Hans von Bülow

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Hans von Bülow (on an early visiting card)
Hans von Bülow (on a photograph taken around 1884)

Hans Guido Freiherr von Bülow (born January 8, 1830 in Dresden , † February 12, 1894 in Cairo ) was a German piano virtuoso , conductor and Kapellmeister . He also appeared as a composer .


Education and family

Hans von Bulow came from the Mecklenburg Uradelsgeschlecht von Bulow . Between the ages of 10 and 15, he made regular long visits to his relatives, the Frege family , in Leipzig . Bülow's mother Franziska Stoll (1806–1888) was the younger sister of the wife of the banker Christian Gottlob Frege (1778–1855). His father was the novelist Karl Eduard von Bülow . In addition to the general training, he also received his first pianistic training in Leipzig, which was supervised by Clara Schumann and his cousin, the singer Livia Frege . Here he also got to know Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy and Albert Lortzing .

A visit by Rienzi to Dresden in 1842 made him an ardent admirer of Richard Wagner . He also received further pianistic instructions from Franz Liszt , whom he met in Dresden in 1844. In 1846 the Bülow family moved to Stuttgart , where he made his first public appearances.

From 1848 to 1849 Bülow lived again with the Freges in Leipzig, where he took up law studies against his will until he finally devoted himself to music. In 1850 he went to Zurich to Wagner and became his student, especially as a conductor. A lasting friendship developed from the teacher-student relationship, but it ended in the 1860s in connection with the relationship between Bülow's wife and Wagner.

On January 7, 1854, he performed in a concert by the Hanoverian court orchestra and subsequently made closer acquaintance with Joseph Joachim , who worked there as concertmaster and conductor. Through Joachim he also got to know his friend Johannes Brahms , who was often in Hanover at the time. At the end of November of that year he came to Berlin , where he gave a concert in the Singakademie on December 6th . In April 1855, on the recommendation of Adolf Bernhard Marx, he began teaching at the Stern Conservatory , which provided him with a living for the next few years - until 1863.

In 1857 Bülow married Liszt's daughter Cosima . The three daughters Daniela , Blandine and Isolde emerged from the marriage. It is conceivable that Bülow was actually Isolde's biological father, but it is uncertain. After Isolde was considered his daughter during Wagner's lifetime, his paternity was successfully challenged in a court case by Cosima in 1917. In 1870 the marriage was divorced because of Cosima's relationship with Richard Wagner, which had existed since 1863 and because of which she had left Bülow in 1867. Bülow was married to the actress Marie Schanzer (1857-1941) in second marriage from 1882 .

Plaque created by Vinzenz Wanitschke at today's Hotel Bellevue in Dresden, which marks the location of the birthplace of Hans von Bülow

From 1867 Bülow worked as Hofkapellmeister in Munich, where he conducted the world premieres of the Wagner operas Tristan and Isolde (1865) and The Mastersingers of Nuremberg (1868).

In 1875 he made a concert tour with 172 planned concerts in the USA and Canada .

In 1877 von Bülow went to Hanover , where he held the position of court conductor at the royal court theater until 1879 . Also in 1877 he became a member of the Hanover Art Association .

From 1880 to 1885 Bülow worked as court music director in Meiningen , where he lived with his wife until 1887 and then moved to Hamburg with her. In addition to works by Wagner, Liszt and Beethoven , he also preferred Pjotr ​​Ilyich Tchaikovsky , Johannes Brahms , Felix Draeseke , Antonín Dvořák and Joachim Raff as pianist and conductor, each of whom dedicated important compositions to him.

After achieving world fame as the conductor of the Meininger Hofkapelle , which he had developed into an elite orchestra and where he worked closely with Johannes Brahms, Bülow was the first chief conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic from 1887 to 1893 , which he quickly formed into a top orchestra.

Bülow was one of the first to sign the anti-Semite petition .

Musical career

Bülow as a conductor; Silhouette by Otto Böhler

Bülow was equally famous as a pianist and conductor. At guest concerts he mainly appeared as a pianist, for example on two concert tours to the USA. In the last years of his life he increasingly suffered from physical complaints, which in the end only allowed him to conduct. Bülow can be described as the first of the star conductors of modern style; he succeeded in acquiring a nimbus, both through his musical ability and through his sense of audience appeal, that came close to the star virtuosity of Niccolò Paganini or Franz Liszt . Accordingly, he hurried restlessly from performance to performance. With the Meininger Hofkapelle alone, he made over 200 guest tours across Europe. Later, in addition to his work in Berlin, he made guest appearances in numerous cities, but regularly in Bremen and above all in Hamburg , where an orchestra specially created for him organized celebrated subscription concerts, but where he also worked as an opera conductor. In view of the travel conditions of the time, it is hard to imagine how the physically weak Bülow was able to cope with this workload. At one of the last subscription concerts in Hamburg, he suffered a fit of weakness and had to be represented at the conductor's desk. A little later, another conductor had to be obliged to continue the subscription series. This was the young Gustav Mahler , who had recently made a name for himself in Hamburg.

