Hans Von Bülow: A Life and Times

By Alan Walker | Go to book overview

A New Home in Hamburg, 1886

I prefer Hamburg 1001 times over Berlin!

—Bülow1


I

After his farewell concert with the Meiningen Orchestra, on January 29, 1885, Bülow began to search for a new home. It requires no more than a moment’s reflection to understand how impossible it would have been for him to remain in the small town and rub shoulders on a daily basis with his successor, Fritz Steinbach. For Bülow it was a pressing matter to find a fresh base from which to project himself, first and foremost, as a concert pianist.

But where to go? And where to live? Of one thing he was certain. During whatever years remained to him he would refuse to bind himself to a minor principality such as Hanover or Meiningen. These provincial towns had consumed some of his best years, and he was no longer young. The fifty-six-year-old Bülow had become a city man. His principal residence must be in a large international metropolis. Berlin was impossible. The love-hate relationship he enjoyed with the place went back to his turbulent sojourn there, twenty-five years earlier. Frankfurt was riven by partisan factions that glared at each other from the two conservatories, and we have already learned enough to know that Bülow’s presence there had roiled the opposing parties for years. Leipzig and Dresden were alternatives from which in his youth he had been glad to escape, but to which he had no desire to return. At his time of life, they offered bridges to nowhere.

Bülow’s decision to settle in the Hanseatic city of Hamburg was an inspired one. It was a bustling metropolis with a population of 600,000

1. HB-CM, unpublished letter dated January 21, 1887.

-353-

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