CHAPTER 05. (Part 4) BJL: ESTABLISHED MUSICAL FORCE: 1891-1901. SC(G) WC. TOPICS: APOLLO TWENTY-EIGHTH SEASON, 1898-1899.

CHAPTER 05. Part 4.   WC-9393.  SC(G).
 
  • Apollo Club Twenty-eighth Season: 1898-1899.                                   Murder.                                                                                                                                          Cecilia Twenty-fourth Season: 1899-1900.                                                              Apollo Club Twenty-ninth Season: 1899-1900.                                                        Missa Solemnis-Beethoven. Cecilia Sings at Symphony Hall Dedication.   Popular Taste in Music: Can It be Cultivated and Refined?                       Summer 1900.                                                                                                                Musicians’ Aid Concert.                                                                                                 Student Apes the Master.                                                                                                   Ex-Governor Wolcott’s funeral.                                                                                Cecilia Twenty-fifth Season: 1900-1901.                                                                  Hiram G. Tucker Concert.                                                                                                 Farm: Summer Seasons 1897-1901.                                                                             Ruth Burrage Library of Orchestral Scores.                                                             Miss Helen Henschel’s Boston Debut Recital.                                                           King’s Chapel: Elijah.
  • Apollo Club Thirtieth Season: 1900-1901.
  • B. J. Resigns from the Apollo Club.                                                                                      Concerto Performances Through 1900.

 

APOLLO TWENTY-EIGHTH SEASON: 1898-1899. Henry Basford, the club’s secretary sent out a notice to Associate Members dated October 3, 1898 saying that “the system of reserved seats adopted for our concerts three years since will be continued the present season. There will be no assessment.”  The cost of a season ticket for four concerts was $6 for seats on the floor of Music Hall in front of the balcony and for seats in the front row of the first balcony. For all other seats, the price was $4.
 
The November 30, 1898 concert opening its 28th. Season was performed “before a large and cultured audience. The (active) club membership is full, and among the 75 voices were never a better array of talent. Mr. Lang’s 28 years’ leadership of this organization bears richer and finer fruit every season.” Clarence Ashenden, a baritone, sang the solo in Lachner’s Abendlied-“never has the solo been given so superbly.” MacDowell’s Midsummer Clouds was given its Boston premiere, and “Mr. Lang graciously repeated it. The theme is of weird beauty.” (Advertiser (December 1, 1898): 4, GB) “Mr. E. Cutter, Jr. accompanied on a piano of too muffled a tone.” (Courier, unsigned review of December 4, 1898) Two pieces were by Boston composers. The concert opener, Mr. H. W. Parker’s Blow, thou Winter Wind-words by Shakespeare had “much of the wintry glitter and crackle into his pianoforte score, but caught felicitously the urgent pressure of the opening words of each strophe and gave a lively touch, quite in a good old English manner, to the refrain, the club bringing out clearly his changes of fancy.” (Ibid) After speaking of Arthur Foote’s success more as an instrumental composer rather than as a choral composer, the Courier continued: “But we cannot recall nothing which so touched us with a true and tender pathos and a poetry accordant with that of the words, as this chorus, rising and falling as the pulse of the ages poet swelled and sank through the stanzas, as the great yet gentle thought of death and its mighty outgoing tide grew in his soul.” (Ibid) He was writing about Foote’s setting of Tennyson’s Crossing the Bar. The former Boston composer, Mr. E. A. MacDowell wrote both the words and music for Midsummer Clouds-it was described as “a not particularly interesting study in four and five-part harmony, quite ungracious for singers.” (Ibid) This was a first Boston performance and Lang “graciously repeated it.” (Record, December 1, 1898, unsigned review) The Transcript had a short notice that described the choir as “improving from year to year…it could not improve. Certainly, it is now at its best. The singing last night was, almost throughout, of a very high order of excellence.” (Transcript, undated and unsigned review)  Short notices begin to be written for the Society Columns. In the Herald Miss Sara Anderson, who had been so successful at the recent Worcester Festival, was described as a “very handsome woman, and her stage presence is charming. She is a tall blonde, with an erect figure and a perfect neck, which her low-cut gown, without ornamentation, showed to perfection.” (Herald, undated and unsigned society notice.) The full particulars of her dress were then described and the final half of the column listed the names of many in attendance.
Many headed to the Music Hall (main entrance opposite the church steeple on Hamilton Place). The Subway (entrance the white inverted U just to the right of the church) was finished the year before, but no cars, just horse-drawn vehicles. Johnston Collection.
 
For the January 18, 1899 concert with E. Cutter, Jr. as accompanist, the main work was Damon and Pythias by the English composer Prout. The soloists were from the choir-all did well-“Mr. Lang conducted inspiringly and Mr. E. Cutter, Jr. accompanied finely at the piano.” (Courier, January 22, 1899, unsigned review) The Courier said no more about the Prout and make sparing comments about the rest of the program. The BSO conductor, Mr. Gericke provided a part-song, O World, thou art so fair a sight called “smooth and pleasant and well laid down for the voices” and the final chorus was from Brambach’s Alcestis “which was as flat as a flounder,” (Ibid)
 
The March 22, 1899 concert had E. Cutter, Jr. as accompanist and the tenor, Mr. Whitney Mockridge as the assisting artist. This was the third concert of the season and it attracted the usual large crowd. “Mr. Mockridge soon attached to him his audience by reason of a great sweetness of tone and some display of intelligence in phrasing.” (Advertiser, undated)  The reviewer thought that he might have had a cold as his sound was thin, the lower notes lacked color while the “higher notes range from thinly metallic to piercingly sweet…It is but fair to say that he improved steadily during threw evening.” (Ibid) His greatest triumph of the evening came in the aria “Onoway! Awake Beloved” by the English/African composer Coleridge Taylor “which secured a recall and an encore.” (Ibid) The two club soloists, Mr. Ashenden and Mr. Townsend were in excellent voice. The choral highlights included two first performances; Fair Toro, a Norwegian folk-song arrangement by Grieg, and Bonnie Ann by MacDowell. The first “is a beautiful piece, weirdly mystical, Scandinavian in fact,” while MacDowell’s piece was “spritely and tuneful.” (Ibid)  Orlando di Lasso’s Villanelia or Echo Song also secured the choir a recall. The final concert of the season was sung on May 3, 1899 with Miss Marie Brema, soprano as the assisting artist; her special accompanist was Mr. Isidora Luckstone who had accompanied the Apollo for one concert, January 28, 1896. The choir accompanists were Mr. E. Cutter, Jr., piano, and Mr. B. L. Whelpley, organist. Miss Brema chose to do the Schumann cycle of eight songs, Frauenliebe und Leben, Opus 42, a work of some twenty-five minutes that some thought did not belong in such a large hall as the Music Hall. However, her performance proved the critics wrong. “The audience listened in rapt, unbroken silence to the end, and then applauded and recalled the singer with unmistakable heartiness,” (Transcript, May 4, 1899 unsigned review) Two of the choral pieces were repeats from other concerts; the opening piece was Chadwick’s Song of the Viking (sung February 15, 1886 and April 29 and May 4, 1891) and the final piece was Damrosch’s Danny Deever  (sung May 4, 1898) which the Courier said they sang with “snap and go.” (Courier, undated) Mr. Edward A. Osgood was the baritone soloist in the Damrosch. (Program, Johnston Collection). The Chadwick was described as an “old-fashioned rattler.” (Ibid)
 
