Thursday, May 23, 2024

Niccolo Paganini Turns 237 This Week, Gets a $50 Million Birthday Concert Tonight at Carnegie Hall


Niccolo Paganini– maybe you knew him. The violin virtuoso turned 237 day before yesterday. His actual descendant, Maria Elena Paganini, who lives in Buenos Aires,  threw her relative a little birthday party at the Ascent Lounge in the Time Warner Center. Niccolo would have loved it. But she has more in store for him.

Tonight (Wednesday) at Carnegie Hall, Maria Elena is putting on a concert of Paganini’s work, with five violinists and two pianists. The violinists will play violins from Niccolo’s collection, each valued at $10 million. They are all on loan for the show. LDJ Capital is sponsoring the event.

On Monday we got a taste of the concert to come when a couple of the violinists– all top notch classical musicians– gave a little demonstration. It’s the best music the Ascent Lounge (formerly the Stone Rose) has ever heard.

The Carnegie Hall performance will feature one Stradivarius and four Guarnieri Del Ges violins – a favorite brand of

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – OCTOBER 28: Atmosphere at PAGANINI HONORS PAGANINI, A Tribute To Niccolo Paganini By Maria Elena Paganini on October 28, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Sylvain Gaboury/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)

Niccolo Paganini’s – courtesy of Florian Leonard, one of the sponsors of the concert and known to be a leading expert in fine violins.

Edmond Fokker van Crayestein, Elly Suh, Jochem Geene, Kevin Zhu, Sabrina Vivian Hpcker, and Stefan Milenkovich are the soloists performing onstage. Jochem Geene is a pianist while Crayestein, Suh, Zhu, Hpcker, and Milenkovich are violinists. Edmond Fokker van Crayestein, a good friend of Maria Elena, is the concert’s musical director and will be responsible for the program and the artists.

What have you done for your deceased relatives, eh?

At the cocktail party, I spoke with Hamburg-born Sabrina-Vivian Höpcker, already a renown young German musician with a great smile. I asked her what she’d be playing tonight. Some Led Zeppelin maybe? “Who?” she said. She was carrying one of the historic violins under her arm after giving the guests a preview of Paganini’s immortal compositions. “Are you nervous carrying that around?” I asked. “No,” she replied, “it has to be played, or it will die.”


Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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