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The very attitude of the man, as he stands poising his bow for a moment before he begins to play, his lithe and graceful yet wholly unartificial bow to the audience, his weird and slender figure, with head thrown back, and eyes upturned as if seeking inspiration from some invisible source, or (as some has imagined) listening for an inaudible whisper form his violin, are of themselves a poem adressed to the eye, resembling in effect the wild lyrics of his native North, […]

– Maria S. Brainerd


Home / News / Bull Prize for Bull Biography
Mar 31, 2010

Bull Prize for Bull Biography

Author and music professor Harald Herresthal has been awarded the 2010 Bull Prize.

Bull Prize for Bull Biography

Harald Herresthal, biographer and winner of the Ole Bull Prize, standing before the Cheops Pyramid, Cairo.

‘It’s a great honour, especially when I think of those who have received this prize before me’, says the proud prize winner.

Without doubt, Herresthal’s many years of work on his four-volume biography of Ole Bull are part of the reason why he has won the Bull Prize this centenary year. Earlier prize winners are, among others, Arve Tellefsen, Henning Kraggerud and Aslak Aarhus, who directed the film Himmelstormeren, a Norwegian-language documentary about Ole Bull.

Extensive work
Since the first volume of the biography came out in 2006, Herresthal has managed in practice to publish one new volume each year. Through his research he has rediscovered and reconstructed several of Bull’s works which were believed to be lost.

Of these works, we mention Violin Concerto No. 2 in E minor, Concerto Fantastico and San Verbena de San Juan (Midsummer Night in Seville). This last work Herresthal found in a palace in Madrid, where it had lain unbeknownst to the world since 1847.

A visit to Cheops Pyramid
After making a bet with King Oscar II, on Bull’s 66th birthday, 5 February 1876, he played his violin atop the great Cheops Pyramid at Giza on the outskirts of Cairo. Herresthal could not resist the opportunity to visit the pyramid this year – the 200th anniversary of Bull’s birth, but also the year the author celebrates his own 66th birthday.
‘– These days you need very good government contacts to get permission to climb to the top, but it was still a great experience’, says Herresthal, who remained on the ground.

In Bull’s day restrictions were more lax. Herresthal relates that both Peter Chr. Asbjørnsen and King Oscar II climbed the Cheops Pyramid before Bull got the idea. ‘– But Bull was the only one to turn it into a PR stunt’, Herresthal adds.

Last chapter
Herresthal did not go to Egypt merely to visit the pyramids. He also went to the Library of Alexandria to check certain details for the last volume of the biography. It is almost ready for printing and will be released at Bergen Public Library on 28 May 2010. Herresthal has researched the life and times of Ole Bull since 1994 and suspects he will experience a huge void once the project is complete. Nevertheless, he will certainly be able to look back on an exciting project.
‘– Bull had a long and adventurous life, and for me he has been a wonderful guide on a tour of European and American culture’, the author concludes.

The Ole Bull Prize will be officially awarded during Bergen International Festival in May 2010.

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last modified Mar 31, 2010 09:24 AM