========================================================= Frances Lang Diary Excerpt. “June 25th. We went up to Boston because of a nose operation that Malcolm had to under go, the next day. June 26th. Went with Malcolm to the Doctor’s. He was given Cocaine after a long preparation. The bone had to be  sawed through. At the end of the an hour all was over and we returned to the house. “[in Boston. This put Malcolm in Boston for the event of the next day] =========================================================
 
MURDER. Sometime between 4 AM and 6 AM on Tuesday, June 27, 1899 B. J.’s father killed his second wife [Clara Elena Wardwell, b. April 14, 1844, Andover, MA., Find a Grave] with an ax at their home. As none of the five boarders heard anything, she must have been struck while asleep. She had been planning a  week’s visit “to some friends. The thought that his wife was to be away from the house this length of time, it is now believed, preyed upon the mind of the old man, which of late years has been noticeably weak.” Once he was in his cell he kept repeating the words: “She was going away, was she?” and then would laugh in  “an utterly childish manner.” As B. J. was at the New Boston farm, Malcolm, then aged twenty was sent to the prison. Upon seeing his grandfather his question was, “Why grampa!” A telegram was sent to B. J., and the family met at the prison that night together with their family doctor, Dr. Frank E. Bundy (who had been Lang’s physician for 25 years).” (Herald, (June 29, 1899): 10, GB) When the police had arrived at the scene, Lang Senior had been preparing to kill himself. “Mr. Lang was straddling the window sill, forty feet below was the bricked rear yard. A leap would have meant instant death…The case is looked upon by police as one of the saddest they have ever been called upon to investigate.” (Ibid) Benjamin lang Sr-crop

Mr. Benjamin Lang.

Mrs. Clara E. Lang-cropMrs. Clara E. Lang.

(Herald, (June 28, 1899): 12, GB). The Herald also had drawings of the house, the bedroom, and the servant who found the body. The house that they shared was a five-story rooming house at 93 Waltham Street.  The first
The real estate specs. for this building say that it was built in 1890. However, a photo from the Boston Athenaeum Collection of # 98 Waltham Street in 1865 shows exactly the same design; front door to the left, bowed front, window in the attic for the servant’s room.
 
floor had three rooms-a parlor, a sitting room and a bedroom. “The house was owned by Mrs. Lang, [see next] who was somewhat of a businesswoman, and made a good income by letting the remaining rooms on the upper floors to lodgers.” (Ibid) A servant, Delia Hannan had a room on the top floor. She is the one who first found Mrs. Lang dead. The Journal wrote: “They have lived happily together for years, the property being owned by B. J. Lang. It is a three-story brick building with basement kitchen. The Langs occupied the first floor and the servant girl had a room upstairs two flights. The balance of the house was rented to lodgers.” (Journal (June 28, 1899): 1, GB)] This same article also mentioned that early in “his life he was a shoemaker…Mr. Lang has been in feeble health for a long time, but had made arrangements to visit his sister, Mrs. Sarah A. James of this city, within a few days. She is 85 years old and very feeble.” (Ibid) In fact, the house did belong to B. J. On January 6, 1882 he had bought the mortgage, which covered the buildings and the land, for $10,000. (Journal (January 14, 1882): 6, GB) Two days after the murder the Journal reported that Chief Inspector Watts felt that “after hearing the statement of the accused man, [he] was not satisfied with the theory advances that he is insane.” Supposedly certain information had come into his knowledge that made him think that the case “should be thoroughly looked into.” (Journal (June 29, 1899): 10, GB) It was never revealed what this special knowledge was. An article about Lang’s arraignment noted: “The old man is short so that he had some discomfort in leaning his arms upon the rail….’Poor old man’ said an old friend of the family, who had a seat inside the lawyers’ enclosure. That was probably the feeling of most of those who caught a glimpse of him.” (Advertiser (June 29, 1899): 8, GB) Some of the Boston papers had published lengthy and lurid stories concerning the event which led The Musical Courier to recount the story in one paragraph of eight lines. “It seems that these details should be sufficient for all purposes, and it was anything but kind in the daily press to have made such sensational articles and scare heads as it did, for a man who has stood as B. J. Lang stands ought to have been shown some consideration in a community where he has lived the length of time that he has. The sympathy of The Musical Courier is herewith extended.”(The Musical Courier (July 5, 1899): 10) Father Lang was arraigned, committed to the common jail, “there to be held without bail to await the disposition of the Grand Jury in July…Mr. Lang, it is said, is 84 years of age, but is so well preserved that he could readily pass for 70, or even 60.” (All quotes from postings on the Family Tree Maker’s Genealogy Site: Descendants of William Wardwell. 8/9/2011) Just over a month after his arrest, he was judged insane and thus no trial was needed. (Herald (July 9, 1899): 17, GB) He was sent to the Worcester State Hospital where he spent the remaining ten years of his life, dying on December 11, 1909, aged 93, (Death Certificate) eight months after the death of his son B. J. on April 4, 1909. For many years “the elder Lang was the organist at St. James’ Church, Salem. [The parish, a Catholic one, only began in 1850, and B. J.’s Diary of this period make no mention of this church] At one time he kept a music store in Salem. He moved to Boston previous to the civil war. The news of the murder was a great shock to the older people of Salem, who knew Mr. Lang very well and who held him in great esteem.” (Herald (June 28, 1899): 12, GB)
 
CECILIA TWENTY-FOURTH SEASON: 1899-1900.
 
Tremont Street, towards Park Street Church where they will turn left for the Music Hall. Johnston Collection.
 
