The theme from Paganini’s Caprice No. 24, written between 1805 and 1809, has been used and reused dozens of times by a variety of musicians. Wikipedia lists 43 examples, and not just by the usual suspects (Brahms, Schumann, Rachmaninoff, etc…
Here it is played by Itzhak Perlman – the theme itself lasts only 15 seconds. Benny Goodman and his orchestra did a swing version. For all you headbangers out there, heavy metal guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen used it in “Prophet of Doom” from his album War to End All Wars (starts at 2:49), heard above.
Tomorrow, 92Y presents the New York premiere of the latest version, Variations on a Theme by Paganini, composed and performed by Canadian pianist Marc-André Hamelin in his 92Y recital. (A performance chosen by BBC Music as one of the “very best” live events in North America for January.)
While Hamelin won’t say much about these Variations— “writing anything about them would inevitably spoil the fun and give many things away”—he does give this fair warning: “It constantly tries to push the envelope as far as what may be aesthetically acceptable!”
He reveals all tomorrow, Jan 30 at 7:30 pm along with music by Bach, Debussy, Busoni and Rachmaninoff.