Great Violinists And Pianists eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 224 pages of information about Great Violinists And Pianists.

The career of Paganini was at this critical period fast drawing to a close.  His medical advisers recommended him to return at once to the South, fearing that the winter would kill him in Paris.  He died at Nice on May 27, 1840, aged fifty-six years.  He left to his legitimized son Achille, the offspring of his liaison with the singer Antonia Bianchi, a fortune of eighty thousand pounds, and the title of baron, of which he had received the patent in Germany.  His beautiful Guarnerius violin, the vehicle of so many splendid artistic triumphs, he bequeathed to the town of Genoa, where he was born.  Though Paganini was superstitious, and died a son of Holy Church, he did not leave any money in religious bequests, nor did he even receive the last sacraments.  The authorities of Rome raised many difficulties about the funeral, and it was only after an enormous amount of trouble and expense that Achille was able to have a solemn service to the memory of his father performed at Parma.  It was five years after Paganini’s death that this occurred, and permission was obtained to have the body removed to holy ground in the village churchyard near the Villa Gajona.  During this long period the dishonored remains of the illustrious musician were at the hospital of Nice, where the body had been embalmed, and afterward at a country place near Genoa, belonging to the family.  The superstitious peasantry believed that strange noises were heard about the grave at night—­the wailings of the unsatisfied spirit of Paganini over the unsanctified burial of its earthly shell.  It was to end these painful stories that the young baron made a final determined effort to placate the ecclesiastical authorities.

VI.

The singular personality of Paganini displayed itself in his private no less than in his artistic life, and a few out of the many anecdotes told of him will be of interest, as throwing fresh light on the man.  Paganini was accused of being selfish and miserly, of caring little even for his art, except as a means of accumulating money.  While there is much in his life to justify such an indictment, it is no less true that he on many occasions displayed great generosity.  He was always willing to give concerts for the benefit of his fellow-artists and for other charitable purposes, and on more than one occasion bestowed large sums of money for the relief of distress.  We may assume that he was niggardly by habit and generous by impulse.  Utterly ignorant of everything except the art of music, bred under the most unfortunate and demoralizing conditions, the fact that his character was, on the whole, so naive and upright, speaks eloquently for the native qualities of his disposition.  His eccentricities, perhaps, justified the unreasoning vulgar in believing that he was slightly crazed.  His appearance and manner on the platform were fantastic in the extreme, and rarely failed to provoke ridicule, till his magic

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Great Violinists And Pianists from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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