, Feb. 19th, 1903.

Dear Mr. Althaus,

I have read with interest your admirable book, "Advice to Pupils and Teachers of the Violin." I have no hesitation in recommending it as an indispensable work to all aspiring violinists and teachers. Your remarks on the acquirement of the various bowings, with the many musical examples, are excellent. I know of no work on this important subject so explicit and exhaustive. Wishing your book the great success it deserves,

Believe me, yours sincerely,


"I have read the 157 pages that go to form the book in question, and can say, without any misgiving, that Mr. Althaus has successfully achieved what he set out to do."—Musical Standard.



12mo., Cloth, 1.00.

Repairing and Restoration
of Violins,


Of the Music Jury, International Inventions Exhibition, South Kensington, 1885; International Exhibition, Edinburgh, 1890; Expert in Law Courts, 1891; President of the Cremona Society.



The proper sort of glue—Its preparation and use—Loose fingerboards—Injuries to the scroll—Insertion of fresh wood—Fracture of peg-box and shell—Worn peg-holes—Refilling or boring same—Grafting—Lengthening the neck—Treatment of worm-holes—Fixing on graft on neck—Ways of removing the upper table and the neck—Cleansing the interior—Closing of cracks in upper table—Getting parts together that apparently do not fit—Treatment of warped lower table—Repairing old end blocks by new ones—Matching wood for large cracks—Replacing lost portions—Repairs to purfling—Removal of a fixed sound-post—Fitting a fresh part of worm-eaten rib—Lining a thin back—Fixing the bar—Varnishing, etc., etc.

"The author is a man of wide experience, and with him it is a labour of love, so that few more suitable hands could be found for the task. To him fiddles are quite human in their characteristics, needing a 'physician within beck and call,' and developing symptoms capable of temporary alleviation or permanent cure, as the case may be, and no remedial measures are left undescribed."—Musical News.

"Mr. Petherick is a man of wide experience in violins, so his hints about the treatment and care of the instrument are invaluable. His imaginary interviews are both clever and amusing, and, moreover, contain useful information of what to do, and avoid, in the treatment of violins."—Hereford Times.



12mo., Cloth, 1.00.

Solo Playing, Soloists and Solos,


"Mr. William Henley is an excellent performer, and his book, 'The Violin: Solo Playing, Soloists and Solos,' is the result of considerable practice in the art he discusses.... The opening advice to violin students, the insistence on tune first and then on tone, the latter depending greatly for its excellence upon the correctness of the former, is not only worth saying, but is said well, and with conviction. Mr. Henley discriminates well between violinists: Joachim, the classic; Carrodus, the plain; Sarasate, the neat and elegant; and Wilhelmj, the fiery and bold.... The list of violin concertos, given in the last chapter but one of the book, seems a very complete one, and should be useful for purposes of reference."—The London and Provincial Music Trades Review.

"For the student whose intention it is to make the violin a means of livelihood—the professional soloist or orchestral player in embryo—this little work, written in a spirit of obvious sincerity, is well-nigh invaluable.... The chapters on 'Teaching and Studies,' 'The Artist,' 'Phrasing,' 'Conception,' and 'True Feeling,' are very well written, and the whole work is worth careful and diligent perusal."—The Musical World.

"The author of this book has thought much and deeply on the fascinating subject of which he treats, and is entitled to a hearing.... The author's remarks on 'Tone' are excellently conceived, and of no small interest, the subject being less hackneyed than that of ordinary technique. In his chapter on 'Style' he reminds the readers of the many factors which go to the making of a fine violinist, among which Style—which is the outcome of the imagination and the sensibility of the player—is one of the most important. The fine executant is common enough now-a-days, but the fine stylist as rare as ever."—Musical News.



12mo., Cloth, 1.00.



(Author of "Advice to Pupils and Teachers of the Violin.")

With 283 Musical Examples.




Grade A.—Elementary Pieces.

Grade B.—Easy, not exceeding First Position.

Grade C.—Easy, using First and Third Position.


Grade D.—Moderately Difficult, not exceeding the Third Position.

Grade E.—Moderately Difficult, as far as the Fifth Position.

Grade F.—Difficult, especially as regards Sentiment and


Grade G.—Difficult, using all Positions.

Grade H.—Very Difficult, including Standard Concertos and
Concert Pieces.

Grade I.—For Virtuosi.



