The Music Criticism of Hugo Wolf

By Hugo Wolf; Henry Pleasants | Go to book overview

nose, or do him some other injury, then Bülow is the man to mend the damage. None knows better than he how to patch and glue. This autopsist is forever directing his listeners'attention to liver and kidneys rather than to the pulsating heart.

A Saxon, explaining the tortures of Prometheus to his little son in a picture gallery, excited the youngster's deepest compassion.

"Poor eagle," said the little Saxon.

"Why poor eagle, and not poor Prometheus?"

"Liver every day," was the little boy's heartfelt response.

Thus our Hanus 6 strikes me as an aged raven, who, throughout his entire life, has been picking at the liver of good taste and artistic dedication to nourish his personal renown.

Poor eagle! Poor Bülow!

Liver every day!!!

1.
"Bid me not speak, bid me be silent, for my secret is my bond; to you I'd gladly bare my soul. but fate will not allow it." From the verse that concludes Book V of Goethe's Wilhelm Meister, subsequently set by Wolf himself in his Goethe Lieder.
2.
In October of the preceding year, Bülow had given two concerts for the benefit of the Czech Artists' Cooperative in Prague. At a banquet in his honor between the two concerts he had made a speech extolling the musicality of the Czechs. German nationalist opinion was outraged (note that Wolf refers to Prague as a German city). There were riotous scenes in Dresden and Breslau when Bülow played in those cities, each requiring police intervention. A number of concerts had to be cancelled, including one in Graz just prior to Bülow's four Beethoven programs in Vienna. The latter were permitted, but Bülow was required to assure the police that he would remain silent. "I shall not speak," he had assured them. "I'm hoarse anyway."
3.
In Spanish, "brotherhood," used in the Vienna of Wolf's time as a humorous term for the police.
4.
"Tis an oath alone that seals my lips, and only a god can break the seal."
5.
Wolf's word, although hardly appropriate to a subject just struck dead!
6.
The Czech form of Hans. German nationalists had held it against Bülow that in his Prague concerts his name had appeared thus on the program.

103. César Thomson 1
A Latter-Day Paganini

February 13, 1887

The horrible war of extermination Hans von Bülow, that teeth-chattering autopsist, has been waging against the mighty shade of Beethoven with

-257-

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