Violin legend Ruggiero Ricci dies aged 94

Known as the ‘Paganini of the 20th Century’, Ricci performed around 5,000 times across the world and made more than 500 recordings in his illustrious career.

Ruggiero Ricci

Virtuoso violinist Ruggiero Ricci has died of heart failure, aged 94. He was best known for his association with Paganini, and was sometimes referred to as the 'Paganini of the 20th Century'.

Born in San Francisco in 1918, Ricci was a child prodigy from a very young age. He was winning prizes by the age of seven, and studying with Louis Persinger, the renowned musician who also taught the great violinist Yehudi Menuhin.

He made his UK debut in London aged 14, performing Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto to great acclaim. His love of Paganini grew when he performed solo repertoire for the Army Air Force during the Second World War.

Ricci was also an active music teacher, working at Indiana University, the Juilliard School, the University of Michigan and the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria.

He went on to perform more than 5,000 concerts in 65 countries until he retired, aged 85. He made more than 500 recordings, including music by Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart, and Paganini.

Ricci once summed up his approach to violin playing: “To improve, you have to try for the impossible, in order to make the possible possible.”  

Watch Ruggiero Ricci play Paganini

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