- CHAPTER 03. (Part 3) SC (G). WC. 11,834 9/20/2020
- LILLIAN JUNE BAILEY HENSCHEL. B. 1860, D. 1901. ST. SAENS-CONCERTO NO. 2. MECHANICS’ HALL CONCERTS. HANDEL AND HAYDN SOCIETY-LANG CONDUCTS. SON AND STRANGER-MENDELSSOHN. BOSTON CHURCH CHOIRS. WAGNER AND LANG. LANG AS ASSISTING ARTIST. ST. SAENS PIANO CONCERTO NO. 2 IN NEW YORK CITY. APOLLO CLUB SEASON 1876-1877.
- APOLLO CLUB PUBLIC REHEARSALS.
- PRESIDENT HAYES VISIT.
- CECILIA-FIRST INDEPENDENT SEASON: 1876-1877. CRAMER PIANOFORTE STUDIES. AVERAGE WEEK. APOLLO CLUB SEASON 1877-1878. CECILIA-SECOND INDEPENDENT SEASON: 1877-1878. BIRTH OF ROSAMOND. CECILIA CONTINUED. CECILIA-THIRD INDEPENDENT SEASON: 1878-1879.
LILLIAN JUNE BAILEY HENSCHEL. b. 1860, d. 1901.
Georg Henschel and Lillian Bailey probably just before their marriage. BSO Archive.
Among the many young artists that Lang helped was Lillian Bailey who later married Georg Henschel, the first conductor of the B. S.O. She was born in Ohio, and her first teachers were her uncle, Charles R. Hayden, and Mme. Rudersdorff. When but sixteen years old she made her first public appearance in Boston and met with much success. In 1878 she went to Paris and became a pupil of Mme. Viardot-Garcia. It was while singing his songs at a private recital in London that she met Georg Henschel. Later she became his pupil, and in 1881 they were married in Boston. Wherever Mrs. Henschel sang she met with success; her method was excellent and her voice possessed a charm that merited the applause given her. She appeared with her husband in song recitals in most of the largest cities in America and delighted most critical audiences, as well as the pubic at large. She died in London in 1901.” (Green, 370) The “first public performance” referred to above was probably a concert that she presented at the Revere House on Friday evening, April 7, 1876 where B. J. Lang was among the seven assisting artists. In this concert she only sang three songs with the majority of the concert being provided by the guest instrumentalists and vocalists (HMA Program Collection) Early in the program Lang made his only appearance, playing three solos: Allegro in C Major by Handel, his own Spinning Song in A Major, and the Caprice in E Minor by Mendelssohn. The concert ended with Mendelssohn’s Trio in D Minor Op. 49, a work often played by Lang, but in this case the piano part was taken by his pupil G. W. Sumner (HMA Program Collection) Arthur Foote referred to this concert: “In 1876 I assisted at two of Lang’s concerts in Boston…In these concerts a wonderful young girl, Lillian Bailey, afterwards Mrs. George Henschel, made her first appearance: a lovely voice and most beautiful singing-one of the finest artists I have known. She, her mother, brother, and uncle (Charles R. Hayden), lived at the top of the Hotel Pelham (where the Little Building now stands), and I was a frequent visitor, making music there with her.” (Foote, Auto., 44)
Hotel Pelham: corner of Boylston (left to right) and Tremont (up and down), the Boston Common is to your right and behind. Though called a hotel, this was an early version of an apartment house. By the time that Miss Bailey lived here, the building had been moved 14 feet to the right. Photo courtesy of the Boston Public Library. Information from “Lost New England” Series, Derek Strahan, accessed September 22, 2018.
On February 10, 1877 she presented a concert at Union Hall that was “appreciated by a large and cultivated crowd. This gifted lady, yet in her teens, shows a remarkable improvement since her first semi-private appearance a year ago. Her fresh, sweet, penetrating voice has developed into a larger volume and capacity of various expression…For she has intellectual talent likewise and seems to be prompted by a genuine musical enthusiasm…Miss Bailey’s teacher, Mr. C. R. Hayden, [her uncle] to whose judicious training the young maiden bore such testimony” also sang. Lang students Sumner and Foote were the accompanists. (Dwight (March 3, 1877): 399) Fifteen months before Mr. C. R. Hayden had been called “one of the best tenors of our concert rooms” when he took part in the 452nd. recital of NEC. (Dwight (December 11, 1875): 142) Lang knew Hayden as both had been faculty members of the National College of Music (1872-73).
In December 1877 Miss Bailey was the soloist at the Second Harvard Musical Association Orchestra Concert singing both with orchestra and piano accompaniment. Dwight wrote: “Miss Lillian Bailey, with her delicate, sweet, fresh voice, her charming naturalness of manner, and her artistic, earnest feeling and expression, sang to great acceptance. She has gained much in power and style within a year, and, being very young, she will gain more. But it is already a rare treat to listen to her.” (Dwight (December 8, 1877): 142) A month later she presented herself in a concert that “was very agreeable and lively. The audience, which filled Union Hall, was of as select and flattering a character as a young artist could be honored with.” Her uncle also sang and Mr. Dresel was the vocal accompanist. (Dwight (February 2, 1878): 175) Later that spring she appeared again at Union Hall at a “testimonial concert tendered to the favorite young Soprano by the Second Church Young People’s Fraternity.” It was a great success: “Union Hall was crowded: Miss Bailey sang her best.” Again her uncle was part of the performance, and Lang served as accompanist and piano soloist playing the Nocturne in C Minor and Etude in E Flat Major by Chopin and the “Introduction and Scherzo” from the G Minor Piano Concerto by Saint-Saëns. (Dwight (May 11, 1878): 231)
In October she sang the soprano solos in Messiah for the Handel and Haydn Society. “Miss Bailey, who sang here for the first time since her studies in Paris, and her successful career in England, took the soprano solos; and, considering her youth, and the yet juvenile though much-improved quality of her voice in firmness, evenness and fullness, acquitted herself most creditably…The young lady’s tones are pure and clear as a bird, her intonation faultless, and all the exacting arias were well studied and agreeably sustained with good style and expression.” (Dwight (October 23, 1880): 174) A month later it was noted that she was “affianced to George Henschel. (Dwight (November 20, 1880): 191) Two months later Bailey and Henschel were sharing recital programs where he “splendidly played all the accompaniments.” Lang and Henschel played the Moscheles Homage a Handel, a duet for two pianos to finish their January 31, 1881 concert at the Tremont Temple. (Dwight (February 26, 1881): 37)
Twenty-five years later, on Saturday, March 13, 1901 3 PM at the Association Hall, Lang and Foote repeated the St. Saens Variations on a Theme of Beethoven for two pianos which they had performed at Lillian’s Boston debut (which this 1901 program said had happened on March 13, 1876 “at Mr. Lang’s concert”), but this time the concert’s featured artist was Lillian and Georg Herschel’s daughter, Helen Henschel. This 1901 concert was a family affair, for part of the program was a group of duets sung by mother and daughter, accompanied by father. (BPL Lang Prog) Helen, the Henschel’s daughter, recorded the remarks of Edith Hipkins who remembered that in 1879 Georg’s London debut been “like a great wind, with his glorious voice, his flashing eyes and his splendid vitality. He was invited everywhere at once, and appeared even to be everywhere at once…As for your mother, she was too charming for words. And how jealous we all were when your father got engaged to her. That this glorious creature should be going to marry a very young and unknown singer from America seemed unbearable! But quite understandable, too. How pretty she was. So gentle and amusing. And she sang like a little bird.” (Henschel, H. 14)
B. J. studying a full score. Collection of Amy DuBois.
Lang’s orchestral conducting experience began early in his career. On May 12, 1867 at age thirty he conducted (a) Boston Symphony Orchestra at the Mechanic Hall in Salem, MA “In aid of the New Music Hall.” This concert was promoted by Mr. M. S. Downs and also included as soloist “Miss Adelaide Phillips, the celebrated Prima Dona.” The program was: Symphony # 5- Beethoven, Song-Donizetti, Overture: A Midsummer Night’s Dream-Mendelssohn, Cuban Song, Waltz-J. Strauss, Song, Wedding March: Midsummer Night’s Dream-Mendelssohn. Dwight’s review said: “The object was to raise funds towards the erection of a new music hall, which Salem surely ought to have, for it is now a city, and has some very musical people, sending quite a delegation always to our oratorios and Symphony Concerts in Boston. The occasion is said to have been in every sense most successful.” (Dwight (May 25, 1867): 39)
ST. SAENS – CONCERTO NO. 2.
