(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, p. 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, p. 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: Concerto No. 23 in A, K. 488 (1786) and Concerto No. 12 in A, K. 414 (1782) by Mr. H. G. Tucker with HMA, Music Hall, Zerrahn conducting, December 19, 1878. (Johnson, 268 and 266)
(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.
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)
(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.
(World) Lang, B. J,: Her I Love, sung by Mr. William J. Winch, March 3, 1874. (1)
(World) Lang, B. J.: The Sea-King, duet, June 1, 1874. (1)
(World) Lang, B. J.: The Two Roses, sung by Mr. William J. Winch, March 3, 1874. (1)
(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. Written for the club’s Tenth Anniversary Concert.
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 MUSICALS.
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)
REOPENING OF TREMONT TEMPLE.
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 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. 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 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 1872-1873.
Just over a year later Dwight reports on 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): 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)
“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, p. 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)
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)
HANDEL AND HAYDN SOCIETY.
In the June 1874 Annual Report of the Handel and Haydn Society, Lang’s role as accompanist was noted. “The pianist who is willing to devote his time to the dry study of the intricate choruses of any new and difficult work with a society of amateurs like ours, who stumble at every step, requiring the closest attention on his part to aid them in their work, most assuredly must be induced to do so from love of the compositions and from the advantages which must thereby accrue to the cause of art, and in this his chief recompense is found. Mr. Lang has not only shown a self-sacrificing spirit in all this, but he has in no small degree contributed his powerful and valuable support to the chorus from his obscure position behind the Beethoven statue, [at the Music Hall] through the instrumentality of the superb organ under his control. One less skilful than he might have jeopardized many a performance, however able the hand which wielded the baton.” (Dwight (June 13, 1874): 244)
ARTHUR FOOTE (b. March 5, 1853 at Salem, MA and d. April 8, 1937 at Boston, MA).
“Arthur Foote As a Young Man.” Grove, American Supplement-1920, 206. Used in Elson’s The History of American Music, 1904, 188.
Foote was among the many talented pupils of Lang, and their association then became one of colleagues. Lang first taught Foote when he was 14. In 1870 Foote began at Harvard having “the good fortune to find John K. Paine there. His coming in 1869 marked the beginning of real musical instruction and of the development of a Department of Music…There were naturally few students for Paine at that time; in fugue I was the only one, taking my lessons at his house. He was college organist as well, and I had sense enough to appreciate the beautiful improvisations which I heard at chapel. I owe a great deal to him, not only for the excellent teaching but also for the important influence which he had on me at a time when it was sadly needed.” (HMA Bulletin No.4, 1) Foote graduated from Harvard in 1874, and he took organ lesson from Lang that summer—Lang convinced him to continue his music study. A year later he graduated from Harvard with the first MA in music. Foote opened a piano studio next door to the Harvard Musical Association, and became a member. He was appointed organist of Church of the Disciples 1876, then in 1878 at First Unitarian Church, Boston where he stayed until 1910. Foote shared Lang’s love of Wagner. He attended the first Bayreuth Festival in 1876 and the premier of the complete Ring of the Nibelungen (Cipolla, Am Nat Bio, Vol. 13, 190) He made eight trips abroad over a twenty-year span. He married in 1880—his only child, Katharine was born in 1881.
On Wednesday April 22, 1891, Foote led “The Ladies” Vocal Club of Salem” at the Cadet Armory Hall in one of three “Popular Concerts” sponsored by the “Salem Oratorio Society” whose conductor was Carl Zerrahn. In addition to the vocal numbers, piano pieces included Lang playing the Etude, Opus 25, No. 7 by Chopin and “Scherzo” from Sonata, Opus 31, No. 3 by Beethoven; Lang and Foote playing the Variations on a Theme from Beethoven by Saint-Saens: and the piano quartet of Lang, Foote, Phippen and Fenollosa playing the “First Movement” from Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony and Les Contrastes by Moscheles. Foote taught at NEC from 1921 until his death in 1937. (Cipolla, 150) “Though he lived to 1937, Foote absorbed no twentieth-century styles. He was not a bigot, like Dwight. Rather, he acknowledged his timidity with typical equanimity: ”My influence from the beginning, as well as my predilection, were ultra-conservative”…Foote’s failure to grow was typical of Boston: like the writers he knew and admired, he was both supported and stifled by a benign cultural environment.” (Horowitz, 99) Following the lead of his teacher Lang, Foote presented a series of eight chamber music concerts “on every Saturday evening in February and March.”  at the Chickering Hall, 156 Tremont Street. (BPL Music Hall Prog., Vol. 3) Another series was presented in 1882.
1874 MECHANICS’ HALL CONCERTS: FEBRUARY—MARCH.
Lang presented a series of four chamber music concerts on Thursday afternoons from 3:30PM until 5PM on February 19, March 5, 12 and 26, 1874. The first concert opened with Beethoven’s Sonata in C minor, Op. 30 for Violin and Piano and closed with the Fantasie in form of a Sonata, Op. 5 by Saran which “Mr. Lang played with unflagging spirit and great brilliancy…to the delight of the whole company” except for Dwight who felt that there was just too much expression even though he did have to admit that the title did allow “more or less of moody freedom in this regard.” (Dwight (March 7, 1874): 190) The Metronome reported on the first concert: “We were unable to be present, but are pleased to hear on every hand that the concert was a perfect success. It could not have been otherwise, for Mr. Lang has fairly earned the reputation of being one of the most thorough pianists among us, and his fine taste as regards selections cannot be questioned. Those who have observed his musical career, have been pleased to note that his ambition has led him in the direction of true progress, both technical and aesthetically; by true merit, through indomitable will and keen judgment he has arrived at a most enviable position in his profession.” (Metronome (March 1874): 90)
A review by Dwight did not always guarantee a positive evaluation of Lang. The second concert “offered to a crowed audience” included Mendelssohn’s youthful Piano and String Quartet in B minor, Op. 5 with three members of the Mendelssohn Quintette Club “which he composed over two years before the Midsummer Night’s Dream Overture…Mr. Lang showed an easy mastery of its great difficulties, and the work went well as a whole.” Mr. George L. Osgood sang Schubert and Beethoven, and Lang played Chopin’s Fantasie in F minor, Op. 49, but not to the best review: “We have had [it] better played in concerts of Mr. Dresel and, more recently, of Rubenstein. Mr. Lang was not at his best in it, -at least not so happy as in his rendering of some other not less trying works of Chopin.” The concert ended with Schumann’s Piano Quintet in E flat major, Op. 44-no critical comment was made. (Dwight (March 21, 1874): 178 and 179)
On March 12, which was the third in the series, Lang and the brothers August and Wulf Fries played Mendelssohn’s Trio in C Minor.” Mr. Lang repeated the Fantasie Sonata by Saran, with the same brilliancy and clearness as before, and, to our feeling, much more satisfactorily with regard to evenness of tempo and chaste simplicity of expression.The concert closed with an admirable performance, by himself and Wulf Fries, of the Introduction and Polonaise, Op. 3 for piano and cello, by Chopin.” The tenor, Mr. Charles R. Hayden also performed. (Dwight (April 4, 1874): 206 and 207)
The final concert in that year’s series was given on March 26: it “was a remarkably attractive one, -at all events Mechanics’ Hall was thronged. The great feature was the Trio in B flat, Opus 52, [for piano, violin and cello] by Rubinstein, a fiery, strange, effective work, bristling with difficulties from which many a deft and staunch pianist might well shrink; but Mr. Lang seemed in his element while resolutely, gracefully surmounting them, and came out loudly cheered…Mr. Lang’s piano solos came all together in a series of six pieces in the middle of the concert…finally, again by Chopin, that ever welcome great Nocturne in C minor (opus 48), for which we have several times expressed our indebtedness to Mr. Lang, who played it con amore.”(Dwight (April 18, 1874): 214) The thirty year old vocalist Miss Clara Doria also took part. Miss Doria was recently arrived in Boston, and Lang hired her professionally and then came to know her socially when she married the Boston lawyer Henry Monroe Rogers. The daughter of the English composer John Barrett, Miss Doria was the “youngest student ever accepted by the Leipzig Conservatory, where she studied piano and singing.” (Grove Amer., Vol/IV, 75)
Wiliam F. Apthrop gave a very favorable review of the series; “Mr. Lang’s series of concerts at Mechanic’s Hall closed March 26. They have been decided favorites with the lovers of classical music, every concert being largely attended. With able assistants, Mr. Lang presented on each occasion good selections, and rendered them in a manner worthy of his high reputation as a musical artist.” (Brian, 59: original in Folio, May 1874, 148) Of couse this was written by a former pupil of Lang’s.
Of the final three concerts, the Metronome thought that the programs would “compare favorably with those of any other series of classical concerts ever given.” This critic did not like the singer of the third concert “Mr. Chas. R. Hayden, who was neither happy in his selections nor the performance of them.” However, of Lang’s playing: “We were well aware of Mr. Lang’s’ rare ability as a pianist, but must say it occurred to us that he played at these concerts with more than his wonted excellence, and this opinion is shared by many who are best acquainted with his public performances. The concerts were attended by full houses.” (Metronome (April 1874): 3)
Lang continued his early musical connection by various concerts throughout his career. On April 16, 1874 he presented a solo piano recital at Plummer Hall including music of Chopin, Mendelssohn, Handel, Schumann, Saran, Bargiel and Liszt. Also on the program were “Lang’s diversions, caprice and spinning song. Tickets were 50 cents. (Salem Register (April 13, 1874): 2, GB)
Other Lang appearances. HMA Program Collection.
LANG AS HANDEL AND HAYDN ORGANIST
“Mr. B. J. Lang, the organist of the Handel and Haydn Society exhibited the greatest taste in his manipulations of the ”Grand organ” during the choral performance of the festival. This matter of organ playing in conjunction with chorus singing is a very important one, for the finest vocal effort can be totally destroyed by an injudicious use of the organ. Mr. Lang’s quick perception in adding the organ at the right moment and in the right quantity was notable and deserves the highest mention. We can not recall to mind any organist who could have so skillfully filled the position. We think Mr. Lang stands alone in this particular… .We would again draw the attention of our readers to the fact that Mr. Lang filled one of the most onerous positions in the performance of the festival, and with extraordinary success.” (Metronome (May 1874): 13)
LANG’S MOTHER DIED.
Lang’s mother, Hannah B. Lang (maiden name Learock) died from cancer on September 25, 1874 at 93 Waltham Street, Boston—57 years, 7 months. She had been born in Salem. Her father was listed as John Learock, also born in Salem, and her mother was also named Hannah; both her parents had been born in Salem. (Death Certificate)
BOSTON PHILHARMONIC CLUB.
In addition to promoting his own concerts, B. J. appeared in those organized by others. After the headline “Boston Philharmonic Club” Dwight wrote: “The first Classical Matinee of Mr. Bernard Listemann and his accomplished associates, took place Nov. 30th, in Mechanics Hall, before a very appreciative audience. And it was one of the finest chamber concerts we have heard for many a day.” After the String Quartet in D minor, Opus 77 by Raff, and a French Horn solo, “The piano selections were interpreted by Mr. Lang; that happy little, bright Allegro from Handel, with which he pleased so much last year, was played more exquisitely than ever; and that almost impossible Etude of Chopin, with the wide arpeggio chords, kept up unflaggingly, all came out clearly and effectively.” The concert ended with Beethoven’s Trio Opus 87 for Piano, Violin, and Cello. (Dwight (December 12, 1874) “The Boston Philharmonic Club” was organized much like the Mendelssohn Quintette Club in that it was a combination of string and wind players. The players in 1874 were: Bernard Listemann, violin; Fritz Listemann, violin; Emil Gramm, viola and violin; Adolph Hartdegen, cello; Eugene Weiner, flute, and Adolph Belz, horn and viola. The piano accompanists listed were E. Gramm. A. Belz, and F. Listemann (HMA Program Collection).
APOLLO CLUB 1874-1875.
Dwight reviewed the concerts of late 1874 as being “Singularly perfect and delightful specimens” of male part-singing. “The Apollo Club (64 good singers, with fine voices, and well balanced), have given two concerts, with essentially the same programme, to their crowds of friends; and never has their singing seemed so perfect in the finish and refinement, as well as the rich volume and grand power of tone, and the harmonious blending of tone colors” (Dwight (Jan 9. 1875): 367) Dwight continues by decrying that the group should spend so much time on trivial material, but concludes, “on the other hand, there was the grandly satisfying double chorus from Oedipus of Mendelssohn, which closed the concert, and was sung magnificently, to the effective piano accompaniment of their accomplished conductor, Mr. B. J. Lang.”(Dwight (Jan. 9, 1875): 367)
In 1875 Dwight continued his good reviews. Mentioning a June concert, he said: “The singing of the former (Apollo Club), -a well-selected, solid, and well-balanced body of 67 voices, -even surpassed their own high standard of past years.The sweet, pure, rich ensemble of tone, its vital resonance, was most remarkable; and the execution, in all points of precision, light and shade, etc., was singularly perfect.Vocal solos and a Rondo for two pianos by Chopin were also included. (Dwight (June 26, 1875): 47)
100th. ANNIVERSARY OF BUNKER HILL.
