APOLLO CLUB SEASON 1878-1879. 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 reputation of the Club after just seven seasons was such that non-Boston papers were also posting reviews. The Springfield Republican ran a lengthy review of the December 9, 1878 concert (December 9 rather than December 6, and at the Music Hall rather than Tremont Temple, as Dwight had announced)-it was signed by Baritione. Such phrases as “A large, well-balanced and artistic chorus..such immense power…nicety in pianissimo…It is so seldom that a mixed chorus gives anything like satisfaction…As a rule rather than the exception, the average chorus is apt to be unevenly balanced, and the persistent sopranos gather up all their available lung-power and screech the other parts pretty nearly out of sight.” The reviewer was aware of the “professional talent” of such singers as “Whitney, John and W. J. Winch, Barnabee, Wilkie and others…Mr. B. J. Lang, who is such a thorough artist, and so eminently fitted for the position, is director, and his perfect control over the chorus is something remarkable, and not unlike Theodore Thomas’s masterly handling of his orchestra.” Also mentioned was the Serenade by Abt where the “tenor solo taken by Mr. Want, was lovely and sung with faultless expression.” The review ends with with the suggestion that the Orpheus Club (one guesses that this is a male-voice choir in Springfield) “Take the Apollo for a pattern.” (Springfield Republican (December 13, 1878): 2, GB) 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 concerts 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
Program: Eighth Season, Fifth Concert, May 15, 1879. Johnston Collection.
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) ARLINGTON CLUB. Lang certainly did not have the monopoly on male-voice singing with the Apollo Club. Around 1879 a male voice choir called the Arlington Club was begun and its first conductor was Lang’s friend and associate, Mr. W. J. Winch. Later George Whitefield Chadwick led the choir, and it was reported in 1884 that this choir had given “a series of concerts during each of the past five years.” (Boston Musical Year Book, Vol. 1 1883-84, 57) However, in the 1884-85 edition of the Boston Musical Year Book it was noted, “the Arlington Club did not reorganize.” (BMYB 1884-85, 56) EUTERPE. Early in 1879 Lang was involved in the founding of a new performing group-Euterpe. The officers of the group included Lang as Vice-President, Apthorp as Treasurer with Lang’s pupil, H. G. Tucker as one of the Directors. (Dwight, February 1, 1879, p. 21) For each concert a different four-person committee chose the music. For the first concert held on Wednesday evening January 15, 1879 the committee included Charles C. Perkins, J. C. D. Parker, George L. Osgood and Jules Eichberg. The committee for the Second Concert included B/ J. Lang, John Orth, J. K. Paine and W. S. Fenollosa while the third group included W. F. Apthorp and H. G. Tucker (both Lang pupils), and Lang was again part of the fourth committee. The season was one concert per month; January through April 1879. For the Second Season five concerts were schedules running December 1879 through April 1880. Committees were not named, but instead F. H. Jenks was listed as the Secretary on the Season Announcement. The Third season 1880-81 also included five concerts on Wednesday nights at 7:45PM performed at the Meionaon (part of Tremont Temple), and the repertoire was mainly string quartets. The Fourth Season of four concerts, November 9, 1881 through February 1, 1882 were all preformed by the Beethoven Quartet, and the first two concerts used Camilla Urso as the First Violin player. In June 1882 the officers were: President, Charles C. Perkins; Vice-President, B. J. Lang; Secretary, F. H. Jenks; Treasurer, Wm. F. Apthorp; Directors, Julius Eichberg, A. A. Brown, John Orth, W. Burr Jr., Hamilton Osgood, S. B. Whitney, J. C. D. Parker, and H. G. Tucker. “It is an understood thing that all of the money collected shall be expended on concerts-or as nearly as practical-allowing for outside expenses.” (Elson, Musical Boston, 4) For the Sixth Season of four concerts, December 12, 1883 until March 12, 1884 performed at Apollo Hall, 151 Tremont Street, two were played by the Campanari Quartet and the other two by the Beethoven Club. The Seventh Season of four concerts was also performed at the Apollo Hall and ran from January 7, 1885 until March 25, 1885. For the Eight Season 1885-86 a subscription was sold for $7 which gave you three tickets for each concert. For this season B. J. Lang was listed as Vice-President, W. F. Apthorp as Treasurer, and F. H. Jenks continued as Secretary. (HMA Program Collection) PIANO RECITALS. Lang presented two piano recitals during March 1879. “Mr. B. J. Lang’s two concerts at Mechanics’ Hall, on Thursday afternoons, March 6 and 20, were choice and somewhat unique in character. Both were very fully attended, especially the last, and by the most refined, appreciative sort of audience.” (Dwight (March 29, 1879): 54) The first concert opened with Beethoven’s Piano Sonata, Opus 81 played by Miss Jessie Cochrane, continued with eight songs sung by Mr. W. J. Winch including B. J.’s The Two Roses, and finished with Rubinstein’s Concerto No. 3, Opus 45 with B. J. as the soloist. Miss Cochrane was a pupil of Lang’s and she had also studied in Europe with von Bulow. Lang had played the Rubinstein with orchestra seven years ago-this time the accompaniment was at a second piano played by Mr. W. S. Fenollosa. “It gave full scope for all the vigor, fire, and finished, brilliant virtuosity of Mr. Lang, who, we are sure, brought out all the soul and all the interesting detail of it…Mr. Lang’s mastery of its exacting difficulties was supreme.” (Ibid) Lang’s own song was “a graceful, dainty fancy, [and] was heartily appreciated.” (Ibid) The second concert opened with the first Boston performance of a Trio in G Minor with piano by Hans von Bronsart, then active in Leipzig. “Mr. Lang was at his best in it.” (Ibid) “This proved a work of rare beauty, and the three artists gave to their interpretations their very best endeavors.” (Journal (March 21, 1879): 3, GB) Mr. Winch offered another set of songs including Lang’s Absense and Her I Love, but neither was mentioned in Dwight’s review. However, the Journal wrote: “His fine efforts contributed very largely to the success of concert, which, in all its features, was excellent.” (Ibid) Beethoven’s Grand Trio, Opus 97 completed the concert. The Beethoven “which was superbly played by Messrs. Lang, Allen and Fries, brought the delightful entertainment to a conclusion.” (Ibid) The Globe reported: “The final recital for the season, by Mr. B. J. Lang, was given yesterday in Mechanics’ Hall before an audience that more than filled it comfortably, and which was as appreciative as it was large.” (Globe (March 21, 1879): 4) The assisting artists were Mr. C. N. Allen (violin), Mr. Wulf Fries (cello), and Mr. W. J. Winch (singer). The reviewer wrote: “Few ballads have been sung this winter so well and so pleasantly as were those which came so easily and in such round tones from his lips.” (Ibid) “Mr. Lang’s reputation as a pianist is so well established that it is almost needless to say anything about his part of the performance, but he deserves the warmest commendation for what he did.” (Ibid) See below: HMA Program Collection.
