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Niccolò Paganini

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Niccolò Paganini was born in Genoa, Italy, on 27 October 1782, to Antonio and Teresa (née Bocciardo) Paganini. According to his biographer Peter Lichtenthal, Paganini first learned to play the mandolin from his father at the age of five, and quickly moved to the violin by the age of seven, and began composing before he turned eight. He gave his first public concert at the age of 12. In his early teens he studied under various teachers, including Giovanni Servetto and Alessandro Rolla, but he could not cope well with his success; at the age of 16 he was gambling and drinking. His career was saved by an unknown lady, who took him to her estate where he recovered and studied the violin for three years. He also played the guitar during this time.

He reappeared when he was 23, becoming director of music to Napoleon’s sister Elisa Baciocchi, Princess of Lucca, when he wasn’t touring. He soon became a legend for his unparalleled mastery of the violin, with debuts in Milan in 1813, Vienna 1828, and both London and Paris in 1831. Paganini was one of the first musicians, if not the first, to tour as a solo artist, without supporting musicians. He became one of the first “superstars” of public concertizing. He made a fortune as a touring musician, and was uncanny in his ability to charm an audience.

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