Nearly all the members of the Apollo Club, by invitation of the Bunker Hill Monument Association, assisted at the services on the occasion of the First Centennial Anniversary of the Battle of Bunker Hill, June 17, 1875. They sang the hymn God Save the Queen with words by Charles James Sprague and Loyal Song with music by Kuchen and words by Sprague. The final hymn had words by “G. W. W.” and music by Abt. The Benediction was given by Rev. Phillips Brooks. “G. W. W.” was George Washington Warren who was President of the Bunker Hill Monument Association, and he had given the address. Lang thought enough of the event that he saved his “City of Boston Pass” which allowed him “through all the lines, military and police.” (BPL Lang Prog., Vol. 2)
The Cecilia was formed in 1874 as a 100 member mixed choir as an adjunct of the Harvard Musical Association so that its orchestra would have “a choral adjunct to strengthen its position musically and financially.” (Hill-p.5) The first joint concert was held in The Music Hall on November 19, 1874 with Carl Zerrahn conducting (the choir had been prepared by Lang) and the second half of the concert was Mendelsohn’s First Walpurgis Night. Dwight wrote: “The introduction of the new Choral element and first appearance of ‘The Cecilia’ drew an immense audience to the Music Hall on Thursday afternoon ‘at 3PM precisely’, Nov. 19. This was the second concert of their tenth season. To give the hundred or more singers a fair chance on the stage, so that they could be massed together in the middle front, the orchestra were [?] placed down in front, on a platform half the height of the stage, and stretching over its entire width… The arrangement was on the whole a good one for the singers, but not so altogether for the orchestra.” After the opening overture, the first sounds from the new choral group were that of an a cappella madrigal by Weelkes, and this was followed by a Mendelssohn’s part—song The Lark—both were conducted by Lang and were reviewed in a very positive manner. “The great event of the concert, and of the musical season so far, was the revival of Mendelssohn’s Walpurgis Night under the direction of Mr. Lang, who had first brought it out here in the small hall some ten years ago, giving it twice over in one evening. It was a success then; of course a much greater success now. Yet it was a bold undertaking, with only two orchestral rehearsals, only one for orchestra and chorus, to produce a work so difficult and so exacting… Dr. Langmaid sang the tenor solos with great sweetness and nobility of tone, and with consummate style and beauty of expression… We may find room to treat the theme with fuller justice should Walpurgis Night be repeated, which there is a fair prospect that it will be at an early date, as there has been much call for it; in that case it will doubtless go still further and will be better understood.” (Dwight (Nov. 28, 1874): 343)
At the same time that Lang was preparing this new choir, he was also continuing his own piano performance career. This is shown by two ads that appeared next to each other in the Boston Daily Globe of November 28, 1874. The first ad announced “Four Subscription Concerts” to be given by the Boston Philharmonic Club. Lang played a Chopin piece as a soloist in the first program, November 30th. Just two days before he had been part of the committee that organized a “Grand Testimonial Concert” for Mr. J. D. Mansfield. Among the volunteer performers was Mr. C. R. Hayden, “The Favorite Tenor” who was Lillian Bailey’s uncle and voice teacher.
At the December 24, 1874 concert the First Walpurgis Night was indeed “Repeated by request” after its performance a month earlier. Dwight’s review reported that “The day, a busy one for many so preoccupied with Christmas trees and presents, besides being stormy, was not very favorable, and yet the audience was large and it’s attention hearty and unflagging from the beginning to the end of the cheerful and attractive programme… The repetition of the Walpurgis Night was decidedly an improvement on the first performance, gratifying as that was. [But there were no a capella pieces in this performance]. This was the fruit, partly, of renewed rehearsal by the singers, and partly of more self-possession and control of the orchestral forces acquired by Mr. Lang in the bringing out of the very trying prelude and accompaniments; nut it was also greatly owing to the better arrangement and chorus on the stage, the former being grouped behind the voices. The sopranos and altos were massed together on one wing of the front, the tenors and basses on the other, for the reason that the choruses in this work for the most part are alternating for male and female voices.” (Dwight (Jan. 9, 1875): 366) Two soloists were singled out for praise: “Mr. John Winch, whose grand voice and delivery, in the baritone solos of the Druid Priest, won him the chief honors; but the sweet tenor tones, the well-trained organ, the refined, expressive art of Dr. Langmaid, if not so telling in a great hall, deserve equal praise.” (Dwight (Jan. 9, 1875): 366)
The eighth Symphony Concert of the 1874-1875 season was given at 3PM on Thursday afternoon, February 18, 1875, and it “drew a great crowd to the Music Hall to hear the first Boston performance with orchestra, of Schumann’s wonderful cantata Paradise and the Peri. The vast crowd listened to it all-for nearly two hours-with almost absolute attention, and with abundant signs at first of wonder, then of steadily increasing interest and delight… . Mr. Lang conducted carefully, -perhaps a little mite too anxiously, -but in the main firmly, doing his best to keep down the noisier instruments so as to give the voice a chance. It is obvious however, that the instruments of the orchestra are sometimes not entirely sure of his intentions, and that the baton does not always lead them in spite of themselves… The Cecilia had been very patiently and thoroughly trained in all the choruses; if there was any fault it was that possibly the drill had been too strict and careful, leaving not enough of spontaneity and freedom to the singers for the best effect sometimes… But they had entered into their work with enthusiasm; the voices of sopranos and altos especially, were delightfully fresh and telling, and the tenors and basses showed a vigorous reinforcement since the Walpurgis Night was sung.” Only two professional soloists were used with the other solos being sung by members of the choir. “There appears to be a pretty general desire to have Paradise and the Peri repeated. Such an effort does indeed seem too great to be spent upon only one performance; and doubtless, a second time. Both public and performers would come better prepared both for the appreciation and the rendering of so great a work.” (Dwight (March 6, 1875): 398 and 399) Among the eight soloists were Miss Ida Welsh (Alto), Mr. George L. Osgood (Tenor) and Mr. John F, Winch (Bass). There was enough public interest to warrant a second performance which Lang conducted on Wednesday, April 14 at Horticultural Hall with one change among the soloists: “The part of the Peri this time will be sung by Miss Henrietta Beebe, of New York; the other solos as before (Mrs. Gilbert, Miss Ita Welsh, Mr. George L. Osgood, Mr. John F. Winch, etc.)” (Dwight (April 3, 1875): 415)
The reviewer in the Gazette took a less enthusiastic position. “There was an immense audience present, the hall being literally crammed. We do not think that Schumann’s genius was quite fitted to deal with theme of this particular quality. In other words, to transfer to music the airy grace and delicate fantasy and the tender brilliance of Moore’s music. The sweetness of the poem and the almost melancholy seriousness of the music to which Schumann had wedded it do not blend happily. The effect on the audience was, we think, disappointing. For the performance we do not know what to say. It was good and bad in turn.” (Johnson, 331 and 332) The work had been presented in Boston eleven years earlier at a private performance at Chickering Hall on April 25, 1863 led by J. C. D. Parker and a “Club of amateurs” with the soloists, Mrs. Harwood, Miss Huntley, and Dr. Langmaid (Johnson, 331).
Just a month later the choir was part of a concert with the Harvard Musical Association Orchestra concert that included the Boston premier of sections from Mendelssohn’s unfinished opera Loreley, Op. 98. Dwight’s review of this March 18, 1875 event at the Music Hall said: “The tenth and last concert of the tenth season called out a large audience on Thursday afternoon, March 18. The Cecilia, in full numbers, under Mr. Lang’s direction, again lent its valuable aid, and the programme consisted of about equal halves of vocal and of purely instrumental music.” The concert opened with the second performance of the Magnificat by Durante for choir and orchestra with “the choral parts well sung by the Cecilia,” and also included two part-songs by J. C. D. Parker conducted by the composer which “were to many of the singers pleasing reminiscences of the old Parker Club… They were indeed exquisitely sung, and were enjoyed as charming specimens of delicate, poetic harmony.” During the second half three sections from Loreley were sung… “The ‘Finale’ is by far the most important of these fragments, and the most important contribution of the Cecilia to that closing concert… The whole was given with great spirit and with vivid coloring, the alternate passages of chorus and soprano keeping up a breathless interest. Miss Whinery in the earlier portions was a little weak and tremulous, but she rose to the full height of the long, impassioned climax, her voice coming out quite splendidly on the high notes, showing what dramatic fire and fervor she is capable.” (Dwight (April 3, 1875): 414 and 415)
Print from the lower first page of Harper’s Weekly, April 13, 1867. Johnston Collection.
Clark’s Boston Blue Book 1888, 320.
Thus in its first season, the Cecilia took part in four of the Harvard Symphony Concerts and repeated Schumann’s Paradise and the Peri after the season closed. (Music, June 3, 1882) Originally this repeat of the Schumann was to have been with orchestra, but “the music-loving public, probably from sheer satiety after so much musical excitement, seemed quite indifferent to so rare an opportunity. To have given it again, at so unpropitious a moment, would have entailed a serious loss…But Cecilia had her revenge, in a more private social way, by inviting her friends to Horticultural Hall, on Wednesday evening, and there singing it with simple pianoforte accompaniment. And the entertainment was really delightful…The remarkablely fine voices which comprise this chorus were at least heard for once, and the excellence of their singing was appreciated.; their sound was neither covered up by an overpowering orchestra, nor lost in space.” (Dwight (April 17, 1875): 7)
THOMAS CHORAL SOCIETY.
Just as Lang was establishing the Cecilia, another symphonic choir had been formed by the New York conductor, Theodore Thomas, for use in his Boston performances. In March 1875 it was noted that: “The Thomas Choral Society will rehearse Bach’s cantata My Spirit Was In Heaviness,” in Bumstead Hall, this evening.” It was described as one of Bach’s grandest works, and it would be an American premier at the Thomas April 3 concert where “the society is to have the valuable assiatance of Mr. Theodore Thomas’s orchestra and distinguished solo talent.” (Advertiser (Maarch 18, 1875): 1, GB)
MR. JOHN F. WINCH.
The Winch brothers were important members of Lang’s musical circle. William Johnson Winch (tenor) and John F. Winch (bass) were “Boston merchants, whose part-time careers as tenor and bass ranked them only a little lower than the angels.” (Johnson, Hallelujah, 135) “The Winch brothers illustrate a difference in temperaments. John F. Winch, the bass, was direct and positive in his acceptance of engagements. William J. took a long time to make up his mind whether or not he was available, whether or not he wanted to sing the role offered, or whether or not the price was acceptable, with or without expenses of hotels and travel. In as much as he was the best tenor for the music of Bach, some patience was needed to obtain a definite commitment.” (Idem, 133) On Easter Sunday 1874 the Handel and Haydn Society presented Mendelssohn’s Elijah. “The new point of interest was the rendering of the Prophet’s part by Mr. J. F. Winch whose rich, elastic quality of voice gave unusual life to all the music. And he improved as he went on; rarely anywhere have we heard the beauty and deep pathos of ”It is enough,” or the emphatic energy of ”Is not the word” more satisfactorily brought out.” (Dwight (April 18, 1874): 215) W. J. Winch was also a conductor- he led a performance of Gade’s Crusaders with the Salem Schubert Club December 30, 1879 at Plummer Hall. (Dwight (January 31, 1880): 16) He appeared as soloist with the BSO on nine programs during the seasons ’85, ’89, ’90, ’91 and ’92. (Howe, BSO, 261) The 1892 appearance was as the tenor soloist in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. (MYB, 1892-93, 10) When Chadwick and his wife returned from their summer in Europe (1888) they “went by previous arrangement to Wm. Winch’s in Brookline, to stay until we found a place to settle down. His house was on Longwood Ave. next to the present No. 124 which was then a vacant lot…We had a delightful time at the Winchs, with fun and music every night and we made many new acquaintances among the nice people who live in that neighborhood. One night uncle Joseph, the eldest of the three Winch Bros. was at the house. We coaxed him to sing ”Every Valley” which he did in remarkable style for a man of seventy.” (Chadwick, Unpublished Memoirs) Clara Rogers described William Winch: “the ever genial and witty, and who had, happily, remained immune from tenor-itis…overflowing with fun, as usual.” (Rogers, Two Lives, 191)
LANG CONCERTS AT MECHANICS’ HALL 1875
“Mr. B. J. Lang gave the first of two concerts, at Mechanics’ Hall, last Thursday afternoon (April 22, 1875), which drew the large audience which his concerts always command; and it was a concert full of interest.” Two artists assisted: Miss Grace Sampson, one of his pupils, played Mozart’s Sonata in D for Two Pianos” with her teacher; the two giving us a very finished and artistic rendering…Miss Sampson’s touch is nice, her execution clean and even, and her whole performance had not a little of the fineness as well as the vigor of her master’s.” Miss Ita Welsh, not in the best of voice, sang four songs to Lang’s accompaniment, and his solos included Chopin’s Impromptu in F Sharp Minor, Handel’s Bourree in G, and the concert ended with Schumann’s Concertstuck in G, Op. 92 with Lang as soloist and his pupil playing the orchestral accompaniment. Dwight mentioned that Lang had played this work twice before with orchestra. (Dwight (May 1, 1875): 15)
The second concert on April 29 used the same three performers and the same program arrangement. At this concert Miss Ita Welsh was in fine voice earning and encore, “and in all her songs she succeeded admirably.” (Dwight (May 29, 1875): 30)
“Aug. 7th. Lel sailed for Europe. Mr. Breed and Mr. Tucker with him…Aug. 23rd. Maidie and I to Stockbridge for a long visit with mother. It is very gay here. Continuous parties. I am often asked to sing, and must confess that I enjoy it all…Sept. 18th. Lel returned from Europe. He came directly up here.” (Diary 2- 1875)
APOLLO CLUB 1875-1876.
Dwight’s review of the January 1876 concert said that the club “sang more admirably than ever.” The Mendelssohn “Bacchus” chorus again closed the concert, and the guest soloist was a soprano from Brooklyn. But, “Part-songs, sentimental or playful, filled the intervening space, all sung with that exquisite finish, which becomes cloying after a certain time. One critic described the effect with more truth than he intended when he called the execution ”dead perfect.” It is not that anything can be sung too well; the secret of the fatigue lies, we think, in our feeling of the disproportion between comparatively little consequence of the music itself and the great amount of time and pains which it must cost to render it so perfectly.” (Dwight (Jan 22, 1876): 167) In a review following of the Boylston Club, mention is made of the Apollo Club’s having “many ripe, smooth, well matched high tenors.” (Ibid)
This previous review provoked “S. L. B” (presumably a member of the Apollo Club) to write to Dwight-this letter Dwight published in two full columns of his February 5, 1876 edition. The gist of the letter was that the Apollo committee had spent much time and effort in researching the best male repertoire, and that many of the great composers of the time had set short poems: If triviality is inherent in brevity, then all of these worthies must bear the charge, for they have not sought to elevate the character of Liederkranz and Mannerchor by offering important works…The mind is not always attuned to grandeur and profundity…The four-part songs of the great composers include some of their sweetest musical thoughts.” Dwight is forced to admit “That we cannot, any more than the Apollo Committee, draw up a list of noble pieces to be added to the Antigone choruses, etc., which they have already sung.” Dwight’s solution is to have the club become a mixed voice choir, a solution that they have not followed up to the current day.
