Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Archive for Hans von Bülow

Dr. Bob Prescribes Hans von Bülow: A Life and Times

Five years ago, my Dr. Bob Prescribes post for January 15, 2019 recommended Alan Walker’s epic (25 years in the research and writing!), three-volume biography of Franz Liszt. In that post, I mentioned – that our Maine Coon cat Teddy (who, sadly, kicked the Kibble on December 24, 2022) – was often paid the highest compliment any cat can receive: that he acted like a dog. (To my mind, it speaks poorly of cats if the nicest thing one can say about a good one is that it behaves like another species altogether.) The point was to observe that likewise, the nicest thing anyone can say about a work of non-fiction is that it reads like a novel. That’s because non-fiction – written histories in particular – are all-too-often catalogs of names, dates, and events; information-rich but tedious, often poorly written tomes that can induce slumber in even the most hardened insomniacs. Novels tell stories, stories written by professional writers. So when we say a work of non-fiction reads like a novel, we’re saying, one, that the information contained therein has been woven into a compelling narrative and two, that the author who wrote the narrative writes like a pro. […]

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Music History Monday: Pianist, Conductor, Composer, and a Cuckold for the Ages

We mark the birth on January 8, 1830 – 196 years ago today – of the German pianist, conductor, composer, and cuckold, Hans Guido von Bülow.  Born in the Saxon capital of Dresden, he died in a hotel in Cairo, Egypt, on February 12, 1894, at the age of 64.  Poor Hans von Bülow.  He was one of the top pianists and conductors of his time.  His career was closely associated with some of the greatest composers of all time, including Richard Wagner, Johannes Brahms, and Pyotr Tchaikovsky.  Famous for his devastating wit and ability to turn a phrase, it was Bülow who coined the alliterative trio of “Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms.” Sadly, for all of his many accomplishments and deserved renown, he remains best known today (in no small measure because of scandal-mongering sensationalists like myself) as one of the great cuckolds of all time, right up there with myself (cuckolded by my college girlfriend Maureen Makler and an Israeli guy named Avi Luzon); Eddie Fisher (cuckolded by Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton), and Henry VIII (cuckolded, or so we are told, by Ann Boleyn and a wide assortment of various courtiers and hangers-on).  Bummer all the way around, […]

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