Niccolò Paganini (27 October 1782 - 27 May 1840) was a well-known and skilled violinist. He was also recognized for being a great showman with a quick sense of humor. One of his most memorable concerts was in Italy with a full orchestra. He was performing before a packed house and his technique was incredible, his tone was fantastic, and his audience was completely captivated. Toward the end of his concert, Paganini was astounding the concert attendees with an unbelievable composition, when suddenly one string on his violin snapped and hung uselessly. Paganini frowned briefly, shook his head, and continued to play, improvising beautifully.
Then, to everyone’s surprise, a second string broke. And shortly thereafter, a third. Almost like a slapstick comedy, Paganini stood with three strings dangling from his Stradivarius. But instead of leaving the stage, Paganini maintained his ground and calmly completed the difficult number on the one remaining string.
For those who might doubt the statistical probability of the series of events described in the anecdote above, consider that the strings were made of natural material, all derived from exactly the same source, all of exactly the same age and amount of wear from use, and when the humidity and temperature and pressure reached the right point, the strings lost their structural integrity all within the span of a musical performance. This was no remarkable coincidence, just a scientifically plausible occurrence. For a moment in time, conditions existed such that there was a ‘One-String Paganini’ playing before an audience.
There are many One-Stringed Paganinis making their way through life. You might never suspect who among the people you meet in your day-to-day life is one of them. You might be one yourself for all that is known. If that’s the case, hang in there, keep playing on your one remaining string, and every day continue to ‘Make Fun Of Life!’
Image: Niccolò Paganini (about 1831) portrait by German painter Georg Friedrich Kersting.