CHAPTER 04. (Part 3) SC(G). WC-14,802.
- Lang Assists. Chadwick- Support by Lang. Liszt’s and Lang.
- Sixteenth Apollo Club Season. 1886-1887. Eleventh Cecilia Season. 1886-1887. Pianoforte Concerto Concerts-First Series-1887. Pianoforte Concerto Concerts-Second Series-1888. Pianoforte Concerto Concerts-Third Series-1890. South Congregational Church-Lang Leaves. Twelfth Cecilia Season. 1887-1888. Seventeenth Apollo Club Season. 1887-1888. Isabella (Mrs. Jack Gardner) painted by Sargent. Inches, Mrs. Louise painted by Sargent. European Vacation, Summer 1888. MacDowell, Edward Alexander. Gilmore’s Jubilee. Eighteenth Apollo Club Season. 1888-1889.
- Costume Ball.
In addition to producing his own concerts, Lang continued to be an assisting artist with other groups. On Monday, February 1, 1886 Lang and Mr. Fritz Giese, cellist were presented as the 7th. Monday Afternoon Chamber Concert at Bumstead Hall. Lang played the solo part in Edward Napravnik’s Pianoforte Concerto Symphonique with the orchestral part played by G. W. Sumner. Then came three piano solos including Lang’s own Spinning Song in A Major, and the concert ended with Mendelssohn’s Sonata for Pianoforte and Violoncello in D Major, Opus 58. In the 1886-87 season of six concerts given at Chickering Hall by the Kneisel Quartet, Lang played the first Boston performance of the Brahms Trio Opus 40. Lang was premiering a lot of Brahms. He had given the Boston premiere of the Brahms cantata for male voices Rinaldo with the Apollo Club on December 15, 1883; then been the soloist in the Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Boston Symphony under George Henschel on March 15, 1884. He also was to give the Boston premiers of the Brahms German Requiem with the Cecilia Society in December 1888 and Nanie on May 22, 1890.
CHADWICK-SUPPORT BY LANG.
The illustration below from a newspaper supplement Musical Boston, 1882.
Lang continued to promote Chadwick’s compositions. Two of Chadwick’s recently composed songs were part of the February 4, 1886 Music Hall concert given by The Cecilia. Sweet Wind That Blows and Before the Dawn (No. 3 of Three Love Songs, Op. 8 published in 1882) were sung by the tenor Mr. James H. Ricketson [a member of the Club]-(Yearbook, Vol. 3, 52) with Lang as the accompanist. A review in the Evening Transcript of February 5, 1886 stated: “Mr. Chadwick’s songs… were heard with manifest interest, if not delight.” (Faucett, Bio-Bib., 194 and 195) Before the Dawn achieved enough popularity that it was orchestrated by Val Coffey, and published by Luck’s Music Library. (Op. cit., 200)
Another world premiere given by the Apollo Club was the performance on February 23, 1887 of Chadwick’s humorous song, Jabberwocky with a text by Lewis Carroll, and the dedication on the printed copy (1886) was “To Our Society [Apollo Club of Boston].” The Club repeated this piece on December 10, 1887 and again March 20, 1895. The review in the Musical Herald of April 1887 said: “The humor of Mr. Chadwick’s Jabberwocky cannot be overstated. It is a fine instance of a classical composer at play, and belongs to the healthy English school,” while the Evening Herald noted: “… humorous music set to humorous words… The music is dramatically expressive of the poem throughout, and the grand rhetorical figures of the verses are brought out with redoubled splendor.” (Faucett, Bio-Bib., 162) Rupert Hughes described the work as having “much rich humor of the college glee-club sort. There is an irresistibly humorous episode where the instrument of destruction goes ‘snicker snack,’ and a fine hilarity at ‘O crablouse day callooh, callay, he chortled in his joy.’” (Hughes, Am. Com., 212) The work was published in 1886 by Schmidt as part of the “Apollo Club Collection of Music for Male Voices” which by that time, 1886, had 16 pieces listed including two by Arthur Foote, The Farewell of Hiawatha and If Doughty Deeds. A note at the bottom of the front page stated, “Pianoforte accompaniments furnished separately.”
LISZT AND LANG.
During the period 1842-1861 Liszt held the position of “Kapellmeister Extraordinaire” at the Court in Weimar. He actually settled there when he gave up his concert career. His major responsibilities were to conduct the court concerts and special concerts at the theatre. He also gave piano lessons-one of his pupils in the late 1850s was Hans von Bulow who married Liszt’s daughter, Cosima, in 1857. Along with his father-in-law, Liszt, von Bulow became a great champion of Wagner, writing articles and conducting the overtures of his operas in many of his concerts. He remained a committed friend of Wagner’s until Wagner’s death in 1883. This commitment even overlooked the fact that Cosima left von Bulow after only three years of marriage in order to marry Wagner! (Wikipedia, accessed, March 8, 2021) How many of these people did Lang first meet during this time?
In an interview published in 1907, Lang recalled his time as a student of Liszt. “I shall never forget my association with the greatest pianist of his time. He was most generous in his artistic advice, which always was given gratis, and I fear this generosity led many to impose upon his good nature, for their own ends.” (Clippings collected by Gould, HMA) (BPL Lang Prog., 6517-article by Storer)
1855-1858. Three years of study in Germany: at some point meets Liszt and meets Wagner in Berlin (1857). Carl Baermann also spent time with Liszt during 1857-it is interesting to picture the possibly that Lang and Baermann met at that time. Baermann later came to Boston, and appeared as piano soloist with the BSO in 26 programs between 1882 and 1899-this would average about 2 and 1/3rd. appearances per season. (Howe, BSO, 245)
Franz Liszt never gave regular piano lessons to anyone, but “he did oversee B.J’s piano studies for some time.” (Ryan) The 1897 entry in The National Cyclopedia of American Biography states that Lang “was so fortunate to have the personal direction of Liszt while studying piano.” (430) The meeting of Liszt and Lang may have occurred over a card game when “One evening, at the whist table, he [Lang] had held all the trumps, and when suspected of being a card sharp found a supporter in Liszt. (Boston Globe 100th year article)
In an interview published in 1907, Lang recalled his time as a student of Liszt. “I shall never forget my association with the greatest pianist of his time. He was most generous in his artistic advice, which always was given gratis, and I fear this generosity led many to impose upon his good nature, for their own ends.” (Clippings collected by Gould, HMA) (BPL Lang Prog., 6517-article by Storer)
Margaret remembered that Liszt took her father to many concerts.”(Miller-Globe article) “During these years [1855-1858] he [Lang] began a lasting friendship with Franz Liszt and Liszt’s daughter, Cosima. In later years this friendship with Cosima would provide him with an entrée into the circle of luminaries surrounding Richard Wagner.” (Cline, 9) An entry in Cosima Wagner’s Diaries dated July 1, 1871 makes mention of receiving a letter from B. J. offering support for Bayreuth – she notes that they had first met in Berlin 14 years ago (c. 1857). Cosima might also be the link with Hans von Bulow (whom she married in 1857- in 1870 she married Wagner) who hired B. J. as his conductor for concerts in 1875 that included the world premiere of the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1.
Liszt had another Boston connection. “Mr. Chickering took one these pianofortes [which had won commendation from Napoleon III at the 1867 Exposition Universelle], which had been carefully chosen, as a gift to Liszt in Rome. After playing on it sometime before Mr. Chickering and his friend, Mr. Poznanski, Liszt gave Mr. Chickering what he had never before given any pianoforte manufacturer, a testimonial letter setting forth his supreme satisfaction with the Chickering pianoforte. This instrument was Liszt’s favorite in Weimar, and it, with another Chickering, is now preserved in the Imperial Conservatory at Budapest, Hungary, by the Government in the room in which the composer left them.” (Ayars, 114)
Lang included pieces by Liszt in his recitals throughout his career. The November 28, 1865 organ concert at the Music Hall included the first performance of Lang’s transcription of Liszt’s Les Preludes which he noted in the program was made from the orchestral score. In November 1866, the Providence Journal went “into ecstasies over Mr. Lang’s pianism, thusly: ”We have heretofore expressed our admiration of Mr. Lang’s piano-forte playing. There is something not only in his taste in selecting and his style of rendering music but in his very looks and manner, as it seems to us, that indicates the presence of the truly conscientious and high-minded musician, who has a perfect sense of the dignity and worth of his art. Last evening he gave us some superb specimens of genuine piano-forte music and playing. The polonaise by Liszt was exceedingly rich.” As early as the “Third Symphony Concert” of the first season of the Harvard Musical Association Orchestra Concerts which was held on Thursday afternoon, February 8, 1866 Lang was the soloist in the “Allegro” from Beethoven’s Third Concerto in C Minor, Opus 37, and also in the Boston premiere of the Polonaise in E Major for Piano by Weber transcribed with orchestral accompaniment by Liszt. Dwight said “The piano playing of Mr. Lang was the theme of general admiration…Mr. Lang has an excellent touch for making the piano do justice to itself in a large place.” The second piece was Liszt’s transcription for piano and orchestra of a Polonaise in E Major by Weber. “Mr. Lang played his part wonderfully well, with finished elegance and ease, keeping up the swift and shining movement without the slightest break or faltering, and overdoing nothing.” (Dwight, February 17, 1866, 19) A December 28, 1869 solo piano concert was given at the Hotel de Rome in Berlin with pieces by Beethoven, Chopin, Bach (2), Mendelssohn, and Liszt’s transcription of the Weber. Almost the same program was given on March 11, 1870 in Dresden.
