For many recent years Ole Bull, when not engaged in concert-giving in Europe or America, has resided at a charming country estate on one of the little islands off the coast of Norway. His numerous farewell concert tours are very well known to the public, and would have won him ridicule, had not the genial presence and brilliant talents of the Norwegian artist been always good for a renewed and no less cordial welcome. He frequently referred to the United States in latter years as the beloved land of his adoption. One striking proof of his preference was, at all events, displayed in his marriage to an American lady, Miss Thorpe, of Wisconsin, in 1870. One son was the fruit of this second marriage, and Mr. and Mrs. Ole Bull divided their time between Norway and the United States.
The magnificent presence of Ole Bull, as if of some grand old viking stepped out of his armor and dressed in modern garb, made a most picturesque personality. Those who have seen him can never forget him. The great stature, the massive, stalwart form, as upright as a pine, the white floating locks framing the ruddy face, full of strength and genial humor, lit up by keen blue eyes—all these things made Ole Bull the most striking man in personnel among all the artists who have been familiar to our public.
While Ole Bull will not be known in the history of art as a great scientific musician, there can be no doubt that his place as a brilliant and gifted solo player will stand among the very foremost. As a composer he will probably be forgotten, for his compositions, which made up the most of his concert programmes, were so radically interwoven with his executive art as a virtuoso that the two can not be dissevered. No one, unless he should be inspired by the same feelings which animated the breast of Ole Bull, could ever evolve from his musical tone-pictures of Scandinavian myth and folk-lore the weird fascination which his bow struck from the strings. Ole Bull, like Paganini, laid no claim to greatness in interpreting the violin classics. His peculiar title to fame is that of being, aside from brilliancy as a violin virtuoso, the musical exponent of his people and their traditions. He died at Bergen, Norway, on August 18, 1880, in the seventy-first year of his age, and his funeral services made one of the most august and imposing ceremonials held for many a long year in Norway.