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German-American violinist David Garrett will make his big-screen debut this year as the 19th-century Italian virtuoso Niccolò Paganini (1782-1840). The Devil’s Violinist focuses on the mythical Faustian pact Paganini is said to have made in exchange for superstar status and unsurpassed prowess on the violin, demonstrated in the pyrotechnic feats of his Devil’s Trill Sonata.
The film will be written and directed by Bernard Rose, who made the Beethoven biopic Immortal Beloved in 1994, and has a budget of between US$15m and $20m. Filming begins is set to begin in Europe in August 2012.
Like his idol Paganini, Garrett is a seasoned showman of considerable technical ability, having broken the Guinness World Record for the fastest violin playing by shredding through Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee. Signing to Deutsche Grammophon at the age of 14, he recorded Paganini’s 24 Caprices for the label while still in his teens, but has since rebelled against his strict classical upbringing in a slew of crossover projects, including last year’s Rock Symphonies album.
The 31-year-old considers Paganini “the first rock star” and told Variety: “It has been a lifelong ambition to be involved in a film about my hero Niccolò Paganini." Garrett will take the starring role and perform Paganini’s music on a Stradivarius in the film.
The Devil’s Violinist will be the second film about the Romantic virtuoso to emerge in recent years, following acclaimed music filmmaker Christopher Nupen’s 2011 documentary Paganini’s Daemon: A Most Enduring Legend.