During the summer of 1886, the Lang was were again in Europe- he sent a notice to his piano pupils saying that he would be back by Monday, September 20. Once in Munich, he was reunited with the rest of the family who had spent the winter/spring there to enable Frances’s recovery and Margaret’s studies. During that time Liszt died, and B. J. was considered such a good friend to Liszt, that he was part of the funeral. Frances wrote to her mother details of the event: “Liszt died on Aug. 4th. The funeral was on the 6th. On arriving at Bayreuth Lel ordered a wreath which he sent with the words;- ‘From an American musician.’ He went to see Liszt’s valet Michael…[He] recognized Lel at once and said,- ‘You know the last writing that the great man ever wrote was on the photograph that he gave to you Mr. Lang.’ He then said,-‘You thought much of him I know, therefore I wish to give you something that you will be glad to have,’ and he brought forth a lock of Liszt’s beautiful grey hair…Lel was pleased beyond measure. They had further talk.” (Diary 2 August 1886) After this Lang went to the Wagner house and spoke with Frau Wagner, Daniela, Eva and Siegfried who were ” decorating the bier…After speaking with some of the men of the Liszt Verein, he was approached and invited to be one of the pall-bearers. When the line was formed there were eight on each side of the catafalque, each one holding a torch. Lel wore black gloves, and his black skull-cap. Lel was the only American representative.” There was no music at the graveside. “All the great artists and musicians were present.” (Ibid)
Clara Doria, the singer (wife of the Boston lawyer Henry Rogers) wrote of her own trip in 1886 which included attending the Bayreuth Festival. “Next day, from our windows, we watched a long and impressive funeral procession, in which we recognized many distinguished musicians-each one having a lighted torch though it was broad daylight. One of the first in the procession to be recognized by us was our fellow Bostonian, B. J. Lang, who was one of the pallbearers, and who, like the rest, was bearing his torch with due solemnity.” She then continued with an observation which reflects Lang’s high standing in at least her musical world of Boston. “How natural it seemed to us that, when any unusual or exciting event was taking place, B. J. Lang should be there. It was the funeral procession bearing the remains of that great artist, Franz Liszt, who had but a few days ago passed on to the beyond.” (Rogers, Two Lives, 166) The funeral was on August 3rd. in Bayreuth.
1886 B. J. sent a notice to his piano pupils saying that he would be back by Monday, September 20. He arrived on September 20 in NYC on the UMBRIA from Liverpool to New York with his last address being Manchester, England. He was alone.
SIXTEENTH APOLLO CLUB SEASON. 1886-1887.
On December 21, 1886, the Society gave its ONE-HUNDREDTH concert and featured the first American performance of Rinaldo by Brahms. The critic Ticknor in the Herald of December 16th. felt-“If ever Brahms showed a cold, phlegmatic side to his nature he did it in the beginning of Rinaldo. The cantata would have been more warm-blooded had Max Bruch had a hand in its production.” (Johnson, 87)
Arthur Reed, the founding secretary mentioned that “it was a rather odd coincidence that the club was formed in seventy-one; that we now have seventy-one active members, and that every one of that number was present at the one-hundredth concert given last evening.” (Syford, 165) Reed also thanked Lang who had conducted these one-hundred concerts, “barring accidents, such as the occasional breaking of an arm or a neck, or some other portion of his anatomy; but at such times it has been found he could easily conduct the Club with A Foote.” (Osborne, 33) Mention was made that one of the founding members, and also a member of the original Chickering Club, had moved to San Francisco and there founded a singing group based on the Apollo Club. Reed also claimed that both the Boylston and Arlington Clubs of Boston had been founded in emulation of the Apollo model, and that Australian visitors from Melbourne modeled their choir on the Apollo and that a group in Sydney had, in turn, copied them!
The next two concerts were given on February 16 and 23, 1887 in the “presence of one of the largest and as results proved one of the most favored audiences of the season. It was the freshest concert that any vocal club has given in this city for many a day…It was gratifying to find the American composer so well represented in this concert in the compositions of Messrs. Whiting, Thayer and Chadwick.” (Home Journal, undated and unsigned review) The Thayer piece was the world premiere of Sea Greeting (composed for the Club) that was described as having “not a commonplace passage in the entire work. The flow of the melody is easy, the construction is careful and elaborate, the scoring is rich.” (Ibid) Tens lines of praise followed, ending with: “And all these we hardly need say are the distinguishing qualities of a masterpiece.” (Ibid) Chadwick’s Jabberwocky was deemed lacking in “any real beauty or interest,” and the composer “evidently does not understand the art of writing for voices.” (Ibid) Whiting’s March of the Monks of Bangor was praised as was Lang’s “interpretations that seemed more than ever sympathetic, and even affectionate.” (Ibid) The four soloists were drawn from the choir and Mr. Preston was the accompanist. For once “the orchestra played admirably.” (Ibid) C. L. Capen probably wrote this review. The Journal also reported a crowded hall filled with “a brilliant audience, and one which thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated the work of the organization.” (Journal (February 17, 1887): 3, GB) There was an orchestra which accompanied Whiting’s “March of the Monk’s of Bangor, soloed in the “Introduction” to Bruch’s Loreley, and accompanied the main work, Grieg’s Discovery.” Lang and the choir were lauded for being “perfect in attack, shading and expression.” (Ibid) The orchestra was also used to accompany the assisting artist, Miss Anna L. Kelly who “sang with good taste and execution, and was warmly received.” (Ibid)
The final concerts of the Sixteenth Season were given on April 27th. and May 2nd. The program ranged “from jocular to solemn, from light to serious, and with solos and quartettes, interspersed with the choruses.” (Journal (April 28, 1887): 3, GB) The choir “sang with marked precision and well-balanced harmony and with true regard for expression.” (Ibid) The Journal highlighted for praise: Heinz von Stein-Arthur W. Thayer, with its mock climax; the lovely Serenade by Appel; the inspiring dance in Dudley Buck’s Chorus of Spirits and Hours; the robust King Witlaf’s Drinking Song by Hatton; the Song of the Silent Land by Arthur Foote, with its pervading deep religious feeling; the dainty little Pretty Maid Song by O. B. Brown; and the frolicsome The Owl and The Pussy-Cat by George Ingraham.” (Ibid) Lang’s solo song Nocturne was sung by Mr. G. J. Parker, but not mentioned in this review. Six of the choir members were used for solos, duets and quartets, and the Advertiser noted: “The male solo singing was all admirable for smoothness and ease, and the Foote quartettes were exquisitely perfect. (Advertiser (April 28, 1887): 1, GB)
Soloists had usually been selected from the choir but at the 105th. concert given early in 1887, the soloist was Adele aus der Ohe, a pianist. The Traveler writer was amazed that “the Music Hall contained four thousand people and was full a half-hour before the concert began. All seats are rush seats. Where else could there be such interest in music?” (Baker, 11) [4,000 is excessive-Dwight estimated 3,000 before it opened (Dwight (April 10, 1852): 3) and reported that about 2,500 attended the first public concert (Dwight (November 27, 1852): 61)
In reviewing a solo concert sung by Mr. Arthur W. Thayer, “a bass vocalist of more than common merit,” the reviewer mentioned that at the last Apollo Concerts [February 16 and 23] the group had sung his Sea Greeting which had been “composed for” the group, and, of which, “everybody spoke so well.” (Daily Advertiser (March 2, 1887): 4, GB) No copy of this piece is listed in WorldCat.
The fifth concert was on Wednesday, April 27th. and the house was full for “a delightful and enlivening concert” which, however “was a shade too long.” (Advertiser (April 28, 1887): 1, GB) The soloists were drawn from the choir and the assisting artist was a soprano. The accompanists were Tucker and Fenollosa, but Lang accompanied his own song(s). The Advertiser hardly mentioned the repertoire! The Journal gave more specifics after beginning with the fact that “a very large gathering, completely filled the auditorium” for “a most enjoyable programme” the ranged “from jocular to solemn.” (Journal (April 28, 1887): 3, GB) “The most attractive selections were the Heinz von Stein, by Arthur W. Thayer, with its mock climax…the inspiring dance in Dudley Buck’s chorus of Spirits and Hours [First sung by the Apollo Club, February 1885]…the Song of the Silent Land, by Arthur Foote, with its pervading deep religious feeling [first sung by the alumni at the 250th. Anniversary of Harvard, Spring 1886];” the Foote piece was a Boston premiere. (Ibid) Neither review mentioned the title nor performer of Lang’s solo, Nocturne for tenor solo which had been premiered at an Apollo Club concert in the spring of 1885. Also not mentioned was the Boston/World premier of Foote’s Calvary Song. The concert was repeated the next Monday evening, May 2.
ELEVENTH CECILIA SEASON. 1886-1887.
