“‘This is impudence,’ said the leader. ’And do you think, boy, that you can play it?’ ‘Yes,’ I said, quite honestly. I don’t to this day see why I should have told a story about it—do you? ‘Now you shall play it,’ said somebody. ‘Hear him! hear him!’ cried my uncle and the rest of them. I did try it, and played the allegro. All of them applauded save the leader, who looked mad.
“‘You think you can play anything, then?’ asked the leader. He took a caprice of Paganini’s from a music stand. ‘Now you try this,’ he said, in a rage. ‘I will try it,’ I said. ‘All right; go ahead.’
“Now it just happened that this caprice was my favorite, as the cats well knew. I could play it by memory, and I polished it off. When I did that, they all shouted. The leader before had been so cross and savage, I thought he would just rave now. But he did not say a word. He looked very quiet and composed like. He took the other musicians aside, and I saw that he was talking to them. Not long afterward this violinist left Bergen. I never thought I would see him again. It was in 1840, when I was traveling through Sweden on a concert tour, of a snowy day, that I met a man in a sleigh. It was quite a picture: just near sunset, and the northern lights were shooting in the sky; a man wrapped up in a bear-skin a-tracking along the snow. As he drew up abreast of me and unmuffled himself, he called out to my driver to stop. It was the leader, and he said to me, ’Well, now that you are a celebrated violinist, remember that, when I heard you play Paganini, I predicted that your career would be a remarkable one.’ ‘You were mistaken,’ I cried, jumping up; ’I did not read that Paganini at sight; I had played it before.’ ‘It makes no difference; good-by,’ and he urged on his horse, and in a minute the leader was gone.”
To please his father, Ole Bull studied assiduously to fit himself for the preliminary examination of the university, but he found time also to pursue his beloved music. At the age of eighteen he was entered at the University of Christiania as a candidate for admission, and went to that city somewhat in advance of the day of ordeal to finish his studies. He had hardly entered Christiania before he was seduced to play at a concert, which beginning gave full play to the music-madness beyond all self-restraint. As a result Ole Bull was “plucked,” and at first he did not dare write to his father of this downfall of the hopes of the paternal Bull.
We are told that he found consolation from one of the very professors who had plucked him. “It’s the best thing could have happened to you,” said the latter, by way of encouragement.
“How so?” inquired Ole.
“My dear fellow,” was the reply, “do you believe you are a fit man for a curacy in Finmarken or a mission among the Laps? Nature has made you a musician; stick to your violin, and you will never regret it.”