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Bulow, Hans von (1830 – 1894)



One of the most famous conductors of the 19th century, pianist, teacher and composer. He was a keen promoter of Wagner’s operatic works (he conducted the premieres of Tristan and Isolde and The Mastersingers of Nuremberg, among others), and also the symphonic oeuvre of Brahms and Tchaikovsky. He played a major role in promoting Dvorak’s music in German-speaking countries. The first of the composer’s works he conducted was the Hussite Overture (1 November 1886 in Hamburg), which he then included on the programme for practically all his concerts. He adopted Symphony No. 7 in a similar way – enjoying huge success with two performances in Berlin on 27 and 28 October 1889, which Dvorak attended in person.

Overjoyed at the stunning performance and the enthusiastic reception of the work, Dvorak attached a photograph of the conductor to the title page of the symphony’s score, adding the words: “Hurrah! You brought this work to life!” (see fig.) During his visit to Prague in October 1886 Bulow attended a performance of Dvorak’s opera Dimitrij and was so taken by it that he immediately began negotiations for a planned performance of the opera in Hamburg (the performance never took place, however). As a mark of appreciation for the consistent promotion of his works, Dvorak dedicated his fifth symphony to Bulow.