The Boston premiere of Liszt’s oratorio Legend of St. Elizabeth, Opus 153 was presented on November 18, 1886 at Boylston Hall. (Johnson, First, 220) An orchestra accompanied, Arthur Foote was the organist and there were six soloists, none of whom were chorus members. A. Parker Browne, President of the choir, in his Eleventh Annual Report of June 1887 praised Lang: “Mr. Lang has been throughout this season the same hard-working, thoughtful, reliable man we have known him to be since we were a club. His capacity for work was never better shown than in the preparation of the St. Elizabeth at the beginning of the season, and the Damnation of Faust at its close, each being prepared in surprisingly short time. Let us all show him that we fully appreciate his value to us, and hope for an indefinite continuance of his services.” (Page 3 of the Report, BPL Lang Prog., Vol. 5) Of St. Elizabeth the Evening Transcript said: “The performance was one of the finest the Cecilia has yet given. The chorus sang grandly… and the music presents many difficulties both of the technical and of the highest artistic sort… But they were triumphantly overcome, with apparent ease, with precision and grace.” The reviewer said of the two soloists, Miss Louise Elliott and Mr. Gio. B. Ronconi: “We cannot remember when the Cecilia has had two such good and satisfying leading solo singers… The orchestra, although small, played capitally. A word of hearty commendation should also be given the new sounding-board; it doubled the effectiveness of the performance.” The Home Journal also commended the choir and the two main soloists. “Miss Elliott did excellently well in a very trying and elaborate part,” while Sig. Ronconi “sang the taxing and intricate part of Ludwig in a manner that deserves great commendation for his most self-forgetting devotion to his music.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 2)
January 27, 1887 heard the Boston premiere with orchestral accompaniment of Mendelssohn’s Music to Racine’s Athalia, Op. 74 given at the Music Hall with Bernhard Listemann’s Boston Orchestra Club [a group of amateur players] with Howard M. Ticknor as the narrator (Johnson, 254). In an extensive, positive review the Advertiser praised the choir, the soloists, and then spend some time on the Boston Orchestral Club. “It was an odd sight for Music Hall, that of the many young ladies who were among the string players of the Orchestral Club, and it was a good deal to expect of young players that they should hold their attention and their strength through the strain of so long and responsible a performance… Mr. Listermann led the first violins and Mr. Van Raalte the seconds… Mr. Listemann conducted the overture, Mr. Lang taking the harp part at the piano; but Mr. Lang led the Priests’ March, which was played with all the nervous energy and élan of a lot of young players who have not begun to lose anything of their enthusiasm… Altogether, then, last evening deserves to be brilliantly entered on the register of local musical annals.” The Post also noted that the Orchestral Club was taking part “in an effort somewhat more ambitious and more important than anything heretofore essayed by it. The result must certainly have been very satisfactory to the club and its friends, and to all who are interested in the cause of good music.” This seems to be painting a very positive picture of a decision that was most probably made on financial grounds, rather than artistic grounds. The Traveler questioned the use of an amateur orchestra, saying that by doing so, “the Cecilia immediately lowers its standard of performance.” However, the Evening Transcript wrote: “The performance last evening was very good on the part of the orchestra, absolutely superb on the part of the chorus… The orchestra, composed for the most part of amateurs, did very well; indeed, we have not heard such steady good playing from the Orchestral Club at any of its own concerts… The solo parts were excellently sung, Mrs. Whitney renewing the fine impression she has made on the few occasions has been heard in public here. She was well seconded, too, by Mrs. Ipsen and Miss McLain.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 2)
The third concert of the season was on Thursday evening March 17, 1887 at the Music Hall with a full orchestra performing a repeat of The Spectre’s Bride by Dvorak. The Advertiser wrote: “The public was indebted for its hearing of this original, romantic and fascinating work to the enterprise of the Cecilia, and again the presentation was adequate, delightful and honorable… The performance can be commended very highly.” The choir, orchestra and soloists were all praised, and it was noted that the soprano, Miss Kehew, who had been ill and not able to sing the part last year, had her chance at this concert. “Her unusually full and noble voice is always heard with pleasure for its own sake, and we were further gratified to hear her sing with purer and warmer style than usual, although she was not always exact in intonation.” The Evening Transcript felt this second performance of the work showed it to be “finer and more full of genius than ever. No more thoroughly original work has been given here for years.” This review also praised the choir and soloists, also noting that Miss Kehew”s “intonation is still not always unimpeachable.” Some fault was found with the orchestra whose contribution ranged from playing “fairly well” to “at times very well.” The writer hoped that the time would come when “they can afford to have more orchestral rehearsals and larger orchestras” so that the orchestral playing would be “on a level with the work done by the choir. When that time comes there will be little left to wish for, except great solo singers, and these do not grow on every bush.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 2)
A “special supplementary” performance of The Damnation of Faust was given at the Music Hall on Wednesday evening, May 25, 1887 “with the assistance of Mr. and Mrs. Georg Henschel and other artists and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The Male Chorus will be enlarged for this Concert to the number of one hundred and fifty. Tickets, with Reserved Seats, at $1.50 and $1.00, will be for sale at the box office of Music Hall on and after Monday, May 16.” On the night Mr. Henschel was ill and his part sung by Mr. Clarence E. Hay who had done the part at the first Cecilia performance of this piece. The Journal noted: “The hall was completely filled, while in spite of the sultriness indoors, as well as out, there was the closest attention throughout the evening… The club sang with excellent effect, earnestly and vigorously, and with confidence from the first… Mrs. Georg Henschel’s pure, sweet voice served admirably to sustain the part of Marguerite, and her singing was charming… Mr. Lang conducted, while the instrumental music was given by the Symphony Orchestra.” The lengthy review in the Transcript noted that this was only the second time that the Cecilia had sold tickets to one of their concerts directly to the public, “the first occasion being a performance of Schumann’s Faust in Tremont Temple some years ago.” The choral work was praised for its “unbounded enthusiasm. The result was admirable, the chorus singing with a finish, accuracy and fire that left little to be desired.” The soloists were also praised in this review, “and the heart of the whole performance was Mr. Lang himself; his magnetic influence was everywhere felt. It was a superb piece of conducting from beginning to end.” Howard Malcolm Ticknor’s spent three-quarters of his review noting that the availability of this concert to the general public was very unusual. In his last paragraph, he complimented the orchestra but didn’t mention the soloists. He ended: “Mr. Lang conducted steadily and controlling, as usual, and a magnificent audience filled the house almost to overflowing.” [Ticknor had been a singing member of the Apollo Club since 1880] The Courier began its review saying that the choir and orchestra “did splendidly.” The review ended: “Boston owes an incalculable debt to this society and we cordially return our thanks for this fiery subject, given during the hot weather.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 2)
PIANOFORTE CONCERTO CONCERTS-FIRST SERIES-1887.
On the way to the afternoon concerts.
Childe Hassam. Columbus Avenue on a Rainy Day, 1885.
On March 1, 1887 Lang presented the first of four “Pianoforte-Concerto Concerts” at Chickering Hall. For these 2:30 PM afternoon concerts B. J. conducted and featured a variety of vocal and instrumental soloists. For the first concert, four soloists were used. “The infrequent opportunities afforded to pianists to play with an orchestra have led Mr. Lang to devote these four concerts to a hearing of performers of creditable ability in standard concertos for piano and orchestra, and for this purpose, he has engaged an orchestra of 35 picked musicians, and assumed the conductor’s baton for the more successful carrying out of his plan. In choosing the comparatively small auditorium of Chickering Hall for these events a gain has certainly been made, as the piano his given prominence not attainable in the halls more commonly used for such performances.” (Herald (March 2, 1887): 3, GB) Mr. J. T. Whelan played the Beethoven Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Mr. S. H. Gerrish played Raff’s Concerto Op. 135, and Mrs. Elizabeth Marsh played Chopin’s Krakowiak Op. 14. Mr. Whelan’s playing “was altogether delightful” while Mr. Gerrish “had the breadth and vigor of style demanded by the” Raff, and Mrs. Marsh played “with splendidly brilliant effect.” (Ibid) “Tickets were placed by private subscription,” and for the first concert there was “a full audience of exceptionally fine quality.” (Advertiser (March 2, 1887): 4, GB) George Whitefield Chadwick noted in his Diary that during the 1887-88 season “B. J. Lang gave four concerts of concertos which his pupils played. He made them sell (and buy) the tickets too!” (Chadwick, Unpublished Memoirs)
At the second concert on March 8th. Ethelbert Nevin was the soloist in Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1, Mrs. Alma Faunce played Chopin’s Concerto No. 2, Mr. S. W. Jamison played Weber’s Concertstuck Op. 79 and the program also included songs by Ivan Morawski. (Herald (March 6, 1887): 12).
At the third concert on Tuesday afternoon March 22 which was performed before “another large audience” which “again proved the popularity of these eminently well planned” events. Miss Mary Webster opened with Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54 in which she displayed a full appreciation of its many beauties, and her clear limpid touch and the musical feeling shown in her playing gave just the effect demanded for an enjoyable performance of this composition.” Mr. B. L. Whelpley played the Grand Fantasie on Polish Airs, Op. 13 by Chopin. It was “the most notable number of the afternoon, the brilliant interpretation of the pianoforte score creating quite a sensation, and winning for the pianist an enthusiastic recognition of his thoroughly good artistic work.” The Mendelssohn Piano Concerto No. 2 in D minor was played next by Miss Annie Fisher whose performance only “showed evidence of a very conscientious study of the score.” Mr. J. H Richertson, tenor, also appeared. (Herald (March 23, 1887): 3, GB)
For the fourth concert, W. S. Fenollosa played Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor; Harry Fay played Mendelssohn’s Serenade and Allegro Giojoso, Op. 43 giving it “a clear and artistic interpretation; while Joshua Phippen played the Boston premiere of Saint-Saens Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Major, Op. 17. “The final allegro was given with admirable dash and fine expression, creating quite a sensation.” Unfortunately, the orchestra was not sensational. “The orchestral work of the afternoon was of a somewhat uneven character, and the horn player was peculiarly unfortunate in the introduction to the Saint-Saens concerto.” (Herald (March 30, 1887): 2, GB)
PIANOFORTE CONCERTO CONCERTS-SECOND SERIES-1888.
On the way to the afternoon concerts.
Childe Hassam. Rainy Day in Boston, 1885.
The first concert of this second series was given April 3, 1888 at Chickering Hall where “nearly every seat was occupied, the audience representing the best musical circles of the city.” An orchestra of c. 30 accompanied and three major works were featured. The first was the Mozart Concerto No. 4 in B-flat Major played by Mrs. Elizabeth Marsh. “Mrs. Marsh’s abilities fitted the Mozart concerto with equal success, and her graceful playing gave the most enjoyable results, especially in the opening allegro and the andante. There is a fascinating clearness and purity in her tone.” The second work was the Andante, Splando and Polonasise, Op. 22 by Chopin played by Mr. Harry Fay; “his general style lacking something of the characteristics demanded for the best interpretation of this composer.” The concert ended with Mr. B. L. Whelpley playing the American premier of MacDowell’s Concerto in A minor, Op. 15, which “proved a work of grand proportions and well worthy the study demanded for its performance.” A detailed analysis of the work followed. “The masterly fashion in which Mr. Whelpley played the piano score fairly carried the audience by storm, and the utmost enthusiasm was shown in the applause which rewarded his performance.” (Herald (April 4, 1888): 4, GB) The Daily Advertiser wrote: “The concert of Tuesday was successful in every respect.” The orchestra was praised; Mrs. Marsh “showed excellent taste in her interpretation of the Mozart Concerto No. 4 in B Flat;” Mr. Fay played in a thoroughly artistic manner;” Mr. Whelpley was “the possessor of a broad musical comprehension as well as a technique of great excellence.” (Daily Advertiser (April 5, 1888): 4, GB)
The second concert was on April 10, 1888. Here Lang included a soloist who was not his pupil. Mme. Eugenie de Roode played Rubinstein’s Concerto No. 4, Op. 70, and “she had not played a dozen measures of the concerto before she had established her standing with the audience…her technical gifts are supplemented by a genuine musical nature.” Mme. Roode was from New York and making her Boston debut. Mr. George W. Sumner played the Boston premiere of the Introduction and Allegro, Op. 49 by Godard and he was “congratulated upon having sufficient courage to step outside the ruts of the classical routine in his selection.” He played the work with “magnificent brilliancy and fire.” Mr. Joshua Phippen presented the Boston premiere of St.-Saens Concerto In D Major, op. 17. “The final allegro was played with fine effect and gained Mr. Phippen a hearty recognition of his meritorious work.” (Herald (April 11, 1888): 5, GB)
The third concert in this series was given on April 17, 1888. The first concerto was the Bronsart in F Sharp minor played by Mr. H. G. Tucker. Lang had played the Boston premiere with the HMA Orchestra on March 25, 1880. “Mr. Tucker has never had a greater success than in his playing on this occasion, and the applause which rewarded him at the close of the concerto was worthily bestowed.” (Herald (April 18, 1888): 5, GB) Miss Caroline Pond played the C Major Concerto by Brassin, and her performance revealed her “abilities to excellent advantage and showed her to be a player of exceptionally good taste…The performance of this tuneful work gained Miss Pond an enthusiastic recognition of her skill and intelligence.” (Ibid) Brassin (24 June 1840-17 May 1884) was born in France, had much of his career in Belgium, and was known for his piano transcriptions of excerpts from Wagner’s operas which may have been the common interest that brought him to Lang’s notice. He also wrote two piano concertos. How did Lang hear of these? The high point of the concert was the playing by Mr. Alfred Hollins, the blind pianist from London, of the Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 5 “which caused quite a sensation, and gained him a grand ovation upon its conclusion.” (Ibid) Lang had been hired to conduct an orchestra for Hollins twice two years before in 1886. The Director of the Royal National College and Academy of Music in London hired the Music Hall in order to present four of the school’s most talented students. For the first concert Hollins played Beethoven’s Concerto # 5 “showing a masterly command of the keyboard…His technical proficiency was shown in a marked fashion” which “gained the most enthusiastic applause.” (Herald (January 21, 1886): 8, GB) For the second concert, he played the Schumann Concerto which showed him “to be the possessor of a most masculine style of execution and an excellent memory.” (Herald (February 9, 1886): 3, GB) The 1886 Beethoven performance turned out to be an audition for Lang’s 1888 concert appearance.
