APOLLO/CECILIA/TCHAIKOVSKY: 1871-1881. S.C. TOPICS. Total Words: 46,896.
- PART 1 RETURN TO HARNESS. APOLLO CLUB. B. J.’S SISTER-MARIETTA (ETTA) AND FAMILY MUSICALES. RUBINSTEIN PIANO CONCERTO IN G-BOSTON PREMIER. SECOND SERIES OF CONCERTS AT THE GLOBE THEATRE. STUDENT CONCERTO CONCERTS II. RUTH BURRAGE ROOM SUMMER 1872. TREMONT TEMPLE REOPENING. HOUSE AT 8 OTIS PLACE. NATIONAL COLLEGE OF MUSIC. GREAT BOSTON FIRE. APOLLO CLUB SEASON 1872-1873. MECHANICS’ HALL CONCERTS-MARCH 1873. EARLY CHORAL GROUPS; SOLOIST; ACCOMPANIST of the SOUTH BOSTON CHORAL UNION, CHELSEA CHORAL SOCIETY and
- BOSTON ORCHESTRAL CLUB.
- MADAME ERMINA RUDERSDORF. MENDELSSOHN QUINTETTE CLUB AND THE CATHOLIC CHORAL SOCIETY. SALEM ORATORIO SOCIETY. APOLLO CLUB SEASON 1873-1874. BOYLSTON CLUB. WORCESTER RECITAL.
- PART 2 HANDEL AND HAYDN SOCIETY. ARTHUR FOOTE. MECHANICS’ HALL CONCERTS: 1874 FEBRUARY-MARCH. SALEM CONCERT. LANG AS HANDEL AND HAYDN ORGANIST. LANG’S MOTHER DIED. BOSTON PHILHARMONIC CLUB. APOLLO CLUB SEASON 1874-1875. 100TH. ANNIVERSARY OF BUNKER HILL. THE CECILIA-BEGININGS. THOMAS CHORAL SOCIETY. MR. JOHN F. WINCH. MECHANICS’ HALL CONCERTS: 1875.
- SUMMER 1875. APOLLO CLUB SEASON 1875-1876. CHAMBER MUSIC: SPRING SERIES 1876. TCKAIKOVSKY PIANO CONCERTO NO. 1 WORLD PREMIER.
- PART 3 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. PRESIDENT HAYES VISIT.
- CECILIA-FIRST INDEPENDENT SEASON: 1876-1877. CRAMER PIANOFORTE STUDIES. AVERAGEWEEK. APOLLO CLUB SEASON 1877-1878. CECILIA-SECOND INDEPENDENT SEASON: 1877-1878. BIRTH OF ROSAMOND. CECILIA CONTINUED. CECILIA-THIRD INDEPENDENT SEASON: 1878-1879.
PART 4 APOLLO CLUB SEASON 1878-1879. ARLINGTON CLUB. EUTERPE. PIANO RECITALS. APOLLO CLUB SEASON 1879-1880. CECILIA-FOURTH INDEPENDENT SEASON: 1879-1880. RAFAELJOSEFFY. ST. BOTOLPH CLUB. MECHANICS’ HALL CONCERTS: 1880. ARLINGTON CLUB. 1880 CENSUS. BERLIOZ: DAMNATION OF FAUST-THREE TIMES! DWIGHT COMPLIMENTARY CONCERT. BENJAMIN EDWARD WOOLF-CRITIC. TREMONT TEMPLE NEW ORGAN. APOLLO CLUB SEASON 1880-1881. CECILIA-FIFTH INDEPENDENT SEASON: 1880-1881. CHADWICK PREMIER WITH APOLLO CLUB. CECILIA SOCIETY CONTINUED. CECILIA DETRACTOR. TREMONT TEMPLE CHAMBER MUSIC CONCERTS OF LANG. ORCHESTRAL CONCERTS OF LANG. ST. SAENS: NOEL-CHRISTMAS ORATORIO. APOLLO-SPRING 1881. TENTH ANNIVERSARY. HENSCHEL MARRIAGE. BOSTON PHILHARMONIC SOCIETY. BIRTH OF MALCOLM LANG. TRIPS BACK TO EUROPE.
(American) Bach: Concerto for Four Keyboards and String Accompaniment. Lang Concert at Mechanics’ Hall on April 1, 1880. (Dwight (May 8, 1880): 79)
(Boston) Beethoven: The Ruins of Athens (Selections), January 24, 1881.
(Boston) Bennett: Capriccio in E with HMA January 29, 1874. (Johnson, 59) He had played it in the chamber form before.
(Boston) von Bronsart: Concerto in F-sharp minor with HMA March 25, 1880. (Johnson, 93)
(Boston) von Bronsart: Piano Trio in G Minor, March 20, 1879.
(Boston) Goldmark: Pianoforte and String Quintet in B Flat, Opus 30. Lang Concert at Mechanics’ Hall, April 29, 1880. (Dwight, May 8, 1880, 79)
(Boston) Hiller: Concerto No. 2 in F-sharp minor with HMA January 14, 1875. (Johnson, 195)
(Boston) Rubinstein: Concerto in G major with HMA February 1, 1872. (Johnson, 302)
(American) Saint-Saens: Concerto No. 2 in G minor with HMA February 3, 1876 (Johnson, p. 309) He then played it in New York with the Philharmonic Society conducted by Leopold Damrosch ONE DAY after Annette Essipoff had played it’s New York premier on December 8, 1876 with the Thomas Orchestra!
(Boston) Saint-Saens: Sonata for Cello and Piano in c Minor. Fries and Lang at a Lang Concert on April 1, 1880. (Globe Archive, April 2, 1880, 2).
(Boston) Schumann: Concertstuck in G-minor (Introduction and Allegro) with HMA, Zerrahn conducting, February 6, 1873. (Johnson, 330)
(Basic list from an unidentified obit, BPL Rare Books Room. Specific dates from Johnson)
(American) Raff: Sinfonietta, Op. 188 for ten woodwinds. Tremont Temple, February 24, 1881. Dwight review, March 26, 1881. Herald review February 25, 1881, 4, GB.
(Boston) Rubinstein: Quintet in F Major for Piano and Woodwinds. Tremont Temple Concert, February 24, 1881. Dwight review, March 26, 1881. Herald, February 25, 1881, 4, GB.
(Probably Boston, maybe American) Rubinstein: Octet for Piano, Strings and Woodwinds. Tremont Temple Concert, February 24, 1881. Dwight review, March 26, 1881.
Lang student premiers:
(Boston) Mozart: Piano Concerto in A (No. 23, K. 488), HMA December 19, 1879. Tucker “came in at a day’s warning” as a substitute for a singer. (Dwight (January, 18, 1879): 15) Johnson (266) also lists the premier of Mozart’s Concerto No. 12 in A, K. 414 (1782) on the same program. The confusuion may come from the fact that Dwight’s review only mentions the concerto’s key, with no K. number, and both Concertos No. 12 and 23 were in A.
(Boston) Reinecke: Concerto in G-minor, Op. 33. Music Hall, Mr. R. C. Dixey, unnamed orchestra, Lang conducting, April 18, 1872. (Johnson, 292)
(American) Saint-Saens: Variations for Two Pianofortes on a Theme by Beethoven, Opus 35 at Mechanics’ Hall on March 23, 1876.
(American) Saint-Saens: Concerto No. 4 in C-minor, Op. 44 at Music Hall, Mr. John A. Preston, with HMA, Zerrahn conducting, February 14, 1878. (Johnson, 310)
(Boston) Schumann: Concert Allegro with Introduction for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 134, Music Hall, Mr. H. G. Tucker, HMA with Zerrahn conducting, February 17, 1876. (Johnson, 330)
(Boston) Wagner/Tanzig: Ride of the Walkurea, December 19, 1879. A solo by Mr. H. G. Tucker at this HMA concert; see Mozart above.
CECILIA PREMIERS: All entries from the 1907 List, except where noted.
(Boston) Bach: Ich hatte viel Bekummemiss. March 16, 1876.
(Boston) Bach: Bide With Us (with piano). February 27, 1880.
(Boston) Bach: God’s Time is Best (with piano). December 13, 1880.
(Boston) Beethoven: The Ruins of Athens (Selections). January 24, 1881.
(Boston) Bruch: Fair Ellen. March 19, 1877.
(Boston) Bruch: Odysseus. December 22, 1879.
(Boston) Buck: The Golden Legend, January 24, 1881.
(Boston) Gade: Comala. January 21, 1876. (first Boston performance with orchestra)
(American) Gade: The Crusaders (with piano). January 11, 1877. (with orchestra) February 7, 1879.
