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brown one, the color of a Toby, is on the table. Ole Bull has been improvising on it, and the walls of a library-room in a historical house in Cambridge have not yet ceased reverberating. The Benvenuto Cellini has been taken out of its case. I incline my ear to it, and am satisfied that it is responsive, for some of the notes played on the other violin it has sympathized with, and it sends out magically its music in a spontaneous way. We talk violins. I recall to Ole Bull how long ago it was when he made me think, as a lad, how beautiful a thing was a violin. Vol. LXII. —No. 36S.–16
I tell him how I first saw him fondle the dismembered portions of his instrument at Mickle's, in Market Street, Philadelphia, and though thirty-five years have passed away since then, he remembers a disaster which befell his Gaspar di Salo at about that time, though he has forgotten me. “I was twenty-four years old—it was in 1834—when I first heard that Gaspar di Salo in Venice,” Ole Bull tells me. “It belonged to Amtmann Zoller. I tried it, and fell in love with it at once. I had an Amati then that I thought a great deal
of, and I told a musician, a friend of mine, how much finer I thought the Gaspar di Salo was than my Amati. “Then why did you not offer to buy it of him o' asked the musician. Because. I replied, * I should hate to deprive him of it.' ' But do you want it?' 'Of course I do.’ ‘Then I will speak to him.’ “Do it, then, carefully,' I said. Next morning Zoller came to me in a towering passion. “Why did you not say to me yourself that you wanted the violin —why did you send a gobetween o' I pacified him all I could, and invited him to breakfast with me next day. He had a good breakfast. When it was over he said to me, ‘I have a good-fornothing son, who is a cello-player. Now I am seventy years of age. I can't play any more. If there is anybody who ought to have the violin, it is you, Ole Bull.
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A NI ("OLAUS AMATI.
Give me what I paid for it—which is two hundred louis d'or.” “I have not that much money,' I replied—" that is, about me—but I will bring it to-day.' I did so, and carried it to him all in gold. I remember some of the gold was a little worn, and he objected to taking certain pieces. When the violin was mine, I felt like a mother who has found a lost child. Now, as the
NECK AND scroll, or olk bull's GAspar di salo.
violin was mine, I knew its peculiarities. There was a fountain of sound, but the gushing of the water was a little clogged. I made up my mind that the violin had to be opened. The bar was very strangely placed, and I knew it was too thick. I went to Florence, and when I gave it to a workman, and he saw it, he just cried. I was born in Salo,” said the man, “and if anybody will take good care of that violin, I am the man.” He opened that violin, and found it very thick in the wood—not enough air in it. Some work was then done on it, and it was brought up to its present condition. It has never been touched since.” “And the history of the Gaspar di Salo violin with the Ben venuto Cellini ornamentations o' “Well, in 1839 I gave sixteen concerts at Vienna, and then Rhehazek was the great violin collector. I saw at his house this violin for the first time. I just went wild over it. Will you sell it?' I asked. ‘Yes, was the reply— for one-quarter of all Vienna. Now Rhehazek was really as poor as a church mouse. Though he had no end of money put out in the most valuable instruments, he never sold any of them unless when forced by hunger. I invited Rhehazek to my concerts. I wanted to buy the violin so much that I made him some tempting offers. One day he said to me, ‘See here, Ole Bull, if I do sell the violin, you shall have the preference, at 4000 ducats.” “Agreed,” I cried, though I knew it was a big sum. “That violin came strolling, or playing rather, through my brain for some years. It was in 1841. I was in Leipsic giving concerts. Liszt was there, and so also was Mendelssohn. One day we were all dining together. We were having a splendid time. During the dinner came an immense letter with a seal — an official document. Said Mendelssohn, Use no ceremony: open your letter.” “What an awful seal!" cried Liszt. . With your permission,’ said I, and I opened the letter. It was from Rhehazek’s son, for the collector was dead. His father had said that the violin should be offered to me at the price he had mentioned. I told Liszt and Mendelssohn about the price. “You man from Norway, you are crazy," said Liszt. Unheard of extravagance, which only a fiddler is capable of, exclaimed Mendelssohn. ‘Have you ever played on it ! Have you ever tried it to they
both inquired. “Never,” I answered, for it can not be played on at all just now.’ ‘‘I never was happier than when I felt sure that the prize was mine. Originally the bridge was of box-wood, with two fishes carved on it—that was the zodiacal sign of my birthday, February—which was a good sign. Oh, the good times that violin and I have had As to its history, Rhehazek told me that in 1809, when Innspruck was taken by the French, the soldiers sacked the town. This violin had been placed in the Innspruck Museum by Cardinal Aldobrandi at the close of the sixteenth century. A French soldier looted it, and sold it to Rhehazek for a trifle. This is the same violin that I played on, when I first came to the United States, in the Park Theatre. That was on Evacuation-day, 1843. I went to the Astor House, and made a joke--I am quite capable of doing such things. It was the day when John Bull went out and Ole Bull came in. I remember that at the very first concert one of my strings broke, and I had to work out my piece on the three strings, and it was supposed I did it on purpose.”
