Ole Bull, violinist and considered Norway’s first “rock star”, had quite the flare for the dramatic and the mysterious. This last was why he was drawn to the island of Lysøen, where he built his last home.
How famous was Ole Bull in his day? Well, the hotel manager in Bergen would save Bull’s bath water, bottle it and sell it to Bull’s female fans, and Bull didn’t mind, as he absolutely loved any attention. He was constantly touring internationally, and knew how to promote himself before and during shows. He had a bottle of smelling salts, and when women would swoon at his concerts, he’d go to the prettiest ones and revived them, something considered a great honor among the female fans.
Ole Bull also composed some amazing music, incorporating Norwegian folk music into his melodies. He started Norway’s first Norwegian-language theater in Bergen in 1850, since Norwegian theater was still using Danish at the time and he gave Henrik Ibsen a job as staff playwright. Bull also promoted the culture of country folk, making him quite popular with them.
After a lifetime of touring he built an eclectic house south of Bergen, on the island Lysøen, using elements he’d seen on his travels. He had toured the world, and his house includes an Arabian balcony and a Russian onion dome. This house was his last home. He spent the last 8 years of his life here, and died in the music room with a view over Lysefjorden (the one in Hordaland, not the one in Rogaland with the Pulpit rock).
|The dock at Lysøen|
|How many architectural styles can you pick out?|
Being the showman he was, Bull always found a way to create a memorable performance.
So after my tour group and I had a quick bite and coffee in the café, a tour of the house, a lovely concert including music by Ole Bull’s protégé, Edvard Grieg, Harald Sæverud (another Bergen composer) and Ole Bull himself, we were encouraged to take the hike to “the cave” (Grotten), as long as we had good footwear.
|Beautiful view in spite of the rain|
|Heading toward the large crack in the rocks|
Photo of the Ole Bull statue when it was first erected.