For this month’s edition, I would like to introduce you to one of the greatest violinists the World has seen.
Ole Bornemann Bull was born on February 5, 1810 in Bergen, Norway. The eldest of ten children, by age four he displayed an uncommon talent, imitating with astonishing accuracy the songs he heard his mother play on violin. At the tender age of nine, he played first violin in the orchestra of Bergen's theatre and was a soloist with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra. He studied under Paganini and toured the World as a virtuoso. He played five tours through North America between 1843 and 1879 and eventually spent his summers in America and the winters in Norway.
His brother, Georg Andreas Bull was to become a renowned Norwegian architect, and he was also a friend of the Grieg family (Ole Bull's brother was married to Grieg's aunt). Bull noticed Edvard's talent and persuaded his parents to send him to further develop his talents at the Leipzig Conservatory.
Robert Schumann once wrote that Bull was among "the greatest of all," and that he was on a level with Niccolò Paganini for the speed and clarity of his playing. Bull was also a friend of Franz Liszt and played with him on several occasions.
During one of Bull’s greatest concerts, well into one of his compositions, his "A" string broke. Had this happened to a lesser artist, there certainly would have been an interruption, and possibly a display of artistic temperament; but Ole Bull didn't hesitate. He completed the piece to the audience’s great delight, but the conclusion was not the original one. He had masterfully improvised on the remaining three strings for the rest of the composition.
The records of his initiation have been lost to the passage of time, but he was a visitor to St. Cecile Lodge No. 568 (New York City) in March 1868, as well as to the Lodge of St. Andrew in Massachusetts. On Oct. 30, 1845 Ole Bull gave a concert for the Masonic Hall and Asylum Fund of the Grand Lodge of New York, which netted $1,400, a rather considerable sum at the time.
A testament to his fame was his funeral procession in 1880, said to have been one of the most spectacular in Norway's history. The ship transporting his remains was guided by fifteen steamers and a large number of smaller vessels.
The Masonic Playlist:
Jean Sibelius (1865-1957)
" Musique Religieuse Op. 113" - 1927