|Niccolo Paganini, bronze, 66 inches height ©2011 Sutton Betti Sculptures|
Niccolo Paganini (1782-1840)
“Paganini was called “The Devil’s Son” and “Witch’s Brat” for his demonic and amazing violin virtuosity! Audiences thought Paganini made a pact with the devil to be able to perform supernatural displays of technique!”
-wasn’t that what they thought about the famous blues guitarist Robert Johnson? Jimi Hendrix?? and how about the Charlie Daniels Band and their song “Devil went down to Georgia”, Steve Vai and Ralph Macchio in the movie Crossroads? Well, Paganini was negotiating with the devil before there ever was a Robert Johnson. And he deserves a little credit for doing so.
I made this sculpture because of my love of Paganini’s music and his virtuoso playing skills as I am a former guitar player-although very amateurish. I listen to Paganini’s music 200 years after it was created and imagine his world. Imagining what it would have been like to hear him play live. He was the first virtuoso, before Eddie Van Halen and was doing it when no one else was. Of course, Eddie popularized a new way of playing an instrument (finger tapping, harmonics, etc.), but he didn’t invent it, he just did it in such a way that it become his signature. Paganini invented a whole new way of thinking of the instrument before anyone else did.
“Paganini single-handedly changed the course of music by inventing the cult of the performer. Before him, even the most talented, charismatic and successful musicians were at best respected, lived merely comfortably and were quickly forgotten upon their retirement or demise. Paganini, though, was worshipped hysterically, rewarded with fabulous wealth and still is remembered in awe. With Paganini, the performer became a superstar. Indeed, although he had no pupils and few successors, the line that began with Paganini extends through every musical idol of our time.” –