The Greatest Virtuosi in Music History

Everyone has their favourite musicians, but there are certain musicians who come along that change everything in the way they play their instruments or sing. In this blog, we’re going to look at some of them and why they were so good.

Niccolò Paganini – Violin

Paganini was born in 1782 in the Republic of Genoa in what is now modern Italy. He started learning mandolin at age five before moving onto violin at age 7. After the French invasion of northern Italy, in 1796 and the annexation of Lucca, Paganini became the violin for the court of Napoleon’s sister, Elisa Baciocchi. Freelancing work and concert performances saw his reputation as a violinist grow and he was honoured by the Pope with the Order of the Golden Spur in 1827. He was well known around Europe not only for his skills on the violin, but also for his gambling and womanising. Famed for his technical abilities and showmanship he was a true great who revolutionised his instrument.

 

Robert Fripp– Guitar

The most underrated man in popular music and head honcho of King Crimson – described by Jimi Hendrix as “The greatest group in the world” – is arguably the greatest guitarist of all time. Well why haven’t I heard of him then? In short, you’ll probably have heard him even if you don’t know it’s him. He has played guitar on records by David Bowie, Talking Heads, The Roches, Blondie, Daryl Hall, Peter Gabriel and David Sylvian. He has also contributed to work by The Future Sound of London and The Orb. He has invented his own method of guitar playing called Guitar Craft and has been touring re-workings of King Crimson music since he started in the music industry following a dispute about sample use by Kanye West.

 

Miles Davis – Trumpet

Born in 1926, Mile Davis grew up listening to blues, gospel and big band music. He took up trumpet aged 9 and learned to control his vibrato to create a pure, clear tone. His big break came when Billy Eckstine’s big band, featuring Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker and Art Blakey came to St Louis in 1947 and he got a gig as third trumpeter after Buddy Anderson was too ill to attend. He gigged the club scene for a number of years and dealt with cocaine and heroin addiction. Due to his addictions he struggled to find work until 1951 when Prestige Records signed the Miles Davis Nonet. His addiction was still causing problems and in 1955 at the Newport Jazz festival he landed a recording deal with Columbia records. It was here he gained fame, releasing 24 albums until the label was bought by Warner Brothers in 1981. It was during this time his most famous works including Some Kind of Blue and Bitches Brew were released. He established himself as one of the most innovative Jazz musicians, moving with the times and being involved in the evolution of jazz up until his last album Doo Bop in 1991. He continued to tour and record live albums until his death in 1991. A true innovator and a sensational musician, his legacy will live on forever.

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