Niccolò Paganini was an Italian violinist, violist, guitarist, and composer. Born in Genoa in 1782, Paganini received his first musical instruction from his father, who was a mandolin player. Recognising his talents, his father encouraged him to learn the violin, and the young Paganini studied under various local teachers before his abilities outpaced their teaching. Paganini travelled to Parma to seek further tuition from Alessandro Rolla, who referred Paganini to his own teacher, Ferdinando Paer, and later Paer’s teacher, Gas[paro Ghiretti. These two teachers had a considerable influence on Paganini’s compositions, though he did not study with them for long.
Paganini soon was appointed as first violin of the Republic of Lucca, though earnt much of his music through freelancing. He was known as a gambler and womaniser, and created quite a reputation for himself wherever he went. For most of his professional life, Paganini travelled as a touring virtuoso violinist, though throughout this time he never played guitar in public concerts. His later years were marked by illness, and he stopped touring to focus on publishing his compositions and violin methods, in addition to teaching notable pupils including Camillo Sivori and Gaetano Ciandelli. He died in Genoa in 1840.