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? Those 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!"
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