The star conductors corresponded to a public interest in Bülow's person that went far beyond the narrow musical circles and was nourished not least by the complicated relationship with Richard Wagner. Both the private triangular story and Bülow's expressive conducting style, which replaced the traditional, more statuesque Kapellmeister style, were reflected in numerous caricatures (here again comparable to Paganini and Liszt).

Bülow's piano students included Karl Heinrich Barth , who later became the teacher of Arthur Rubinstein , Wilhelm Kempff and Bronisław von Poźniak . Also to be mentioned are Rudolf Niemann, the father of the better known Walter Niemann , as well as Richard Strauss , who met Bülow in Meiningen and was promoted by him, whose successor was Hofkapellmeister. Carl Eschmann-Dumur was a valued piano pedagogue colleague .

Bülow is best known today as the editor of a selection of piano etudes by Johann Baptist Cramer and of piano works by Ludwig van Beethoven, Frédéric Chopin and other masters. His witty comments on the instrumental technique and the content of the works in his editions, especially Beethoven's piano sonatas, had a great influence on the development of piano playing and the interpretation of the major piano masterpieces.

His own compositions include piano works as well as orchestral works, including a symphonic poem Nirvana, which can be traced back to Liszt's influence, but is considered acoustically brittle. Bülow's project for his own opera was not carried out.

In 1863 von Bülow composed the music for the federal song of the General German Workers' Association founded by Ferdinand Lassalle based on the verses of Georg Herwegh with the beginning of the song “ Bet und Arbeit! The world calls ”, and that which is still often quoted today. All wheels stand still when your strong arm wants it . Lassalle urged von Bülow to protect himself from hostility by using a pseudonym for this composition. Bülow chose Solinger .

Meininger Hofkapelle with Hans von Bülow 1882


After his death on February 12, 1894 in Egypt, where he had gone for a long time to seek recovery from various ailments in the dry and warm climate, Bülow was buried in the main cemetery in Ohlsdorf in Hamburg. The funeral service for him on March 29, 1894 in Hamburg's Michaeliskirche gave Gustav Mahler the inspiration for the final movement of his 2nd symphony . At the subsequent celebration in the then still new crematorium in Hamburg-Alsterdorf , Mahler played on the harmonium. The large tomb designed by Adolf von Hildebrand was built in 1896.

Tomb of Hans von Bülow in the Ohlsdorf cemetery in Hamburg
Ehrenstein for the conductor Hans von Bülow in front of his tomb

Bülow's estate is in the Berlin State Library ; his extremely extensive correspondence has been published in a multi-volume edition. Bülow had a comprehensive education and was a skilled letter writer with a pronounced penchant for humor, irony and sarcastic acuteness, which apparently also had an impact on oral communication and often caused violent personal conflicts.

In 1978 the tomb for Bülow and his second wife, which was in a desolate state, was restored through a special private initiative. On the initiative of the Association of German Composers and the Berlin Philharmonic , conductors supported this project in honor of Hans von Bülow. They were Gerd Albrecht , Daniel Barenboim , Karl Böhm , Leonard Bernstein , Pierre Boulez , Aldo Ceccato , Colin Davis , Christoph von Dohnanyi , Alberto Erede , Michael Gielen , Heinrich Hollreiser , Eugen Jochum , Herbert von Karajan , Kirill Kondraschin , Rafael Kubelík , Ferdinand Leitner , Lorin Maazel , Igor Markevitch , Jewgeni Mrawinski , Eugene Ormandy , Gennadi Roschdestwenski , Paul Sacher , Wolfgang Sawallisch , Maxim Shostakowitsch , Sir Georg Solti , Horst Stein , Otmar Suitner , Klaus Tennstedt and Hans Zender . Her admiration for Hans von Bülow was carved in stone. The pillow stone with their names is located directly in front of the tomb of Hans von Bülow.