APOLLO CLUB SEASON 1879-1880. Mendelssohn’s companion work to Antigone, Aedipus at Colonus was given in January of 1880 with orchestra accompaniment and “with the connecting readings being given by Mr. Howard M. Ticknor (instructor of elocution at Harvard College, and a bass in our club)”(Baker, 10). “It is good proof of the intrinsic power and charm of the music and the old Greek tragedy, and of the excellence of the interpretation, that the whole audience, crowding the Music Hall, listened with unflagging interest, and with frequent tokens of delight, to a work so far removed from all our modern tastes and ways of thinking, and so uniformly grave and tragical, in so monotonous a key of color and feeling…The Apollo Club never sang anything better, and that is high praise indeed.” (Dwight (Feb. 14, 1880): 30) The Musical Herald review began: “The Apollo Club gave one of its finest concerts…The club in this concert attained a higher plane than ever before: their work was noble.” The solo work of Mr. C. E. Hay and the reading by Mr. Ticknor were praised. “He kept the individuality of each character so distinct,” that anyone one in the audience could easily follow which character was speaking.” (Musical Herald (February 1880): 31) The February 19 and 24 concerts were reviewed with an opening sentence that said the concerts were “one of the most interesting it has given. The singing was in all respects most admirable, -an improvement even on the best efforts of the past. The pure, sweet, manly quality of voices; the prompt and sure attack; the precision; the fine phrasing, delicate light and shade, distinct enunciation; and the pervading fire and spirit, seemed to leave nothing to be desired in respect to execution and interpretation. The selections, too, though mainly part-songs were uncommonly interesting.” A string ensemble was used to accompany Schubert’s Song of the Spirits Over the Waters. Also programmed were three movements from Hummel’s Septet for strings and winds: “the performance gave great pleasure, and the Scherzo had to be repeated.” The final accolade was that “Mr. Lang has certainly the choicest of materials for a male chorus under his control, and he has trained them to a rare perfection of ensemble. There is no need of saying that the Music Hall was crowded,” (Dwight (March 15, 1879): 45) The March 9 concert contained mainly short pieces, and the guest soloist was Miss Hubbell from Grace Church in New York City. “The programme was miscellaneous, containing things of a high artistic order, and nothing commonplace.The singing seemed to us extremely good, -almost too good, that is to say, too daintily refined for certain things, say ”drinking songs,” which owe much of their charm to a certain off-hand freedom.” The next to the last piece was a duet by B. J. entitled The Sea King, and it was sung by Dr. Ballard and Mr. J. F. Winch. Dwight’s review said the “duet is in the rollicking old English bravura style, with plenty of ”go” in it, and made a lively effect as sung by the two basses.”(Dwight (April 10, 1880): 62) “We are hearty admirers of some of Mr. Lang’s compositions, especially those of the German lied form. This is rather in the old English vein, florid and full of bravura, without saying a great deal. The mock-heroic Flow Gently, Deva, and much of Arne’s and Purcell’s music are in this style. We do not value the genre very highly.” (Musical Herald (April 1880): 93) Also on the program was Dudley Buck’s The Nun of Nidaros-this was the first work by an American included except for Lang’s own works. This piece was repeated the same year at the late November concerts; G. Schirmer had published the work with a copyright date of 1879, and a “New and Revised Edition” was copyrighted in 1905. “During the 1880s Americans began to appear on Apollo Club programs with great regularity. Buck-King Olaf’s Christmas. December 1881 Whiting-March of the Monks of Bangor. April 1881 Chadwick-The Viking’s Last Voyage. April 26, 1881. Conducted by the composer. Paine-Excerpts from Scenes from Oedipus Tyrannus. February 1882 Paine-Summons to Love, Opus 33 (Written for Apollo)1882 Paine-Radway’s Ready Relief. April 1883 J. C. D. Parker-The Blind King. April 1883 Whiting-Free Lances. 1883 At the Annual Meeting the Hon. John Phelps Putnam was elected President, Robert M. Morse, Jr.,-Vice President, Arthur Reed-Clerk (he also served as the Treasurer for the Cecilia), Committee on Music-E. C. Bullard for three years and Warren Davenport for two years. (Musical Herald (July 1880) 164)
CECILIA-FOURTH INDEPENDENT SEASON: 1879-1880. After beginning rehearsals on Thursday, October 2, on Monday, December 22, 1879, the choir presented the Boston premier of Max Bruch’s Odysseus with Charles Adams as the soloist (Johnson, First, 96). “The performance of this remarkable work complete, with chorus, male and female solo voices, and orchestra, in the Music Hall, was a new feather in the cap of the Cecilia, and a notable event of our present musical season. It had been very thoroughly and critically rehearsed under Mr. B. J. Lang, and in all its length, with all its difficulties, it was in the main very satisfactorily done.” (Dwight (January 3, 1880): 6) The Courier review thought the work “thoroughly interesting, from overture to finale–filled with melodic forms and sumptuous orchestral coloring,” but noted the “comparative coldness of the audience… The orchestra played fairly, and Mr. Lang directed the performance with his habitual ease and smoothness.” One member of the “cold audience” who singed himself “Growler” wrote to the Musical Editor of the Courier that in the Bruch he “had looked for bread, and they had given what to me was a stone.” His chief complaint was the lack of melody, and he noted that the Advertiser review “started out with the assertion that the chief characteristic of the work was its expressive melodiousness.” “Is the gift of melody utterly lost, and must we for the future be satisfied with the Wagnerian Endless Melody.” The Musical Editor”s reply was to hear the work again, and he noted that Berlioz “declared that absolute beauty would never be positively determined.” The Musical Herald review noted that Miss Louie Homer “met with fine success in the very taxing solos assigned to Penelope, although nervousness led her once or twice into false intonation…She has a fine voice, and it has evidently been well trained…The Cecilia ought certainly to repeat a work of such importance.”(Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1) On November 25 and 29 1879 Cecilia presented Rheinberger’s Tottenburg which Brainard’s Musical World found “admirable.” (Brainard (January 1879): 13) There were two Boston correspondents for Brainard’s at this time. One was “Athenian” and the other “Dix.” Both seemed to give evenhanded comments about Lang’s groups and concerts. In the same paragraph which mentioned Cecilia, The Boylston Cub conducted by George L. Osgood and a new group, the Mendelssohn Choral Union conducted by Mr. S. A. Emery were mentioned. This latter group also had a large orchestra (50 to 60 members) which “had been organized in connection with the chorus.” (Ibid) A final goup, the Church Music Association was noted. The second concert of the season was given on Friday, February 27, 1880, and “had the usual eager audience, filling the Music Hall.” The first work (its Boston premier) was Bach’s cantata Bleib bei uns (Bide With Us) with solos by Clara Poole, Dr. Langmaid, and Frank Young, and the accompaniment by George W. Sumner, piano and John A. Preston, organ. (Johnson, First, 12) In 1899, almost twenty years later Apthrop remembered that “the critics were singlemindedly bored. One critic naively confessed himself thus: ‘We again feel compelled to say that Bach’s cantatas do not belong to the genre of compositions in which one takes a sensuous delight.'” (803) That was followed by Mendelssohn’s setting Judge Me O God, and then selections from Athalia. The second part “was secular and composed of choice part-songs and glees… All these pieces were sung to a charm.” The Courier reviewer noted that the Bach cantata “gave very little satisfaction to the audience,” but that “the second part of the programme was of a secular character, and was all, being of a high order, worth listening to.” Included were Gade’s Spring Song for female voices and Stewart’s glee, The Bells of St. Michael’s Tower. Lang did not repeat his mistake of not allowing encores in this program. “The part-song by Gade was repeated in answer to an uncertain demand and the glee by Stewart in response to an unquestionable wish.” Another reviewer found the Bach “a bit hard to understand and enjoy.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1) Dwight finished his review with a plug for the next concert: “The main feature of the next concert, April 12, will be Schumann’s Manfred Music, with orchestra, and a reading of portions of Byron’s text.” (Dwight (March 13, 1880): 47) Five weeks later his review appeared. The concert had been postponed from April 12th. because of Lang’s illness. “The first performance here of Schumann’s Manfred Music, in the third concert of the season (Saturday April 24, 1880), intrinsically considered, was a musical event second to no other of the year past.” The orchestral numbers “were finely executed by the orchestra, obedient to the baton of Mr. Lang, whose re-appearance after a severe attack of illness was the signal for hearty congratulations… We must congratulate Mr. Lang and the Cecilia, and Mr. Ticknor (narrator), upon the excellent presentation of so difficult a work…Whatever of gloom and depression the poetry and music of the Manfred left upon the audience was happily relieved by the short, and for the most part hopeful, joyful music of Max Bruch’s cantata Fair Ellen, of which the chorus work was rich and euphonious, and the solos were well sung by Miss Abbott and Dr. Bullard.” (Dwight (May 8, 1880): 78) The entire work was also performed four years later by the BSO under Henschel. (Johnson, 334) Apthorp, in a three-page review in The Bostonian of April 29, 1880 wrote that “It is not often that one can so thoroughly enjoy a great work at the first hearing, as we did the Manfred.” He noted that some numbers had been heard before, “but the greater part of the work was wholly new.” The music consisted of the overture and fifteen sections; “some melo-dramatic, some regularly musical in form…The performance by the Cecilia of the few choral numbers was admirable for its precision and vigor. The solos were less satisfactory. The orchestra, albeit small in numbers, and not always sure of its cues, did, in general, extremely well, notably in the overture… Max Bruch’s Fair Ellen was capitally given… Mr. Lang, who was warmly greeted by audience, chorus and orchestra in this, his first appearance in public since his illness, can congratulate himself upon the artistic success of the concert. Recent suffering seemed to have no power to diminish the healthy verve of his baton.”” