Thursday, March 09, 2017

The Devil's Music

Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight? ~ The Joker
Lots of music has been said to come from the devil - heavy metal, blues, Katy Perry - but that's mostly crazy talk. Although it would explain Ozzy Osbourne. Here are three musicians with closer connections to The Dark One.

Giuseppe Tartini
The Venetian composer said that in 1713 he dreamt that the devil appeared at the foot of his bed where he literally sold his soul for a song.

The devil took Tartini's violin and played the most wonderful sonata he had ever heard. Tartini arose and tried to transcribe what the devil had played. He said what he transcribed is a pale imitation of the devil's composition but it is still an extremely difficult piece beyond the skills of most violinists.

Niccolò Paganini
Tall, with long, thin, impossibly flexible fingers, Paganini is accepted as the greatest violinist to ever live. It was also generally accepted in 19th century Europe that only with the help of Satan could Paganini have played like he did.

Paganini began playing the violin at age five by age twelve he was a virtuoso. He pranced around the stage as he played, as if he were possessed. At his concerts people would cross themselves as protection. Once, a rich sponsor lent Paganini a violin but refused to take it back for fear it was now cursed.

Paganini was said to have murdered a former lover, trapped her soul in his violin, and used her intestines to make the strings. Some said they could see the devil accompany Paganini as he played. As he was dying, Paganini refused last rites and no church cemetery would accept his burial for fear he would pollute consecrated ground.

Robert Leroy Johnson
According to legend, Johnson was walking down a dusty road in rural Mississippi when, at a crossroad, he encounter Satan sitting on a log. It was there that he sold his soul to become the king of Delta Blues.

When Johnson performed he turned his back to the audience so no one could see his hands. It is said than Johnson never touched the strings, that they played themselves.

Johnson died in 1938 at the age of 27 of unknown causes and the location of his burial is also unknown.

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