Forging “Paganinis of the Piano” in the 1830s

Kregor, Jonathan (2013) Forging “Paganinis of the Piano” in the 1830s. Studia Musicologica, 54 (2). pp. 115-133. ISSN 1788-6244

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Musical artists in the 1830s were intrigued by Niccolò Paganini, with pianists being especially interested in transferring his music and style to their instrument. This article focuses on Paganini-inspired compositions by Carl Czerny, Johann Nepomuk Hummel, and Ignaz Moscheles, which focus on various aspects of the violinist’s artistry, including his performance style, his flair for the dramatic, pathetic, and unexpected, and his technical wizardry. Altogether these and other such works from the early 1830s provide a deeper context — arguably even a tradition — for Franz Liszt’s experimental compositions from the 1830s, particularly the “Clochette” Fantasy and the first version of the “Paganini” Etudes. Not only technically and performatively brilliant, these pieces also help establish the medium of mimesis as artistically valid. Liszt argued that this type of orientation was indispensable for the “artist of the future,” in which “virtuosity is a means, not an end.” Somewhat paradoxically then, after his death Paganini becomes the benchmark by which the transcendent artistry of composer-pianists is measured, and a baseline for further artistic experimentation. Thus Liszt’s return to Paganini in the 1840s and 1850s constitutes an ongoing effort to refine virtuosity in order to bring about artistic unification among musicians, regardless of instrumental specialty.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music / zene, szövegkönyvek, kották > M1 Music / zene
M Music and Books on Music / zene, szövegkönyvek, kották > M1 Music / zene > M10 Theory and philosophy of music / zeneelmélet, muzikológia
Depositing User: xAnikó xZsoldos
Date Deposited: 09 May 2017 13:37
Last Modified: 09 May 2017 13:37

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