Ole Bull – ‘Fanitulla’, plus Halling & Springdans Plus-Niagara Fantasia

Posted on August 18th, 2012 by

Ole Bull-Halling til Studenternes Selskab den 10de December 1848 Workshop recording, London 31st August 2012 Peter Sheppard Skaerved

The Halling for the Students-MS. NB-I used an appropriate Hardanger 'scordatura' with the lowest string tuned up to A

The Halling for the Students-MS. NB-I used an appropriate Hardanger ‘scordatura’ with the lowest string tuned up to A

Ole Bull-Fanitulla (His transcription today housed in the Univeristetsbibliothek, Oslo) Peter Sheppard Skaerved-Violin (Workshop Recording, London August 29th 2012)

From the 28th to 30th March 1849, there was a series of tableaux at  Christiana (Oslo) Theatre. One of these represented Jorgen Moes’ poem Fanitullen which Bull accompanied with his version of the ‘slått’ of the same name. A manuscript of a later version that Bull played of this Hardanger tune is preserved in the University Library, and that is what I have recorded here.

This is the first verse of Møe’s poem on the ‘slått’, ‘Fanitullen’, which was banned intermittently in the 1700’s as it tended to encourage violent brawling-‘I hine hårde dager/da ved øldrikk og svir/hallingdølens knivblad/satt løst i hans slir, -/da kvinnene til gilde bar likskjorten med, /hvori de kunne legge /sin husbonde ned…’

Priest, poet and Folkolorist, Jørgen Moe, 1813-1882

Link to more Hardanger Transcriptions

Ole Bull – Halling & Springdands (sic)reg Bergen Offentliche Biblitek (Bull 260833)Workshop recording Amsterdam 18th August 20012 (hence tram bell!)Peter Sheppard Skaerved-Violin


Maud Powell Remembers Bull

I would like to think that Ole Bull would have enjoyed some of the dramatic and colouristic gambits beloved of composers such as Nigel Clarke, Helmut Lachenmann and Volodmyr Runchak. The first great truly American violinist, Maud Powell (a pupil of Joachim’s), remembered one of these:

‘The old days of virtuoso tricks have passed-I should like to hope for ever. Not that some of the old type virtuosos were not fine players. Remenyi played beautiful. So did Ole Bull. I remember one favourite trick of the latter’s, for instance which would hardly pass muster today. I have seen him drawn out a long pp, the audience listening breathlessly, while he drew his bow way beyond the string and then looked innocently at the point of the bow as though wondering where the tone had vanished. It invariably brought down the house.’ (Maud Powell-Karen Shaffer & Neca Greenwood, Iowa State University Press, Ames, Iowa 1988, P.65)

Maud Powell, the heir of Joachim’s mantle of ‘Servant of Art’.

A Fragment of the unfinished ‘Niagara-Fantasia Pastorale’

Ole Bull-Recitative from ‘Niagara’ (workshop recording-Peter Sheppard Skaerved. 2012)

My transcriptionof the fragmentary violin part of the lost ‘Fantasia Pastorale-Niagara’, which Bull composed after visiting the Falls in 1845. This Manuscript hints at a dramatically new, impressionistic approach to orchestral colouration, particularly the opening, which appears to represent the mist and rainbow effects one sees. This ‘Rectative’ is one of only three sections of violin solo writing which are to be found in the ms. Like Paganini, Bull had a tendency, I feel to build his solo material in a quasi-improvisatory manner in fixed orchestral, piano, or mixed keyboard frames.