Paganini, Nicolò. (1782–1840)
1828 Vienna Concert Broadside from his first International Tour
Very rare concert broadside from the legendary violinist's first international tour, advertising a June 6, 1828 performance in Vienna at "the Hoftheater next to the Kärntinerthore [sic]." The "Kammer-Virtuoso" was to perform several of his own pieces including the Violin Concerto No. 2 in B minor and two compositions based on works by Rossini, the first a sonata with variations on the Preghiera from Mosè, and the second the debut performance of a Larghetto and Variations of a Cavatine (possibly Paganini’s Introduction and Variations on the Cavatina ‘Di tanti palpiti’ from Rossini’s opera ‘Tancredi’). Program punctuated by movements from "Mozart's Symphony in C major" and two arias sung by Antonia Bianchi - a "Cavatine" from Pacini's La sposa fedele and an unidentified scene and aria with variations. On laid paper with watermark "A B" and measuring 7.75 x 13.25 inches (19.5 x 33.7 centimeters). In fine condition, with small losses along the upper blank edge, unobtrusive nicks and small stains to edges. We have located no other examples of broadsides from the great virtuoso's Viennese concerts having ever appeared at auction or recorded in Worldcat.
Paganini and Bianchi met in 1824 and she quickly became his mistress, bearing him a son named Achilles in 1825. With Paganini being twice her age and increasingly subject to illness, their relationship was apparently difficult more or less from the beginning, though they performed together on and off until their separation. In 1828, he accepted an earlier invitation from Prince Metternich to visit Vienna, where he extended his stay several times, staying four months in the end and giving, in all, fourteen concerts, met with enormous public enthusiasm - in which Schubert also joined - and starting a fashion for everything à la Paganini. As advertised on the present broadside, he received the honorary title of chamber virtuoso from the Emperor, and was presented with the city's medal of St. Salvator. In the summer of 1828 he and Adriana Bianchi ended their tempestuous relationship.
An interesting side note regarding Paganini's Viennese performances concerns Franz Schubert, who gave only one public concert in his life, on Wednesday 26 March 1828, marking a breakaway from the Schubertiade as the principal performing stage for his talents, and thus promising to be a great turning point in Schubert's career. Unfortunately, the great benefits of the concert were negated by two great pieces of ill-fortune: Paganini and the Grim Reaper. For his many admirers, Schubert's concert stood out from the mass and was well attended, but the reviews in the Austrian press were drowned under the tsunami of Paganini's concert series, the first of which was held just three days later on 29 March in the Großer Redoutensaal.
After Vienna, Paganini travelled through Germany and to Poland, winning particular success in Berlin and Warsaw. In August 1829 he reached Frankfurt and established a base for himself there for the next eighteen months of continued tours, during which he visited Leipzig, now agreeing to play there, after earlier disagreements, and played for Goethe in Weimar. The young Robert Schumann had heard Paganini play in Frankfurt in early April 1830, an experience to be reflected in his later music. There followed tours to Paris and, in May 1831, to Great Britain, where he gave 150 concerts in England, Scotland and Ireland over the following months. His international career as a virtuoso ended in 1834, when, after an unsatisfactory tour of England, he returned again to Italy, to Parma, invited by the Archduchess Marie Luise of Austria to re-organize the court orchestra. In 1837 he became involved in an unsuccessful and short-lived business venture in Paris, the Casino Paganini, which was intended to provide facilities equally for gambling and for music. From this and the continuing financial obligations that its failure brought, and with failing health, he took final refuge in Nice, where he died in May 1840.