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Hans Von Bülow: A Life and Times Hardcover – December 4, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (December 4, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195368681
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195368680
  • Product Dimensions: 1.4 x 6.5 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #742,382 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

provides a fascinating study of a man who intersected with all the great musicians of his day...engaging, well-written book C. Cai, CHOICE what an enthralling book, finely researched! John Amis, Musical Opinion Alan Walker's ground-breaking Hans von Bulow: A Life and Times is the first objective biography of a major player who, for all his social ineptitude, shaped the musical world as we know it today. Wall Street Journal Throughout the book, Walker delights the reader with rich insights and an encyclopaedic knowledge of the field, always infusing his elegant prose with a love of detail and irony, anecdotes and connections fuelled with wit and wisdom, all of which brings the subject alive. As a result his book promises to enrich scholars and music lovers alike, and to turn Beethovenians and Wagnerians into Von Bulowians: a must-read. Malcolm Miller, Arietta Journal This magnificent long-overdue biography is the monument to Bulow that never was... What Truman Capote did in In Cold Blood towards creating a new genre of fiction faction that is to say a documentary with all its existential drama built in, Walker has contrived to do by extension in biography or should we call it biografaction where by connecting up data in the form of letters, civic documents and newspaper reports, together with an uncanny interpretive gift for reading between the lines, he creates a vital context whereby his book, quite apart from its profundity, finishes by being as unputdownable as the latest historical novel by Mary Renault. EPTA Piano Journal Walker's narrative unfolds with energy, and provides an impressively rounded portrait of his subject, full of flaws as well as strengths... Generously laced with witty, wise anecdotes, copious footnotes, elegant illustrations and a family tree, as well as a hefty index and source list, the book represents a seminal study of one of the movers and shakers of 19th-century music, a relatively unsung hero of musical history. The Wagner Journal Worth the wait... In English, Walker's book has no competition. Its sixty-three illustrations and programme reproductions add much to the reader's pleasure... A remarkable repository of information on Bulow. The Hungarian Quarterly a profitable read for anyone interested in the musicians and activities that von Bulow's life touched David Breckbill, BBC Music Magazine This study of Hans von Bulow must stand as one of the most important and indeed necessary biographies of a musician published in recent times ... compelling Roger Allen, Music and Letters

About the Author


ALAN WALKER is Professor Emeritus of Music at McMaster University, Canada. Before settling in North America he was on the staff of the Music Division of the British Broadcasting Corporation in London. He has broadcast for the BBC, for the CBC, and for CJRT - FM (Toronto), and gives regular public lectures on the music of the Romantic Era, a period in which he specializes. His thirteen published books include A Study in Musical Analysis, An Anatomy of Musical Criticism, and symposia on Chopin, Schumann, and Liszt. Dr. Walker is also author of a three-volume, prize winning biography of Franz Liszt, a project which took him twenty-five years to complete, and for which the President of Hungary bestowed on him the medal ProCulturaHungarica. The biography also received the Royal Philharmonic Society Prize, presented by HRH The Duke of Kent in London. He is the recipient of the Music Teachers National Association 2010 Achievement Award and the Knight's Cross of the Order of Merit from Hungary.

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Customer Reviews

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It is always interesting reading.
D. Kurz
Walker does it again with this gripping story of one of the most important pianists and conductors of the 19th century.
Harriet Chapman
Mr. Walker details these with an obviously carefully researched account.
Moris Senegor

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Moris Senegor on January 26, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an exceedingly well written account about the life of Hans von Bulow, by Alan Walker, a music scholar that seems to have a gift for writing a page turner, unusual for those in his field who usually write dull, technical treatises. Von Bulow's travails and accomplishments have enough melodrama to fill a long running soap opera. Mr. Walker details these with an obviously carefully researched account.

