Niccolò Paganini

Sonata per la grand viola

            Paganini is perhaps the best representative of a major characteristic of nineteenth-century romantic music:  the rise of the astounding virtuoso performer.  Today, musical audiences of more than a century later still revel in hearing performances by outstanding executants on their instruments.  Franz Liszt, with Paganini as a model, was a rival showman on the piano, and there were any number of later conductors who helped establish the “cult of personality” associated with the conductor as maestro.  Paganini’s virtuosity was legendary, and he composed many works to play, himself—many of which were published only after his death, owing to the belief that only he could play them.  Admittedly, most of them are no match in profundity for the great composers of the time, relying