The great conductor and pianist Hans von Bülow (1830–1894) is little remembered as a composer, although he had quite some success in his day. As a performer he was as adept at Wagner and Liszt as he later became with Brahms; as a composer he was overshadowed by all of the composers he admired. His music is conservative by nature, but the influence of the new music is apparent; his interpolation in the 1884 edition of Liszt’s Concerto pathétique
for two pianos recalls the musical language of Tristan
, whilst much of his surviving piano music is of a lighter nature. (Liszt arranged one of his piano pieces—the Mazurka-Fantasie
for orchestra—in 1865.) Sadly, history recalls him most readily as having been married to Liszt’s daughter Cosima and being cuckolded by Wagner, an episode which brought von Bülow much public ridicule, and which caused a rift between Liszt and Wagner for some years. Sadly, von Bülow’s pleasing song Tanto gentile e tanto onesta
never entered the repertoire, Liszt’s enthusiasm for it notwithstanding. The piano transcription is simple and straightforward, and the original song a worthy setting of Dante Alighieri. (‘My lady is so gentle and modest when she greets others that every tongue trembles and is still, and eyes do not dare to look upon her.’) Both works merit revival.
from notes by Leslie Howard © 1996