Nicolò Paganini (1782 - 1840) was an Italian violinist, guitarist and composer. Paganini was perhaps one of the greatest violinists that ever lived. He expanded violin technique far beyond what was thought possible in his time. His influence was not only brought to bear on technique, but his compositions inspired many other composers.
Paganini studied under many violin teachers but his progress was so swift that he outgrew them. He held a few minor court posts before he went on concert tour of Italy. He continued touring Italy until he gave a concert in Milan, Italy in 1813 where he drew a lot of attention, not only from his playing but his womanizing and gambling also. He gained in notoriety so much that he began touring Europe in 1828 to wild acclaim. He continued tours of Europe and England until he quit concertizing in 1834 due to poor health.
He was a rare combination of genuine artist and showman as he would do animal imitations with his violin, play an entire piece on one string, and other stunts that pleased the crowds and made some think he was a charlatan. But he was a serious musician and composer as his compositions show. Paganini's prowess with the violin was so great that there were rumors that he had made a pact with the devil to be able to play so magnificently. This rumor persisted even after his death, in nice, France as he was denied a Catholic burial because of his being in league with the devil. After four years and an appeal to the Pope, the body was allowed to be shipped to Genoa, Italy but it still was not buried until 1876 in Parma, Italy26 years after his death.
Each one of the 24 exploits a specific technical issue, so they are actually etudes for the violin. Except the Caprice #24. This caprice throws a myriad of technical problems at the player as a summing up of all that has gone before with the other twenty three. It is a set of variations on an original theme that has inspired many other musicians to write their own set of variations on it, including Brahms, Rachmaninoff, Schumann, Liszt and many others. His compositions remain a paragon of violin technique and musicality even after so many years past his death.
Paganini's Caprice #24 For Solo Violin: