Paganini, Nicolò. (1782–1840)
Autograph Concert Program Signed FIVE times
Handwritten plan for a concert penned by Paganini, signed five times, "Paganini," one page, 7.75 x 6.75, Academie Royale de Musique, Paris letterhead, no date [ca. 1831]. Paganini outlines a plan for a Friday concert, writing four lines in Italian, each finishing with his surname. Among the pieces are the first part of his B Minor Concerto, what is understood to be his Religiosa introduzione al Rondo del Campanello, an sonata played only on his fourth string with variations on a martial tune, and a Larghetto and variations on a theme by Rossini. In part: "1. Prima parte di un Concerto in Si minore composto e eseguito dal Paganini, 2. Introduzione religiosa expressamente composta del Paganini, e Rondo allegretto obbligato ad un Campanella Composta, ed eseguito del Paganini, 3. Sonata di un Canto appassionato, e Variazioni Sopra un tema marziale Composta, ed eseguito sulla sola 4ta corda dal Paganini, 4. Larghetto, e variazioni sopra un Tema di Rossini Composta ed eseguito dal Paganini." Mounted and framed to an overall size of 10.25 x 9.25. In fine condition.
When Paganini reached Paris in 1831, he had already acquired a reputation that simultaneously elicited wonder and repulsion. Louis Spohr wrote, “In his composition and his style there is a strange mixture of consummate genius, childishness and lack of taste that alternately charms and repels.” His ten concerts at the new Paris opera house inspired press scandals and slander campaigns, but Paganini certainly knew how to exploit publicity. In April 1832, Paganini returned to Paris to play a benefit concert for the victims of a cholera epidemic that was raging through the city. And this time, a certain Franz Liszt was in the audience. For Liszt, the performance provided the “blinding flash of insight,” that for all the hype and publicity, the Paris Virtuoso School had failed to produce a comparable phenomenon among pianists. Liszt writes, “For a whole fortnight my mind and my fingers have been working like two lost souls…I practice four to five hours of exercises (thirds, sixths, octaves, tremolos, repetition of notes, cadenzas, etc). Ah! Provided I don’t go mad you will find in me an artist! Yes, an artist…such as is required today.” With Paganini in mind, Liszt created a new kind of repertoire for the piano, which transferred some of the more spectacular Paganini feats to the keyboard. The immediate result was the Clochette Fantasy of 1832, a gigantic reworking of the “La campanella” melody Paganini had used in his B-minor Violin Concerto.