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1) Apthorp wrote a shorter review for the monthly Musical Herald in which he wrote of the Schumann: “One cannot help feeling the presence of a mighty genius in it…It is not a composition to exercise snap-judgment upon. The performance was very fine…The concert ended with a fine and brilliant rendering of Max Bruch’s exciting cantata Fair Ellen.” (Musical Herald (May 1880): 104) For the fourth and final concert of the season Bruch’s Odysseus was repeated. Whereas the work was a “failure at the beginning of the season, this time, with almost the same artists, it was a success.” However, “Miss Homer who, although she may bear the poet’s name, is by no means Homeric in her treatment of Penelope.” The chorus was praised, and this review ended with: “We congratulate the club on so finely redeeming themselves from the failure of eight months ago.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1) The Courier began with: “At the risk of exciting the ire of our correspondent Growler, we again feel compelled to express our admiration for the work and to reiterate the judgment expressed five months ago-namely, that the cantata is ”melodious” and ”expressive.”” (Ibid) “The composition, albeit evidently over-long, made a much finer impression that at the first performance. It is not music to be understood and appreciated at a flash; and we earnestly hope that Mr. Lang, to whose exertions we mainly owe these two hearings of this very interesting work, will not rest content until it has been given once or twice more.” (Musical Herald (July 1880): 164) The President of the choir presented his yearly report in June of 1880 that made this reference to the Odysseus performances: “The work is tuneful throughout, and contains many distinct melodies which linger in the memory. It is by no means an easy thing to sing. The success of the Club in coping with its difficulties at the first concert, on December 22, may be best judges by the general demand for another performance. We have probably never produced a work which excited such interest at the first hearing… On May 24  the Odysseus was repeated, and was found to realize all the favorable impressions of the first hearing. It ought to become a stockpiece with vocal clubs.” (Dwight (October 9, 1880): 163) The review in the July issue of the “Score” was not so enthusiastic- it referred to the December performance as a “failure.” However the May repetition “although the thermometer registered high in the eighties, few left the hall before the glorious final chorus.” (Cecilia program clippings) Another reviewer of this second performance noted that “Mr. Adams astonished us by the poetic feeling with which he imbued his part…We have only to find fault with Miss Pierce, who sang very frequently in keys Bruch never intended.” (Ibid) The Courier reviewer also noted of the second performance that among the eight soloists, “Some were too sharp, others too flat, and the result was distressing.” This review described Miss Pierce’s voice as “bright and fresh,” but her performance was marred by nerves. (Ibid) Other points mentioned by the club’s President included the problem created by the fire that destroyed Tremont Temple that forced the choir to move to the Music Hall that, it was felt, was too large for their use. Their original use of Horticultural Hall was no longer possible, as it was too small for the repertoire that they were now performing. “To give a Bach, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Gade, or Bruch, with our present vocal force [c. 150 voices] and a full orchestra, in a place no larger than that in which we sang four years ago, would certainly be an exquisite pleasure. But here comes the dreadful question of expense. We require the support of a larger number of associates than can be accommodated in Horticultural Hall… The greater expense of singing in Music Hall, and our determination, which has every year become firmer, to employ an orchestra as often as possible, rendered it necessary at the commencement of the past season to raise our assessments. Our associates generously acceded to this change, and have provided all the money we have really needed.” (Dwight (October 8, 1880): 163) The President went on to say that he expected “a certain amount of pure instrumental music to relieve the otherwise continuous flow of vocal sound. The monotony of an evening of male part-singing has been frequently remarked. The ear craves the variety of voice and pitch which mixed part-singing affords. In like manner, uninterrupted vocal music, though for mixed voices, after a while palls upon the senses.” (Dwight (October 9, 1880): 163) Thorndike also noted that the additional cost of renting the Music Hall verses Tremont Temple (which had burned) plus the desire “to employ an orchestra as often as possible resulted in the need to raise the yearly assessments. Our associates generously acceded to this change, and have provided all the money we have really needed.” (Dwight (October 9, 1880): 163) He also noted that the Music Hall was “too large to present the Club, and the music which it desires to sing, to the best advantage…The list of singers has been fuller than ever before. Indeed, the pressure for admission has been such that the number of active members has constantly exceeded the prescribed limit of one hundred and fifty. The balance of vocal parts has also been improved, and the regularity and punctuality of attendance have been better than in any previous year.” (Ibid) Thorndike then mentioned that the success of the Bruch Odysseus performance in December 1879 had been so great that the Associates demanded a repeat, which was done on May 24, 1880. “We have probably never produced a work which excited such interest at the first hearing.” This second performance “was found to realize all the favorable impressions of the first hearing. It ought to become a stockpiece with vocal clubs.” (Ibid) It seems not to have been taken up by many, and the only recent CD of the work, made at a live performance, is now (August 2011) fetching $74.96 used and $249.99 new on Amazon, while in Germany the Amazon.de price for a new copy is E143.42! Also at the Annual Meeting was the election of officers. S. L. Thorndike was elected President, Dr. S. W. Langmaid-Vice President, George O. G. Coale-Secretary, Arthur Reed-Treasurer (probably the same person who was the Clerk of the Apollo Club), and Directors-A. Parker Browne, George E. Foster, I. F. Kingsbury, and W. J. Windram. (Musical Herald (July 1880): 164)
RAFAEL JOSEFFY. In May of 1880 Joseffy presented three recitals at the Music Hall, “positively his last appearances in Boston…He is to sail for Europe about the latter part of the month.” (Journal (May 13, 1880): 4) The previous year he had settled in America and toured with the Thomas Orchestra. He then taught at the National Conservatory in New York City-later in life he preferred teaching over concertizing. For these Boston concerts he was assited by “Adamowski, the distinguished violinist, Mr. B. J. Lang and other well known artists, [and the program] will be the most attractive of any he has yet given in this country.”(Ibid) Dwight wrote of the “magical touch, the faultless perfection of technique, the exquisite grace and finish of his every phrase and passage, and to the fine poetic feeling.” For the third concert, it was all solo material except for one piece-Variations on a Theme by Beethoven by Saint-Saens with Lang playing the second piano. Dwight mentioned how well matched the two pianists were. “For once Joseffy played with a musician who was capable of seconding his intention, and the Saint-Saens variations were an entire success. Mr. Lang has so often proved his absolute ability to satisfy exacting virtuosi (with Von Bulow and others) that we expected a clean performance; but it really was much more than that,-it had life, vigor, beauty.” (Musical Herald (July 1880): 164) They had much in common: Joseffy had studied with Lizst in the summers of 1870 and 1871, becoming a favorite pupil, and Joseffy did much to increase the awareness of Brahms as had Lang.
ST. BOTOLPH CLUB. Lang was a founding member this club. “St. Botolph was founded in a golden epoch of the City of Boston. Arts, literature, music, architecture, clubs and public affairs, as well as the vast commercial, shipping and professional empires that supported them, were all experiencing a great flowering. Many of the eminent individuals connected with all these were original members of our Club. A ”Committee of Ten” had sent out invitations to several hundred friends and colleagues, and upon receiving an enthusiastic response, founded the Club on January 3rd., 1880.” [Massachusetts Historical says January 10, 1880] First location “at 87 Boylston Street.” (Williams, 32) “Members drawn from Boston’s upper class… John Quincy Adams, Philips Brooks, Francis Parkman,[First President] William Dean Howells and Henry Cabot Lodge, H. H. A. Beach” and among musicians, “William Apthorp, George Chadwick, Philip Hale, and B. J. Lang… The St. Botolph Club, in particular, had artistic intentions from its inception… Concerts were also encouraged, and to that end they bought in 1882 a Chickering grand piano.” (Blunsom, 134 and 135) “The Club was to be inexpensive, with dues of not more than thirty dollars,” (Williams, op. cit.) and there was to be no restaurant. Arthur Foote and George Parker (both members) performed Margaret’s Deserted at a club function. (Blunsom. Op. cit.) B. J. was “a Resident and Founding Member of the St. Botolph Club (January 1880).” (Howlett, e-mail, November 30, 2009) Other members of the Lang circle and their dates of joining include: Arthur Foote-January 1887; Philip Hale-May 1890; William F. Apthorp-1880, but William Foster Apthorp-March 1896 [?]; Allen Augustus Brown-June 1889; George Laurie Osgood was a founding member, January 1880; G. W. Sumner-1880; William Johnson Winch-1883. (Howlett, e-mail, January 4, 2010) In 1889 it was “situated on Newbury Street, and was modeled after the plan of the Century Club in New York. its particular feature is its Saturday evening and monthly meetings, to which men eminent in literature and art are invited. its gallery contains a choice collection of sculptures and pictures. It is noted for its musicales, “smoke talks” and theatricals. On Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons a stringed quartette not only plays a choice repertory, but also compositions by members of the club. These concerts are very popular and are one of the features of this peculiarly artistic club, whose membership is limited to men of literary and aesthetic tastes and pursuits,” (Grieve, 100) William Foster Apthorp sang the part of “Prof. J. Bolingbroke Smythe” in the musical farce “The Aesthetic Barber” presented at the Club on December 23, 1881. Dr. S. W. Langmaid sang “Charles Chestnut” and Mr. H. G. Pickering sang “Columbus Bunker. ” (BPL Lang Prog., Vol. 5) After a few years the club moved to larger quarters at 4 Newbury Street, “the site which is now the parking lot of the Ritz Carlton Hotel. It was just what they wanted; and they lived in it happily, if with increasing worries about financing it, for fifty-five years.” (Williams, 33) This new location allowed for a new art gallery, and then a kitchen and dining room were added. In 1941 the Club moved to smaller quarters at 115 Commonwealth Avenue, on the “sunny side” of the street. A final move was made to 199 Commonwealth Avenue in 1972. (Club Website) The Club presented “John Singer Sargent’s first one-man show in America in 1888. Works by Claude Monet were displayed in 1892, 1895, and 1899. Monet’s first show in the United States was held in February 1891 at the Union Club in New York.” (St. Botolph Club Records: Guide to the Collection, pp. 1 and 2. Massachusetts Historical Society) Chadwick wrote in his Diary: “Every Saturday night there was a supper after which congenial souls gathered about the tables and discussed artistic and other affairs of the town and the nation. And as many members came directly from the Symphony concert we often had the male soloist of the evening with us. In this way the club soon got a reputation as a place where artists were made welcome and in that way added materially to the musical prestige of Boston…In 1888 he was elected to the Tavern Club-a mostly social fraternity-to replace the departing Gericke.” (Faucett, Life, 106)
