The beauty of music had a cathartic effect on humanity from its inception: starting in illo tempore in prehistoric forms continuing with sophisticated and elaborated sounds in the Classical and Romantic eras until today. Varying according to culture and social context music never ceased to inspire, elevate spirits and generate joy uniting people beyond borders. By fearlessly transcending times and territories and revolutionizing societies music became humanity’s high-end secret weapon and vehicle for soul-searching and self-expression.

On October 30th, 2019 at Carnegie Hall in New York City, one of the greatest artists that humanity has known, the most virtuoso violinist of his times, Niccolo Paganini who left his mark as one of the pillars of modern violin technique, was present in spirit and through his musical body of work as a courtesy of Maria Elena Paganini. A successful television presenter and columnist-interviewer and relative of the world-renowned artist, she thoughtfully presented her ancestor with a special gift by celebrating his art with a beautiful concert: Paganini honors Paganini. To add even more power to this significant moment the concert took place on the day that would have marked Paganini’s 237th birthday. 

The composer’s notoriously difficult compositions were performed by five top violinists and two pianists. The violins played are from Niccolo’s very own collection: one Stradivarius and four Guarnieri Del Gesù, each valued to 10 million dollars, were on loan for the show. LDJ Capital and Florian Leonard, a leading expert in fine violins, sponsored the event offering us unforgettable moments of high intensity translated into magical musical notes and sounds.

The atmosphere at PAGANINI HONORS PAGANINI, A Tribute To Niccolo Paganini By Maria Elena Paganini at Ascent Lounge in New York | Photo by Sylvain Gaboury/PMC ©Patrick McMullan

The event was delightfully presented by Artist and Entrepreneur Consuelo Vanderbilt Costin and Edmond Fokker van Crayestein, the Music Director of the event. Virtuosity, technique and elegant presence all-in-one defined that night: the artists looked incredible and truly gave their all. What makes Paganini difficult to play to these days is his violin techniques who were exceptional due to his flexibility: he had exceptionally long fingers and was capable of playing three octaves across four strings in a hand span, an extraordinary feat even by today’s standards. Talking about the pressure to perform that night!

Edmond Fokker, a modern Renaissance man and polyglot, a Harvard graduate and surprisingly mostly self-taught violinist, fell in love with Paganini when he was fifteen years old. He introduced each one of the artists and also enchanted us with a performance played on a Guarnieri del Gesu violin. 

Opening the concert, the young surprise of the night was Kevin Zhu, an eighteen years old multiple-award winner violinist and a proud recipient of a Kovner Fellowship at The Julliard School who had an early start with his violin at the mere age of three. The gracious Elly Suh, a Korean-American violinist, with a visible sensibility and craft for dotting to her violin in an intimate way has been celebrated all over the world and it’s quite obvious that she will continue to rise in her field. The elegant Hamburg-born Sabrina Vivian Höpcker made a statement with her regal presence and a cavalcade of tonal elegance, admirable technique, and passionate interpretation.

Edmond Fokker van Crayestein, Sabrina-Vivian Hopcker, Elly Suh, Kevin Zhu, and Florian Leonhard attend PAGANINI HONORS PAGANINI, A Tribute To Niccolo Paganini By Maria Elena Paganini at Ascent Lounge in New York. | Photo by Sylvain Gaboury/PMC ©Patrick McMullan

To finalize the show, we had the superb Stefan Milenkovich: Serbia’s gem, a violinist of high professionalism and creativity. His presence dominated the stage, every detail about this artist is a statement, from the elegant black suit to the patent leather shoes and oh! that red bow-tie: we were at the cusp of “Music meets Fashion” and how delightful was that! Well versed and versatile he will continue to pursue his passion while committing to humanitarian causes he feels passionate about. 

That night we witnessed a moment in time that would have made the honoree feel appreciated, loved and beaming with pride. His legacy will continue to enchant generations to come and many violinists will aspire to reach his greatness.

Raising above time and space Paganini, the beautiful magician of the violin remains inspirational and even more so: aspirational.
Header Photo | Sabrina-Vivian Hopcker, Maria Elena Paganini, Kevin Zhu, and Elly Suh attend PAGANINI HONORS PAGANINI, A Tribute To Niccolo Paganini By Maria Elena Paganini at Ascent Lounge  in New York | Photo by Sylvain Gaboury/PMC ©Patrick McMullan