Paganini, Niccolò

BORN 27 Oct 1782, Genova, Liguria: 38 Via Gatta Mora - DIED 27 May 1840, Nice, Alpes-Maritimes
CAUSE OF DEATH internal hemorrhaging
GRAVE LOCATION Parma, Emilia-Romagna: Cimitero della Villetta, Viale della Villetta 29 B

Niccolò Paganini was the son of Antonio Paganini, who was unsuccessful as a trader and played the mandolin for additional income. His mother was Teresa Bocciardo. Panagini started playing the violin when he was seven years old and and impressed immediately with his talent. He was taught by Giovanni Servetto and Giacomo Costa. In Parma he was taught by Ferdinando Paer. In 1796 the Paganini's moved to Romairone after the French invaded Genoa. In 1800 he went to Livorno with his father, where he gave concerts. In 1801 he was contracted as first violinist in Lucca. He was also a gifted guitar player, but he preferred to restrict this to private concerts.

In 1805 power in Lucca was transferred to Napoleon's sister Elisa Baciocchi and he was engaged as court violinist. He personally instructed Felice Baciocchi. He moved with the Baciocchi court to Florence in 1807, but in 1809 he left them to concentrate on his freelance career. He toured in the regions around Genoa and Parma. In 1813 his concert at La Scala in Milan was a huge success and he started to attract attention across Europe. In 1813 he met the singer Antonia Bianchi from Como and he performed together with her. In 1814 he fell in love with Angela Cavanna and against the wishes of her parents he went to Parma with her. Her father filed a complaint for child circumvention and Paganini was imprisoned in the Ducal Palace. There he met the lawyer Luigi Guglielmo Germi who became a close friend. After a few days he was released.

In 1824 he started a love affair with Antonia Bianchi and their son Achilles Cyrus Alexander was born on 23 Jul 1825 in Palermo. After years of performing in Italy, he started a concert tour in Vienna in 1828 that took him all over Europe and lasted until 1831. In 1828 in Vienna his affair with Antonia Bianchi ended. Paganini was a womanizer and contracted syphilis in 1822. He was treated with mercure and opium and this probably was one of the causes of his fragile health and psychological problems. In 1834 he received treatment for tuberculosis in Paris. He recovered, but suffered from health problems for the rest of his life.

He continued his tours in Europe, often taking his son Achilles with him. Paganini ended his concert career in 1834 and returned to his native Genoa. There he worked on the publication of his compositions and violin methods. In 1835 in Parma he was contracted to reorganise the court orchestra by Marie Louise of Austria, but conflicts with the musicians and the court prevented him from completing this task.

In 1836 he started a casino in Paris, but its failure forced him to sell his collection of musical instruments. In 1838 he travelled to Nice. His health detoriated. When in 1840 a priest was sent to him by the bishop of Nice to perform the last rites, Paganini sent him away because he didn't believe he was dying. A week later he was dead. Because of this, and because he had been associated with the devil during his life, he was refused a Catholic burial in Genoa. After an appeal to the pope, his remains were transferred to Genoa four years later, but a burial still didn't take place. In 1876 he was buried in a cemetery in Parma. In 1896 he was reburied at the Cimitero della Villetta in that city.

Related persons
• was teacher of Baciocchi, Felice Pasquale, prince of Lucca and Piombino
• visited Beer, Amalie
• knew Berlioz, Hector
• was a friend of Berlioz, Hector
• had a love affair with Bonaparte, Élisa
• has a connection with Bonaparte, Pauline
• was painted by Delacroix, Eugène
• influenced Ernst, Heinrich Wilhelm
• was drawn by Ingres, Jean Auguste Dominique
• was drawn by Kriehuber, Josef
• was rival of Lafont, Charles
• knew Liszt, Franz

11/3/1816Violin contest between Paganini and Lafont at La Scala in Milan. Lafont had challenged Paganini after he came to Milan through Rossini. Paganini, who had lived there since 1814, was unhappy to hold a contest but finally accepted the challenge. Lafont wanted to expose Paganini as a charlatan but he failed to do so. Neither of them was declared the winner and Lafont left Milan for Paris soon afterwards. [Lafont, Charles]
28/12/1820Paganini publishes his 24 Caprices. The 24 Caprices were 24 difficult pieces of music. 
27/6/1821Paganini is given a Guarnerius violin by a merchant from Genoa. He had pawned his former violin because of a gambling debt. He would use this violin until his death in 1840. 
4/3/1829Paganini performs at the Schauspielhaus in Berlin 
10/10/1831Morning concert of Paganini in the Commercial Buildings in Belfast. On 8 October and 11 October he also performed evening concerts at the theatre in Belfast. He was joined by the soprano Constanza Pietralia and the pianist Pio Cianchetti (1799-1851). 
20/4/1832Charity concert by Paganini in Paris for cholera victims. Franz Liszt was in the audience and after hearing Paganini he decided afterwards that he wanted to become a virtuoso on the piano like Paganini was on the violin. [Liszt, Franz]
6/7/1832Paganini performs at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, London. It was the first in a series of four concerts. 


Paganini's violin at the Palazzo Tursi, Genoa.
Picture by Androom (05 Mar 2014)


The grave of Nicolo Paganini at the Cimitero della Villetta, Parma.
Picture by Androom (11 Feb 2017)


The grave of Nicolo Paganini at the Cimitero della Villetta, Parma.
Picture by Androom (11 Feb 2017)


Plaque for Niccolo Paganini in Lucca.
Picture by Androom (15 Feb 2018)


• Adler, Josef, Handbuch der Grabstätten, 2. Band, Die Grabstätte der Europäer, Deutsches Kunstverlag, München, 1986
Encyclopedie van de Muziek, Elsevier, Amsterdam, 1959
Franz Liszt - Wikipedia
Niccolò Paganini - Wikipedia
Concert Programmes 1790-1914
|  Peter Sheppard Skærved  |  name Charles-Philippe Lafont-Variations on ‘La Vestale’  | 
Niccolò Paganini | PremioPaganini

Pagay, Sophie

Published: 05 Mar 2017
Last update: 02 Oct 2023