(Boston) Grieg: At the Cloister Gate (with piano). December 13, 1880. (with orchestra) January 24, 1881.
(Boston) Handel: Acis and Galatea. May 17, 1878.
(Boston) Handel: L’Allegro ed Il Penseroso (selections). April 21, 1879. (first Boston with orchestra)
(Boston) Hofmann: The Tale of the Fair Melusina, December 6, 1877.
(Boston) Mendelssohn: Laudate pueri-motet for female voices. March 16, 1876.
(Boston) Mendelssohn: The Lorely. March 18, 1875.
(Boston) Mendelssohn: Forty-third Psalm. (unaccompanied) February 27, 1880.
(Boston) Rheinberger: Toggenburg. November 25, 1878.
(Boston) Schubert: 23rd. Psalm. December 27 and 28, 1875.
(Boston) Schumann: Paradise and the Peri. February 18, 1875. With HMA. (First time with orchestra)
(Boston) Schumann: Manfred. April 24, 1880.
(American) Schumann: Scenes from Faust. March 28, 1881.
APOLLO CLUB PREMIERS (1=Zeller list)(WFAC)=Written for the Apollo Club and premiered by them. From Zeller list.
(World) Berlioz: The Marseillies Hymn “instrumented” for the club. February 4 and 9, 1881. (1) WFAC.
(Boston) Bruch: Frithiof’s Saga, Op. 23. February 4 and 9, 1881. (1)
(World) Chadwick: The Viking’s Last Voyage. Chadwick conducted. April 22, 1881. Part of Apollo Club 10th. Anniversary Concert (Lang’s sixty-eighth with the club). Have vocal score. WFAC.
(World) Lang, B. J,: Her I Love, sung by Mr. William J. Winch, March 3, 1874. (1) WFAC.
(World) Lang, B. J.: Part Song-Who comes so gracefully, gliding along. June 1, 1874. (1) (Dwight (June 13, 1874): 247) WFAC.
(World) Lang, B. J.: The Sea-King, duet, June 1, 1874. (1) “Sung by the Brothers Winch.” (Dwight (June 13, 1874): 247) WFAC.
(World) Lang, B. J.: The Two Roses, sung by Mr. William J. Winch, March 3, 1874. (1) WFAC.
(Boston) Mendelssohn: Antigone of Sophocles, Opus 55. At Tremont Temple on June 7, 1877. Soloists: Dr. Bullard, Powers, Wilkie, Lincoln, Babcock, Allen Brown, Aiken; reader-Prof. Churchill; pianist-Arthur Foote.
(Boston) Mendelssohn: Oedipus in Colonos, Opus 93. At the Music Hall on January 27, 1880 with orchestra, Lang conducting. Reader-Howard M. Ticknor.
(World) Whiting: March of the Monks of Bangor. April 22, 1881. WFAC’s Tenth Anniversary Concert. Sung again January 8, 1924. (1)
RETURN TO HARNESS.
On Friday evening October 27, 1871 Lang was one of the assisting artists in “Mr. Peck’s Popular Concerts” at the Music Hall. He played the solo version of Liszt’s Grand Fantasie on Weber’s Polonasie in E Major “with exceedingly fine effect. (Journal (October 28, 1871): 1, GB). Among the other guest artists were Mrs. Frohock who opened the concert with an organ solo (un-named) and Miss Phillipps. General admission was 25 cents with reserved tickets at 50 cents. (BPL Lang Prog., 6272) However, the “greatest success of the evening was won unquestionably by the blind violinist Mr. Joseph Heine…He performed…a one stringed version (by Paganini) of the Prayer from Moses in Egypt” which was “vociferous encored.” (Journal, op. cit.) The next day a matinée performance was offered by pretty much the same group of performers-for this Lang played Thalberg’s Fantasie on Themes from Moses in Egypt.” (Ibid) Lang played in another Peck concert on Thursday evening December 28, 1871. His solo was Liszt’s Fantasie on La Charitie. This concert opened with an organ introduction played by Mr. Eugene Thayer. Miss Adelaide Phillipps was also among the assisting artists for this event as she was for similar concert advertised for Saturday afternoon December 30, 1871 and Sunday evening December 31, 1871. (BPL Lang Prog.)
Before his connection with the Apollo Club, Lang had organized a male choir in Salem in 1860. Known “under the name of the Amphions, rehearsals were held weekly at Mr. Lang’s room [his father’s music shop]. The first and only concert was given at Mechanic Hall, April 18, 1861. There were twenty singing members and a roll of honorary members. Much of the music used by the club was selected by Mr. Lang while in Europe. The Amphions assisted the Mendelssohn Quintette Club at a concert in Salem and were invited to take part in a series of classical concerts in Boston.” (Whipple, 121) The Civil War “thinned the ranks of the organization and it was dissolved in 1862.” (Ibid)
The New Horticultural Hall, Tremont Street.
Ten years later, in 1871, Lang was named as first conductor of the Apollo Club at the age of 33. He was to lead the group for thirty years, resigning in the spring of 1902 when he was then 63. The 25th. Anniversary Program book of the Apollo Club (May 6, 1896) recorded: “In the winter of 1870-71 the Mendelssohn Glee Club of New York, then four years old, came to Boston and gave a concert in Horticultural Hall. Previous to that time there had been little male-voice music in Boston among American singers…The Chickering Club, of twelve voices, was the principal male-voice organization in active service, and admission to its concerts was obtainable only by invitation from its singing members.” This concert by the New York
HMA Program Collection.
Mendelssohn Glee Club was held on April 25, 1871. Dwight wrote: Better part-singing by male voices we have never heard than the specimens here given by this club of amateurs. Here we heard, with the volume of a choir of thirty, the same perfection of which we have had example in the eight or ten voices of our own ”Chickering Club.'” (Dwight (May 6, 1871): 23 ) The Chickering Club had been formed earlier as “a Vocal Club of twelve amateur singers gathered in 1866 by James Cutler Dunn Parker (1828-1916), organist of Trinity Church and later a member of the Boston University faculty. The members were:
(The empty stool at the right may be for the missing member)
First Tenors: William I. Winch, Dr. Samuel W. Langmaid, and John H. Stickney. Second Tenors: William B. Merrill, Allen A. Brown, and David W.Loring. First Basses: George H. Chickering, P. H. Powers, and Henry Payolt. Second Basses: Charles J. Sprague, John F. Winch, and Myron W. Whitney.” (Baker, 3)
George H. Chickering, first bass, was of the piano-manufacturing family. The Club eventually performed in his company’s Chickering Hall (then at 246 Washington Street) and became known as the Chickering Club. Lang’s first connection with this group was in 1869. Dwight reported in his May 22, 1869 issue that “Mr. Parker’s Vocal Club of amateurs sang another exquisite programme on the evenings of May 1st. and 8th.The severe bereavement which had befallen Mr. Parker deprived them of his presence (a requiem for a child was part of the program) and Mr. Lang kindly took his place for the occasion.” (Baker, 3)
Two members of this choir, John H. Stickney and Charles James Sprague together with John D. Danforth worked through the summer of 1871 to organize this new choir projected to have about forty members. The dozen members of the Chickering Club were absorbed into the new organization. On June 26th. a second meeting was held, the plan of the club decided, the Hon. John Phelps Putnam elected President and Mr. B. J. Lang musical director”” (Baker, 4) The first informal concert was held on Tuesday evening, September 5, 1871 by the fifty-two founding members. Lang was the elected conductor, but he had not yet returned from Europe, and so Charles James Sprague led this first event. Lang conducted the group until May 1, 1901 except for certain periods when the “breaking of an arm or a neck, or some other portion of his anatomy” prevented this; “but at such times it has been found that he could easily conduct the Club with A Foote.” (BPL Lang Prog., 6618-A Sketch prepared for the 100th. concert of the Club, December 21, 1886). “During the first season, several informal concerts, or monthly rehearsals, as they were called, were given in small halls, and three concerts in Music Hall, two of which were with orchestra.” (Ibid) Among the fifty-two Active Members were some of the most famous local singers of the day-Messrs. Aiken, Barnabee, Allen A. Brown, Cook, Fessenden, Fitz, Langmaid, Loring, Merrill, Powers, Ryder, Sprague, Stickney, Wetherbee, M. W. Whitney, John F. Winch, and William J. Winch were among the number.” (25th. Anniversary Concert program book) By November the five hundredth gentleman, Robert M. Morse, Jr. joined the Club as an Associate Member, thus closing the books to additional members; twelve years later he would become the second President of the Club. For the first season the assessment upon Associate members was $10, but this was raised to $15 the second year, the justification being that the group needed to pay for Club-rooms and a small hall which was to be part of a building being erected at 151 to 153 Tremont Street. The group moved into these quarters in April 1873. (Ibid) The choir was very fortunate in having as their first President, Judge John Phelps. As a non-singer, and thus having no axe to grind, and as a notable member of Boston society, he was uniquely able to gather support for the organization. (Herald (September 14, 1947): 28, GB)
