InspirationMusicPersonal Development

Selling your soul to the devil and other tricks of the master violinist Paganini

Paganini was a brilliant composer and violinist, but what I like most is that he was also an entertainer and marketer. He was said to have dressed in all black, arrived at concerts in a black carriage drawn by four black horses. This only added to the rumours that he had sold his soul to the devil in return for his incredible playing ability. This type of branding would make Steve Jobs and Banksy jealous.

“Paganini basically invented the concept of the performer as the star,” says Anna Melville, the Artistic Administrator for the Australian Chamber Orchestra. “He would set up his own media hype.”

The ACO concert touring Sept-Oct 2018 is headlined by the music of Paganini, but in reality it’s more about bringing together master craftsmen to play the music of past masters. It’s an inspiring study and experience of what it means to be the best.

I love seeing people who are professionals at what they do – not in the ‘I get paid to do it’ sense – but those who have spent so much time practicing, so much time committed to their craft, that it’s like their instrument is part of them. Be it a surgeon, an artist, a musician, a marketer, an athlete or an entrepreneur – people who have achieved mastery not for the glory but for the love of what they do – because it allows them to connect to a greater source, a purpose, a calling.

Can you imagine the ups and downs, the challenges, the obstacles, the passion, the purpose driven obsession to master something like the violin? Of course, you’ve mastered medicine and you’re now working on business.

The concert titled, “Ilya Gringolts Plays Paganini” is a perfect reflection of this. You don’t see this very often, especially with so many people in one place. Hearing them play and at the Sydney Opera House makes you appreciate life. It encourages you to dive further into your craft, whatever it might be. It refreshes the soul and makes you want to thank the musicians for making the sacrifices they did to become so great.

I grew up listening to gangster rap and metal – so it’s been a stretch to explore this type of music. However, as you delve deeper and discover what classic and baroque music have to offer, especially in person (it’s the best in person) you discover that it’s really a reflection of life – the ups and downs, the joy and drama; it’s all there.

If you don’t know much about this type of music, this is the opportunity to experience it – and that’s really what it is, an experience. The force of the music and the emotion of the performers hits you in between the smooth lulls where you build excitement for the next unexpected high.

I haven’t even mentioned one of the best parts which is that the concert was guest-directed by the child prodigy, Russian born Ilya Gringolts. This guy is nuts. At 14 years old he was playing major concerts. Now in his 30s, he’s a living master craftsman. Plus the ACO’s incredible musicians and the music they played – again, it was an inspiring concert. Highly recommended.

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