Francesca Dego
Francesca Dego in Genoa with Paganini’s Il Cannone. Photo © Patrick Allen

Paganini Variations

Paganini was reputed to have sold his soul to the Devil. Two hundred years later, Francesca Dego has recorded an album on the 19th-century virtuoso’s favourite violin, hopefully emerging with soul intact. Clive Pagetlooks at the man, the myth, and asks why modern musicians are still obsessed by his musical legacy.

From Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Taleto the Charlie Daniels Band’s 1979 hit The Devil Went Down to Georgia, the idea of Satan striking bargains in exchange for the souls of fiddlers is an enduring myth. In the 19th century, no one did more to proliferate legends of devilish...

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