A most interesting reference was made to this concert in a book about the life and career of Anna Steiniger Clark. She mentions that her husband, Frederic Horace Clark, a Boston pianist whom she had married in 1882 “was now interested greatly in teaching…Mr. Long [i.e. B. J. Lang] was then the most popular and superficial teacher of ‘piano’ in Boston, and he had instituted some concerts in which his pupils played concertos with an orchestra led by their teacher. I had attended some of these Concerto Concerts, to find them overcrowded, rank with careless playing and the results of inadequate teaching and rushing with the noise of boisterous applause! Mr. Long had sent me a condescending invitation to play in one of these, his pupils’ concerts, little knowing, of course, the grave nature of such an insult. Mr. Long had no more idea of purism in art-activity, to say nothing whatever of organizing, unified activity, than had Mr. Twister [Otto Dresel] and Mr. Barking [maybe J. C. D. Parker]. But to them was not given the opportunity of expressing their ignorance in so unconsciously grotesque a manner of insult as this which Mr. Long stumbles! […] First had played Mr. Lucker [Hiram Tucker], one of the most brusque and graceless of Mr. Long’s followers; then came the frantic applause which was enough to offset, with its chaos, the confusion which Mr. Lucher had displayed. Then Mr. Long accompanied (on the pianoforte) some songs, displaying eccentric and detached thrusts of efforts and scattered acts, with bland arrogance, blissful in ignorance of the musical spirit of art-act! These pretty little deceits of Mr. Long his admirers never tired of lauding. After the songs, a blind man from London played Beethoven’s Fifth Concerto [Alfred Hollins].”(von Styne, 344-347, provided by James Methuen-Campbell) Other Boston musicians who felt their critical barbs were the BSO conductors, Gericke [Gayritey] and Nikisch Ishkovic], the well-established pianist W. H. Sherwood [Dedwood] and the long-time critic of the Transcript, William F. Apthorp [Apt-horn] Mr. Methuen-Campbell mentioned that “Clark and his wife had hardly a good word to say about any of the musicians they met.” (Methuen-Campbell E-mail May 22, 2011)
Anna Steiniger had been born in Magdeburg, Prussia, and studied with Deppe [whom she referred to as Qedipus]-a classmate had been the American, Miss Amy Fay. Her first European tour was in 1878, and several tours followed. During a German tour, she met her husband who was then a student in Berlin. (Jones, 160) “In 1882 she married Frederic Clark [whom she called St. Damian] of Boston, an accomplished musician and teacher and the discoverer of many educational principles. The two together carry on a music school in Cambridge, Mass. Mrs. Steiniger-Clark has played in concerts extensively throughout this country and in Europe, and being still young is likely to be heard much more in the future. Their public work at the present time consists mainly in Literary Institutions, and private recitals before audiences of from one to four persons, for educational purposes. Mr. Clark is a very graceful, intelligent and artistic pianist. His work has been praised by the most careful critics in Boston and in other parts of the World.” (Mathews, 705) In 1885 she played Beethoven’s Concerto in G minor with the BSO under Gericke, and the next season she toured the mid-West with the BSO, again conducted by Gericke. (Jones, op. cit.) Mr. Methuen-Campbell’s comment that they “were perhaps a bit crazy, though she was a very talented and accomplished pianist” seems an appropriate summary. (Methuen-Campbell, Op. cit.)
The fourth concert was held on April 24 and included Hiller’s Concerto Opus 69 in F Sharp minor played by Arthur Foote (Lang had played the Boston premiere in 1875), the Rhapsodie d’Auvergne Opus 73 by Saint-Saens played by Miss Marian Mosher (Lang had played the Boston premiere in 1886), Grieg’s Concerto Opus 16 in A Minor played by Mr. Jas. T. Whelan and Mendelssohn’s Concerto Opus 64 in E Minor for violin played by Miss Edith Christie.
It would seem that Lang continued to support his pupils by using them whenever appropriate. Two years later Mrs. Marsh appeared at the April 30, 1890 concert of the Apollo Club as the accompanist for the assisting artist, the violinist Miss Maud Powell. (Program-Johnston Collection)
PIANOFORTE CONCERTO CONCERTS-THIRD SERIES-1890.
Leaving from the concert. The entrance to the Music Hall would be behind your right shoulder. The Burial Ground is to your right and you are looking down Tremont Street to King’s Chapel on the right. Johnston Collection.
In March 1890 Lang presented the third in his series of “Concerto Concerts” in Chickering Hall. (He skipped the spring of 1889) “The pianists were accompanied by as large a part of the Symphony Orchestra as could be conveniently accommodated on the stage.” (Advertiser (March 11, 1892): 4, GB). Early in the month, Mr. Tucker played the American or Boston premiere of the Concerto in G Minor Opus 15 by Sgambati. “His style of playing is well suited to the composition. In the broad and massive effects, his octaves and chords showed well. The more intricate running passages were played with a crispness and brilliancy of tone rarely excelled. “(Ibid) Mrs. March played Mendelssohn’s Capriccio Brilliant Opus 22. “While Mrs. Marsh is much above the average pianist in musical conception, her technique is scarcely equal to the demands made upon it by a composition requiring so much dash and brilliancy as the Capriccio. Her touch is very graceful and dainty, but even in places where those qualities would have shown to good advantage, their effect was quite destroyed by the power of the orchestra.” (Ibid) Mr. Phippen played Chopin’s Concerto No. 2 in F Minor which was “in every respect a most artistic performance.” (Ibid)
For the second concert on March 25th. Mr. Whelply played the Boston premier (Herald (March 2, 1890): 9, GB) of Dvorak’s Concerto No. 2 in B minor; Mr. Foote played Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor; Miss Louise May played Beethoven’s Concerto No. 3 in G Minor Opus 37. (Hale Crit., Vol. 1)
The Globe headline for the third concert was: “A Large Audience Listens to Piano Solos in Chickering Hall.” (Globe (April 2, 1890): 2) The review continued: “The third and last of B. J. Lang’s series of pianoforte concerts was given in Chickering Hall yesterday afternoon, [April 1, 1890] and, as at previous concerts, the attendance was limited only by the capacity of the hall. The programme was of unusual interest and the frequent hearty applause testified to the appreciative attention given the several numbers.” (Ibid) The Boston premiere of Mozart’s Concerto No. 3, for Three Pianos, was played by Miss Ann Gilbreth, G. W. Sumner and Ethelbert Nevin, “three competent pianists, with an excellent orchestra.”(Herald (April 2, 1890): 4, GB) Arthur Mayo’s performance of Mendelssohn’s Concerto No. 2 showed him “to be a player of exceptionally good parts,” while an “allegro giojozo” of Sterndale Bennett performed by Mr. Harry Fay “was full of charm for the most critical.” The Schumann Concerto played Miss Minnie A. Stowell “with rare intelligence, fine taste and feeling.” (Ibid)
SOUTH CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH-LANG LEAVES.
In 1887 the South Congregational Church merged with the Hollis Street Church. We do not have the South Congregational records for this period as they were destroyed by fire. (Faucett, GWC, Life and Music Pride,75) However George W. Chadwick did note various details as he was affected by this merger being the current organist of the Hollis Street Church. “Lang was a man known for high standards and precious little patience, and the church merger seemingly provided a convenient excuse for Lang’s firing, which had long been sought.” (Ibid) When Chadwick inquired about the elder musicians’ future prospects at South Congregational Church in the wake of the merger, the hiring committee stated curtly, ‘Mr. Lang will not be considered.’” (Ibid) However, some were unhappy-Lang’s pupil Arthur Foote wrote in his Autobiography: “I have never heard any church service with a quartet choir to equal the sort of thing they gave you at Sunday afternoon Vespers.” (Foote, Auto., 34) It certainly helped that Lang had such fine singers as Mrs. Julia Houston West, Mrs. Rametti, William Winch and John Winch. (Ibid) “Lang was not pliable on matters of repertoire, and he exuded the sort of gravitas that likely would not be welcome in a family church.” (Faucett, Op. cit., 76). Chadwick was hired and stayed for six years and then suffered the same humiliation of being fired. “Amid circumstances that remain unclear, Chadwick was forced to resign on March 22, 1893. at which time he reported with evident satisfaction, ‘The entire choir did the same.’ Chadwick was shocked at his dismissal, for he fully believed that administrators and parishioners alike were satisfied with his artistic results. It is true, however, that several of the church’s soloists [several: he only had four didn’t he?]-each politically connected to the church’s leadership-did not see eye-to-eye with his artistic methods and standards.” (Ibid) This certainly sounds like the same problem that Lang had- what should be the repertoire and who should decide it. Both men quickly moved on-Lang to King’s Chapel, and Chadwick to Second Universalist Church on Columbus Avenue where he had “a better organ, a better quartet, the same salary ($1,000) and no extra services.” (Ibid)
TWELFTH CECILIA SEASON. 1887-1888.
