Mr. Makower pays a tribute to the real kindheartedness which underlay a rather brusque manner, and he tells us that Bülow all his life long did many acts of unostentatious charity, such as the helping of old and poverty-stricken musicians. Of his memory many stories are told, some of them doubtless apocryphal, but there is no question that he did have a most marvelous memory for music. Here is one example: “On another occasion he visited me in Berlin just before the beginning of one of the Philharmonic Concerts, which, through his energy, have become the most famous events in Berlin music. He only had a few moments to spare. His droschke was at the door. ‘Just give me Bach’s 48 Preludes and Fugues,’ he said, ‘the F sharp major fugue is running in my head and I am not clear upon one passage. Is there to the D sharp in the bass a C sharp and F sharp in the upper voice? It seems to sound a little violent.’ He looked up the passage in question. ‘Yes, it is so. You see it’s a transitional note.’”
With all his apparent love of publicity, Bülow was a most modest and retiring man when once his own personality was brought into question. Thus, he always made a point of deprecating applause by leading forward the soloist, or by pointing to the orchestra to intimate that he alone was not the sole cause of the wonderful playing.
“With what a beaming pleasure in his eyes did Bülow one evening, after the performance of a symphony, turn toward the audience, and, as if to direct their applause into the right channel, lift his arm and point eagerly to the box where Brahms was sitting unnoticed, listening to the performance of his work. The gesture was immediately understood, and Bülow, now joining in the fresh burst of enthusiasm, applauded until Brahms appeared on the platform to receive the public ovation which had been so generously procured for him.”