Great performers and conductors achieve fame in their own time; great composers survive to eternity. There were some that did both well, such as Mahler or Mendellsohn. Von Bulow was not one of them. He was a towering figure in the 19th Century era of Western Music known as the Romantic Period as a great conductor and one of the best concert pianists of his time. Unfortunately his compositions, few as they were, have not withstood the test of time and thus he is not well remembered any more. Those who have heard of Bulow only associate him with the notion that he was one of the great cuckolds of the 19th century, losing his wife Cosima (Franz Liszt's daughter) to none other than Wagner, his mentor.

While Walker brings this unfortunate episode of Bulow's life to his readers in full color, he balances the slate with an equally colorful account of the remainder of Bulow's life and the magnitude of his accomplishments. At times the prose gets technical, but it never bogs down to the thick unintelligible music-soup often encountered in Symphony concert programs.

I would highly recommend this book not only for those interested in music history, but also those who enjoy reading biographies of colorful, larger-than-life, historical figures.

Moris Senegor M.D.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Chapman on January 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Walker does it again with this gripping story of one of the most important pianists and conductors of the 19th century. It is hard to believe that this is the first biography in English of the man who was a star pupil of Liszt, the husband of Liszt's daughter, Cosima, the champion of Wagner (and, of course, famously cuckolded by him), and, later, the champion of Brahms. The book is meticulously researched, laced with pertinent quotes from letters and other documents of the time (without being weighted down by them), and absolutely gripping from beginning to end. A must for anyone interested in 19th-century composers, great pianists, great conductors, or opera. Bravo, Dr. Walker!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By D. Kurz on February 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is another well written,well researched, and pleasing-to-read
compilation by Alan Walker.Very intricately detailed,yet a book that I found it hard to put down.I've commented directly to the author himself,and to many others that this author has a beautiful gift of writing about musicians.It is always interesting reading.The Liszt 3 volume biography is another example of this flair.I only hope he writes more biographies in the future.I can read these books time and again and not be at all bored with any of them.There is so much information packed away and no wasted words,just pleasant "learning."
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By James Ronald Rathbun on June 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Alan Walker has done it again! I have loved every single book he has written and consider him to be one of the best biographers and writers of our generation, if not the best. His biography of Hans Von Bulow is no exception. Hans Von Bulow set the highest standards for conducting and piano playing for over a century. Alan Walker has done the same for writers and biographers. Mr. Walker is a complete scholar, his documentation is superb, and his writing style is excellent. When you start a book by Mr. Walker, you are spellbound until you finish it, and you know that you have been given the most accurate account possible. I felt a sense of regret when I finished the book because I wanted it to go on and on. Mr. Alan Walker, thank you!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Paul Gelman on October 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If there is one biography which I am certain I will read and reread, it will be Alan Walker's "Hans von Bulow" masterpiece.
Writing a biography is far from being an easy thing. It becomes even more difficult when the relevant material is scattered in many parts of this globe. The biogrpaher,when faced with so many documents,diaries,notes,letters,memoirs,newspapers,etc.,has the almost impossible task of reconstructing his subject's life and times by making wise choices when sifting through all his raw material. Alan Walker has succeeded to do so in an admirable way.
This book reads like an intellectual thriller where all the elements are here: envy,hatred,intrigue,a rare talent hounded by misery,misfortune,famous personalities,success,fame,betrayal,mysteries, illnesses,love,money-you name it.
I will not dwell on its contents because others have done so before. I can only say that I am anxiously waiting for Professor's Walker next book,which I have no doubt will be as stimulanting and brilliant as this one. In an age when many writers and biographers produce superficial books,usually for the purpose of making quick and easy money,Alan Walker is the proof that when a job is done thoroughly,a book and a biographer can easily turn into classics,and I am certain this will happen shortly.
One can only express his regret for not having von Bulows anymore. However,we are lucky to have a great biographer with us who has done a magnificent job resurrecting and preserving the memory of a great pianist,conductor and composer,whose larger-that-life personality will continue to enchant us all.
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