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Paganini's Guitar Sonatas

Updated on March 12, 2012
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Niccolò Paganini (1782 – 1840) was one of the greatest virtuosos, of any instrument, of any time. Today he is most famous for his violin music. However, he wrote a large amount of music for the guitar. This goal of this Hub is to introduce readers to Paganini's 37 Guitar Sonatas, as well as his "Gran Sonata".

Sonata 26

My first introduction to Paganini's Guitar Sonatas was in the Royal Conservatory of Music's Level 3 Guitar Series. The first movement of Sonata 26 appears there. I had a blast learning to play it. Here is a video of it being performed:

Recordings and Sheet Music for Paganini's Guitar Sonatas

You can buy a recording of all of Paganini's guitar sonatas from Amazon. I actually own the recording by Elio Rimondi listed below. You can also purchase the sheet music which I link to as well.

Other Paganini Sonatas

While I do not have room to include videos of all of Paganini's Sonatas, here is a video of the Waltz from Sonata 9.

Paganini Guitar Sonata #9

Paganini's Grand Sonata

Perhaps the most famous Guitar Sonata that Paganini wrote is the "Grand Sonata", which might (I am not sure) actually be a duet with violin. I have heard recordings of it both solo and with violin. So at least it can be played as a solo piece! Here are all 3 movements of Paganini's "Grand Sonata".

The Second Movement is my favorite!


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    • Ari Lamstein profile image

      Ari Lamstein 5 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      Thanks to everyone for your supportive comments!

      @suzettenaples, Yes, I too was surprised when I learned that Paganini had written music for the guitar. I had played classical guitar for many years before I had learned this. And imagine my surprise when I learned that he had written so extensively for the instrument: 37 numbered Guitar Sonatas, plus the "Grand Sonata".

      While I do not discuss it in this article, I recently discovered that he also wrote 43 Ghiribizzi for guitar as well. ("Ghiribizzi" is Italian for "Whim" - these pieces are all quite short). You can listen to them here:

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 5 years ago from Taos, NM

      This is quite interesting! I had no idea Paganini wrote sonatas for the guitar until reading this article. Thank you for such a fascinating hub and the videos are great!

    • profile image

      Derdriu 5 years ago

      Ari Lamstein, What a dramatic, effective, memorable performance of the Paganini grand sonata! It's helpful to have the memory aids of the textual write-up of the background to the composer and the composition as well as the performances.

      Thank you, voted up + all,


    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 5 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      John Sarkis - sorry for not being clear, but that's not what I meant at all. Pags had a lot of other things going on involving his "legend" than just his Violin playing.

    • profile image

      Derdriu 5 years ago

      Ari Lamstein: Thank you for the brief background information on composer and composition. In particular, I like the performances of different pieces by different musicians. The grand sonata is such a marvelous performance piece.

      Respectfully, Derdriu

    • John Sarkis profile image

      John Sarkis 6 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Great hub Ari....

      Hi wesmam,

      I don't think so. Liszt said he wanted to be as great on the piano as Paganini was on the violin. Most everyone has concluded Liszt to be one of, if not the greatest piano virtouso of all times. If Paganini wasn't that great, Liszt wouldn't have said that he wanted to emulate him....

      Take care all


    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 6 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      Of course most everyone is familiar with the Italian travelling Violin Virtuoso - whether they know it, or not.

      I think mostly we just like to blow his legend so out of proportion to his actual life that we have some nice fiction.

      I enjoyed the music - and I did know that Pags wrote music for the guitar - I just hadn't heard any of it in a while.

    • Ari Lamstein profile image

      Ari Lamstein 6 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      @ezhang, I'll try to pick up the sheet music for "Fur Elise" today.

    • ezhang profile image

      Edward Zhang 6 years ago from Bay Area, CA

      I'm waiting for the day you'll play Fur Elise on guitar for us

    • Ari Lamstein profile image

      Ari Lamstein 6 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      Thanks for your support guys. Let's see how my recital tonight goes before I commit to any more concerts!

    • ezhang profile image

      Edward Zhang 6 years ago from Bay Area, CA

      Weekly concerts? It should be daily concerts!

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 6 years ago from San Francisco

      These are so beautiful! You should offer weekly concerts at HubPages HQ, by the by.