FINAL YEARS: 1901-1909.
PART 1. TOPICS AND PREMIERS. CECILIA SINGS GOV. WOLCOTT FUNERAL. STRAUSS: ENOCH ARDEN. TABLE GOSSIP. MISS ROBBINS AND THE ACTRESS, MISS MAUDE ADAMS. THE CECILIA TWENTY-SIXTH SEASON: 1901-1902. HELEN HENSCHEL BOSTON CONCERT. THE CECILIA TWENTY-SEVENTH SEASON: 1902-1903. CHRISTMAS 1902: KING’S CHAPEL. MRS. GARDNER’S NEW MUSIC ROOM. PARSIFAL. PAINE- AZARA. DITSON FUND MEETING. OTHER CHARITABLE EVENTS (1) (2) (3). BERLIOZ: DAMNATION OF FAUST. THE SINGING CLUB. CHICKERING ANNIVERSARY CONCERT. YALE DEGREE. DEATH OF FRANCES’ MOTHER. CHRISTMAS AT KING’S CHAPEL: 1903. THE CECILIA SEASON: 1903-1904. CHICKERING ORCHESTRAL CONCERTS.
PART 2. RICHARD STRAUSS IN BOSTON. SUMMER 1904. THE CECILIA: 1904-1905. FINANCIAL WORTH. 6 NEWBURY STREET STUDIOS. RUTH BURRAGE ROOM-MOVED. THE CECILIA: 1905-1906. LAST CECILIA CONCERT. RESIGNS FROM THE CECILIA. RAISED $1,000,000+ FOR THE ENDOWMENT. KING’S CHAPEL VESPER SERVICES. 1907. AMERICAN MUSIC EDUCATION. MASTER OF ARTS DEGREE FROM HARVARD. FINAL CONDUCTING APPEARANCE. THE CECILIA AFTER LANG. DEATH. FUNERAL. EULOGIES. MEMORIAL CONCERTS. LANG’S INFLUENCE LIVES ON. HALL OF FAME.
(American) Debussy: Three Nocturnes (with female choir), Chickering Concert, February 10, 1904-Mr. Georges Longy conducted (Herald ad, (January 30, 1904): 10). Was the second piece on the program and then repeated for the final piece.
(Boston) Franck: Les Djinns for Piano and Orchestra, Chickering Concert, February 24, 1904-Lang conducted. Soloist-Mrs. Jessie Downey Eaton.
(Boston/American) Glazunov: Symphonic Poem, Opus 13, “Stenka Razin.” Chickering Concerts, March 23, 1904.
(Boston) Paine: Prelude to the Birds of Aristophanies (Paine conducted, March 9, 1904, Chickering Concerts.
(American) Perilhou: Andante in G Major for Violin, Harp and Organ. March 24, 1904 Benefit Concert arranged by Lang for the Berkeley Temple (Congregational) Church. Herald, March 20, 1904, 33.
CECILIA PREMIERS: dates from the 1907 List, except where noted.
(Boston) Bach: B minor Mass. December 3, 1901. Second American performance.
(Boston) Bruckner: Te Deum. December 12, 1905.
(American) Charpentier: The Poet’s Life. April 4, 1905.
(Boston) Coleridge-Taylor: Death of Minnehaha. February 3, 1903.
(Boston) Debussy: The Blessed Damozel. April 4, 1905. (with orchestra)
(Boston) Elgar: Dream of Gerontius. January 26, 1904.
(American) Foote: A Motet: Vita Nostra Plena Bellis (Mortal Life is Full of battle), Op. 47. February 4, 1902.
(Boston) Franck: Psalm 150. February 4, 1902.
(Boston) Henschel: Stabat Mater. March 31, 1901.
(World) Henschel: Requiem. On December 2, 1902. Henschel conducted.
(World) Hutcheson: Piano Concerto. March 9, 1904. Lang conducted.
(American) d’Indy: St. Mary Magdalene. February 6, 1906.
(Boston) Loeffler: L’Archet. February 4, 1902. Loeffler played.
(American) Massenet: The Promised Land. April 8, 1902.
(Boston) Mendelssohn: Motet for solo voices, chorus and organ composed expressly for the nuns of La Trinita at Rome. (Herald (April 3, 1904): 22 ad, GB)
(Boston) Mozart: Te Deum. December 11, 1906.
(World) Paine: Azara. April 9, 1907. First complete-in concert form.
(Boston) Pierne: The Children’s Crusade. February 26, 1907.
(Boston) Strauss: Taillefer. April 3, 1906.
(Boston) Tschaikovsky: Cherubim Song or Vesper Song-neither ad nor review says which one. (Herald (April 3, 1904): 22, GB)
FINAL YEARS: 1901-1909.
CECILIA SINGS BRAHMS GERMAN REQUIEM AT MEMORIAL SERVICE FOR GOV. ROGER WOLCOTT.
Mr. Wolcott had been a major presence in Boston, but only governor for three years. However, the number of people expected for his memorial service dictated the use of Symphony Hall. The service, on Thursday April 18 began with Wagner’s overture to Parsifal played by “72 members of the Boston Symphony, conducted by Wilhelm Gericke, followed by part of the German Requiem by Brahms. (Herald (April 5, 1901): 7) This was sung by the Cecilia Society, accompanied by the orchestra. Mid-way through the service the choir sang another part of the Requiem. No paper recorded exactly what was sung from the Requiem; the Herald said “selections” while the Journal said “portions.” Possibly the connection between the Cecilia Society and Gov. Wolcott was that he was a Vestryman at King’s Chapel. This certainly was a major event for the choir to be asked to take part in; the Herald’s report covered eight full columns, and the names of those attending ran into the hundreds. (Herald (April 19, 1902): 16)
STRAUSS: ENOCH ARDEN.
