The Tabernacle was full to overflowing for Ole Bull’s Farewell Concert. The doors were open at seven, and at ten minutes past seven, all the best seats in that large house were taken. The novelty of the evening was a duet between the violin and the voice. Miss Northall sang her part with sweetness and spirit, yet the tones of the violin were so exquisite in reply as to remind us of the tales of magic, where a mortal carries about a spirit, imprisoned in some instrument, so that, when he holds discourse with his prisoner, the mortal is answered by the celestial language. The Niagara was coldly received, as usual, for people had a preconceived idea of this piece, which has prevented them from ever fairly hearing it; we observed a repetition of this in the experience of those around us to whom it was new.
“It is not what we expected,” said they, and then went on to tell how they had felt at Niagara. The composition will have a fairer chance in Europe. As to the view taken of it by our audiences, or such as have been present the three times we have heard it, on finding those who had let the Niagara pass with cold silence, boisterously encoring the “buttermilk” and “familiar grunt” of “Norah MacShane,” we were forcibly reminded of the pathetic lines in the “Rejected Addresses:”
And, when that Donkey looked her in the face,
Its look was sad—and you are sad, my Public!”
The connection of thought is subtle, rather than obscure.
The “Carnival of Venice” being warmly received, as it always is, for its light grace and the tricks by which the power of the violin is shown attract every one, Ole Bull returned in compliance with the loud call of the audience, and played several popular airs with his usual delicacy and grace, to express which there is no other word suitable but exquisite, and we have used that once already.
The evening closed with the tribute to Washington, which, as a whole, we had not heard before.—We admire much its entire effect, which has been analyzed repeatedly. It is a composition so simple and intelligible that no one can miss appreciating it at once. The March is exceedingly dignified, full, and sweet in its spirit; it expresses the office of a Christian Hero, such as is described by Wordsworth in his “Happy Warrior.” We are surprised that a foreigner, and one who has become acquainted with this country at a time when it is steeped in a dream of selfishness and covetousness, should have this true and noble sense of what she was in the better days of which Washington was the representative, what we trust she still is in her utmost life, and might prove herself in a day of trial and distress, but surely gives small sign of being in her every day conduct. We thank Ole Bull for the lofty yet temperate feeling of this March, and hope that our people may yet time their steps to it on the way to action worthy the just, the disinterested, the holy patriotism of their first great commander.
We doubt not that the two years’ residence of this Artist among us has conferred important benefits. We need unspeakably the beautiful arts to animate, expand, and elevate our life which rushes dangerously toward a coarse utilitarianism; we need them to exhibit the religion of universal love, the harmony in the designs of the Creative Spirit which the coldness of dogmatic theology hides from the heart of the votary. This is their office, not to pamper the pride of wealth as a part of refined luxury, but to educate the heart and mind of all men by inspiring the purer and gentler emotions, by substituting a sense of spiritual beauty in place of the lust of the eye and the pride of life. Ole Bull has been in this way a missionary here, he has sympathized with our destiny, and his own genius has received an impulse from the scene in which it is growing up. His youthful, large, and tender nature, seconded by his great talent and winning manners has appealed directly to the heart of the people, and as it opened to receive him, seeds have been strown there which will bloom sweetly yet. If he has sometimes been met by dullness and coldness, yet, on the whole, no artist ever received so much sympathy here, after the first glow of novelty had passed, and this is the only valuable and productive sympathy. So farewell, gentle minister, and take with thee to thy romantic northern home the friendliest wishes of the many to whom thy influence has brought beautiful hours, and perennial joys for memory and thought.
These good wishes are all we can offer in return, but
For all that thine we call,
We give but trifles back to Heaven
Which gives us all.
“Ole Bull.” New-York Daily Tribune, 28 November 1845, p. 1.