I’ve shared highlights of Ole Bull’s life before, as well as memories of my first concert in Norway back in 2006 at his summer home on Osterøy. But I see Ole Bull’s Lysøen villa every time I look out my windows …
… and for two summers now, from my perspective 100 meters above the fjord, I’ve watched the boat shuttle go faithfully back and forth taking tourists, hikers, and concert goers to the island …
… and last weekend, finally!, I visited the island for music and a closer look. I’ve spent so much time gazing out my windows at our amazing view that it was a little surreal to be gazing up at our place.
From the Bergen Guide’s website:
The beautiful and extraordinary villa on Lysøen (the Island of Light) was built for the Norwegian violin-virtuoso Ole Bull in 1873. Ole Bull’s charismatic personality and musical excellence had a great influence on contemporary artists.
He spent his summers relaxing on the isle of Lysøen, and often invited fellow artists and musicians. Ole Bull also transformed his 175 acre island property into a fairy-tale kingdom by having romantic paths (approx. 13 km.), ponds and gazebos made by planting exotic trees and bushes in the native pine forest. Ole Bull died on his island in 1880.
In 1973 his granddaughter Mrs. Sylvea Bull Curtis of Connecticut donated the villa and all its contents to the Society for the Preservation of Norwegian Ancient Monuments.
I took the short seven minute journey across the Lysefjord and, once arriving at the island, sat for a moment taking it all in. The sunlight was very bright, making it difficult to see our apartment up on top of the hill opposite my seat.
Walking the path next to the swimming area towards the villa, I enjoyed seeing it from its side view.
Once up next to it, it seemed even larger than I expected. I walked around, taking a few photos; the sunlight was so bright, though, that the blue appears washed out.
As I was walking around the villa, I stopped to watch the boat continuing its round trip journey bringing others to the island, visited the monument to Ole Bull’s granddaughter who donated this wonderful place to Norway, gazed across the fjord’s inlet to the old farm, and walked up the path just behind the villa to sit and experience a little nature and peacefulness … while my eyes kept looking back across the fjord towards our place.
And then it was time for the concert!
Music of Balakirev, Ole Bull, Zimbalist, Paganini, and Piazzolla. Just as my first time experiencing music in such an intimate setting, I sat in the music hall of the home that a famous Norwegian composer built, with views of the country that inspired his music visible through the windows. Except this time … I belonged; I could see our apartment across the fjord, and wondered how many times I’d looked at the villa while other concerts were going on inside.
After the concert I took a short guided tour; I’ll share those photos and thoughts next time.
With the last boat’s departure time of 4:30 pm approaching, I reluctantly began my way back to the dock. Seeing the number of people waiting I purposely hung back, and was rewarded with a too-full boat so was able to stay and absorb the surroundings for another round. The villa, the flagpole, our house, a small wooden boat anchored and then being rowed, the shallow area that is filled with children and families swimming during the hot days, tiny fish swimming around the dock, the shuttle boat returning for us, and the short journey back to land …
… it was magic!
(Here is where Ole Bull’s villa on Lysøen is located on the map.)