A renewal announcement dated October 1, 1899, sent by the group’s Treasurer, Edward C. Burrage (B. J.’s brother-in-law) to Associate members noted that this season would be the last “in the present Music Hall.” All concerts were to be on Wednesday nights, and the “assessment for the season” was to be $15. The Executive Committee of nine members for this coming season included Arthur Foote as President, and among the at-large members, two choir former presidents, Arthur Astor Carey and George O. G. Coale. (814)  Wednesday, December 6, 1899 saw the Boston premiere of Parker’s oratorio Legend of St. Christopher, Opus 43-the world premiere had been just the year before.“This work was performed at virtually every festival in America in the decade following its premiere.The unaccompanied chorus ‘Jam sol recedit’ is considered Parker’s finest achievement.” (Johnson, First, 285) The orchestra was members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and B. L. Whelpley was the organist with the composer conducting. The fact that Mr. and Mrs. Lang were in the audience was noted in a society column which also recorded that “to look over the audience one would scarcely imagine than anything else musical of special import was going on.” The piece “met with the triumph it deserved.” Also in the audience were Mr. and Mrs. John F. Winch, Mr. Gericke conductor of the BSO, Prof. Carl Faelten of the New England Conservatory and Mr. and Mrs. Henry M. Rogers (she the former singer Clara Doria). “Mrs. Caroline Shepherd, the soprano, was handsome in white silk, with lace, which was incrusted with crystals, and pale blue velvet on the bodice.” (Anon., undated) Elson in the Advertiser wrote: “A considerable audience listened to the orchestral rehearsal of The Legend of St. Christopher on yesterday afternoon. It is pronounced one of the most remarkable pieces of work yet produced by Mr. Parker, and in his warmest and most melodious vein.” Referring back to the recent Cecilia Perosi performance, Elson gave his opinion that “we need not go to Italy to look for new masters of oratorio.” Of the performance: “The orchestra was kept well in hand by the composer, who conducted the performance, and was enthusiastically greeted by the audience. The chorus sang the difficult work wonderfully well.” Elson then went on to say that he preferred Chadwick, Strong or MacDowell for purely instrumental works,” but he felt that this work by Parker should “make a high place, and at once, in our native repertoire and in the scant list of good contrapuntal works of the modern world.” (Advertiser, undated) Apthorp in the Transcript felt that Parker composed too easily: “He is too often satisfied with saying a thing, without considering whether it might not be said better. His very ease often seems like carelessness…The performance last evening was generally very good, indeed, solo singers and chorus sang capitally, and the orchestra seemed, for once, to have forgotten its determination to play no better than necessary.” (Transcript, undated)
 
The second concerts were on Monday evening January 22 and Wednesday evening January 24, 1900 at the Music Hall with Mr. Whelpley as organist and Miss Laura Watkins as pianist. On the program was a Bach cantata which the Courier reviewer found boring-“a trying work.” The three soloists were choir members, and the bass of Mr. Weldon Hunt was described as a “fine voice.” Also on the program was the Vision of the Queen by the contemporary French woman composer Augusta Holmes which the reviewer found “contains much graceful writing, the fresh, female voices blending with the harp, violoncello and piano, [to] form a most delightful body of sound.” The accompanist was praised: “Miss Hawkins is to be congratulated on her fine rendering of the sonatina in the Bach cantata, as well as on her able accompaniments.” (Anon., undated)
 
Major Boston premiers by the Cecilia continued in 1900 with Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast, Op. 30 by Coleridge-Taylor (composed only two years before when the composer was only 23 years old) being sung with orchestra at the Music Hall on March 12 and March 14, 1900. An autograph full score of this work is in the Boston Public Library collection (Johnson, First, 115). The concert opened with the first American performance of the Overture to the Song of Hiawatha, Opus 30 (1899) by Coleridge-Taylor. (Globe (March 15, 1900): 8) The concert also included the Ballad-Cantata Phaudrig Crohoore by Charles Villiers Stanford with the Irish tenor Evan Williams. (Cecilia program) The Globe described the piece as “a rollicking Irish ballad-cantata” set “most melodiously…It is good dialect, good comedy and good music all in one.” The sopranos were singled out for praise, and all in all, “audience, singers and symphony orchestra players alike” shared “in the enthusiasm evoked by Mr. B. J. Lang’s spirited conducting.” (Globe (March 15, 1900): 8) Apthorp in the Transcript didn’t like either of the choral works, “but the performance is another matter; it seemed to me that I had never heard the Cecilia sing so utterly superbly at every point before, great and beautiful things though it has done in the past. There was everything there that completely fine choral singing should do, and nothing that it should avoid. The orchestra, too, played far better than usual. In fine, no composer could ask for anything better.” (Transcript, undated) The Courier was mildly positive concerning the choral works, but also praised the performance. “The club sang wonderfully well in every way, attaining often more vigor and determination than they usually show.” (Courier, undated) The season ended with Monday, April 23 and Wednesday, April 25, 1900 performances at the Music Hall with Miss Laura Hawkins and Miss Alice Coleman again acting as piano accompanists. On April 30, 1900 the choir was officially incorporated in the state of Massachusetts, and the word “Society” was added to its name. (Hill, 8)
 
APOLLO TWENTY-NINTH SEASON: 1899-1900.  The November 22, 1899 concert included five Boston premiers: The Autumn Sea by Wilhelm Gericke, Horatio W. Parker’s Three Words, Secret Love arranged by Gustav Wahlgemuth, Jules Massenet’s The Monks and the Pirates and the Song of the Pedlar by C. Lee Williams. Parker’s piece is a setting of two verses; below is the first verse. Even a quick once-over will reveal the extent of technical problems in voice ranges, balance among parts, etc. Certainly, the Apollo Club had come very far from its beginnings thirty years before, and all of that time guide by B. J. Lang.
 
  The second verse uses the same musical setting. Library of Congress, American Choral Music Project. Opus 33, published by G. Schimer in 1893. The Song of the Pedlar “proved a favorite by reason of richness, variety of color and humor…[while The Monks and the Pirates] proved far more melodramatic than brazen and the ‘war and pillage’ was not of even the Penzance order…[and] Secret Love [was] a charming romantic bit from the 18th. century.” (Advertiser-Elson (November 23, 1899): no page number) Mrs. Wilson, the guest artist sang Margaret’s An Irish Love Song. “WFA” [William Foster Apthorp] ended his review with praise both for the Club and Lang. “If there be any constant here in Boston, the Apollo is the quantity…Sureness of attack, a well-formed habit of giving the final notes of phrases their full value, pure intonation, exquisite beauty and flexibility of tone – these are qualities for which the club’s chorus has long been noted; it has had a standard set for it, and seldom lapses therefrom.” (Undated review) In mid-January, the club sang at the Music Hall and the Herald “Social Life” page wrote: “There was a great audience, and an exceptionally interesting and well-rendered programme. The club had the valuable assistance of Mr. David Bishop. His singing aroused real enthusiasm.” A list of “some of those” who attended included: “Mrs. B. J. Lang, Miss Margaret Lang [but no Malcolm or Rosamond], Mr. and Mrs. Tucker, Mrs. Clarence E. Hay and her daughter [wife of the soloist often used by Lang] and twenty-one others. (Herald (January 21, 1900): 31, GB)
 
On Wednesday, March 7, 1900 the club gave its third concert of the season with E. Cutter, Jr., pianist and B. L. Whelpley, organist. “From the moment when the large audience greeted Mr. Lang until the close of the last song, the usual genial Apollo Club atmosphere prevailed, and almost every number on the programme was enthusiastically received.” The reviewer thought that the lighter numbers fared the best. “In contrast to these more serious numbers [by Schumann, Brahms and Wagner], the second group consisted of” pieces by Foote, MacDowell and Van der Stucken. The guest soloist was Miss Gertrude Stein who brought along her own accompanist.  (Advertiser (March 8, 1900): 8 GB) The fourth and final concert was “in accordance with the time-honored custom, a miscellaneous one.” It was also the group’s farewell to the Music Hall. Three pieces from the club’s early days opened the program; Schubert’s The Lord Is My Shepherd, Schumann’s Gipsy Life and Handel’s Crown With Festal Pomp. Elson felt that the highlight was “Jam sol recedit” from Hora Novissima by Horatio Parker, “a number of which any composer in the world might be proud, and one of the very best achievements of the American muse.” (Advertiser April 26, 1900: 8)
 
 
Postmark not readable. This example has both an early auto on the left and a horse-drawn carriage to the right. Johnston Collection.
 
