AMHERST, N.H. – Niccolo Paganini was a remarkable Italian violinist and composer (1782–1840) who is generally regarded as the greatest virtuoso in the history of the instrument. A rare Paganini signature and two of the master’s legendary strings will be sold by New Hampshire-based RR Auction in an event whose bidding closes on June 19, 2013.
“This remarkable souvenir was presented during one of his two performances in the small German municipality of Elberfeld in May of 1830, at the peak of his career,” said a press release issued by RR Auction.
The ink signature and sentiment, in Italian, (translated) says: “Who will keep this forever in the memory of Paganini Niccolo, Elberfeld, with two coiled violin strings which Paganini tied near the bottom.”
As Paganini’s fame spread across Europe, so did this tale of his miraculous ability. Rumors swirled that his talent came from alleged dealings with the devil, and his strings became the stuff of legend. There was speculation not only about the spirit the strings held, but also about their origin — made from the intestines of a former lover, some even suggested. The truth behind the story, though significantly less sensational, underscores his phenomenal talent.
During a performance at the height of his career, it is frequently told, Paganini broke a string on his violin, stopped for a moment to retune the remaining three, and resumed playing. A moment later, another broke, and again he resumed; finally, a third broke, leaving him with only one string, on which he was able to beautifully play the remainder of his piece.
While writing his own compositions, Paganini taught himself to play significant portions on only one string. To boost his reputation, he would begin concerts with weakened strings, anticipating their breaking so that he could awe the crowd with his ‘impromptu’ single-string completion of the difficult works.
“An unbelievable souvenir presentation from the most celebrated violinist of his time,” remarked RR Auction VP Bobby Livingston.
The auction, which features more than 1,850 items, runs through June 19 at 7 p.m. Eastern. For additional details, visit www.rrauction.com.
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