Personalities | Ole Bull | Early Romantic | Classical

(O’-le Bool) 1810–80
Norwegian violinist and composer

Bull was one of the greatest violinists of the nineteenth century and a key figure in the development of Norwegian music. He went to Christiania (now Oslo) in 1828, where he soon became conductor of the Musical Lyceum, also devoting himself to theory and composition. In Paris in 1831, he was introduced to Paganini’s style of violin playing. He toured Italy (1833–35) before returning to Paris to give a concert at the Opéra (apart from Paganini, he is the only violinist ever to do so). In 1840 he played Beethoven’s ‘Kreutzer’ Sonata in London with Liszt. He continued to tour extensively, and in later years divided his time between Norway and the US. His compositions were largely designed to demonstrate his specific technical abilities, fostered by his use of a violin with some characteristics of a Norwegian peasant fiddle and a specially shaped bow. His best-known work is Et saeterbesog (‘A Visit to the Mountain Pasture’) for violin and orchestra.

Recommended Recording:
Nordic Violin Favourites, Henning Kraggerud, Dalasinfoniettan (cond) Bjarte Engeset (Naxos)

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