The Berlin Philharmonic has been awarding the “Hans von Bülow Medal” since the 1970s. In doing so, the orchestra honors its first chief conductor, Hans von Bülow, as well as musicians - especially conductors - for their solidarity with the orchestra. The medal was previously u. a. awarded to: Eugen Jochum , Herbert von Karajan , Bernard Haitink , Günter Wand , Nikolaus Harnoncourt , Hans Werner Henze , Claudio Abbado , Wolfgang Sawallisch , Georg Solti , Alfred Brendel , Claudio Arrau , Zubin Mehta , Daniel Barenboim , Seiji Ozawa , Lorin Maazel , Lovro von Matačić , Mariss Jansons , Erich Hartmann , Vicco von Bülow (Loriot) , Rudolf Serkin , Yehudi Menuhin , Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau , Wolfgang Stresemann , Hans Heinz Stuckenschmidt .

In 2012, the International Hans von Bülow Society launched the Hans von Bülow International Piano Competition in Meiningen. It is held every three years in the categories “piano solo and with orchestra”, “piano chamber music” and “conducting from the piano”. Participation is possible in one of the groups juniors (divided up to 12 or up to 18 years), professionals (up to 32 years) or amateurs (from 35 years, no professional musicians).

Honored by monuments and street names

Hans von Bülow was honored by naming streets in several cities, namely in Berlin , Hamburg , Meiningen , Neubrandenburg and in Pirna - Graupa :

  • In Berlin-Mitte , Hans-von-Bülow-Straße is very close to Potsdamer Platz and the Berlin Philharmonic .
  • Hamburg was the last place of residence of Hans von Bülow. He lived in the (later demolished) house Alsterglacis 10 on the second floor. On the Ohlsdorf cemetery he was buried. In the Brahms foyer of the music hall / Laeiszhalle there is a marble bust of Hans von Bülow.
  • In Meiningen, where Hans von Bülow had worked since 1880, there is a memorial between the theater building and the Kammerspiele. A street has also been named after him.
  • In Neubrandenburg, a street in the composer's quarter was named after Hans von Bülow.
  • In Pirna-Graupa there is the “Hans-von-Bülow-Weg” in the “Musicians' Quarter”.


  • Evening at the sea: "O sea in the evening ray" for S., A., T. u. B.
  • Ballad (B) for large orchestra based on Uhland's poem: “Des Singer's Fluch” op. 16
  • Federal song of the General German Workers' Association ("Bet and work! Calls the world") for polyphonic choir (under the pseudonym "Solinger")
  • Deux Romances p. MS. avec Piano, Paroles anglaises et françaises. (No. 1. “Adieu! Adieu! Je crois qu'en cette vie”. No. 2. Préférence: “L'eau dans les grands lacs bleus”.)
  • The renunciator: “I thought the swallow was already dreaming” for 1 voice with piano
  • The renunciation. A song cycle by Carl Beck set to music for a mezzo-soprano part with piano accompaniment [1. "Remain kind to him anyway"; 2. “Oh pleasure and sorrow! What is the pleasure ”; 3 “I believed the swallow was dreaming”; 4. “If God also granted me”; 5. “God help! The reeds grow in the water ”; 6. "Sadly cradle your twig"].
  • Three songs for S. with pianoforte. (No. 1. “You are a lovely holy picture for me”. No. 2. “I always feel your closeness”. No. 3. “When in the cliffs of the ocean”.)
  • Three songs for S. with pianoforte.
  • Three Scottish folk songs for 1 voice with piano, arranged, German a. engl. (No. 1 To Mary, the transfigured (Jacobite song): "O morning star with a dull ray". No. 2. "In France the sun awakens". (Jacobite song.) No. 3. The snow-white rose ( Jacobite Song): "O Rose, you, like snow so white".)
  • Elven hunt. Impromptu for pianoforte
  • Five chants for four-part mixed choir. (No. 1. Tristan: “Whoever looked at beauty with eyes”. No. 2. Freedom from birds: “You birds sway in the branches”. No. 3. Enjoyment of the hour: “Should be nameless and longer”. No. 4. Lentines: “Where did those shadows mate?” No. 5. Easter song: “The angels are still playing around the grave”.
  • Five songs for 1 high B. voice with pianoforte. (No. 1. Freedom: “Let me only count on my saddle”. No. 2. The spruce tree: “A spruce tree is lonely”. No. 3. Wish: “Oh, it could be by your looks”. No. 4. At night: “Flowers open to a silent night.” No. 5. Folksong: “The most beautiful rose that blooms there”.)
  • Innocence. Album sheet for pianoforte
  • New sound to old song. To the sunshine: "O sunshine, o sunshine" for 1 high voice - for 1 low voice with pianoforte
  • Nirvana. Orchestra Fantasy in Overture Form, Op. 20
  • Sonnet: "When she greets you with a friendly gesture". - “Tanto gentile”, for 1 voice with pianoforte
  • Trois Valses caractéristiques
  • Four character pieces for orchestra


