Paganini and his time

The idea of a Cultural Route on Nicolò Paganini (1782-1840) was born in 2018, European Year of Cultural Heritage. Paganini is unique in terms of his flair, his musical skills and his ability to be a protagonist of his time, revolutionising ways of creating and performing music, particularly on the violin, but also in terms of the organisation of musical events: among other things, he was the first to think about the role of the Orchestra Conductor, the manager organiser of musical tours, of charity concerts (he organised them everywhere), and his 6-year tour, from 1828 to 1834, was the first musical tour in the modern sense (more than 100 years before the celebrities of our time). People filled the theatres and venues where he performed on all stages of his journey through Austria, Bohemia, Poland, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Ireland and Belgium. He turned his character into an icon of his time, arousing great international popularity, his ‘dark’ attire was imitated and adopted by many in all the countries of the European continent, and his fame spread even to America. So innovator of marketing, management, image at a time when all this was not as important as it is now. For this reason, he is also a character of great fame and popularity even today, to whom films and documentaries, theatre and music performances, numerous festivals and awards are dedicated.

The 2018 project aimed to organise a kind of presentation of the artist and his music in cooperation with organisations in 7 countries. A great success. But the promoters of the project, the same as the current proposal, soon realised the potential of the Route beyond Paganini and his Epoch. In fact, in his life, in his musical career, in his performing tours, Nicolò Paganini opened up new avenues on the subject of sharing his innovative message, meeting numerous artists, many younger, acting as a catalyst, inspirer and stimulator for people such as Liszt, Schubert (Austria), Berlioz (France), Chopin (Poland), Mendhelsson, Schumann (Germany), Donizetti, Rossini, Verdi (Italy); performing in the European courts (small and large at the time), for the powerful of the time, but sharing, in popular venues, an interest in local popular music and adapting this to his performances. It is this flexibility and universality that makes him a European character, also inspiring writers, painters and other artists. Hence the evolution of the initial project. In fact, from Paganini to his Epoch is a potential Cultural Route of the Council of Europe of which Paganini, once again, is the inspiration, but which has a much broader European and international scope, as it can narrate not only Paganini but the world of European music between the Enlightenment and Romanticism, i.e. the era in which feelings and instances linked to national identities rather than to royal and noble families were born, in which the idea of Europe as a set of peoples and cultures with a common matrix began to grow. In this case we are talking about music. In 2022, this path was set in motion, which has a milestone in April 2023 with the establishment of the International European Paganini Route Association, which takes up the legacy of the work carried out since 2018 and is structured to support a Council of Europe candidature as an international Cultural Route, bringing together aspects of the project corresponding to the 5 fields of action.

In this new conception, the Route is no longer dedicated to the character Paganini, only as a model and synonym for virtuosity. But the Route intends to tell the story of his era, the effects and consequences of his history, personality, activities on other extraordinary authors and exponents of the culture of his time, so the idea becomes that of a Cultural Route on music as an instrument of intercultural dialogue between the peoples of Europe to highlight their European citizenship well before (more than 100 years) a united Europe project was born.

Music becomes the ideal vehicle for the dissemination of the values of creativity, democracy, and all the others that will become European values: the identity of European peoples, the characterisation of different cultures as the basis for processes of union in nations no longer based on princes and kings but on peoples, on democracy. Today, the message for the new generations is still alive and vital. Young people through the music of authors such as Paganini, Schubert, Chopin, Rossini, Verdi revive these values beyond national borders. Awards and competitions are attended by young people from all over Europe and the world. EPR together with the Council of Europe’s other Cultural Route, Mozart Way, the only Route among the 47 currently certified dedicated to a great musical figure, become a new strategy for the EPA. EPR also brings together the Theatres, places of cultural production that still exist today, important both for their artistic and architectural aspects, but also as historical sites that are stages for international artists and inspiration for younger generations. EPR’s certification will undoubtedly provide new motivation for the network to expand and to bring more and more cities, associations, schools, universities and academies, conservatories, and more and more young people closer to the Council of Europe and the world of CRs.

Certifying EPR certifies music as a European value of which Paganini is just the cue, a further effect and legacy from a character who changed the international music scene even though he was not the greatest, just one of the most famous, a great communicator without a doubt, a musician who still lives on today in his works and in his fame that goes beyond music, which still lives on today thanks to a Cultural Route.