Suzuki violin students learn the theme from Witches’ Dance in Book 2. Here is the original piece by Niccolo Paganini (1782-1840).
Through his virtuosity, Paganini transformed violin playing. Audiences at the time were shocked by the new sounds and dazzling effects which he employed. He toured Europe garnering celebrity comparable to a modern day rock star.
Listen to this spectacular performance by Eugene Fodor. This clip is taken from his 1990’s recording, Witches’ Brew which features a collection of violin show pieces. You’ll recognize the Witches’ Dance theme at 3:20, followed by a series of variations featuring double stops (two pitches played at the same time) harmonics (a whistle-like sound effect produced by the finger touching the string lightly) left hand pizzicato, up bow staccato and more. It’s amazing how many different voices can be produced by a single violin, each bringing to life a unique personality.
Paganini’s music is infused with an elegance and Bel canto (“beautiful singing”) quality that may remind you of Italian opera.