CECILIA SINGS AT SYMPHONY HALL DEDICATION. BEETHOVEN MISSA SOLEMNIS. The exterior of the hall some thought severe: “Some wit has suggested that the architecture might be called Puritan in instead of North Italian Renaissance.” (Advertiser (September 22, 1900): 8) In size, “the dimensions are almost the same as the old hall, the variation being only a foot each way.” (Ibid) The interior of the hall was also one foot longer than the Music Hall which allowed an increase of over 172 seats [2569 instead of 2397]. The acoustics were perfect: “A person in the second balcony, far back, can hear conversation carried on in ordinary tones on the stage.” (Ibid) The seats for this first season were auctioned off, and two tickets in the first balcony, “on the right-hand side, near the front of the house,” had been bought for a premium of $560 each.” (Herald (September 21, 1900): 9) The normal price was $12 for the series of 24 concerts. These seats were well located for hearing by the occupants and for seeing by everyone in the hall. The owner of these tickets had been kept secret, and so everyone, 3,000 sets of eyes, were most interested to see who would sit in them. At the first regular concert of the season, Mrs. “Jack” Gardner appeared escorted by the pianist Mr. George Proctor. She had paid just over $47 ($1,343 in 2018’s money) for each of the tickets, and this compared to other concert-goers, some of whom were able to pay 25 cents for the “rush” seats available on the day. Mrs. Gardner’s seats were not too far from those bought by the Lang family. Postmarked 1906. It looks like the ladies of the Friday afternoon performance arriving. Johnston Collection. Postmarked 1935-cars look older. All men in the scene-no women. The two men standing in the street on the right don’t seem to be worried about the traffic. Johnston Collection. “No more brilliant or important event has ever figured in the musical history of Boston, it is quite safe to say, than that which occurred in so eminently successful a manner last evening-the formal inauguration of Symphony Hall.” (Herald (October 16, 1900): 1) After the opening Bach chorale, Mr. Higginson gave a “report.” He noted that the land had been bought back in 1893, and the Directors pondered long over
The “Greek Theatre” model made by McKim.
 
what might be the best design. The “Greek Theatre” design by their architect, Mr. McKim was eventually put aside for the rectangular box design much like the Music Hall, and also like the concert hall in Leipzig. They tried to include a smaller hall for chamber music, but this was not possible. The original cost was to be $500,000 of which when $410,700 was subscribed, construction began. In the end, the total cost was $750,000 which required the Directors to take out a mortgage for $350,000. (Op. cit., 7) For the first ten years, the hall was leased to Mr. Higginson who would “meet [the] costs of administration, taxes and all charges, and to pay to the stockholders the rest of the receipts.” (Ibid) Between the Cecilia’s 24th. and 25th. Seasons the Missa Solemnis was repeated for the opening of Symphony Hall. One story, written before the concert which was on October 15, 1900, pointed out the honor that was being shown to the choir in being part of this concert, and that “it is also a fully deserved recognition of the society’s rank in the musicianship of Boston. Mr. Lang put it to a vote whether they would undertake the great Mass or a less exacting work. The Mass was chosen unanimously…One hears reminiscences of how Mr. Lang met his singers four and five times a week when the Mass was sung so successfully several years ago, but all that hard study tells now…Mr. Gericke is much pleased with the work of the club, and in speaking to them of their singing in the Ninth Symphony, said that ”nothing had given him more pleasure.” (Anon., undated) For the choir the work was very difficult, “and its difficulties throw even the trials of the Ninth Symphony into the shade.” (Advertiser (October 16, 1900): 1) “The Cecilia has invited guests, all personal friends, to assist in the dedication, and a large representation from the Apollo Club responded to Mr. Lang’s invitation. Every singer is pledged to attend all rehearsals, which are arranged for May and late September…Mr. Lang is to be congratulated on such a consummation of the work to which he has given himself so steadfastly, so generously for so many years.” (Anon., undated) Another newspaper reported many of the same facts, and ended with: “Mr. Lang receives some of the honor he deserves, not always accorded to prophets, in the honoring of his club.” (Anon., undated) The performers were the BSO, Mr. Kneisl, solo violin; Mr. Goodrich, organ; the Cecilia Society [275 voices]; and Mme. De Vere, Miss Stein, Mr. Williams and Mr. Bornstein. (Advertiser (October 8, 1900): 7) A non-musical writer asked that “Perhaps a more cheerful work than the Mass might have been chosen for such an occasion…There are long sketches of elaborate effort…The technical difficulties of the whole work are huge; so exacting that it is seldom presented at its possible best, as it was very nearly last evening. It really seems as if the results hardly repaid the trouble…Mr. Gericke achieved a splendid success with the chorus.” (Herald, Op. cit, 7) Then words of praise for Lang; “It was a genuine triumph of chorus drilling…The occasion was a brilliant one, musically and socially, and a new and interesting page has been turned in the musical history of Boston.” (Ibid)
 
HOW CAN POPULAR TASTE IN MUSIC BE CULTIVATED AND REFINED? This was the title of an article in the Globe early in 1900. Lang, at the age of 63 was among the Boston “experts” who were called upon to answer this question. His answer began: “So far as Boston and vicinity is concerned, in view of what Mr. Higginson is doing with his orchestra, the Cecilia Society with its wage-earner concerts, and the public schools in their preliminary way, I am surprised that it is thought necessary to ask the question.” (Globe (February 25, 1900) 28) Lang did have one suggestion: “I will say, however, that improvement in general musical taste might in a measure be reached if the standard of musical material used in the large majority of our Protestant churches were to be greatly praised.” (Ibid) He ended with a rather surprising observation: “The coster, coon and ragtime songs now in vogue are not to be despised. Some of them have merit than an immense amount of more orderly music entirely lacks.” (Ibid)
 