12mo., Cloth, 1.00.


Translated and Adapted from the German of



"The school of Cremona is dealt with at great length, but in the most interesting way. Short biographical sketches are given of the great exponents of this school, which was founded by Andreas Amati. To it belonged Antonio Stradivari, who is said to be the greatest of all violin makers, and Joseph Guarnerius. The pupils of the Amati and the others mentioned are duly tabulated before the schools of Milan and Venice are discussed. Following these we have the German school, etc., etc. Part III. of the book under notice deals with the constituent parts of the violin, and there is nothing that the seeker after knowledge cannot find here, even to the number of hairs which should go to the making of a bow. Strings, bridges, sound-posts, bass-bars, nuts, pegs—indeed, everything about a violin is treated in an authoritative way. Not for a very long time have we been so interested in a book, and for that reason we wish our violin players to share that pleasure by getting a copy."—The Cumnock Chronicle.



12mo., Cloth, 2.00.


(Of the Music Jury, International Inventions Exhibition, South Kensington, 1885; International Exhibition, Edinburgh, 1890; Expert in Law Courts, 1891; President of the Cremona Society).

With numerous Illustrations by the Author,
41 full-page Reproductions of Photographs,
220 pages of Letterpress.

"Mr. Petherick is well known in the musical world as a violin expert with a special knowledge of the instruments made by the Cremonese master."—Lloyds.

This is the only exhaustive work published on JOSEPH GUARNERIUS, and the Author claims to have discovered his Teacher in Andreas Gisalberti, whose name is here mentioned for the first time as a maker of renown.



  1. All biographical notices of Paganini, with the exception of that in Riemann's "Dictionary of Music," give February 18th, 1784, as the date of birth. The correct date seems to have been established when the centenary celebration took place, in 1882.

  2. Anders, and others after him, give the name of the second singer as Albertinotti. No such name can be traced, and it is probable that it was the young Bertinotti, who was a juvenile prodigy, appearing in opera at the age of twelve. She sang in London about the year 1812.

  3. William Gardiner many years later spoke of the transparent delicacy of Paganini's complexion, and said of his little son Achille that he was the handsomest boy he had ever seen.

  4. Fétis calls it "Foudroyante exécution."

  5. Naumann, "History of Music," p. 1140 (English Edition.)

  6. Professor Julius Schottky.

  7. Cimarosa, who died in 1801, espoused the revolutionary cause when the French army entered Italy, and was imprisoned and condemned to death when the reaction came, but was restored to liberty on condition of leaving Naples. He would, naturally, have been popular with the Bonapartists, and it was rather ungenerous vanity on the part of Paganini to have exulted over this particular success.

  8. Laphaléque.

  9. Son of Giuseppe Dana, of Naples?

  10. The Life of Rossini, p. 226.

  11. With the exception of a Literary Supplement to the "New Musical and Universal Magazine," 1774, there was no publication devoted to Music until the year 1818, when "The Quarterly Musical Magazine and Review" appeared, edited by Robert Mackenzie Bacon. This was followed in 1823 by "The Harmonicon," edited by William Ayrton.

  12. Harmonicon, Vol. III., p. 37.

  13. Where Beethoven gave his concerts in 1814.

  14. The writer's memory played him false. The meeting with Lafont took place in 1816; or, according to some, in 1812!

  15. This letter was reproduced in the "Harmonicon."

  16. Lady Morgan, in her book, "France in 1829-30," gives an account of the Giraffe just then arrived in Paris. The animal was added to the collection in the London Zoological Gardens in 1836.

  17. Litterateur, of Vienna: writer of comedies, etc.

  18. This letter was published in The Quarterly Musical Magazine and Review.

  19. Addressed to Le Corsaire, and reproduced (in English) in The Globe.

  20. An allusion to Michael Boai, whose performances in London, in 1830, were of a curious description,—producing tones by merely striking his chin!

  21. The Dilettante, in The Harmonicon, VIII, 479.

  22. Now played in D.

  23. Harmonicon, IX. p. 190.

  24. At that time concert givers always engaged an orchestra, but the gigantic combinations of the present day were, of course, unknown, and unnecessary.

  25. Chorley, then living in Liverpool, had previously sent some short pieces in verse to that paper, but did not become a member of its staff until 1833.

  26. "Reminiscences," by Thomas Carlyle, I., 311.