  • Robert Eitner:  Hans von Bülow . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 47, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1903, pp. 356-358.
  • Wolfgang Rehm:  Bülow, Hans Guido von. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 2, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1955, ISBN 3-428-00183-4 , p. 734 ( digitized version ).
  • Frithjof Haas : Hans von Bülow. Life and work . Noetzel, Wilhelmshaven 2002, ISBN 3-7959-0807-8 .
  • Norman Lebrecht : Hans von Bülow . In: The Maestro Myth . New York 1992, ISBN 1-55972-108-1 , pp. 12-29.
  • Theodor Pfeiffer: Studies with Hans von Bülow . 2nd Edition. Friedr. Luckhardt, Berlin 1894.
  • José Vianna da Motta : Addendum to studies with Hans von Bülow by Theodor Pfeiffer . Friedr. Luckhardt, Berlin 1896.
  • Theodor Pfeiffer, José Vianna da Motta, ed. Richard Zimdars: The piano master classes of Hans von Bülow: two participants' accounts . Indiana Univ. Press, Bloomington 1993, ISBN 0-253-36869-3 .
  • Wolf-Dieter Gewande: Hans von Bülow - a biographical-documentary appreciation on the occasion of his 175th birthday, with a foreword by Vicco von Bülow alias Loriot . Eres-Ed., Lilienthal 2004, ISBN 3-87204-435-4 .
  • Hans-Joachim Hinrichsen (Ed.): Hans von Bülow. The letters to Johannes Brahms. Schneider, Tutzing 1994, ISBN 3-7952-0803-3 .
  • Facsimile edition: Hans von Bülow in the judgment of famous conductors / as famous conductors see him with a foreword by Norbert Linke: Hans Guido Freiherr von Bülow, the "first virtuoso of the baton". Musikverlag Hans Sikorski, Hamburg 1978. A unique numbered edition of 1000 copies was printed from this work.
  • Alan Walker: Hans von Bülow: a life and times . Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford / New York City [u. a.] 2010, ISBN 978-0-19-536868-0
  • Kenneth Birkin: Hans von Bülow: a life for music . Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge [and a.] 2011, ISBN 978-1-107-00586-0
  • Matthias Schäfers: The symphonic poetry in the circle of Liszt. Studies on Hans von Bülow, Felix Draeseke and Alexander Ritter (= music and view of music in the 19th century 13). Studiopunkt-Verlag Sinzig 2015, ISBN 978-3-89564-110-7 .
  • Hans von Bülow and Anton Rubinstein . In: The Gazebo . Issue 16, 1888 ( full text [ Wikisource ]).

Web links

Commons : Hans von Bülow  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Midou Grossmann: Hans von Bülow's youth in the Fregehaus. In: Gewandhausmagazin No. 69, 2010/11, p. 35.
  2. ^ Georg Fischer : Music in Hanover. Hanover / Leipzig 1903, p. 232. ( Textarchiv - Internet Archive )
  3. List of teachers at the Stern Conservatory (1850–1936)
  4. ^ Entry on Bülow, Hans von (1830-1894) in Kalliope
  5. ^ Hugo Thielen : Bülow, (2) Hans (Guido) Frhr. from. In: Dirk Böttcher , Klaus Mlynek, Waldemar R. Röhrbein, Hugo Thielen: Hannoversches Biographisches Lexikon . From the beginning to the present. Schlütersche, Hannover 2002, ISBN 3-87706-706-9 , p. 77; online through google books
  6. ^ Alfred Guttmann (Ed.): Choir collection of the German Workers' Singers Association. Mixed choirs - score . 1926, note on song No. 5, p. 795 .
  7. see also Annemarie Kleinert: Text (PDF; 570 kB) with photo of the medal (p. 13 right)
  8. Hans von Bülow Society
  9. ^ Hans von Bülow competition
  10. Bülowstrasse (center). In: Street name lexicon of the Luisenstädtischer Bildungsverein (near  Kaupert )
  11. ^ Bülowstrasse (Schöneberg). In: Street name lexicon of the Luisenstädtischer Bildungsverein (near  Kaupert )
  12. ^ Bülowstrasse (Zehlendorf). In: Street name lexicon of the Luisenstädtischer Bildungsverein (near  Kaupert )
  13. residenzverlag.at ( Memento of the original from May 22, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (PDF; 943 kB) p. 120. Today the street section is called “An der Alster”. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.residenzverlag.at
  14. fof-ohlsdorf.de
  15. Christian Hanke: Hamburg's street names tell a story . Hamburg 1997
  16. insuedthueringen.de