Oh, Mr. Paganini
Please play my rhapsody
And if you cannot play it won’t you sing it?
And if you can’t sing you simply have to . . .
Mr. Paganini, aka (If You Can’t Sing It) You’ll Have to Swing It became a fixture in Ella Fitzgerald’s repertoire back in the 1930s. The Mr. Paganini to whom she refers is composer and violin virtuoso Niccolo Paganini who was born on October 27, 1782. During the height of his career, the legendary “devil violinist” set all of nineteenth-century Europe into a frenzy. He was a headliner in every major European city. His technical ability was legend, and so was his willingness to flaunt it. His fame as a violinist was equaled by his reputation as a gambler and womanizer.
Alas, his grueling schedule and extravagant lifestyle took their toll, and he suffered from ever increasing health problems. He died in 1840.