SUMMER 1900. The summer trip to Europe for 1900 was enjoyed by B. J. and Malcolm. One bit of excitement was that the ship that they took to Europe, the Cunard liner the Campania, was almost blown up when it struck a bark carrying explosives in the Irish Sea. In a Dispatch printed on page one of the July 23rd. edition, the writer noted: “If the steamer had struck the smaller craft fore or aft, [where the dynamite was stored], the great ocean greyhound would have been destroyed. As it was, 11 of the crew of 18 on the bark were drowned. The sunken vessel was the ironbark Embleton, bound for New Zealand…Within 30 minutes after that horrible catastrophe, the passengers of the first and second cabins and the steerage had collected 700 Pounds aid for the wrecked survivors and for those dependent on the dead” (Herald (July 23, 1900): 1, GB) A week later the story seemed less exciting. “Luckily the ocean liner struck the ill-fated bark amidships, so that the damage was slight and a bad fright was the only result of the accident.” (Herald (July 29, 1900): 31, GB) The rest of the family spent the summer at the Lang farm in New Boston. (Herald, Social Life (July 22, 1900): 31, GB)
 
MUSICIANS’ AID CONCERT. On Sunday night, December 16, 1900 Lang led “a concert given by and for the Musicians’ Aid Society” at the recently opened Symphony Hall. The featured soloist was the 22-year-old Russian pianist, Ossip Gabrilowitsch who played the Tschaikowsky First Piano Concerto. The article pointed out that Lang had led the world premiere of this piece 25 years before. In 1875, “when the concerto was submitted to Bergman [the conductor from New York who had been conducting the other concertos in Von Bulow’s series], he pronounced it to be impossible in the limited time. In this emergency Von Bulow consulted Mr. Lang, and, with less than 24 hours intervening, Mr. Lang directed the performance of the then-new work with such success that Von Bulow cabled the first message from Boston to Moscow telling Tschaikowsky of the hearty greeting which the composition had received from the Boston public.” (Herald (December 16, 1900): 17, GB)
 
STUDENT APES THE MASTER. A day after the above concert, Lang’s student, Hiram G. Tucker conducted “the third in a series of concerts” at the People’s Temple, on Columbus Avenue. “Able soloists, a large chorus and full orchestra” presented Horatio Parker’s new piece, A Wanderer’s Psalm, “which was composed for the Hereford festival [Three Choirs Festival] in England, and performed there in September of this year. It was heartily praised by the leading English critics, and the announcement of its presentation here has aroused much interest.” (Herald (December 16, 1900): 17, GB) Here we have Tucker mounting a program that was in direct competition with the programming of the Lang’s Cecilia. Coming just four months after its premiere in England, Tucker could probably claim a first Boston performance, if not a first American performance. One wonders what B. J. thought. Tucker’s selection of this work turned out to be unfortunate. While the reviews of the provincial English press were positive, those in the London papers “were considerably more discerning.” Philip Hale’s review of Tucker’s performance was also unfavorable: “This Psalm was written to order, and I regret to add that it makes the impression of perfunctory labor.” Many saw it as a watered-down Hora Novissima which had been performed to great applause at the Worcester Three Choirs Festival the year before. However, The Wanderer’s Psalm “disappeared from the concert stage after the Boston concert of 1900.” (Kearns, Parker, 130)
 
EX GOVERNOR WOLCOTT’S FUNERAL. Among Lang’s duties at King’s Chapel was that of playing for funerals. At the end of December 1900 Lang played this service which included the March from Handel’s Saul as processional music and the first hymn, With Silence as Their Only Benediction had words by Whittier and music by B. J. This would seem to be Lang’s last composition. For this service, Lang used “the regular singers from King’s Chapel, with 12 or 14 from other churches.” (Herald (December 23, 1900): 9, GB) Lang was also involved in the Memorial Service held at Symphony Hall the following April. The BSO played Wagner and the Cecilia Society sang two sections from the Brahms Requiem. “The Hon. Henry Cabot Lodge delivered an address,” (Herald (April 19, 1901): 16, GB) which began with Wolcott’s boyhood and covered his full career in public service. There was “a distinguished Massachusetts audience” (Ibid) including Frances who was listed as having a seat in the gallery [second balcony?]
 
CECILIA TWENTY-FIFTH SEASON:  1900-1901. Probably hoping to build on the success of the two Coleridge-Taylor works already presented, next the choir sang the American premiere of his Hiawatha’s Departure, Opus 30 No. 4 (1900). This was sung with Boston Symphony Orchestra accompaniment at Symphony Hall on Monday, December 3 and Wednesday, December 5, 1900, B. L. Whelpley was the organist. (Cecilia program) The world premiere had been given by the Royal Choral Society at Royal Albert Hall in London less than a year before. Also on the program was Phoenix Expirans by Chadwick with the composer conducting. A note in the program described the Chadwick work: “So fresh and lovely is it in melody, so dignified and consistent in conception, so delicate yet rich in its orchestral coloring, and so churchly yet warm in its harmony.” (824) Chadwick had been appointed conductor of the Worcester Festival and Director of the New England Conservatory three years before, in 1897. The Herald review thought the Coleridge-Taylor to be “the feature of the evening. It is a thoroughly charming work, with a delightful freshness of inspiration…The instrumentation is of great beauty, and the full resources of the modern orchestra are used with skill and knowledge…Mr. Coleridge-Taylor is yet in the early twenties.” Of the Chadwick: “Mr. Chadwick’s strongly effective cantata was heard again with pleasure and interest. The audience was large and very applausive.[?] Both Mr. Lang and Mr. Chadwick were cordially received and the soloists were generously appreciated.” (Herald (December 6, 1900): 3, GB) Hale in The Journal found that after one hearing of the Coleridge-Taylor work showed the composer to be “a man of pronounced individuality, true and deep emotion, and native instinct for rhythm and gorgeous instrumentation. No doubt his sense of rhythm and color is a birthright…for his father was a mulatto physician from Sierra Leone, and his mother was an English woman.” The Herald wrote that the “chorus writing is admirable, and some of the most lovely moments in the cantata are found in this element of the score. The music is never dull, is in perfect sympathy with the spirit of the poem, and the composer sustains his long flight with spirited ease, and ends with it with a large and splendid burst of triumph.” The review continued in this vein for a fulsome six paragraphs-possibly the writer was B. E. Woolf. (Herald (December 6, 1900): 3 or 8, GB) Of the Chadwick, which had been first given by the Handel and Haydn Society with Nordica as one of the soloists: “The cantata is one of great beauty; it is in some respects unique, with exotic flavor permeating sound workmanship…There was a good-sized and applausive [?] audience. ” (828-829) Apthorp in the Transcript wrote: “The performance was one of the best the Cecilia has ever given; chorus, solo singers and orchestra seemed animated with one spirit.” The Chadwick “struck me as still very beautiful, very vital, strong and brilliant. Even coming after Coleridge-Taylor’s more modern and resonant orchestration, it lost nothing by the comparison. Mr. Chadwick’s orchestra fits his idea as nicely as Coleridge-Taylor’s does his. Of the other things on the programme I will say nothing.” (Transcript, undated) The concert had opened with Beethoven’s “Hallelujah Chorus” from the Mount of Olives: “The Hallelujah would not be sung by any chorus today if Beethoven had not signed his name to it. Let us record one more instance of fetish-worship.” (Ibid)
 
