The Strings of Paganini
In his letter from Breslau, 31 July 1829, Paganini writes to a friend in Naples:
I need a favour: to be done with care and solicitude. I am without chantarelles […]. Even if they are very thin, they must be made of four strands to endure. Make sure the string is smooth, even and well stretched […]. I beg you to keep an eye on the makers and to do this soon and well.’
What does this mean? What does he mean ‘using four strands’? And how thin would have been these ‘very thin’ strings?
To find out about these things, I went to Mimmo Peruffo in Vicenza, Italy. He is an expert on the historical production of gut strings. In the last six years many new things have been discovered about gut strings as they were used in the past, and this has recently led to many violinists changing their set-up. For my own choices, and perhaps the reader’s, I would like to know more about these discoveries. Also, I wanted to ask Mimmo Peruffo about a package of strings found in a palace in Genoa in 2002. What does he think about it: are they really Paganini’s? What do these strings say about sound in the early Romantic time?