On February 3, 1876 Lang gave the American premiere of the Second Piano Concerto by St. Saens with the Harvard Musical Association Orchestra. Apthorp wrote in the Atlantic Monthly that he thought this work to be the best concerto since those by Mendelssohn and Schumann. “The first movement is simply great. The dainty little scherzo that follows it and the tarantella finale are gems of their kind. In playing it, Mr. Lang fairly outdid himself, especially in the first two movements; the effect upon the audience was electric.” (Atlantic Monthly (May 1876): 635) He continued to say that as much as he enjoyed the piece, he could hardly remember it after the concert. The suggestion was made that Lang could have played the last movement with more fire; his was “a highly refined fire.” (Ibid, 636)
The Music Hall as it was in 1876 (Decorated for July 4th.). BPL, Digital.
Dwight found the concerto “entirely fresh and novel…very modern, to be sure, and very French.” It had “immense technical difficulties and sensational effects.” Cast in an unusual Slow, Fast, Fast arrangement, the opening Andante Sostenuto was “broad and massive, full of fire and strength.” The second, a Scherzo was “fascinating…[and] played [with] airy life and freedom.” It was encored! The final movement, a Presto in Tarantella style “whirls in ever-widening circles” and “Mr. Lang proved fully equal to its unrelenting demands…[The] whole performance [was] magnificent, surpassing all that has done before. The task was to his fancy. He embraced it con amore.” (Dwight (February 19, 1876): 183, GB)
The Traveler noted that “Mr. Lang insists upon stepping out of the beaten paths in selecting his number for performance…[The St. Saens] is brilliantly bright, flowing and graceful, and entirely unconventional…The piano part bristles with difficulties…The last movement requires more of the pianist than its predecessors. It abounds with technical requirements, and it is the highest praise to say that the difficulties were all ably met. Mr. Lang played with consummate zeal and fire, with a finish of execution which calls for the highest praise. The performance was throughout electrifying, and the audience has seldom been more honestly warmed. The orchestra seconded with rare devotion Mr. Lang’s efforts.” (Traveler (February 4, 1876): 1, GB)
MECHANICS’ HALL CONCERTS-MARCH 1876.
An ad appeared in March saying that Lang was to give two concerts on Thursday afternoons March 23 and 29 at 3 o’clock. “He will play two Concertos by Saint-Saens, the Tschaikowsky Concerto, a new Trio by Saint-Saens, numerous pianoforte pieces, etc., etc.” Additionally, songs were to be given by Miss Ita Welsh, Miss Lillian Bailey, and the other assisting artists would be Mr. Wulf Fries, Mr. August Fries and Mr. Arthur Foote. Season Tickets, three dollars.” (Traveler (March 13, 1876): 3, GB) The Traveler review of the second concert said that it was “a beautiful programme, interpreted with rare taste and excellence. The two concerts taken together have “seldom been equaled by any resident artist, in character, or character of performance.” (Traveler (March 31, 1876): 3) The Saint Saens Trio “was interesting throughout, and was superlatively well performed in all its parts. ” Of Miss Bailey the reviewer wrote: “We have not often heard a more intelligent, sweeter, sympathetic delivery” than she presented. (Ibid) The major work was the Tschaikowsky Piano Concerto No. 1 with Lang as the soloist and Sumner and Foote at a second piano providing the orchestral reduction. This was just a year after it’s world premiere! Even with four hands covering as much of the orchestral fabric as possible, “the orchestral part was much missed.” (Ibid) Lang’s performance was “intense…graceful…[one] he might be proud of, even” in comparison with that of Von Bulow. (Ibid) “A very large audience was present.” (Ibid) The Journal wrote: “In all these selections Mr. Lang played with fine taste and expression…There was an excellent attendance and the programme was presented in a manner to afford much genuine pleasure.” (Journal (March 31,, 1876): 1, GB)
Lang was to do much to further Miss Bailey’s career. Often she would appear as an assisting artist , as above, and also he would appear in her concerts as assisting artist/accompanist. Less than two weeks later he was part of a concert that she presented at the Revere House. Miss Bailey’s “taste and her powers are of the most enviable character.” (Traveler (April 10, 1876): 2)
HANDEL AND HAYDN SOCIETY – LANG CONDUCTS.
For the 1876 Easter Season the Handel and Haydn Society gave their usual series of “Easter Oratorios.” First, on Palm Sunday was Bach’s Passion Music with primarily local soloists-Mme. Rudersdorff, William and John Winch and Myron Whitney. Then on Easter Sunday came Handel’s Joshua in its Boston Premier with local and imported soloists. For the singers to have to learn such a long, new work during the time that they were having great demands made by their local choirs, was certainly testing their loyalty! Finally, on the next Wednesday, April 12th., Mendelssohn’s Hymn of Praise and Rossini’s Stabat Mater were presented. This performance was the last performance in America (she died a year later at the age of 46) of “the distinguished vocalist”(a seamless voice of three octaves) M’lle Theresa Titiens, and for this performance B. J. was the conductor and Professor John K. Paine of Harvard was the organist. (Traveler (April 11, 1876): 2) Possibly Zerrahn thought that three performances in such a short time were too much for one person, or possibly he had a conflicting engagement. For whatever reason, Lang had his chance to conduct the Handel and Haydn, but I don’t believe this happened again until he was appointed conductor in 1895.
SON AND STRANGER—MENDELSSOHN.
In May of 1876, Lang presented the operetta Son and Stranger (Heimkehr aus der fremde) by Mendelssohn at the new hall of the Young Men’s Christian Union on Boylston Street “before a very large and cultivated audience who had purchased tickets privately under the double inducement of artistic pleasure and of sympathy for want.”… The performers were amateurs and volunteering artists, Mr. Lang conducting, under whose direction the performance had been most carefully prepared, so that the representation of the work, both musically and scenically, was complete.” The overture was arranged for two pianos, eight hands and played by Lang, Mr. Parker, Mr. Leonard, and Mr. Sumner. The critic, Mr. Wm. F. Apthorp “was capitally made up for the respectable old German Mayor, and sang his one note in the Trio doubtless quite as well as the composer’s brother-in-law, the painter Hensel, for whom the part was written… Altogether the performance was a great success… The accompaniments were beautifully played by Mr. Lang, Mr. Leonhard assisting him again in the interlude (“Night and Morning”).” (Dwight (May 13, 1876): 231) Mendelssohn had written this work in 1829 for the silver wedding anniversary of his parents. (BPL Lang Prog., Vol. 2) Clara Rogers (Clara Doria) wrote: “A group of my friends, in which Mrs. James Lodge, Mrs. George Howe [Mrs. Lodge and Mrs. Howe were sisters], Mrs. [Leslie] Codman, the [Ellerton] Pratts, and Mr. Richard S. Fay were prominent, got it up to raise a goodly sum for a deserving benevolence. It was in the character of an amateur performance, though some professional musicians took part in it, the direction of the music being in charge of B. J. Lang…The cast was as follows: Lisbeth-Clara Doria; Ursula-Ita Welsh; the Mayor-William Apthorp; Hermann-Nat Childs; Hans-Doctor C. E. Bullard; Martin-A. S. Dabney… The rehearsals took place for the most part in my music room…It was a great success, a large proportion of Boston Brahmins turning out for the occasion, and a handsome sum being raised for the charity.” (Rogers, Memories, 448) Lang may have become interested in this work when the “Overture” was played at a concert in December 1865 in which he was a soloist.
1876 May. Lang performed the Saint-Saens Christmas Oratorio (Noel) at South Congregational. A year later, May 1877, the same work was performed as part of the Handel and Haydn Society’s “Fourth Triennial Festival.”
BOSTON CHURCH CHOIRS: 1876 and 1885.