Dwight review of the May 3 and 26, 1876 concerts began: “May and early June being to the song birds, with and without wings. Our vocal Clubs, -it is theirs by right to sing out the long concert season, and usher in the summer.” Dr. Langmaid (tenor), Mr. J. F. Winch (barytone), and Mr. W. J. Winch (tenor) were the featured soloists. The accompaniments were done on the piano, and five of the choral pieces had been translated “for the club by Mr. Charles J. Sprague sung on this occasion for the first time in this country.” It would seem that having the audience understand the texts was important to B. J. “We may truly say that we have never enjoyed an Apollo Concert quite so well as this one. It has long seemed as if they had about reached the last limit of attainable perfection in the balance and well blended beauty of their voices, and the nice, effective and expressive execution of whatever music that are wont to undertake. But this time they really pushed the limit farther back; the rich, full manly, sweet ensemble of tone, the precision, force and delicacy of execution, the truth to every shade and contrast of sentiment, too, though still kept within the rather exhausted and monotonous sphere of male part-songs, had uncommon freshness…Mr. Sprague has been happy in his exploration after fresh material, as well as in his singable translations.” Dwight ended with a paragraph from another paper, the Advertiser: “Upon the stage of the Music hall, during the concert of the Apollo club last evening, was to be seen a very beautiful bronze statuette of the Apollo Belvidere. This work-a Barbedienne and an exquisite specimen of its kind-was obtained through Messrs. Bigelow, Kennard & Co., expressly for the active members of the Apollo club, who last night presented it to their conductor, Mr. Lang. The gift was certainly an appropriate expression of the feeling of admiration and regard cherished by the corps for the accomplished artist under whose guidance they have won so many artistic triumphs.” (Dwight, June 10, 1876, pp. 246 and 247) Other reviewers were enthusiastic; the “Traveler” critic ended: “We cannot find words to say what is due to Mr. Lang. He gave his whole souls to the performance, and inspired the singers throughout. A justifiable pride should be his in the success of the concert.” (Scrapbook) The Advertiser reviewer held the same opinion: “The last concert of the club marks the highest point which it has yet attained, and seems to leave little more to be accomplished.” (Scrapbook)
CECILIA SECOND SEASON: 1875–76.
The choir took part in three of the Harvard Symphony Concerts during the 1875-76 Season. The third concert of the season was given Thursday December 2, 1875 and included in the first half the cantata Spring’s Greeting by Gade, the 23rd. Psalm Op. 132 for female voices by Schubert. In the second half, two fragments from Mendelssohn’s unfinished opera, Loreley, the “Ave Maria” and the “Finale for Soprano solo and Chorus” were performed. “The attraction of the Concert was the singing with and without orchestra, by The Cecilia, conducted by Mr. Lang…The voices, now raised to about 120 in number, are fresh and musical, making a fine ensemble. The tones blend richly, beautifully; and all the four parts were effective, though the balance is still capable of improvement.” (Dwight (December 11, 1875): 142) Dwight felt that the Gade was not a major work, but charming. He commended Mr. Sumner for his accompaniment of the Schubert.
The sixth concert concert of the season, “owing chiefly to the attraction of the Cecilia, under Mr. Lang, had the largest audience of the season.” The choir sang Gade’s cantata, Comala, text from Ossian; the complete text was printed in the program. “The performance was unequal; the male chorus of bards and warriors commencing rather timidly, partly because the time was taken too slow, and partly because they were too weak in number and too widely set apart upon the platform. The weakness was felt more than once. But the soprano and alto portion of the chorus was altogether beautiful and telling.” The soloists were mentioned: Miss Clara Doria “was in excellent voice;” Dr. Bullard sang with “judgment and refinement,” but was covered in many parts by the orchestra. (Dwight (February 5, 1876): 174 and 174) The second half of the concert had several shorter numbers including Schubert’s psalm setting of The Lord is My Shepherd, “repeated by request, confirmed the beautiful impression which it had made before, and must stand as so far the most successful effort of the Cecilia. The delicate piano part was nicely played by Mr. Arthur W. Foote, -A very spirited performance of the Fifth Symphony of Beethoven brought the concert to a grand conclusion.” (Ibid)
The tenth (and last) concert of the 1875-1876 season had Carl Zerrahn conducting the first half and B. J. Lang conducting the second half of the concert. The second part began with Bach’s cantata Ich hatte veil Bekummerniss with George L. Osgood and Miss Clara Doria as soloists who were members of the choir. John F. Winch, a non-chorus member was the bass soloist. It certainly speaks well of the choir that it and Lang attracted such fine voices as those of Osgood and Doria. Osgood was to go on to lead choirs somewhat in competition to the Cecilia; Doria would give up her solo career when she married a Boston lawyer in 1878, but she was very active as a vocal teacher and hostess on the Boston social scene until her death in 1931. G. W. Sumner as organist for this performance. An ad for the concert mentioned additional “members of the Cecilia” who would be soloists: Miss Ita Welsh, Dr. S. W. Langmaid and Dr. E. C. Bullard.” (Traveler (March 13, 1876): 3, GB) Dwight, while finding the “tenors and basses still inferior in number and volume to the sopranos and contraltos,” did better that in previous concerts. Knowing that a Bach cantata was a difficult offering for the Boston audience of this time, began one paragraph of his review with: “And what impression did the Cantata make? Good enough upon the whole, we think, to justify the risk of introducing it, and to give promise of better yet in this sort for the future.” (Dwight (April 1, 1876): 207)
By the spring of 1876 it had been determined that the choir, in fact, did not add financially, and separation was suggested. Gould cites the reasons for the separation as being the “frustration at being overwhelmed by such a large orchestra and the difficulty experienced by singing businessmen in attending the afternoon rehearsals.” (Gould-Our History Part 1, 1) A two-page notice dated November 16, 1876 gave details of the new, independent organization – about one-hundred singers, SATB, which would give three programs per season (each repeated) at Horticultural Hall, “the music presented to be a lighter character and greater variety than that which is offered by the larger choral societies of this city.” To defray expenses, three-hundred Associate members, either ladies or gentlemen were assessed $10 for which they received two tickets for every performance- “No tickets are to be sold.” The notice also stated that solo pieces would be included, and that members of the choir would be used as soloists. This policy of using soloists from the ranks of the choir obviously made membership attractive to many singers, but it also was to create a problem for the future as in many works the voices were not up to the solo demands of the works performed-a fact that was cited by the critics often.
“Lel is almost ready to give up the conductorship of the Cecilia and the Bach Cantata Ass. All this because the Orchestra plays so carelessly and indifferently.” (Diary 2 – Winter 1876)
CHAMBER MUSIC SPRING SERIES 1876.
The two 3PM chamber music concerts held in the spring of 1876 were given on Thursday afternoons March 23 and 30, again at Mechanics’ Hall. “His programmes were unique, the distinctive feature being the great prominence given to the French composer who has excited so much interest here of late, Camille Saint-Saens…On his visit to Europe last summer the Harvard Musical Association commissioned Mr. Lang to procure, for its Library and its Concerts, some of the principal compositions of Saint-Saens.” Dwight wrote at the time: Saint-Saens, “organist at the Madeline in Paris, a musician thoroughly trained in the best classical school, at home in Bach [important to Dwight], [had] a streak of genius in him.” (Dwight (April 15, 1876); 213) As a result of Lang’s music buying the HMA performed the Saint-Saens Second Piano Concerto with Lang as the soloist, and the Concerto for Cello with Mr. Wulf Fries and the symphonic poem, Phaeton.
For the first concert on March 23 concert Lang and Arthur Foote opened with the American premier [Foote, Auto., p. 44] of Saint-Saens’ Variations for Two Pianofortes on a Theme by Beethoven, Opus 35 which had just been composed and published only two years before in 1874. “These were the days when St. Saens’ music came to us as a stunning novelty.” (Foote, Auto., 44) About twenty-five years later the Bostonian Mabel Daniels, who was a music student in Munich at that time (1902) recorded that she played this piece with her teacher. “I think it is great, especially the big fugue at the end.” (Daniels (Am. Girl): 258) It would be interesting to know if she had previously heard the work in Boston. In the same concert Miss Ita Welsh sang two songs, Lang played four short Bach pieces as transcribed by Saint-Saens and the concert ended with Lang as the soloist and Foote providing the orchestra parts in the Saint-Saens Concerto No. 2 in G Minor. Lang had played the American premier of this work two months before with Carl Zerrahn conducting the Harvard Musical Association at the Music Hall. Lang was able to play the work with orchestra again at the end of the year. He performed with The New York Philharmonic Society led by Leopold Damrosch on December 9, 1876, but the New York premier of the work had been done only one day before with the Thomas Orchestra at Steinway Hall with Annette Essipoff, pianist!
The program of the second chamber music concert again followed the outline of the first. The Trio in F Major for Piano, Violin, and Cello by St. Saens played by Lang and the two Wulf brothers opened the concert, followed by two songs, this time sung by Miss Lillian Bailey were separated by four Bach/Saint-Saens transcriptions, and the concert ended with Lang as the soloist in the Tschaikowsky (sic) Piano Concerto in B Flat Minor and the orchestral part played by Arthur Foote. (BPL Lang Prog., Vol. 2) Dwight did not enjoy the Tchaikovsky. “The Russian Concerto suffered peculiarly by being deprived of its orchestral background; for it is a work conceived in the extreme modern style, dependent upon brilliant accessories and color contrasts for its effect.” Then Dwight weighed in with his critical comment on the work. “Without these, what intrinsically remains, with all its ingenuity and brilliancy, seems poor and uninspired and dull. Mr. Lang had mastered its immense technical difficulties surprisingly well…How much of the pretentious music of today can bear this test? But Beethoven is Beethoven if you only feel his shadow pass you in the twilight.” (Dwight (April 15, 1876): 213 and 214) Lang had been the conductor of the world premier of the Tchaikovsky concerto with Hans von Bulow as soloist only six months before (October 25, 1875).
This had been Miss Bailey’s debut: “She is a bright, enthusiastic maiden of sixteen, with a soprano voice of singular purity and sweetness, and of a sympathetic quality. For one so young she seems to have made careful studies, as well as to have intelligence beyond her years.” (Ibid) The opera singer Clara Rogers was also present at Bailey’s debut, and she noted: “Her singing at that time was almost amusingly unbridled, but her fresh, young voice and musical instinct had a charm of their own. She had not then the remotest idea how to adapt the spoken sentence to the musical phrase; good diction was an unknown quantity to her! I mention this because it was precisely the timely acquisition of good diction in her studies abroad that made her a finished artist; the distinguishing feature of her delightful singing being her faultlessly clear enunciation of every word.” (Rogers (Two Lives): 70 and 71) Dwight also remarked on the vocalist: “A fresh and interesting feature of this concert was the singing of Miss Lillian Bailey,-her first public effort, we believe. She is a bright, enthusiastic maiden of sixteen, with a soprano voice of singular purity and sweetness. For one so young she seems to have made careful studies, as well as to possess intelligence beyond her years, and we should say a decidedly musical nature.” Lang seems to have found and helped yet another young talent. (Dwight, Op. cit.)
TCHAIKOVSKY PIANO CONCERTO NO. 1 PREMIER.
The year 1875 was also important for Lang as an orchestral conductor as he led the world premier performance of the Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with Von Bulow as the soloist on Oct. 25, 1875. This created quite a sensation. (Foote, Auto., 44) Lang learned the piece in “less than 24 hours.” (Herald (December 16, 1900): 17, GB-written when Lang again conducted the work 25 years after the premier) Johnson in First Performances states that this concert was not actually part of the regular season given by the Harvard Musical Association, but that the group was “generally speaking the same body of players.” (Johnson, 364) Lang and Von Bulow had met back in the summer of 1860. Liszt had provided one of his own cards as an introduction to Von Bulow who was, at that time, his son-in-law. (Excerpt 1860 B. J. L. Diary)
The details of the event are covered well in the following story filed by the Boston correspondent of the Graphic. “Von Bulow’s Quarrel with Bergmann. It may not be generally known that Von Bulow quarreled with Carl Bergmann, who came on here to conduct the orchestra at his opening concerts. The New York conductor, be it known, is no stranger to Boston, for he came here twenty-four years ago at the head of the Germanians before proceeding to New York. At rehearsal the German pianist is extremely fiery if things go wrong, and things did go exceedingly wrong at one of the preliminary rehearsals of the terribly difficult concerto by the Russian composer, Tschaikowski, which had never been performed at all until brought out here. Indeed, matters had gone wrong on several occasions. At this particular time the diminutive doctor became more animated than ever, and made a sarcastic remark which Bergmann resented. The result was that the latter conducted one more concert, which was to finish the first week, and then departed for New York. There wre some thoughts of sending for Dr. Damrosch, who is an old friend of Dr. Von Bulow, but it was decided to try Mr. B. J. Lang, who was also personally known to the pianist. Lang accordingly passed the next day, Sunday, in studying the music with Von Bulow, and the result was highly satisfactory to the latter and very creditable to our Boston musician, who continued to conduct at the remaining concerts.” (Cincinnati Daily Gazette (November 19, 1875): 2, GB)
Verlag Hans Dursthoff-Berlin: J. W. Johnston Collection.
Von Bulow almost did not make it to America in 1875. “During the end of the 1874-75 season, while on a tour to England, he suffered an ‘apoplectic stroke’ that partially paralyzed the right side of his body. In late June  he wrote Cosima that his health was ‘completely shattered,’ and he feared he would be ‘incapable of starting for America.’ A couple of weeks later he was able to view his situation not ‘too tragically or pathetically’ but still made arrangements for a ‘fatal ending,’ drawing up his will and giving instructions to Cosima for disbursing his possessions. It was in this debilitated physical condition and cynical state that Bulow began the musical preparation for his American tour.” (Lott, Peoria, 237 and 238) He had done his will as “He knew that he would be in North America for at least nine months…There was a predictable division of money and personal property to the three daughters Daniela, Blandine, and Isolde (the last whom he continued to call his own.” (Walker, 211) Cosima was a major reason for this tour-it was six years since she had left him for his friend Wagner, “and he was still struggling to regain control of his life-mentally, emotionally, and physically.” (Lott, Trance, 530) He also needed money and this tour would provide that. Over a period of eight months, he was to give 172 concerts; this averaged five concerts per week for which he would be paid c. $20,000 (about $450,000 in 2018). However, even though during the early weeks (October 1875) he called America a “marvelous country” with “splendid people,”and he was “housed and served like a prince” which made him “consider remaining in the New World,” by the following March physical and emotional depression had set in and he “withdrew from his contract with thirty-three concerts remaining.” (Op. cit., 531 and 541) He had played 139 concerts in thirty-nine different American cities, and in some, such as Boston and New York, he gave multiple performances. 101 were solo recitals, 20 were with orchestra and 18 were with chamber ensembles. (Op. cit., 548 and 549)
“The American tour began in Boston, on Monday, October 18, 1875, after a very rough transatlantic crossing on the steamer Parthia, during which Bulow was seasick. Immediately after his arrival in Boston, he locked himself away in his private quarters at 23 Beacon Street. The local newspapers reported that he practiced for eight or nine hours a day-as well he might in view of the workload before him.” (Walker, 213)
For his first concert on October 18th. the Music Hall’s 2,700 seats were filled. His entrance caused some comment: “Bulow walked onto the platform, a short, dapper figure, carrying a hat. This disconcerting appendage he proceeded to place under the piano. He also wore gloves which he ceremoniously removed before surveying the audience with his usual aristocratic distain…This opening concert was hugely successful and Bulow could not have been happier with the press notices…The New York Times accorded him a position of preeminence among the pianists who had visited America during the past fifteen years…During the first few days in Boston, Bulow gave four more concerts. But it was his appearance the following week, on October 25, that has entered the history books.” (Walker, 212 and 213) This was the world premier of Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto.
