Paganini Meets Rossini: “I Palpiti”

If the Top 40 popular song charts had existed in the early nineteenth century, they would have been dominated by the melodies of opera composers such as Gioachino Rossini. Today, popular music is distributed through recordings. In the nineteenth century, music distribution came in the form of arrangements and adaptations. Rock star virtuosos such as Niccolò Paganini and Franz Liszt drew on these melodies in the form of paraphrases. Paganini’s Variations on I …

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The Artistry of Louis Persinger, Violinist and Teacher

In his newly published book, Have Violin, Will Travel: The Louis Persinger Story, Raymond Bruzan documents the life of an important twentieth century violinist and pedagogue. Born in the small town of Rochester, Illinois in 1887 and raised in Colorado, Louis Persinger rose to prominence as a gifted violinist and pianist. In 1900, he enrolled at the Leipzig Conservatory where the conductor Arthur Nikisch declared that he was “one of the most talented …

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Remembering Yehonatan Berick

The Israeli-born violinist, Yehonatan Berick, has passed away following a battle with a rapid form of cancer. He was 52. A prizewinner at the 1993 Walter W. Naumburg Foundation, Berick combined a busy concert schedule with teaching. At the time of his death, he was professor of violin at the University of Ottawa. Earlier, he served on the faculties of the University of Michigan, McGill University, and the Eastman School. His gifts as …

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Inmo Yang Plays Paganini

Last weekend, the Richmond Symphony’s season opened with concerts led by Marin Alsop. The program, perhaps one of the most memorable of my career in the RSO, included a performance of Paganini’s First Violin Concerto by the young Korean violinist, Inmo Yang. Yang, who was awarded First Prize at the 2015 Paganini Competition, brought more than stunning technique and poise. The Concerto was infused with the elegance and bel canto warmth of Italian opera. …

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Henryk Szeryng: Eight Great Recordings

Tomorrow marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Henryk Szeryng (1918-1988), one of the twentieth century’s greatest violinists. “When hearing Szeryng in live performances, one is always struck by the nobility and aristocracy of his concept,” wrote Boris Schwarz in his book, Great Masters of the Violin. In the recordings below, we hear effortlessly shaped phrases and a sense of singing through every note. Born in Poland, Szeryng studied with Carl Flesch in Berlin and was later …

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Ruggiero Ricci: Five Great Recordings

You have to try for the impossible, just in order to make the possible possible. -Ruggiero Ricci Tomorrow marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of one of the twentieth century’s greatest violinists, Ruggiero Ricci (1918-2012). Born near San Francisco to Italian immigrant parents, Ricci exploded onto the scene as a child prodigy, performing his first public concert in 1928 at the age of 10. At the age of 7, he began …

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New Release: Augustin Hadelich Plays Paganini’s 24 Caprices

Niccolò Paganini’s 24 Caprices, written between 1802 and 1817, are spectacular feats of daredevil virtuosity. With an unabashed bravura, they push the violin toward its technical limits. But Augustin Hadelich’s newest album reveals the drama, humor, and sunny Bel Canto tunefulness which is the true essence of this music. In a recent interview, Hadelich said, When Paganini performed, men and women often wept and fainted, not necessarily because they were dazzled by his virtuosic …

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