Contemporary music continued to interest Lang even late in his career. Beginning in December of 1901 and continuing through early 1903, performances of the Richard Strauss melodrama Enoch Arden (words by Tennyson) were read by George Riddle with the music played by Lang. Frances recorded: “Lel is rehearsing with George Riddle for a performance of Strauss’s Enoch Arden. This evening played the music to us. It is quite beautiful.” (Diary 2, Fall 1901) A note from the program said: “The musical setting is by Richard Strauss, who is today attracting the attention that Richard Wagner did forty years ago.” The first performance was probably in Salem on December 4, 1901 followed by a second at Boston’s St. Botolph Club on December 15. It was then presented for the Harvard Musical Association on December 27, and that was followed by three performances in March in Dedham, Wellesley College, and Jamaica Plain. A regional tour followed in April with four performances in New Haven, Providence, New York City, and Philadelphia with a Chickering Hall, Boston performance in the middle of this tour. The Globe wrote of this Boston performance: “Mr. George Riddle gave a most effective reading last night…of Enoch Arden.” (Globe (February 20, 1902): 2) Of Lang’s part: the “subtleties were well brought out.” (Ibid) Another Boston performance was given at Chickering Hall on April 21, 1902 and this was noticed in the Society Page of the Herald. The audience was “cultivated and appreciative” while “Mr. Riddle’s talent has never been so conspicuously and brilliantly shown…Mr. Lang’s part, it goes without saying, was beautifully done.” Among those attending were Lang’s friends Mr. and Mrs. R. C. Dixey and Rosamond Dixey and nineteen others who were named. (Herald (April 27, 1902): 31, GB) A final performance eight months later was presented in Washington, D. C. on January 19, 1903. Just making the concert and travel arrangements for this project must have been a major undertaking!
The Boston Globe newspaper had a section called Table Gossip that chronicled the social events of the major Boston families. The Langs were certainly part of this social scene. The January 26, 1902 edition covered many columns, and one section mentioned that “Mrs. Samuel J. Mixter gave her first at home on Friday evening at her residence, on Marlboro St. Mr. Harold Bauer, the distinguished pianist, was the guest of honor…Among the guests were [listed in order as they originally appeared] Mr. B. J. Lang [but not Mrs. Lang], Miss Margaret Lang…the Misses Little, Mr. Arthur Foote.” (Globe (January 26, 1902): 38) Another entry noted: “A second concert was given at Chickering Hall Monday afternoon by the Fortnightly Club before an audience completely filling the hall. Miss Ogilvie sang three songs by Mr. Foote, and Miss Bemis sang others by Mr. Clayton Johns, Miss Margaret Lang and Grieg. Mr. Edward B. Hill [a Lang pupil] played his own piano compositions.” (Ibid)
Frances recorded their interaction with one of Boston’s major social leaders, Isabella Stewart Gardner. “Maidie and I went, after church, to Mrs. Gardner’s Palace among a few of her friends to have a private view of that most inexpressibly beautiful Museum.” A private view! “Mrs. Gardner and others came to dinner…At Lel’s suggestion Malcolm went to Mrs. Gardner’s and played through his Hi Ki Ya [his Hasty Pudding show]. Although Malcolm was not anxious to do this, he returned wildly enthusiastic over the Palace which was shown to him, also said that Mrs. G. was very enthusiastic over his music.” B. J. was also moving among the movers and shakers. He was invited to New York to hear the opera by Paderewski, Manru, and the composer sat beside him. After the performance he went backstage and the conductor, Damrosch, “introduced the orchestra to him, man by man.” Back in Boston he received “an invitation to to go to the Thursday Club at the Sear’s to meet Prince Henry of Prussia.” Frances writes: “From Lel’s Studio windows I watched Prince Henry of Prussia’s procession.” (Diary 2, Winter 1902)
MISS ROBBINS AND THE ACTRESS, MISS MAUDE ADAMS.
In January 1901 the Herald reported on the opening of a play starring Maude Adams. This play was L’Aigion in which she played the role of a “delicate, fair haired, sweet faced and boyish young duke.” (Herald (January 20, 1901): 30) Miss Adams appeared in a number of these male roles, her most famous being “Peter Pan.” The reporter sought out B. J. for his opinion of this role. “It was especially interesting to hear Mr. Lang’s unstinted praise, for he had seen Bernhardt in Paris and in New York, and still felt that the young American actress was more than holding her own.” (Ibid) Miss Adams was known to Lang as Phyillis Robbins wrote of seeing “Miss Adams at a distance coming out of Boston’s famous old King’s Chapel on one of the Sunday evenings when B. J. Lang sometimes played the organ for his invited friends. He had sent her a card, though at that time she did not know him personally.” (Robbins, 69) Miss Robbins arranged a personnal meeting through a dinner party given at 44 Commonwealth Avenue, the home of Miss Robbins’ aunt. “There could never have been a pleasanter gathering in the long history of 44 than a Sunday evening in 1906-one of several throughout the years-when Mr. Lang came to dinner there to meet Miss Adams, and then escorted us to King’s Chapel, where we sat in the organ loft alone with him while he played to us in the dark and empty church.” (Ibid)
Miss Robbins “had a small farm all my own, which I longed to show to Maude.” This finally happened in October of 1906 which turned out to be Maude’s birthday and the “first snowstorm of the season.” (Robbins, 118) “Summer was the time when Maude’s visits to us could be longest; sometimes ten days, sometimes ten weeks.” During the period of 1906 through 1909 visits to the Lang farm became frequent. B. J. had been instrumental in helping Miss Robbins buy the farm-she obviously knew the Langs before Miss Adams entered the scene. It was when visiting the Lang farm that Miss Robbins had seen what was to become her farm. “The owner, an obdurate old woman, did not want to sell. Mr. Lang broke through her resistance on my behalf, after paying her many calls, by bringing a doll to her granddaughter.” (Robbins, 125) Miss Robbins described the Lang’s farm. “Pianos were scattered here and there on the Lang’s big farm. There was one in the ‘Chalet’; another in the ‘Crow’s Nest’; and two in the ‘Mill.’ We listened to Beethoven with an accompaniment of rushing water. Even the bullfrogs contributed their choral chant, which varied so little from evening to evening that it was found possible to compose an obbligato and a piano accompaniment to their serenade.” (Ibid) Another Lang piece lost! When Lang died Miss Adams made another visit to the farm. “Though Maude never said so, I think she came up for those few hurried days to help us adjust to New Boston without him.” (Robbins, 138)
Malcolm Lang was to eventually buy this farm for his own use, and it was here that his daughters grew up. But, before that Malcolm, probably of college age, went to visit Ms. Robbins. As he approached the house, he saw Maude Adams hanging out an upper story window squeezing out a sponge. This was a special moment for him as Ms. Adams was a heart-throb of his. (Amy DuBois interview, June 20, 2013)
Maude Adams (1872-1953) 1892 Photo when she was aged 20. The incident mentioned above probably happened about ten plus years later. Wikipedia (Accessed November 1, 2013).
