Niccolò Paganini (1782 – 1840) composed his three-movement Sonata Concertata for Guitar and Violin in 1804 during his time in Lucca, Italy, dedicating the piece to Signora Emilia di Negri, the wife of the Marchese Giancarlo di Negri, who was a loyal patron. While most widely known for his virtuosic violin technique, compositional abilities and charismatic personality, Paganini was also a skilled guitarist, composing roughly 140 pieces for solo guitar, 28 violin and guitar duets, as well as many trios and quartets that incorporate the guitar in some capacity. This work was the first sonata that Paganini composed for violin and guitar. Classical period influences can be heard in the balanced musical structure of the piece and the interplay between the two instruments. The first movement consists primarily of harmonies that are reminiscent of the time period, though an unusual modulation from the key of A major to the key of C major occurs in the middle of the piece before modulating back to the original key at the beginning of the final section. Despite Paganini’s prodigious and well-documented violin expertise, the first movement of this sonata features a relatively even distribution of the melody, with the guitar sometimes imitating and taking turns with the violin as opposed to strictly playing an accompaniment part throughout the piece. The violin and guitar also engage in some call and response, simultaneously showcasing the unique expressive qualities of both instruments and demonstrating Paganini’s prodigious capabilities as a composer.

Resources:

Neill, Edward. “Paganini, Nicolò.” Grove Music Online. Edited by Deane Root. Accessed 23 January 2021. https://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/grovemusic/view/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.001.0001/omo-9781561592630-e-0000040008.

Paganini, Niccolo. Sonata Concertata, MS 2. IMSLP. https://imslp.org/wiki/Sonata_concertata%2C_MS_2_(Paganini%2C_Niccol%C3%B2).

Moore, Edward. “Sonata concertata, for guitar & violin in A major, Op. 61, MS 2.” AllMusic, n.d. https://www.allmusic.com/composition/sonata-concertata-for-guitar-violin-in-a-major-op-61-ms-2-mc0002365793.

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