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Luigi Alberto Bianchi

Successful on both viola and violin, Luigi Alberto Bianchi is somewhat unusual amongst internationally-known string players. From a family of musicians, he began violin lessons aged six but it was the viola which won him a Ricordi Scholarship to study at the Rome Collegio di Musica; at his graduation exam, aged nineteen, he performed Bartók’s Viola Concerto. He became principal viola of Rome’s Orchestra Sinfonica della RAI and a member of the Quartetto di Roma, and embarked on a solo career, becoming particularly popular in the UK in the late 1960s.

In 1973, as well as being appointed Professor of Viola at the University of Milan, Bianchi was chosen to record Paganini’s Sonata per la gran viola (which he did using a 1595 Amati instrument) for the first time according to the original score, without any changes to simplify demanding passages and without the help of a fifth (E) string. He also recorded Max Reger’s three viola suites and, in 1980, a selection of works with pianist Bruno Canino, just before his beloved Amati was stolen. The theft led Bianchi back to the violin. He bought a 1692 Stradivarius in London and later the 1716 ‘Colossus’ Stradivarius, which was itself subsequently stolen in 1998.

Teaching (at institutions across Europe and the USA) and conducting have augmented Bianchi’s activities. He is known as an authority on Paganini and has also written a book on Alessandro Rolla (1757–1841), Paganini’s only teacher.



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