In the spring of 1876, Dwight reprinted an article from the Sunday Herald of May 14 on “Boston Church Choirs-How Hard Times Affect the Service of Song.” The country was in a period of economic “hard times” and this had an effect on the quartet choirs which were the standard for most churches. “Quartet singing, which has been a costly item in the expenses of some churches heretofore, has in many instances been altogether abolished. In others, the salaries have been largely reduced. In others still, professional singers have been dismissed and volunteers substituted, whose chief merit lies in the attribute that they are willing to serve without pay.” (Dwight (May 27, 1876): 239 and 240) Thirty-seven churches were included in the survey. The comment for Lang’s quartet at South Congregational Church was: “There have no changes in the quartet at this church during the past year. its organization is-soprano, Mrs. Julia Houston West; alto, Mrs. J. F. Winch; tenor, Mr. W. J. Winch; bass, Mr. J. F. Winch.” (Ibid)
In March of 1885, the Journal published an article about “The Reorganization of Choirs Throughout the City.” At this time the Winch brothers were still present at South Congregational Church, but the alto was not Mrs. Winch, but Miss Mary Howe, and the new soprano was to be Miss Emma Bockus. Other members of the Lang circle seemed to have little change. Arthur Foote at First Church [Unitarian] had George J. Parker for tenor and Clarence E. Hay as bass, both of whom Lang used regularly as soloists with the Cecilia. His pupil George W. Sumner was at Arlington Street Church [Unitarian] and had only one change, while at King’s Chapel, where Lang would soon take over the music, no changes were made and the soprano was Gertrude Franklin who later helped introduce Margaret’s early songs. Charles R. Adams, Lang’s tenor friend from the early 1860s, First Baptist days was at the Church of the Unity. George L. Osgood was Choir Master at Emmanuel Church, and Signor Campanari, who had been on the faculty of the National College of Music with Lang, went back to Europe. (Journal (March 30, 1885): 3, GB)
WAGNER AND LANG.
RMS PARTHIA. Cunard Line.
“In 1871 the Wagners and the Langs were calling on each other in Switzerland. Mrs. Lang owned several songs of Wagner,- among them Fuenf Gedichte translated into Italian by Arigo Boito! Attached to the music was found this note of Mrs. Lang: ‘Wagner’s Songs given to me by himself in Switzerland at our Hotel Luzerner Hof-Luzern’ – as he and Madame Wagner returned our call on July 22, 1871. They rowed over from Triebschen at 4 PM. We called at Triebschen on PM of July 21st.'” (Liepmann, 5) Always interested in the new compositions of his time, as “an ardent Wagnerian, Lang visited Wagner in 1871 and offered his assistance in publicizing the Bayreuth Festival in America. The Saloon Passenger List of the RMS PARTHIA sailing from Boston to Liverpool listed B. J. Lang as departing on August 7, 1875. An entry in Cosima Wagner’s Diary for August 26, 1875 mentions that she showed B. J. the Bayreuth Theater. In 1876 Lang and his wife were honored guests at the first performance of the Ring in Bayreuth.” (Ledbetter, Amer. Grove, 10) Arthur Foote also attended (Cipolla, Amer. Grove, 50).
Two illustrations from Jullian’s Wagner, Vol. 2, 269 and 259. The top one shows the theatre as it was in 1876 when it first opened and the bottom one shows the addition buildings-on the left the Victoria Column high on the hill with the large restaurant at the foot of that hill and the smaller restaurant on the right, adjacent to the theatre. On the lower right is a sketch of the sunken orchestra pit with its wooden hood.
Frances’ Diary recorded that they sailed from Philadelphia on June 24, 1876 together with Mr. and Mrs. Tucker (she=Jeanie). They were in London from July 4-14 and had rented a room at…..
If they were in London July4-14, this program shows that they went to a concert on their first night. It included the Beethoven Variations that Lang performed many times. BPL Lang Scrapbook.
14 Arlington Street; then Paris, July 14-23 during which they heard High mass at St. Sulpice where Mr. Widor’s “improvisations were delightful.” There were other things besides music. “Dressmakers, and buying clothes at the Bon Marche.” (Diary 2, Summer 1876)
The Wagner festival was August 6-23, and a letter from Frances dated August 9, 1876 from Bayreuth tells about the Festival. Apparently only the parents went on this journey as the letter is addressed to the children (?) She mentioned that they saw four operas, three times each! She noted in her Diary that on August 6, B. J. met Liszt and Mme. Wagner who gave him tickets to a private rehearsal of Rheingold to be given for the King! Frances was very excited to be a part of this event. (Diary, 6 and 7) Arthur Foote wrote that their party of five (Langs, Tuckers and him) had arrived in Bayreuth two weeks early. “We were now informed that there was to be a sort of dress rehearsal of the four opers on the week preceding the date scheduled, And so, not only did I hear the series expected (and paid for at the rate of twenty-five dollars a night), but also the preliminary performances.” (Foote, Auto., 62) In 1876 the town of Bayreuth was not able to handle the huge numbers of visitors to the Festival. For Foote: “My sleeping place was really a sort of large closet, and the bed consisted of bedding laid on some wooden planks supported by large logs. This was the least luxurious experience in the way of rooms that I ever had, the only similar one being that of sleeping in a bath-tub in Munich, when the town was overcrowded.” (Foote, Auto., 63) In an additional letter which Frances wrote to her parents more details are given the most important of which was that the pre-opening private performance given for the King of Bavaria, Wagner’s patron, was attended by the Wagners, the King, and his Suite and THE Langs! An 1882 article wrote: “His studies of the works of Wagner have been made with the assistance of the great composer himself.” (1882 Music and Drama Supplement)
Diary 2, Summer 1876.
On the return journey, after another stay in London, August 30-September 5, they set sail from Queenstown, Ireland on the Steamer CELTIC on September 6th. She noted that Mr. Foote was also on board. (Frances Lang Diary, 1876) Margaret, then aged eight, together with her nurse spent the time with Frances’ mother in Stockbridge, Western Massachusetts. “There were several other groups of Bostonians who went over chiefly on account of the Bayreuth production” including Arthur Foote who was introduced to the London music publishers Schott and Company by Lang. (Foote, Auto., 61).