The first concert was given on Thursday evening, December 1, 1887 at the Music Hall with full orchestra; it was the group’s 65th. concert, and the repertoire was Scenes from Faust by Schumann and Mendelssohn’s First Walpurgis Night. Richard Heard in the Post noted how Schumann’s instrumental character of writing made it difficult for the chorus to do their parts, and this led to “a veiled, cloudy tone, or by a deviation from the pitch.” The two main soloists were praised, but no mention was made of the other eight soloists. The performance by the choir of the Mendelssohn was praised saying: “The singing was smoother and much surer and the body of tone was much larger; in fact, in many places, it was more than double in volume to what it was in the Faust music, and established for the first time a true balance between itself and the orchestra.” The Gazette found the Schumann “dull and dreary. In addition, but little of this music is well adapted to the voice, and it is exceedingly trying to artists who may undertake to interpret it.” This reviewer also noted lapses in intonation and also noted: “The second part of the programme presented Mendelssohn’s Walpurgis Night, in which the chorus achieved so much better results than attended its singing in Faust that it was not easy to believe it was the same body. The intonation was purer, and there were better spirit, precision, smoothness and steadiness in its work generally.” The Herald echoed the same sentiments saying of the Schumann: “The work failed to arouse any interest in the audience, and it was evidently a relief to both singers and listeners when it was ended.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 3)
On Thursday evening, January 26, 1888 the choir sang the world premiere of Arthur Foote’s The Wreck of the Hesperus, Op. 17 with text by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. It “was performed with piano accompaniment [the orchestration not being finished]… It was [not] given with orchestra until 27 March 1890.” (Cipolla, Foote Catalog, xix) A modern performance was given at the Newport [R. I.] Music Festival in August 1972. After being published in America by Schmidt in 1888, it was published in England by Curwen in two editions: “The vocal score and a tonic sol-fa edition (Cipolla, Op. cit., 46). One critic wrote: “The work made a most favorable showing,” but added: “Perhaps the treatment is held too much in reserve in the crucial moments… Mr. Foote evidently adheres to the old classic models and keeps himself at all times within moderate limits… Mr. Foote was his own accompanist and gave to his rendering a composer”s enthusiasm. His accompaniment throughout the evening was delightfully intelligent and sympathetic.” (Cecilia Reviews) Another critic expressed somewhat the same feeling: “The cantata is perhaps lacking in marked individuality, but it is always thoughtful and refined in style. The choruses show some excellent writing for the voices, which are often massed with marked skill.” However, he thought that the solos were poorly written, using melodies that “zig-zag up and down the staff.” Finally Boston seemed to have a resident harpist and “an attractive and well-appreciated feature of the concert was the masterly harp playing of Mr. H. Schnecker.” (Cecilia Reviews) The Courier review devoted almost half of its extensive notice to Foote’s work, beginning: “We are sorry to have to say that Mr. Arthur Foote’s setting of The Wreck of the Hesperus, was not dramatic enough for the subject, though a clear and skillful piece of writing… To hear a sweet tenor voice give forth the bluff sailor’s warning, ”I pray thee put in yonder port for I fear a hurricane” is odd to say the least… The work was admirably sung by soloists and chorus.” The young harpist was also mentioned here: “All Boston has come to know what a great virtuoso and thorough artist this young man is. That he won the heartiest of applause is understood, for such playing could not fail to arouse enthusiasm.” (Courier, Cecilia Reviews)
The third concert of the season was given on Thursday evening, March 22, 1888 at the Music Hall with an orchestra. The first Boston performance of eight sections of Beethoven’s The Praise of Music (1814) began the program followed by A Patriotic Hymn by Dvorak, then Gade’s Spring Fantasy for piano, orchestra and four soloists, and ending with Bruch’s Fair Ellen for choir and orchestra. The Herald review began: “The club has seldom given its subscribing members a more enjoyable entertainment than that furnished on this occasion, and the hard work done by the singers under Mr. Lang’s drill in the rehearsals was well rewarded by the generally excellent results attending the performance.” The Bruch was the only piece that the club had sung before. A recent addition to the BSO was praised: “Loeffler’s violin was heard with great satisfaction,” and “Mr. Tucker gave excellent aid in the performance of the piano” part in the Gade… The Fair Ellen of Bruch loses none of its attractiveness from frequent hearings, and the chorus and soloists entered into the spirit of the brilliant occasion that it met with the most appreciation from the audience. Miss Kehew has made many successes in this work, but her voice has never been heard to better advantage in it than last evening, and much of the spirited performance was due to her efforts… The orchestral work of the evening was generally excellent, and Mr. Lang is certainly to be congratulated upon the success attending this concert.” (Herald, Cecilia Reviews) The Gazette found the Beethoven “monotonous and dull… It is little more than routine work… The voices throughout are treated after the most brutal fashion, the soprano solos wanting a throat of brass and the lungs of an elephant to do them full justice.” Other comments echoed those of the Herald reviewer. Positive mention was made by both reviewers of a new, young tenor, Mr. Ivan Morawski who had also joined the Apollo Club that year. There were a total of eight reviews for this concert, many of which were quite long and detailed. (Cecilia Reviews)
The fourth concert was given at the Music Hall on Thursday evening, May 10, 1888 and included Margaret Ruthven Lang’s first appearance as a composer at the Cecilia Concerts. The four songs given (in order of the program) were: My Lady Jacqueminot, Sing, Birdling, Sing!, Nameless Pain, and Songs in the Twilight. The Boston Home Journal review dated May 11, 1888 began: “To the Cecilia, belongs the verdict of having made at its concert in the Music Hall Thursday evening, some of the best effects of light and shade, of nicely proportioned diminuendi and crescendi, that any vocal club has made in Boston this season.” It continued: “the songs by Miss Margaret Ruthven Lang, that Mr. Parker rendered religiously well, are uncommonly good examples of vocal writing… Miss Lang’s songs are all marked by a tender sentiment, are founded each upon a clearly musical idea, and are alike treated with special elaboration and freedom in the accompaniment… My Lady Jacqueminot seemed to us the most pleasing of the four… Margaret Ruthven Lang should easily take rank with some of our very best songwriters.” For this concert, Mr. Harry Fay was the pianist and Mr. Arthur Foote the organist. One review ended: “Mr. Lang should feel additional pride in The Cecilia; at the close of its 12th. Season it is a better singing club than at any previous time.” (Cecilia Reviews) Another review noted: “Mr. Parker also sang the songs by Miss Lang (some of which were new). Miss Lang writes sympathetically for a tenor voice, and in a style which is rare enough to be called original. The accompaniments were played by Mr. Lang, beautifully it need not be said.” (Cecilia Reviews) Louis Elson in the Advertiser of May 11 felt that “The first two of the set seemed the best. My Lady Jacqueminot was both grace and pathos personified, while Sing Birdling Sing was appropriately brilliant in its opening, although the central section was conventional. Miss Lang imitates Jensen in the difficulty of her accompaniments. It is fortunate that she has a father who can accompany more easily and gracefully than anyone we know of.” (Elson, Advertiser, Cecilia Reviews) The reviewer of the Herald on May 11 had a different opinion-“Mr. Parker gave his best efforts to the singing of Miss Lang’s songs, but the compositions offered a thankless task to the singer, the writing being strictly in the modern German school, which, save to those who have the acquired taste, offer little that is pleasing or interesting. Mr. Lang’s accompaniments went far to redeem the songs from failure, however, and the singer was heartily applauded for his efforts.” (Herald, Cecilia Reviews) A more positive position was taken by the review in the Post of May 11. “Miss Lang’s songs are all marked by a tender sentiment, are founded each upon a clearly musical idea, and are alike treated with special elaboration and freedom in the accompaniment. Mr. Parker sang them with appreciation and the proper feeling. My Lady Jacqueminot seemed to us the most pleasing of the four.” (Scrapbook 1887-1906) One final review listed the four songs, and described them as “charming little fancies, delicately artistic in treatment,” and that Mr. Parker performed them “with rare finish of style and tenderness of sentiment, winning for his really beautiful interpretations, some of the heartiest plaudits of the evening.” (Ibid)
SEVENTEENTH APOLLO CLUB SEASON. 1887-1888.
The first concerts of the 17th. season (105th. and 106th. in total) were given at the Music Hall on the evenings of November 29th. and December 5th. 1887. The assisting artists were the pianist Miss Adele aus der Ohe and the horn player, Mr. Xavier Reiter, with Mr. J. Phippen as the choir accompanist. Miss aus der Ohe played Andante Spianato and Polonaise by Chopin in the first half and Rhapsodie Hongroise No. 9 by Liszt in the second half. Mr. Reiter played the obbligato part for a choral piece in the first half and Sonata for Horn and Pianoforte by Kling in the second half. The major choral pieces were the “Chorus of Vintagers and Sailors” from Loreley by Max Bruch and “Chorus No. 1” from Oedipus Tyrannus by J. K. Paine. The Boston Musical Year Book of 1887-88 lists five Boston premiers, and that may be so. However, the premiers were of English translations made that year for the Club, four by Charles J. Sprague and one by E. Buek. A. W. Thayer was the bass soloist in one of these pieces; in the April concerts, his role would be as composer. (Program, Johnston Collection)
Membership List from the December 5th. Program. Johnston Collection.
