• Corpus ID: 44003688

Virtuosity, the violin, the devil…what really made Paganini “demonic”?

  title={Virtuosity, the violin, the devil…what really made Paganini “demonic”?},
  author={Maiko Kawabata},
  journal={Current Musicology},
Our inherited image of Nicolo Paganini as a "demonic" violinist - a Gothic figure exemplifying Romanticism and epitomizing instrumental virtuosity - has never been analyzed in depth. What really made him "demonic"? According to the most popular legend, Paganini, like Faust, made a pact with Satan to acquire magical powers - enabling him to create effects on the violin beyond the reach of anyone else. Others thought he was possessed by the devil and coaxed the violin to produce what they… 

Figures and Tables from this paper

The Intimate Virtuoso: The Guitar, the Rhetoric of Transformation, and Issues of Spectacle in Music by Fernando Sor, Johann K. Mertz, and Giulio Regondi

Studies of virtuosity in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries have tended to focus on the piano and the violin. These instruments were obviously virtuosic and lent themselves to visual and aural

The Devil, the Violin, and Paganini: The Myth of the Violin as Satan’s Instrument

Abstract Stringed instruments are included in Psalm 150 among those appropriate for music-making in praise of the Lord. For that reason, angels frequently appear in medieval and Renaissance art

Pianosexual : Fascinations of Tori Amos ' s sexualized virtuosity in performance i

Background. Best known for straddling the piano bench and singing lyrics such as “I crucify myself everyday,” there is much more to American singer-songwriter Tori Amos than meets the ear. Trained as

Caroline Carvalho and nineteenth-century coloratura

  • S. Parr
  • Art
    Cambridge Opera Journal
  • 2011
Abstract This essay explores how the soprano Caroline Carvalho (née Marie Félix-Miolan, 1827–95) perpetuated and extended the art of coloratura singing in the mid-nineteenth century. Creator of roles

A Sublime Invasion: Meyerbeer, Balzac, and the Opera Machine

Pity the Meyerbeer enthusiast. The slow struggle to rehabilitate the once mighty and internationally beloved composer is far from complete. Recent years have seen a surge in scholarship—including a

Becoming Bach, Blaspheming Bach: Kinesthetic Knowledge and Embodied Music Theory in Ysaye's "Obsession" for Solo Violin

This essay explores kinesthetic musical knowledge: what can it tell us about the music, the performer, or the composer? In discussing my own experience of performing "Obsession," the first movement

A piece of the exotic: virtuosic violin compositions and national identity

Violin virtuosos Henryk Wieniawski, Ole Bull, and Pablo de Sarasate each composed short virtuosic works based on their own cultural heritage. This thesis examines the exotic elements incorporated

The Fantastic Liszt: Reading Character

As the sites of reception of an artist change with time, location, class and language, any number of metanarratives emerge within their respective discourse. Franz Liszt is of course no exception, a

The Imaginary Life of Nineteenth-Century Virtuosity

Nineteenth-century virtuosity can be understood as a form of subjection under a musical law whose power could only be broken by hyperbolic responses of self-annihilating over-fulfilment of this law’s

Wrecked by Success? Not to Worry

We examined the wrecked-by-success hypothesis. Initially formalized by Sigmund Freud, this hypothesis has become pervasive throughout the humanities, popular press, and modern scientific literature.



Art of Darkness: A Poetics of Gothic

This text aims to describe the principles governing Gothic literature. Ranging across five centuries of fiction, drama and verse - including tales as diverse as Horace Walpole's "The Castle of

Crescendo of the Virtuoso: Spectacle, Skill, and Self-Promotion in Paris during the Age of Revolution

During the Age of Revolution, Paris came alive with wildly popular virtuoso performances. Whether the performers were musicians or chefs, chess players or detectives, these virtuosos tranformed their

The Concerto that Wasn't: Paganini, Urhan and Harold in Italy

  • M. Kawabata
  • Linguistics
    Nineteenth-Century Music Review
  • 2004
It was Paganini's request for a concerto that prompted Berlioz to embark on the composition that eventually became Harold in Italy. The legendary virtuoso, then at the height of his fame, had

Europe's Inner Demons: The Demonization of Christians in Medieval Christendom

In this ground-breaking book, Professor Norman Cohn traces popular beliefs about witches to their origins. He examines the fantasies that inspired the great European witch-hunt of the 16th and 17th

The literature of terror : a history of Gothic fictions from 1765 to the present day

Introduction Gothic literature, a movement that focused on ruin, decay, death, terror, and chaos, and privileged irrationality and passion over rationality and reason, grew in response to the

‘Veluti in speculum’: The twilight of the castrato

The final performances of castrato Giovanni Battista Velluti in London in the late 1820s constitute a particularly rich vantage point from which to explore why the castrato was eventually forced from

Mozart: A Life

Mozart, A Life. By Maynard Solomon. New York: HarperCollins, 1995. [xvi, 640 p. ISBN 0-06-019046-9.$35.00] Maynard Solomon's eagerly awaited biography of Mozart represents a distinguished achievement

Bowing Styles, Vibrato and Portamento in Nineteenth-Century Violin Playing

  • Clive Brown
  • History
    Journal of the Royal Musical Association
  • 1988
There are many aspects of nineteenth-century violin playing that have received little attention from scholars. The subject is a vast and complicated one, far beyond the scope of a short article to

Listening in Paris: A Cultural History.

Beginning with the simple question, 'Why did audiences grow silent?' "Listening in Paris" gives a spectator's-eye view of opera and concert life from the Old Regime to the Romantic era, describing

Mad Loves: Women And Music In Offenbach's "Les Contes D'hoffmann"

Acknowledgments ix Introduction 3 Chapter One Telling the Tales 17 Chapter Two Mesmerizing Voices: Music, Medicine, and the Invention of Dr. Miracle 42 Chapter Three Song as Symptom: Antonia,