“The success of the Apollo, both musically and socially, was so great and so rapid that it soon had imitators all over the country, and there have been several Apollo Clubs in various parts of the United States, besides many clubs founded on the same plan, but not taking our name. In Boston, the Boylston Club started during our third year, but soon gave up rivalry as a male-voice club, deeming it better to marry a wife and settle down to a different sort of work. The Arlington Club [conducted by John F. Winch] also started, and lived for a few years, but we have practically had the field to ourselves for ten or twelve years, and today I believe I am safe in saying that our Associate Members exceed in number those of the other vocal clubs and some of the orchestral clubs, combined.” (Ibid)
The general taste of the time was represented by the light part-songs of the lesser German Romantic composers, but B.J. favored larger works with orchestral accompaniment. However, as conductor of the Apollo Club, he was essentially a hired hand, and had nothing to do with the selection of the music. With nine out of ten of the singers against singing with orchestra, he had a great prejudice to overcome. The feeling was “After we have been working like oxen over our music, and have got it all down to a fine point, we don’t want to be drowned out by a band!” Lang’s rehearsal methods also were not appreciated by some: Apthorp wrote-“Nothing like such drilling has ever been known before in Boston. The immediate results were not found to be satisfactory by a considerable proportion of the audiences, and it took no mean amount of pertinacity and backbone on the conductor’s part to follow out the plan on which he started. His principle was that in chorus singing, as in every sort of musical performance, the indispensable basis is technique; without a solid technique nothing worthwhile can be done, and the technique can only be acquired through severe drilling. At first the singers were required to pay strict attention to just the sort of details that amateurs as a rule are most prone to overlook-giving every note its proper value, etc. But when it came to the concert, they had no attention left for anything else, the performances sounded rigidly correct, but rather dry and lifeless.After a while this exact attention to correctness of detail began to egg on his choral forces to vivacity of style, emotional vigor, and to thoroughly artistic performance. That arduous system of drilling to which Gericke subjected the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and which was so much commented on at the time, both favorably and adversely, as something utterly unprecedented by its severity, was really first applied to the Apollo Club and Cecilia by Lang.” (Fox, Lang Papers, 7)
Elson’s opinion was that “In 1871 the Apollo Club, formed largely of professionals, gave the best male chorus-singing of the country.” (Elson, 81-82)
From the beginning great things were expected. “The Handel and Haydn Society of Boston is about played out. its white headed members are beginning to grow famous by their squeaky, husky voices-and they ought to know it. They wouldn’t think of retiring in the background, or of admitting young voices and fresh talent into their exclusive ranks. They have grown old-fogyish in their notions, and can’t give a respectable concert without outside assistance. Their day is past; and our hopes now centre in the rising Apollo Club, from which the public is led to expect many wonderful successes.” (Folio, February 1872)
Syford noted: “The first concerts of the organization were given in the old Music Hall. An account that refers to the first formal concert in 1871 says: ”Music Hall was packed with an audience composed of the elite of Boston.” The report of the critic refers to the strong, resonant and fine quality of the voices, the light and shade, delicate pianissimo swelling into a storm of power with beautiful, smooth gradation; the clear, crisp enunciation of all the words as with one voice; the mingling and wielding of the transitional expression as though one mind directed it.” (Syford, 161-162) The program was:
Spring Night– Fischer; Cheerful Wanderer-Mendelssohn; I Long For Thee-Hartel (Hartell); Praise of Song-Maurer; Soldier’s Farewell-Kinkel (Kindel); Serenade-Mendelssohn; Intermission; Loyal Song-Kucken(Kucher); Lovely Night-Chwatal (Churatal); Miller’s Song-Zoellner (Zollner); The Voyage-Mendelssohn; Serenade-Eisenhofer; Rhine Wine Song-Mendelssohn; (Syford, 165)
Baker gives the date of this concert as November 7, 1871 noting that Horticultural Hall was on Tremont Street between Bromfield and Bosworth Streets; his composer spellings are given in parenthesis above. (Baker, 7)
Dwight’s review of this concert stated: “The new ‘Apollo Club of Boston’ treated their associate members and a few invited guests to a taste of their part-singing quality at Horticultural Hall on the evening of November 7. There were about forty voices, the finest in their separate quality, and the most musical, sonorous, rich and full in their ensemble, that we remember hardly ever to have heard…Mr. Lang, with whom they had had as yet but few opportunities of practice, conducted, and their singing of each and every piece was a model of blended sweetness, refined purity of tone, good light and shade, well tempered power and right expression.”Dwight then laments the limitedness of male part-singing, and asks for more weighty works such as Mendelssohn’s Antigone choruses.His final suggestion is that the group considers adding female voices! (Dwight (Nov. 18, 1871): 135) For the early concerts in each season, which were called “Rehearsals,” single cards with just the titles and composers were the programs, but for the later concerts, program books of eight pages which included the full texts and soloists names and occasional comments were produced.
The program for the Wednesday, January 10 and Tuesday, January 16, 1872 concerts at the Music Hall contained: “the Beethoven Overture to Prometheus, partsongs by Gade and Mendelssohn, Beethoven’s “Chorus of Dervishes” and ”Turkish March” from The Ruins of Athens, partsongs by Lachner, Kocken, Johann Kinkel and M. Anton Storch, interrupted by the Chopin Scherzo in B-flat minor played by Lang, and concluding with Mendelssohn’s To the Sons of Art.” (Osborne, 34) Baker refers to these two concerts as “given privately for associate members and guests only,” and that the same program had been performed December 5, 1871 as “the first formal public rehearsal.” (Baker, 8) “The Apollo Club has given two private concerts at Music Hall, which were decidedly the best vocal entertainments given in Boston within our remembrance. truly we have reason to be proud that the Hub possesses the very best male chorus in America.” (Dexter Smith’s (March 1872): 53) The Folio, of January 1872 had printed: “The Boston Apollo Club is the name of a Musical Association, whose modesty is only exceeded by its genuine worth and superiority. Many of our readers, we dare say, have never heard of the name before; and those who have heard of it, have so by mere accident. The ”Apollo Club” is a thoroughly American institution, and is composed of male singers wholly. its membership includes the names of many of our most eminent musicians. Although the society has been in existence but a short time, it already bids fair to surpass, in singing, any similar organization in the country. In a word, it is a noble body.” Then, in the Folio’s February 1872 issue it presented an extensive review. “The Apollo Concert. Nothing but an occasion of uncommon interest could have so completely filled Music Hall, on the 10th inst.; and many months have elapsed since we looked upon so fair and intelligent audience…To say that the concert was a grand success, but feebly bespeaks our mind. Altogether it was one of the most enjoyable ones of the season.” After several points of specific praise, Lang’s piano solo was mentioned. “Mr. Lang’s playing of Chopin’s Scherzo in b flat minor, was in his usual style, and of course above criticism. In a word the concert was delightful in the extreme; and again we note the superiority of the Apollo Club.” (Folio, February 1872) Another reviewer wrote: “The Apollo Club has given two private concerts at Music Hall, which were decidedly the best vocal entertainments given in Boston within our remembrance. Truly we have reason to be proud that the Hub possesses the very best male chorus in America.” (Dexter Smith’s (March 1872): 53) Not bad for a choir begun less than a year before to be able to present two concerts in the major concert hall of the city! Strangely no names are listed in the program-no conductor, no accompanist, no reference to who played the Chopin piano solo, no list of singers, no reference to who played the two overtures that opened each half, but the English words were printed for every choral selection.
