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03.03.2020

Ole Bull Museum

Ole Bornemann Bull was a world-renown virtuoso violinist and composer. 

Ole Bornemann Bull was born the 5th of February, 1810, at ´Svaneapoteket´in Strandgaten and died on the 17th of August, 1880, at his home, Lysøen. A world-renown virtuoso violinist and composer, his impassioned dedication to his country’s folk music played a key role in the development of Norwegian culture following Norway’s separation from Denmark. In the course of his lengthy career, Ole Bull travelled and performed throughout the world. He was a musician, networker, promoter, inspiration and Norway’s first superstar. On the occasion of Ole Bull’s funeral, esteemed Norwegian writer Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson bestowed upon him the title “the people’s finest and proudest moment “.


About Ole Bull

Parents: Johan Storm Bull and Anna Dorothea Geelmuyden

Family: Married to Alexandrine Félicite Villeminot in 1836. Together they had six children:
- Ole Storm Felix Bull (1837-1839)
- Alexander Bull (1839-1914)
- Thorvald Bull (1841-1862)
- Eleonore (Felicie) Bull (1843-1923)
- Ernst Bornemann Bull (1844-1844)
- Lucie Edvardine Bull (1846-1869)
Married to Sara Chapman Thorp, from the U.S. in 1870. Together they had one daughter:
- (Sara) Olea Bull (1871- 1911)

Famous compositions:

- Visit to a summer farm (The Herd girls Sunday)
- In lonely moments (La Melancoli)
- Polacca Guerriera

Lysøen Museum consists of Ole Bull’s villa, a 17th century farm settlement and the island itself.

All the buildings on Lysøen are located on the east side of the island, close to the sea. Most eye-catching of all is Bull’s villa with the former servants’ quarters. By the harbour you’ll also find Gamletunet – an old homestead from the 17th century.

Ole Bull’s summerhouse on Lysøen was constructed in the years 1872-73, and is quite unique in Norwegian architectural history. His “little Alhambra,” as he called it, is considered a high point of Norwegian historicism. With its onion domes and exotic ornamentals both exteriorly and inside the high ceiling of the music hall – all assiduously carved out of Norwegian pine – the villa emerges like a dream of a blue fairytale castle. The villa is open for guided tours. The tour takes you through the music hall, Ole Bull’s bedroom, the ancestors’ gallery, and the sitting rooms below ground.

On the 7 km2 island, you will find gorgeous nature, 13 km of trails covered in crushed seashells, a gazebo, and on the highest point of the island (at 76 meters above sea level), an observation tower erected to the memory of Ole Bull.

Welcome to Lysøen – where culture meets nature!

The History of the Museum

Lysøen with Ole Bull’s villa was in 1974 donated to the “Fortidsminneforeningen” (Society for the Preservation of Norwegian Ancient Monuments in Bergen and Hordaland), by Bull’s American grandchild, Sylvea Bull Curtis. The museum is run in accordance with the donor’s wishes and intentions. Bull Curtis was alive to see Lysøen take shape as a museum, and until her death in 1988 she took a passionate interest in its development.

Her intentions with the gift were clear:
“It is my hope that the conservation of this property and the memory of Ole Bull as well as the people he associated with will contribute to the preservation of Norway’s great cultural heritage.”

Starting on the 1st of January 2007, Lysøen museum and the two other composers’ homes were united under the overarching name of KODE.

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