On Sunday evening March 31, 1901 the Cecilia was part of an all-Henschel concert which included three works by the composer; Morning Hymn for chorus and orchestra, Serbisches Liederspiel, a Cycle of [10] Romances for Four Solo Voices and Piano, Op. 32, and the first Boston performance of Stabat Mater for Soli, Chorus and Orchestra, Op. 53. Mr. B. L. Whelpley was the organist and the orchestra of sixty was from the BSO. Mrs. Henschel was the soprano soloist. (Anon., undated) georg and lillian henschelMrs. Henschel (Lillian Bailey) and Georg Henschel. BSO Archive.
In mid-April, the choir sang Samson and Delilah “with a fine cast in which Mr. Arthur Beresford as the high priest made the marked success of the evening. The role eminently fitted his wonderful voice, and the audience showed its appreciation by a tremendous demonstration in his favor.” (“Social Life,” Herald (April 14, 1901): 31, GB) Cecilia had sung the Boston premiere of this work by St.-Saens on November 28, 1894. This “Social Life” notice also included the names of “a few of those” who attended. These included Mrs. Lang and the “Misses Lang,” but no Malcolm Lang, Arthur Foote and his daughter, the BSO conductor Herr Gericke and his wife, the wife of the President of Cecilia-Mrs. S. Lothrop Thorndike, Mr. and Mrs. George W. Chadwick and Mrs. Charles Marsh. In all 33 names were listed. (Ibid)
 
The Transcript ran two stories about the choir’s Annual Meeting at the Hotel Vendome in May 1901 which would celebrate the choir’s twenty-five years of existence, “during which B. J. Lang has been the sole conductor.” After the business meeting, there was to be music “by several members of the organization and supper will be served, and it is probable that in a purely informal way short congratulatory addresses will follow. (Transcript, undated) The second story noted that Lang had been presented “a handsome silver bowl on which was inscribed the recipient’s name, also that of the society and the dates 1876-1901…The gift emphasizes the general feeling prevalent on the part of the members that in no small measure is the past success of the organization due to Mr. Lang’s faithful service and interest.” (Transcript, undated) The Herald also did a story after the event. It recorded that long-time former President, Mr. Thorndike was present; that Miss Laura Hawkins, accompanist of the choir played; and that Mr. B. L. Whelpley played two of his own compositions. In replying to the presentation of the loving cup, Lang “said that no words could express what the Cecilia’s 25 years have meant to him. He said, however, that it is not to be considered that he has preferred them over the Apollo Club, though he has resigned the latter work while keeping his conductorship of the Cecilia, and he asked a cheer for the Cecilia’s ”elder brother.” which was given with a will. He spoke of future plans for the Cecilia. Mr. Lang was cheered to the echo. As a memento of a memorable occasion, the company was photographed in the supper-room by flashlight.” (Herald, undated) Arthur Foote gave the President’s Report at the 1901 meeting-this was the third year that he had held the post. He cited the Wage Earners’ Concerts which Cecilia had begun in 1891. “It is a good thing that no change has been made as regards the “Wage Earners’ concerts. These have continued to be as much desired as ever by the audience for which they were intended. The listeners have been highly appreciative and would have been greater if the hall could have been made elastic. No one can doubt that in these concerts the Cecilia is doing a good work, one in which it helps itself by helping others.” (quoted by Tawa, Foote, 279)
 
Handel and Haydn History, Vol. 2, 135.
 
HIRAM G. TUCKER CONCERT. Lang continued to support his pupils. Tucker emulated his teacher in presenting a series of orchestral concerts. “At the second of the series of Mr. Tucker’s concerts-which are proving so brilliant-on Monday night, the admirers of Mr. Paur [the BSO conductor] had a love feast. The demonstration of the personal enthusiasm and affection when the former conductor of the Symphony orchestra first appeared to take up the baton was remarkable in its intensity. One does not often hear such genuine applause.” Among those listed as attending the concert were Mr. and Mrs. B. J. Lang and Miss Lang, Mrs. Apthorp, Mrs. H. M. Rogers, Mrs. John L. Gardiner, Mr. George Proctor, Mr. Clayton Johns, Mr. and Mrs. H. M. Ticknor, Mr. and Mrs. George Chadwick, Mr. Perabo, and “indeed, all musical Boston. Mr. Tucker received many congratulations upon the evening’s success.” (Herald (December 2, 1900): 31, GB)
 
FARM: SUMMER SEASONS 1897-1901. Emeline Burrage returned in June 1898 together with Emma Burrage as did Charles S. Homer and his wife Martha. B. L. Whelpley, a Lang piano pupil left a cartoon figure labeled “M. B. L.” and a note: “I never in my life did dream of having twice a day ice-cream until I visited Lang Farm. (It’s done me anything but harm).” Edward [?] Burrage and his wife Julia Severance Burrage visited July 10, 1898 for the day. Another Burrage, Elsie Aldrich Burrage stayed August 8-10, 1899.  One guest left a four-page, typed story with pen and ink illustrations about his visit dated September 4, 1899 – the initials seem to be J. H. B. The title was “An Idle (Idyl) (Uncommon Particular Metre).” The story mentions that “your train leaves shortly, just after noon.” Arthur Foote’s daughter, Katharine was a guest in 1899. Isabella S. Gardner was an early visitor, June 28, 1900, and she was followed in July by Emma Burrage and then Emeline Burrage. Mrs. Apthorp came on August 17, 1900. The visit on July 27, 1901 by Frederic Ruthven Galacar, Rosamond Lang’s eventual husband, produced a four stanza poem, “A Soliloquy” in German.
 
