Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 9, No. 5. May 7, 1946
The Demon Fiddler
The Demon Fiddler
A passage ran from street to street through a building, unit from it three, dirty broken steps gave access to a grey house in the Passu di Gatta Mora. According to tradition the midwife, slipped on these steps. As she stumbled, the old woman made mention of the devil, and at the same moment the door opened, and the husky, mewing wail of the newly-born Paganini was heard.
In one form or another this legend seems to have formed the key signature of most writings on the subject of Paganini. He has been presented to us as a half legendary charlatan, using every trick of showmanship to increase his personal fame.
Behind these legends, there lies another and more fascinating Paganini—a lonely figure struggling against the obscurantism and musical conservatism of his time.
In Mr. Vinogradov's novel we follow the adventures of this other Paganini, persecuted by the Jesuits, actively associated with the work of the Carbineer, and impeded in his mission by the very legends which are often presented to us as the real man.
"The Condemnation of Paganini" may not perhaps be called a great novel but its pages are never dull, and as we follow the violinist through Italy, Austria, Germany, and France, we meet many of the musical personalities of his age—Rossini. Spohr, Liszt, Paer, Chopin and many lesser figures are brought vividly to life. Even in death the legendary aspects of Paganini's life were to haunt him. Fifty-six years were to pass, and over a million francs to be raised by his impoverished family before the church would consent to his burial.
"The Condemnation of Paganini," by Anatoli Vinogradov. (Obtainable from Modern Books, 11/6.)