Considering that I’m still palpitating from the movie, how to begin? It makes sense to cover the basics. Niccolo Paganini — the Italian violinist and composer — was born in Genoa, Italy in 1782. One of six siblings, he was trained on the violin and mandolin by his father early on and was later tutored by the likes of Giacomo Costa, Alessandro Rolla, Ferdinando Paer, Gasparo Ghiretti, etc. Word on the streets is that he had a medical condition, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which left him with super flexible joints which had the unintended effect of being perfect for playing the violin. In 1824 he met Lawrence Jean-Louis, who became his mistress and bore him a son… no wait, daydreaming. He met the singer Antonia Bianchi, and the two had a son… Achilles, whom Paganini had legitimized in 1837. Aside from being talented, it’s said that Paganini was a womanizer, a drunk, and a gambler. He died in Nice, France in 1840 after a long illness, some say as a result of internal bleeding, but other sources state that it may have had something to do with the mercury he was treated with for syphilis — the STD du jour.
So, while the above bio doesn’t necessarily paint the most attractive image of Niccolo Paganini and most of this wasn’t mentioned in the film, I found it to be amazing! The music, the story line, actor David Garrett who played the part of Niccolo Paganini, how passionately he strummed the strings! The antagonist Urbani, who Paganini made a bargain with. Times reporter Ethel Langham, all of it!
The movie’s title is based on tales of how Paganini must’ve made a pact with the devil hence the reason he was as good as he was, blah blah. Makes me think of Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED talk on having a genius versus being a genius… but I’m getting even more off track. Moral of the story, The Devil’s Violinist is available to stream on Netflix should you feel so inclined.
Spoiler Alert: In the movie, the person we presumed to be the devil drops the bomb and says to Paganini “I am not the Devil. I serve the Devil and you are my master.”
Snap, Crackle and Pop… pass the popcorn!
- Niccolò Paganini (biography.com)
- Giacomo Puccini’s La Boheme: An Opera for Food Lovers? (cookmixmingle.com)