Ryota Kikuchi: Paganini Variations


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Preface: Ryota Kikuchi

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Pianist Ryota Kikuchi has composed “Paganini Variations” based on “Cappricio No. 24” by Niccolò Paganini, the legendary violinist of the 19th century. The eight variations explore various musical styles such as classical, impressionist, contemporary, fusion, and Latin music.

Preface by Ryota Kikuchi
Composed by Niccolò Paganini, the greatest, demonically-gifted genius in the history of violin playing, his last work in the Twenty-Four Caprices for Solo Violin has been widely beloved and recognized for its memorable tunefulness and demand for tremendous virtuosity. Since its creation, writing variations on this theme have become a compositional touchstone through the following generations of composers, namely Franz Liszt, Johannes Brahms, and Sergei Rachmaninoff. More recently, leading composer-pianists of our time, including Marc-André Hamelin and Fazıl Say have each displayed their unique compositional voices and transcendental prowess at the keyboard with their renditions. 

The motivation to create my own set of variations began in the spring of 2021 when I was offered the opportunity to present a solo recital at Japan’s world-renowned Suntory Hall. I was inspired and driven by one thought: “If this isn’t the stage on which to challenge myself, where else is?”


Thereafter, I set out to put my creativity and technical capacity to the test, carrying the torch handed to me from artists in the 19th century. I believe that what I composed was made possible by the good fortune of being alive in 2021 – absorbing and synthesizing music of diverse eras leading to now.


Through this work, I hope you will vicariously experience and enjoy the high-stakes thrill of the all-or-nothing performance of my lifetime.


Ryota Kikuchi
Started playing the piano at the age of four. Graduated from Kunitachi College of Music Junior and Senior High School. Winner of numerous competitions, including 5th prize at the 2008 Asia International Music Competition, 3rd prize (without first prize) at the 5th Burkhardt International Music Competition, and 2nd prize at the 12th “Banri no Chojyo Cup” International Music Competition. Scholarship recipient of the “James & Dan Michiko” scholarship from the Nihon University College of Art. Performed at the 82nd Yomiuri Newcomers Concert. Awarded the Best Newcomer Prize at the 30th Oikawa Music Office Newcomer Audition. Currently, he is involved in TV programs, film music, animation music, and game music, as well as writing music for Tokyo Olympics commercials and other projects. He has also started posting performance videos on Twitter and YouTube. His YouTube videos on street piano and “How to play XXX without being recognized in a bar” have been viewed more than 200 million times and have attracted more than 510,000 channel subscribers. He plays keyboards and composes music for his band “Ano Atari”.

Additional information

Weight200 g
Dimensions30 × 23 × 0.1 mm