Witches’ Dance by Paganini, the Violin Magician

Franz Xaver Süssmayr wrote the melody on which Niccolò Paganini, the most famous violin virtuoso of all time, based his set of variations called Le Streghe, or The Witches. The Witches’ Dance is a simple version of the theme.



Born in Genoa, Italy, Paganini (1782 – 1840) was an unprecedented musical phenomenon – violin virtuoso, violist, guitarist and composer, whose musical athleticism, showmanship and self-cultivated mystique transfixed concert audiences in 19th century Europe. His famous Caprice No. 24 in A minor is a stunning example of his technical accomplishments and compositional mastery. Take a look at this classic performance by Heifitz of the Caprice on Youtube:

Witches’ Dance builds on the dotted rhythm skills studied in The Two Grenadiers and features the triplet (3 notes in the same duration as 2). The score is available for download in Resources.

Main Study Points

The Dotted Rhythm
This bowing pattern uses quick long bows for the dotted quavers (8th notes). Play the first dotted quaver F# and stop. Then continue down with the short semiquaver E and follow immediately with the long upbow on D and stop. Then continue with the short C# and downbow on D. This pattern is sometimes called the hook stroke. The most common error is making the dotted quavers too short. Read More →

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