By the following spring Dwight reported: “On Friday Evening, May 31 (1872), the great Music Hall was crowded once more by invited friends of male part-singing, interested in the success, already very marked, of the ”Apollo Club,” which hardly has been organized a twelvemonth. The club is in a flourishing condition, having several hundred ‘passive’ or subscribing members, including many gentlemen of high social character and culture, besides the actual singing nucleus, which is composed of over fifty singers, -the pick of the best tenors and basses in our city.In power and quality of voices never has so good an ensemble been brought together here before…They have an artistic leader and instructor. Mr. B. J. Lang has proved himself one of the best of choral drill masters…There was no full orchestra, and no overtures, as in the two great concerts given in the winter.” However woodwinds were used to accompany some items and were featured alone in Hummel’s “Andante With Variations” from his Septet in D Minor. The second half opened with Mendelssohn’s Fest-Gesang-to the Artists. Lighter pieces completed the program. Another paper commented: “The closing concert of the season of the Apollo Club was a splendid success. This is certainly the best male singing society in America.” (Dexter Smith’s, July 1872)
The Apollo Club was not without competition. Dwight reviewed the Abt Male Singing Society concert of December 1872. he began: “The hall was densely filled by a brilliant audience, which manifest great enthusiasm. The program was rich and judiciously varied, and every piece was rendered with that precision and crispness of tone which has ever characterized the society’s performances…I should not omit to mention the great improvement over the former efforts of the Society in this line. Mr. Clarke, the conductor, and the entire Society are to be sincerely congratulated on the success of this concert, which was the undoubted result of their hearty and earnest labor in rehearsing.” (Dwight (December 28, 1872): 358)
B. J.’s SISTER-MARIETTA (ETTA) AND FAMILY MUSICALES.
Mrs. Lang recorded in her Diary events held early in 1872. “Jan. Boston. Father Lang’s Musicale [this would be B. J.’s father] was very gay and successful. Etta (Mr. Lang’s sister)[Marietta] and I [Frances] among the performers. She and I sang duets. Lel gave a successful concert. (There were frequent parties and Musicales, at which Mr. Lang played, and Mrs. Lang sang.) [B. J.’s father and mother, or B. J. and his wife] We play Quartets twice a week. Lel’s concert last evening was deeply enjoyed. Ruth Burrage died yesterday. Poor child, she has suffered so terribly. At Ruth’s funeral today Lel played music he had written to Hymns of Whittier.” (Diary-Rosamond)
RUBINSTEIN PIANO CONCERTO IN G-BOSTON PREMIER.
Lang played this piece with the HMA Orchestra in early February 1872. Dwight republished a review from the Saturday Evening Gazette whose title was “Throughly Out of Humor.” The reviewer found the Rubinstein “never strikingly original” and “commonplace…Whether Mr. Lang was disspirited by the nature of the work he had undertaken to perform, or whether he was not in a favorable mood for playing, we cannot say, but we were disappointed with his performance…We have no doubt [that] his relief at its termination was no less than that of the audience.” (Dwight (Saturday February 10, 1872): 181)
SECOND SERIES OF CONCERTS AT THE GLOBE THEATRE.
The Boston Manual, E. W. Doyle. 1888. Johnston Collection.
“Mr. B. J. Lang began his second series of four Concerts, at the Globe Theatre again, on Thursday, February 14,  at 3 P.M. The attendance was flattering both in character and numbers; the social and artistic atmosphere and the surroundings very pleasant.” The Mendelssohn Quintette Club shared the program, and opened with Mozart’s String Quartet No. 8 in F major. Then Lang played two Chopin pieces-the Nocturne in C Minor, Opus 48, and then, “to eke out its brevity he also played one of the most admired of Chopin’s Ballades with rare grace and finesse.” The final piece was the Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 1 in B Flat, Opus 19 with the accompaniment played by a second piano (Mr. Sumner), string quintet and flute. The work had only been played in Boston once before: January 16, 1868 by the Harvard Musical Association with Lang as soloist. Dwight’s review of the first performance mentioned that “There is abundant opportunity for the player to show his good taste, ease, and reserve power, the subjection of deft, thoroughly practiced hands to expression, all of which Mr. Lang eminently did show. It was a most elegant and happy rendering of a charming composition with which all were glad to have made acquaintance.” (Johnson, 46)
The program for the second concert on Thursday, February 29 was-Beethoven String Quartet No. 7 in F Minor, four Nocturnes Opus 23 by Schumann, and the Mendelssohn Sonata for Cello and Piano, Opus 58. The review for this concert began: “The charming little theatre has been fuller each time…Instead of the four Nocturnes, however, Mr. Lang played only the first, -so interesting in itself, so well interpreted, that one could not be quite resigned to the withholding of its promised three companions.” (Dwight (March 23, 1872): 206 and 207) The reason for this change was that the Beethoven Piano Concerto in B flat was repeated from the first concert. Also, the Beethoven Quartet was No. 11, rather than No. 7.
The March 14 third concert included a Concerto by Bach for two violins; a four-hand composition by Mr. Bradlee, an accomplished amateur of our city; Chopin’s Etude in C sharp minor, Opus 25; and a Trio in B flat by Rubinstein. Lang and Mr. Perabo played the Bradlee work which led to an encore of the first movement of Rubinstein’s Ocean Symphony which prepared the audience for the Rubinstein Trio which was “played con amore and with great life and spirit, [and] charmed the audience, unfolding richer and richer as it went on.” Lang’s Chopin solo was mentioned: “As a technical etude it presents great difficulties; but these the hearer was not allowed to think of, so fully was he made to feel the charm and meaning of the piece.” (Op. cit., 207)
”The final concert on March 28 was advertised as having the Bach Concerto in D minor for Three Pianos, two movements of a Quintet in C by Lachner, and the Third Piano Concerto by Beethoven. (Dwight (March 23, 1872): 207)
STUDENT CONCERTO CONCERTS II
A second series of Thursday afternoon 3PM orchestral concerts was performed April 11, 18, 25 and May 2, 1872 at Mechanics’ Hall, Bedford Street. Lang’s announcement stated: “Mr. Lang begs leave to remind his friends of the Symphony Concerts which he once gave at Mercantile Hall, of the Bumstead Hall Pianoforte Concerts of last Spring, and to announce that he now proposes to give a series of Symphony Concerts, at Mechanics’ Hall (Bedford St.) on Thursday Afternoons. ” (BPL Lang Prog., 6281) Season tickets were $4, single tickets were $1.25. An appreciation of Lang’s concert giving activities is reflected in an announcement printed in the Folio: “The public will learn, with no small degrees of pleasure, that our talented pianist Mr. B. J. Lang, proposes to give a second series of Symphony Concerts, at Mechanics’ Hall, beginning on Thursday afternoon, April 11th, at three o’clock. There will be four concerts in the series. We need offer no remarks relative to the great worth and importance of these classical entertainments.” (Folio, May 1872) The critic William F. Apthorp, one of Lang’s pupils, was one of the soloists in the series. The first concert on April 11, 1872 featured Mr. G. A. Adams as the soloist in Schumann’s Concerto in A Minor Opus 51. (BPL Lang Prog., 6277)
Dwight reviewed the second and third of “these attractive ‘Thursday Afternoons’ [which] have shown improvement in the orchestral performance and increase of interest.” The second program included Beethoven’s, Symphony No. 7, Reinecke’s Concertstuck, Opus 33 played by B. J.’s pupil, Mr. R. C. Dixey, the “Aria and Gavotte” from Bach’s Suite in D Minor, the “Barcarole” from Sterndale Bennett’s Piano Concerto No. 4 played by Mr. William F. Apthorp, and the finale was the Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Beethoven’s Seventh was rather a large Symphony for an orchestra of thirty; yet for the most part it was remarkably well rendered and appreciated…Mr. Dixey was received with warm signs of favor…Mr. Apthorp’s selection was of a less pretentious and altogether graceful, pleasing character…Not demanding any high degree of execution, -except that it grows a little tasking toward the end, -it showed the taste and musical intelligence and feeling of the ardent young interpreter to good advantage.” The review for the third concert of April 25 praised the playing of B. J.’s young pupil, Mr. H. G. Tucker in Beethoven’s Fifth Piano Concerto.”(BPL, Lang Program Collection)
These concerts at Mechanics’ Hall were seen to be supplementing in some sense, in a smaller hall, the regular symphony season. “In the third concert Mr. H. G. Tucker played Beethoven’s Concerto in E-flat, No. 5... The playing of these pupils gave great satisfaction to hosts of friends who were present, and who bestowed applause most liberally upon their efforts. They evinced positive talent and there is much that is commendable in their playing, although we are inclined to think that had they selected works of lesser difficulty of execution it would have placed them in a more favorable position… Mr. Lang as a conductor shows himself to be a careful score reader and a faithful servant of the master whose work he has in hand… Mr. Lang is an earnest student, is ambitious, and possesses the requisite qualities to make a good conductor and he will undoubtedly succeed.” The review also mentioned the orchestra. “The orchestra was composed of some thirty or more instrumentalists who, to speak candidly, played tolerably well. There was a certain coarseness of execution in their playing-a want of unity and lack of expression-which was very manifest at times, although no fault of the conductor’s… The string department was ample considering the size of the hall [Mechanics’ Hall, Bedford Street], and was made up of as good resident talent as could be obtained. The violas were somewhat weak and ‘faded out,’ so to speak, and there were heard sundry gusty sounds coming from the regions of the Faggotti, and occasional asthmatic wheezes from the oboes. The horns and trumpets were well represented, and there were two prime cellos, played by Mr. Wulf Fries and Mr. Adolph Hartdegen. The three double basses furnished the foundation work, which were played strongly but not always clearly. The tympani were well managed and carefully played. The first clarinet was in the hands of Mr. E. Weber, than whom, no better player can be found. The flutes were excellent; the first violins, six in number, were good, and were led by Mr. William Schultze.” (Metronome (May 1872): 13)
Dwight ended his review by mentioning Lang’s fourth and final concert in the series which “passes fairly over into the domain of Chamber Music, dispensing with full orchestra and offering the flowing selections: Hummel’s Pianoforte Septet (played by Mr. G. W. Sumner); Beethoven’s Septet; Concerto for Three Pianofortes in C, Bach, (played by Mr. G. A. Adams, Mr. G. W. Sumner, and Mr. H. G. Tucker)” with presumably B. J. playing the orchestral part on a fourth piano. (Dwight (May 4, 1872): 230 and 231) Dwight’s review of the fourth concert was rather brief and ended with compliments to the three pianists: “It was a sweet and wholesome ending to a choice and enjoyable little after-series of concerts. With the accession of all these able young pianists Boston may feel rich indeed in that department.” (Dwight (May 18, 1872): 239) The Metronome review noted Mr. G. W. Sumner was the pianist in Hummel’s “famous Septett… in which the pianist has such a rare chance to display his powers. Mr. Sumner proved himself to be an able executant, and evinced enthusiasm, power and brilliancy in the playing. He delivered the more delicate passages with fine feeling and with a degree of certainty in the handling of the instrument and a conception of the music which is rarely met with in young pianists. The concert closed with Bach’s Concerto in C for Three Pianos, played by Messes. Sumner, Adams and Tucker.” (Metronome (June 1872): 21)
RUTH BURRAGE ROOM.
