His official career, however, came to an abrupt termination in the early part of When appointed Court Musical Director, Paganini was accorded the rank of Captain in the Royal Guard, and, as such, was permitted to wear a brilliant uniform. Appearing in this garb at a State function at Florence, in , the artist was "commanded" to change it for the ordinary dress suit. This request Paganini construed as an insult, and refused compliance; whereupon there was a sudden rupture, and instant resignation of office.
Paganini, at different times, obtained leave of absence, and undertook various professional tours; and as he met with some strange experiences, we will follow him in his wanderings. In occurred the first of these excursions. Paganini went to Leghorn, the scene of his early triumphs. He had not been there for seven years, but his first concert, this visit, was attended with some unpleasant mishaps.
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He had run a nail into his heel, and came limping on the stage, whereupon the audience set up a titter—an incident quite enough to upset a sensitive artist. Then, just as he was commencing his concerto, the candles fell from his music-stand, and the laughter was unrestrained; after a few bars of his solo, the first string of his violin snapped, and the merriment became uproarious; but he finished the performance upon the three strings, and the artist soon converted the audience to a demonstration of a more grateful character.
Thus his "one string" experience served him in good stead. At Ferrara something worse befell.
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For his concert there, Paganini had engaged a vocalist, Signora Marietta Marcolini; but at the last moment, the lady, either from indisposition or caprice, refused to sing. Paganini went to his hostel boiling with rage, but was somewhat mollified on being told there was a lady occupying an apartment in the same house, who might perhaps take the place of  the recalcitrant singer. This was Signora Pallerini, the principal dancer at the theatre, who had a very agreeable voice, but who made no pretension to being a singer, although she was not without training and talent.
Paganini lost no time in seeking the young dancer, and by dint of perseverance obtained her consent to his wish. But when the Signora came on to sing she was seized with stage-fright. Her voice failed her, and her song produced no effect. Paganini offered his arm to conduct her behind the scenes, but just before they reached the wing, a shrill whistle was heard—equivalent to a hiss in England. Pale with rage, Paganini promised himself a signal vengeance. The concert was drawing to a close when the angry artist whispered to Signora Pallerini, "Come! Then he awaited the shouts of laughter that should assail the poor whistler, but something quite different happened.
The pit rose to a man,  and howling, whistling, and stamping, the audience proceeded to storm the stage; and only precipitate flight by means of a private door, saved the unlucky artist's life. The explanation came to Paganini later. The inhabitants of the villages around Ferrara had from time immemorial a strong prejudice against their Capital. The citizens they alleged were stupid in their nature, and deserved the sobriquet "hee-haw.
Paganini had no knowledge of local history; he was not a reader, he never even glanced at the papers, except when they contained something concerning himself. His revenge caused quite a tumult, in what way can be well perceived: and the magistrate, to restore quiet, advised Paganini not to give his second concert in the town, so that the offenders were really punished all round. It is not necessary to enter into details concerning all Paganini's tours. It appears to have been in that he wrote the "Napoleon Sonata," and he performed it in public at a concert given by him at Parma, August 18th, His fame was spreading beyond his own country, and Schilling states that from the German musical journals bestowed much attention upon him.
He was at Milan in , and his success there was greater than ever. For that city he appeared to have a predilection, for he was there, with the exception of a short stay at Genoa, until the autumn of At that time he was by no means a recluse. He went to hear Demarini, Italy's greatest tragedian, and was so affected by one scene that he could not sleep, and his emotion ultimately found expression in music. This will be dealt with when noticing his compositions. In October, , Paganini went to Bologna, and there met Rossini for the first time.
Rossini, nine years the junior of Paganini, had already produced a dozen operas—two in Milan that year.
By Court favour Rossini had just escaped the conscription, and had hastened away to Bologna. The meeting of these artists was of importance to both. Meyerbeer went to Italy in , and was there for some years, producing several operas. He did not yet know that place, and it offered a double attraction; he wanted to enjoy the beautiful blue sky as well as his artistic triumph.
But he went to hear Paganini, and dreamt no more of Naples, nor of his opera.
Paganini travelled all through Tuscany, and Meyerbeer followed; and not until he had heard Paganini eighteen times could he tear himself away from him. Within the period of five years, Paganini returned to Milan five times, making a long stay on each occasion, and giving a great number of concerts. He played at Verona, Padua—where the "prison" stories seem to have originated—returned to Milan early in , when he met  the French violinist, Charles Lafont, with whom he played and of whom more will be said.
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Then to Venice, Trieste, and back to Venice in time to hear Spohr October 18th , on whom he called both before and after the concert. Spohr greatly desired to hear Paganini play, but the latter excused himself. Paganini must ere this have received invitations to visit other countries, for Spohr in his diary remarks, when referring to Paganini's first visit, that he had apparently abandoned his project of going to Vienna.
The Italian treated his Polish brother artist generously, and played with him at two concerts. Paganini was also again at Milan that year and paid a visit to his mother at Genoa. According to Anders, his father died in At the close of the same year Paganini was in Rome, where Rossini's opera "La Cenerentola" was produced at the opening of the Carnival season, December 26th.
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It is related that Meyerbeer was also in Rome at this time, and that Rossini's "Carnovale" was sung in the streets by the composer, Meyerbeer, and Paganini, who disguised themselves for the frolic. Paganini in the Palace of Prince von Kaunitz, the Austrian Ambassador, was introduced to Prince Metternich, who, charmed with his talent, pressed him to visit Vienna. But the violinist's health was in a precarious state. He suffered from an intestinal disorder, aggravated by his addiction to some quack remedy. He gave concerts in Rome, of which Schilling, who gives the date, however,  as , gives a very curious account.
The first concert, though held in a Palace—such buildings being met with at every step—was in a room like a hay-loft.
The orchestra consisted of some half-dozen shabbily dressed players, the singers were mechanics, members of the chorus of the Teatro Argentina, and the audience scarcely numbered fifty. Rome, professedly the first musical city of Italy, and of Europe, was ignorant of Paganini, the greatest violin virtuoso of Italy and the world. But his extraordinary genius kindled coldness into enthusiasm. At his second concert the attendance increased tenfold; at the third the success was even greater. In , and the following year, he gave concerts at Verona, Turin, Florence, and other towns.
At Verona, the conductor of the theatre orchestra, one Valdabrini, persuaded himself that Paganini was little else than a charlatan, one who might play the pieces of his own repertory very well, but who could not execute a work such as a concerto of his, Valdabrini's, composition. Paganini was informed of this estimate of his abilities, and hastened to assure Valdabrini that he would be happy to reproduce the inspirations of the chef d'orchestre of Verona; and as this trial would be a powerful attraction, he would reserve it for his last concert.
The day of rehearsal arrived, and Paganini was in his place. Instead of the music of the concerto, however, the artist improvised all kinds of fanciful passages, insomuch that the astonished orchestral players, lost in admiration, forgot to go on with their own work. The disappointed Valdabrini exclaimed: "My friend, this is not my concerto  you are playing, I can recognise nothing of what I have written.
The concert night arrived, and Paganini commenced with pieces of his own choice, reserving the concerto for the end. All were attention for the great event. Paganini came on at last, holding in his hand a Malacca walking cane. Everyone asked himself: What will he do with that? Suddenly he seized his violin, and, employing the cane as a bow, played the concerto thought by the composer to be practicable only after long study from beginning to end, not only rendering the most difficult passages, but introducing charming variations, never failing for an instant to display the purity, grace and verve that characterised his art.
Such amenities are scarcely possible now-a-days.
Paganini visited Naples in for the first time.