The third and fourth concerts were given at the Music Hall on the evenings of February 15 and 20, 1888. The assisting artists were Mr. Clarence E. Hay and an orchestra. The opening work was The Trumpeter by Templeton Strong for male chorus, tenor and baritone solos and orchestra. The English words were by the choir’s Honorary member and regular translator, Charles J. Sprague; no original author of the text was given in the program. (Program, Johnston Collection) This was an American premier for this work, and the club sang it again on February 17th. and 23rd., 1892 and again in January 1895. The Boston premiere of Columbus by Carl Joseph Brambach (1833-1902) for baritone and tenor solos, male chorus and orchestra filled the second half of the program. The work had received the first prize of the 24th. Festival of the North American Sangerbund, and was premiered in Milwaukee on July 23, 1886. Throughout the program were ten short excerpts from the plays of Shakespeare ranging from “I pray thee, get us some excellent music. The best I can, my Lord” from Much Ado About Nothing to “This is the period of my ambition, O, this blessed hour” from Merry Wives of Windsor.” (Ibid)
The final concerts of the season were on April 25 and 30 “before an audience that completely filled the auditorium” (Journal (April 26, 1888):4, GB). The program had mainly short works, but it did include the Boston premiere of Hymn to Apollo by Apollo Club Member, A. W. Thayer, which was written for the Club. The words were from the Greek of Dionysius, translated by W. Hay. The melody of the “Introduction” was both charming and reverential befitting “a hymn to a god of Olympus…A delightful strain was introduced, too, by the later words, ‘For thee the choirs,’ but the opening of the work was its best, the whole, however, having much virility.” (Ibid) Solos were sung by the soprano Mrs. Maud M. Starkweather including Disappointment composed by a friend of the Lang family, Helen Hood; she dedicated this song to B. J. The Flower-Net by Goldmark, premiered in 1884 was repeated and the final work was To the Sons of Art by Mendelssohn. (Program, Johnston Collection) H. G. Tucker was the accompanist and his solos were by Rubinstein and Scarlatti. BMYB-1887-88, 14 and 15.
The cover of the program for April 25 and 30, 1888 was done in black and silver with the silver still reflecting off the cover sharply even today, 134 years after its creation. Johnston Collection.
The officers elected at the Annual Meeting of June 1888 were: Robert M. Morse, Jr.-President, George H. Chickering-Vice President, Arthur Reed-Clerk, Charles T. Howard-Treasurer, and John N. Danforth-Librarian. (Journal (June 6, 1888): 4, GB)
During the late summer of 1888 sixteen voices from the Apollo Club formed the Schubert Club, conducted by Arthur W. Thayer. This group sang “a half dozen numbers in the program” of The Promenades, a series of summer concerts given at the Music Hall. “The organization has been admirably drilled in its vocal work, and last evening its members sung with excellent taste and well nigh faultless precision.” (Herald (September 18, 1888): 2) The orchestra was conducted by Adolf Neuendorff [1843-1897: conductor of the Promenade Concerts 1884-89] and its repertoire included a Strauss Waltz, a Verdi Overture, a Rossini Overture while the chorus sang, among others, the Tar’s Song by Hatton, In Absence by Buck and Slumber Soft by Mohring. These concerts had been given for four seasons and the 100th. was to be given the next week. (Herald (September 16, 1888): 13) Earlier in the summer season, a quartet from the Apollo Club had provided the vocal music. Messrs. Parker, West, Hitchcock and Babcock were very well received, and “in answer to the most emphatic demands of the audience, the gentlemen sang” two encores. (Advertiser (July 31, 1888): 8)
ISABELLA (MRS. JACK GARDNER) PAINTED BY SARGENT.
Isabella Stewart Gardner (1888), by John Singer Sargent. Wikipedia, accessed December 17, 2017.
John Singer Sargent’s painting of Isabella Stewart Gardner caused quite a reaction when it was exhibited at the St. Botolph Club in 1888. Some critics, knowing that the Gardner’s had recently traveled to India and the Far East “read the symbolism in eastern rather than western terms. Whatever the association, many observers agreed that Mrs. Gardner had been depicted as a goddess…Bostonians debated the meaning of her pose and expression, discussed whether the image was a likeness or a caricature, and suggested ‘Women-An Enigma’ as an appropriate title. Mrs. Gardner’s friend Fanny Lang reassured her, writing that she ‘never saw anything so daring, so splendid, so really great.'” (Kilmurray and Ormond, Sargent) Mr. Gardner did hang the painting in his study but never allowed it to be exhibited after 1888. Isabella did not allow the painting to be exhibited until after her death.
A “Victorian-era portrait” of Mrs. Gardner, c. 1888. Wikipedia accessed December 17, 2017.
Isabella was described by a family member as “of medium height, graceful in her movements, her splendid figure shown to advantage by a simply draped, sleeveless black evening gown, which revealed arms that were extraordinarily lovely…Her face, with wide-set eyes and full lips, was distinguished by an apparent strength of character rather than beauty. One of her greatest assets was a low toned, richly modulated voice…Mrs. Gardner knew instinctively the importance of being herself…Her wardrobe, for instance, was their [society women’s’] despair. Her perfect fitting gowns, with extreme simplicity of line, made them feel over-dressed in her presence. One out of a series of priceless gems, worm alone, caused them to feel over-bejeweled…At her throat was a magnificent ruby, her only ornament…All her assets considered, it was probably her infinite capacity to listen that provided a large measure of her attractiveness [to men]. A man found her rapt attention to what he was saying entrancing at a dinner table, where most of the women were talking too much.” After the death of her only child, she began “intensive travels abroad with her husband, planned by him to keep her from living with her sorrow…She discovered in herself an unexpected ability for evaluating great schools of art, represented in the museums of Europe.” After her husband’s death in 1898, she began building the Museum. By the terms of his will, she could take any amount of the principal (that would then go to other family members after her death) at any time for creating her building and filling it with treasures. She never took the smallest amount. “During Isabella’s absence, building operations ceased. She was on the grounds all day until the completion of every detail…She brought her lunch, like the workmen, and ate and drank barley water with them, keeping their hours. They obeyed her implicitly, more from respect than fear, and considered her one of themselves. (Smith,153 through 159)
“Isabella Stewart Gardner in Venice.” 1894 by Anders Zorn.
INCHES, MRS. LOUISE PAINTED BY SARGENT.
This painting was also exhibited by the St. Botolph Club in 1888; it also created much gossip. Some thought that Sargent had not made her beautiful enough while others thought that he made her too beautiful! Mrs. Lang wrote astringently to Mrs. Gardner: “I think Mrs. Inches looks as if she would bring you the head of Holofernes for the asking.” (Ibid) Holofernes was the Assyrian general who was decapitated by the beautiful widow, Judith after he became drunk celebrating his good luck in luring Judith into his tent.
CLEFS, THE. A social club formed on October 31, 1881 which began with sixty members, “(three-fourths of that number being professionally connected with music”) who agreed “to spend the third Wednesday evenings of October, November, December, January, February, March and April together… [for] social intercourse, with some refreshments and a musical or other entertainment… Each member shall pay a yearly assessment of eight dollars, the same being due October 1, or at the time of election.” (BPL Lang Prog.) At the yearly Annual Meeting eight Masters were elected-their job was to organize the program for each meeting “which should not exceed an hour in length. Said Master shall furnish for our club-room if we have one, a pianoforte, and such other musical instruments as he may desire for his month; he shall provide such at his own expense, and in every musical detail shall have absolute authority.” Each member was allowed to bring just one guest per meeting at a payment of $1.25. (6595) The Masters chosen for 1882-83 were L. C. Elson, Arthur Foote, John Orth, C. Petersilea, S. B. Whitney and B. J. Lang with two Auxiliaries, William F. Apthorp and Otto Bendix. (Ibid) The Secretary, Arthur P. Schmidt sent out a printed announcement of the “fifth Social Meeting” of the 1882-83 season to be held at Berkeley Hall, corner of Berkeley and Tremont Streets on Wednesday Evening, March 21, 1883 at 7:30 PM. A short article mentioned “an embarrassment of riches at the last meeting” which included performances of which the “most notable morceaux was a Mozart sonata, with accompaniment for a second piano by Grieg” played by Lang and Foote. (Foote Scrapbooks) The May 7, 1882 meeting of 60 members was held at Young’s Hotel-“Mr. A. P. Schmidt [the music publisher] presided and Max Bruch [who was in Boston to conduct the Handel and Haydn Society in his Arminius which was part of the Society’s Sixth Triennial Festival, May 1 to May 6 (Perkins, History Vol. 1, 434)] was the official guest of the club.” (Herald (May 8, 1883): 4, GB) The December 17, 1884 meeting of 50 members “and their friends” was at the Quincy House. After dinner, the Master of the Evening, Arthur Foote presided over a program that was enjoyed by all present.” (Journal (December 18, 1884): 1, GB) The January 21, 1885 meeting was organized by C. W. Allen, and all “had a notable time…Two real novelties were produced, one a string quartet based on a Bohemian Volkslieder, and the other a burlesque trio for three violins…Each number was given with the freedom and sparkle which easily belongs to the musician ‘off duty,’ and there were very pleasant surprises to those who listened.” If this were not enough, “an added enjoyment was the result of Leland T. Powers’s recitations.” (Ibid) Meetings continued through 1886; Mr. G. W. Chadwick was the Master on May 19th. when the group met at the Revere House (Herald (May 20, 1886): 8, GB) The November 16 social was held at the Tremont House. B. J. Lang and Professor Mahr from the New England Conservatory provided the entertainment. “The following Masters were elected for succeeding meetings-Messrs. B. J. Lang, A. W. Swan, John W. Tufts, Howard M. Tickner and S. B. Whiting; Auxiliary Masters-Arthur Schmidt and Charles F. Webber.” (Journal (November 17, 1887): 3, GB) The evening ended with members guessing the author of a four-line poem that appeared under a drawing, “A November Day,” done by the evening’s Master, Mr. Sanderson. Over a half dozen old English poets were suggested before someone caught on that Mr. Sanderson had produced the drawing… and the poetry. (Advertiser (November 23, 1887): 4, GB) The “entertainment” for the December 1887 meeting was a discussion on “Music in the public schools.” B. J. Lang, C. F. Webber and the Chair, Mr. Brown were the panel. There was such interest that “the discussion was continued until the next meeting.” (Advertiser (December 22, 1887): 4, GB) One of the topics covered was the need for a state Normal School of Music whose graduates would then provide a consistent level of training and a unified curriculum throughout the state’s schools. This had been proposed that year in the Massachusetts legislature, but defeated. (Advertiser (December 24, 1887): not shown, GB) The fourth meeting of the 1887-88 season was held on February 15, 1888, again at the Tremont House. The usual 60 members were present and E. C. Carrigan was the Master. After narrated scenes of Alaska “illustrated by stereopticon,” Capt. Jack Crawford, “The Poet Scout,” “convulsed the Clefs with impromptu verses.” After the meeting, he entertained members until a late hour with stories of wild West legends. Mr. Louis C. Elson and Mr. Weld “earned frequent recalls” for their musical part of the evening. “The meeting was one of the most enjoyable ones of the season.” (Herald (February 16, 1888): 2, GB) The April meeting, with M. S. B. Whitney as Master, entertained about 50 members at the Tremont House. (Herald (April 19, 1888): 8, GB) For this meeting a Glee Club sang, Mr. Ring “gave some selections on the piano and Mr. Deutsch played on the violin.” (Advertiser (April 19, 1888): 8, GB) I could find no later reports of the group.