THE CECILIA TWENTY-SIXTH SEASON: 1901-1902.
Frances recorded in her evaluation of the fall 1901 concert: “Cecilia Concert. A great performance of the Bach B minor Mass. A huge was wreath presented to Lel. Newspapers full of praise the next day.” (Diary 2, Fall 1901) To open his second twenty-five years with the Cecilia, Lang selected a major challenge for the choir. The Herald had once described the piece as “the most elaborately difficult piece of choral writing known.” (Herald (February 28, 1887): 4, GB, incomplete Handel and Haydn performance) At this earlier performance only six of the choruses had been sung, and with just six sections to learn, the choir had begun to rehearse them a full year before the performance. The ad noted the Boston First Performance, but also noted that it was only the second complete performance in America-the first had been given just one year before by the Bethlehem Bach Choir in Pennsylvania. (Johnson, First, 19) Lang added to the authentic sound by using the baroque trumpets and rarer still, two hautbois d’amour which belonged to Mr. Damrosch from New York. “The organ part has all been carefully registered by Mr. Lang, who has given ceaseless labor to the preparation of the work.” (Herald (December 1, 1901): 36, GB) It was reported that the rehearsals were “going splendidly,” and in fact, “Pilgrim Hall cannot hold the visitors who are drawn to the rehearsals.” (Herald (November 24, 1901): 44, GB) The Herald review praised the choir-“Sang Magnificently”- but found the “Solos Less Satisfactory.” The choral parts were balanced in the fugues and the double choruses. “Mr. Lang conducted with more than his usual authority, and the orchestra joined readily in quick and satisfactory response. The antique instruments added quaint and gentle beauty to their obligati, and the high trumpets imparted a peculiar light and exhilaration to the joyfully moving choruses in which they were used. The audience was very large, remaining almost in a body to the end, which came late. Applause was frequent and full, and a large laurel wreath was sent up with cheers to Mr. Lang.” (Herald (December 4, 1901): 7, GB) The Herald Society Reporter, after describing the colors of the dresses worn by the lady soloists, gave more detail-it was “an immense laurel wreath, which it took two men to carry, tied with broad ribbons and decorated with large bunches of roses.” (Herald (December 8, 1901): 31, GB) Philip Hale, writing for the Journal, did not argue that a complete performance was needed. He gave the history of the work, its lack of performances during Bach’s time of any kind, liturgical or concert, and then suggested that “judicious cutting would honor Bach and spare the audience. I once heard a complete performance in berlin. Earnest and sweating Germans roared lustily for two hours and more. It was a terrible night-one never to be forgotten.” (Journal (December 4, 1901): 8, GB) Hale mentioned that this performance had been put together in a “comparatively short time,” and noted that a performance at the Paris Conservatory in 1891 had required the choir of 79 picked singers two years of rehearsal “and there had been many orchestral rehearsals,” something that Hale knew was not the case in Boston. He wondered if the use of the “antique instruments” really added to the performance, but then cited the”exquisite oboe d’amore obbligato by Mr. Lenom…the brilliant playing of the trumpets” or the flute playing of Mr. Maquarre. (Ibid) He cited the large audience and generous applause, but objected to the choir applauding so often-the entrance of the soloists, the performances of each soloists, the conductor. “It is surprising that it did not applaud its own work. It is a pity that this foolish practice is allowed in a society of such dignity.” (Ibid) Having done all of this work in 1901, it was decided to repeat the work on April 7, 1903.
December 3, 1901, ad, GB.
The headline of the Globe review of February 5, 1902 was “Four Boston Composers-Their Works Beautifully Given at the Cecilia Concert.” The review began by saying that “None of the many excellent Cecilia programs of recent seasons has proved better worth a thoughtful hearing, and few have been more enjoyable than the Cecilia concert last night in symphony Hall.” Pieces from Arthur Foote, Charles Loeffler, John Paine, and Margaret were performed. “His daughter’s song Love Plumes His Wings with its singularly soaring soprano score, was beautifully rendered by female voices; and it is high praise to say that the Cecilia singers have never given a female chorus as well unless it be in The Lord is my Shepherd, of familiar memory…It is a pity that there were some vacant seats at a concert so varied and so worthy of a greater audience. There was a good representation of Boston’s musical colony present, and the second concert of the Cecilia’s 26th season will go down in the annals as a notable one.” (Globe (February 5, 1902): 3) Lang’s interest in Paine’s opera Azara was reflected in his programming of an aria from this work. A complete concert performance would be Lang’s last concert with Cecilia. The Foote piece in the concert, called “a Motet,” was Vita Nostra Plena Bellis (Mortal life is full of battle), Op. 47 for four or eight-part chorus with a text by Alanus de Insulis [Insulanus] translated by John Lord Hayes from “Corona Hymnorum Sacrorum” (Cipolla, Foote Catalog, 45). This piece was reprinted as part of Walton Music”s “Library of Congress Series” where it is described as “A choral tour de force with a text by Alain de Lille (ca. 1128-1212).” (www.waltonmusic.com/congress.html) The Globe review noted: “Mr. Foote conducted his own exceedingly forceful and inspiring, but unaccompanied ”Motet” based upon a resonant old Latin hymn, and composed by the President of the Cecilia with his own club’s special powers of interpretation in mind.” (Globe, Op. cit.) Two years later, in 1904, Foote acknowledged his debt to Lang through the dedication of his Suite in D major, Op. 54 to B. J. (Cipolla, Op. cit., 68) An earlier dedication to Lang had been the Quartett in G Major, Op. 4 where the manuscript is dated “6 Aug 84.” (Cipolla, Op. cit., 72) “The Loeffler piece was L’Archet which had had a private premier the previous winter in Mrs. Sears’s music room under Lang’s direction using voices from the Cecilia. For this performance the work was sung in French by a 40-ladies voices, and there are to be special lessons in diction from the same charming Parisienne who gave the finishing touches last winter.” (Herald (January 12, 1902): 29, GB) Leave it to Lang to make sure that these details were seen to.
