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Niccolo Paganini
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    (October 27, 1782-May 27, 1840)
    Nicknamed 'The Devil's Fiddler' (or so believed)
    Violin virtuoso as performed across Europe from age fifteen
    His stage performances were rather garish and bombastic, replete with long black cloak and curly hair.
    Rumours circulated about his being in legion with His Satanic Majesty.
    Critics accused Paganini of being 'a mountebank, a boaster, a pretender and disgustingly rich' yet on the other hand, they urged audiences to 'pawn all their goods so they could hear Paganini,' adding 'Woe to him that lets [Paganini] depart unheard.'
    He suffered from syphilis, and took mercury injections as explained his gaunt pallor.
    Groupies would gather outside the halls where he performed.
    A regular concert gimmick of his was to begin playing a violin solo, then gradually break the strings until only one remained on the violin.
    He lost a substantial fortune on an unsuccessful casino in Paris.
    Having refused the Rite of Absolution on his death bed, church officials banned his being buried in sanctified ground.
    His family repeatedly played all manner of games with Church officials, all the while cooking up imaginative ruses as to the disposition of his corpse.
    His flamboyance on stage persona paved the way for the likes of Liberace, Shoji Tabuchi and other entertainers with flamboyant stage routines.
    His contorted appearance was actually Ehler's-Danlos' syndrome, a pathological disorder that causes the muscles to bend and twist into the most freakish positions at will.
    Young girls quickly fell under his spell at concerts--perhaps the first 'groupies' in musical history, no?

Credit: Iludium Phosdex

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