November 9, 1884
We have had frequent occasion to admire Bülow as a piano virtuoso, almost none to give him his due as a conductor. I remember him conducting his own "Des Sängers Fluch 1 several years ago. What impressed me then, however, was something purely superficial, namely the vigor and security with which he commanded his forces. It should be different this time, for he will be conducting a considerable number of Beethoven's compositions at the head of his own orchestra. 2
We will thus be in a position to appraise Bülow from two points of view: that of the theoretical musician (artist) in his conception of the works themselves, and that of the practical musician (virtuoso) in the extent to which he succeeds in communicating his conception as urgently and as intelligibly as possible to the orchestra. As a pianist, Bülow has solved brilliantly this problem of uniting artist and virtuoso. Encountering him now as conductor, we shall be concerned only with the virtuoso, the practical musician, and then we must give some attention to this other instrument, the orchestra, both as such, and in its relationship to the conductor.
One can be an excellent conductor and still not establish the intimate relationship with a strange orchestra that the virtuoso has with his instrument, and for a simple reason: the instrument is a soulless mechanism, the orchestra an organic body, made up of the greatest variety of individuals. It may matter little to the piano virtuoso whether he plays a Bösendorfer, a Blüthner, a Bechstein or a Steinway, assuming the instrument itself to be good and in