The Promised Land by Massenet was sung on April 8, 1902. The world premier had been just two years earlier in Paris at the church of Saint-Eustache on March 15, 1900. The Society page of the Herald wrote: It “is to be regarded as Massenet’s tribute to this country [USA], now when everyone over there is intent on doing us honor. He said: ”Now I must write something for America,” and the Promised Land was the result. It suggests what the composer’s idea of us is – full of brilliancy, dash and vigor, beautiful and joyous after the victory. The Cecilia will make it a red letter night and everybody will be there.” (Herald (March 23, 1902): 31, GB) In the Music Section of the Herald on the same day, the paper did its best to create excitement: “The Cecilia means to make the production of this particular work the most memorable in its annals.” Certain parts were mentioned: “The fall of Jericho is an example of the intensity of the orchestral and choral effects. The March round the walls is an overwhelming piece of orchestration, the seven trumpets standing out against the rest with thrilling insistence.” (Op. cit., 36, GB) Two days before the event, the Herald again gave extensive coverage to the upcoming concert and made the suggestion the those who would be attending should read those sections of the Bible that Massenet had chosen: “It will not hurt anybody to have a little broader acquaintance with the story.” (Herald (April 6, 1902): 35, GB) However, after hearing the piece, the Herald quite lengthy review was mainly negative. It praised the choir for its preparation and wished that the soloists had done the. The soloists diction was very poor and they were obviously unprepared to sing in French which “made some grotesque and dreadful blunders in the text, and their phrasing.” (Herald (April 9, 1902): 9, GB) The suggestion was made that the work should be heard in church, for which the piece had been written, rather than in a concert hall.
Hale, in the Journal headlined his review: “A Work Without Dignity and With Little Beauty.” He quoted from the Program Book often: first that “Massenet himself has it his favorite work.” Hale’s comment was: “Massenet has this amiable weakness for all his compositions, whether it be one of his pornographic operas, or his latest work.” Massenet had required the Cecilia to agree to certain conditions before he would allow the work to be performed in America. One was that it must be sung in French, and the choir thus included coaching in the language as part of their rehearsal schedule. The result was that any choir member “would have no difficulty in obtaining a good bargin…at any respectable shop in Montreal or Quebec.” Overall Hale found the work “as a whole, without solidity, dignity, or abiding beauty. The music is often boresome; and when ie should be most impressive, it is cheaply theatrical. It will never br ranked among even the second-best compositions of Massenet, who for the last few years has been incredibly industrious in the attempt to prove that he is still the leader in French music.” (Journal (April 9, 1902): 5, GB) A CD was made in 2000 by the Oratorio Choir of the Cote d’Azur and a DVD was made in 2012 of a performance at the Massenet Festival.
The Cecilia Society was the choir chosen for the 80th. Birthday Celebration for Edward Everett Hale held April 3, 1902. The event was organized by Henry L. Higginson and the opening was Lang leading the choir in Cesar Franck’s 150th. Psalm. They also sang Gounod’s Send Out Thy Light and Salamaleikum by Cornelius with the baritone soloist Mr. Stephen Townsend. (Cecilia Reviews)
HELEN HENSCHEL BOSTON CONCERT.
The Society page of the Herald reported: “Mr. Henschel and Miss Helen Henschel are receiving so much attention from their old friends that they are not able to accept half the invitations which are pouring in upon them.” They had just been in Bar Harbour and “today they are visiting Mr. and Mrs. B. J. Lang at their country home in New Boston, N. H.” Probably the fall presentation of Herschel’s Requiem was a topic of conversation, if not rehearsal, as Helen was to sing the soprano part.
THE CECILIA TWENTY-SEVENTH SEASON: 1902-1903.
On December 2, 1902 the choir presented Georg Herschel’s Requiem, conducted by the composer. This work was written in memory of his first wife, Lillian, who died in 1901, aged 41. Their daughter Helen was the contralto soloist. (BSO webpage on Henschel) This was a world premier as the composer had only finished the full score in April 1902. Helen Henschel wrote about its creation: “They had been parted only very rarely during the twenty-two years they had known each other. When they did have to separate, they wrote to each other every day. Father took no step without her, had no thought apart from her, no joy away from her either in work or play. Out of his first passion of grief came the Requiem Mass. he started it straight after my mother’s funeral, and worked at white heat until the piano score was finished three months later. Each evening he would play and sing me what he had written, so that I knew by heart the whole beautiful thing when it was complete…The full score was finished by the autumn of 1902, and in early December of that year the work received its first performance. In Boston, and rightly so. One of Boston’s foremost music critics, after hearing rehearsals, wrote this: ”The Cecilia Society announces the new Requiem by George Henschel for the December concert. The composer will conduct the work, and the soloists will be Miss Henschel, Miss Woltmann and Mr. Ellison van Hoose…It is fitting that the first performance should be here in Boston, though it will be produced later in other parts of the United States, and at Leipzig by Mr. Nikisch. It was in Boston that Lillian Bailey had her debut, under the guidance of Mr. B. J. Lang who is now instrumental in producing the Requiem. She was an enthusiastic member of the Cecilia and when, a year ago last spring, Mr. Henschel gave his Stabat Mater here, in which Mrs. Henschel sang in Boston for the last time, the choral parts were sung by the Cecilia….The day before this performance, Mr. and Mrs. Henschel had given their daughter her Boston debut, on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the mother’s first appearance. This young daughter will sing the solo soprano part in the work which commemorates her mother…Since then, the Requiem has been performed in many different places. Only in London it has not yet been performed since my father’s death. I longed to produce the work myself, but how could I possibly engage Queen’s Hall, an orchestra, a chorus, and a conductor?” Her friend Thomas Dunhill [the composer?] suggested that she show the work to Claud Powell at Guildford who was able to arrange a performance in April 1937 which possessed a quality and produced an effect which I have never experienced before or since.” (H. Henschel, 203-206)
On Tuesday April 7, 1903 the choir again sang Bach’s B minor Mass. Having spent all the time in 1901 to prepare the Boston premier, Lang no doubt wanted to have the singers experience the work again, building on all the work they had put in for the earlier concert. Philip Hale’s review of 1901 had suggested a that a complete performance was probably not a good idea, either for the performers not the audience, and for 1903 Lang seems to have taken his advice. Hale’s 1903 review title included-“Wisely Ordered Cutting.” “The performance of the chorus was generally excellent, and the ‘Cum santo spirit’ was remarkably well given. The difficulties are incessant and great, but the chorus sang for the most part with spirit and confidence.” (Journal (April 8, 1903): 7, GB) Hale felt Bach applied contrapuntal formulas without reference to the text so that “page after page is without blood or soul.” But, because Bach wrote some inspired works, “the fetishist asserts loudly that all his works are great,” and as the fetishist is always the louder voice, “the crowd, however bored it may be, sides with him, and feigns to enjoy even while it stifles yawns.” (Ibid)
CHRISTMAS 1902: KING’S CHAPEL.
