Paganini’s Magnum Opus: Exploring the Virtuosic Mastery of His Most Challenging Violin Composition

ByQuyen Anne

Sep 5, 2023

We all know Niccolò Paganini’s crazy virtuosic talents and his difficult pieces.


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Violinist Niccolo Paganini (1782-1840). Painting by Georg Friedrich Kersting.


Yesterday, I learned of another one of those pieces from TwoSet Violin: his “Introduction et Variations sur le Thême ‘Nel cor più non mi sento’ pour le Violon Seul de Nicolo Paganini.” (Gotta love those old-fashioned long titles – for anything – academic papers, books, plays, pieces of music, etc. :P)

This piece is crazy difficult, and Eddy in this video does a great job of breaking down some of the most difficult techniques. To really appreciate how much time and effort goes into working on a piece like this, I also listened to a professional recording of the work alongside this video.

As a composer before a violinist, this made me think about the importance of accessibility when writing music. Unless you have the world’s best musicians at your disposal, it is so important you are able to make sure your music isn’t too difficult as to be unapproachable by everyday musicians. If you have the time, patience, and energy to spend learning a difficult work – or playing one you yourself wrote, like the Violin Devil himself – it is certainly a feat to hear a string of techniques one after the other thrown together into the work.

Musically, it is stunning to me how Paganini wrote a work that both is a show-off piece for the violin but also is a wonderful theme and variations all the same. He used all the same cues and ideas of 19th century composition, and added all of his stylistic flair as well. It would be interesting to see a work that, like Paganini, stretched the limits of the violin, but through modern techniques. The Berio Sequenza for solo violin comes to mind – I still might spend some part of my life learning that in the future, once I’ve settled down from college!

Anyways – hope you enjoy this piece! I picked a video that had a score on YouTube (some of the notes are incorrectly written in the score/the violinist adds things to it) – feel free to comment any versions you prefer.

Have a great rest of your day!

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