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Biography

  • Born

    5 February 1810

  • Born In

    Bergen, Hordaland, Norway

  • Died

    17 August 1880 (aged 70)

Ole Borneman Bull (5 February 1810 – 17 August 1880) was a Norwegian violinist.

Born in Bergen his father wished him to be a minister, but he preferred a musical life. When four or five years old, he could play all the songs he heard his mother sing, on the violin, and when nine, he played first violin in the Bergen Theatre orchestra, and was soloist with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra.

At 18, he was sent to the University of Christiania, but he failed his examinations.

After living for a while in Germany where he pretended to study law, he went to Paris and fared badly for a year or two. He was eventually successful in giving concerts, became famous, and made a fortune.

He was caught up in the rising tide of romantic nationalism in Norway, and acclaimed the idea of Norway as a sovereign state, separate from its union with Sweden, which idea later became a reality in 1905. This was one of the reasons for including variations on folk tunes in his concerts. He also was one of the main founders of the first theatre in which the actors spoke Norwegian, not Danish - Det Norske Theater in Bergen in 1850, which later became Den Nationale Scene.

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.

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