On the day after Christmas the Globe published a number of stories about the Christmas services and how the churches were decorated. At King’s Chapel, “In the decoration of the church, which was done in laurel and evergreens, the elegance of architectural lines and their spotless white of pillar and panel were enhanced, evident care having been taken that there should be no overloading…The special music program was rendured under direction of Dr. B. J. Lang by the regular King’s Chapel choir, comprising of Mrs. Alice Bates, soprano, Miss Lena Little, alto, Herbert Johnson, tenor and L. B. Merrill, bass.” (Globe (December 26, 1902): 9)
MRS GARDNER’S NEW MUSIC ROOM.
On New Year’s Night 1903 nine singers (including Lena Little) from the Cecilia Society sang at the opening of the Music Room of Mrs. Gardner’s new home at Fenway Court.They opened the concert with a Bach chorale, (Tharp, Mrs. Jack, 243) and the remainder of the program was performed by fifty members of the Boston Symphony conducted by Mr. Gericke-pieces by Mozart, Chausson and Schumann. Mr. Apthorp pronounced it to be a “perfect hall,” and after the music, the guests were led to the inner courtyard where “No one was in the least prepared for the fairy beauty that greeted his eyes…Here, in the very midst of winter was ‘a gorgeous vista of blossoming summer gardens…with the odor of flowers stealing toward one as though wafted on a southern breeze.There was intense silence for a moment broken only by the water trickling in the fountains; then came a growing murmur of delight, and one by one the guests pressed forward to make sure it was not all a dream.’” (Carter, Gardner, 200)
“Word got around that the musicians had been treated like servants and ordered out a side door by an officious flunkey. Members of the famous Cecilia Society were supposed to be particularly insulted because they got no glimpse of the palace and no chance to partake of doughnuts and champagne.” (Tharp, 247) Just three month’s later women’s voices from the choir were to sing at Mrs. Gardner’s Birthday Party on April 13, 1903, but before this could happen, Mrs. Gardner “personally assured the 16 young women…that the New Year’s incident was one she deeply regretted,” and these words convinced the choir members to abandon their “strike’ and perform which they did “with the usual musical appreciation.” (Tharp, 341) The music was all by her friend and Boston Symphony member, Charles M. Loeffler. B. J. was the accompanist for six solo songs, and the choir took part in L’Archet (Carter, 205) of which they had sung the world premier just two months before.
On Tuesday, January 6, 1903 Lang presented, for the third time, a private performance of Parsifal, this time at the new Symphony Hall on Huntington Avenue. Act One was scheduled for 4:30 to 6PM, Act Two 7:45 to 8:45PM and Act Three 9 to 10:15PM. Most of the leading parts were sung by German singers while the “solo flower maidens were” members of the choir. This meant extra work for the family. “We have begun planning the invitations. Rosamond is mending the Parts. I shall address the envelopes. There will be 2000 to do.” 2000 envelopes to hand address! And, this is the third performance for which she has had to do this! “We are all working like dogs…Lel has to go to New York frequently.” (Diary 2, Fall 1902)
The principal soloists were:
Mme. Kirkby Lunn-Kundry
Herr Van Rooy-Amfortas
Herr Muhlmann-Klingsor and Titurel
Mr. Wilhelm Heinrich-Esquire
“The best possible soloists have been engaged for the six flower-maidens, knights, and unseen chorus; there will also be male and female choruses, and an orchestra of seventy players. Owing to the restrictions on the production of Parsifal, there can be neither public sale nor advertisement of the tickets. Those who wish to hear this performance should fill out and send the enclosed blank to Mr. Byrne, 100 Chestnut Street, receiving, in return, directions for the selection and payments of seats…The tickets are five dollars each.” (6693-94) The Cecilia provided the “two unseen choruses.” (Globe (January 4, 1903): 33)
Before the concert the Herald called it “the most important musical affair of this week-and one might perhaps call it the most important event in the season…The restrictions placed upon any performance of this work are for the present still so strict and exclusive that the use of the score is prohibited on any occasion which can be called public in the usual sense of the term. therefore, even a concert reading must be at least technically private-there can be no advertisement, no tickets may be put on open sale, and all who attend must be either subscribers or invited guests.” (Herald (January 4, 1903): 36, GB)
The Herald felt that among all of Wagner’s operas, Parsifal needed the visual element in order to be successful. “Wagner makes the greatest demand for the effects which must be had through the eye.” The reviewer also felt that this opera needed the stage settings which were missing in this concert presentation. Of the performance itself: “As it was, it was nearly perfect, being competent, right minded, beautiful, noble and imprerssive. It was vastly superior to its predecessor of 10 years ago…Mr. Lang conducted with firm, steady authority and a sustained calmness which he does not always command…There was a deservedly great ovation for Mr. Lang at the evening’s end.” (Herald (January 7, 1903): 9, GB) The review was unsigned-it may, or may not have been by Philip Hale who began on the Herald that year.