Among the American visitors to Bayreuth was Louis C. Elson (critic at the Boston Advertiser 1866-1920) who recorded his impressions of a visit to Bayreuth that he calls “A sleepy German town” in the late 1880s. He began with a reference to the slowness of the Bavarian railroads, and then continued: “July 20th. The town was still its normal condition, dull, sleepy and apathetic; but early on the next morning matters began to change with the rapidity of a fairy transformation scene. Train after train came in, crowed in every compartment, and bearing the motliest assemblage that ever a caricaturist could dream of. Fat, florid, and bespectacled men jostled against lean, long-haired specimens of the genus music professor, and the way in which greetings and kisses were interchanged was appalling to the American eye. At eight in the evening, fresh impetus was given to the growing excitement by the arrival of the special train from Vienna, bearing a vast crowd of South German artists and musicians. Locomotive decked with flowers, and flags hanging over some of the carriages, it slowly pushed into the immense crowd gathered at the station to welcome it… Many Americans were at the station. Correspondents from all over the world were there, and anxiety about lodgings grew apace. It was an odd spectacle to find princes lodging above grocers” shops and princesses coming to dwell with well-to-do sausage makers…It was a great delight to live with a quiet German family during the rush of the festival, and to be able to withdraw occasionally from the bustle of publicity into cool and neat rooms.” Joining him that year were George E. Whiting, Carl Faelten, and Miss Fanny Paine. He later saw Mr. Gericke, Franz Kneisel, Clayton Johns, Arthur Foote, Mrs. J. L. Gardner and other Americans. “An entire American colony was formed.” Elson visited Cosima Wagner and was immediately invited into “a room half drawing-room, half boudoir, in which sat a slim and graceful, but not beautiful, lady, writing. She arose and greeted me with cordiality, and in a few moments by kindly question and unaffected conversation put me at ease…She inquired after American friends, and particularly Mr. B. J. Lang.” She asked Elson if he knew how many Americans were in the city, and he replied “that I knew personally of some fifty who were coming, and that I had no doubt the number would reach two hundred or more… The resemblance of Madame Wagner to her father, Liszt, was more marked than ever as she grew animated.” (Elson, Reminiscences, 73-78)
“His interest in the Bayreuth Festival, the Franz benefit concert, the Dwight testimonial, the Liszt celebration, in short, in every memorable musical occasion has been earnest, thorough and, above all, practical. He has been honored with the personal friendship of the greatest composers of Europe, and his studies of the works of Wagner have been made with the assistance of the great composer himself. He has, like every earnest, original and competent worker, formed for himself a set of followers, pupils and disciples. It is impossible to enumerate these since the number of his pupils who have become concert soloists is over sixty. The work of the Cecilia Club is wholly due to Mr. Lang; that of the Apollo and Euterpe societies largely so. therefore, in the articles on these subjects, the reader will find a continuation of his too-brief personal sketch. Mr. Lang, although he has composed some very fine works, has, as yet, published nothing. As a musician he is armed at all points; he is one of the very surest of ensemble players and never loses his head. We can personally recall many instances where his calmness has saved careless or nervous players from disaster. He is a good organizer and a very efficient leader. At a time when no one else dared undertake playing with, or directing for, the belligerent Von Bulow or the meteoric Joseffy, he did both-and well. He is one of the surest of score-readers and, though not a virtuoso, is one of the best types of true musician. He has long been the organist of a leading Unitarian church. Of his Boston pupils, we may mention Mr. Arthur Foote… Mr. W. F. Apthorp is another of Mr. Lang’s eminent pupils.” (Elson, Musical Boston, 3)
Wagner was a patient of the American dentist Dr. Newell S. Jenkins who had a practice in Dresden from 1875 until Wagner’s death in 1883. In 1879 Wagner had the idea of migrating to America with his family. This came about because of various professional problems that he was having in Germany. “His life at this time was so unhappy that he thought he might get the needed support in America. Perhaps what influenced him in part was the fact that America, in 1876, had accepted his Grand Festival March composed for the Philadelphia Exposition, for which he received $5,000, that payment, as he remarked, being the best thing about it.” (HMA, Bulletin No. 21, 6) Jenkins sent a letter from Wagner about his possible move to John S. Dwight, “a foremost authority on matters musical and a widely renowned critic and writer” probably not being aware that “the very name of Wagner, let alone his music, was anathema to Dwight, and a less sympathetic consultant could hardly have been found.” (Op. cit., 7) Dwight showed the letter to various Boston associates including Lang, who then wrote to Wagner “reproving him for his lack of ”common sense” and advising him to withdraw the letter.” (Ibid) Wagner was not to be changed, and he wrote again to Jenkins on July 13, 1880 asking him to find a trusted friend who might be able to manage this enterprise. However, things in Germany improved for Wagner, and so nothing further was recorded about the project.
On January 6, 1876 Cosima Wagner wrote to B. J. “Dear Mr. Lang, I found the book you had the kindness to send to me as I came back from Vienna and was very glad to read it; receive my best thanks and also our best wishes for you and Mrs. Lang for the New Year. I have had so plenty to do in the past last time, that I even don’t know more if I answered the kind letter with the nice photograph of Mrs. Lang. If I didn’t I at least always intended it, and in her kindness Mrs. L will take the intension for the fact. I beg you today, to send the enclosed letter to Herr von Buelow; most probably you will know where he is now. Many thanks to you for doing so.” (Liepmann, 5 and 6) Liepmann also mentions a letter “to Mrs. Lang from Cosima when she was still Cosima von Buelow.” (Ibid)
LANG AS ASSISTING ARTIST.
Early in 1876, Lang was one of four organists who played the dedicatory recital for an invited audience of over 1,000 on the Hook and Hastings at Holy Cross Cathedral in Boston, The program went from “half-past seven to a little past ten o’clock,” just over two and a half hours, and even though Boston organ audiences were used to the Music Hall recitals of about one-hour, this event “was listened to with the utmost careful attention and evident attention.” (Dwight (February 4, 1876): 192) For Boston’s major Catholic church, the company built “their largest organ yet,” (Ibid) double the size of the instrument that they had built for the Catholic Cathedral in New York City. In fact, with its 5292 pipes, it was the largest in the country, except for the foreign-built instrument in the Boston Music Hall.
On Saturday evening, November 4, 1876 Lang was one of five assisting artists in a concert given by Miss Ita Welsh, soprano, at Mechanics Hall. Lang accompanied August Fries in Grieg’s Sonata in F Major Op. 3 for violin and piano, and near the end of the program played three solos, Prelude by Bach, Caprice by Widor, and Gavotte by Bach as arranged by Saint-Saens (HMA Program Collection).
Lang was part of another Complimentary Concert on Saturday evening, April 28, 1877 at Union Hall, 18 Boylston Street. Given for Miss Louie A. Homer, Lang and Wulf Fries opened the program with the “Allegro” from Mendelssohn’s Sonata in D Major for Cello and Piano. They also played a Polonaise for Cello and Piano by Chopin, and Lang presented three solos: Nocturne in C minor by Chopin, his own Spinning Song in A Major, and Caprice in E minor by Mendelssohn. (HMA Program Collection)
ST. SAENS PIANO CONCERTO NO. 2 IN NEW YORK CITY.
Lang played this work early in December at the Academy of Music one day after Mme. Essipoff played its New York premiere in Steinway Hall with the Thomas Orchestra (Johnson, First, 309). Dwight’s New York correspondent wrote in defense of his original review: Lang’s “high reputation as a musician and a pianist is known to all readers of the Journal; therefore when he played the Concerto of Saint Saens, as I think badly, I felt no hesitation in saying so.” (Dwight (February 17, 1877): 389) Dwight had added a note after the original review that it seemed that the New York reviewer’s position was “colored by local prejudice.” (Ibid) Dwight was “surprised to hear of a strong prejudice in New York against any Boston artist who should venture to use a Boston piano in the Academy of Music.” (Dwight (February 3, 1877): 383) He then published reviews of Lang’s performance from four New York papers. The Tribune wrote: “Mr. Lang acquitted himself excellently. His execution is neat, clean, and finished, and his reading very correct…Mr. Lang secured a well-deserved recall.” The Evening Mail wrote: “Mr. B. J. Lang, of Boston, proved himself to be a pianist of the highest order. His rendering of the Saint-Saens was superb…The clearness, precision, and accuracy with which he gave the many runs of the piece were astonishing; especially was this noticeable in the difficult run of thirds which occurs in the presto.” The Daily Mail’s notice was very positive, also noting the third movement while the Sun called Lang’s performance “a charming rendering, and being fully equal to its many and great difficulties.” It did mention that Mme. Essipoff’s performance the night before had “excited her audience to a greater enthusiasm and admiration than she had at any previous time commanded.” It did say her performance did have a higher enthusiasm rating than did Lang’s. (Ibid) Lang’s hometown paper mentioned that this was “the first time a Boston pianist has been requested to play for the Philharmonic.” (Salem Register (December 7, 1876): 2, GB)
APOLLO CLUB 1876-1877.