MECHANICS’ HALL CONCERTS: 1880. In April 1880 Lang presented another group of two performances at Mechanics’ Hall at 3PM. On Thursday April 1, 1880, at the first of two concerts. Lang included the premier of Saint-Saens Sonata Opus 32 for cello and piano played by lang and Mr. Wulf Fries. Dwight didn’t find the Saint-Saens exciting.”But what woke us all up to new life, dispelling all possibility of doubt about its genial excellence and beauty, was the Concerto for Four Pianofortes [by Bach] with string accompaniment,[eight additional players were listed on the program] given for the first time in America. It consists of three short movements: Moderato, Largo, and Allegro.The four pianos were played by Mr. And Mrs. Sherwood, Mr. J. C. D. Parker, and Mr. Lang; and they did it con amore. Dwight enthused: “It is wonderfully interesting, not merely for its contrapuntal skill and learning, but for its fresh ideal beauty.” (Dwight (May 8, 1880): 79) The concert opened with “a repetition of the Trio in G minor by Hans von Bronsart, which excited so much interest last year…The interpretation lacked nothing of spirit or discrimination, and the impression which the work before made of nerve, originality and power was confirmed.” (Dwight (May 8, 1880): 78 and 79) George L. Osgood performed ten songs as part of this program. The Globe reported on Page 2 of it’s April 2, 1880 edition that Lang’s Concert “at Mechanic’s Hall, yesterday, was attended by a very large and extremely fashionable audience.” (Globe Archive (April 2, 1880): 2) The second programme, on Thursday afternoon April 29 at 3PM, opened with a Quartet by Raff, followed by ten songs sung by Mr. William J. Winch who was “in excellent voice and sang with fervor, with artistic finish, and with fine expression.” (Dwight, Op. cit.) The concert ended with the Boston premier of Goldmark’s Pianoforte and String Quintet in B Flat Opus 30. (Dwight (May 8, 1880): 79)(BPL Lang Prog., Vol. 3) Lang discovered this work very quickly as it had only been published in Europe the year before, 1879. (Program notes, CPO recording) Dwight wanted to hear this piece again before recording his impressions. Tickets for the season were three dollars available from Chickering’s Pianoforte Warerooms. (BPL Lang Prog., 6566) The Globe notice for the second and last concert was only two lines. “Mr. B. J. Lang’s concert at Mechanic’s Hall, yesterday afternoon, was much enjoyed by the large audience. The program was admirably interpreted throughout.” (Globe (April 30, 1880): 2)
ARLINGTON CLUB. “Boston has also a new organization of male voices called the Arlington Club. Mr. William J. Winch is its musical director.” (Musical Herald (July 1880): 165)
1880 CENSUS. The 1880 Census lists Benjamin (aged 40), Fanny M. (aged 38), Margaret R. (aged 12), Rosamond (aged 3) and servants Ellen O’Connel; (aged 50), Alice S. McGuire (aged 19) and Ellen O. Gorman (aged 19) at 3 Otis Place. (Census 1880)
BERLIOZ: DAMNATION OF FAUST-THREE TIMES! From the mid-1870s Lang had begun to turn from German works to a new interest in French composers. for example he gave the American premieres of the Saint-Saens Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Harvard Musical Association on 3 February 1876, the Saint-Saens Rhapsodie d’Auverge, op. 13 (1 January 1886), and Massenet’s Eve (27 March 1890), as well as a the Boston premier of the Berlioz Requiem (12 February 1882).” (Fox, Rebellious Tradition, 240) Fox does not mention the next, very important work. On Friday evening, May 14, 1880 at the Music Hall, Lang presented, as his own private undertaking, the first Boston performance of by Berlioz. (BPL Lang Prog., Vol. 6) Early in May, Dwight reported that this first performance had been postponed from a previous date, “and after fresh rehearsal, it cannot fail to be a success.” (Dwight (May 8, 1880): 79) Dwight praised Lang’s “great zeal and energy in bringing out” this work, and reported that the evening was “crowned with success. The means employed were adequate: an excellent orchestra of sixty (Mr. Listemann at their head), a select, well-trained, efficient chorus, of two hundred and twenty mixed voices, and four good solo singers. The rehearsals had been through, the reports from New York had excited eager interest in advance, and the Music Hall was crowded with the best kind of an audience. The result was in the main most satisfactory. Hundreds came away convinced of the inventive genius and originality, the many sided power, the rare musicianship and learning, the consummate savoir faire of Berlioz…Mr. Lang had orchestra and chorus well in hand, and all was complete except that the two harps were replaced by two pianos.The only drawback of importance was, that the orchestra too frequently covered up the voices.” [well that is a change] (Dwight (May 22, 1880): 87 and 88) However, Johnson lists as the first American performance one given on January 28, 1880 at the Boston Music Hall by the Thomas Orchestra and chorus with the soloists, Clara Louise Kellog, W. C. Tower and Georg Henschel. (Johnson, First, 121) The importance that Lang attached to this event is reflected in the chorus announcement of March 4th. which stressed that every singer “must have attended every rehearsal of his or her part. This condition will be secured by the distribution at each rehearsal of a new entrance ticket, good only for the following rehearsal.” There were four male sectional rehearsals and three female women’s rehearsals followed by three combined rehearsals. The choral announcement ended with” N.B.-Persons who are not quite sure of being able to attend every rehearsal, will do Mr. Lang a favor by declining this invitation.” (BPL Lang Prog., 6569) The sectional rehearsals were held in March at the “Apollo Rooms,” and the combined rehearsals were scheduled for April 5, 7, and 13 at Bumstead Hall for a performance date originally advertised as Thursday, April 15. Apthorp gave further details: “Since his performance of Haydn’s Seasons in 1864 he had mounted no large choral work on his own account, his conducting having been confined to his own occasional courses of orchestral concerts and to those of the Cecilia and the Apollo Club. The time was singularly propitious: he was at the height of his popularity with the Boston public and still continually before the public. But the task was an arduous one. None of the singers available for choral productions in Boston had ever grappled with an important work of the advanced French school; they had never sung anything bristling with such trying rhythmic complications as this work of Berlioz’s, and were moreover unaccustomed to the peculiar distribution of the voices in his choruses. Instead of the familiar soprano, alto, tenor and bass of the German choral writers, the choruses in Berlioz’s Faust are for the most part written, for male chorus with first and second soprani ripieni, the female voice seldom having independent parts to sing…But in spite of the unusual difficulties of the music, the Damnation of Faust was triumphantly brought out with Mrs. E. Humphrey-Allen, Mr. William J. Winch, Mr. Clarence E. Hay, and Mr. Sebastian B. Schlesinger in the solo parts. The performance was one of the most brilliant successes Lang had ever had, and the work was repeated several times, later with the Henschels and others, and afterwards by the Cecilia.” (Apthorp, 358 and 359) The success was well deserved as much time had been devoted to the preparation of all aspects of the performance. Frances wrote in her Diary: In February “Lel went to New York to hear the Damnation of Faust…Lel sent Mr. Tucker [one of his pupils] to New York, to try to get Orchestral parts for the Damnation of Faust. Later Tucker returned with them…I worked 2 hours copying parts. (Later) Copying parts hours a day…Addressing envelopes all day. So much to be done, in preparation for the performance.” And, while all of this was going on, “Lel played superbly at the Symphony Concert last night. Received tremendous applause.” And then, “Last night was the first of Lel’s series of pianoforte concerts. He received an ovation, and quantities of flowers. But he is so tired that I am frightened…April 11th. Lel is very ill. Not until 2 did the Doctor arrive. Then then report was, -Pneumonia. Lel was put to bed immediately…It has been decided that the Manfred performance is to be posponed for three weeks…April 17th.No wonder that Lel is feeling worried and depressed with all that is ahead of him, rehearsals, etc. that he should not undertake. I am worried sick…April 24th. My head ached terribly, but I wouldn’t give up going to the Manfred performance. Lel came on to the stage looking very pale. He was tremendously applauded by the audience and orchestra. He nearly fainted, as he later told me…Lel seems to be really himself again. He needs to be. The next three weeks are solid with musical events.[late April entry]” (Diary 2, Spring 1880) concerning the second performance of the Berlioz on Friday, November 12, 1880 at the Music Hall, Dwight recorded that “we can only say, at present, that it was a great improvement on the first presentation here last spring, both as regards choruses, male and female, orchestra, and solo singers, and that the interest and fascination of the strange, weird, in parts extremely beautiful music grow upon one as he becomes more familiar with it…The chorus of 200 male and 100 female voices had the charm of careful, critical selection, beautiful ensemble of tone quality, as well as of precise, well-shaded, and finely effective execution.”