Geek Smithology

November 12, 2005

MP3otW – Caprice No. 2 by Niccolo Paganini

Filed under: MP3 of the Week by Nathan @ 5:43 pm

Before Marilyn Mason’s Antichrist Superstar in 1996.
Before Iron Maiden’s Number of the Beast[1] in 1982.
Before Johnny Rotten ushered in a new era screaming “I am an antichrist” in 1977.
Before John Lennon let us know the Beatles were more popular than Jesus in 1966.

Hell, a full century and quarter before Jerry Lee Lewis was accused by Reverend Falwell of playing the “Devil’s Music”, violinist Niccolo Paganini was playing the violin with such passion, force, and virtuosity that people in the audience would faint.

There were rumours that one of his violin strings was fashioned from his wife’s intestines, and of course there was no way someone could develop such technique without entering the proverbial Faustian pact. Such was his mastery of the violin that inspired the incomparable Franz Liszt to do the same for the piano (and we shall hear from him one day, believe me.)

In 1820, Niccolo’s 24 Caprices for Violin were published, to this day considered far too difficult for the repertoire – these pieces are for virtuosos only. Without further ado, here is the second caprice from that incomparable collection. And yes, that is a solo violin (played by the excellent James Ehns, master of the fiddle.)

[1] Yeah, I know the song. I know it’s about a dream. I know it’s not pro-Satan. But did your parents know that?

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