Dwight’s review of January 20, 1877 said: “The first concert (sixth season) given by the Apollo to its friends, Tuesday evening, Jan. 2, placed this well-selected and well-trained body of now nearly one hundred singers in a brighter light than ever as an instance of what perfection may be reached, alike of technique and expression, in the execution of part-songs and choruses for mere male voices. For the most part, this time, it was the manner of presentation, more than the matter, that claimed attention.”The concert was mainly short works, and Dwight felt that fine performances did not make provide as much pleasure as the repertoire of a mixed chorus such as the newly formed Cecilia whose concerts supplied “sweets more inexhaustible.” (Dwight (January 20, 1877): 375) However, one of the soloists was praised: In the “Serenade by Storch, in the tenor solo of which that steadily ripening artist, Mr. Wm. J. Winch surpassed himself. ” The work was popular, being given three times in the 1870s (Zeller, Apollo Club Music Performance History)
In May of the same year Dwight writes: “The Apollo Club gave an admirable example in their last week’s concerts of what pitch of perfection part-singing can be brought to. Yet it is difficult not to bring in the ungracious ‘but’ very soon in speaking of these concerts.” His ‘but’ concerned the low level of the selections presented. After allowing that as the group was giving private concerts to friends, and thus could program whatever the group wanted, Dwight called the choir to a higher level as “They have the most transcendent means of performing or doing their part towards performing all that is greatest, highest and also most difficult in choral music…they should direct their efforts to producing really worthy works.” (Dwight (May 12, 1877): 24)
The April 24, 1877 concert was typical of Dwight’s comments. In fact, the critic of the Advertiser, after saying that this was their most “delightful” concert from all their “delightful” concerts wrote that the program would have been “nearly perfect” if only it included “one of the Greek tragedy choruses or double choruses of Mendelssohn to give it just a little more solidity.” (Advertiser (April 26, 1877):1, GB) This critic rated Rubinstein’s Morning and Lenz’s Wanderer’s Night Song the “choicest.” Italian Salad with Dr. Langmaid as the soloist was included, singing the solo “with fine judgment and skill.” The piece had been done the year before, (Zeller, Performance History) and would be done for President Hayes in two months. The “solo singers of the club” were featured with Mr. M. W. Whitney and Mr. John F. Winch singing the bass duet, “The Lord is a Man of War,” which was encored. Mr. J. E. Winch did the recit. in Lohengrin, Dr. Langmaid as mentioned, and the tenors Mr. George F. Parker and Mr. Barnabee who sang “with exquisite taste” and was also encored. “The Apollo Club sang in its very best style,” with added strength and vitality. “Their pronunciation was just about faultless…In conclusion, we must say the usual word, even if it be trite, about Mr. Lang’s admirable conducting, adding that listening to some of his piano-forte accompaniments was of itself a pure pleasure.” (Ibid)
A month later (June 7, 1877 at Tremont Temple) Dwight hails the choir for “a task worthy of its unsurpassed vocal material and trained perfection, in Mendelssohn’s Antigone, which was given entire at the last concert, with the connecting text of Sophocles read (in English), it is said, very finely, by Prof. Churchill, of Andover. All who were present speak of the performance altogether as the finest achievement of the Apollo, giving unqualified delight.” Dwight then finishes with another suggestion, saying that the work had been done well, “so far as possible without orchestra.”(Dwight (June 23, 1877): 47) The soloists were Messrs. Dr. Bullard, Powers, Wilkie, Lincoln, Babcock, Allen A. Brown, and Aiken, with Arthur Foote at the piano. (Johnson, First, 253)
APOLLO CLUB PUBLIC REHEARSALS.
In the mid-1870s “Monthly Rehearsals” at Horticultural Hall were advertised in the newspapers (Advertiser for one) The Advertiser ad appeared in the Saturday paper before the Tuesday evening event. The time is given and nothing else; no mention of tickets, no mention of limits on audience size, get there early and form a line. It would seem that these were both for their audience, but also for those who were not able to get tickets for the regular concert series. For February 1877 the date was the 6th., but then the ad in March said that there would be no “Monthly Rehearsals” because concerts would be given on April 24 and 26. (Advertiser (March 6, 1877): 1, GB)
PRESIDENT HAYES VISIT.
Rutherford B. Hayes. Wikipedia, accessed August 8, 2020.
“By request of the Governor of Massachusetts, the club gave a concert on June 23, 1877, to honor the President of the United States, [President Hayes] then on a visit to Boston.” (Elson, Musical Boston, 3)(Coburn, 584) Presented at the Music Hall, the program began with Prelude-Rink [sic] and Fugue-Bach, two organ pieces played by Mr. S. B. Whitney, and then the Club sang Mendelssohn’s To the Sons of Art. Mr. Eugene Thayer played Handel’s Organ Concerto No. 12 followed by The Long Day Closes-Sullivan, Italian Salad-Genee (a comic opera finale using random Italian musical terms. Genee wrote the libretto for Die Fledermaus by Strauss). Mr. Whitney
Choral Public Domain Library.
returned playing his own Pastorale and Fanfare-Lemmens, and the concert finished with the “Double Chorus” from Antigone by Mendelssohn; they had just performed this earlier in the month. (BPL Lang Prog.) The concert was to last no more than one hour. “The hall was filled with an exceptionally brilliant, appreciative, and withal, charming audience…The appointed hour was half-past eight, but the chief guest did not arrive until nearly a quarter before nine…As he appeared in the balcony the entire audience rose en masse and received him with a round of applause…The delicious Italian Salad was encored, the President himself joining in the demand. Dr. Langmaid took the solo part.” (Advertiser (June 27, 1877): 1, GB)
CECILIA-FIRST INDEPENDENT SEASON: 1876-1877.
This shows the three main concert halls used by the Cecilia. Lower left (green arrow) Music Hall; middle right (purple arrow) Tremont Temple; to the upper left of Tremont Temple, Horticultural Hall (dark blue arrow).
The Cecilia was formally organized as an independent body with an active membership increased to 125 singers on April 20, 1876, and in November rehearsals began under Lang who conducted its first concert on January 11, 1877 in Horticultural Hall, which included the first Boston performance of Gade’s The Crusaders, considered by many to be his best choral work due to its great “variety” and “fresh imaginative beauty.” Dwight’s review began: “The Cecilia, that fine chorus of mixed voices, which lent so much charm to the last two seasons of the Symphony Concerts, but which is now reorganized upon an independent footing—many of its members feeling not quite at home in singing with an orchestra—gave its first concert to its associate members, in Horticultural Hall, on Thursday evening, Jan. 11, and repeated the same programme one week later [18th.]. The choir has been considerably strengthened, till it numbers about 120 sweet and effective voices, finely balanced, and very carefully trained under their old director, Mr. B. J. Lang. A more perfect body of sopranos we have not yet heard; they sing with one voice. The Contraltos, too, sound very rich and musical; and it is a rare thing indeed to hear so many pure, sweet tenors, singing so smoothly, with no harsh disturbing element. The Bass part only, needs more strength and substance, though the voices seem to be all good.” (Dwight (February 3, 1877): 382) Four part-songs and five solos filled the first part; Lang was the accompanist for the songs; two of the choral pieces were encored. The Gade cantata filled the second half and was the “Piece de resistance.” For the accompaniment “we had only the piano, with the aid of a cabinet organ, played by Mr. Foote, to strengthen the bass part and hold out the notes in the religious choruses and in the recitatives and airs of Peter the Hermit. The effect, on the whole, was quite effective.” Dwight noted that B. J. had heard this cantata at the Birmingham Festival. The soloists were Miss Clara Doria (Soprano), Dr. S. W. Langmaid (Tenor) and Dr. E. C. Bullard (Bass). One of the highlights was the “Chorus of the Sirens, a most exquisite piece of melody and harmony for female voices. It was exquisitely sung and had to be repeated…on the whole, it was a great triumph for the Cecilia, and warrants hope of fine things hereafter.” (Ibid) Dwight seems to have attended both performances of this program, for he ends his review with: “In the second concert, the part-songs did not go quite so perfectly as in the first, but The Crusaders was sung even better.” (Ibid) This performance no doubt inspired another performance of the work June 1881, this time by the Schubert Club of Salem which was conducted by Lang’s friend, Mr. W. J. Winch. (Dwight (June 18, 1881): 101)
As it looked in 1867 at its opening. Harpers Magazine.
The second set of concerts was given in Horticultural Hall on March 19 and 22, 1877, and Dwight’s review began “The Cecilia, our choicest and almost our youngest chorus of mixed voices,” certainly a reflection of what B. J. had been able to achieve in a very short period. The review continued: “The high degree of perfection in their singing at their first concert surprised and delighted us; this time, though the programme was hardly so interesting as the first one, execution seemed to us equally, if not even more successful.” It addition to conducting, Lang also served as accompanist. (Dwight (April 14, 1877): 7) Mr. Charles R. Hayden, the uncle of Lillian Bailey, was the soloist. After two seasons of a cappella concerts, the choir used an orchestra in one concert, and the norm became orchestral accompaniment for one or two of the three to four-concert season.
The May 23 and 25, 1877 concerts by The Cecilia presented again Schumann’s Paradise and the Peri, “with a small orchestra as could find room [for] in a corner of Horticultural Hall. The choruses went very finely, particularly on the second evening, when the Hall was less hot and crowded…Miss Lillian Bailey, who had not quite recovered from a hoarse cold, but who sang the part in a fresh, charming voice and manner in the second performance…The performance as a whole was very much enjoyed, doing great honor to the Conductor, Mr. Lang, and to all concerned…We are curious to know what good work the Cecilia, now so happily established, will set itself about after the summer’s rest.” (Dwight (June 23, 1877): 47) Among the soloists were the Winch brothers.