Dwight’s Journal of November 13, 1875 states that this concert was the fifth in a series of seven, [dates of the concerts were: #1-Monday, October, 18;#2-Wednesday, October 20; #3-Friday, October 22; #4 Saturday, October 23;#5-Monday, October 25;#6-Friday, October 29; #7-Saturday, October 30] and that the entire program of number five was repeated for the seventh concert. Between the Monday, October 25 Fifth Concert and the Friday, October 29 Sixth Concert, Bulow gave two recitals in Providence! (Lott, p. 301) “Mr. Peck, to whose enterprise we are indebted for these seven feasts, has made arrangements to have him [von Bulow] return in January  and give some concerts of Chamber music with the Philharmonic Club (Messers. Listemann, etc.).” The program for the Fifth Concert was:
Grand Concerto in B-flat (sic)-Tschaikowski
Sonata, Opus 27 (Moonlight Sonata)-Beethoven
Grand Fantasie, Opus 15- Schubert arranged for Piano and Orchestra by F. Liszt
“The Overtures went smoothly under the baton of Mr. Lang who had been called to succeed Mr. Bergmann and who [Lang], being himself a pianist and an enthusiastic admirer of von Bulow, was in better sympathy and understanding with him for the rendering of the extremely difficult, strange, wild, ultra-modern Russian score. It is the composition of a young professor at the Conservatory in Moscow, a pupil of Rubinstein’s (indeed the work contained not a few suggestions of the master), and is dedicated to Bulow, who complimented Boston very first performance. A compliment well meant, and warmly responded to by the applauding audience, -twice-for this program was repeated for the seventh concert… How wonderfully von Bulow rendered it, there is no need of telling; all that a hearty sympathy, a masterly conception and an infallible technique could do for it, it had the fullest degree; and the young author well knew that his work could not suffer in such hands.”(Johnson, First Performances, 364) “Privately, Bulow thought Lang’s performance was ‘very decent’ and a repeat performance of the Tchaikovsky was ‘most spirited.’ Publicly, he linked his arm in Lang’s after his first performance and insisted on sharing the applause with him. ” (Lott, Peoria, 243) Lott amplifies this story in a footnote, saying: “One writer remembered Bulow being ‘extravagant in testifying his satisfaction’ with Lang and reported this conversation with the pianists: ‘Did you see my little scene with the conductor?’ I said that I did, and asked why he was so desperately demonstrative, and why he made such a scene. ‘Ah! you ask that? I expected you would,’ he said. ‘But why not? It did me no harm, and it may do him good. Beside, I was so grateful that the conducting was no worse, that I could not restrain myself.”’ (Lott, 339) Bulow’s gratefulness extended to having Lang also conduct the sixth concert: “The little orchestra still manifested improvement,” and Lang also appeared with von Bulow in the last piece: “The Chopin Rondo (in C Major for two pianos) was very finely rendered by both artists, who kept perfectly together; and this compliment of Von Bulow to his new conductor, like the one before, when he led him out to share the honors of a recall, found sympathetic audience.” (Dwight (November 13, 1875): 126) Recently Steinberg mused: “I do wonder, though, what it all sounded like with B. J. Lang’s little orchestra with its four first violins (Steinberg, 477) Dwight had reported in his issue of October 30, 1875 concerning the fifth concert in the series: “Carl Bergmann’s baton gave a fair outline, although, to be sure, four first violins were rather thin and feeble for the great crescendo of the Leonora No. 3.” Dwight earlier in this same review had said: “There has been an orchestra, a small one to be sure, with the best conductor in America at its head during the first week” of the von Bulow concerts. (Dwight (Oct. 30, 1875): 118) This would then make Lang better than the best conductor then in America!
Upton, Musical Memories, facing 54.
The question remains as to why Bergmann was dismissed which then gave Lang his chance to conduct. Bulow recorded that “Bergmann had not taken much interest in the concerts as he had in drinking beer, he had missed two meetings to discuss the concerts which forced Bulow to make suggestions to the orchestra himself, and then, while Bulow was beginning his solo pieces in one of the concerts, Bergmann audibly invited the musicians to ”go get some refreshments,” and brought six of them back half tipsy.” (Lott, Peoria, 251) At Bulow’s next stop on his tour, New York City, he was asked during an interview with the New York Sun to explain why he had fired Bergmann who was well regarded, especially in the German community. Bulow began “by denouncing Bergmann as incompetent. He then went on to berate him for ”showing more interest in drinking beer” than in pursuing his duties as a conductor…The interview was so outspoken that it created what Harper’s Magazine called a ”hullabulow”. The German press gored him, calling him a great artist but a small man. That only made matters worse. Bulow went on to criticise the Germans in general as a beer-swilling crowd who drank until their brains were stupid, rendering them incapable of appreciating great music because they listened to everything through an alcoholic haze. This led to a further outcry and Bulow received the predictable crop of hostile letters.” (Walker, 214)
As late as the program for the Forth Concert held on October 23rd., Bergmann was still listed as the conductor of the fifth concert to be held two days later! In the fifth concert program Lang is advertised as the conductor, and also for the sixth and seventh concerts, which was a repeat of the material from the fifth concert. Nowhere in the program is there any mention of who the orchestra was. Walker describes the group as “a scratch orchestra of a mere thirty-five players.” (Walker, 213) Also, there were no notes about the music, but only various articles about von Bulow. (HMA Program Collection) Bergmann, as conductor of the New York Philharmonic, had built that group “into a fine orchestra,” but according to Howard Shanet, “the modern chronicler of the Philharmonic,” Bergmann “was now professionally so sloppy, spiritually so depressed, physically so decayed, and continually so drunk that only the great affection that his men bore him kept him in his post.”…”By August 1876 he would be dead.” (Lott, Peoria, 251 and 152) This was a sad ending for someone who had conducted the New York Philharmonic beginning in 1858: “Bergmann was the Philharmonic’s most potent artistic personality for more than three decades. He also happened to be America’s first potent advocate of the music of Richard Wagner.” (Horowitz, Wagner, 38) The careers of Theodore Thomas and Bergmann “intertwined…Thomas, fourteen years Bergmann’s junior, frequently played the violin under Bergmann’s baton. Bergmann was initially the cellist in the historic chamber-music concerts of Thomas and the pianist William Mason. It was Thomas who brought the work Bergmann had helped begin to a plateau of high fruition.” (Ibid) In Thomas’s autobiography he evaluates Bergmann: “Bergmann was a talented musician and a fair ”cello player…He lacked most of the qualities of a first-rank conductor, but he had one great redeeming quality for those days which soon brought him into prominence. He possessed an artistic nature, and was in sympathy with the so-called ”Zukunft Musik” [”Music of the Future”]. He lacked the force, however, to make an impression, and had no standard. He derived his principal inspiration from our chamber music practice. His readings of Beethoven’s works showed clearly that he had no tradition, and that it was not based on study.” And, if this was not damning enough, Thomas ended with: “Bergmann never practiced.” (Horowitz, Wagner, 38 and 29)
HMA Program Collection
Von Bulow had made known that “the grand composition of Tschaikovsky, the most eminent Russian maestro of the present day, composed last April and dedicated by its author to Hans von Bulow, has NEVER BEEN PERFORMED, the composer himself never having enjoyed an audition of his masterpiece. To Boston is reserved the honor of its initial representation and the opportunity to impress the first verdict on a work of surpassing musical interest.” (Steinberg, 477) Originally the composer had dedicated the piece to Nicolai Rubinstein, Head of the Moscow Conservatory (from its founding in 1866 to his death in 1881), but Rubinstein’s reaction, which Tchaikovsky recorded three years after the event in a letter to his patron, von Meck so upset the composer that he vowed to ignore Rubinstein’s suggestions and publish the work “exactly as it stands”-which he did (Steinberg, 475) He wrote to von Meck: “It transpired that my concerto was no good, that it was impossible to play, that some passages were hackneyed, awkward, and clumsy beyond redemption, that as a composition it was bad and banal, that I had pilfered this bit from here and that from there, that there were only two or three passages which would do, and that the rest would have to be either discarded or completely reworked.” (Lott, Peoria, 241 quoting from a letter) The connection between the composer and von Bulow seems to be Karl Klindworth who “was a colleague [of Tchaikovsky] at the Moscow Conservatory,” and with Bulow, a fellow pupil of Liszt. (Ibid) “Bulow had already written favorably of some of Tchaikovsky’s earlier works… Upon receiving the concerto, Bulow wrote to Tchaikovsky: ”The ideas are so lofty, strong, and original. The details, which although profuse, in no way obscure the work as a whole…The form is so perfect, mature, and full of style – in the sense that the intention and craftsmanship are everywhere concealed.”” (Ibid) After such a response, naturally the work was given to von Bulow.
Not everything was perfect at the premiere. “The distinguished Boston composer George W. Chadwick, then just about to turn 21, heard the performance and recalled in a memoir years later, ”They had not rehearsed much and the trombones got in wrong in the ”tutti” in the middle of the first movement, whereupon Bulow sang out in a perfectly audible voice, ”The brass may go to hell.” This was the first Tchaikovsky piece [I] ever heard and I thought it the greatest ever, but it rather mystified some of our local scribes [critics], who could not have dreamed how many times they would have to hear it in the future.” (Ledbetter, Program Note) “Critical reaction to what is now the world’s favorite piano concerto was decidedly mixed. Its lyrical themes and colorful orchestration were immediately recognized and praised, but the sheer length of the work and the rambling first movement in particular were obstacles to appreciation. The Boston Evening Transcript found the ”elaborate work [to be] as difficult for popular apprehension as the name of the composer.” because of the ”long stretches of what seems, on the first hearing at least, formless void, sprinkled only with tinklings of the piano and snatchy obbligatos from all the various wind and string instruments in turn.” Dwight judged the last movement of the ”strange, wild, ultra-modern work” to be ”extremely brilliant and exciting,” but he wondered whether the public could ”ever learn to love such music.” …The public’s response was not nearly as guarded. A reporter for the New York Daily Tribune, in Boston for the premiere, thought the performance was ”irresistible, and the effect upon the audience most intense.” In fact, the exhilarating last movement, despite some ensemble problems, was so enthusiastically received that it had to be repeated. Tchaikovsky wrote to Rimsky-Korsakov after Bulow informed him of this demand, which happened more than once: ”Think what appetites these Americans have: after every performance Bulow was obligated to repeat the entire finale! Such a thing could never happen here.”” (Lott, Peoria, 241 and 242) Having taken over as conductor of the fifth concert, Lang was retained for the sixth concert and then the seventh. For the sixth concert he had only two or three days to prepare another new piece, the Raff Concerto!
SIXTH CONCERT PROGRAM.
HMA Program Collection.
Lang was also the conductor for the Sixth Concert on October 29, 1875 (see program above). Note that Lang and von Bulow ended the concert with Chopin’s Rondo in C Major, a piece that Lang would later program with his pupils.
Lang and von Bulow repeated the Grand Concerto as part of von Bulow’s Seventh and final Concert in Boston. Then at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia on Friday December 17th. and continuing the 18th., 21st. and 22nd. of the same year (1875). Lang’s name was printed as the conductor for the third and fourth concerts and written in as conductor for the first and second concerts, but the Tchaikovsky does not appear in any of these programs. (BPL Lang Prog.) Lang’s biographical entry in the 1886 A Handbook of American Music and Musicians edited by F. O. Jones characterized his conducting as follows: “His calmness and presence of mind under all circumstances and surety of score reading has more than once saved a careless or nervous performer from disaster. These qualities make him one of the best conductors, and enabled him to successfully act in that capacity for the belligerent von Bulow and the meteoric Joseffy.” (Jones – first page of ”L” section) Von Bulow played the Tchaikovsky Concerto in 139 out of a total of 172 concerts that he presented that 1875-76 season! As a performer himself, Lang was very considerate of the soloist when he conducted. Apthorp relates more of Lang’s experience with von Bulow in their Philadelphia appearance. Lang, “having heard reports that the Philadelphia orchestra was none of the best at that time, besides knowing that von Bulow was liable to be nervous and at times rather obstreperous at rehearsals, thought it wise to have some rehearsing without his presence. Among other things Beethoven’s G major concert [sic] was to be played; Lang agreed with von Bulow to have the rehearsal at ten o’clock the next morning, but privately sent word to the orchestra that it would be called at nine. This would give him an hour’s rehearsal before von Bulow appeared on the ground. The orchestra assembled as ordered, the orchestral numbers and accompaniments were rehearsed; when it got to be six or seven minutes to ten, Lang and the orchestra were still hammering away at the accompaniment to the G major concerto. But it happened that von Bulow got there some minutes before his appointed time, and, finding Lang already rehearsing without him, took a seat at the back of the hall to wait until this unexpected preliminary rehearsal should be over. Lang standing with his back to the house, of course did not see him, and went on with his work unsuspicious of his presence. When the orchestra got to the tutti hold on the dominant that ushers in the cadenza, and Lang had cut the chord short with a wave of his baton, he was not a little startled to hear von Bulow shriek out behind him in his sharpest and most acrid voice: ”The woodwind may go to hell!” Lang turned around just in time to see the infuriated pianist jam his stove-pipe upon his head and rush out of the hall as fast as his legs could carry him; von Bulow was not to be found again that morning, and the G major Concerto was played in the evening without rehearsal with the pianoforte.” (Apthorp, 357 and 358) When this story was repeated in the Springfield newspaper, the writer interpreted this last sentence to mean that “in the evning the concerto was played with a piano accompaniment instead of the orchestra.” (Springfield Republican (September 29, 1893): 10, GB However, the concerts went well: the pick-up orchestra played accurately and expressively under Lang’s meticulous direction. What he lacked in magnetism, Lang compensated for through his careful study and preparation of the orchestra… Bulow’s faith in Lang’s abilities was validated by excellent performances…Bulow’s continued to share the credit publicly with Lang. After a performance of Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto, Bulow grabbed both of Lang’s hands and ”led him impulsively to the footlights to share blushingly the honors of the occasion.” (Lott, 260) Later, Lang himself was the soloist in this work at performances with the BSO in 1883 and 1885. (Steinberg, 473)
Tchaikovsky was very moved by the news of Bulow’s success with his concerto. In a letter date February 13, 1876 he thanked Bulow for the news of “another American success that I owe to you,” the first being the Boston premier. (Walker, 214) This second success was the New York performance of the concerto led by Leopold Damrosch whom Bulow had known in Weimar. For this performance the finale was also encored as it had been in Boston. Tchaikovsky also noted that he had known Bulow “only a short time,” and having been treated so badly by his mentor, Anton Rubinstein, Tchaikovsky expressed to Bulow “the immense gratitude that I owe you, to you who were not my master and who are not even a compatriot.” (Walker, 215)
Bulow had some interesting observations on the musical audience in Boston. A year after his first appearances there, in 1876, Bulow told the Chicago Times: “There are two types of musical cultivation: for want of better terminology. I might call them in-breath and in-depth. In the latter respect, I would consider Boston the most cultivated; but the people are narrow and too pretentious for the measure of their knowledge. Puritanism has frozen art in New England; it’s a miracle that it hasn’t killed it altogether in the last 100 years. The Bostonians feel their indifference not only to an extreme degree: they even display it openly with pride. Presumably they reckon it as one of the Fine Arts. But that it is not. It is simply a form of paralysis…nevertheless, for a certain sort of technical facility and depth of musical cultivation, Boston takes first place.” (Horowitz, America, 10 and 11)
Lang also learned the solo piano part of the Tchaikovsky work. At the February 19 and 20, 1885 concerts (19th. Pair of the Fourth Season) of the BSO Lang soloed in this work which just ten years earlier he had conducted its world premier; this time the conductor was Georg Henschel. He had done the “Allegro” only at a Fitchburg concert of March 1883. Lang was still conducting this work 25 years later. At a Sunday night December 16, 1900 concert at Symphony Hall, Lang conducted an orchestra of 55 in a “GRAND CONCERT given by and for the benefit of the Musicians” Aid Society.” The orchestra solos were the “Overture” to St. Paul by Mendelssohn and the Overture-In Memoriam by Sullivan (Mr. J. Wallace Goodwich-organist) The main soloist was Ossip Gabrilowitsch who played the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto in B Flat Minor Opus 23 and Liszt’s Hongarian Fantasie for piano and orchestra. (BPL Lang Prog.)
