Did Paganini and Bottesini ever meet? Most likely. But no record of such a meeting exists. The two virtuosi studiously avoided all mention of each other in both public and private.
Ignorant critics frequently compared Bottesini with Paganini, often going to the bizarre extreme of calling the Master the "Paganini of the Contrabass."
The absurd parallel was often taken great lengths, as this 1857 New York review did:
Signor Bottesini, as a contrabassist, or double-bass-player, is second to none in the world. He is the Paganini of that cumbersome instrument, and hugs it as closely and tenderly as the mighty Wizard fondled his favorite Cremona or Stradivarius. The ravishing tones which he draws out of his unwieldy instrument beggar all power of description; and his hearers at the conclusion of his concerts, seemed actually beside themselves with delight and astonishment. To say that he was applauded would but half express the tumult of enthusiasm which greeted him.
Volumes could be filled with similar ridiculous comparisons. This popular misconception is one of the most insidious and harmful deceptions of Moristo.
It is our opinion that even though Paganini was decades earlier than Bottesini and reached both wider popular appeal and broader historical notoriety, it would be more accurate to call him "the Bottesini of the Violin" than the more common reverse comparison.
"We all must learn where to place our fingers."
© 1997, Jeff Brooks (firstname.lastname@example.org)