Bull to Telmanyi. Making the links…

Posted on June 16th, 2014 by

I am increasingly fascinated-in fact, it was what made my path to Bull so easy- by a circle of influence which seems to echo between Norway and Denmark, on the subject of the true sound of the earth, of the soil, what Bull, Grieg, Nielsen were hunting. I felt if when I played the little Nielsen solo violin polka, (his first piece), and when I started to think about Bull seriously, it began to crystalise.

The 9 year old Carl Nielsen's Polka. This did not please his father....

The 9 year old Carl Nielsen’s Polka. This did not please his father….

This began with my being made to sit down, many years ago in the library in Holstebro, and listen to Emil Telmanyi. This was just about the time that I was studying with Louis Krasner (who commissioned the Berg and Schonberg concertos), so it really struck a very deep chord within me, an understanding of some fundamental north-south-east-west vernacular of the earth, a music of such directness, which I came to associate with the North, and with, initially Denmark. When I have been trying to find a voice for Ole Bull, and not just the ‘virtuoso’, or ‘patriot’ one, it was that directness that has stayed with me, and a sense grew that the Bull-Myllarguten-Grieg conversation had something to do with this-Telmanyi has helped me find my way. Now, imagine my excitement when it dawned on me, that in his ‘Af en musikers Billedbog’ Telmanyi unwittingly closes the circle. In the chapter, entitled ‘Undervisning’, he tells how he was asked to help the great Hardanger player Sigbjørn Bernhoft Osa, deal with his microphone fright. He gave him lessons, and they became friends. So here the great Hungarian/Dane finds a way back to the other end of the story, to the descendant of the Miller’s Son. This was the instinct that I had had. The lessons, according to Telmanyi, took place at Schaeffergaarden.

Here's Osa, and the Telmanyi Family, at Voss (Emil was scared that he would drop his violin over the side, so he didn't play!)

Here’s Osa, and the Telmanyi Family, at Voss (Emil was scared that he would drop his violin over the side, so he didn’t play!)