Why Paganini sold his soul to the Devil
If you don’t already know, Niccolò Paganini is an Italian violinist. No, he was a violin extraordinaire. Known for his impeccable technique and Caprices, Paganini is a huge inspiration to many composers and violinists – in his time, I’ll bet, till now. I love Paganini. His works are truly inspiring, my current favourite is the Cantabile in D major op.17, playing in my head as I type.
Other than being the violin virtuoso of his time, it is rumoured that he also sold his soul to the devil. In return, he’d be the best violinist in the world. This is debatable, some say it’s true (his playing skills are crazy) and some say it isn’t. Heck, there’s even a movie I watched recently called… The Devil’s Violinist portraying this story. Here’s the trailer.
This is just me ranting because I had a long day. I came home with tears in my eyes. This is my kind of Monday Blues. I am a music major, if you didn’t know already.I come from a violin background with lousy technique, until a year before I went to uni. I’ve changed teachers 4 times and 3 out of 4 of them taught me wrong techniques.
When I got to university, it came like a slap on the face – realizing how bad my technique was. How crappy I was. How reckless I play the violin. I didn’t even hold it right! How I could bother going on sounding the way I do. The list goes on.
I was angry. I still am. Until today, my teacher is trying to correct my technique, which takes up 40% of the time during our lessons. It is frustrating. Very very very very frustrating especially when I see my classmates just play flawlessly and almost effortlessly, like it’s second nature to them. It took me a whole year to slowly get out of this funk.
I still am trying to get out of it. My teacher gets frustrated, I get frustrated, embarrassed, broken, despite hours of practice. Grimacing while playing. But I just take it all in. I want to improve so badly. I can’t imagine other music students from major music conservatories sounding the way I do – ever.
I played in string class today, getting nothing right with my teacher asking me why I do certain things, why I used that finger on that note, how many beats are there in a bar when I can clearly see a 3/4 time signature but that isn’t the right answer. In front of my classmates, I felt tears welling up behind my eyes but I suck it in and drown out everything. I had to go. I played Sarabande in D minor by Bach. Bach. God I dislike Bach music. No offence, Bachians or Bach fans. His stuff is technical and demanding, and requires preparation and practice and it scares me, besides the fact that I’m not a fan of Baroque music. Ironically, there’s a sticker on my locker that says, “I Love Bach”. The sticker is clearly not mine.
Sometimes I wonder, how am I ever going to get there? Sometimes I feel like I’d be laughed at when I tell people my ambition, especially after hearing my playing. Break me many times, as I hope to grow stronger, but at times like these, I know why Paganini sold his soul. Not that I’d want to, but when you feel useless despite your hardest efforts.. it’s just horrible. I’m sure I’m not the only musician to feel like this. If he really did make a deal with the devil, he surely had his advantage. Haha
I’ll just keep trying.
PS. Here are a couple of links about his deal with the devil along with some others, curious cats.
Hope you guys are having a better start to the week.