LILLIAN JUNE BAILEY HENSCHEL. b. 1860, d. 1901.
Georg Henshel and Lillian Bailey probably just before their marriage. BSO Archive.
Among the many young artists that Lang helped was Lillian Bailey who later married Georg Henschel, the first conductor of the B. S.O. She was born in Ohio, and her first teachers were her uncle, Charles R. Hayden, and Mme. Rudersdorff. When but sixteen years old she made her first pubic appearance in Boston, and met with much success. In 1878 she went to Paris and became a pupil of Mme. Viardot-Garcia. It was while singing at the Philharmonic in London that she met Georg Henschel. Later she became his pupil, and in 1881 they were married in Boston. Wherever Mrs. Henschel sang she met with success; her method was excellent and her voice possessed a charm which merited the applause given her. She appeared with her husband in song recitals in most of the largest cities in America, and delighted most critical audiences, as well as the pubic at large. She died in London in 1901.” (Green, 370) The “first public performance” referred to above was probably a concert that she presented at the Revere House on Friday evening, April 7, 1876 where B. J. Lang was among the seven assisting artists. In this concert she only sang three songs with the majority of the concert being provided by the guest instrumentalists and vocalists (HMA Program Collection) Early in the program Lang made his only appearance, playing three solos: Allegro in C Major by Handel, his own Spinning Song in A Major, and the Caprice in E Minor by Mendelssohn. The concert ended with Mendelssohn’s Trio in D Minor Op. 49, a work often played by Lang, but in this case the piano part was taken by his pupil G. W. Sumner (HMA Program Collection) Arthur Foote referred to this concert: “In 1876 I assisted at two of Lang’s concerts in Boston…In these concerts a wonderful young girl, Lillian Bailey, afterwards Mrs. George Henschel, made her first appearance: a lovely voice and most beautiful singing-one of the finest artists I have known. She, her mother, brother, and uncle (Charles R. Hayden), lived at the top of the Hotel Pelham (where the Little Building now stands), and I was a frequent visitor, making music there with her.” (Foote, Auto., 44)
Hotel Pelham: corner of Boylston (left to right) and Tremont (up and down), the Boston Common is to your right and behind. Though called a hotel, this was an early version of an apartment house. By the time that Miss Bailey lived here, the building had been moved 14 feet to the right. Photo courtesy of the Boston Public Library. Information from “Lost New England” Series, Derek Strahan, accessed September 22, 2018.
On February 10, 1877 she presented a concert at Union Hall that was “appreciated by a large and cultivated crowd. This gifted lady, yet in her teens, shows a remarkable improvement since her first semi-private appearance a year ago. Her fresh, sweet, penetrating voice has developed into larger volume and capacity of various expression…For she has intellectual talent likewise, and seems to be prompted by a genuine musical enthusiasm…Miss Bailey’s teacher, Mr. C. R. Hayden, [her uncle] to whose judicious training the young maiden bore such testimony” also sang. Lang students Sumner and Foote were the accompanists. (Dwight (March 3, 1877): 399) Fifteen months before Mr. C. R. Hayden had been called “one of the best tenors of our concert rooms” when he took part in the 452nd. recital of NEC. (Dwight (December 11, 1875): 142) Lang knew Hayden as both had been faculty members of the National College of Music (1872-73).
In December 1877 Miss Bailey was the soloist at the Second Harvard Musical Association Orchestra Concert singing both with orchestra and piano accompaniment. Dwight wrote: “Miss Lillian Bailey, with her delicate, sweet, fresh voice, her charming naturalness of manner, and her artistic, earnest feeling and expression, sang to great acceptance. She has gained much in power and style within a year, and, being very young, she will gain more. But it is already a rare treat to listen to her.” (Dwight (December 8, 1877): 142) A month later she presented herself in a concert that “was very agreeable and lively. The audience, which filled Union Hall, was of as select and flattering a character as a young artist could be honored with.” Her uncle also sang and Mr. Dresel was the vocal accompanist. (Dwight (February 2, 1878): 175) Later that spring she appeared again at Union Hall at a “testimonial concert tendered to the favorite young Soprano by the Second Church Young People’s Fraternity.” It was a great success: “Union Hall was crowded: Miss Bailey sang her best.” Again her uncle was part of the performance, and Lang served as accompanist and piano soloist playing the Nocturne in C Minor and Etude in E Flat Major by Chopin and the “Introduction and Scherzo” from the G Minor Piano Concerto by Saint-Saëns. (Dwight (May 11, 1878): 231)
In October she sang the soprano solos in Messiah for the Handel and Haydn Society. “Miss Bailey, who sang here for the first time since her studies in Paris, and her successful career in England, took the soprano solos; and, considering her youth, and the yet juvenile though much improved quality of her voice in firmness, evenness and fullness, acquitted herself most creditably…The young lady’s tones are pure and clear as a bird, her intonation faultless, and all the exacting arias were well studied and agreeably sustained with good style and expression.” (Dwight (October 23, 1880): 174) A month later it was noted that she was “affianced to George Henschel. (Dwight (November 20, 1880): 191) Two months later Bailey and Henschel were sharing recital programs where he “splendidly played all the accompaniments.” Lang and Henschel played the Moscheles Homage a Handel, a duet for two pianos to finish their January 31, 1881 concert at the Tremont Temple. (Dwight (February 26, 1881): 37)
Twenty-five years later, on Saturday March 13, 1901 3PM at the Association Hall, Lang and Foote repeated the St. Saens Variations on a Theme of Beethoven for two pianos which they had performed at Lillian’s Boston debut (which this 1901 program said had happened on March 13, 1876 “at Mr. Lang’s concert”), but this time the concert’s featured artist was Lillian and Georg Herschel’s daughter, Helen Henschel. This 1901 concert was a family affair, for part of the program was a group of duets sung by mother and daughter, accompanied by father. (BPL Lang Prog) Helen, the Herschel’s daughter, recorded the remarks of Edith Hipkins who remembered that in 1879 Georg’s London debut been “like a great wind, with his glorious voice, his flashing eyes and his splendid vitality. He was invited everywhere at once, and appeared even to be everywhere at once…As for your mother, she was too charming for words. And how jealous we all were when your father got engaged to her. That this glorious creature should be going to marry a very young and unknown singer from America seemed unbearable! But quite understandable, too. How pretty she was. So gentle and amusing. And she sang like a little bird.” (Henschel, H. 14)
B. J. studying a full score. Collection of Amy DuBois.
Lang’s orchestral conducting experience began early in his career. On May 12, 1867 at aged thirty he conducted (a) Boston Symphony Orchestra at the Mechanic Hall in Salem, MA “In aid of the New Music Hall.” This concert was promoted by Mr. M. S. Downs and also included as soloist “Miss Adelaide Phillips, the celebrated Prima Dona.” The program was: Symphony # 5- Beethoven, Song-Donizetti, Overture: A Midsummer Night’s Dream-Mendelssohn, Cuban Song, Waltz-J. Strauss, Song, Wedding March: Midsummer Night’s Dream-Mendelssohn. Dwight’s review said: “The object was to raise funds towards the erection of a new music hall, which Salem surely ought to have, for it is now a city, and has some very musical people, sending quite a delegation always to our oratorios and Symphony Concerts in Boston. The occasion is said to have been in every sense most successful.” (Dwight (May 25, 1867): 39)
ST. SAENS – CONCERTO NO. TWO.
On February 3, 1876 Lang gave the American premier of the Second Piano Concerto by St. Saens with the Harvard Musical Association Orchestra. Apthorp wrote in the Atlantic Monthly that he thought this work to be the best concerto since those by Mendelssohn and Schumann. “The first movement is simply great. The dainty little scherzo that follows it and the tarantella finale are gems of their kind. In playing it, Mr. Lang fairly outdid himself, especially in the first two movements; the effect upon the audience was electric.” (Atlantic Monthly (May 1876): 635) He continued to say that as much as he enjoyed the piece, he could hardly remember it after the concert. The suggestion was made that Lang could have played the last movement with more fire; his was “a highly refined fire.” (Ibid, 636)
MECHANICS’ HALL CONCERTS.
An ad appeared in March saying that Lang was to give two concerts on Thursday afternoons March 23 and 29 at 3 o’clock. “He will play two Concertos by Saint-Saens, the Tschaikowsky Concerto, a new Trio by Saint-Saens, numberous pianoforte pieces, etc., etc.” Additionally songs were to be given by Miss Ita Welsh, Miss Lillian Bailey, and the other assisting artists would be Mr. Wulf Fries, Mr. August Fries and Mr. Arthur Foote. Season Tickets, three dollars.” (Traveler (March 13, 1876): 3, GB) The Traveler review of the second concert said that it “seldom [had] been equalled by any resident artist, in character, or character of performance.” (Traveler (March 31, 1876): 3) The Saint Saens Trio “was interesting throughout, and was superlatively well performed in all its parts. ” Of Miss Bailey the reviewer wrote: “we have not often heard a more intelligent, sweeter, sympathetic delivery” than she presented. (Ibid) The major work was the Tschaikowsky Piano Concerto No. 1 with Lang as the soloist and Sumner and Foote at a second piano providing the orchestral reduction. This was just a year after it’s world premier! Even with four hands covering as much of the orchestral fabric as possible, “the orchestral part was much missed.” (Ibid) Lang’s performance was “intense…graceful…[one] he might be proud of, even” in comparison with that of Von Bulow. (Ibid) “A very large audience was present.” (Ibid)
Lang was to do much to further Miss Bailey’s career. Often she would appear as an assisting artist , as above, and also he would appear in her concerts as assisting artist/accompanist. Less than two weeks later he was part of a concert that she presented at the Revere House. Miss Bailey’s “taste and her powers are of the most enviable character.” (Traveler (April 10, 1876): 2)
HANDEL AND HAYDN SOCIETY – LANG CONDUCTS.
For the 1876 Easter Season the Handel and Haydn Society gave their usual series of “Easter Oratorios.” First, on Palm Sunday was Bach’s Passion Music with primarily local soloists-Mme. Rudersdorff, William and John Winch and Myron Whitney. Then on Easter Sunday came Handel’s Joshua in its Boston Premier with local and imported soloists. For the singers to have to learn such a long, new work during the time that they were having great demands made by their local choirs, was certainly testing their loyalty! Finally, on the next Wednesday, April 12th., Mendelssohn’s Hymn of Praise and Rossini’s Stabat Mater were presented. This performance was the last performance in America (she died a year later at the age of 46) of “the distinguished vocalist”(a seamless voice of three octaves) M’lle Theresa Titiens, and for this performance B. J. was the conductor and Professor John K. Paine of Harvard was the organist. (Traveler (April 11, 1876): 2) Possibly Zerrahn thought that three performances in such a short time was too much for one person, or possibly he had a conflicting engagement. For whatever the reason, Lang had his chance to conduct the Handel and Haydn, but I don’t believe this happened again until he was appointed conductor in 1895.
SON AND STRANGER—MENDELSSOHN.
In May of 1876, Lang presented the operetta Son and Stranger (Heimkehr aus der fremde) by Mendelssohn at the new hall of the Young Men’s Christian Union on Boylston Street “before a very large and cultivated audience who had purchased tickets privately under the double inducement of artistic pleasure and of sympathy for want.”… The performers were amateurs and volunteering artists, Mr. Lang conducting, under whose direction the performance had been most carefully prepared, so that the representation of the work, both musically and scenically, was complete.” The overture was arranged for two pianos, eight hands and played by Lang, Mr. Parker, Mr. Leonard, and Mr. Sumner. The critic, Mr. Wm. F. Apthorp “was capitally made up for the respectable old German Mayor, and sang his one note in the Trio doubtless quite as well as the composer’s brother-in-law, the painter Hensel, for whom the part was written… Altogether the performance was a great success… The accompaniments were beautifully played by Mr. Lang, Mr. Leonhard assisting him again in the interlude (“Night and Morning”).” (Dwight (May 13, 1876): 231) Mendelssohn had written this work in 1829 for the silver wedding anniversary of his parents. (BPL Lang Prog., Vol. 2) Clara Rogers (Clara Doria) wrote: “A group of my friends, in which Mrs. James Lodge, Mrs. George Howe [Mrs. Lodge and Mrs. Howe were sisters], Mrs. [Leslie] Codman, the [Ellerton] Pratts, and Mr. Richard S. Fay were prominent, got it up to raise a goodly sum for a deserving benevolence. It was in the character of an amateur performance, though some professional musicians took part in it, the direction of the music being in charge of B. J. Lang…The cast was as follows: Lisbeth-Clara Doria; Ursula-Ita Welsh; the Mayor-William Apthorp; Hermann-Nat Childs; Hans-Doctor C. E. Bullard; Martin-A. S. Dabney… The rehearsals took place for the most part in my music room…It was a great success, a large proportion of Boston Brahmins turning out for the occasion, and a handsome sum being raised for the charity.” (Rogers, Memories, 448) Lang may have become interested in this work when the “Overture” was played at a concert in December 1865 in which he was a soloist.
