Niccolò Paganini (Italian, 1782-1840): Caprice no. 24
Anniversary of his death on May 27
We heard Tartini's famous "Devil's Trill" sonata last week, but the violin has been associated with the devil throughout history. A century later, another Italian violinist was also said to have made a deal with the devil, because nobody could imagine how else he could have acquired such apparently inhuman skills. Paganini also composed music which used the new techniques he invented, and violinists struggle with them to this day. But if there was a 20th century whose skills could be described as fiendish, that would be Jascha Heifetz. He is well-matched to play the 24th and most famous (though, incredibly, NOT the most difficult!) of Paganini's caprices. Many say he was the greatest violinist of all time, at least that we have recordings of, so don't ask me to demonstrate this in your lessons! Particularly the part at 2:41--diabolical indeed! (I agree that he in some music Heifetz is utterly unequalled, but in other repertoire I don't care for his playing as much. Which is how it should be--it would be very boring to listen to one violinist play everything all the time.)
Heifetz on YouTube
In May 2017 I challenged my students to practice every day for 30 days in a row. In addition, I asked them to listen to 30 bite-sized musical selections I emailed daily. I collected my picks in this blog for posterity. So these are works I find particularly fun, interesting, or important, including a handful by composers who were born or who died in May. Please enjoy!