PaganiniNiccolo Paganini is considered by most of the music world to be the greatest violinist of all time. People still speak his name with a certain reverence. However, other than his womanizing ways and the fact that people believed his mother sold his soul to the devil in exchange for a great career, most people don’t know much about this great violinists’ life. So, in an effort to enlighten people, here are 6 things you didn’t know about Niccolo Paganini.

1. He had an overly strict father

Like many prodigies, Paganini suffered from having an over-involved father. His father, who was a musician in his own right, kept very firm control over his practice schedule. It’s even rumored that if Paganini didn’t complete the hours of practice he was supposed to, his father wouldn’t let him eat. All the hard work paid off, with the legendary violinist beginning his public music career at the age of 12.

2. He began supporting himself early on

Maybe to get out from under his fathers’ thumb, or maybe just because he loved music so much, but at the age of 18, Paganini was becoming quite the entrepreneur. He not only kept a full-time job working as first violinist, but he also picked up side jobs to supplement his income. Of course, he didn’t keep all that money because…

3. He was a horrible gambler

That’s right. Even the greatest musicians have their vices and demons. And for Paganini, that was money. He gambled incessantly, to the point he even became an investor in a casino. Needless to say, the entire business venture failed horribly and left the musician in deep debt. He ended up selling his belongings just to break even.

4. He adored his son

Yes, Paganini was a womanizer, but for several years, he was devoted to one woman, a singer named Antonia Bianchi. The two had a child together, despite never officially getting married, and even when they separated after 15 years, he was still very involved with their child. In fact, he would take his son on tour with him, just so they could be together.

5. He also composed music

His compositions aren’t as popular as his reputation as a violinist, but it’s still true. Paganini spent quite a bit of time composing pieces for the violin. A vast majority of his pieces were created to be played by the guitar. A few of these were meant to be played by the violin and guitar. It’s interesting because Paganini’s father was actually a mandolin player, so maybe this was his way of reaching out. Maybe.

6. No one wanted to bury him

Except his son, that is. Paganini’s reputation of having a deal with the devil was alive and very much believed in his day, so much so that the church refused to bury him. His son fought very hard to find him a resting place. Unfortunately, he wasn’t buried for thirty-six long years. Eventually, however, he was laid to rest in Parma.

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9 replies
  1. LordRocksavage
    LordRocksavage says:

    He refused last rights on his death bed. All the burial ground was consecrated so he couldn’t be buried. His son Achille booked his coffin passage on a merchant ship and the great man sailed the seas for most of those (nearly forty) years. He has also been reburied at least twice as his first grave was just down from an olive oil processing plant and the grave was spoiled with sludge. Because he was loved by so many for his amazing work on the violin the Pope at that time (whose name escapes me just now) lifted the church objection to his burial in holy ground. He died in 1840. Reading most every bio on him inspired me to learn the violin late in life (I was 27). His bio is fun reading. Give it a try.

  2. RosaleeKay
    RosaleeKay says:

    Now I’m interested in finding and listening to his music. I hope the story of selling his soul to the Devil is not true. People were very superstitious in olden days.

  3. beccafico
    beccafico says:

    Fascinating stories… but I hope he “isn’t rocking the hell”; may he rest in peace… and thank you Niccolo for glorious pieces and setting the standard so high.

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