Mr. and Mrs. J. Montgomery Sears held a lavish reception after the performance for which “Society Turn[ed] Out in Force.” (6698) This took the place of their regular Tuesday musicales.
The Globe reported: “There is now being circulated in Boston, and signed by hundreds of musical people, a petition, headed by Mr. B. J. Lang, addressed to Herr Conrad, the new head of the Metropolitan Opera company in New York, asking that the grand opera Azara, written by Prof. John Knowles Paine of Harvard, be produced.” (Globe (April 27, 1903): 4) This was in connection with a concert staging of parts of the work that were to be given on Thursday evening, May 7 in Chickering Hall conducted by Ephraim Cutter Jr. “This concert will consist wholly of scenes from Azara.” (Ibid) Lang himself conducted a concert version of the work with the Cecilia in 1909 as Herr Conrad had not responded to the petition.
DITSON FUND MEETING.
The Trustees of the Fund held their Annual Meeting on May 22, 1903 at the home “of the late Mr. Ditson.” Elected were: Lang as President, Charles H Ditson as Treasurer, Charles F. Smith as Clerk with Trustees of Lang, A. Parker Brown and Arthur Foote. “its income has been drawn upon largely the past year to aid infirm and otherwise helpless musicians who had come to want. The fund exists solely for the temporary succor of such, and is not available (as many think) for educational purposes.” (Herald (May 26, 1903): 14, GB) The same slate of officers was relected at the May 20, 1904 meeting. (Herald (May 29, 1904): 23)
OTHER CHARITABLE EVENTS (1).
The month before the Lang meeting the Journal reported that “a movement was on foot, promoted by B. J. Lang to give a great concert” to benefit Signor Rotoli, a well known singing teacher, who had recently had a number of misfortunes. (Journal (April, 3, 1904): 8) Lang must have worked quickly as a concert at Symphony Hall honoring Rotoli was given April 20th. Rotoli had taught at the New England Conservatory and so many of the performers were from its faculty; but other Boston musicians also contributed-the Boston Symphony conductor, Mr. Gericke led a group from the Symphony. B. J. led Bach’s Concerto in d minor with Messrs. Fox, Gebhard and Proctor as the pianists. “The chorus was made up of members of the Cecilia, Choral Art and Handel and Haydn, and Mr. Kloepfel [trumpet] and string players from the Boston Symphony Orchestra offered their services.” (Ibid)
Augusto Rotoli (1847-1904) Rotoli began singing at various Roman churches when he was nine, ending his soprano career as a member of the choir at St. Peter’s where he sang for five years until he was sixteen. After college level study he became known as a composer, earning membership in the Order of the Cross, given in 1873 by the Queen of Portugal. In 1885 he “accepted the call of the New England Conservatory to come to Boston and represent in their course the best traditions of Italian art…He has a fine tenor voice, rich, expressive and highly cultivated.” (Mathews, 200 and 202)
OTHER CHARITABLE EVENTS (2).
“On Thursday evening society, with a large ‘S,’ will wend its way to the Berkeley Temple for the annual benefit concert arranged by Mr. Lang.” (Herald (March 20, 1904): 33, GB) This congregation had begun in 1827 as the Pine St. Church (Congregational) in central Boston, and then in 1860 a new building was built in the South End at the corner of Berkeley Street and Warren Avenue. It was designed to seat 1,800, and “Good music was from the first a feature of attraction. A double quartet and chorus were provided.” (Pratt, S. B., 38) By 1896 the church had 1,100 members, and was the largest Congregational church in New England. (Op. cit., 44) By this time the direction of the church was to aid those in need, and possibly this yearly concert was one means of raising funds. Lang played Bach, a violinist played the Andante from Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto and a harpist joined Lang and the violinist in an Andante in G by the French composer Perilhou, which never had been performed in America. [It had only just been published in Paris by Heugel in 1899-BnF catalog; again, Lang was right on top of the latest publications.] The final artist was Miss Millicent Brennan, “whom Mr. Lang is bringing out on this occasion,” who sang songs by Dvorak and Beethoven. The Herald listed “some of the patronesses,” and this very long list began with Mrs. J. Montgomery Sears and included Mrs. Louis Agassiz, Mrs. Julia Ward Howe, Mrs. Curtis Guild, Mrs. Tryphosa Bates-Batcheller, Miss Alice Farnsworth and very many others. (Herald (March 20, 1904): 33, GB) This important list appeared in both the February 28th. (“the subscription list is steadily increasing,” 31) and the March 20th. editions.
OTHER CHARITABLE EVENTS (3).
Many fellow musicians were openly jealous of Lang’s position as “teacher to Boston’s Society.” However, there must have been a number of times when these lessons were a chore. One such was giving vocal lessons to the socialite Tryphosa Bates-Batcheller who was one of the sponsors of the concert above. Lang is listed together with Henschel, Marchesi, Sgambati and Giraudet as some of her famous vocal instructors. At the age of 18 she went to Paris where Madame Marchesi advised that if she would give up all other studies, she would become among the most remarkable voices of the century. She didn’t do this, instead returning to Boston and beginning studies at Radcliffe. Two a further years in Paris, then marriage, the rest of her life was that of being a “relentless social climber who chased after aristocrats and royalty.” (Wikipedia, accessed March 27, 2019) A month before Lang’s concert noted above, Mrs. Bates-Batcheller gave a song recital “at the solicitation of numbers of them [friends].” (Herald (February 7, 1904): 31, GB) Among the patronesses of this concert were Mrs. Julia Ward Howe, Mrs. John L. Gardner, Mrs, Eben D. Jordan, Mrs. William Gericke, Mrs. Philip Hale, Mrs. Charles Inches, and…Mrs. B. J. Lang. Only patronesses were listed; no patrons, no Mr. Lang. The current Wikipedia article compares her to Florence Foster Jenkins, calling her even a “greater” bad singer. An example of her voice can be heard on YouTube.
BERLIOZ: DAMNATION OF FAUST.
