Blog of Professor Timothy Jones

Ole Bull goes home

Professor Timothy Jones - Posted on 08.06.2015

Ole Bull in Academy MuseumAnyone who has spent time as a researcher will recognise those magical moments when everything suddenly comes to life, when the dim and distant past suddenly feels almost more real than the present-day. Our Viotti Lecturer, Peter Sheppard Skaerved, has more of these experiences than most – and has been sharing some with us over the past few days.

Earlier this term, Peter presented the ‘Pearl’ violin to a rapt audience in the Museum’s Piano Gallery. It was the first time that the violin had been heard in public for over a century – it has barely been seen since Ole Bull’s death in 1880. This violin was made by Niccolo Amati in 1647. When this violin was sold in 1827, the Royal household was reputedly delighted that the buyer was not George IV – it went for such a high sum that his finances would perhaps not have survived.

Last week, Peter took the instrument back to Lysøen – a small island (the Island of Light) south of Bergen where Ole Bull lived in an extraordinary fairy-tale villa. Peter played the violin in the music room that Ole Bull planned himself, he put it into the double violin case that was made specially for it, and he reunited it with the bow which was made in Paris to Ole Bull’s particular requirements. You can witness the occasion on, and read more about it on Peter’s own website.

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