Ole Bull

Ole Bull.

   Our pleasure, Wednesday evening, in the performance of this distinguished artist, was damped by the cold and dull reception given him by the audience. On his first entrance his spirits must have been checked by the want of the cordial reception to which he has been accustomed, and the same insensibility was shown throughout the evening to his finest strains.

  It is not vanity that makes the plaudits of the audience so necessary to performers even of undoubted genius. It is because they need the assurance of sympathy to fan into flame the coal of enthusiasm, and, without it, can no more do themselves justice, than one of their instruments can make its vibrations felt, if the atmosphere or shape of the apartment be calculated to deaden it.

  It seemed inexplicable that a full audience, assembled purposely to hear Ole Bull, should not express a transport of feeling after hearing the grand eloquence of the “Polacca Guerriera,” nor join heartily in encoring when a few had begun, on a later occasion. But our surprise rose into indignation when the same silence received and followed upon the performance of his “Niagara,” which, it was well known to the audience, had been so important a page in the life of his mind, while among ourselves: which he supposed they were especially assembled to hear, and which fully expressed the inspirations of his peculiar genius.

  We hope that this want of due response will not lead Ole Bull to think that his thoughts were cast against the wind. We wish to assure him that there were those present whose hearts vibrated to the calm rapture this composition so nobly expresses; and who believe they shared with him the enchantments of his reverie.

  For ourselves, we enjoyed all that we had hoped from this music, having now heard Ole Bull sufficiently to understand the manner in which he takes up a subject, and to enter at once into his feeling. But some, even of those capable of doing so, were disappointed on this first hearing of “Niagara,” because it is a subject on which most persons have a preconceived idea as to the mode of treatment. On the first hearing they listened for their own “Niagara” rather than that of the artist. The second hearing these would enjoy, as they would then follow out the true leading of the music. When “Niagara” is given again, and we earnestly hope it will be given again—though we could not blame Ole Bull if he thought there was no heart to answer to genius in a New-York audience—we could wish to hear less of the clang of metal. Both in this and the Polacca the effect was injured by the clash of the cymbals. This sound, though a little of it animates martial music, always offends the ear if made use of in any excess, and is paltry and degrading in the nobler and fuller swells of sound. It is warlike and decisive, but not heroic.

  The singing of Sanquirico afforded very agreeable interludes. He, in his way, is an excellent performer. The debutante engaged interest from her timidity, and has a very good voice; but she will never sing well if she continues that sobbing, forced manner of uttering her notes. It is the most opposite possible to the clear and firm style of a good singer.          *

“Ole Bull.” New York Daily Tribune, 20 December 1844, p. 1.