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Storm Bull manuscripts and personal papers

Identifier: CoU-AMRC-15


  • ca. 1860-1981

Language of Materials


Biography of Storm Bull

Storm Bull was born in Chicago, Illinois, on October 13, 1913, the son of Eyvind and Agnes Bull. His extended family exhibited a strong heritage grounded in the musical traditions of Norway. Both of Storm’s grandfathers were nephews of the celebrated Norwegian violinist Ole Bull (1810-1880) and were also first cousins of the Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg (1943-1907).

In the fall of 1919, shortly before his sixth birthday, Storm Bull began his formal musical training. During the following twelve years he continued his musical studies at the Laboratory Schools of the University of Chicago, the American Conservatory of Music, and the Chicago Musical College. His teachers during this time included Louise Robyn and Percy Grainger (1882-1961).

At the age of 11, Bull gave his first full-length public recital in Chicago. His debut as an orchestral soloist took place in 1929 in Oslo, Norway, where – at the age of 15 – he performed Edvard Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor with the Orchestra of the Oslo Philharmonic Society conducted by Issay Dobroven. His performance was enthusiastically received, and following the concert, the composer’s widow, Nina Grieg, was sufficiently impressed as to entrust him with the last of her husband’s signed manuscripts that were still in her possession.

In 1931, the young pianist left the United States to study in Paris with Lazare Levy at the Ecole Normale de Musique and at the Sorbonne. The following year Bull traveled to Budapest to continue his musical training at the Liszt Academy and the University of Budapest. During the subsequent 2 ½ years, he was the private pupil of the Hungarian composer Béla Baratók.

In the years immediately following his European studies, Bull worked on compositions and fulfilled concert engagements in Europe, Canada and the United States. On March 2, 1939, he gave the first North American performance of Bartók’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Frederick Stock. Three weeks later, he performed Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra conducted by Douglas Clarke. In November of the same year, Bull made his concert debut in New York City with a solo recital at Town Hall.

Also in the fall of 1939, a few days before his 26th birthday, he married Ellen Elizabeth Cross. The couple would later have three children (two sons and a daughter). He spent 3 ½ years of military service in the U. S. Navy in the Pacific, during World War II. Bull was a Chief Sp. (A) (UDT) USNR (Chief Specialist in Athletics, Underwater Demolition Team). This group was known throughout the Navy as “Tooney Fish” in-so-far as the commanding officer of the group was Gene Tuney, former Heavyweight boxing champion. They were called “Frog Men” by the general public and were the predecessors of the present day SEALs.

Storm Bull retired from the concert stage in 1945. He spent two years teaching at Baylor University before accepting a professorship at the University of Colorado, Boulder, in 1947. During this time his students included William Race, David Schrader, Paul Parmelee, composer Dennis Riley, and composer/pianist Dave Grusin. Using his working knowledge of 19 languages, Bull compiled information for three volumes of “Index to Biographies of Contemporary Composers”.

In 1969, Storm Bull was honored with the Distinguished Achievement Award for extraordinary contributions to the cultural life of the United States and Norway by the Scandinavian Foundation at the University of Denver.

After thirty years with the University of Colorado’s College of Music, Professor Bull retired in 1977 as Professor of Music, Emeritus, and Head of the Piano Division. He returned to CU as a Visiting Professor of Music from 1977 through 1983. During this time he taught a class in the Vocal Literature of Grieg and Bartok and also a class in Bartok’s Piano Literature. He retired to Arizona in 1996, where he lived until his death in 2007.


5 linear feet (8 Boxes)


Compositions arranged by composer and then by title. Personal papers arranged by format.

Physical Location

Housed in the American Music Research Center


Materials donated to the American Music Research Center by Storm Bull.

Storm Bull Manuscripts and Personal Papers
An inventory of holdings at the American Music Research Center
In Progress
Kitty Galvin, Cassandra M. Volpe
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Colorado Boulder Libraries, Rare and Distinctive Collections Repository

1720 Pleasant Street
184 UCB
Boulder Colorado 80503 United States