(Dwight (November 20, 1880): 191) An additional attraction in this performance was the appearance of George Henschel as Mephistopheles, “in which he has made [a] very great success in Europe.” (BPL Lang Prog., 6573) The other soloists were Lillian Bailey, Herschel’s future wife, William J. Winch-tenor and Mr. Clarence E. Hay-bass. (BPL Lang Prog., 6574) The Globe noted: There was a “very large and cultured audience” who frequently applauded. The performance was “a decided success.” (Globe (November 13, 1880): 4) Henschel’s “remarkable singing of the serenade” produced a request for an encore he “generously accorded.” (Ibid) The performance was such an “artistic and popular success,” that the reviewer suggested another performance. (Ibid) “The performance of the work was the best that yet has been given here. The solo-singers were of higher grade, or at least of greater power, than before; and the chorus was more familiar with its difficult music.” (Musical Herald (December 1880): 270) The women’s voices were singled out for special praise. “To Mr. Lang, whose care and musicianship made so generally good a performance possible, the thanks of all Boston music-lovers are due.” (Ibid) On November 30, 1880 “Lang gave his third presentation of the Damnation of Faust, this time at the Tremont Temple; and it must be admitted that all the details of the music, all its greatest and its least effects, came out with a remarkable distinctness, and with satisfactory intensity of sound.It was an even better rendering, under, in some sense, better acoustical conditions, than the two before…The orchestra was remarkably complete and satisfactory, from violins, oboes and bassoons, to cymbals, gong, and all the kitchen utensils.The Racockzky March created a furore.”(Dwight (December 18, 1880): 207) Margaret lists other performances of this piece on May 14, 1885, May 25, 1887, March 15, 1899, December 2, 1903, July of 1903 for a Teachers’ convention, and finally on December 13, 1904. (“Facts In the Life of B. J. Lang” by Margaret-Scrapbooks) Obviously this was a work that B. J. believed in deeply. He also presented the work with the Cecilia in 1894. The singer Clara Kathleen Rogers (Clara Doria) also mentioned the Cecilia performance, but gave the date as 1885 “on which occasion Mrs. Humphrey Allen was the Margherite.” She then mentions further performances by Lang “in 1887, 1888, and 1889, when Melba sang the Margherite music.” (Rogers, Two Lives, 147) These performances may have inspired Theodore Thomas to do the same!. Just two months after Lang’s third performance, “Theodore Thomas” Unrivalled Orchestra” and “The Thomas Choral Society,” J. B. Sharland Chorus-Master presented two performances at the Music Hall on Friday evening, January 28 and Saturday afternoon, January 29, 1881 using a “Complete and Newly Revised Translation.” Thomas used some of Lang’s soloists: Georg Henschel sang Mephistopheles and Clarence E. Hay sang Brander. The other soloists were Miss Fanny Kellogg as Marguerite and W. C. Tower as Faust. (Program advertised on E-Bay, November 2010)
DWIGHT COMPLIMENTARY CONCERT. Lang was one of thirty-five Boston musicians who volunteered their talents for a “Complimentary Concert for Mr. John S. Dwight” held on Thursday afternoon, December 9, 1880 at 2:30PM. “The Boston Music Hall Association has given the use of the Music Hall for this occasion, without charge, and Mr. Peck, the Superintendent, his assistant, the ticket sellers, doorkeepers and ushers also contribute their services.” The orchestra was “of the Harvard Symphony Concerts,” Mr. Berhard Listermann, leader and Mr. Carl Zerrahn, conductor. (BPL Lang Prog., 6577) Lang played the Concertstuck in G, Op. 92 by Schumann, and Arthur Foote, John Preston and J. C. D. Parker played Bach’s Concerto in C for Three Keyboards. Schubert’s Twenty-third Psalm was sung by a women’s choir drawn from the Cecilia and the Boylston Clubs conducted by George L. Osgood. A total of “nearly $7,000” was raised. (Brainard’s (January 1881): 13) The organizers included almost 50 of Boston’s musical and artistic greats, and in Dwight’s acceptance letter he refers to this committee as “so largely representative of the best elements of the musical profession, of the best and wisest friends of music, as well as of the honored names of dear old Boston.” (Journal (November 18, 1880): 3, GB) In addition to performing in the concert, Lang was also a member of this committee.
CRITIC-BENJAMIN EDWARD WOOLF Not all criticism was positive.” A letter printed in the Philharmonic Journal sometime during the winter of 1880-1881 identifies ”the powers” controlling music in Boston. Named were Dwight, the ”educated music critic,” Otto Dresel, B. J. Lang, J. C. D. Parker, Chickering, and institutions like the Handel and Haydn Society, the Apollo Club, and the Cecilia Club. It declares Lang to be the head of ”this clique.” Benjamin Edward Woolf, an English-born and exceedingly right-wing musician who wrote mainly for the Saturday Evening Gazette, launched constant attacks on Lang. Woolf found Lang’s musical tastes too radical and his dominance too insidious.” (Tara, 42) Woolf, Benjamin Edward (London: February 16, 1836-Boston: February 7, 1901). “Born in London, multifaceted, was a composer, violinist, and libretto writer who married an actress, joined the Boston Globe in 1870 and the following year the Saturday Evening Gazette, [a weekly] for which he wrote music and drama reviews; in the 1890s he left the Gazette for the Herald. The American organist Henry M. Dunham wrote in his memoirs of Woolf’s criticism, ”We disliked him extremely because of his rough and uncompromising style. He had almost no concession to offer for anyone’s short-comings, and on that very account what he had to say carried additional weight with the artist he was criticizing.” [Dunham, Life, 220] on the other hand, Philip Hale, Woolf’s Herald successor, asserted that Woolf had been caustic only toward ”incompetence, shams, humbugs, snobs and snobbery in art,” and noted that when Woolf began to write in the Gazette, music criticism in Boston was mere ”honey daubing” of local favorities. Hale added that toward ”really promising beginners,” Woolf was never severe but gave personal advice and often financial aid.” (Grant, 68) His father, Edward Woolf, came to America in 1839, “settling in New York as a member of a theatre orchestra. The son inherited his father’s talent for music, and received from him most thorough instruction.” The son was the leader of the orchestra at the Boston Museum [conducted by Julius Eichberg] from 1859 until 1864 “at which time this orchestra provided the public with the best theatre music there was.” (Klauser, Vol. 3, 627) He then led orchestras “in Philadelphia and New Orleans. He married Josephine Orton, an actress, [of the Boston Museum Stock Company, (Dic. Am. Bio, 514) on 15 April 1867, and then returned to Boston, where Woolf became editor of the Saturday Evening Gazette in 1871…He created or collaborated in six operettas, including The Doctor of Alcantara (1862), music by Julius Eichberg. As a critic he was a musical conservative with exacting standards and a caustic pen, but his breadth of knowledge and his musical skill did much to elevate the quality of American criticism. Throughout his career Woolf’s versatility was his greatest asset, but it was also a limitation: ”His labor.” the Herald observed in its obituary, ”might have been concentrated upon fewer objects with better effect.”” (Am. Grove, Vol. 4, 561) He composed “madrigals, overtures, string quartets and symphonies…In all he wrote sixty plays and six operas.” Klauser, Op. cit.) Arthur Foote described Woolf, when he was writing for the Saturday Evening Gazette as “a musically well equipped critic, who was more feared than loved. How he did delight to pitch into John S. Dwight and B. J. Lang. He could never find any good in either.” (HMA Bulletin No. 4, 2) “He became music critic of the Boston Herald, and for it he wrote reviews notable for their clarity and severity.” (Dic. Am Bio., 514) George Whitefield Chadwick referred to him as the only “thoroughly educated musician” among the critics of his time, but he noted that Woolf “was a Jew who was so embittered by his personal experiences that he could see nothing good in people he disliked no matter how worthy. But he had keen wit and could write – some of his ”mots” have become classic. He was never mean to me although sometimes cool but his judgment was true as I look back on it now. The other fellows could not tell flutes and oboes or horns and bassoons apart by the sound as their public writings show.” (6361 and 62) Woolf “came from a family of operatic conductors and [he] studied music practically with his father’s theatrical orchestra…From Mr. Woolf’s English and rather conservative training it was natural that he should be out of sympathy with the radical modern school. He was at one time one of the fiercest opponents of the Wagnerian music, and his bitter sarcasm and invective made him feared by many who held different opinions. He was often sublimely savage in his reviews. But, in spite of these limitations, his great musical ability made him an influence to be reckoned with. He died in Boston in 1901.” (Elson, Hist. Am. Mus., 323) NEW TREMONT TEMPLE ORGAN. The November 1880 issue of the Musical Herald gave the complete list of stops and mechanical aids of this four manual instrument. The Great had 15 stops, the Swell 15, the Choir 11, the Solo 2, and the Pedal had 9. The total number of pipes was 3,442, and this was the fourth instrument that E. & G. G. Hook and Hastings had built for the church. “The two large ones which preceeded it in 1846 and 1853 having been burned in 1852 and 1879 respectively…The organ is blown by one of the Boston Hydraulic Motor Company’s engines, water from the high pressure service having been brought into the building for that purpose.” (Musical Herald (November 1880): 260)
APOLLO CLUB SEASON 1880-1881. The November 26 and 29, 1880 concerts again contained primarily short works, but “We never heard those seventy men sing better; and we were struck by the remarkable preservation of their voices, many of them being original veterans in the service. Rich, sweet, manly quality of tone, large, generous volume, admirably blending of the voices in a grand organ-like ensemble, combined with rare unity, precision, light and shade in producing a fine impression.” Instrumental works (including the Widor-Serenade for piano, violin, cello, flute, and harmonium), solos, and Dudley Buck’s setting of Longfellow’s poem, Nun of Nidaros. The review ended with the announcement of the Boston premier of Max Bruch’s Frithjof for soprano and baritone solos, male choir, and orchestra to be given in its entirety on the following February 4 and 9, 1881. (Dwight (December 18, 1880): 207) The Bruch was given as advertised, and was well received by Dwight with special mention for the soloists, Miss Simms and John F. Winch. “Though dark and tragical in its pervading tone, it is grand, poetic, deeply impressive, wildly romantic and imaginative music throughout; full of old Norse tenderness and passion, blended with heroic fire.” (Dwight (February 26, 1881): 36) The second part of the concert was “an agreeable miscellany.” Three part-songs, solo songs, the orchestra playing the third movement of Moskowski’s Joan of Arc symphony, and “the concert ended with a remarkable arrangement, with expressive, ever-varying orchestral accompaniment, by Hector Berlioz, of the Marseilles Hymn, which was sung with great spirit and exciting effect. (Ibid) For 10th. Anniversay Concert and Dinner, see further on.
