Niccolò Paganini | Painting by Eugène Delacroix

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One of the long-held dreams of amateur inventors – like building the proverbial ‘better mousetrap’ – is to come up with a way to create a machine that powers itself, without ever slowing down or stopping. The quest for Perpetual Motion isn’t only limited to devices, though – it’s also used as a musical concept. Composers such as Niccolò Paganini and Johann Strauss II have works that seem to go on and on without ever stopping.

Eventually, everything runs out of steam–or energy–or whatever is making it go. The laws of thermodynamics guarantee that. But try telling that to Yehudi Menuhin, who’s playing Paganini’s “Moto Perpetuo” here with (long-suffering) accompanist Adolph Baller:

Or the Vienna Philharmonic playing “Perpetuum Mobile” by Johann Strauss II , conducted by Herbert von Karajan:


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