  27. Which resulted in the Symphony, "Harold in Italy," with a solo part for the viola.

  28. The spelling betrays an ignorance of the instrument, though the writer must have been Chorley himself. Interest in those antique instruments had not then been revived, nor were there artists to play upon them.

  29. Pergolesi.

  30. The Athenæum puts the amount at 52,000 francs.

  31. In the Musical World of February 16th, 1843, there is a paragraph stating that Paganini's remains were still unsepulchred, the corpse lying in an uninhabited house.

  32. Life of Moscheles (English Edition), I., p. 252-7.

  33. Duranowski, a talented Polish violinist. He entered the French army and was aide-de-camp to a General. He lost his rank when released; returned to his violin, and was living at Strassburg up to 1834.

  34. An engraving of it is in Naumann's "History of Music" (English Edition), p. 255.

  35. Norwich.

  36. In the "Bow Bell's Annual" for 1878 (?)

  37. Little is now known of this artist. He married Veronica, sister of the pianist and composer J. L. Dussek, and was the father of Pio Cianchettini, composer, who died at Cheltenham in 1851.

  38. Berlioz was then thirty-five, Paganini, fifty-six years of age.

  39. Aus dem Tonleben unserer Zeit, Vol. II., p. 55.

  40. Künstlerleben, p. 88.

  41. Life and Letters of Sir Charles Hallé, p. 69.

  42. The last words of Liszt's article "Sur Paganini, A Propos de Sa Mort," published in the "Revue et Gazette Musicale de Paris," December 23, 1840.

  43. Franz Liszt, Artist and Man, Vol. I., pp. 258-65.

  44. Karl Michael Esser, born about 1736, date of death unknown.

  45. In the Tonic Sol-fa method great stress is laid upon the mental effect of each note of the scale, altogether apart from pitch.

  46. Life of Mozart, Otto Jhan, English Edition, I., 319.

  47. In 1883, several musical papers stated that a certain amateur collector of violins, during a tour in Italy, visited the little Sardinian village, Ameglia, and purchased a collection of instruments used by Paganini, which were at that time in the possession of the widow of L. M. Germi, the intimate friend of Paganini. The said amateur also became possessed of "the secret," but what he did with it has never transpired.

  48. Born at Mantua, 1798; died at Paris, 1834.

  49. "The Violin," by George Hart. Popular Edition, 1880, p. 202.

  50. It is strange that the Biographical Dictionaries are silent concerning Oury, who must have been a man of some note. He is merely named as the husband of Anna Caroline de Belleville, the once famous pianist (1806-1880), who made her début in London at a Paganini concert in 1831.

  51. The Story of the Violin by Paul Stoeving, p. 208.

  52. Lapheléque, p. 45.

  53. Carl F. W. Guhr, born at Militsch, Silesia, October 30th, 1787, violinist, pianist and composer, became Director of the Museum Concerts and Conductor of the Opera at Frankfort-on-the-Main, in which city he died July 22nd, 1848.

  54. Mrs. Tom Taylor (née Laura Wilson Barker) was a fine musician, a composer, and almost phenomenal performer on the pianoforte and the violin. She played with both Spohr and Paganini, and took down this set of variations after hearing Paganini play them twice. She died at Coleshill, Bucks, May 22nd, 1905, at the advanced age of eighty-six.

  55. Gustavo Carulli was the son of the celebrated guitarrist, Ferdinando Carulli, and was born at Leghorn in 1801.

  56. They were performed at the private quartet concerts given by Mr. Burnett in the Art Club, Blackheath, from about the year 1893 onward.

  57. The Quarterly Musical Magazine and Review, Vol. X., p. 205.

  58. Reproduced on page 144.

  59. The Musical Times, May 1st, 1886.


Transcriber's Notes

"Nicolò" and "Nicolo" were both used in the text. Many other variant and alternative spellings have been preserved, except where obviously misspelled in the original. Obvious punctuation errors have also been corrected.

The illustrations have been moved so that they do not break up paragraphs and so that they are next the text they illustrate. Thus the location of an illustration may not match the references to it in the text.

The printed text was followed by two series of advertisements. The first series was reproduced in the second, except with American rather than British pricing. The first series bore a header "Advertisements." on each page; this has been replaced by a heading preceding the advertisements. Only the second series had page numbers.