Drawing upon an extensive selection of rare letters, reviews and memoirs, Kenneth Birkin sets Hans von Bulow's work as a recitalist, chamber-music artist and orchestral conductor at the centre of a disturbed and eventful life. Bulow's Zukunftsmusik advocacy and ruthless criticism of performance standards in Berlin and Munich antagonised a musical 'establishment' nonetheless spellbound by his keyboard and orchestral mastery. Birkin pays particular attention to the Tristan and Meistersinger premieres, Cosima's desertion, the European and American tours and operatic activities in Hamburg and Hanover, as well as Bulow's pedagogic activities and forays into musical journalism. The book makes liberal use of Bulow's correspondence, published and unpublished, which personalises the narrative. Contemporary comments and reviews, translated here for the first time, give the reader an insight into the critical and public reaction. An extensive Appendix records the dates and venues of all Bulow's public appearances, both as pianist and conductor.
Kenneth Birkin is an internationally recognised Richard Strauss scholar, and is the author of Friedenberg and Daphne (1989), Arabella (1989) and British Music: Elgar and After (1997), and the editor of Stefan Zweig - Joseph Gregor Correspondence 1921-1938 (1991). His work has appeared in many journals including Music and Letters, Opera Magazine, The Musical Times and Tempo. He has written and presented programmes for BBC Radio 3 and is the librettist of British composer John Joubert's three-act opera Jane Eyre.
Introduction; 1. Overture: Dresden, Leipzig, Stuttgart (1830-1848); 2. The student years: Leipzig, Berlin (1848-1850); 3. Decision time: Weimar-Zurich (1850-1851); 4. Weimar apprenticeship (1851-1853); 5. The young virtuoso: Austro-Hungary (1853-1854); 6. Polish interlude (1854-1855); 7. The pedagogue: Berlin I (1855-1857); 8. 'Gallant hotspur': Berlin II (1857-1859); 9. Rebel maturity: Berlin III (1859-1864); 10. The Wagner years: Munich (1864-1869); 11. A new start: Florence (1869-1873); 12. Triumph and betrayal - on tour: England and Russia (1873-1875); 13. Transatlantic adventure (1875-1876); 14. Convalescent interlude (June 1876-September 1877); 15. Bulow redux: Hanover, Glasgow (1877-1878); 16. Kapellmeister in Hanover (1877-1879); 17. Intendant in Meiningen (1880-1885); 18. The Philharmonic years I (1886-1889) Hamburg/Bremen/Berlin; 19. The Philharmonic years II (1889-1890) America again/domestic crisis; 20. The Philharmonic years III (1890-1892) Hamburg/Berlin; 21. The Philharmonic years IV (1892-1894): Finale; Afterword: Bulow and Bayreuth; Appendix: Bulow performance chronology; Select bibliography.
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