A National convention of music teachers provided Lang the opportunity to present one of his favorite compositions. As the performance dates were July 7 and 9, 1903 at Symphony Hall. Lang was the Chairman of the “Music Committee” for the event which included among its 12 other members – Allen A. Brown, G. W. Chadwick, Carl Faelten, Arthur Foote, Wilhelm Gericke, Henry L. Higginson and John K. Paine. Certainly a very impressive group! (6713) As many of his own singers were on vacation, Lang invited other choirs to participate. He wanted 150 men. In addition to the Cecilia men, the Handel and Haydn Society provided 50; his own Apollo Club, 25; “and others came from the Boston Singing Society and the Amphion club…The Cecilia was equal to the demands for female voices, so that no outsiders were necessary in the sopranos and altos.” (Globe (July 5, 1903): 32) Four choral rehearsals were required-all held within two weeks. Among the soloists were the soprano Louise Homer-Marguerite, who had been locally trained, and the bass Leverett B. Merrill-Brander, who was then Lang’s bass soloist at King’s Chapel. The other soloists were: Mr. Joseph Sheehan-Faust, Mr. Gwilym Miles-Mephistopheles and Mrs. Bertha Cushing Child-Heavenly Voice.
THE SINGING CLUB.
Additional choirs were formed often depending upon the financial help of the same donors as helped Lang. His former pupil, Hiram G. Tucker conducted a concert at Chickering Hall in April 1903 which “called out a large and fashionable audience, the subscription list being among the smartest in the city. Among those present were,” and a list of about 60 names followed. Included were Mrs. Henry B. Cabot, Mrs. George H. Chickering, Bishop Lawrence, Colonel Frank E. Peabody, Mr. Courtenay Guild, Mr. S. Lothrop Thorndike, Mrs. John L. Gardner and Mr. L. P. Codman. (Journal (April 12, 1903): 3, GB)
CHICKERING ANNIVERSARY CONCERTS.
Lang’s continued prominent place within the Boston musical community is reflected in his role as a featured performer in the Tuesday evening, April 14, 1903 Concert commemorating the founding of the House of Chickering & Sons eighty years before in 1823. “On opposite sides of the stage…were placed the first piano made by Jonas Chickering and a modern Concert Grand.” (Commemoration, 14).The concert consisted of five songs sung by Miss Mary Ogilvie accompanied by Mrs. S. B. Field which included Margaret’s My True Love Lies Asleep followed by an address by Dr. Edward Everett Hale (who was also celebrating his 80th. year) with a conclusion of two pieces played by B. J. First he played The Battle of Prague by Kotzwara that was “a piece of music greatly in favor about 1823,” and then a portion of La benediction de Dieu dans la Solitude by Liszt, “a composition in vogue at the present time.” (Commemoration, 14 and 15) The program book included engravings of the first Chickering factory at Washington Street that was destroyed by fire in December 1852 and then the factory that replaced it in 1853 which covered a full city block.
Elson felt that “Mr. Lang’s influence as a teacher was also far-reaching. He gathered around him a circle of distinguished pupils who have become in a degree disciples… It was very fitting that Yale University, in 1903, should have given an honorary degree of M.A. to Mr. Lang. His was a talent of high order, working in a sensible and practical manner. One may recognize limitations while acknowledging all the great results achieved… The time will come when America will recognize him as among the very foremost of those who created a musical taste among us: and when one views the many directions in which this beneficent influence has been exerted, one feels tempted to call Mr. Lang a musical ”admirable Crichton””. (Elson, History of American Music, 261)
The New York musical press took every possible opportunity to “rib” their associates in Boston. The Herald reprinted the following from the June 29th. New York Sun. “The desirable degree of master of arts was conferred upon that estimable organist and director of choruses in the exclusive city of Boston, Benjamin J. Lang. The honoring of this well-deserving person must have given a fillip to the authorities of Harvard, to whom such a graceful action seems never to have occurred…It was for Yale and Prof. Parker, the head of her musical department, to dicover the virtues of Mr. Lang and to honor them with a degree which was not only appropriate to him, but also peculiarly suitable to his musical mastership.” (Herald (June 30, 1903): 14. GB) The writer went on to note that the degree Doctor of Music had been given out in America too frequently and by institutions that were “utterly without authority to confer degrees of any kind.” (Ibid) Yale’s choice of Master of Arts elevated the honor for Lang for this was a degree which the university might give to a “learned teacher of latin or a notable practitioner of letters…No degree could be more suitable to a scholar of music than which is applicable to a scholar of [?], namely, master of arts.”(Ibid)
The Herald reported on the event and listed that among the other Master of Arts Degree recipients were George S. Hutchings who had just finished building the organ in Woolsey Hall and Louis C. L. Tiffany of Tiffany Glass. (Herald (June 25, 1903): 10, GB)
“More recently he was given the degree of master of arts by Harvard.” (Boston Transcript, Apr. 5, 1909)
DEATH OF FRANCES’ MOTHER.
On Friday August 7, 1903 Mrs. Johnson C. Burrage, the mother of Frances Lang died “at her home, 50 Highland Street, West Newton.” She had been “born at Groton about 88 years ago. After her marriage she resided for many years on Boylston Street, Boston. On the death of her husband she removed to West Newton. She was a member of the First Unitarian Church of West Newton and had always taken an active interest in its affairs. She is survived by six children. Mrs. B. J. Lang of Boston and Mrs. J. W. Carter, Mrs. C. T. Morse, Miss Emma Burrage, Edward Burrage and Henry E. Burrage of Newton.” (Herald (August 8, 1903): 3, GB) As with many estates, this one took a long while to be settled. In 1910 this house was sold by the “trustees of the estate.” (Herald (July 26, 1910): 7)
CHRISTMAS AT KING’S CHAPEL: 1903.
With the interior of its artistic architecture outlined with ropes of green and above the chancel, an evergreen “star of Bethlehem,” the choir gave “an elaborate programme of song” for the Christmas Day service. The choir was “composed of Mrs. Alice Lane, soprano; Miss Lena Little, contralto; George Dean, tenor and R. B. Merrill, basso.” Included among the pieces presented were an organ arrangement of the Overture to Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, Purcell’s Christmas Anthem, Lang’s Te Deum in D Major, Barnaby’s Jubilate, and Lang’s Christmas Carol. (Herald (December 26, 1903): 2, GB)
THE CECILIA SEASON: 1903-1904.