1876 May. Lang performed the Saint-Saens Christmas Oratorio (Noel) at South Congregational. A year later, May 1877, the same work was performed as part of the Handel and Haydn Society’s “Fourth Triennial Festival.”
BOSTON CHURCH CHOIRS.
In the spring of 1876 Dwight reprinted an article from the Sunday Herald of May 14 on “Boston Church Choirs-How Hard Times Affect the Service of Song.” The country was in a period of economic “hard times” and this had an effect on the quartet choirs which were the standard for most churches. “Quartet singing, which has been a costly item in the expenses of some churches heretofore, has in many instances been altogether abolished. In others, the salaries have been largely reduced. In others still, professional singers have been dismissed and volunteers substituted, whose chief merit lies in the attribute that they are willing to serve without pay.” (Dwight (May 27, 1876): 239 and 240) Thirty-seven churches were included in the survey. The comment for Lang’s quartet at South Congregational Church was: “There have no changes in the quartet at this church during the past year. Its organization is-soprano, Mrs. Julia Houston West; alto, Mrs. J. F. Winch; tenor, Mr. W. J. Winch; bass, Mr. J. F. Winch.” (Ibid)
LANG AND WAGNER.
RMS PARTHIA. Cunard Line.
“In 1871 the Wagners and the Langs were calling on each other in Switzerland. Mrs. Lang owned several songs of Wagner,- among them ”Fuenf Gedichte” translated into Italian by Arigo Boito! Attached to the music was found this note of Mrs. Lang: ”Wagner’s Songs given to me by himself in Switzerland at our Hotel Luzerner Hof-Luzern – as he and Madame Wagner returned our call on July 22, 1871. They rowed over from Triebschen at 4PM. We called at Triebschen on PM of July 21st.”” (Liepmann, 5) Always interested in the new compositions of his time, as “An ardent Wagnerian, Lang visited Wagner in 1871 and offered his assistance in publicizing the Bayreuth Festival in America. The Saloon Passenger List of the RMS PARTHIA sailing from Boston to Liverpool listed B. J. Lang as departing on August 7, 1875. An entry in Cosima Wagner’s Diary for August 26, 1875 mentions that she showed B. J. the Bayreuth Theater. In 1876 Lang and his wife were honored guests at the first performance of the Ring in Bayreuth.” (Ledbetter, Amer. Grove, 10) Arthur Foote also attended (Cipola, Amer. Grove, 50). Frances’ Diary recorded that they sailed from Philadelphia on June 24, 1876 together with Mr. and Mrs. Tucker (she=Jeanie). They were in London from July 4-14 and had rented a room at
If they were in London July4-14, this program shows that they went to a concert on their first night. It included the Beethoven Variations that Lang performed many times. BPL Lang Scrapbook.
14 Arlington Street; then Paris, July 14-23 during which they heard High mass at St. Sulpice where Mr. Widor’s “improvisations were delightful.” There were other things besides music. “Dressmakers, and buying clothes at the Bon Marche.” (Diary 2, Summer 1876)
The Wagner festival was August 6-23, and a letter from Frances dated August 9, 1876 from Bayreuth tells about the Festival. Apparently only the parents went on this journey as the letter is addressed to the children (?) She mentioned that they saw four operas, three times each! She noted in her Diary that on August 6, B. J. met Liszt and Mme. Wagner who gave him tickets to a private rehearsal of Rheingold to be given for the King! Frances was very excited to be a part of this event. (Diary, 6 and 7) In an additional letter which Frances wrote to her parents more details are given the most important of which was that the pre-opening private performance given for the King of Bavaria, Wagner’s patron, was attended by the Wagners, the King and his Suite and THE LANGS!
Diary 2, Summer 1876.
On the return journey, after another stay in London, August 30-September 5, they set sail from Queenstown, Ireland on the Steamer CELTRIC on September 6th. She noted that Mr. Foote was also on board. (Frances Lang Diary, 1876) Margaret, then aged eight, together with her nurse spent the time with Frances’ mother in Stockbridge, Western Massachusetts. “There were several other groups of Bostonians who went over chiefly on account of the Bayreuth production” including Arthur Foote who was introduced to the London music publishers Schott and Company by Lang. (Foote, Auto., 61).
Photo below-Johnston Collection.
Among the American visitors to Bayreuth was Louis C. Elson (critic at the Boston Advertiser 1866-1920) who recorded his impressions of a visit to Bayreuth that he calls “A sleepy German town” in the late 1880s. He began with a reference to the slowness of the Bavarian railroads, and then continued: “July 20th. The town was still its normal condition, dull, sleepy and apathetic; but early on the next morning matters began to change with the rapidity of a fairy transformation scene. Train after train came in, crowed in every compartment, and bearing the motliest assemblage that ever a caricaturist could dream of. Fat, florid, and bespectacled men jostled against lean, long-haired specimens of the genus music professor, and the way in which greetings and kisses were interchanged was appalling to the American eye. At eight in the evening fresh impetus was given to the growing excitement by the arrival of the special train from Vienna, bearing a vast crowd of South German artists and musicians. Locomotive decked with flowers, and flags hanging over some of the carriages, it slowly pushed into the immense crowd gathered at the station to welcome it… Many Americans were at the station. Correspondents from all over the world were there, and anxiety about lodgings grew apace. It was an odd spectacle to find princes lodging above grocers” shops and princesses coming to dwell with well-to-do sausage makers…It was a great delight to live with a quiet German family during the rush of the festival, and to be able to withdraw occasionally from the bustle of publicity into cool and neat rooms.” Joining him that year were George E. Whiting, Carl Faelten, and Miss Fanny Paine. He later saw Mr. Gericke, Franz Kneisel, Clayton Johns, Arthur Foote, Mrs. J. L. Gardner and other Americans. “An entire American colony was formed.” Elson visited Cosima Wagner, and was immediately invited into “a room half drawing-room, half boudoir, in which sat a slim and graceful, but not beautiful, lady, writing. She arose and greeted me with cordiality, and in a few moments by kindly question and unaffected conversation put me at ease…She inquired after American friends, and particularly Mr. B. J. Lang.” She asked Elson if he knew how many Americans were in the city, and he replied “that I knew personally of some fifty who were coming, and that I had no doubt the number would reach two hundred or more… The resemblance of Madame Wagner to her father, Liszt, was more marked then ever as she grew animated.” (Elson, Reminiscences, 73-78)
“His interest in the Bayreuth Festival, the Franz benefit concert, the Dwight testimonial, the Liszt celebration, in short, in every memorable musical occasion has been earnest, thorough and, above all, practical. He has been honored with the personal friendship of the greatest composers of Europe, and his studies of the works of Wagner have been made with the assistance of the great composer himself. He has, like every earnest, original and competent worker, formed for himself a set of followers, pupils and disciples. It is impossible to enumerate these since the number of his pupils who have become concert soloists is over sixty. The work of the Cecilia Club is wholly due to Mr. Lang; that of the Apollo and Euterpe societies largely so. Therefore, in the articles on these subjects, the reader will find a continuation of his too brief personal sketch. Mr. Lang, although he has composed some very fine works, has, as yet, published nothing. As a musician he is armed at all points; he is one of the very surest of ensemble players and never loses his head. We can personally recall many instances where his calmness has saved careless or nervous players from disaster. He is a good organizer and a very efficient leader. At a time when no one else dared undertake playing with, or directing for, the belligerent Von Bulow or the meteoric Joseffy, he did both-and well. He is one of the surest of score-readers and, though not a virtuoso, is one of the best types of true musician. He has long been the organist of a leading Unitarian church. Of his Boston pupils we may mention Mr. Arthur Foote… Mr. W. F. Apthorp is another of Mr. Lang’s eminent pupils.” (Elson, Musical Boston, 3)
Wagner was a patient of the American dentist Dr. Newell S. Jenkins who had a practice in Dresden from 1875 until Wagner’s death in 1883. In 1879 Wagner had the idea of migrating to America with his family. This came about because of various professional problems that he was having in Germany. “His life at this time was so unhappy that he thought he might get the needed support in America. Perhaps what influenced him in part was the fact that America, in 1876, had accepted his Grand Festival March composed for the Philadelphia Exposition, for which he received $5,000, that payment, as he remarked, being the best thing about it.” (HMA, Bulletin No. 21, 6) Jenkins sent a letter from Wagner about his possible move to John S. Dwight, “a foremost authority on matters musical and a widely renowned critic and writer” probably not being aware that “the very name of Wagner, let alone his music, was anathema to Dwight, and a less sympathetic consultant could hardly have been found.” (Op. cit., 7) Dwight showed the letter to various Boston associates including Lang, who then wrote to Wagner “reproving him for his lack of ”common sense” and advising him to withdraw the letter.” (Ibid) Wagner was not to be changed, and he wrote again to Jenkins on July 13, 1880 asking him to find a trusted friend who might be able to manage this enterprise. However, things in Germany improved for Wagner, and so nothing further was recorded about the project.
On January 6, 1876 Cosima Wagner wrote to B. J. “Dear Mr. Lang, I found the book you had the kindness to send to me as I came back from Vienna and was very glad to read it; receive my best thanks and also our best wishes for you and Mrs. Lang for the New Year. I have had so plenty to do in the past last time, that I even don’t know more if I answered the kind letter with the nice photograph of Mrs. Lang. If I didn’t I at leat always intended it, and in her kindness Mrs. L will take the intension for the fact. I beg you today, to send the enclosed letter to Herr von Buelow; most probably you will know where he is now. Many thanks to you for doing so.” (Liepmann, 5 and 6) Liepmann also mentions a letter “to Mrs. Lang from Cosima when she was still Cosima von Buelow.” (Ibid)
LANG AS ASSISTING ARTIST.
Early in 1876 Lang was one of four organists who played the dedicatory recital for an invited audience of over 1,000 on the Hook and Hastings at Holy Cross Cathedral in Boston, The program went from “half-past seven to a little past ten o’clock,” just over two and a half hours, and even though Boston organ audiences were used to the Music Hall recitals of about one-hour, this event “was listened to with the utmost careful attention and evident attention.” (Dwight (February 4, 1876): 192) For Boston’s major Catholic church, the company built “their largest organ yet,” (Ibid) double the size of the instrument that they had built for the Catholic Cathedral in New York City. In fact, with its 5292 pipes, it was the largest in the country, except for the foreign built instrument in the Boston Music Hall.
On Saturday evening, November 4, 1876 Lang was one of five assisting artists in a concert given by Miss Ita Welsh, soprano, at Mechanics Hall. Lang accompanied August Fries in Grieg’s Sonata in F Major Op. 3 for violin and piano, and near the end of the program played three solos, Prelude by Bach, Caprice by Widor, and Gavotte by Bach as arranged by Saint-Saens (HMA Program Collection).
Lang was part of another Complimentary Concert on Saturday evening, April 28, 1877 at Union Hall, 18 Boylston Street. Given for Miss Louie A. Homer, Lang and Wulf Fries opened the program with the “Allegro” from Mendelssohn’s Sonata in D Major for Cello and Piano. They also played a Polonaise for Cello and Piano by Chopin, and Lang presented three solos: Nocturne in C minor by Chopin, his own Spinning Song in A Major, and Caprice in E minor by Mendelssohn. (HMA Program Collection)
ST.-SAENS PIANO CONCERTO NO. 2 IN NEW YORK CITY.
Lang played this work early in December at the Academy of Music one day after Mme. Essipoff played its New York premier in Steinway Hall with the Thomas Orchestra (Johnson, First, 309). Dwight’s New York correspondent wrote in defense of his original review: Lang’s “high reputation as a musician and a pianist is known to all readers of the Journal; therefore when he played the Concerto of Saint Saens, as I think badly, I felt no hesitation in saying so.” (Dwight (February 17, 1877): 389) Dwight had added a note after the original review that it seemed that the New York reviewer’s position was “colored by local prejudice.” (Ibid) Dwight was “surprised to hear of a strong prejudice in New York against any Boston artist who should venture to use a Boston piano in the Academy of Music.” (Dwight (February 3, 1877): 383) He then published reviews of Lang’s performance from four New York papers. The Tribune wrote: “Mr. Lang acquitted himself excellently. His execution is neat, clean, and finished, and his reading very correct…Mr. Lang secured a well-deserved recall.” The Evening Mail wrote: “Mr. B. J. Lang, of Boston, proved himself to be a pianist of the highest order. His rendering of the Saint-Saens was superb…The clearness, precision, and accuracy with which he gave the many runs of the piece were astonishing; specially was this noticeable in the difficult run of thirds which occurs in the presto.” The Daily Mail’s notice was very positive, also noting the third movement while the Sun called Lang’s performance “a charming rendering, and being fully equal to its many and great difficulties.” It did mention that Mme. Essipoff’s performance the night before had “excited her audience to a greater enthusiasm and admiration than she had at any previous time commanded.” It did say her performance did have a higher enthusiasm rating than did Lang’s. (Ibid) Lang’s hometown paper mentioned that this was “the first time a Boston pianist has been requested to play for the Philharmonic.” (Salem Register (December 7, 1876): 2, GB)
APOLLO CLUB 1876-1877.
Dwight’s review of January 20, 1877 said: “The first concert (sixth season) given by the Apollo to its friends, Tuesday evening, Jan. 2, placed this well selected and well trained body of now nearly one hundred singers in a brighter light than ever as an instance of what perfection may be reached, alike of technique and expression, in the execution of part-songs and choruses for mere male voices.For the most part, this time, it was the manner of presentation, more than the matter, that claimed attention.”The concert was mainly short works, and Dwight felt that fine performances did not make provide as much pleasure as the repertoire of a mixed chorus such as the newly formed Cecilia whose concerts supplied “sweets more inexhaustible.” (Dwight (January 20, 1877): 375)
In May of the same year Dwight writes: “The Apollo Club gave an admirable example in their last week’s concerts of what pitch of perfection part-singing can be brought to.Yet it is difficult not to bring in the ungracious ”but” very soon in speaking of these concerts.”His “but” concerned the low level of the selections presented. After allowing that as the group was giving private concerts to friends, and thus could program whatever the group wanted, Dwight called the choir to a higher level as “They have the most transcendent means of performing or doing their part towards performing all that is greatest, highest and also most difficult in choral music…they should direct their efforts to producing really worthy works.” (Dwight (May 12, 1877): 24)
A month later (June 7, 1877 at Tremont Temple) Dwight hails the choir for “a task worthy of its unsurpassed vocal material and trained perfection, in Mendelssohn’s Antigone, which was given entire at the last concert, with the connecting text of Sophocles read (in English), it is said, very finely, by Prof. Churchill, of Andover. All who were present speak of the performance altogether as the finest achievement of the Apollo, giving unqualified delight.” Dwight then finishes with another suggestion, saying that the work had been done well, “so far as possible without orchestra.”(Dwight (June 23, 1877): 47) The soloists were Messrs. Dr. Bullard, Powers, Wilkie, Lincoln, Babcock, Allen A. Brown, and Aiken, with Arthur Foote at the piano. (Johnson, First, 253)
VISIT OF PRESIDENT HAYES.
