Niccolo Paganini, born in Genoa, Italy 27 October 1782, was a classical violinist who set new standards for virtuosity. Though in ill health, he could perform stretches and great feats of dexterity previously unknown to the instrument and music in general. His etudes and 24 Caprices are still the benchmark for virtuoso playing on string instruments.Because of his gaunt appearance and formidable chops, he was widely reputed to have sold his soul to satan in exchange for his musical skill. He paved the way for Franz Liszt, Robert Johnson, Yngwie Malmsteen, and all the other terrifying flamboyant virtuoso instrumental performers throughout modern history.

In addition to the violin, Paganini was well-acquainted with the guitar and viola. He considered making the latter his primary instrument after obtaining a peculiarly excellent specimen, made by Stradivarius. He also owned, upon his death at Nice in 1840, eleven Stradivari violins, four Guernari, two Amati and a Stradivarius double bass.

“What a man! What a violin! What an artist! Heavens! What sufferings, what misery, what torture in those four strings!” - Franz Liszt

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