Hans von Bülow – Nirvana

Last updated Mar 3, 2020 | Published on Jan 10, 2020

Written by Gianmaria Griglio

Legendary conductor Hans von Bülow, considered by Wagner the only one who could conduct his operas, was also a virtuoso pianist and a composer.

As one of the most distinguished conductors of the 19th century, his activity was critical for establishing the successes of several major composers of the time, especially Richard Wagner and Johannes Brahms.

Bülow was one of Liszt’s early students; recognizing his talent, Liszt sent him to study composition with Wagner in 1849. Bülow also married Liszt’s daughter Cosima, who later left him for Wagner.

Nirvana” is a symphonic poem and one of the few works of his that survived. Written in 1854, it is a romantic prologue to Lord Byron’s Cain, it was criticized by both Wagner and Liszt but highly praised by Richard Strauss later on: 

Nirvana von Bülow, that beautiful and still unappreciated work […] that I myself rehearsed especially for his performance” (Richard Strauss, 1919).


Hans von Bülow
(b. Dresden, 8 January 1830; d. Cairo, 12 February 1894)
Nirvana, symphonic prologue to Lord Byron’s Cain, op. 20 (1854)

Bradford Robinson, 2005


Gianmaria Griglio

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