“By request of the Governor of Massachusetts, the club gave a concert on June 23, 1877, to honor the President of the United States, [President Hayes] then on a visit to Boston.” (Elson, Musical Boston, 3)(Coburn, 584) Presented at the Music Hall, the program began with two organ pieces played by Mr. S. B. Whitney, and then the Club sang Mendelssohn’s To the Sons of Art. Mr. Eugene Thayer played Handel’s Organ Concerto No. 12 followed by other choral pieces, two more organ pieces by Whitney, and the concert finished with the “Double Chorus” from Antigone by Mendelssohn that they had just performed earlier in the month. (BPL Lang Prog.)
CECILIA: FIRST SEASON–INDEPENDENT: 1876-77
The Cecilia was formally organized as an independent body with an active membership increased to 125 singers on April 20, 1876, and in November rehearsals began under Lang who conducted its first concert on January 11, 1877 in Horticultural Hall, which included the first Boston performance of Gade’s The Crusaders. Dwight’s review began: “The Cecilia, that fine chorus of mixed voices, which lent so much charm to the last two seasons of the Symphony Concerts, but which is now reorganized upon an independent footing—many of its members feeling not quite at home in singing with an orchestra—gave its first concert to its associate members, in Horticultural Hall, on Thursday evening, Jan. 11, and repeated the same programme one week later [18th.]. The choir has been considerably strengthened, till it numbers about 120 sweet and effective voices, finely balanced, and very carefully trained under their old director, Mr. B. J. Lang. A more perfect body of sopranos we have not yet heard; they sing with one voice. The Contraltos, too, sound very rich and musical; and it is a rare thing indeed to hear so many pure, sweet tenors, singing so smoothly, with no harsh disturbing element. The Bass part only, needs more strength and substance, though the voices seem to be all good. Nine part-songs and solos filled the first part with the Gade cantata being the second half “Piece de resistance,” For the accompaniment “we had only the piano, with the aid of a cabinet organ, played by Mr. Foote, to strengthen the bass part and hold out the notes in the religious choruses and in the recitatives and airs of Peter the Hermit. The effect on the whole was quite effective.” Dwight noted that B. J. had heard this cantata at the Birmingham Festival. The soloists were Miss Clara Doria (Soprano), Dr. S. W. Langmaid (Tenor) and Dr. E. C. Bullard (Bass). Dwight seems to have attended both performances of this program, for he ends his review with: “In the second concert, the part-songs did not go quite so perfectly as in the first, but The Crusaders was sung even better.” (Dwight (February 3, 1877): 382 and 383) This performance no doubt inspired another performance of the work June 1881, this time by the Schubert Club of Salem which was conducted by Lang’s friend, Mr. W. J. Winch. (Dwight (June 18, 1881): 101)
The second set of concerts was given in Horticultural Hall on March 19 and 22, 1877, and Dwight’s review began “The Cecilia, our choicest and almost our youngest chorus of mixed voices,” certainly a reflection of what B. J. had been able to achieve in a very short period. The review continued: “The high degree of perfection in their singing at their first concert surprised and delighted us; this time, though the programme was hardly so interesting as the first one, execution seemed to us equally, if not even more successful.” It addition to conducting, Lang also served as accompanist. (Dwight (April 14, 1877): 7) Mr. Charles R. Hayden, uncle of Lillian Bailey, was the soloist. After two seasons of a cappella concerts, the choir used an orchestra in one concert, and the norm became orchestral accompaniment for one or two of the three to four concert season.
The May 23 and 25, 1877 concerts by The Cecilia presented again Schumann’s Paradise and the Peri, “with a small orchestra as could find room [for] in a corner of Horticultural Hall. The choruses went very finely, particularly on the second evening, when the Hall was less hot and crowded…Miss Lillian Bailey, who had not quite recovered from a hoarse cold, but who sang the part in a fresh, charming voice and manner in the second performance…The performance as a whole was very much enjoyed, doing great honor to the Conductor, Mr. Lang, and to all concerned…We are curious to know what good work the Cecilia, now so happily established, will set itself about after the summer’s rest.” (Dwight (June 23, 1877): 47) Among the soloists were the Winch brothers.
In June 1877 the President of the choir, S. Lothrop Thorndike, made his report at the Annual Meeting, where he reviewed the Club’s first two years (1874-76) as part of the Harvard Musical Association Concerts, the spring 1876 reorganization of the choir as an independent group, and then the repertoire presented in the 1876-77 Season. The ranks of Associate Members were oversubscribed: “We were obliged to limit the number to two hundred and fifty, for the reason that Horticultural Hall, in which we proposed to give our first series of concerts, would not allow to more than this number (in addition to our active members) the two seats to which they would be entitled for each performance.” That first season “embraced six entertainments (three concerts, each repeated), the music to be of a lighter character and greater variety than that which is offered by the larger choral societies… The music has been given with piano accompaniment, excepting the Paradise and the Peri, for which we had a small orchestra.” Thorndike noted “the Club is no longer without rivals in its own particular field. Three years ago it took possession of an unoccupied ground…We are not alone. At least one other society in Boston has embarked upon the same mission. This is no reason for discouragement, but an added stimulus. There is work enough for all. Let us bid our rivals good-speed, and hope to receive from them a like greeting. By our friendly emulation the good cause will in any event be the gainer.” (Dwight (September 15, 1877): 93 and 94) The name of the other choir was the Boylston Club which was directed by the singer George L. Osgood who had recently returned to Boston after a period of European study. Thorndike then went on to say: “The list of active members of the Club during the past year has comprised one hundred and thirty-one voices, thirty-seven soprano, twenty-eight also, thirty-one tenor, and thirty-five bass. The real working force, however, has consisted of not more than one hundred singers. From these figures two things are apparent: first, that we still have some active members whose indifference renders them useless, who must be replaced by more valuable material; and secondly, that the balance of parts needs correction. The rectification of the Club in these respects will be the first duty of the coming season.” (Ibid) This report, in full, was printed by Dwight in his Journal of Music, obviously so that the choir members and the whole Boston choral community would know the direction of this choir. It would seem that Lang was intent upon making the choir the very best possible. A year later Thorndike repeated the same theme: “I am sure that you will join me in taking this occasion to pay our compliments to the Boylston Club, to whose admirable concerts most of us have listened with delight. We owe each other the debt due from every one to an able rival. Each club has done better from having the other in the field. In such contests both sides are the winners.” (Dwight (September 14, 1878): 303)
CRAMER PIANOFORTE STUDIES.
In 1877 Oliver Ditson published 50 Selected Painoforte Studies of Cramer, arranged by Dr. Hans Von Bulow, translated and revised by B. J. Lang.
In 1877 Lang’s regular week was outlined in the Diary of his wife, Frances. “Mr. Lang’s regular weekly schedule was as follows;-he taught at his studio from 9-6 daily. His lunch brought to him from the house. Sunday A.M.s he always played the organ at church, and for many years had to undertake afternoon services also. Two evenings a week he regularly had rehearsals of the Cecilia Chorus and the Apollo Club (a male chorus). These groups each gave 3 concerts a season. Until the early 90s Mr. Lang was preparing for, and giving pianoforte concerts, also occasionally organ recitals. He was constantly being asked to play at one affair or another. His interest in young musicians as well as many of the great ones who came to this country was inexhaustible. Every day was a full one.” (Diary 2, Fall 1877) Frances was busy with the house. She noted that Julia Nolan, their cook was paid $5 per week while their chamber maid was paid $4. (Ibid)
APOLLO CLUB 1877-1878.
By now a pattern had developed. The fall rehearsals would be spent preparing for the spring concerts. Possibly informal presentations were given specially invited audiences, but the fall months seem to have been used to train new members in the Club’s ways and to get by all the note pounding that was probably still needed.
Dwight reviewed concerts given on January 9 and 15, 1878 “before immense and most enthusiastic audiences. We know not when we ever listened to those seventy voices musical and manly voices with so much pleasure. The singing, the execution and expression of the music, was beyond praise. And there were more things of a substantial, noble character than has been usual in programmes mostly made up of part-songs.” Such things as William Winch’s “admirable singing of Schubert’s Erl-King, and the “Andante and Variations, and the Presto, from Beethoven’s Kreutzer …The other was a pleasing Romance in B flat, Op. 27 by Saint-Saens for violin, pianoforte and organ. “These programming changes earned the comment: “We said we never listened to the Apollo with more pleasure. We did not hear them sing the Antigone music last year, which must have been a greater treat. Will they not give it again?” (Dwight, Jan. 19, 1878) “Athenian” wrote of these concerts: They “were two of the most thoroughly enjoyable concerts ever given by the Club, which, by the way, has now reached its seventh season.” (Brainard’s (February 1878): 29) he was so pleased that he listed the complete program and the performers for each piece
Early in his conductorship Lang effected some changes that would later be adopted by other groups: “He was also an innovator in other aspects of concert presentation: for example, he experimented with the use of heavy paper for programs so they would not rustle in the hands of the audience, and had the texts of vocal compositions printed in the program in such a way as to avoid page turns at particularly quiet passages.” (Ledbetter, 10)
Dwight again makes his suggestion that orchestral accompaniment would enhance the Apollo’s performances when he refers in an April 27, 1878 review to a cantata which “doubtless the orchestral accompaniments, which were merely sketched on the piano, well as that was played by Mr. PETERSILIA, would have placed the whole work in a stronger light.” One wonders if Lang had spoken to Dwight about his desire to have orchestral accompaniments?
Dwight’s wish to hear Antigone was granted within six months together with his suggestion of orchestral accompaniment. “The concert of May 7, in the Tremont Temple, was entirely devoted to the performance of a single work, -but that perhaps the noblest work existing for a chorus of male voices: Mendelssohn’s music to Antigone of Sophocles…And it is the first of Mendelssohn’s creations of this kind, and the freshest.It was conceived in a high moment of his genius, and executed while the mood possessed him…This time it was made complete by bringing in the full Orchestra, which added vastly to the inspiring grandeur of the work, and to the clear comprehension of it. The orchestra had been well drilled by Mr. Lang…The instrumentation throughout is singularly beautiful and chaste, and with the voices frequently sublime. The rich and manly voices of the Club, some seventy in number, perfectly well balanced, and trained to remarkable perfection, were admirably suited for such music, and the performance was almost without a flaw. It was the crowning achievement of the club. Would there were more such music for them!” (Dwight (June 8, 1878): 247)
Dwight reprinted an announcement of the forthcoming 1878-79 Season.“The Apollo Club, Mr. Lang, director, (as we learn by the Courier) will give the first concert of its eighth season in Tremont Temple, December 6. Subsequent concerts will be given in Music Hall, December 9, February 19 and 24, and two in May. The committee make[s] no announcements of the works to be presented. But the associate members may rest assured, had they any need of that assurance, that the programme will be made up with the care that has been expended on them, that the rehearsals will be through, and the performances quite up to the club’s high standard. The list of applicants for associate membership now numbers over three hundred names.”(Dwight (October 26, 1878): 327)
The third pair of concerts on May 15 and 20, 1879 ended the season.”For both there was the usual crowded and enthusiastic audience, and on both occasions the splendid body of finely trained male voices, full of esprit de corps, seemed, if that were possible, to surpass their best previous instances of well-nigh perfect execution.” The first concert used mainly piano accompaniment with the addition of a string quartet for the Schumann Piano Quintet in E-flat and to accompany one extended choral piece. The second concert repeated three pieces from the first and added six new pieces that used orchestral accompaniment. B. J.’s song Ho, Pretty Page with words by Thackeray was sung by Mr. J. F. Winch, and Dwight’s review said it “catches and reproduces the fine pathetic humor of the verses, and is a fresh, genial, fascinating bit of music. As sung by Mr. Winch it took the audience almost off their feet, and had to be repeated.”(Dwight (May 24, 1879): 86) The Daily Evening Traveler of May 8, 1878 reported: “The club has not sung more artistically this season, the orchestra played with a finess and unison altogether uncommon, and seemed to have been much longer preparing its part than was the fact. A great share of this excellence is due to Mr. Lang, whose guiding hand and thorough care were once more appreciable in their highest value.” (Scrapbook 1887-1906)
CECILIA: SECOND SEASON–INDEPENDENT: 1877-1878
Within six months Dwight recorded an example of this friendly rivalry. The December 6 and 13, 1877 concerts held at Tremont Temple by The Cecilia had a first half of short works and piano pieces. Arthur Foote had arranged the “Overture” to Cantata # 28 by Bach that he played with Mr. J. A. Preston; they also performed the Variations on a Theme by Beethoven (“Trio” from Piano Sonata, Op. 31, No. 3) by St. Saens. The second half was a cantata by Heinrich Hoffmann: The Fair Melusina. By coincidence, the Boylston Club’s December concert also included a cantata on a Mermaid/Watery Nymph subject, George Smart’s Bride of Dunkerron. Both choirs were praised by Dwight: The Cecilia “showed critical and careful training-indeed a marked improvement on the year before,” while the Boylston Club “was richer in numbers and in quality of voices than ever before, and sang with a precision, spirit, taste and nice light and shade, more honorable to themselves and their accomplished Conductor, Mr. Geo. L. Osgood.” (Dwight (January 19, 1878): 167) The Courier reviewer found the Hofmann cantata “dull and tiresome,” but he did find Foote’s Bach transcription to be “very fine,” as it brought “the public into a closer relation with great classic works.” The reviewer’s bias to older music is shown by his description of current composition as “of more or less chaotic music-writing.” However, the Gazette of December 8, 1877 found the Hofmann to be “the feature of the concert. It is a charming composition, abounding in poetic feeling and dramatic effect.” All in all “the entertainment was the most generally commendable the organization has given us.” This review has Foote and Lang playing the St. Saens. A third review, headed “The Vocal Clubs” praised the two pieces for two pianos, commented that the “choruses showed critical and careful training-indeed a marked improvement on the year before,” but felt that the Hofmann had “little that is strikingly original, or much above innocent, agreeable commonplace.” The soloists “all sang creditably. Dr. Bullard truly like an artist.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1)
BIRTH OF ROSAMOND.
