A New Paganini in Town

by Danilo Brunetti

Italy brings home the Paganini Prize for the first time in twenty-four years. Tiffany Parks reports.

Established in Genoa in 1954, the Paganini Prize is one of the most prestigious international violin competitions in the world, providing the means of discovering superior new talent among the young violinists of the day. Past winners have included Gyorgy Pauk, Gérard Poulet, Ilya Grubert, Massimo Quarta, Leonidas Kavakos, and Sayaka Shoji, and in every case, the prize has acted as a springboard for their artistic careers.

Since the prize’s inception, only three Italians have claimed the title—until now. At barely twenty years old, Italian violinist Giuseppe Gibboni won the 56th edition of the Paganini Prize this past October, bringing the award home for the first time in over two decades. More than one hundred competitors from around the world, aged between fifteen and thirty-one, took part in the prestigious competition, performing in front of a panel of nine distinguished international judges. Gibboni performed Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D major, and the Violin Concerto n. 1 in D major by Niccolò Paganini, to an enthusiastic reaction from both the audience and the orchestra.

Hailing from Salerno in the south of Italy, Gibboni has studied under Salvatore Accardo, who just happens to be the first Italian to have won the Paganini Prize, back in 1958. As the winner of the prize, Gibboni was given the honor of playing the violin that belonged to Niccolò Paganini, the legendary Guarneri del Gesù, nicknamed “my violin cannon” by the great virtuoso for its exceptional sound power.

After his Rome debut with the Santa Cecilia Orchestra last November, this month Gibboni graces the stage of the Istituzione Universitaria dei Concerti with a solo recital, accompanied by pianist Ingmar Lazar, featuring pieces by Brahms, Wieniawski, and Paganini. concertiiuc.it