Lang was also very concerned that his pupils should have access to musical scores, and he was responsible for founding a special library. In 1879 he gave the details of it’s founding in an article for the New York Music Trade review which was then republished in Dwight’s issue of August 2, 1879.”In the upper story of Chickering & Sons building, accessible by an elevator, there exists a tastefully furnished room, containing two concert grand piano-fortes and a beautiful mahogany case containing every piece of music that exists for two piano-fortes, two players, and for two piano-fortes, four players (eight hands). Every symphony, concerto, overture, suite, etc., to the extent in value of about three thousand dollars, is there, conveniently bound, with catalogues complete. Under appropriate rules for the convenience of the beneficiaries, this room is absolutely free to all, even without asking. That this wonderful place is in constant use from morning until night, and has been from the moment it was inaugurated until now (nearly two years), is a matter of course.
From whence came all this?
A few years since  there died in Boston a lovely girl of twenty-two (a fine pianist herself), a daughter of the Hon. A[lvah]. A. Burrage, who, on her death-bed expressed the wish that the little property of which she was possessed should be given, under the guidance of Mr. B. J. Lang, to deserving musical students.The before mentioned collection of music was purchased with Miss Ruth Burrage’s [b. 1850 d. 1872] money.The Messrs. Chickering & Sons allowed Mr. Lang to construct the room, and to retain it free of rent for the purpose, so long as they (the Messrs, Chickering) occupy the building; and, furthermore, do generously supply, free of cost, the two grand piano-fortes.
Consider what delight one can get from this place. Have you two grand piano-fortes? Have you a hundred and fifty volumes of music for those two piano-fortes? This is a very expensive sort of music, while it is not just what one cares to own year in and year out. This attractive place is called the ‘Ruth Burrage Room.’ May this little description lead some generous mortal to carry out the same idea in some other of our musical centers.”(Dwight (August 2, 1879): 127) Ten rules for the use of the room were then listed including #7-“Parties are to assemble on the lower floor, in order that the elevator may be used once only to reach the room. They are expected to use the stairs in descending.” (Dwight, ibid)
No doubt Arthur Foote often made use of the Burrage Room. In 1909 he remembered “For thirty years there has been a library in Boston of music for the piano (four and eight hands) to which everyone has access; it was housed in the Chickering Building for a long time, and lately has been at 162 Boylston Street. [Steinert Hall building] The money that established it came from a legacy of Miss Ruth Burrage [Francis Lang’s cousin and a pupil of B. J. at New England Conservatory], and it has been called by her name: some years ago Mr. Lang gave a series of concerts of Bach concertos, etc., to raise money for an extension of this library, by which orchestra scores should be added, and lent to any who apply, under certain conditions. This library of scores is at 6 Newbury Street; and both of them have been of great use to many students. It was a wise man that thought of these two things, and was willing constantly to supervise them and look after their details.” (Arthur Foote in the Transcript, May 1, 1909) The Bach Concerto Concerts referred to were given at 3PM on December 1, 1898 and January 12, 1899. Lang played an Erard and Co. harpsichord at each concert. (BPL Lang Prog., Vol. 7) There is exceedingly little two-pianoforte music now published that cannot be found there; the collection is almost complete.
“The success of the Ruth Burrage Room – that is, the well-nigh unintermittent use that has been made for it for a quarter of a century, is good earnest of the wisdom of Mr. Lang’s plan. Almost countless pianoforte-playing music-lovers, who would otherwise have had no little difficulty in finding two instruments in tune together in a place where they would be free from interruption, have here found two admirable grands, always in good order, together with a collection of music to select from such is probably not duplicated in this country. Since the room was first thrown open to the public the pianofortes have been renewed a dozen times at least. In a word, the room has found a public want, and well filled it.”(Newspaper article, 1897) “It has lately  been augmented by the addition of many works by Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Chaminade and others of the newer schools. In fact there is exceedingly little two-pianoforte music now published that cannot be found there, the collection is almost complete.” (Journal (October, 27, 1897): 4, GB) The question today is-what became of that collection?
It would seem that B. J’s suggestion for the establishment of this library was somewhat self-serving as he was part of an ensemble that “was sometimes jokingly called the Ottoman Quartet.The four leading resident pianists-Otto Dresel, B. J. Lang, Hugo Leonhard, and J. C. D. Parker-were fond of playing pieces for two pianofortes, eight hands (a otto mani), in public now and then; hence the nickname, with which Dresel’s Christian name may also have had something to do.” (Swan-Apthorp, 73)
In 1912 Musical America ran an article titled “Music Library For Boston Studens-Ruth Burrage Collections of Piano Works of Great Value.” At this time the Ruth Burrage Room had been moved to the Piano dealer M. Steinert & Son on Boylston Street. The second part of the collection, the instrumental scores was now available at the studio of Malcolm Lang. (Musical America (March 9, 1912): 23)
“The Lang’s went away for the summer. No mention of where.” (Diary-Rosamond)
TREMONT TEMPLE REOPENING.
On September 24, 1872 the Tremont Temple was reopened with a concert “having been entirely renovated and beautified.” Included among the performers were “artist teachers in the National College of Music” now located in the building which included Lang, and his pupils, now colleagues, G. W. Sumner, G. A. Adams, H. G. Tucker. Lang played the Liszt/Weber Polonaise in E Minor, Sumner opened the program with the last movement from Mendelssohn’s’ First Organ Sonata, and the concert ended with Bach’s Concerto for Three Pianos in C played by Adams, Sumner and Tucker with a quintette accompaniment by the Mendelssohn Qunitette Club (possibly with Lang conducting). (Traveler (September 23, 1872): 2, GB)
HOUSE AT 8 OTIS PLACE.