RUTH BURRAGE LIBRARY OF ORCHESTRAL SCORES. In January 1901 Lang opened this library of c. 500 scores at 153 Tremont Street. “It contains all the orchestral scores that are usually played at Symphony concerts.” The Boston Public Library had a fine collection of such scores, but “these cannot be taken out of the building.” Lang raised the money to buy these scores through two concerts given at Association Hall “about a year ago. Among those who assisted at these concerts were Mme. Hopekirk, Mme. Szumowska and Messrs. Baermann, Foote, Gericke and Proctor.” Ruth Burrage had been a piano pupil of Lang (and his wife’s cousin) who had died at a young age and left money “to be used for musical purposes.” Lang had used the original bequest to establish, 27 years before, a library of music for two pianos, and the instruments on which to play this music. Included among the keyboard scores were those by “Bach, Beethoven, Liszt, Brahms, Godard, Gluck, Mendelssohn and Grieg.” (Musical America, 1912) This was before the success of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and early in the 1900’s, he felt a need to provide different material to help young music students. “The orchestral scores all of the Rubinstein Symphonies, Mendelssohn’s Overtures and Mozart Symphonies; the Liszt Symphonic poems, Beethoven’s Symphonies, the works of Brahms, Dvorak, Saint-Saens, Schubert and Schumann; the score of Pelleas et Melisande, all of Goldmark’s overtures, and all of the Haydn Symphonies, and many other works.” (Ibid) In 1912 the arrangement was that the pianos and the keyboard collection were housed in the M. Steinert & Sons building while the instrumental scores were available on loan from Malcolm’s teaching studio. “It is Mr. Lang’s idea to eventually turn over the library for orchestral scores to the Boston Public Library.” (Herald (January 8, 1901): 3, GB)
 
MISS HELEN HENSCHEL’S BOSTON DEBUT RECITAL On March 30, 1901 the daughter of Georg Henschel and his wife, the former Miss Bailey, presented their daughter for her Boston debut. It was a friends and family affair. Miss Henschel was assisted by her mother with whom she sang duets accompanied by her father. “Mr. Henschel played in the duets, as he always does, like a master.” (Herald (March 31, 1901): 8, GB) Old family friends, Arthur Foote and B. J. Lang played the Variations for Two Pianos on a Theme by Beethoven by Saint-Saens. “It was very pleasant to see some of our familiar native artists once again on the concert stage as pianists, and Mr. Lang and Mr. Foote met with a hearty welcome…It is hardly necessary to speak of the well-known ability of the two pianists who are so highly appreciated by our public.” (Ibid)
 
ELIJAH AT KING’S CHAPEL. Among the special Sunday afternoon services that Lang presented at King’s Chapel was Mendelssohn’s Elijah sung by a choir of 30 voices from “various churches.” The soloists were Mrs. Rice, soprano, Miss Little, alto, Mr. Merrill, bass, “all of the King’s Chapel quartet,” and Mr. Walter Hawkins of the Shawmut Congregational Church. “Mr. Lang presided at the organ and had charge of the singing.” The service was so successful, “the chapel being filled 10 minutes before the hour of beginning,” that an additional service was announced for the following Sunday which would present Mendelssohn’s Hymn of Praise. (Herald (April 1, 1901): 7, GB)
 
Johnston Collection.
 
APOLLO CLUB THIRTIETH SEASON: 1900-1901. Due to the sale of the Music Hall and its redevelopment, a new site for the concerts needed to be found. “For many years the Club has believed that Music Hall was too large for the production of its best musical effect, and, as Symphony Hall is considerably larger than Music Hall, the Club has voted unanimously to give its concerts the coming season in Copley Hall, on Clarendon Street, near Copley Square…Reserved seats for the season of four concerts are offered at $6.00 each. Tickets for single concerts will not be sold. Applications for reserved seats will be filled in the order received.” (Letter to Associate Members dated September 24, 1900 from the Secretary, Mr. Henry Basford.) The first concert of Lang’s last year as conductor was given at Copley Hall on November 14, 1900.  Mr. E. Cutter Jr. continued to be the choir’s accompanist and Miss Shannah Cumming was a soloist.  The Boston pieces were Valentine by Horatio W. Parker, O World, Thou art so fair a sight by Gericke, The Rose Leans Over the Pool by Chadwick, My Boy Tammy, an old Scottish song arranged by Arthur Foote, and The Lark now leaves his watery nest by Horatio W. Parker. The concert opened with Mendelssohn’s Rhine Wine Song and ended with Schubert’s The Almighty with Mr. Shirley as the soloist.  Often a major Mendelssohn chorus would close the concert, but in this case, the double chorus from Antigone, “Fair Semele’s High Born Son” was in the middle-the solo quartet was sung by chorus members, Messrs. Shirley, Faunce, Osgood and Hay. The Transcript review found the new room to be very much like being “locked up inside a Saratoga trunk; then, though small, the hall is rather dead, voices have little brilliancy there.” (Transcript, November 15, 1900 review by W(Iliam) F(oster) A(thorp))  The soloist, Miss Cumming “showed herself as a very intelligent and pleasing singer, she has a good voice and a technique which, if not masterly, is still above the average, but she has an instinct to get at the musical meaning of things, and to show forth the meaning clearly.” (Ibid)  Elson noted that the seats in the new hall might fit the average Bostonian but if “a German of usual size attends, he had better take two seats!” (Advertiser, November 15, 1900 review by Louis C. Elson) Elson described the Gericke part song; “It was of a direct melody and dainty harmony that made it one of the most pleasing numbers on the programme.” (Ibid) This was the third time that the club had sung this piece-January 18, 1899 and November 14, 1900.  He also cited Parker’s Valentine for “special mention.”
 
The January 23, 1901 review for the second concert mentioned no accompanist for the choir; the guest soloist was the contralto Madam Josephine Jacoby. “Miss Jacoby has a remarkable contralto voice, excellently trained, and she sang her numbers with that broad depth of feeling that characterizes the artist that she is.” (Advertiser, undated)  Some choir favorites reappeared; Mendelssohn To the sons of Art, the Gounod-Buck The Grasshopper and the Ant, together with the new Saint-Saens A Song of Ancestry.  “The chorus sang with excellent taste and precision, Mr. Lang’s efficient leadership again showing its supreme effectiveness, and he himself accompanying a few numbers at the pianoforte in masterly style. The concert was a delightful one in every respect, and the club was greeted by a large and fashionable audience of friends.” (Ibid) After only two concerts at the Copley location, the club decided to move to the new Chickering Hall at 239 Huntington Avenue, just a block away from the new Symphony Hall. This involved reissuing all new tickets, hopefully, close to the corresponding sections of the Copley Hall. “Copley Hall tickets will not be good in Chickering Hall.” (Announcement to Associate Members dated March 11, 1801)
 
Chickering Hall, Huntington Avenue. Two buildings away on the left is Symphony Hall. Johnston Collection.
 
The first concert held at Chickering Hall, the third of the season, was given on March 20, 1901 with Mr. C. P. Scott as the accompanist and the violinist, Maud Scott as the guest soloist. New works included The Sailors of Kermor by Saint-Saens translated by J. C. D. Parker and Hush! Hush! by MacDowell. The Transcript review mentioned that finally, the choir had found a proper home. “The old Music Hall was ridiculously large, so much so as to be excusable only on the ground of an enormous associate membership-which had somehow to be housed….Copley Hall, its interim lodging place, has been called as much too small as the other was too large…There could have been no thought of an orchestra there…Chickering Hall seems to solve the problem to perfection. It is not too large for the best musical effect, and the acoustics seem wholly favorable; moreover, there will be ample room for an orchestra, whenever the club wishes one. It can seat all the audience needed. Never before has the Apollo Club been so well situated.” (Transcript, undated) Miss Powell’s performance was briefly noticed; “her pieces were “excellently played…and much appreciated by the audience.” (Ibid) No specifics were given.
 