A stral) UARIUS.
copy of GUARNERIUS, by w. E. coltox.
Nothing can equal the arch simplicity with which this good old master talked. He is as ingenuous as a child. Aside from hearing him play, it is an aesthetic delight to look at this man, who has defied time. There he stands, tall and erect, with a chest of forty-two inches, and as beautiful in proportion as an Antinous. His head is
reared aloft; the white hair floats about,
as with an impulsive motion it is thrown down or lifted off his broad forehead. The shoulders are square, the arms well defined ; and he is, whether playing his violin or at rest, a model for the sculptor.
Ole Bull has just played a sonata for me under all those circumstances which would render it the most impressive, for I am his guest : and though the storm beats without, beside his hearth-stone, which is all in a glow, I bask; and as the evening brings darkness to the room I hear the violin in an absorbed way, for nothing can divert my thoughts. The lady pianist who accompanies him follows sympathetically each shading of the music. Then around the fire-place, with many a cigar, my host tells me the history of his early life.
“My uncle was a publisher, and had a quantity of sheet music—quartettes and so on. He played the violoncello, and he bought me my first violin. It was a lemon-colored violin, and so sour—so sour! I played for the cats, and absolutely drove them away from their food. I am sure that the cats got ill over Fiorillo's studies. They kept clear of a little summer-house where I used to play. When I was eight years old I played the first violin in a quartette of Pleyel's. When I was nine years I used to play with some very good amateurs, and when my piece with them did not come early in the evening they used to put me asleep in a violoncello case, and wake me up with a red apple. In Bergen there was a garrison, and there was a band of wind instruments; and do you know that a clarionette quacks to-day—at least to me—just as it did then I used to slumber away in the 'cello case because the amateurs would play two quartettes before supper. It happened occasionally that, from eating too much supper, the players were troubled – yes, troubled. One evening my uncle said, ‘Come, let us play a quartette of Beethoven’s.’ Some one remarked, ‘Beethoven is so difficult." “But we must,” said my uncle. The quartettes were bound together in one book. They used to let me play the Cramer and Haydn; they were easy; but the Beethoven —ah! in those days he was thought hard. That night the first violin was in trouble after supper. We call it tipsy just as you do. “What a 'shame!’ ‘said my uncle. Ole, do you take the part and play it.’ “I had heard it, but had never tried it. I did not think much about it, but I remember that I was right then and there proposed and elected as a member of that musical club. At very long intervals after that good instrumentalists would come to Bergen, and I would listen to them. I heard the compositions of Rhode and Spohr, and played them as well as I could. Father was an apothecary, and his assistant played the flute. The assistant used to receive musical catalogues from Copenhagen. I devoured the names, and for the first time saw that of Paganini on his famous twenty-four caprices. One evening father came home, bringing with him two Italians. I was fourteen then, and their talk fired me. I wanted to hear about their great violinist Paganini, and they told me all they knew. Even the mention of his name excited my imagination, and made me wild. I went to my grandmother. Dear grandmother,' I said, ‘can’t I get some of Paganini's music : ‘Don’t tell any one,” said that dear old woman, but I will try and buy a piece of his for you if you are a good child.” And she did try, and I was wild when I got the Paganini music. How difficult it was, but oh, how beautiful! That garden-house was my refuge. Maybe-I am not so sure of it—the cats did not go quite so wild as some four years before. One day—a memorable one—I went to a quartette party. The new leader of our philharmonic was there, a very fine violinist, and he played for us a concerto of Spohr's. I knew it, and was delighted with his reading of it. We had porter to drink in another room, and we all drank it, but before they had finished I went back to the music-room, and commenced trying the Spohr. I was, I suppose, carri-ed away with the music, forgot myself, and they heard me. “‘This is impudence,” said the leader. ‘And do you think, boy, that you can play it?’ ‘Yes,' I said, quite honestly. I don't to this day see why I should have told a story about it—do you ? ‘Now you shall play it,” said somebody. ' Hear him hear him '' cried my uncle and the rest of them. I did try it, and played the allegro. All of them applauded save the leader, who looked mad. “‘You think you can play anything, then to asked the leader. He took a caprice of Paganini's from a music-stand. “Now you try this,” he said, in a rage. “I will try it,' I said. “All right; go ahead.” “Now it just happened that this caprice was my favorite, as the cats well knew. I could play it by memory, and I polished it off. When I did that, they all shouted. The leader before had been so cross and savage, I thought he would just rave now. But he did not say a word. He looked very quiet and composed like. He took the other musicians aside, and I saw that he was talking to them. Not long afterward this violinist left Bergen. I never thought I would see him again. It was in 1840, when I was travelling through Sweden on a concert tour, of a snowy day, that I met a man in a sleigh. It was quite a picture: just near sunset, and the northern lights were shooting in the sky; a man wrapped up in a bear-skin a-tracking along the snow. As he drew up abreast of me and unmuffled himself, he called
out to my driver to stop. It was the leader, and he said to me, ‘Well, now that you are a celebrated violinist, remember that when I heard you play Paganini, I predicted that your career would be a remarkable one.’ ‘You were mistaken,” I cried, jumping up; ‘I did not read that Paganini at sight; I had played it before.’ ‘It makes no difference—good-by,” and he urged on his horse, and in a minute the leader was gone.” Then Ole Bull seemed to grow young again with the musical reminiscences of almost a half-century, and I thought that, in his case, art is ever young, and the artist never old. Long into the evening, the master illustrated a point on his Gaspar di Salo–a delightful interlude to his own charming talk. The night came on. How many old musical reminiscences did we not revive! for to me, as a boy, the Benvenuto-Gaspar di Salo had been the first great violin I had ever heard, thirty odd years before. I think that if Ole Bull had not been a wonderful violinist, he would have made a great violin maker. He believed that in the country of his adoption there is no greater event marking artistic progress than the fact that we can now produce at home the finest of instruments. Let it always be remembered to the credit of Ole Bull that a truer, a more refined taste for music dates from the very day when his Gaspar di Salo first vibrated in a New York theatre, almost a lifetime ago. The object of this article is to call attention to some of the very remarkable old Italian violins owned in the United States. I may as well state that in my hunt for violins, which were to represent the types of the great makers, in numerable instruments were offered me for inspection. In many cases, though the violins had pedigrees much longer than my arm, I was forced to reject them. I believe that there never existed a beautiful thing like a violin which was the indirect cause of more story-telling. If there be a Rubens or a Claude Lorraine to be sold at every auction, there are sufficient Straduariuses, Amatis, and Steiners in New York to make kindling-wood for the next two or three months. As to the violins which form the subject of the illustrations, I most willingly express my obligations to certain experts who labored diligently with me in securing authentic instruments. Now some of