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Love via Violin


Niccoló Paganini was one of the greatest violinists the world had ever known. He also knew how to win friends and inluence people with a good gimmick. This is an account of an incident that occurred in 1807:

A charming lady and I had an interest in each other — an interest intensified by secrecy.

One day I promised her a surprise at the next concert — a little musical trick that would refer to our relationship. In the meantime, I announced to the court an entertaining novelty called “Amorous Scene.” Everyone’s curiosity was thoroughly piqued by the time I appeared with my violin — from which I had removed two inner strings, leaving only the E and G strings.

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The E string, I explained, represented the woman and the G-string, the man. Then I started a kind of dialogue representing little arguments and a reconciliation between my two lovers. The strings first scolded, then sighed, lisped, groaned, teased, rejoiced, and voiced their ecstasy. The scene ended with a reconciliation and the two lovers performed a pas de deux, concluding with a dazzling coda.

This love scene received enthusiastic applause. The lady for whom I had devised it rewarded me with most affectionate glances.

The princess was in the audience. She was very gracious and generous with her compliments. Then she said, “Since you’ve already performed something so lovely on two strings, couldn’t you favor us with something on one?”

I responded with the “Napolean Sonata” for the G string, which I played before the assembled court. I received so much applause that a Cimarosa Cantata played afterward was completely upstaged.

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