In June 1877 the President of the choir, S. Lothrop Thorndike, made his report at the Annual Meeting, where he reviewed the Club’s first two years (1874-76) as part of the Harvard Musical Association Concerts, the spring 1876 reorganization of the choir as an independent group, and then the repertoire presented in the 1876-77 Season. The ranks of Associate Members were oversubscribed: “We were obliged to limit the number to two hundred and fifty, for the reason that Horticultural Hall, in which we proposed to give our first series of concerts, would not allow to more than this number (in addition to our active members) the two seats to which they would be entitled for each performance.” That first season “embraced six entertainments (three concerts, each repeated), the music to be of a lighter character and greater variety than that which is offered by the larger choral societies… The music has been given with piano accompaniment, excepting the Paradise and the Peri, for which we had a small orchestra.” Thorndike noted “the Club is no longer without rivals in its own particular field. Three years ago it took possession of an unoccupied ground…We are not alone. At least one other society in Boston has embarked upon the same mission. This is no reason for discouragement, but an added stimulus. There is work enough for all. Let us bid our rivals good-speed, and hope to receive from them alike greeting. By our friendly emulation, the good cause will, in any event, be the gainer.” (Dwight (September 15, 1877): 93 and 94) The name of the other choir was the Boylston Club which was directed by the singer George L. Osgood who had recently returned to Boston after a period of European study. Thorndike then went on to say: “The list of active members of the Club during the past year has comprised one hundred and thirty-one voices, thirty-seven soprano, twenty-eight also, thirty-one tenor, and thirty-five bass. The real working force, however, has consisted of not more than one hundred singers. From these figures two things are apparent: first, that we still have some active members whose indifference renders them useless, who must be replaced by more valuable material; and secondly, that the balance of parts needs correction. The rectification of the Club in these respects will be the first duty of the coming season.” (Ibid) This report, in full, was printed by Dwight in his Journal of Music, obviously so that the choir members and the whole Boston choral community would know the direction of this choir. It would seem that Lang was intent upon making the choir the very best possible. A year later Thorndike repeated the same theme: “I am sure that you will join me in taking this occasion to pay our compliments to the Boylston Club, to whose admirable concerts most of us have listened with delight. We owe each other the debt due from everyone to an able rival. Each club has done better from having the other in the field. In such contests, both sides are the winners.” (Dwight (September 14, 1878): 303)
CRAMER PIANOFORTE STUDIES.
In 1877 Oliver Ditson published 50 Selected Painoforte Studies of Cramer, arranged by Dr. Hans Von Bulow, translated and revised by B. J. Lang.
In 1877 Lang’s regular week was outlined in the Diary of his wife, Frances. “Mr. Lang’s regular weekly schedule was as follows;-he taught at his studio from 9-6 daily. His lunch brought to him from the house. Sunday A.M.s he always played the organ at church, and for many years had to undertake afternoon services also. Two evenings a week he regularly had rehearsals of the Cecilia Chorus and the Apollo Club (a male chorus). These groups each gave 3 concerts a season. Until the early 90s, Mr. Lang was preparing for, and giving pianoforte concerts, also occasionally organ recitals. He was constantly being asked to play at one affair or another. His interest in young musicians as well as many of the great ones who came to this country was inexhaustible. Every day was a full one.” (Diary 2, Fall 1877) Frances was busy with the house. She noted that Julia Nolan, their cook was paid $5 per week while their chambermaid was paid $4. (Ibid)
APOLLO CLUB SEASON 1877-1878.
By now a pattern had developed. The fall rehearsals would be spent preparing for the spring concerts. Possibly informal presentations were given specially invited audiences, but the fall months seem to have been used to train new members in the Club’s ways and to get by all the note pounding that was probably still needed.
Dwight reviewed concerts given on January 9 and 15, 1878 “before immense and most enthusiastic audiences. We know not when we ever listened to those seventy voices musical and manly voices with so much pleasure. The singing, the execution and expression of the music, was beyond praise. And there were more things of a substantial, noble character than has been usual in programmes mostly made up of part-songs.” Such things as William Winch’s “admirable singing of Schubert’s Erl-King, and the “Andante and Variations, and the Presto, from Beethoven’s Kreutzer …The other was a pleasing Romance in B flat, Op. 27 by Saint-Saens for violin, pianoforte and organ. “These programming changes earned the comment: “We said we never listened to the Apollo with more pleasure. We did not hear them sing the Antigone music last year, which must have been a greater treat. Will they not give it again?” (Dwight, Jan. 19, 1878) “Athenian,” wrote of these concerts: They “were two of the most thoroughly enjoyable concerts ever given by the Club, which, by the way, has now reached its seventh season.” (Brainard’s (February 1878): 29) he was so pleased that he listed the complete program and the performers for each piece
Early in his conductorship, Lang effected some changes that would later be adopted by other groups: “He was also an innovator in other aspects of concert presentation: for example, he experimented with the use of heavy paper for programs so they would not rustle in the hands of the audience, and had the texts of vocal compositions printed in the program in such a way as to avoid page turns at particularly quiet passages.” (Ledbetter, 10)
Dwight again makes his suggestion that orchestral accompaniment would enhance the Apollo’s performances when he refers in an April 27, 1878 review to a cantata which “doubtless the orchestral accompaniments, which were merely sketched on the piano, well as that was played by Mr. PETERSILIA, would have placed the whole work in a stronger light.” One wonders if Lang had spoken to Dwight about his desire to have orchestral accompaniments?
Dwight’s wish to hear Antigone was granted within six months together with his suggestion of orchestral accompaniment. “The concert of May 7, in the Tremont Temple, was entirely devoted to the performance of a single work, -but that perhaps the noblest work existing for a chorus of male voices: Mendelssohn’s music to Antigone of Sophocles…And it is the first of Mendelssohn’s creations of this kind, and the freshest. It was conceived in a high moment of his genius and executed while the mood possessed him…This time it was made complete by bringing in the full Orchestra, which added vastly to the inspiring grandeur of the work, and to the clear comprehension of it. The orchestra had been well drilled by Mr. Lang…The instrumentation throughout is singularly beautiful and chaste, and with the voices frequently sublime. The rich and manly voices of the Club, some seventy in number, perfectly well balanced, and trained to remarkable perfection, were admirably suited for such music, and the performance was almost without a flaw. It was the crowning achievement of the club. Would there were more such music for them!” (Dwight (June 8, 1878): 247)
Dwight reprinted an announcement of the forthcoming 1878-79 Season.“The Apollo Club, Mr. Lang, director, (as we learn by the Courier) will give the first concert of its eighth season in Tremont Temple, December 6. Subsequent concerts will be given in Music Hall, December 9, February 19 and 24, and two in May. The committee make[s] no announcements of the works to be presented. But the associate members may rest assured, had they any need of that assurance, that the programme will be made up with the care that has been expended on them, that the rehearsals will be through, and the performances quite up to the club’s high standard. The list of applicants for associate membership now numbers over three hundred names.”(Dwight (October 26, 1878): 327)
The third pair of concerts on May 15 and 20, 1879 ended the season.”For both, there was the usual crowded and enthusiastic audience, and on both occasions, the splendid body of finely trained male voices, full of esprit de corps, seemed, if that were possible, to surpass their best previous instances of well-nigh perfect execution.” The first concert used mainly piano accompaniment with the addition of a string quartet for the Schumann Piano Quintet in E-flat and to accompany one extended choral piece. The second concert repeated three pieces from the first and added six new pieces that used orchestral accompaniment. B. J.’s song Ho, Pretty Page with words by Thackeray was sung by Mr. J. F. Winch, and Dwight’s review said it “catches and reproduces the fine pathetic humor of the verses, and is a fresh, genial, fascinating bit of music. As sung by Mr. Winch it took the audience almost off their feet, and had to be repeated.”(Dwight (May 24, 1879): 86) The Daily Evening Traveler of May 8, 1878 reported: “The club has not sung more artistically this season, the orchestra played with a finesse and unison altogether uncommon, and seemed to have been much longer preparing its part than was the fact. A great share of this excellence is due to Mr. Lang, whose guiding hand and thorough care were once more appreciable in their highest value.” (Scrapbook 1887-1906)
CECILIA-SECOND INDEPENDENT SEASON: 1877-1878.
