Hans von Bülow, conductor, pianist, composer, born Jan. 8, 1830 in Dresden, died Feb. 12, 1894 in Cairo.
After studying piano with Friedrich Wieck, Clara Schumann, and Ignaz Moscheles, Bülow was able to experience the music life of Leipzig during his visits to the city. Influenced by the musical conservatism that was wide-spread at the time, his early adolescent interest in the works of Richard Wagner was to become a lasting influence.
Even after Bülow started studying law in 1848 (Leipzig, Berlin), he continued his education in music. During the autumn of 1850, he followed Richard Wagner to Zurich and became a student of Franz Liszt in Weimar. Soon after, he accepted his first teaching positions as a piano instructor at Berlin's Stern Conservatory. Additionally, he privately instructed Ellen Franz, future Helene Duchess of Heldburg, and Cosima Liszt, whom he married in 1857. In 1864, King Ludwig II of Bavaria called him to Munich, where he became Hofkapellmeister (Court Music Director) in 1867.
While still being married to Bülow, Cosima gave birth to two daughters of Richard Wagner. Notwithstanding, Bülow continued his tireless support of the composer. He conducted, among others, the premieres of Tristan (June 10, 1865) and Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (June 21, 1868). After his divorce from Cosima, Bülow embarked upon a restless concert life, which he only temporarily put on hold after being offered the position of Hofkapellmeister in Hanover. In 1880, he was employed as director of the Meiningen Court Orchestra following the intermediation of Helene, the Duchess of Heldburg. Subsequently, he led the orchestra to a position of excellence and international acclaim. Tours throughout Europe (Switzerland, Holland, Denmark, England, Bohemia) furthered the orchestra's fame, and helped set lasting performance standards.
Characteristic elements of these standards are the notion of the conductor as a central figure, a particular interpretation and rehearsal culture, a set program structure, performances based on the composer's instructions, and extensive concert tours. Another great influence was the close collaboration and friendship with Johannes Brahms starting in the autumn of 1881, as Bülow aided in the propagation and circulation of the composer's great instrumental and choral works. A guest performance of the Meiningen Court Orchestra in January of 1882 gave the impulse for the founding of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra – just one example of the great esteem of the Meiningen ensemble. Bülow's profile decidedly influenced Meiningen's development into the "Muse's Court" between Weimar and Bayreuth under Duke Georg II.