[May 1872] “Lel went to Boston to see a house on Otis Place. Talked it over in the evening, and have decided to buy it. Many changes will have to be made…We seem constantly on the hunt for furnishings for our house. Silver, carpets, fixtures etc. Also mirrors and wallpapers…[Nov. 1st] We moved into 8 Otis Place.” (Diary 2-Rosamond) In 1873 she wrote: “We love our Otis Place house. Today took Maidie to Miss Garland’s Kindergarden School, on Chestnut Street. Took Maidie to hear her father play a concert. She was restless, said the music was horrid.” (Diary 2-Rosamond) Margaret was then five years old. Rosamond then continued: “Nothing very outstanding occurred during the year . Mr. Lang gave a number of Pianoforte concerts, had his Apollo Club Concerts; and Mrs. Lang was constantly being asked to sing at one party or another. They went frequently to the Opera and Theatre,” Margaret was six years old on November 27, 1872. Mother Lang came for a visit. (Diary 2-Rosamond)
NATIONAL COLLEGE OF MUSIC
According to Dwight’s article of October 5, 1872, this college was founded by Thomas Ryan, clarinetist with the Mendelssohn Quintette Club, and was located within the Tremont Temple. It’s opening recital, September 24, 1872 included Lang, as a professor, playing Liszt’s transcription of Weber’s Polonaise in E minor, and Lang presenting three of his students, Messrs. Adams, Sumner, and Tucker in Bach’s Concerto for Three Pianos in C major, [C MAJOR OR C MINOR-SEE ABOVE] with an accompaniment of string quartet. Sumner had opened the recital with the Last Movement from Mendelssohn’s First Organ Sonata. This notice had appeared in Dwight’s June 15, 1872 issue: “MUSICAL EDUCATION. The Mendelssohn Quintette, with Mr. B. J. Lang, and other good musicians and teachers, will open in September, here in Boston, a new ‘National College of Music.’ During the coming weeks, while the city is full of musical visitors, the Directors will be present at their rooms in Tremont Temple, every day, from 11 to 1 o”clock, to answer questions.” A notice in the September Folio also noted: “Another marked feature of this college will be the new vocal teacher, Mr. Cirillo, secured through the agency of Mr. Howard Ticknor, who writes of him pleasantly.” (Folio, September 1872) Ticknor remarked on how difficult it was to find good vocalists, even in Italy. He felt that Cirillo “is upon the whole the best vocal teacher I have ever met, and he is the man of men whom I would like to bestow on Boston…If he could work in Boston for one year, I’ll stake all my critical reputation that even the unskillful in such matters will recognize his rare merits.” (Ibid) He then mentioned his eight years of journalism “to support the development of good taste.” (Ibid) On April 15, 1873, the college gave “its first Exhibition Concert of the Pupils, closing the Spring term… The most remarkable performance of the afternoon was that of the difficult Schumann Concerto, by Miss Barton, a young pupil of Mr. Lang, whose rendering of the first movement was highly satisfactory… It was a most arduous undertaking for a young girl, and such a measure of success seems full of promise. There was at least the merit of adhering to true time in all the movements; one could trust her teacher for that, who sat at a second piano, helping out the quintet accompaniment.” (Dwight (May 3, 1873): 14)
Apthorp, a teacher of the school described its organization: “The teachers in each department look to some one definite head for guidance in the management of their various classes. The head teacher in each department [Lang in piano] has been brought up in the same school of playing or singing as the other teachers under his direction, many of whom have for some years been his own pupils and coworkers [George W. Sumner, Hiram Tucker, William Apthorp, Mr. Dixie, and J. Q. Adams (Ryan, 172)], so that a pupil may begin at the lowest grade in any department and successively pass on to higher and higher grades, without being forced to adopt a new system at each successive step.” (Musselman, 101) Unfortunately the great Boston Fire of 1872 happened just a month after the school had opened, and this forced many students to withdraw which in turn affected the financial condition of the institution which then closed at the end of its first year. (Ryan, pp. 172-173) The school did present an “Exhibition Concert of the Pupils” which represented the closing of the Spring Term on Tuesday afternoon, April 15, 1873 at Tremont Temple. Their teachers and the Mendelssohn Quintette Club assisted the students. A Summer Term was advertised to begin April 21, 1873 with a “Corps of Artist Teachers” including “Mr. C. R. Hayden, tenor singer, recently a graduate from Leipsic [sic] Conservatory, and for two years afterwards a student under the best singing masters in Naples, has just commenced his labors in the college…The celebrates Tosti, known throughout Italy as a finishing teacher for the opera, in Rome and Naples, has been secured, and may be expected next term (HMA Program Collection). Unfortunately this term never happened, and the College only lasted one year. In the fall of 1873, Lang returned to teaching at the New England Conservatory—he was then thirty-five.
GREAT BOSTON FIRE
The Great Boston Fire began in the evening of November 9, 1872, and it was not until the following Sunday at 2PM that it was put under control. Sixty-five acres were destroyed which included 776 buildings. The total cost of personal property and merchandise lost was “estimated at close to $7 billion in today’s dollars.” (Puleo, 178) Lang’s former church, Old South was threatened but saved. “Flames licked at the venerable church’s door, even as crews poured streams of water on its walls and several brave firefighters climbed the roof to sweep away sparks. Even Burt [Postmaster General who had advocated blowing up buildings to stop the fire] resisted demands that Old South be blown up. The battle to save the church raged through the night, and when the steeple clock struck 6:00AM, one bystander said, ”Dear old church, I’m afraid we shall never hear that bell again.” But at the last moment, a steam engine from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, arrived; it had been loaded on a flatbed train with the Portsmouth fire company and taken to Boston. Fresh firefighters and equipment turned the tide; the fire was stopped at Washington Street and Old South survived.” (Puleo, 181)
Frances noted in her Diary: “Nov. 9th. The big Boston fire. Lel and I went to see it all last evening. It was too horrible for words. Nov. 10th. I dressed in Marion’s old clothes, and after breakfast, Helen and I, with Owen the Butler for courier, went around the city to give some of the wearied workers, bread and coffee. We also gave some to the exhausted firemen. Nov. 11th. Went to the top of the P. O. Building and looked down on the still blazing city. It was like a volcano.” (Diary 2, Nov. 10 and 11-Rosamond)
In presenting concerts, Lang not only had the effects of the Great Boston Fire to be contend with, but also the safety of his concert goers. The Boston musical paper published by Dexter Smith reported in December 1872: “Boston is now the most unsafe city in the Union, as regards life and property. Nearly every day brings its murder or robbery, and the victim is not allowed a choice between being shot down in his own doorway (like a dog), or cut up, packed in barrels and thrown into the river. A ‘committee of safety’ is being talked of by the citizens, and we hope it will result in something more than talk. A little old-fashioned hanging would be a good thing now.” (Dexter Smith’s (December 1872): 284)
APOLLO CLUB SEASON 1872-73
“Lel has written 2 lovely compositions for the Apollo Club to sing.” (Diary 2, November 1872) This comment by Frances raises the question: two more missing pieces by B. J., or were they the two solos premiered in March 1874 or the duet premiered in June 1874? Previously when she meant vocal pieces, she used the word “solos.” The use of “compositions for the Apollo Club” would seem to imply choral works.
Dwight reported on Apollo Club concerts given on Jan. 3 and 6, 1873 at the Music Hall: “Never in this city have we heard so capital a chorus of male singers; the voices being of the choicest quality in all the four parts, -particularly the smooth, sweet, clearly soaring upper tenors and the rich, mellow, manly basses, -and their ensemble very perfect under the careful training and the sure and nice conductorship of Mr. B. J. Lang. They numbered nearly a dozen voices of each part…and their whole performance was obviously a marked improvement upon that of a year ago, good as that seemed to most of us.” The programme was the same of both nights, but at the second concert an orchestra was used for certain accompaniments and two overtures. Dwight called attention to how much more effective the orchestraly accompanied pieces were at the second concert. The “Bacchus” Chorus” from Mendelssohn’s Antigone was sung with full orchestra which leads Dwight to ask for the complete work. Of the opening work, Beethoven’s Coriolanus Overture which was given “with great spirit” by the full orchestra at the second performance, Dwight wrote that one first concert performance at two pianos, played by Lang “and his pupils Messrs. Sumner, Apthorp and Tucker ineffectively foreshadowed” what the orchestra sound would be. (Dwight (January 25, 1873): 374) Another reviewer stated: “The private concerts given by the Apollo Club, at Music Hall, Jan. 3rd and 6th, were glorious feasts to the musical audiences who crowded the vast hall to overflowing on both occasions. The program comprised gems from the best composers, which were most artistically rendered by the Club. We noticed a great improvement over their efforts of last season, even, especially in delicacy of shading, the pianissimos being remarkably well sung. Boston has reason to be proud of the Apollo Club.” (Dexter Smith’s, February 1873, p. 33) To have two full houses was quite a feat considering that “with nearly two thousand cases of small-pox, and sixty deaths a week, the Board of Health have (sic) provided a hospital for one hundred patients, and talk of ”complete isolation.”” (Ibid) Dexter Smith’s issue of July 1873 made the comment: “It is a pity that so good a paper as the Courier has such a weak musical ‘critic.'” (Dexter Smith’s (July 1873): 5) Also mentioned in that issue were that “Clara Doria has settled in Boston,” and that “F. H. Torrington [of King’s Chapel] has received most flattering offers to go to Montreal, but has concluded not to accept them.” (Ibid) Torrington did not resist too long, actually only about thee months, as it was announced that “John W. Tufts is now organist at King’s Chapel.” (Dexter Smith’s (November 1873): 139) But, before that it was announced that John K. Paine from Harvard was to succeed Torrington as organist at King’s Chapel. (Dexter Smith’s (October 1873): 125) One wonders what happened that Paine should withdraw from a position as important as organist at the premier Unitarian church of its time, King’s Chapel. Under “Editorial Etceteras” the paper noted: “The piano-forte trade suffered severely by the late fire. The elegant showrooms of Messrs. Chickering & Son, J. W. Brackett and Barnabee & Winch were destroyed, and other similar establishments suffered damage.” (Op. cit., 8) Also of note: “Miss Alice Dutton, pianist, has returned from Paris, and will reside in Boston.” (Dexter Smith’s (November 1873): 135)
“The Apollo Club procured club rooms at 151-153 Tremont Street in a new building. A collation was served in April, 1873 to mark the opening. The Club had been incorporated by a special act of the Legislature in March.” (Baker, 9)
In addition to active and subscribing members, the Society also elected honorary members, “composed of persons distinguished for their interest in the purposes of the club, or who have rendered it valuable service. This membership numbers four; Allen A. Brown, Arthur Reed, B. J. Lang and Mr. Chickering.” (Syford, 160) Allen A. Brown provided access to his “unequalled musical library (which now occupies a spacious room in the Boston Public Library)” (Syford, 165) and he also served many years on the music committee; Arthur Reed was the first Secretary and held the office for twenty-five years.
