At Italy On This Day you will read about events and festivals, about important moments in history, and about the people who have made Italy the country it is today, and where they came from. Italy is a country rich in art and music, fashion and design, food and wine, sporting achievement and political diversity. Italy On This Day provides fascinating insights to help you enjoy it all the more.

Thursday, 25 October 2018

Camillo Sivori – virtuoso violinist

Paganini’s successor was also a talented composer


Camillo Sivori was the protégé of the virtuoso Niccolò Paganini
Camillo Sivori was the protégé
of the virtuoso Niccolò Paganini
Ernesto Camillo Sivori, a virtuoso violinist and composer, was born on this day in 1815 in Genoa.

Remembered as the only pupil of the great virtuoso violinist Niccolò Paganini, Sivori began his career as a travelling virtuoso at the age of 12, having by then also studied with other violin teachers.

He was acclaimed as ‘Paganini reincarnated’, or even, ‘Paganini without the flaws’, by music critics during a lengthy tour of Europe that he made between 1841 and 1845.

During his travels he met some of the best-known composers of the day, such as Mendelssohn, Schumann and Berlioz and he took parts in hundreds of concerts.

After being compared to other celebrated violinists, his status as Paganini’s successor was confirmed, even though the great man had died in 1840 and was still remembered in the musical world.

Sivori had met Paganini, who was also from Genoa, when he was seven years old and had made such a favourable impression on him that Paganini gave him lessons between October 1822 and May 1823.

Sivori met Paganini when he was only seven years old
Sivori met Paganini when he was only
seven years old
Paganini also wrote pieces of music for his pupil ‘to shape his spirit’ and even provided guitar accompaniment when Sivori performed these pieces privately.

When Paganini left Genoa he continued to follow Sivori’s progress, writing in 1828 that Sivori was ‘ the only one who may call himself my pupil.’

Shortly before he died, Paganini summoned Sivori and gave him a violin, by Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume, Il Cannone, which was a replica of his own favourite violin by Bartolomeo Guarneri del Gesù, a member of one of the great families of luthiers from Cremona.

Sivori was entrusted by Mendelssohn with performing the English premiere of his Violin concerto, Op. 64 in 1846.

Sivori’s fame reached America and he visited many north American cities and also travelled to south America between 1846 and 1850.

A replica of Paganini's Guarneri  violin is in a Genoa museum
A replica of Paganini's Guarneri
 violin is in a Genoa museum
He made a great impression in London and Paris, a city where he lived for a few years, because of his technique and breathtaking displays of virtuosity. As late as 1876 Verdi invited him to perform his E minor quartet at its Paris premiere.

Sivori wrote 60 works of his own that inventively married virtuosity with melodic beauty, including two violin concertos.

The violinist lived for many years in Paris but died in his native Genoa in 1894 at the age of 78.

The bustling port of Genoa, where Sivori was born
The bustling port of Genoa, where Sivori was born
Travel tip:

Genoa, where Camillo Sivori was born, is the capital city of Liguria and the sixth largest city in Italy. It has earned the nickname of La Superba because of its proud history as a major port. Part of the old town was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2006 because of the wealth of beautiful 16th century palaces there.

The harbour at Portofino, one of the pretty seaside villages of the Italian Riviera
The harbour at Portofino, one of the pretty seaside
villages of the Italian Riviera
Travel tip:

The region of Liguria in northwest Italy is also known as the Italian Riviera. It runs along a section of the Mediterranean coastline between France and Tuscany and is dotted with pretty seaside villages, with houses painted in different pastel colours.

More reading:

Why the violins of Antonio Stradivari are still worth millions

The luthier who set the standard for Stradivari

How Francesco Maria Veracini became one of the great violinists of the 18th century

Also on this day:

1647: The death of Evangelista Torricelli, inventor of the barometer

1902: The birth of Carlo Gnocchi, brave military chaplain


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