Hans von Bülow

Hans von Bülow was born on 8 January 1830 in Dresden, where he received his first lessons in music theory and where the premiere of Richard Wagner’s opera Rienzi left a lasting impression on the then twelve-year-old. He studied law in Leipzig and Berlin before the premiere of Wagner’s Lohengrin in Weimar on 28 August 1850 finally persuaded von Bülow to devote himself entirely to music. Hans von Bülow completed his pianistic training with the conductor of the Lohengrin premiere and piano virtuoso Franz Liszt, while Wagner himself supported von Bülow in his musical plans and arranged his first engagements as a conductor. Liszt’s daughter Cosima finally married Hans von Bülow in 1957, after he had already completed his first concert tours and taken up a permanent position as a piano teacher at the Stern Conservatory in Berlin. In 1864, von Bülow was appointed to Munich by King Ludwig II at Wagner’s suggestion: initially as royal prelude player, then as head of the Munich Music School to implement Wagner’s reforms there, and finally as Court Kapellmeister from 1867. Despite his wife Cosima’s relationship with Richard Wagner, von Bülow remained loyal to the composer and conducted the premieres of his operas Tristan und Isolde and Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg in Munich. Cosima eventually moved to Switzerland to live with Wagner, whom she married in 1870. After this finality of separation, Hans von Bülow devoted himself to his career as a pianist, giving concerts in London, Russia and the USA. In 1877 he became first court conductor in Hanover, in 1880 court music director in Meiningen, and from 1885 he conducted, among other things, the Hamburg subscription concerts and events of the Berlin Philharmonic. Plagued by severe headaches and no longer able to undertake the extensive travels of his touring life, Hans von Bülow sought relief from the Egyptian climate in Cairo, where he died on 12 February 1894. Hans von Bülow not only composed songs, symphonic poems and piano music, but in addition to his activities as a conductor and piano virtuoso, he also appeared as an educator and music writer.

Photo credit: By author unknown – Carte de Visite Woodburytype – Print (Repro by/of Günter Josef Radig), Public domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6783959