CECILIA-FIFTH INDEPENDENT SEASON: 1880-81. Another first Boston performance of a Bach cantata was performed at the end of 1880-# 106 Actus Tragicus (God’s Time Is the Best) was sung at Tremont Temple on December 13, 1880. One review mentioned: “Bach’s cantata was received with a lukewarm admiration, at which we do not wonder. The taste for Bach is one that requires special cultivation.” The concert ended with a glee by Caldicott Little Jack Horner which was thought to be “a good bit of brightness to end a concert.” (Cecilia program, clippings) The second concert of its fifth season was given at Tremont Temple on January 24, 1881 included “liberal and splendid” excerpts from Beethoven’s Ruins of Athens, a duet by Grieg, and the Boston premier of Dudley Buck’s cantata The Golden Legend based on a poem by Longfellow. Buck’s work had won over twenty-four others for the $1,000 prize offered by the Cincinnati Festival of 1880. The Courier review noted that: “the orchestration throughout was extremely interesting; skillful, varied, richly and even gorgeously colored.” (Cecilia program, clippings) Dwight felt that Buck’s work suffered in being in the same program with the Beethoven. “By itself it would have commanded closer attention and have been more appreciated.” (Dwight (February 26, 1881): 36) Overall Dwight’s opinion was that “If with all his talent, learning, savoir faire, and power of clever workmanship, the multifarious composer could only burst the bonds of commonplace.” (Dwight (February 26, 1881): 36) Often reviewers remarked on various orchestral problems. For this concert, one reviewer noted: “The orchestra, Under Mr. Lang, played finely, the wood [sic] being better than usual, though an occasional wheeze and faulty attack in the brass gave a grotesque effect.” (Cecilia program, Sunday Times clipping) Apthorp also commented on the orchestra: “The orchestral work in the Ruins of Athens was hardly respectable, in Grieg’s work it was good, and in Mr. Buck’s cantata it was of a superior order.” In a “Letter” from Boston, the author called this concert “excellent,” giving special praise to the sopranos in the Beethoven who sang their part that “even soloists might find it hard to satisfy… it was an unexpected pleasure to hear this number given without screechiness.” The tenors and basses were “full of manly power and vigor.” Of Buck’s cantata the writer “found musicianly ability in every bar of this work, but not always dramatic power… The chorus did well throughout the evening, and Mr. Lang’s work was apparent in this and the orchestral departments.” The writer of this “Letter” had begun with a comment about a Berlioz Damnation of Faust performance given by Theodore Thomas and his orchestra: “The chorus was poorer than under Lang, the orchestra better, and the possession of two harpists, gave the final number a better color than the substitution of pianos did in the previous representations” in Boston. (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1) The writer in the Transcript described Buck’s cantata as “neither empty nor dull, but without a pleasurable surprise in it. Unimpeachable as it all was and very strong in parts, there was not a turn or ending that might not have been anticipated. It was very finely rendered by the chorus and soloists. Among the latter, Mr. Charles R. Hayden specially distinguished himself for the power and beauty of his voice and the taste of his expression.” March 28, 1881 saw the American premier of Schumann’s Scenes from Goethe’s Faust (Part III) at the Music Hall [Dwight’s review says at Tremont Temple] with Miss Gertrude Franklin and Mr. George W. Dudley, with Mr. Charles R. Adams and George Henschel as the principal soloists together with a “full orchestra.” “The impression was deep and more general than we dared hope considering the mystical and philosophical character of a great portion of the text as well as the necessarily undramatic nature of the music in which it finds expression. The frequent absence of mere surface beauty, the reflective brooding, subtle, involved crowed harmonies almost cloy the sense with fullness. But at the same time it abounds in exquisite melodic inspirations, it is at times wonderfully graphic and it rises in power and splendor with the grandeur of the theme, reaching the sublime and therefore sustaining itself at the close.” (Dwight’s Journal of May 7 in Johnson, First, 334) Of Miss Franklin’s part Dwight noted: “All this was sung in sympathetic, pure soprano tones, and with earnest, true expression.” His review ended with: “The conjunction of two such thorough vocal artists as Mr. Adams and Mr. Henschel was an experience not to be forgotten.” (Dwight (May 7, 1881): 75 and 76) The Evening Transcript called the concert “an event of capital importance in the local annals of music,” and the reviewer compared this work with the Berlioz Damnation of Faust, which was based on the “same theme…The spectacle” of the Berlioz compared to the “intellectual and spiritual music” of Schumann. The orchestra was called “rather thin,” but the solo work of Miss Franklin and Mr. Henschel was praised. “The Cecilia chorus, too, sang very finely, better, probably, than ever…Only the orchestra was unequal, and it is so new a thing to expect an orchestra at all with these singing-club entertainments, that it is ungracious to mention that a pianoforte is a fatal substitution for a harp in an orchestra.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1) This last comment shows the level of expectations that Lang was trying so hard to raise. The demand for tickets for this concert was so great that the concert had to be repeated on April 4th. at Tremont Temple with half of the tickets given to members and the other half to be sold to the public. The Courier review of this second performance noted that only half of the seats offered to the general public had sold.
CHADWICK PREMIER WITH APOLLO CLUB. George Whitefield Chadwick returned from his European study in the spring of 1880. Lang quickly showed his support of the young composer by commissioning him to write a piece with orchestral accompaniment for the Tenth Anniversary Concerts of the Apollo Club on April 22 and 26, 1881, “the oldest of the Associate-membership vocal clubs celebrated the tenth year of its prosperous existence, having given sixty-eight concerts, always under the musical directorship of Mr. B. J. Lang. On the occasion both the programme and the entire performance were exceptionally interesting.” Chadwick also conducted the premier of his piece, and Mr. C. E. Hay was the baritone soloist. Chadwick noted in his Diary: “Sylvester Baxter made the poem, called The Vikings Last Voyage and afterwards Billy Halsall painted a picture to illustrate it which he afterwards gave us for a wedding present… At the concert which was on April 22, 1881 the piece was quite a success and was taken up by several other societies in the U.S. I had never composed for Male voices before and some of it was too thick and too low, but the orchestra which I conducted sounded very well. I worked on the piece all winter and enjoyed it much.” (Chadwwick, unpublished Diary) The review in the Evening Transcript of April 23, 1881 noted that the piece “deals cleverly in descriptive effects of instrumentation in the orchestral accompaniment…has an easy flow of graceful melody, and rises into a superb climax,” while the announcement of the piece’s premier in the Church’s Musical Visitor of May 1881 noted: “The composer regards it as his strongest work.” John Dwight’s review of May 7, 1881 recorded: “The young composer, who was warmly welcomed, conducted the performance. The cantata, almost unavoidably, seemed somewhat in the vein of Max Bruch’s Frithjof music, heroic, gloomy, wild, tempestuous, now mournful, now exulting, nor does it lag far behind that for vivid graphic power, felicitous invention, or mastery of the art of thematic development and instrumental coloring.” (Faucett, Bio-Bib, 146 and 147) Rupert Hughes wrote of this work: “What would part-song writers do if the Vikings had never been invented? Where would they get their wild choruses for men, with a prize to the singer who makes the most noise? Chadwick falls into line with The Viking’s Last Voyage (1881) for barytone solo, male chorus, and orchestra, which gives him a very high place among writers in this form.” (Hughes, Am. Com., 213)
CECILIA SEASON CONCLUDED. The last concert of the 1880-1881 season was held at the Tremont Temple, on May 31st., “(which, we confess, the temptation of the country after a hard, hot day’s work caused us to forget)… It was without orchestra, and consisted of for the most part of short, but really choice and favorite selections.” After listing the contents of the program, Dwight offered no critical comment. The assisting artists were Mr. John A. Preston, organ, Mr. J. Phippen, piano, and vocalists Miss Ella M. Abbott, Miss Gertrude Franklin, Dr. S. W. Langmaid, and Mr. A. F. Arnold. (Dwight (June 4, 1881): 92) Maybe Dwight’s lack of comments reflected that the choir was having an off night-one reviewer said that the Widor piano and organ duets received the most applause with one being encored. The Folio review written by Louis C. Elson referred to these pieces as “bonbons,” and complimented Mr. Preston for his selection of stops, choosing chiefly “the gamba, flute and clarinet, making the large organ, as much as possible, like a cabinet organ, and not using the too-tempting tremolo.” Another reviewer noted: “Of course, the audience was large, but a more apathetic array of people hardly can be imagined.” (Cecilia program-clippings) This concert had other distractions besides the heat. “At the Cecilia concert on Tuesday evening, the Baptist prayer meeting in the Meionaon [the basement auditorium within Tremont Temple] filled in the rests in Mendelssohn’s 95th. Psalm with a Moody and Sanky hymn. This is no uncommon occurrence, though the responsive style on that occasion was rather more apropos than usual.” Another clipping noted: “…An operatic chorus and the name of Auber on the Cecilia programme, last evening, must have been something of a shock to the sensibilities of those who think no music is worth hearing if not written in Vaterland.” (Cecilia program, clippings) The Courier felt that “the efforts of the chorus were the best shown by them this season, the elements of light and shade and promptness in attack, together with more freedom and volume of tone, being particularly apparent.” It also noted that the accompaniments for the solo songs by Miss Abbott and Miss Franklin “were played by Mr. Lang in his most exquisite manner.” With the Auber and the Widor Duets and John A. Preston’s opening organ solo of Saint-Saens” Rhapsodie, we begin to see Lang’s interest in French composers reflected.