Within six months Dwight recorded an example of this friendly rivalry. The December 6 and 13, 1877 concerts held at Tremont Temple by The Cecilia had a first half of short works and piano pieces. Arthur Foote had arranged the “Overture” to Cantata # 28 by Bach that he played with Mr. J. A. Preston; they also performed the Variations on a Theme by Beethoven (“Trio” from Piano Sonata, Op. 31, No. 3) by St. Saens. The second half was a cantata by Heinrich Hoffmann: The Fair Melusina. By coincidence, the Boylston Club’s December concert also included a cantata on a Mermaid/Watery Nymph subject, George Smart’s Bride of Dunkerron. Both choirs were praised by Dwight: The Cecilia “showed critical and careful training-indeed a marked improvement on the year before,” while the Boylston Club “was richer in numbers and in quality of voices than ever before, and sang with a precision, spirit, taste and nice light and shade, more honorable to themselves and their accomplished Conductor, Mr. Geo. L. Osgood.” (Dwight (January 19, 1878): 167) The Courier reviewer found the Hofmann cantata “dull and tiresome,” but he did find Foote’s Bach transcription to be “very fine,” as it brought “the public into a closer relation with great classic works.” The reviewer’s bias to older music is shown by his description of current composition as “of more or less chaotic music-writing.” However, the Gazette of December 8, 1877 found the Hofmann to be “the feature of the concert. It is a charming composition, abounding in poetic feeling and dramatic effect.” All in all “the entertainment was the most generally commendable the organization has given us.” This review has Foote and Lang playing the St. Saens. A third review, headed “The Vocal Clubs” praised the two pieces for two pianos, commented that the “choruses showed critical and careful training-indeed a marked improvement on the year before,” but felt that the Hofmann had “little that is strikingly original, or much above innocent, agreeable commonplace.” The soloists “all sang creditably. Dr. Bullard truly like an artist.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1)
BIRTH OF ROSAMOND.
On February 4th. “Lel drove out in the sleigh,-and to my horror, returned an hour later, with a broken arm. Dr. Hodges was sent for. Lel was put to bed in the upper front guest room. The bell rings constantly. Flowers inquiries, etc. etc. Two days later: February 6th. My little girl baby was born this morning at 8.45. I waked at 4, called Mrs. Pratt [her nurse]. Luther [B. J.’s “man”] went for Dr. Morton, and all was over. Flowers have literally poured into the house, also letters and cards. It is almost frightful. Baby is to be named Rosamond.” (Diary 2, February 4 and 6, 1878) On February 19th. Dr. Hodges allowed B. J. to attend part of the Apollo rehearsal. The singers were quite surprised to see him and “they shouted and gave him a great ovation. Of course, he stayed there only a short time, and then returned home to sit with me and talk about it. And then wonder of wonders, we heard male voices singing outside, under our window,-and it was the Apollo Club. It was really too much. Lel opened the window and called out,-‘God bless you, thank you.’ Then they cheered and sang two more lovely songs. Lel thanked them again, calling out, ‘Mrs. Lang sends her love to you.'” (Diary 2, February 19, 1878) “The baby laughs, seems happy all day long and sleeps perfectly, so I do too. The Apthorps think that she looks like the Holbein Madonna.” (Ibid)
Lang did not conduct the next concert given on Feb. 8, 1878. Mr. Arthur Foote conducted that performance as Lang “had the misfortune to be thrown from a sleigh, breaking the upper bone of his left arm.” (Dwight (February 16, 1878): 182) “Foote replaced him at the last minute and, among other things, conducted Mendelssohn’s Athalie. He was master of the situation, at ease with the music and the technical demands of conducting according to witnesses to the performance.” (Tara, Foote, 105) For this February 8th. performance, the Mozart “Overture” to Magic Flute was performed on two pianos, eight hands by Sumner, Tucker, Preston and Foote as was also the Mendelssohn “Overture” to Athalie and the “Priests War March.” Apthorp felt that the music in Athalie “cannot be mentioned in the same breath with his Antigone or Oedipus...It is unobtrusive, agreeable music, and, if rarely powerful, it is never dull and stupid. The performance was very fine, and reflected great credit both upon chorus and conductor.” The Gazette review noted that “Mr. Parker’s club brought out Athalie in Chickering Hall January 1, 1864, and repeated it in January 1870. On the first occasion, Mr. Thomas B. Frothingham read the narrative portions of the text. The South Boston Choral Union also gave the work in Watt’s Hall some six or seven years ago.” The solos were “generally well sung… The choruses were, for the most part, also well done, the most notable defect being a tendency to fall from the pitch.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1) Dwight reported: “Mr. Lang having happily recovered the use of his broken left arm, sufficiently at least to conduct, with that arm in a sling, -the Club on Thursday evening, March 14, gave the promised repetition of their concert of Feb. 8.” The main point of the review was how much better the pieces sounded with their original orchestral accompaniment, the Feb. 8 concert having been done only with piano accompaniment. “Not only did the instruments lend color, vividness, intensity, to what some before found rather monotonous and tame; they also brought out many unnoticed points and features into the light.” The orchestra was of about 35 pieces who “played with care, the noisier instruments being well subdued under the conductor’s sway; so that the voices in that resonant hall (Tremont Temple) were heard to excellent advantage… The prejudice, hitherto existing in our vocal clubs, against singing with an orchestra, must now, we think, confess itself unfounded; and it will henceforth pass for granted that the production of a great composition in its integrity, vocal and instrumental, is of too much consequence to be sacrificed to the perhaps natural, but blind desire of singers to have all sounds kept aloof which might divide the attention claimed exclusively for their own precious voices.” (Dwight (March 30, 1878): 207) A review of this second performance noted that an “overflowing audience” heard the fruits of “Mr. Lang’s careful and studious direction [which] resulted in a splendid giving of all the numbers…The soloists sang, if possible, better than ever before…We are sure everyone enjoyed the concert greatly.” These February and March 1878 performances were probably the first given by the group in Tremont Temple-their previous concerts had been at Horticultural Hall. (BPL Lang prog., Vol. 2) The Apollo Club also began to use Tremont Temple as a concert site at this time with a concert on June 4, 1878. (Ibid)
For the Friday evening, May 17 and Wednesday evening May 22, 1878 concerts at Tremont Temple, Acis and Galatea by Handel was given. Dwight devoted a page and a half to a detailed comment on each of the sections, as this was the first complete performance in Boston. However, he lamented that only the piano was used for the accompaniment. “As it was, it had to be given with such meager piano accompaniment as is put beneath the sketchy score in the edition of the Handel-Gesellschaft. “As it is, well as the present accompaniment was played by Mr. Lang, with able assistant, Mr. Foote, many of the airs must have seemed thin, long-spun and full of repetition to many in the audience… It was a rare treat as it was, and two audiences came away upon the whole delighted, their minds enriched with ever fresh flowers of musical fancy which will haunt them a long while.”(Dwight (June 8, 1878): 246) The soloists included Lillian Bailey, Ita Welsh, Dr. Langmaid and John F. Winch. No reviews are preserved in the Cecilia Program Collection, Vol. 1.
CECILIA-THIRD INDEPENDENT SEASON: 1878-1879.
