Paganini’s Shoe Violin

26 March 2013:

From: Watson’s Art Journal 3 Aug 1867

Paganini’s Shoe Violin. The Paris Figaro announces the sale of one of the most curious violins the musical world ever possessed. “Il fanatici per la musica” will find at No 9, Rue Vivienne, a violin of Paganni’s which, at first sight, merely presents the appearance of a mis-shapen wooden shoe.  The story thereof is curious.  During the winter of 1893, Paganni was living in a maison de sante, called Les Neothermes, Rue de la Victorie, 48.  A large box was brought to him by the Normandy diligence, on opening which he found two inner boxes, and, carefully wrapped in several folds of tissue paper, a wooden shoe, and a letter stating that the writer, having heard much of his genius, begged as a proof thereof he would perform in public on an instrument made out of this sabot.  Paganini felt this to be an impertinent satire, and mentioned the story, with some annoyance, to his friend, the Chevalier de Baride.  The latter took the sabot to a violin maker, who, with wonderous ingenuity, converted it into a musical instrument.  The Chevalier insisted on Paganini trying the sabot.  He not only did so, but performed on it some of his most exquisite fantasies, which fact, in the handwriting of the great musician, is recorded on a slip of paper now to be seen posted on the sabot violin for sale in the Rue Vivienne.

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