Hans Von B???low: A Life and Times


Hans von Bülow is a key figure in 19th century music whose career path was as broad as it was successful. Music history's first virtuoso orchestral conductor, Bülow created the model for the profession-both in musical brilliance and in domineering personality-which still holds forth today. He was an eminent and renowned concert pianist, a respected (and often feared) teacher and music critic, an influential editor of works by Bach, Mendelssohn, Chopin, and Beethoven, and a composer in a variety of musical ...
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Hans Von Bulow: A Life and Times

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Hans von Bülow is a key figure in 19th century music whose career path was as broad as it was successful. Music history's first virtuoso orchestral conductor, Bülow created the model for the profession-both in musical brilliance and in domineering personality-which still holds forth today. He was an eminent and renowned concert pianist, a respected (and often feared) teacher and music critic, an influential editor of works by Bach, Mendelssohn, Chopin, and Beethoven, and a composer in a variety of musical genres. As a student and son-in-law of Franz Liszt, and estranged friend of Richard Wagner (for whom his wife Cosima famously left him), Bülow is intricately connected with the canonical greats of the period. Yet despite his critical and lasting importance for orchestral music, Bülow's life and significant achievements have yet to be heralded in biographical form.

In Hans von Bülow: A Life and Times, Alan Walker, the acclaimed author of numerous award-winning books on the era's iconic composers, provides the first full-length English biography of this remarkable musical figure. Walker traces Bülow's life in illuminating and engaging detail, from the first piano lessons of his boyhood days, to his first American tour, to his last days as conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic. Unearthing Bülow's extensive and previously unavailable correspondence and writings, Walker conveys amusing and informative anecdotes about this unique musical legend- from his sardonic and clever personality to his meticulous devotion to his work-and reveals enlightening insights on the still-contested sensibilities of musical-compositional style and "idea" at play in the vibrant musical world of which Bülowwas a part.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Alan Walker's ground-breaking "Hans von Bülow: A Life and Times" is the first objective biography of a major player who, for all his social ineptitude, shaped the musical world as we know it today." --Wall Street Journal

"Once again Walker has accomplished the difficult task of infusing a scholarly work with witty and captivating writing. Von Bülow emerges as a complex, immensely gifted and versatile musician, as well as a fascinating person. Enlightening and enjoyable!"--Veda Kaplinsky, Chair, Piano Department, The Juilliard School

"At a time when the study of musical performance is becoming ever more important, Alan Walker's meticulous and vivid account of one of the greatest of all 19th-century performers is of immense value. Musicologists have for so long studied works; now here is a chance to engage with one of those who brought great new works to life, from Wagner's Tristan to Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto, during his remarkable career. A fine, long overdue biography in English of a supreme performer."--Sir Nicholas Kenyon, Managing Director, Barbican Centre

"It seems that Alan Walker has left no stone unturned."--Musical Opinion

"This superb biography of virtuoso pianist and conductor Hans von Bulow does for the 19th-century music scene what Alex Ross' The Rest Is Noise did for the 20th, leaving the reader awestruck at the author's command of his research and skillful storytelling...A treat to read." --The Washington Times

"Throughout the book, Walker delights the reader with rich insights and an encyclopaedic knowledge of the field, always infusing his elegant prose with a love of detail and irony, anecdotes and connections fuelled with wit and wisdom, all of which brings the subject alive. As a result his book promises to enrich scholars and music lovers alike, and to turn Beethovenians and Wagnerians into Von Bulowians: a must-read." --Arietta

"Worth the wait...In English, Walker's book has no competition. Its sixty-three illustrations and programme reproductions add much to the reader's pleasure...A remarkable repository of information on Bulow." --The Hungarian Quarterly

"A fascinating study of a man who intersected with all the great musicians of his day...Walker describes all of this in this engaging, well-written book. Highly recommended." --Choice

"This magnificent long-overdue biography is the monument to Bülow that never was...What Truman Capote did in In Cold Blood towards creating a new genre of fiction - faction - that is to say a documentary with all its existential drama built in, Walker has contrived to do by extension in biography - or should we call it biografaction - where by connecting up data in the form of letters, civic documents and newspaper reports, together with an uncanny interpretive gift for reading between the lines, he creates a vital context whereby his book, quite apart from its profundity, finishes by being as unputdownable as the latest historical novel by Mary Renault. " --EPTA Piano Journal

"Von Buelow's legacy lasts to this day, and Walker takes us through his life always with the respect for who he was and what he accomplished even as he reveals his difficult and intractable personality. It is a non-judgmental and thoroughly absorbing account of one of the greatest figures in the history of western music, one who up to this book has been unappreciated and under-valued." --American Music Teacher

"Walker's narrative unfolds with energy, and provides an impressively rounded portrait of his subject, full of flaws as well as strengths. He explores numerous avenues and leaves some open for further research--for instance Bülow's compositions, little known,
for which the inclusion of a useful complete catalogue may, it is hoped, stimulate new performances. We also learn of some lost cylinder recordings of his performances,
which may eventually turn up. Generously laced with witty, wise anecdotes, copious footnotes, elegant illustrations and a family tree, as well as a hefty index and source list,
the book represents a seminal study of one of the movers and shakers of 19th-century music, a relatively unsung hero of musical history." --The Wagner Journal

"Walker...can only be thanked for allowing us this intimate, entertaining, and compelling portrait of a very great musician." --Wagner Notes

