Ole Bull Concert

Event Information

Steinway Hall

Price: $1; $1.50 reserved

Performance Forces:
Instrumental, Vocal

Record Information


Last Updated:
17 August 2017

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

28 Mar 1868, Evening

Program Details

The unidentified work by Paganini is listed as "Allegro maestoso" in the citations; it is probably a concerto movement.

The unidentified work by Mozart is listed as "Larghetto" in the citations; it is probably a concerto movement.

The selection from Rigoletto, performed by Severini, is listed as "Adagio" in the citations.

Performers and/or Works Performed

Composer(s): Paganini
Participants:  Ole Bull
aka Witches’ dance; Hexentanz
Composer(s): Paganini
Participants:  Ole Bull
Composer(s): Mozart
Participants:  Ole Bull
Participants:  Ole Bull
Composer(s): Schubert
Participants:  Signor Severini
Composer(s): Verdi
Participants:  Signor Severini
Composer(s): Donizetti
Participants:  Signor Severini;  A. Randolfi
aka Thou everywhere; When in the dark midnight; Uberall Du
Composer(s): Lachner
Participants:  A. Randolfi
aka Thou art so near and yet so far ; Beloved star; Thou art so near
Composer(s): Reichardt [composer]
Text Author: Oxenford
Participants:  A. Randolfi
aka The Magic Flute; Zauberflote, Die
Composer(s): Mozart
Participants:  George Washbourne Morgan
Composer(s): Hoffman
Composer(s): Hoffman


Advertisement: New York Herald, 22 March 1868.
Advertisement: New-York Times, 27 March 1868, 7.
Review: New-York Daily Tribune, 30 March 1868, 5.

“That the public intuitively recognize the presence of genius would seem to have been indicated by the wide-spread anxiety to hear and see Ole Bull upon three or four occasions last week. The crowds that flocked to the great violinist’s several concerts were not, certainly, advertised for, neither were they gathered in by any marvelous feat of managerial tactics. The swarm, which was remarkable, had not been anticipated by those who are best acquainted with the attractive powers of our standard musical entertainments. We cannot recall the time when the name of any one artist until now has awakened the interest of two such audiences as over-ran Steinway Hall on Saturday afternoon and evening. The programmes for the matinee and soiree included the following selections for Mr. Bull: ‘Cantabile doloroso e Rondo giocoso;’ ‘the Mother’s Prayer,’ with organ, harp and piano accompaniment; ‘Fantasie on the Carnival of Venice’—all original. Also, in the evening, an Allegro Maestoso by Paganini; Larghetto (solo) by Mozart; and ‘Le Streghe’ (Witches Dance) by Paganini. The Larghetto and the second selection from the brilliant album bequeathed by Paganini proved the strong successes of the second programme. Ole Bull’s genius is not to be doubted. It may not be of the highest order, but it is sufficiently bold and impressive to exact universally homage. His technics are the simple results of inspiration and cannot be satisfactorily accounted for by any other hypothesis. That he is a true poet is shown by the beauties of his style and certain occasional defects of execution. There are chance passages in Beethoven’s works which, by their essentially puerile character, serve to throw into bolder relief the manifold beauties with which they are surrounded. And this must needs be the case in every branch of art. He who would prune away all faults would find art an impossibility. Old Bull’s prominent defects are a rasping on the G string and an occasional false intonation on the higher notes when executing bravura passages. The disagreeable sound emitted by the G string may be owing to some imperfection of the string itself, and which could easily be removed; or it may have its origin in the violin, in which case there can be no remedy short of another instrument. What we, however, consider to be the most probable cause, is carelessness, or want of perfection in striking the chord. The false intonation observed in the upper tones can hardly be remedied by the virtuoso. Both Vieuxtemps and Sivori will rival Bull in facility of execution but with no better luck as regards true tone. The characteristic beauties which ought fairly to blind (or, more properly, to deafen) us to the blemishes of Ole Bull’s playing are the general sweetness and limpidity of tone produced, the variety of coloring, and, above all, his absolute command over the cantabile. His detached notes are like a shower of pure, clear-cut diamonds. At times his tones are legitimately those of the violin, again of the flute, new like the soft murmur of a distant organ, and anon it is the human voice that seems to charm the ear, or, perhaps, the merry chirping of the birds that beguiles our fancy. To this rare versatility in coloring may be ascribed his peculiar power. Concerning merely mechanical skill, Mr. Bull’s pizzicato with the left hand, and his playing in two and three parts in harmonics are his strongest points. As a matter of course, he is, like all genuine artists, most at home in his own compositions, though the performance of certain standard works in his repertory is more than satisfactory, and easily sets at defiance the puny efforts of mediocrity. In these concerts, the last of which takes place on Wednesday evening, Mr. Bull is agreeably assisted by Signor Severini and Signor Randolfi, Messrs. Morgan, Edward Hoffman, and Toulmin. We note with pleasure the interested favor which the young tenor and baritone have acquired at the hands of the public this Winter. Signor Severini is an excellent type of the cultivated, conscientious, and appreciative artist—which is a remarkable statement to make of a modern tenor. Nature has done so well by Signor Randolfi that there is but little room left for self-improvement as a concert singer.”

Review: Dwight's Journal of Music, 11 April 1868, 224.

“There were three Ole Bull concerts last week. His odd, quaint, fanciful performance of such pieces as the ‘Carnival of Venice’ and ‘Witches’ Dance’ is eminently calculated to please the popular mind; on the other hand, his best and most artistic point,—i.e., his wonderful three and four-part playing—is appreciated only by the few. We must regret that a violinist of such pre-eminent ability should condescend to play—as he did on Saturday evening—such low barroom trash as the ‘Arkansas Traveller;’ and we would suggest to Signor Severini the propriety of leaving the dead undisturbed; ‘Oft in the stilly night’ is very well in its way, but it is unkind to unearth it at this late day.”