CECILIA DETRACTOR. Not everyone was a Lang supporter. A “Letter to the Editor of the Musical Bulletin” dated June 1, 1881 rated the Boylston Club better than Cecilia, and explained this, as both groups were about the same size, as due to the fact that “Mr. G. L. Osgood is a born musician and an artist by instinct, while Mr. Lang possesses the mere attribute of a skilled artisan, accompanied by a refined sense of taste and an adequate amount of ambition and energetic force.” The writer also was very critical of the two soloists-Miss Abbott and Miss Franklin, finding fault with the “methods of instruction,” but saying that “this, however is not to be wondered at, since it is well nigh impossible to find one teacher that is capable and trustworthy, among the hundreds in this city who follow voice culture as a profession.” (Cecilia Program Clippings for the May 31, 1881 concert)
LANG’S TREMONT TEMPLE CHAMBER MUSIC CONCERTS. Lang promoted two chamber music concerts on Thursday afternoons at 3PM, February 24 and March 10, 1881 at the Tremont Temple; it was announced that only the floor and first balcony of the hall would be used. Dwight’s announcement also mentioned that “Mr. Lang will have assistance of the Philharmonic and Beethoven clubs, and of Messrs. G. W. Sumner, A. W. Foote and J. A. Preston, pianists; as well as of Mrs. Humphrey Allen and Mr. F. Korbay of New York, vocalists.” (Dwight (February 12, 1881): 28) “During the past month, Mr. B. J. Lang has given at Tremont Temple, before large audiences, two concerts quite unique in character, being as it were between orchestral and chamber concerts, though nearer to the later.” (Dwight (March 26, 1881): 52) The February 24th. concert featured woodwinds, opening with Rubinstein’s Quintet in F major, Opus 55 for piano and four winds, and concluding with Raff’s Sinfonietta, Opus 188 for ten winds. “The Rubinstein Quintet alone brought Mr. Lang’s excellent pianoforte-playing into requisition, but all the instruments seemed to be equal in importance.” (Dwight (March 26, 1881): 52) Between these works five songs were sung by Mr. Korbay who performed his own accompaniments. The Herald said the concert was “as enjoyable as it was novel.” The reviewer noted that the Rubinstein was a Boston premier and the Raff, an American premier. (Herald (February 25, 1881): 4, GB) The second concert on March 10th. concert included vocal solos and an Octet in D Minor, Opus 60 by Rubinstein for piano, strings, and winds-“It can hardly be called an octet in the strictest sense of the word, as it partakes more of the character of a pianoforte concerto with a septet accompaniment.” (Dwight (March 26, 1881): 52) The Musical Herald called the Rubinstein “the finest number on the program…Although the first movement was rather unpromising, the other three were of great merit, especially the andante, which was of transcendent beauty. Mr. Lang’s work at the piano was throughout excellent, the reserve with which the instrument was used to strengthen the ensemble being admirable. The crisp staccato effects of the second movement and the well-shaded arpeggios of the third were instances of this.” (Musical Herald (April 1881): 78) The announcement had originally listed Rubinstein’s Quintette, Opus 53 for piano and four winds instead of his Octet (BPL Lang Prog., 6579) Also performed were Mendelssohn’s Octet and Bach’s Concerto for Four Pianos with G. W. Summer, Arthur Foote, J. A. Preston, and B. J. as the soloists with an accompaniment of an octet of strings.” “This work opened as brightly as a May morning, the subject (consisting chiefly of major trichords, with accents on the second note) being charmingly naive and simple…This work was thoroughly well done, and heartily enjoyed by the audience, judging by the applause.” (Musical Herald (April 1881): 78) Hearty applause for Bach! Certainly Dwight would have wanted to write that, and comment on how Boston’s musical taste had grown. The eight strings were from the Philharmonic Club and from the Beethoven Club. (Ibid) “Mr. Lang is to be thanked for these two instructive concerts, and for the opportunities he afforded for hearing new works of such importance as the quintet and octet of Rubinstein, and the sinfonietta of Raff.” (Dwight (March 26,1881): 52)
LANG’S ORCHESTRAL CONCERTS. For 1881 Lang moved the concert location for his spring orchestral concerts to the Brattle Street Church on Clarendon Street. They were presented on the two Sunday evenings after Easter-April 24 and May 1. One unannotated report mentioned that “An orchestra that has been formed on a basis of fifteen first violins-nearly double our usual number of strings…The acoustic properties of the church are particularly favorable for music,” and the church was chosen “for the purpose of reproducing, so far as possible, the effect of a very large orchestra in a small place, as in the Gewandhaus at Leipzig and at the Conservatoire in Paris…As the expenses must [not] exceed the receipts, there can be no complimentary tickets.” The series of two concerts cost $4. (BPL Lang Prog.) The Herald referred to “the magnificent orchestra of 75 picked musicians” who “left little or nothing to be desired.” (Herald (May 2, 1881): 5) Dwight, in his April 23, 1881 issue gave good advance publicity for this new series. “Mr. Lang’s first concert at the new Brattle Square Church, which seats about six hundred, with a grand orchestra of seventy-five, will take place tomorrow Sunday (evening). He will give the Overture to St. Paul, the Pastoral Symphony of Beethoven, and the first movement of Rubinstein’s Ocean Symphony. Mrs. Allen will sing ”Angels ever bright and fair,” and Mendelssohn’s ”Jerusalem.” The occasion is one of novel and especial interest. —On Sunday evening, May 1, Mr. Lang’s orchestra will play the great Schubert Symphony, Mendelssohn’s Overture: Becalmed at Sea, and Prosperous Voyage, and Beethoven’s Coriolanus Overture. Mr. Henschel and Mr. John F. Winch will sing.” (Dwight (April 23, 1881): 69) Dwigh t also in the same issue reprinted a notice about the concerts that had appeared in the Advertiser which included additional information that he had not mentioned. “Mr. Lang will give two remarkable orchestral concerts in the church formerly occupied by Dr. Lothrop’s parish on the evenings of the first and second Sundays after Easter. The orchestra will number about seventy-five performers, including fifteen first violins, as many second violins, eight violoncellos, and eight double basses. The programmes will be of the noblest character, that of the first concert opening with the overture to Mendelssohn’s St. Paul, including selections of sacred vocal music, sung by Mr. Henschel, and ending with Schubert’s great symphony in C. The programme of the second concert will be of the same sort, and will include one of the great Beethoven symphonies, probably the fifth. There will be thorough and numerous rehearsals in advance. Two-thirds of the tickets have already been taken; the remainder may be subscribed for at Chickering’s, the price being $4 for both concerts. –Advertiser.” (Dwight (April 23, 1881): 62) The Musical Herald noted: “The strings were especially strong, and the effect in the comparatively small edifice was superb. The piece de resistance of the first concert was Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony...Mr. Lang’s reading was an artistic one…The concerts were largely and fashionably attended.” (Musical Herald (June 1881): 125 and 126) Dwight further supported these concerts by reviewing them two weeks later.”Mr. B. J. Lang’s concerts of orchestral music in the new ”Brattle Square” Church (Commonwealth Avenue) on the last two Sunday evenings, were of exceptional interest, not only as good renderings of good programmes, but also as illustrations of his special object, which was to show the superior sonority, intensity of tone, and more effective ensemble of music given by a large orchestra in a comparatively small hall. For this end he prepared two capital selections, good intrinsically, well contrasted, and almost more than reasonably short, neither concert lasting over one hour and a half.” The church sat about six hundred people, and had a Gothic ceiling like the Music Hall. “It was found a bad place for the speaking voice, and hence abandoned as a church. For music, at all events for an orchestra, it seems very good.” Dwight noted that the ensemble consisted of a total of seventy-five instrumentalists-fifty-four strings to the usual twenty winds; “and it is not yet proved that such an orchestra would not sound as well or better in the great Music Hall.” (Dwight (May 7, 1881): 77) Of the second concert the Herald wrote that “a more satisfactory presentation of the great symphony [Schubert No. 9 in C Major] and Wagner’s overture [Tannhauser] has never been heard in this city.” (Herald (May 2, 1881): 5) Further it wrote: “The concerts appear to have shown one other thing, that Sunday evening symphony concerts, under the proper management, would be well patronized in this city.” (Ibid) Lang may have had bigger plans for these two concerts. In October of the previous year the word was out the “Mr. B. J. Lang contemplates a series of concerts in which both a chorus and an orchestra will be heard.” (Brainard’s, (October 1880): 157) What repertoire did he have in mind that could not be done by the Cecilia? Was it possible that he felt that the Cecilia Committee did not allow him enough artistic freedom? Questions that will probably remain unanswered. The “Music and Drama Supplement” of 1882 mentioned: “For the past ten years he [Lang] has been in the habit of giving a series of pianoforte concerts, the present season forming the only exception. He has given five different sets of symphony concerts, and in these has always followed the good German idea of a large orchestra in a small hall, so that no possible effect should be lost.”