The May 26, 1873 concert at “the crowded Music Hall” used an orchestra to accompany three of the double choruses from Mendelssohn’s Antigone. “These had evidently been carefully rehearsed by the singers, but not so thoroughly by the players; so that the best intensions of Mr. Lang and his attentive followers were in some degree baulked.” The orchestra also played Mendelssohn’s Overture to Heimkehr and Bennett’s Overture to Naiads which “agreeably varied” the program. Some items were thought “trivial for solid men with grey bears (some of them) to be so absorbed in,” and “The ‘Pilgrim Chorus’ from Tannhauser was not entirely happy in the introductory recitative. But these drawbacks were accidents, and it was clear enough to all that still the motto of the ‘Apollo’ is Excelsior!” (Dwight (June 28, 1873): 47) It would seem that Dwight’s request the year before for Mendelssohn had been quickly answered.
MECHANICS’ HALL CONCERTS-MARCH 1873.
In 1873 B. J. gave a series of four concerts at Mechanics’ Hall: March 6 and 20 and April 3 and 17 at three o’clock. No orchestra was mentioned. Season tickets were $4. (6285) The first concert, given to a completely filled hall, “a large and fashionable audience,” (Folio, April 1873, p. 104) included Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto, which “was rendered by Mr. Lang with delicacy and refinement,” (Ibid) (Mr. Sumner supplied the outline of the orchestral accompaniment effectively on a second grand piano), three songs by Mendelssohn sung by Mr. Charles R. Hayden (who was Lillian Bailey’s uncle and singing teacher), the Cello Sonata, Opus 69 by Beethoven, played by Mr. Wulf Fries who “sustained his usual good reputation,” (Ibid) Six Pieces for piano Opus 72 by Mendelssohn, and the Mozart Sonata In D Minor for Two Pianos, Opus 53 “which was admirably rendered by Mr. J. C. D. Parker and B. J. Lang.” (Ibid) Dwight reported: “Mozart’s Sonata for two pianos was a most acceptable novelty, full of the truest Mozart life and charm throughout, and the performance by Mr. Parker and Mr. Lang was all that could be wished. The six little Kinderstucke by Mendelssohn were a pleasant offering gracefully presented.” (Dwight (March 22, 1873): 406 and 407)
The second concert which “was even more interesting than the first,” featured Bach’s Concerto for Two Pianos in C major played by Lang and Mr. Otto Dresel with string quartet accompaniment-“Even more beautiful than that for three pianos.” Lang played two solo pieces by Bach and Chopin’s Nocturne in C minor, Op. 48, and the concert concluded with Schumann’s Quintet for Piano and Strings which “was given with great spirit and triumphant mastery, as if the whole thing were the inspiration of the moment.” (Dwight (April 5, 1873): 414) The Globe reported on the second of these concerts: “There was a remarkably good attendance at Mechanics’ Hall, yesterday afternoon, in spite of the very unfavorable state of the weather. The concert was an excellent one, and gave general satisfaction.” (Globe (March 21, 1873): 1)
The third concert included solo piano works, Schumann’s Sonata for Violin and Piano Op. 105, “and then, having forgotten to bring the notes of a Beethoven Rondo promised in the programme, he repeated, to the delight of all, the wonderful Nocturne in C Minor, Opus 48 by Chopin in a masterly manner. Chopin’s Rondo in C, op. 73, for two pianos, very finely played by Mr. Hugo Leonhard and Mr. Lang, brought the concert grandly to a close.” (Dwight (May 3, 1873): 14) (6288) Another substitution was made after “Finding that a second piano-forte was inadequate for the orchestral accompaniment of the Mozart Concerto in D Minor, Mr. Lang gave admirably the Sonata in E Flat by Darsck, which he performed with so much acceptance in the Mendelssohn Quintette Club series.” This reviewer felt that the performance of the Chopin Rondo “was most beautifully played, concluding the concert delightfully. Mr. Lang’s next matinée will offer a programme surpassing in beauty, if possible, all the predecessors of the series.” (Traveler (April 4, 1873): 2, GB)
“The fourth and final concert, given on April 17 included two piano concertos (Beethoven Concerto in C Minor Opus 15 and Mendelssohn’s Concerto in D Minor Opus 40) played by B. J. with orchestral parts played by Mr. G. W. Sumner, songs by Beethoven and five of his piano Bagatelles, and Schumann’s Andante and Variations, op. 46 for two pianos with Mr. Ernst Perabo. (Ibid)
EARLY CHORAL GROUPS. SOLOIST. ACCOMPANIST.
Before Lang founded The Cecilia, and in addition to the special concerts that he arranged with his church choirs, he conducted other Boston-area choral societies.
South Boston Choral Union.
“The South Boston Choral Union, B. J. Lang director, gave a concert Jan. 9th. at Wait’s Hall, assisted by Misses E. M. Abbot, M. C. Hill, H. M. Hayes, and Messrs. M. L. Ingalls, and G. W. Dudley, as soloists. The choruses were sung with marked precision, and good effect. Misses Abbot and Hill, and Mr. Ingalls sang finely, their several selections being vociferously applauded. Mr. Lang volunteered a piano solo, which was rendered in his usual artistic manner.” (Folio (February 1873): 43) Earlier, in October of 1870, the Choral Union had sung as the choir at the “Laying of the Corner Stone of Harvard Memorial Hall.” For this event the choir was conducted by Harvard’s Director of Music, J. K. Paine, and a chorus from his oratorio St. Peter closed the service. (Herald (October 7, 1870: 4, GB) Paine may not have been their regular conductor. Later in 1873 “Mendelssohn’s Elijah was given April 17th, at Phillips Church, South Boston, B. J. Lang, conductor” with “Mrs. J. H. West, Mrs. H. E. Sawyer, Misses H. S. B. Dykes, and A. M. Culver, Messrs. W. J. Winch, J. F. Winch, principal vocalists, G. W. Sumner, organist, H. G. Tucker, pianists.” Tickets were 50 cents. (Folio (June 1873): 171)(BPL Lang Prog.) By 1874 Mr. G. W. Dudley was listed as the conductor, and the choir’s April concert included Bennett’s May Queen and Rice’s Morning. (Advertiser (April 9, 1874): 2, GB)
The December 1873 issue of the Folio recorded that he had been re-elected as conductor of the Chelsea Choral Society (Folio (December 1873): 164).
Chelsea Choral Society.
“…last concert this season on Thursday next, at City Hall. Rossini’s Stabat Mater...Also the duet and chorus “I Waited For the Lord” from Hymn of Praise...besides some miscellaneous music. The tickets have been taken rapidly and a full house is consequently expected.” (Traveler (May 11, 1870): 2. GB) Mr. J. W. Tufts was the conductor.
The December 1873 issue of the Folio recorded that Lang had been re-elected as conductor of the Chelsea Choral Society (Folio (December 1873): 164).