EUROPEAN VACATION, SUMMER OF 1888.
The Herald published a lengthy article outlining Lang’s travels during the summer of 1888. “His visits to the Birmingham Festival and to the performances at Bayreuth gave him much satisfaction…He is pronounced in his praise of the chorus work done at Birmingham but thinks than in unaccompanied numbers the members of the Cecilia can sustain themselves against any body of singers at home or abroad.” The older soloists then appearing at Birmingham “would not be tolerated by American audiences. He relates, with considerable satisfaction, the details of a performance of the Berlioz Requiem under Hans Richter, in which the assisting orchestras were even more diminutive in numbers than these bodies of musicians were when the work was given at Music Hall under his direction a few years ago., at which time certain critics unkind enough to comment adversely upon the numerical strength of these orchestra forces.” Lang felt that the 1888 Parsifal that he heard was not “equal to that of previous years.” Also noted was that Edward MacDowell would become a resident of Boston. “Those who heard his pianoforte concerto at Mr. Lang’s last season’s concerts need not be told of his ability as a composer.” The article finished with the news that B. J. had brought back with him “a well-filled portfolio” of new pieces for consideration by the Apollo Club and Cecilia. (Herald (September 16, 1888): 13, GB)
NYPL Digital, accessed November 18, 2020.
MacDOWELL, EDWARD ALEXANDER. Born in New York City on December 18, 1861. “As a boy, he studied the pianoforte with Juan Buitrago, a South American, and Pablo Desvernine, a Cuban, and for a brief span with Teresa Carreno, a native of Venezuela.” (Grove, 1921, 4) His father was a milkman and his mother was musically inclined. Buitrago was a boarder in the MacDowell household and through him, MacDowell met Carreno. Edward and his mother went to Paris in April 1877 and then MacDowell entered the Paris Conservatoire in 1878. After hearing Nikolai Rubinstein play, he decided Germany world be the better place to study. First, he went to Stuttgart, then Wiesbaden and then Frankfurt where he studied with Joachim Raff and played before Liszt; he played his own pieces and also his transcription of a Liszt symphonic poem. (Answers.com, accessed January 11, 2009) He started his teaching career in Darmstadt followed by a time in Frankfort as a private teacher not attached to any music school. MacDowell married Margaret Nevins, one of his students who was also an American studying in Germany. On Liszt’s suggestion, he gave up teaching, settling in Wiesbaden for four years through 1887 where his chief work was composition. The couple even bought a cottage in a village outside Wiesbaden and arranged for their belongings to be sent from the United States.
Beginning in 1887 MacDowell’s mother proposed various plans that would bring him back to America; one was an offer to teach harmony and composition at the new National Conservatory of Music in New York City-MacDowell said no. Lang not only looked after the professional growth of his own pupils, but he also helped others advance their careers. In the summer of 1887 Lang visited MacDowell in Wiesbaden and told him that he had already played some of his music in concerts, and would like to know more of his works. Lang had introduced the composer to Boston by teaching MacDowell’s works to his pupils. At the April 3, 1888 “B. J. Lang Pianoforte Concerto-Concert” where Lang conducted an orchestra of 33, his pupil B. J. Whelpley played the solo part in MacDowell’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in A Minor, Op. 15. (MYB, 1887-88, 12) This would have been the first American performance of the complete work; Movements 2 and 3 had been played at a “Novelty Concert” in New York City in 1885.
In 1887 George Chadwick, and then Arthur Foote sought him out. The next summer Lang was attending the 1888 Bayreuth Festival, and again visited MacDowell stressing that it was MacDowell’s duty to return to America as there was an emerging music scene in America. Somehow Lang was successful, and after twelve years in Europe, Edward and Marian sold their house (with a profit of $200) and sailed on September 21st. for home-he was 28. When they arrived in Boston early in October, Lang was at the station with the news that he had arranged a “boarding house” for them. This turned out to be Lang’s own home which MacDowell described as being in the “Swellest part of Boston” with “rooms fit for a prince” and breakfasts of “oriental magnificence.” (B. MacD, 126) He was also impressed by the four pianos in the home! Some say they moved to an apartment of an entire floor, and the rent included a “bathroom, heat, lights and meals served in their rooms.” (B. Op. cit., 127) Chickering sent a piano and so he could both practice and also use one room as a teaching studio.
MacDowell, probably as he looked when he came to Boston in 1888. Johnston Collection.
Within two weeks Lang gave a reception for over 200 people, mostly musicians and all men, where MacDowell was introduced to everyone who mattered in the Boston musical world, from The Boston Symphony conductor, on down. (B. Op. cit., 129) Lang arranged that MacDowell played at a pair of Apollo Club concerts in December and at private affairs of the St. Botolph Club and the Harvard Musical Association. Soon MacDowell began to turn against Lang feeling that he wanted to “be the Lord God in Boston.” (B. Op. cit., 149) They disagreed over the pianist Rosenthal; MacDowell was critical about Lang’s tempo in a work by Templeton Strong, his friend in Germany; MacDowell felt that Lang should be sending him piano students. According to Chadwick, “B. J. Lang found him [MacDowell] very ”difficile” although I was sure his efforts were meant in all kindness. With me, MacD was very frank & companionable for a time. He and Mrs. often came to our house and we had many long walks, rides and talks together. Of others, he was suspicious and shy. It was difficult to get him to commit himself on any subject except publishers and royalties. From [?] these he was absolutely convinced that we were all getting a raw deal. He disliked some of our friends, especially Arthur Whiting who was a bit too witty for him. He had a subtle vein of irony of his own, but he was very careful of its use among strangers.” (Chadwick, Diary, unpublished) Chadwick remembered that “we would not go out among people if he could help it and was very ill at ease when he did so. It was for this reason that he resented Lang’s good offices. He [Lang] tried to ”arrange” functions for him and MacD thought he wanted to pose as his discoverer. MacD really had B. J. to thank for his start for he produced his Suite (his first work) and his First Piano Concerto at his concerto concerts and did a lot of talking.” (MYB, 1887-88, 12) On March 3, 1893, the Apollo Club sang the Boston premiere of MacDowell’s Dance of the Gnomes, “a spritely piece that features an infectious bouncing pattern for the second bass…The text, written by the composer himself, paints a bizarre picture of ugly gnomes dancing by moonlight in the forest.” (B. Op. cit., 176) Possibly MacDowell was still angry with Lang as he did not attend the performance. He probably regretted this as “he was told repeatedly of its ‘enormous success.’” (Ibid) Based on this performance the Cecilia Society asked him for a new piece for their concerts.
MacDowell made his American debut in Boston as composer-pianist at a Kneisel Quartet concert at Chickering Hall, November 19, 1888 playing three movements from his First Modern Suite and assisting in Goldmark’s Piano Quintet in B-flat. At this concert “he stumbled a little as he came on stage which at once evoked the sympathy of the audience. Playing with orchestra he was rather unsteady, lacking repose, and his fingers sometimes ran away with him. I think he had not played much with orchestra before he came to America. He always hated public performance and eventually confined his programs almost entirely to his own works.” (Chadwick, Op. cit.) On Lang’s recommendation, Wilhelm Gericke invited Mac Dowell to play his new Second Piano Concerto, Op. 23, with the Boston Symphony in the spring of 1889, but he actually played the work with an orchestra under Theodore Thomas in New York’s Chickering Hall on March 5, 1889, a month before the Boston performance on April 12. The conductor Frank van der Stucken invited MacDowell to play the concerto in a concert of American music at the Paris Exposition Universelle on July 12 [Margaret had a song in this concert and MacDowell played the accompaniment]” (Phoenix CD note)
MacDowell must have cut into Lang’s piano teaching more or less for he was a very facile, brilliant player and an interesting figure on the stage. (Chadwick, Op. cit.) However, Lang continued to support MacDowell by hiring him as a soloist for the December 4 and 10, 1888 concerts of the Apollo Club at the Music Hall where MacDowell played Berceuse – Chopin, Rhapsody No. 14 – Liszt, and his own composition, Hexentanz. (MYB 1888-89, 13) MacDowell dedicated his Opus 33, Drei Lieder to “Mrs. B. L. [sic] Lang.” (B, Op. cit., 133)
The “L” mentioned above must have been corrected for this printing. Accessed
In 1896, MacDowell was called to Columbia University in New York to fill the chair of music, a new foundation… He remained a professor at the institution until January 1904, when he resigned the post because of a disagreement with the faculty touching the proper footing of music and the fine arts in the curriculum… Mr. MacDowell’s career ended in the spring of 1905, when overwork and insomnia, the consequence of morbid worry over disagreeable experiences, brought on what eminent medical specialists pronounced to be a hopeless case of cerebral collapse.” (Grove, 1921, 4 and 5)
MacDowell’s life in Boston quickly became very complicated with teaching, performing, and composing, only when there was a spare moment. He decided to clear the summers exclusively for composing and in 1890 they rented the farmhouse in Peterborough which later became the center of the Artists’ Center, The MacDowell Colony. The Colony is still active today (2020) and over 8,000 writers, visual artists, composers, filmmakers, playwrights, interdisciplinary artists, and architects have been given fellowships which include a private cabin to work in, and all food provided. The length can be from two weeks up to eight weeks with the norm being a month, and usually, 300 fellowships are given every year.
