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Nicolo Paganini
Featured on:
Paganini cdc 009
Perle/Paganini cdc 008/009

Real Audio:
Cantabile in Re maggiore
per violino e pianoforte
A brilliant person who became a "myth"; a life which became a legend made up of anecdotes and famous adventures. Various questions immediately spring to mind. Nicolò or Niccolò? The certificate of baptism, written in Latin, is not clear on this point and Paganini himself signed his name with both spellings according to mood. Was he born on 27 October 1782 or 18 February 1784? The records of the Church of San Salvatore clearly indicate the first date but he did everything he could to muddy the waters and become younger. In 1821, on the eve of his marriage, he wrote a letter to his friend Luigi Germi: "I am sorry that I have reached forty years of age... if you could sort things out with the parish priest of S. Salvatore..." He was also a man dedicated to ostentation, and liked being at the centre of attention.
Paganini was something of a miser and very keen on money. He exploited his great musical talent in order to get as much as possible. His concerts in England (in a few months he gave over 150) gained him the massive sum of a million lire. "If Schubert had not recently earned 800 gilders from his last concert and had not insisted on my accompanying him", Eduard von Bauernfeld wrote, "I would never have found the five florins which this pirate asked of me to play in public!" Maybe all this was true but how can his gifts of money to his friends be explained?
The 10,000 lire given to Germi? The 20,000 francs handed over to Berlioz. "My dear friend", wrote Paganini in his accompanying letter, "with Beethoven now dead who could revive him if not Berlioz?" These are sums which were very large by contemporary standards. And then there was his magical capacity with his canon violin (a Guarneri del Gesù of 1742). What can one say about those hands which were able to perform astounding and abnormal movements which gave rise to acrobatic levels of virtuosity and achievement never to be matched?
Were they normal or in some way deformed? PaganiniThose who saw them said that they were no larger than the average and that he was able to extend their reach thanks to the elasticity in all their parts. It cannot be doubted that Paganini was a unique musical phenomenon who created the "virtuoso", the exemplary figure.
During the period in which he lived the techniques of violin playing had reached very high levels but with Paganini a great leap forward took place which made the impossible possible. Studying his career from this point of view, one can see that a distinct lineage began with Corelli, was carried on by Vivaldi and Tartini, and reached its fruition in Paganini. So who was this man? He was a lightning bolt, as the Istituto di Studi Paganiniani of Genoa has pointed out, which led Schumann on that Easter day of 1830 to dedicate himself wholly and totally to music. He was that shock which poleaxed Liszt in May 1832 leading him to exclaim: "Quel homme, quel violon, quel artiste! Dieu, que de souffrances, de misères, de tortures dans ces quatres cordes!"

1782 Born in Genoa (27 October) to Antonio (a docker in the port of Genoa) and Teresa Bocciardo.
Paisiello performs "Il Barbiere di Siviglia" and Mozart "Il ratto di Serraglio".
1786 He is afflicted by a very serious illness. Mozart presents "Le Nozze di Figaro".
1792 He takes his first lessons in the violin from Givanni Cervetto. Rossini is born.
1794 He holds his first concerts at Genoa in the Churches delle Vigne and di San Filippo.
1795 He performs "Variazioni sulla Carmagnola" at the Teatro S.Agostino. Haydn writes his last symphonies "Londinesi".
1796 At the home of the Marquis Di Negro the violinist Rodolphe Kreutzer listens to him play.
1800 He receives the cannone violino as a present. Beethoven writes his first symphony.
1805 He has a love affair with Eleonora Quilici. Beethoven writes the third version of Fidelio. Boccherini dies.
1810 He begins his career as a soloist playing at Leghorn, Luca, Cesena, Forlì and Rimini. Rossini’s debut with La cambiale del matrimonio. Chopin and Schumann are born.
1814 Elopes to Genoa with the twenty-year-old Angelina Cavanna. He is accused of "abduction and seduction of a minor". Beethoven finishes the third version of Fidelio.
1817 He gives his 24 capricci to Ricordi. Rossini puts on "La Cenerentola" and "La gazza ladra".
1818 He meets Rossini in Bologna. Debut of Donizzetti. Rossini’s "Mose in Egitto".
1819 Presents "Non piu Mesta" in Naples. Composes "Sonata a Preghiera" from Mose. Clementi finishes the second volume of "Gradus ad Parnassum". Offenbach is born.
1820 Ricordi publishes the 24 Capricci, the twelve sonatas for violin and guitar, and the six quartets for strings and guitar.
1822 Professor Borda diagnoses syphilis. The two years "lost in sadness" begin. Schubert writes his unfinished symphony.
1824 He returns to concert work. Beethoven finishes his ninth symphony.
1827 At a concert in Milan he plays the variations "Nel cor piu non mi sento". Beethoven dies.
1828 Concert tours in Eurospe till 1834.
1835 He composes "Moto Perpetuo" and the 60 variations on the Barucaba for violin and guitar.
1837 He is involved in speculation in a gambling house (Casino Paganini). He is struck down by complete and irreversable aphonia.
1840 Dies in Nice (May) with his son at his bedside. Tchaikovsky is born.

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