Like many composers before him, Wain was inspired by the challenge of writing a work based on the famous Caprice in A minor form Paganini’s 24 Caprices for Solo Violin. The work consists of the theme followed by nine variations, and the composer has said that he was stimulation by the idea of creating a well-shaped and unified whole as opposed to a collection of thematically-linked but disparate character pieces. Each variation builds on the one before, the work becoming more dramatic and technically demanding as it proceeds, and each is tended to explore and extend a specific aspect of two-mallet technique.
The composer gave the public premiere of Paganini Variations on May 24 1998 in St.David’s Cathedral, Hobart. Since then, the work has entered the mainstream of performance exam repertoire and regularly appears in the recitals of advance students at music conservatories throughout Australia.