Ole Bull (1810-1880) was a Norwegian musician who played a major role in developing Norway’s musical culture which helped propel it towards independence. In his youth, he had heard and listened to a type of Norwegian folk music known as “slåtts” (fiddle music) a lot. He had created a uniquely Norwegian style of music based off of several types of folk tunes, which included “their modal basis, their raised fourths and flatted sevenths, their varied repetition of phrases, their repetitions that formed sequences, their simple harmonies made up of intervals of open fourths or fifth, and their frequent drone basses.”
Ole Bull was a Norwegian nationalist through and through, and his music was used to instill a desire for it in other Norwegians and to inform non-Norwegians. As a man, he was impulsive and eccentric, two traits that, even though they brought him some misfortune, gave him the desire and the passion to push for Norwegian independence. He was in favor of a possibly violent revolution, and once told his father, “Independence is not too dearly brought for a proud man-. Life is freedom, slavery is death. Without battle no victory, without victory no freedom. ‘Vita bellum- bellum vita’ is my motto.”
Being able to read about a man like Ole Bull was an amazing opportunity. My next post will most likely be on Chapter 3 of Northern Light, which I had promised to post about two posts ago. The book I read was Einar Haugen’s Ole Bull, Norway’s Romantic Musician and Cosmopolitan Patriot, and the two quotes above come from pages 259 and 274 respectively. While I couldn’t find a good place to fit in this information, Bull was noted to have a childlike way of entertaining himself and was notably aware of emotions, both his own and others’. This post’s title comes from the chorus of a song titled “Oleana” (sometimes spelled as “Oleanna”), which was about the settlement Ole Bull founded in Pennsylvania of the same name, though now it’s called “Oleona” and much of the original settlement is part of Ole Bull State Park.