JOSEFFY AND LANG. Joseffy and Lang were reunited again for two concerts that Joseffy gave at the Music Hall. The ad listed “Assisted by Timothie D’Adamowski” with Mr. B. J. Lang and Wulf Fries listed next. The concerts were on Tuesday evening May ?? and Saturday afternoon May ?? (Daily Advertiser (May 18, 1880): 1, GB) ST. SAENS: NOEL-CHISTMAS ORATORIO. Dwight noted two performances of this piece. The first was a complete performance with choir. soloists, and orchestra at St. James catholic Church under the direction of Br. Bullard. “The other performance was under Mr. B. J. Lang’s direction, during the service at the Rev. Edward E. Hale’s Church, where there was no chorus or orchestra to be sure, but nearly the whole work was sung by the regular quartet choir of the society (Mrs. Julia Houston West, Mrs. Kate Rametti Winch, and Messrs. W. J. and J. F. Winch), Mr. Lang playing the accompaniment, the pastorale prelude, etc., on the organ. The music proved both edifying and artistically pleasing.” (Dwight (January 1, 1881): 6) APOLLO-SPRING 1881. TENTH ANNIVERSARY. By the spring of 1881 the Apollo, “the oldest of the Associate-membership vocal clubs celebrated the tenth year of its prosperous existence, having given sixty-eight concerts, always under the musical directorship of Mr. B. J. Lang. On the occasion, April 22, 1881, both the programme and the entire performance were exceptionally interesting. “After opening works, the group sang a work by George E. Whiting written for this occasion called March of the Monks of Bangor with orchestral accompaniment. It shows marked originality, particularly in the nervous rhythm of the march itself; and the whole work is melodious, clear, and vigorous.” (Dwight (May 7, 1881): 76) [Choral score at the Library of Congress download; vocal scores at BPL and Westminster Choir College; autograph full score at BPL] The choral score of this work was published by the Apollo Club dated 1881, and another edition, with piano reduction was published by John Church Co. of Cincinnati dated 1887. Next on the program was a world premier, Chadwick’s The Viking’s Last Voyage. “The young composer, who was warmly welcomed, conducted the performance.” (Ibid) The work was compared favorably with Bruch’s Frithjof Saga, and “in the orchestral part he seems particularly strong.” (Ibid) The Apollo Club had given the Boston premier of the Frithjof Saga just three months before. The orchestra played two movements from Saint Saens’s Suite Algerienne, “and the ever inspiring ‘Bacchus’ double chorus from Mendelssohn’s Antigone, splendidly delivered, brought the memorable concert to a close.” (Dwight (May 7, 1881) April 22, 1881 was notable for Chadwick both in this premier and also in the fact that he was hired at New England Conservatory to teach “composition.” He would continue at the Conservatory rising to the post of Director (1897) with a salary of $5,000 which rose to $10,000 in 1912 and $15,000 in 1922. (Chadwick, Life, 239) “Exterior of Young’s Hotel, Court Square and Court Street.” From About the Farm, no page numbers. “The Tenth Anniversary Dinner was held on Tuesday, May 24, 1881, at Young’s Hotel on Washington Street at Court Square. It must have been a gay evening, the formally dressed members entering through the billiard room and bar on Court Street, then ascending the stairs to the second floor and the private dining room. A six-course dinner with wines, punctuated by speeches and toasts closed the tenth year of pleasant rehearsals and convivial meetings.” (Baker, 10) In Dwight’s issue of June 4, 1881 he reprinted an article from the May 25th. Issue of the “Advertiser” which furnished further details. “The tenth anniversary supper of the Apollo Club was held at Young’s Hotel last evening. The company numbered eighty persons, and was composed of the active members, and the past active members, and the invited guests, who were the President and Director of the Harvard Musical Association, of the Boylston Club, the Cecilia Club, the Handel and Haydn Society, the Orpheus Club and the Arlington Club. Judge Putnam presided in his usual graceful and genial manner. Supper was served between half-past six and eight o’clock. Speeches and songs were then in order. The soloists were Mr. Pflueger, Mr. Osgood, William Winch, Clarence E. Hay, and there was a piano duet by Mr. Lang and Mr. Parker. The club opened the musical part of the entertainment by Mendelssohn’s Sons of Art, and subsequently sang a number of part-songs interspersed between the speeches and solos. Speeches were made by John S. Dwight, Professor Paine, G. W. Chadwick, Charles Allen and Robert M. Morse, Jr. The tables were set in the form of a Greek cross, and were handsomely spread and ornamented. All the arrangements were made under the supervision of Mr. Arthur Reed, the secretary of the club.” (Dwight (June 4, 1881): 93)
HENSCHEL MARRIAGE. Mr. Georg Henschel and Miss Lillian Bailey were married at the Second Church [Unitarian?] on the morning of April 9, and the service “was largely and fashionably attended. The newly wedded pair are to sail for Europe next month, but will return in October.” (Musical Herald, (April 1881): 79) In the May issue of the Musical Herald Henry L. Higginson announced the formation of the Boston Symphony Orchestra: “Mr. Georg Henschel will be the conductor for the coming season.” (Musical Herald (May 1881): 104)
BOSTON PHILHARMONIC SOCIETY. A new orchestra was born in the spring of 1881. The Boston Philharmonic Society (not to be confused with the older Boston Philharmonic Orchestra) used the same players as the old HMA Orchestra with the exception of Mr. Allen moving to the Concertmaster chair as Mr. Listemann moved to the conductor’s post. Concerts were on Thursday nights at the Music Hall with public rehearsals on Tuesday afternoons. The group was managed by a board of twenty-five directors which included as President, Professor John K. Paine of Harvard. Lang was not connected to this group. Six hundred signed on as associate members, thus covering the costs of the first season of five concerts. Each members was given four tickets for the evening concerts and tickets were sold for the rehearsals. (Dwight (February 12, 1881): 28) There were to be seven concerts in the season ranging from the first on November 10, 1881 to the last on April 13, 1882. (Brainard’s (July 1881): 109) In July 1881 it had not been decided who would be the conductor” “The chances are understood to lie between Messrs. Bernard Listemann and Louis Maas. (Ibid) Also in July it was announced the the HMA Orchestra season would be only of five concerts, with the first to be on December 8, 1881, and the location would be the Boston Museum rather than the Music Hall. (Ibid) The season before, 1880-81, the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra had given a series of five concerts and the HMA Orchestra had given eight. (Brainard’s (October 1880): 157)
BIRTH OF MALCOLM LANG. Malcolm Lang was born on June 14, 1881 at Lynn, MA. This would seem to be the Lang summer home. “Mr. B. J. Lang and family are, as usual, at Lynn for the summer.” (Herald (July 27, 1890): 19, Personal and Social Gossip, GB)
LANG’S TRIPS BACK TO EUROPE. In a short biography of Lang published in the summer of 1881, it was mentioned that since his return from his three year study trip in 1858, “he has gone not less than fourteen times over the blue water in order to continue his studies with the best masters there. This proves Mr. Lang to be a man fully impressed with the idea that there is no end to art, and that although a man has studied for years with Liszt, and has gathered laurels for himself at home, he may still go abroad for higher culture and greater attainments. We doubt whether many would have been willing to return to Europe after Mr. Lang’s first flattering successes at home, and we are quite sure that none have ever crossed the ocean as often as he has in search of more knowledge.” (Brainard’s (July 1881): 98) That makes 14 trips in 23 years!