At the third concert of their season at Symphony Hall, the choir sang a miscellaneous program with the assistance of a bass vocalist, Mr. Giraudet “of the Grand Opera of Paris (his first and only appearance in Boston this Season,”and violin soloist, Mr. Karl Ondricek. (Herald (April 3, 1904): 22, GB). The violinist was enjoyed, but the vocalist “electrified his hearers.” (Ibid) Mr. B. L. Whelpley was the organist and Miss Lucy Drake was the choir accompanist. “Of the choral numbers, the part songs seemed to find the most favor.” Tchaikovsky’s Legend was “exquisitely moving…the performance a delight to hear,” and Dvorak’s part song, “a piquant bit, was most persistently applauded…The audience was deplorably small, but appreciative, and hearty in its enthusiasm.” (Herald (April 13, 1904): 3, GB) The April 3rd. ad listed that the Mendelssohn motet was a first Boston performance as was one of the Tschaikovsky Russian Church Songs. (Herald, Op. cit.)
CHICKERING ORCHESTRAL CONCERTS. ADS SAID-CHICKERING PRODUCTION CONCERTS.
B. J.’s interests of orchestral conducting and introducing new music continued even late in life. The Chickering Piano Company asked Frederick S. Converse, Arthur Foote, Charles M. Loeffler and B. J. as Chairman to form a committee to “arrange a series of concerts in Chickering Hall…February 10, 24 and March 9 and 22, 1904…The purpose of these concerts is to give the public an opportunity to hear new and interesting compositions in a hall of moderate size…the orchestra will number between fifty and sixty.” B. J. was to be the conductor. G. W. Chadwick’s name was also listed as a committee member on the “Chickering Orchestral Concerts” stationary, but his named was crossed off on letters sent from Lang to Chadwick. At the First Concert the American premier of Debussy’s Three Nocturnes (with female choir) was given as the second item of the concert and also repeated as the final number-the same procedure that B. J. had followed forty years earlier in introducing new works by Mendelssohn. The concert opened with the Overture to La vie pour le Czar by Glinka, and also included a scene from L’Enfante du Christ (Le Repos de la Saint Familie) by Berlioz. The Herald mentioned that “there were not so many as there should have been for the first of the four orchestral concerts arranged by Messrs. Chickering & Sons, to produce compositions not otherwise likely to be heard.” (Herald (February 14, 1904): 30, GB) However, this article mentioned some of those who did attend, and it included many of the Boston musical community: Arthur Foote and his daughter, Mr. and Mrs. Burlingame Hill, Mrs. Gardner, Mr. Loeffler, Mr. and Mrs. Converse, Mr. and Mrs. Adamowski, Mr. and Mrs. Longy, and Mrs. Lang along with others less well known. (Ibid)
The program of Second Concert, February 24, included:
Overture to Iphigenia in Aulis – Gluck (arr. Wagner)
Concerto in D Minor for Three Pianos – Bach with George Proctor, Heinrich Gebhardt and Felix Fox as soloists
L’apres-midi d’ un Faune – Debussy
Les Djinns for Piano and Orchestra – Franck (Boston premier), soloist-Mrs. Jessie Downey Eaton
Four Songs – Faure, sung by Mrs. Julie Wyman
Overture-Joyeuse – David Stanley Smith (conducted by the composer) This must have been a substitution as an article dated January 21 had listed two movements from Hadley’s Symphony that won the Paderewski and the Conservatory prizes to be led by the composer. (Herald (January 21, 1904): 10, GB)
The Journal referred to “increasing interest in the programs of the Chickering ‘Production’ Concerts, and the third of the series” promises to add much to the popularity.” (Journal (March 1, 1904, 1904): 4, GB)
The Herald noted the pleasure already given to patrons by the first two concerts and cited “the important results for the cause of music not only in this city but throughout the country. The programmes already presented have been reproduced by newspapers in all the large cities” (Herald (February 28, 1904): 39, GB) These concerts had done much “for the reputation of Boston as a musical centre.” (Ibid)
The Third Concert on March 9, 1904 included:
Prelude from the Birds of Aristophanes – John K. Paine (Boston premier, conducted by the composer; World premier by Theodore Thomas at Chicago, February 28, 1903)(Herald, Op. cit)
Concerto for Piano – Ernest Hutcheson (Boston premier, the composer as soloist; World premier, Berlin 1898)(Herald, Op. cit.)
Two Fragments: The Saracens and The Beautiful Alda – E. A. MacDowell
Rhapsody for Baritone and Orchestra: Cahal Mor of the Wine Red Hand – Horatio Parker with Stephen Townsend as the soloist. Accompaniment rescored after the BSO premier March 30, 1895. (Herald, Op. cit.)
Suite Algerienne – Saint-Saens
The Fourth Concert on March 23, 1904 included:
Suite from Castor and Pollux – Rameau (arr. Gevaert)
Symphonic Sketches – Chadwick (conducted by the composer) (In a letter dated ??? 16th to Chadwick asking him to conduct these pieces, Lang referred to them as “three pieces of yours that Mollenhauer once played on a tour.” (NEC Collection)
Aria for Mezzo-Soprano – Strube with Miss Josephine Knight
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra Op. 26 – Bruch with Miss Nina Fletcher
Poem Symphonique Op. 13 – Glazounow
The second Season (1905-06) was very different; there were at least twelve concerts, but they were all of chamber groups, and the Artistic Director was H. G. Tucker (one of Lang’s piano pupils).
During the Third Season (1906-07) two songs by Margaret were performed – The Sea Sobs Low [never published ?] and Spring sung by Bertha Cushing Child, contralto accompanied by Arthur Colburn. During the next season Summer Noon was sung on January 6, 1907 by Miss Mary Desmond, “the English Contralto” with Mr. A. de Voto as accompanist. At the January 10, 1909 concert Arnold Dolmetsch used a harpsichord and Clavichord built by Chickering.