“…began its rehearsals last night (Monday, November 9) with George L. Osgood for conductor and Miss Mary Greeley for pianist.” (Advertiser (November 10, 1874): 1. GB)
The “first concert this season in the new Broadway Hall, the performance being mostly of a choral sort, and including, besides part-songs and glees, Mendelssohn’s Hear My Prayer and Schumann’s Gypsy Life.” (Advertiser (March 17, 1875): 4. GB) “The audience was large…The society, numbering over two hundred voices, occupied the entire stage…The choruses, with scarcely an exception, were well rendered…Mr. Osgood, as conductor, has succeeded in bringing the society to a higher standard than they have ever reached before. ” (Advertiser (March 18, 1875): 1, GB)
“…commences its rehearsals this evening, under the direction of Mr. George L. Osgood.” (Traveler (October 18, 1875): 2, GB)
It would seem that Lang’s time with this choir was short, probably the 1872-1873 and 1873-1874 with Osgood beginning for the 1874-1875 season and continuing at least through the 1875-1876 season.
Boston Orchestral Club.
Lang continued in appear as soloist in concerts of other organizations. The “First Grand Concert” by the “Boston Orchestral Club,” an orchestra of forty-five, presented a concert at the Music Hall on Sunday evening April 19, 1874 with Frederic F. Ford and Lang as soloist in the Second Part of the concert performing Capriccio in B Minor for Piano and Orchestra by Mendelssohn. Lang was only one of five other assisting artists plus a Horn Quartette! (HMA Program Collection)(BPL Lang Prog., Vol. 2) Tickets were fifty cents.
Madame Ermina Rudersdorf.
One of the leading soloists of the era was Madame Ermina Rudersdorf [born Russia 1822-1882] for whom Lang seemed to be her preferred accompanist. At her Mechanics’ Hall matinee on Tuesday January 21, 1873 Lang played for her selections while another accompanist, Lang’s pupil William F. Apthorp, played for the rest of the program. “Lang performed the accompaniments to Madame Rudersdorf’s songs with much delicacy and finish.” (Traveler (January 22, 1873): 1, GB) The Journal noted that Lang gave “excellent service” as her accompanist. (Journal (January 22, 1873): 4, GB) This concert was the second of three with the last to be on February 4. (Ibid) A week later all three musicians were involved in a “Grand Charity Concert” to aid the YMCA. The choir of the Church of the Advent “most generously offered their services” as did Madame Rudersdorf, “who also gives the services of…[and] our own popular pianist, Mr. B. J. Lang, and Mr. Wm. F. Apthorp who will preside at the piano.” (Traveler (January 29, 1873): 3, GB)
Mendelssohn Quintette Club and the Catholic Choral Society.
Then in February Lang appeared with the Mendelssohn Quintette Club, was a soloist in the Catholic Choral Society Music Hall concert conducted by his friend, Mr. George E. Whiting on February 16, and then in March/April he presented his own series of four Thursday afternoon concerts on March 6 and 20 and April 3 and 17. (Traveler (February 14, 1873): 1, GB) All of this on top of his regular schedule!
SALEM ORATORIO SOCIETY.
Lang was the organist and a Mr. Francis ____ was the pianist for the Salem Oratorio Society performance of Mendelssohn’s St. Paul which was given at the Mechanic Hall on Thursday March ?, 1873. The Germania Orchestra also accompanied, and Lang played the “New Concert Organ,” just newly installed. The soloists were Mrs. Julia West, Mrs. Barry and the Winch brothers, all conducted by Carl Zerrahn. The choir was “the entire Chorus of the Society, numbering about four hundred voices.” (Information from a Program offered on Ebay, April 14, 2014)
APOLLO CLUB 1873-1874.
The December 30, 1873 Music Hall concert (repeated a week later) was sung to a full crowd, and “was the best public manifestation which this strong and select choir of admirable voices has yet given of its quality.The singing of the larger pieces, -this time without orchestra, – was much better than upon the last occasion.There were sixty voices, finely balanced, sweet, rich, musical, trained to a nicety in all points of expression and effect.The only accompaniment was that of their able conductor, Mr. B. J. Lang, at the piano.The programme, too, contained a greater proportion than ever before of compositions of decided and enduring value.”Two choruses from Mendelssohn’s Antigone, including the “Bacchus” chorus were sung “most admirably.”The second half included “lighter, sentimental pieces” including solos by William and John Winch, and the finale was the “Pilgrim Chorus” from Tannhauser. (Dwight (January 10, 1874): 159)
SENATOR SUMNER’S FUNERAL. In addition to their own concerts at the Music Hall, the choir was called upon to contribute to a number of civic occasions. “A large number of the members of the club also, by invitation of the city of Boston, assisted at the memorial services in honor of Charles Sumner, one of Massachusetts’ most illustrious senators, on April 29, 1874. After Lang’s organ prelude of the “Final Chorus” from the Passion by Bach [St. Matthew?], they sang a Prayer by Storch. The, after a prayer by Rev. Phillips Brooks, they sang a Hymn written for the occasion by Oliver Wendell Holmes, set to a Holland National Air arranged by Lang. (BPL Lang Prog., Vol. 2 )(Advertiser (April 30, 1874): 4, GB) Sumner’s funeral had been on March 16, 1874, and among the pallbears were “Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and John Greenleaf Whittier…The body had lain for thousands of mourners to view” at the Massachusetts State House, and this was followed by a “brief prayer service at King’s Chapel,” which was followed by burial at Mount Auburn Cemetary in Cambridge. America had lost its “most passionate, vociferous, long-standing, unwavering, and inexhaustible antislavery champion.”(Puleo, 186 and 187) “Prof. Charles W. French, secretary and business manager , still has in his files a letter from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, thanking the club for its program.” (Herald (September 14, 1947): 28, GB)
Good notices continued with a June 1874 review that reported “The Apollo Club, its active force now raised to sixty singers, gave about the best feast of male part-singing, in the Music Hall, June 1, that we have yet had…They quite surpassed their previous efforts, greatly as those were admired.” Again Lang was the accompanist, the brothers Winch soloed [in Lang’s The Sea King], and “The whole concert did great honor to the Club and to their excellent conductor.”(Dwight (June 13, 1874): 247) The Advertiser also cited Lang’s duet: Mr. Lang’s own compositions were heard with unaffected pleasure. The duet, The Sea King is picturesque and striking in many ways, but on the whole less interesting than the part song Who Comes So Gracefully-a piece dainty, delicate and exquisitely fanciful, set to a tender bewitching melody and ingenious in its harmonic forms.” The review went on to describe the state of the choir: “The body of sound is splendid in sweetness, harmoniousness and purity…They have learned the difficult art of singing a genuine pianissimo and fortissimo…We have dwelt, on other occasions, upon the advantage of such soloists as Messrs. Winch, Dr. Langmaid, Mr. Powers, Mr. Stickney and many others perhaps equally worthy of mention.” (Advertiser (June 3, 1874): 2, GB) Frances had noted in her Diary late in 1872: “Lel has written two lovely compositions for the Apollo Club to sing.” (Diary-Rosamond)
BOYLSTON CLUB. Two years after the Apollo Club was formed, another male choir was organized. In May 1873 the Boylston Club began as purely a male-voice, part-song choir “who rehearsed for a long time privately under Mr. J. B. Sharland.” (Dwight, History of Music in Boston, 453) The group reorganized in 1875 with a new conductor, the well-known singer, Mr. George L. Osgood. At that time the choir had one-hundred voices, and Osgood expanded the repertoire to include not only part-songs, but also larger works by Cherubini, Palestrina and Schumann. (Ibid) Two years later the choir “mated itself with an equally large and select choir of female voices, so that it could present works either for male, or female, or mixed chorus.” (Ibid) Mr. Osgood used his knowledge as a singer to improve the group so that it “reaches a degree of excellence in singing which compares well with any of its rivals.” (Op. cit., 354) The conductor also appeared as a soloist with, and composer for the choir. 1877 was also the year that the Cecilia began its life as an independent organization.
Lang continued to assist his pupils whenever he could. On February 11, 1874 he gave a piano recital at the Worcester Country Music School where his pupil, George Sumner was on the faculty. He opened with the Mendelssohn Piano Concerto in G Minor, played two solos, Nocturne in C Minor, Op. 48 by Chopin and Caprice in C Major by Lang, and ended the program with Liszt’s transcription of Weber’s Polonaise in E Minor. Sumner played the piano reduction for the opening concerto. Also in the program were three songs sung by Mr. Charles Hayden who was also a faculty member of the school. He was the uncle and voice teacher of Lillian Bailey, the future Mrs. Georg Henschel. (Copy of program from the HMA Program Collection)