Dwight printed in October of 1878 a short announcement of the upcoming season that listed Cecilia concerts at Tremont Temple, concerts by the Boylston Club under George L. Osgood, “and now a new society, the Mendelssohn Choral Union, with numerous voices of both sexes, has begun rehearsals in the spacious hall of the Young Men’s Christian Association. Mr. Stephen Emery has been secured as conductor… We have not learned whether it is their intention this season to give public concerts.” (Dwight (October 26, 1878): 327) This new choir had A. D. Turner as the accompanist and such Boston musical notables as S. B. Whitney, J. C. D. Parker and E. Tourjee as Board members. (Ditson-Musical Record (November 2, 1878): Vol. 1, No. 5)
A month later Dwight announced the program for the late November pair of Cecilia concerts, November 25 and 29: two works for eight hands—”Allegro Vivace” from Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony played by Sumner, Foote, Preston and Fenollosa and Les Contrastes by Moscheles played by Lang, Sumner, Foote and Preston with the major choral work being Toggenburg by Rheinberger. (Dwight (November 23, 1878): 342) The Rheinberger was an American premier. (Dwight (August 16, 1879): 134) One review noted:” The club has given much brighter entertainments. It is hoped it will never give a duller one.” The Mendelssohn was described as a piece that gives “more delight to the players than to the listeners,” but the Moscheles, because it was an original piece for eight hands, “was far more enjoyable than the symphony extract.” The Rheinberger “has a doleful plot…The pathos of the story is well expressed in the music, and that is about the only sentiment there is to be found there.” However, the soloists “did good service,” and “the choral execution throughout the concert was very fine.” Just the opposite attitude was expressed by another reviewer who felt that “a distinguishing feature of the programme was the superior vocal character of the selections sung by the club.” Of the Rheinberger, “the music, as a whole is expressive, the pathetic portions being especially strong in this respect. Rheinberger is certainly one of the best vocal writers of the day.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1)
The Friday, February 7, 1879 concert at Tremont Temple was “the finest concert [given] thus far in the course of its three seasons.” Two contrasting cantatas were given-the second part of Bach’s Ich hatte viel Bekummerniss and Gade’s Crusaders; the Bach had been performed during the second season with the HMA (1875-1876) and the Gade had been performed during the choir’s first independent season (1876-1877). “An excellent orchestra was provided, with Mr. J. A. Preston at the organ, and the chorus of mixed voices was in fine condition.” In the Gade, which was its first local performance with instruments, the orchestra “put an entirely new life into it. Indeed, instrumentation is Gade’s strong side always, and to leave out the orchestra in such a work is to leave out the soul of it…Altogether it was a complete and signally successful performance. The concert was repeated on Monday evening, but unfortunately without the orchestra, it being impossible to procure one on that evening; so that the accompaniments were represented on the pianoforte (Mr. Tucker) and the organ (Mr. Preston), very creditably, it must be said.” (Dwight (February ??, 1879): 30) The Choir’s President mentioned in his Annual Report that this second performance with piano and organ accompaniment “had to be given, on the score of expense, and the contrast with the previous evening was depressing,-another occasion to point the moral that it will not answer to divorce works wedded to instruments from their lawful alliance, and a hopeful sign, in that the violence done was felt by everyone in the hall.” (Dwight (August 16, 1879): 134) the review in the Post began with the comment that this concert was given “in the presence of a large and fashionable audience, which gave frequent evidence of its appreciation during the evening…The chorus work was excellent throughout, and gave ample evidence of the careful instruction of Mr. Lang.” The reviewer in the Advertiser wrote: “Last night’s performance was the first in Boston with an orchestra. It is needless to say that the manifold beauties of the work were greatly increased in effect in consequence…The performances of all concerned were of a high order. The chorus did itself great credit, mainly to Mr. Lang’s skillful training and direction. The orchestra was large, and included many of the best resident musicians.” Another review said: “The orchestra deserves warm praise for its delicacy, unity and correctness.” This concert was repeated on Monday evening, February 10, but with no orchestra; instead, Mr. H. G. Tucker was at the piano and Mr. John A. Preston at the organ.
Handel was again featured in the spring concert of 1879 when the first half of the April 21 concert “consisted of copious selections from Handel’s L’Allegro ed il Pensieroso, which were given with full orchestra and with fine effect. Mr. Sumner presided at the organ.” (Dwight (May 10, 1879): 79) In a display of professional cordiality, Mr. George L. Osgood, conductor of their rival choir, the Boylston Club, was one of the soloists, as he was identified “with the production of this particular work on both sides of the water.” (Dwight (August 16, 1879): 134) As Osgood had sung this work in Germany, he decided to sing the “Trumpet Aria” in German that caused letters to the various papers. In a reply sent to the Transcript he defended this decision by saying that “the English vowels are mostly close and dull in this aria. The German vowels, on the other hand, are of the brightest description.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1) Based on the comments of another reviewer, Osgood should not have bothered. “The trumpets were, as usual, diabolically dissonant. If that was to represent ”mirth,” I would prefer to enjoy myself in some other manner.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1, article dated April 29, 1879, Boston, Mass) This same article did give high marks to the soprano section: “I noticed throughout the evening and especially in L’Allegro, how easily the soprano voices gave their phrases, even when they were in alt. Every voice seemed to tell. It was not, as in some clubs., where, when a high passage occurs, a ”forlorn hope,” of perhaps twelve veterans, constitute the storming party, and make a desperate attack on the heights, while the remainder of the army stand quiet, and wait for them to ”come down,” before they resume singing. It is an exciting moment when these daring spirits scale the mount or rather mount the scale.” (Op. cit.) The second half of the concert included part-songs, solos, “the clever comic glee of Humpty Dumpty by Caldicott, which was gleesomely received; and Gade’s cantata Spring Greeting, in which of course the orchestra was all-important.” The Courier review made reference to another Letter to its Editor from the aptly named “Deadhead” which took Lang to task for not encoring Humpty Dumpty. The writer noted the persistent applause to which Lang dismissed their request “with a superior bow which reminded them that the name of the glee was Humpty Dumpty! That it was in English! That it was written only a short time ago, by a man who is not even dead yet, and if they liked it they were entirely wrong and certainly should not be encouraged.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1)
The final concert of the season given at Tremont Temple on May 8, 1879 was the complete music to Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream with orchestra, women’s choir, solos and “an admirable reading of the play by Mr. George Riddle, one of the teachers of elocution in Harvard University” (Dwight (May 24, 1879): 85) who was lauded for his presentation which ranged from the roaring of Nick Bottom to the humor of Puck. The choral contribution was only two choruses for women’s voices-the soloists were Mrs. Hooper and Miss Gage. “Of all the readings with the music of the Mendelssohn-Shakespeare fairy play that we have had, this as a whole was much the most successful.” (Dwight (May 24, 1879): 85) All the other reviewers agreed: one called the concert “an entertainment of rare beauty,” while another wrote that “it may be fairly said that the Cecilia outdid themselves last evening.” Lang was praised for his “careful training,” and his “good taste and refined judgment [which] was everywhere made apparent.” Riddle was also praised for his “discrimination of the various characters,” while the orchestra generally played “with spirit and accuracy” except for “some slight inadvertencies” such as the “troublesome woodwind” who displayed their “chronic tendency to splatter.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1)
Dwight printed the report of the President of the Cecilia together with an introduction of four paragraphs. After tracing the early history of glee singing, German part-singing groups, and informal groups that met to sing masses and cantatas, he cites the new choral societies of mixed voices who have ”made it possible to bring out really important works by the best masters, and to do them justice… they (Cecilia and Boylston Club) do not sell tickets, they sing to invited audiences and in a friendly atmosphere; their treasury is kept full by subscribing ”associate members,” and sympathizing volunteers and backers, who delight to ”assist” at concerts and rehearsals..” He then congratulates the groups for using orchestras were appropriate. “In one or two instances a work has been given first with orchestra with triumphant effect, and then repeated (on grounds of economy) with nothing but pianoforte accompaniment, and the second performance fell so flat that everybody felt that the orchestra must be a sine qua non from this time forward.” The report itself by President S. Lothrop Thorndike covered the events of the group’s third season. (Dwight (August 16, 1879): 133 and 134)
The 1879-80 Season had a new element. “Since its first year the club had given its concerts in Tremont Temple, but during the summer of 1879 that hall was destroyed by fire and the Cecilia was driven for the next season to the Music Hall. It was felt to be a disadvantage. The Music Hall was too large for the club and the kind of work it had taken upon itself to do. But there was no help for it, and in the Music Hall were given the four concerts of the fourth season – and the number of active members was increased to 150 to partly compensate for the size of the Hall.” The original size of the choir when first organized was “about a hundred picked voices.” (Cecilia program clippings May 10, 1882 concert-BPL Collection) For the 1879-80 season, the Annual Assessment for Associate members was raised to $15 and additional Associates were admitted-this was due to the added costs of performing in the Music Hall. (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1)
This image appears in a chapter from the H and H Society History covering the years 1891-92. However, the darker beard and more hair would seem to place it much earlier. He would seem to be in his early forties. Bradbury, History of the Handel and Haydn Society, 1890-1897, between pages 24 and 25.