In early June 1888 a choir of “1000 selected Boston singers from the Handel and Haydn and Boston Oratorio societies and the Boylston and Cecilia and Apollo clubs” joined with another choir of 1000 singers from the choral societies of New England, which took part in the Jubilee of 1869 and a third chorus of 1000 children’s voices from the Boston public schools” joined to make the Festival Chorus” to mark the 20th. Anniversary of Gilmore’s 1869 “Peace Jubilee.” (Advertiser (May 18, 1889): 4) Fourteen different schools sent representatives who were rehearsed at their own schools, and then, after only one mass rehearsal sang their first concert. (Herald (June 9, 1889): 10) well-known vocal soloists, both local and international were to perform. Gilmore was the overall music director with Arthur W. Thayer as conductor of the two adult choirs and H. E. Holt conducting the school choir. The event began on the evening of Wednesday, June 5 and then continued with two concerts each day through Sunday night, giving a total of five- evening and four-afternoon concerts, “the programmes being distinct for each and all the concerts.” (Ibid) Lang seems to have had no part even though two of his choirs were taking part. The main organist was W. J. D. Leavitt with J. Frank Donahoe as a substitute.
EIGHTEENTH APOLLO CLUB SEASON. 1888-1889.
The opening concert was on Tuesday, December 4, 1888, and the Advertiser called it “A Very Satisfactory Miscellaneous Programme.” (Advertiser (December 5, 1888): 5) It was quite different from the Brahms Requiem given by the Cecilia the night before, “but gave instead a pleasant, enjoyable programme which was doubly agreeable because of its excellent execution…The club still distinguishes itself by the massive solidity of its tone, a broad and manly style.” (Ibid) The major work of the program was Longbeard’s Saga by the Englishman, Lloyd, which “might have been called the Long-winded Saga instead.” (Ibid) The reviewer noted the strangeness of having the female lines of the poem sung by the basses, fortissimo, “as it gave the lady’s remarks the style of speeches of a bearded woman at a circus.” (Ibid) However, the club sang the work splendidly! Lighter works and the vocal soloist, Guiseppe Campanari were in the second half. Also, Edward MacDowell played Liszt, Chopin and two of his own compositions, both of “which were finely played and cordially received.” (Ibid) The reviewer, Louis C. Elson, then praised MacDowell calling him”manly, earnest…has something to say…a fine pianist.” (Ibid) The concert was repeated the next Monday evening.
The second concert was given on Wednesday, February 20, 1889 with the first part being Rinaldo by Brahms with the tenor soloist, George J. Parker. The work’s orchestration was interesting and showed the choir “to great advantage.” (Journal (February 21, 1889): 4) The solo part “was especially suited to his voice,” and “Mr. Parker was in good voice.” (Ibid) The Haunted Mill by Templeton Strong was well done-no other comments. Templeton Strong was Edward MacDowell’s American friend living in Germany who decided not to return to America when MacDowell did in 1888. Possibly the programming of this piece was done at MacDowell’s suggestion. The Advertiser critic found the Brahms a “phlegmatic affair,” and he longed for the “fire and melodic power of Bruch.” (Advertiser (February 21, 1889): 4) For once the orchestra was “generally excellent, especially the prominent trumpet phrases.” (Ibid) The Haunted Mill and its composer were praised; “A more poetic composition has not yet emanated from a native pen,” and “Templeton Strong is a composer whom America will yet be proud.” (Ibid) And, for the choir: “The club has seldom given a concert so thoroughly enjoyable, so well contrasted in its numbers, and so finely executed, as the one last night.” With all this praise, Lang’s name was not mentioned once! The concert was repeated the following Monday.
Getting back to their usual repertoire for their final concert of the season, the May 2, 1889 review in the Globe said: “The new things were a quaint and ingenious part song in waltz form, written for the club by Miss Margaret Ruthven Lang, entitled The Maiden and the Butterfly… [this piece] is delicately wrought up from parts which have much independence and even some apparent contradictions, but which, when sung to the composer’s injunctions, blend into a flowing and graceful tissue.” However, the Advertiser felt: “I did not like Miss Lang’s The Maiden and the Butterfly as well as some other things she has written. It began well, but the short interjectional phrases seemed artificial and gave only thinness to parts of the work without attaining the archness and coquetry of the poem. The end is especially weak in this respect. But the young composer has proved that she does not often lapse into an inconsequential vein.” (Advertiser (May 2, 1889): 4) The Journal began by saying that the miscellaneous selections “were rendered as only this club can sing them,” but none were mentioned by name! The review spent most of its space on the vocal soloist, and gave one sentence to “Lang’s excellent technique and marvelous expression” as a pianist. “The selections were such as Mr. Lang evidently loves to render, and the audience certainly enjoyed them greatly.” It was mentioned that Arthur W. Thayer’s piece was well received and that the composer was called for a bow, but the name of the work was never mentioned. (Journal (May 2, 1889): 3) Certainly, the Journal reader learned very little about the concert. The Advertiser called Thayer’s piece, Heintz von Stein, “rollicking fun,” and the club was “overwhelmed with applause. Margaret’s piece was not mentioned. The second performance of this program was on Monday evening May 6, 1889 (116 Concert total-6th. concert of the 18th. Season), and the singer Miss Flora E. Finlayson with Mr. E. Cutter, Jr. as the pianist. Lang solos were: Etude in C Sharp Minor, Op. 25 by Chopin, Evening by Schumann and Caprice (Fairy-revel) by Mendelssohn.
Program of May 6, 1889. You can see the Maiden offering the rose to the butterflies. Johnston Collection.
On the afternoon of June 4, 1889 the chorus held their 19th. Annual Meeting at their clubrooms on the second floor of the Chickering Building at 151 Tremont Street with Vice-President, John Lathrop in the chair. The following were elected for the following year. President: Hon. John Lathrop; Vice-President: George H. Chickering; Clerk: Arthur Reed; Treasurer: Charles Howard; Librarian: John N. Danforth; Musical Director: B. J. Lang; Committee on Music: Harry Fay; and Committee on Voices: L. H. Chubbuck and Henry G. Carey for two years. (Journal (June 5, 1889): 3, GB) The President and Vice-President were non-singers while Reed and Howard were original members from 1871 and both Fay and Chubbuck both joined two years later in 1873 and Carey in 1874. Certainly, there was a wealth of experience represented among these officers.
1889 involved the Apollo Club in a rather unusual performance. The New York Times reported on April 27, 1889 of “BOSTON’S FANCY BALL. THE SOCIETY OF THE HUB ARRAYED IN BRILLIANT COSTUMES. Boston, April 26. -The Artists’ Festival of the Art Students’ Association, for which the social world here has been preparing for two months, took place at the Museum of Fine Arts, while outside the wind howled and the rain poured down as it has not done before since the big gale of last November. Among the patronesses [thirteen in number] were Mrs. J. L. Gardener [sic] and Mrs. B. J. Lang, all patronesses wearing Venetian costumes of the sixteenth century.” (New York Times, April 27, 1889) They represented “the best social, literary, musical and artistic circles of the city.”(Herald (April 27, 1889): 2 GB) “During the grand march some 45 members of the Apollo Club, all dressed as monks, with long gowns and cowls of sober colors, sang the ‘Pilgrim’s Chorus,’ from the opera of Tannhauser; their mellow voices echoing softly through the halls and galleries, and lingering among the statuary and old tapestries.” (Boston Herald (April 27, 1889): 1, GB)
Both of the Langs had heavy responsibilities for this event; Margaret attended but didn’t seem to be actively involved. B. J. Lang was listed among the members of the “Committee of Arrangements,” in charge of the “Sub-Committee On Music.” Part of his duties included arranging an orchestral concert using 45 selected BSO players-only the best composers were represented. The orchestra was seated on the second floor, over the main entrance, but was concealed behind a screen of “tropical plants and flowers.” Fifteen pieces were on the program including a march written by the secretary of the school of drawing and painting, Mr. W. P. P. Longfellow “expressly for this occasion.” The other fourteen pieces included a number of loud, rousing marches (Berlioz-Racoczy) and 0vertures (Rossini-William Tell), but having to play from this hidden position while 800 guests were asking each other “what that costume represents,” probably accounts for the fact that nothing was mentioned in the extensive review about the concert except the names of the pieces. A “Frans Hals costume” was worn by B. J., and Frances was lent “a gold belt to wear with my gown” by Mrs. Gardner. “Mary Cassidy has begun work on the Venetian costume that I am to wear at the Ball. Went to Mrs. Gardner’s to lunch…Went to Mrs. Gardner’s. She showed me and put on the gorgeous dress of brocade that she is to wear to the Ball…Sunday evening we went to Octavie Apthorp’s, all wearing our costumes.” On the night “Maidie’s Turkish costume looked very well…The crowd was tremendous, and the scene brilliant.” (Diary 2, Spring 1889) The thirteen Matrons/Patronesses were placed on a raised dais on the north side of the main picture gallery. They “were effectively grouped against a background of dark maroon drapery. Their magnificent costumes were in Venetian fashion after the style of Paul Veronese.” (Boston Herald (April 27, 1889): 1, 2, 4, GB) In an article in the New York Herald titled “Boston Will Burlesque-A Costume Ball Makes the Hub Red Hot With Expectancy” written five days before the event, various highlights of this”great social event” were outlined. One was that “Mrs. Gardner is said to be preparing a remarkably part for herself in this department of the pageant. One report has it that she will lead a tame panther.” (New York Herald (April 21, 1889): 23, GB) No mention was made of her costume. Everyone attending was required to have the approval of their costume before the event to insure “historical accuracy,” and no duplicate costumes were allowed. One of Mrs. Gardner’s “adopted sons,” John F. Gardner “wore the peculiar and very effective costume of a German hunter of rich dark green silk velvet” while his brother, W. A. Gardner “appeared as a continental, and wore a hat belonging to his great, great-grandfather.” (Boston Herald, Op. cit) B. J.’s long-time adult pupil and family friend, Mr. Richard C. Dixey, wore the “dress of an Egyptian Mussulmann, which he bought at Cairo; a long underdress and waistcoat of yellow striped satin reaching to the ankle, bound round the waist with a broad sash of plaided colored silk; a long outer garment of dark crimson cloth; red shoes and a white turban. (Ibid) Mrs. Gardner did not appear with a panther. Instead she “wore an elegant gown of terra cotta and gold brocade, enframe and decollete, magnificent ornaments of diamonds and pearls. Her train was borne by a small African in Malay costume, who carried in his arms a tiny dog,” (Ibid) And, for maximum effect, she positioned herself somewhere just after the middle of the procession!
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