Beyond uninspired mediocrity
Bülow had already made a first-class orchestra out of the provincial Meiningen court orchestra. Now he hoisted the Berlin Philharmonic, to whom he attested a great artistic intelligence, out of their “uninspired mediocrity” (Allgemeine Musikzeitung) and established standards that formed the basis for the orchestra’s later international fame. Despite his severity and his unrelenting passion for rehearsing, the Philharmoniker felt deeply attached to him as a person.
Their collaboration lasted five years, before Bülow, who had suffered from nervous disorders since his childhood, retired from the concert business for health reasons. He died on 12 February 1894.