"This book is a good read, a solid piece of writing on its own merits, as the author shares his knowledge of a fascinating life...Walker never becomes mired in details, but masterfully uses footnotes that interested readers can pursue if they like. His use of illustrations is apt in the way they amplify points made in the text, rather than serve any perfunctory function... Hans von Bülow: A Life and Times is laudable for its mastery of its subject, and is a work of finesse suitable to it. Notes

"This study of Hans von Bülow must stand as one of the most important and indeed necessary biographies of a musician published in recent times. With the lives of many nineteenth-century composers researched to the point of overkill it is right to turn to the principal executants who brought the iconic works of nineteenth-century music into the public domain. Yet Bülow emerges as so much more: with his formidable musicianship supported by a well-furnished mind he represented the best (and worst) of the broad humanistic culture of the intellectual elite of late nineteenth-century Germany. Alan Walker's compelling biography more than justifies Franz Liszt's description of Bülow: 'From Alpha to Omega. He is Music personified' (p. 3). " --Music & Letters

"This study of Hans von Bülow must stand as one of the most important and indeed necessary biographies of a musician published in recent times...Compelling." --Music & Letters

"[An] engaging biography." --The Beethoven Journal

"Walker's book can be highly recommended for its engaging style and its wealth of information about Bülow's up-and-down relations with family members, Wagner, and other composers. We become familiar with the exceptional talents of a truly one-of-a-kind nineteenth-century musician." --The Opera Journal

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195368680
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 12/4/2009
  • Pages: 510
  • Sales rank: 927,024
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

ALAN WALKER is Professor Emeritus of Music at McMaster University, Canada. Before settling in North America he was on the staff of the Music Division of the British Broadcasting Corporation in London. He has broadcast for the BBC, for the CBC, and for CJRT - FM (Toronto), and gives regular public lectures on the music of the Romantic Era, a period in which he specializes. His thirteen published books include A Study in Musical Analysis, An Anatomy of Musical Criticism, and symposia on Chopin, Schumann, and Liszt. Dr. Walker is also author of a three-volume, prize winning biography of Franz Liszt, a project which took him twenty-five years to complete, and for which the President of Hungary bestowed on him the medal ProCulturaHungarica. The biography also received the Royal Philharmonic Society Prize, presented by HRH The Duke of Kent in London. He is the recipient of the Music Teachers National Association 2010 Achievement Award and the Knight's Cross of the Order of Merit from Hungary.

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Table of Contents

The Bülow Chronicles
Bülow's Family Tree
From Alpha to Omega
Bülow's Family Background
Book One: On the Slopes of Parnassus, 1830-1869
The Early Years
With Liszt in Weimar
The Growing Virtuoso, 1853-1855
Berlin, 1855-1864 I: A City of Mingled Chimes
Berlin, 1855-1864 II: Marriage to Cosima
Catastrophe in Munich, 1864-1869

Book Two: Ascending the Peak, 1870-1880
Bülow in Florence
First Tours of Britain-and Beyond, 1873-1875
The First Tour of America, 1875-1876
A Scottish Interlude, 1877-1878
At Hanover, 1877-1879
Britannia Scorned, 1878-1879

Book Three: Vistas from the Summit, 1880-1894
The Meiningen Years, 1880-1885 I: The Meiningen Miracle
The Meiningen Years, 1880-1885 II: Enter Marie Schanzer
The Meiningen Years, 1880-1885 III: Paths of Glory
Bülow the Pedagogue: The Frankfurt Masterclasses, 1884-1887
A New Home in Hamburg, 1886
The Berlin Philharmonic, 1887-1892 I: The Eagle's Wings
Return to America, 1889-1890
The Berlin Philharmonic, 1887-1892: II: 'Glory, Honour, and Good Fortune'
The Last Days and Death of Bülow, 1893-1894
Appendix I: Bülow's Autopsy Report
Appendix II: Complete Catalogue of Bülow's Compositions, Transcriptions, and Editions
Appendix III: Bülow's Titles and Honours
List of Sources
1. From Alpha to Omega
2. Bülow's Family Background
3. The Early Years
4. With Liszt in Weimar
5. The Growing Virtuoso
6. Berlin, 1855-64 I: A City of Mingled Chimes
7. Berlin, 1855-64 II: Marriage to Cosima
8. Catastrophe in Munich, 1864-69
9. Bülow in Florence
10. First Tours of Britain - and beyond, 1873-1875
11. First Tour of America, 1875-76
12. A Scottish Interlude, 1877-78
13. Bülow and the Glasgow Choral Union
14. At Hanover, 1877-79
15. Britannia Scorned: Encounters and Skirmishes in the Land without Music'.
16. The Meiningen Years, 1880-85
I. IThe Meiningen Miracle: The Meiningen Years, 1880-85
II. Enter Marie Schanzer: The Meiningen Years, 1880-85
III. Paths of Glory
17. Bülow the Pedagogue:
18. The Frankfurt Masterclasses
19. A New Home in Hamburg, 1886
20. The Berlin Philharmonic, 1887-92
I. The Eagle's Wings
Return to America, 1889 and 1890
The Berlin Philharmonic, 1887-92
II. 'Glory, Honour, and Good Fortune'.
The Last Days and Death of Bülow, 1893-94.
Appendix I Bülow's autopsy report
Appendix II Catalogue of Bülow's compositions
Appendix III Bülow's Titles and Honours
List of Sources

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