The idea of researching the history of the caprice and its effect on violin technique was stimulated by being introduced to the 12 Caprices for Violin solo (Zurich, 1972) by the Swiss composer, Heiner Reitz (1925- ). His caprices sparked a curiosity to research the development of this genre from its origins to the present day.' During this investigation it was found that two composers have had considerable influence, namely, Pietro Antonio Locatelli (1695-1764) and Niccolo Paganini (1782-1840), both of whom wrote sets of24 caprices, published in Amsterdam in 1733 and in Milan in 1820, respectively. Locatelli's 24 Capricci have not been as widely acknowledged as the 24 Capricci by Paganini, even though Locatelli's caprices contributed strongly both to the development of the caprice for solo violin and to violin technique.
To this day only a few books and other resources are available on the history of the caprice, and even some definitions of the form found in dictionaries remain unclear. The paucity of materials prompted this study in order to explore and highlight the history and achievements of the caprice genre. This critical commentary does not undertake a complete history of the caprice; instead the genre is explored through the repertoire for solo violin. The thesis is structured chronologically, with detailed examination of solo violin caprices, as exemplified by the 24 Capricci by Locatelli, the 24 Capricci by Paganini and the 12 Caprices for Violin solo by Reitz.
Chapter I intends to provide a short discussion of the early stages of the caprice by examining several definitions and listing a few of the earliest caprices. This will provide a basic background for the following three chapters. Chapter 2 examines the confusion between the caprice and the cadenza, before introducing Locatelli's 24 Capricci. The significance of these works for the development of the caprice for solo violin and violin technique will be explored.
Chapter 3 investigates the pedagogical function of the caprice, which resulted in a close relationship between the caprice and the etude. Paganini's 24 Capricci will be discussed and partly examined in reference to the caprices by Locatelli in order to show the latter composer's influence and then to distinguish other technical innovations by Paganini that have enriched violin technique. Chapter 4 explores the twentieth-century caprice for solo violin with particular reference to the 12 Caprices for Violin solo by Heiner Reitz and a discussion of the caprices will demonstrate how these caprices are essentially based upon the technical foundations laid by Locatelli and Paganini, and that they are however, written within the musical context of the twentieth-century.