On February 4th. “Lel drove out in the sleigh,-and to my horror, returned an hour later, with a broken arm. Dr. Hodges was sent for. Lel was put to bed in the upper front guest room. The bell rings constantly. Flowers inquiries, etc. etc. Two days later: February 6th. My little girl baby was born this morning at 8.45. I waked at 4, called Mrs. Pratt [her nurse]. Luther [B. J.’s “man”] went for Dr. Morton, and all was over. Flowers have literally poured into the house, also letters and cards. It is almost frightful. Baby is to be named Rosamond.” (Diary 2, February 4 and 6, 1878) On February 19th. Dr. Hodges allowed B. J. to attend part of the Apollo rehearsal. The singers were quite surprised to see him and “they shouted and gave him a great ovation. Of course he stayed there only a short time, and then returned home to sit with me and talk about it. And then wonder of wonders, we heard male voices singing outside, under our window,-and it was the Apollo Club. It was really too much. Lel opened the window and called out,-‘God bless you, thank you.’ Then they cheered and sang two more lovely songs. Lel thanked them again, calling out, ‘Mrs. Lang send her love to you.'” (Diary 2, February 19, 1878) “The baby laughs, seems happy all day long and sleeps perfectly, so I do too. The Apthorps think that she looks like the Holbein Madonna.” (Ibid)
Lang did not conduct the next concert given on Feb. 8, 1878. Mr. Arthur Foote conducted that performance as Lang “had the misfortune to be thrown from a sleigh, breaking the upper bone of his left arm.” (Dwight (February 16, 1878): 182) “Foote replaced him at the last minute and, among other things, conducted Mendelssohn’s Athalie. He was master of the situation, at ease with the music and the technical demands of conducting according to witnesses to the performance.” (Tara, Foote, 105) For this February 8th. performance, the Mozart “Overture” to Magic Flute was performed on two pianos, eight hands by Sumner, Tucker, Preston and Foote as was also the Mendelssohn “Overture” to Athalie and the “Priests War March.” Apthorp felt that the music in Athalie “cannot be mentioned in the same breath with his Antigone or Oedipus...It is unobtrusive, agreeable music, and, if rarely powerful, it is never dull and stupid. The performance was very fine, and reflected great credit both upon chorus and conductor.” The Gazette review noted that “Mr. Parker’s club brought out Athalie in Chickering Hall January 1, 1864, and repeated it in January, 1870. On the first occasion Mr. Thomas B. Frothingham read the narrative portions of the text. The South Boston Choral Union also gave the work in Watt’s Hall some six or seven years ago.” The solos were “generally well sung… The choruses were, for the most part, also well done, the most notable defect being a tendency to fall from the pitch.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1) Dwight reported: “Mr. Lang having happily recovered the use of his broken left arm, sufficiently at least to conduct, with that arm in a sling, -the Club on Thursday evening, March 14, gave the promised repetition of their concert of Feb. 8.” The main point of the review was how much better the pieces sounded with their original orchestral accompaniment, the Feb. 8 concert having been done only with piano accompaniment. “Not only did the instruments lend color, vividness, intensity, to what some before found rather monotonous and tame; they also brought out many unnoticed points and features into the light.” The orchestra was of about 35 pieces who “played with care, the noisier instruments being well subdued under the conductor’s sway; so that the voices in that resonant hall (Tremont Temple) were heard to excellent advantage… The prejudice, hitherto existing in our vocal clubs, against singing with an orchestra, must now, we think, confess itself unfounded; and it will henceforth pass for granted that the production of a great composition in its integrity, vocal and instrumental, is of too much consequence to be sacrificed to the perhaps natural, but blind desire of singers to have all sounds kept aloof which might divide the attention claimed exclusively for their own precious voices.” (Dwight (March 30, 1878): 207) A review of this second performance noted that an “overflowing audience” heard the fruits of “Mr. Lang’s careful and studious direction [which] resulted in a splendid giving of all the numbers…The soloists sang, if possible, better than ever before…We are sure every one enjoyed the concert greatly.” These February and March 1878 performances were probably the first given by the group in Tremont Temple-their previous concerts had been at Horticultural Hall. (BPL Lang prog., Vol. 2) The Apollo Club also began to use Tremont Temple as a concert site at this time with a concert on June 4, 1878. (Ibid)
For the Friday evening, May 17 and Wednesday evening May 22, 1878 concerts at Tremont Temple, Acis and Galatea by Handel was given. Dwight devoted a page and a half to a detailed comment on each of the sections, as this was the first complete performance in Boston. However he lamented that only the piano was used for the accompaniment. “As it was, it had to be given with such meager piano accompaniment as is put beneath the sketchy score in the edition of the Handel-Gesellschaft. “As it is, well as the present accompaniment was played by Mr. Lang, with able assistant, Mr. Foote, many of the airs must have seemed thin, long-spun and full of repetition to many in the audience… It was a rare treat as it was, and two audiences came away upon the whole delighted, their minds enriched with ever fresh flowers of musical fancy which will haunt them a long while.”(Dwight (June 8, 1878): 246) The soloists included Lillian Bailey, Ita Welsh, Dr. Langmaid and John F. Winch. No reviews are preserved in the Cecilia Program Collection, Vol. 1.
CECILIA THIRD SEASON–INDEPENDENT: 1878-1879.
Dwight printed in October of 1878 a short announcement of the upcoming season that listed Cecilia concerts at Tremont Temple, concerts by the Boylston Club under George L. Osgood, “and now a new society, the Mendelssohn Choral Union, with numerous voices of both sexes, has begun rehearsals in the spacious hall of the Young Men’s Christian Association. Mr. Stephen Emery has been secured as conductor… We have not learned whether it is their intention this season to give public concerts.” (Dwight (October 26, 1878): 327) This new choir had A. D. Turner as the accompanist and such Boston musical notables as S. B. Whitney, J. C. D. Parker and E. Tourjee as Board members. (Ditson-Musical Record (November 2, 1878): Vol. 1, No. 5)
A month later Dwight announced the program for the late November pair of Cecilia concerts, November 25 and 29: two works for eight hands—”Allegro Vivace” from Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony played by Sumner, Foote, Preston and Fenollosa and Les Contrastes by Moscheles played by Lang, Sumner, Foote and Preston with the major choral work being Toggenburg by Rheinberger. (Dwight (November 23, 1878): 342) The Rheinberger was an American premier. (Dwight (August 16, 1879): 134) One review noted:” The club has given much brighter entertainments. It is hoped it will never give a duller one.” The Mendelssohn was described as a piece which gives “more delight to the players than to the listeners,” but the Moscheles, because it was an original piece for eight hands, “was far more enjoyable than the symphony extract.” The Rheinberger “has a doleful plot…The pathos of the story is well expressed in the music, and that is about the only sentiment there is to be found there.” However, the soloists “did good service,” and “the choral execution throughout the concert was very fine.” Just the opposite attitude was expressed by another reviewer who felt that “a distinguishing feature of the programme was the superior vocal character of the selections sung by the club.” Of the Rheinberger, “the music, as a whole is expressive, the pathetic portions being especially strong in this respect. Rheinberger is certainly one of the best vocal writers of the day.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1)
The Friday, February 7, 1879 concert at Tremont Temple was “the finest concert [given] thus far in the course of its three seasons.” Two contrasting cantatas were given-the second part of Bach’s Ich hatte viel Bekummerniss and Gade’s Crusaders; the Bach had been performed during the second season with the HMA (1875-1876) and the Gade had been performed during the choir’s first independent season (1876-1877). “An excellent orchestra was provided, with Mr. J. A. Preston at the organ, and the chorus of mixed voices was in fine condition.” In the Gade, which was its first local performance with instruments, the orchestra “put an entirely new life into it. Indeed, instrumentation is Gade’s strong side always, and to leave out the orchestra in such a work is to leave out the soul of it…Altogether it was a complete and signally successful performance. The concert was repeated on Monday evening, but unfortunately without the orchestra, it being impossible to procure one on that evening; so that the accompaniments were represented on the pianoforte (Mr. Tucker) and the organ (Mr. Preston), very creditably, it must be said.” (Dwight (February ??, 1879): 30) The Choir’s President mentioned in his Annual Report that this second performance with piano and organ accompaniment “had to be given, on the score of expense, and the contrast with the previous evening was depressing,-another occasion to point the moral that it will not answer to divorce works wedded to instruments from their lawful alliance, and a hopeful sign, in that the violence done was felt by every one in the hall.” (Dwight (August 16, 1879): 134) the review in the Post began with the comment that this concert was given “in the presence of a large and fashionable audience, which gave frequent evidence of its appreciation during the evening…The chorus work was excellent throughout, and gave ample evidence of the careful instruction of Mr. Lang.” The reviewer in the Advertiser wrote: “Last night’s performance was the first in Boston with an orchestra. It is needless to say that the manifold beauties of the work were greatly increased in effect in consequence…The performances of all concerned were of a high order. The chorus did itself great credit, mainly to Mr. Lang’s skilful training and direction. The orchestra was large, and included many of the best resident musicians.” Another review said: “The orchestra deserves warm praise for its delicacy, unity and correctness.” This concert was repeated on Monday evening, February 10, but with no orchestra; instead, Mr. H. G. Tucker was at the piano and Mr. John A. Preston at the organ.
Handel was again featured in the spring concert of 1879 when the first half of the April 21 concert “consisted of copious selections from Handel’s L’Allegro ed il Pensieroso, which were given with full orchestra and with fine effect. Mr. Sumner presided at the organ.” (Dwight (May 10, 1879): 79) In a display of professional cordiality, Mr. George L. Osgood, conductor of their rival choir, the Boylston Club, was one of the soloists, as he was identified “with the production of this particular work on both sides of the water.” (Dwight (August 16, 1879): 134) As Osgood had sung this work in Germany, he decided to sing the “Trumpet Aria” in German that caused letters to the various papers. In a reply sent to the Transcript he defended this decision by saying that “the English vowels are mostly close and dull in this aria. The German vowels, on the other hand, are of the brightest description.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1) Based on the comments of another reviewer, Osgood should not have bothered. “The trumpets were, as usual, diabolically dissonant. If that was to represent ”mirth,” I would prefer to enjoy myself in some other manner.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1, article dated April 29, 1879, Boston, Mass) This same article did give high marks to the soprano section: “I noticed throughout the evening and especially in L’Allegro, how easily the soprano voices gave their phrases, even when they were in alt. Every voice seemed to tell. It was not, as in some clubs., where, when a high passage occurs, a ”forlorn hope,” of perhaps twelve veterans, constitute the storming party, and make a desperate attack on the heights, while the remainder of the army stand quiet, and wait for them to ”come down,” before they resume singing. It is an exciting moment when these daring spirits scale the mount, or rather mount the scale.” (Op. cit.) The second half of the concert included part-songs, solos, “the clever comic glee of Humpty Dumpty by Caldicott, which was gleesomely received; and Gade’s cantata Spring Greeting, in which of course the orchestra was all-important.” The Courier review made reference to another Letter to its Editor from the aptly named “Deadhead” which took Lang to task for not encoring Humpty Dumpty. The writer noted the persistant applause to which Lang dismissed their request “with a superior bow which reminded them that the name of the glee was Humpty Dumpty! That it was in English! That it was written only a short time ago, by a man who is not even dead yet, and if they liked it they were entirely wrong and certainly should not be encouraged.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1)
The final concert of the season given at Tremont Temple on May 8, 1879 was the complete music to Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream with orchestra, women’s choir, solos and “an admirable reading of the play by Mr. George Riddle, one of the teachers of elocution in Harvard University” (Dwight (May 24, 1879): 85) who was lauded for his presentation which ranged from the roaring of Nick Bottom to the humor of Puck. The choral contribution was only two choruses for women’s voices-the soloists were Mrs. Hooper and Miss Gage. “Of all the readings with the music of the Mendelssohn-Shakespeare fairy play that we have had, this as a whole was much the most successful.” (Dwight (May 24, 1879): 85) All the other reviewers agreed: one called the concert “an entertainment of rare beauty,” while another wrote that “it may be fairly said that the Cecilia outdid themselves last evening.” Lang was praised for his “careful training,” and his “good taste and refined judgment [which] was everywhere made apparent.” Riddle was also praised for his “discrimination of the various characters,” while the orchestra generally played “with spirit and accuracy” except for “some slight inadvertencies” such as the “troublesome woodwind” who displayed their “chronic tendency to splatter.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1)
Dwight printed the report of the President of the Cecilia together with an introduction of four paragraphs. After tracing the early history of glee singing, German part-singing groups, and informal groups that met to sing masses and cantatas, he cites the new choral societies of mixed voices who have ”made it possible to bring out really important works by the best masters, and to do them justice… they (Cecilia and Boylston Club) do not sell tickets, they sing to invited audiences and in a friendly atmosphere; their treasury is kept full by subscribing ”associate members,” and sympathizing volunteers and backers, who delight to ”assist” at concerts and rehearsals..” He then congratulates the groups for using orchestras were appropriate. “In one or two instances a work has been given first with orchestra with triumphant effect, and then repeated (on grounds of economy) with nothing but pianoforte accompaniment, and the second performance fell so flat that everybody felt that the orchestra must be a sine qua non from this time forward.” The report itself by President S. Lothrop Thorndike covered the events of the group’s third season. (Dwight (August 16, 1879): 133 and 134)
The 1879-80 Season had a new element. “Since its first year the club had given its concerts in Tremont Temple, but during the summer of 1879 that hall was destroyed by fire and the Cecilia was driven for the next season to the Music Hall. It was felt to be a disadvantage. The Music Hall was too large for the club and the kind of work it had taken upon itself to do. But there was no help for it; and in the Music Hall were given the four concerts of the fourth season – and the number of active members was increased to 150 to partly compensate for the size of the Hall.” The original size of the choir when first organized was “about a hundred picked voices.” (Cecilia program clippings May 10, 1882 concert-BPL Collection) For the 1879-80 season the Annual Assessment for Associate members was raised to $15 and additional Associates were admitted-this was due to the added costs of performing in the Music Hall. (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1)
This image appears in a chapter from the H and H Society History covering the years 1891-92. However, the darker beard and more hair would seem to place it much earlier. He would seem to be in his early forties. Bradbury, History of the Handel and Haydn Society, 1890-1897, between pages 24 and 25.
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)
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)
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)
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 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 SEASON–INDEPENDENT: 1879-80.
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)
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.
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)
“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)
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 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 SEASON–INDEPENDENT: 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.
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)
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)
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)
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.