B. J. RESIGNS FROM THE APOLLO CLUB.  In the spring of 1901 an insert in the Wednesday evening May 1, 1901 concert program at Chickering Hall (their 171st. concert) noted that Mr. Lang “positively declines a renomination” as conductor. “Mr. Arthur Brown of the Apollo Club has asked me to give him a suggestion as to what the Club might give to Lel, as the latter has decided not to continue as its conductor (It was a Tiffany lamp).  (Diary 2, Spring 1901) This final program appropriately opened with Sullivan’s The Long Day Closes followed by two choral pieces by Margaret Ruthven Lang, Alastair MacAllistair (Old Scotch Song) and Here’s a Health to One I lo’e Dear (Old Scotch Song). In the second half, Mr. Clarence E. Hay sang two of Lang’s own solo songs, The Lass of Carlisle and The Chase. (BPL Lang Prog., Vol. 7) An article in 1907 updating Apthorp’s article of 1893 included “A Partial List of the Important New Music First Performed in Boston Under Mr. Lang by the…Apollo Club” listed the following: Berlioz: Arrangement of “La Marseillaise” for double chorus and orchestra. Brahms: Rinaldo. Bruch: Frithjof: Roman Song of Triumph; Salamis. Chadwick: The Viking’s Last Voyage. Foote: The Farewell of Hiawatha. Goldmark: The Flower Net. Grieg: Discovery. Hiller: Easter Morning; Hope. Lachner: Evening; Warrior’s Prayer. Mendelssohn: Sons of Art; Antigone; Oedipus. J. C. D. Parker: The Blind King. Raff: Warder Song. Rubinstein: Morning. Schubert: The Almighty; Song of the Spirits Over the Water. Schumann: Forester’s Chorus. Templeton Strong: The Trumpeter; The Haunted Mill; The Knights and the Naiads; A.W. Thayer: Sea Greeting. G.E. Whiting: March of the Monks of Bangor; Free Lances; Henry of Navarre (Gould Collection) In 1909 Arthur Foote’s evaluation of Lang was that “As a conductor, his influence was great in raising the standard of singing here. One of the first things he obtained with the Apollo Club was the clear enunciation which still distinguishes it; musically he believed (as Theodore Thomas did) that the way to educate the public was to coax and not to bully it; so that the Apollo Club pleased its audiences and was trained itself at first with German and other part songs, being thereby later able to give the great compositions for men’s voices and orchestra; in this, as often, his tact prevailed.” (Transcript, May 1, 1909) Ethel Syford in the “New England Magazine” in April 1910 wrote: “Perhaps no other club has been so constant in its attainment of refined excellence. If I were going to speak sweepingly, I should say without fear that the three essences of American artistic refinement are the Apollo Club of Boston, the Kneisel Quartet and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The latter two by right of the quintessence of masterly achievement; the Apollo Club of Boston by virtue of its achievement and a distinctively Bostonian esprit de corps as well. The spirit of the organization is unmatched. One is conscious instantly that its audience is entirely en rapport with itself. It is a most unusual atmosphere of absolute sympathy, and a distinctive salon-like éclat which marks the Apollo Club of Boston as unique.” This quote was used in 1947 by John O’Connor in an article announcing the appointment of Nicolas Sloninsky as the new conductor of the choir. After the quote, he wrote: “The same thing could be written about the club today.” (Herald (September 21, 1947): 27. GB) The Osborne article on the Apollo Club ends with “Perhaps the spirit of the whole enterprise can be grasped in this quatrain from Oliver Wendell Holmes that concluded the 1884-85 season:                                                            
 
So, with the merry tale and jovial song,                                                                      The jocund evening whirls itself along,                                                                       Till the last chorus shrieks its loud encore,                                                              And the white neckcloths vanish through the door.” (Osborne, 40)
 
The Apollo Club continues even today under the leadership Florence Dunn who had become the accompanist in 1955 and then the conductor in 1969. Rehearsals are still (2006) held on Tuesday nights in the Harvard Musical Association building concert room, with a repertoire of show tunes and lighter material that is performed for various service groups in the Boston area. (Telephone call with Ms. Dunn, January 2006) The club has established a very interesting site at http://apolloclub.org which also has aural and video examples of their work.
 
CONCERTO PERFORMANCES OF B. J. LANG THROUGH 1900: List compiled by James Methuen-Campbell; additional information by Johnston shown in [  ]                                                                                                                                         Bach            D Minor  BWV 1052 (harpsichord)                                                       Bach            G minor  BWV 1058                                                                                        Bach            A major  BWV 1055 (harpsichord)                                                        Bach            F major   BWV 1057                                                                                          Bach            Two keyboard  BWV 1061  (twice)                                                            Bach            Two keyboard  C minor   BWV 1060 (twice)                                            Bach            Three keyboards  C major  BWV 1064 (ten times)                          Bach             Three keyboards  D minor 1063 (twice)                                               Bach              Four keyboards   A minor  BWV 1065 (twice)                           Beethoven     Concerto in C major # 1 (four times)                                             Beethoven     Concerto in B flat major # 2 (three times)                                   Beethoven     Concerto in C minor  # 3 (three times)                                          Beethoven     Choral Fantasia (two times)                                                         Beethoven     Triple Concerto (two times)                                                         Sterndale Bennett  Allegro Giojoso or Caprice in E (three times)             Brahms            Second Piano Concerto (once)                                                   Bronsart           Concerto (once)                                                                                   Hiller                  Piano Concerto  (two times)                                                        Hummel            Piano Concerto (in Salem c. April 1863)                                    Hummel            Introduction and Rondo on a Russian Theme, Op. 98 (two times)                                                                                                                           Mendelssohn  Concerto in G minor (three times?)                                 Mendelssohn  Concerto in D minor (five times)                                     Mendelssohn  Capriccio Brillant (three times)                                                   Mozart               Concerto in D minor (once)                                                           Mozart               Concerto in E flat major (once)                                                     Mozart               Concerto for Two Pianos (twice)                                            Napravnik        Concerto Symphonique (once)                                              Rubinstein       Third Piano Concerto (four times)                                                 Saint-Saens     First Piano Concerto (once)                                                             Saint-Saens     Second Piano Concerto (four times)                                            Saint-Saens     Third Piano Concerto (once)                                                           Saint-Saens      Rhapsodie D’Avergne (once)                                          Schubert/Liszt  Wanderer (twice)                                                                       Schumann          Piano Concerto (once)                                                                Schumann          Introduction and Allegro Appass. Op. 92 (two times) Tchaikovsky      First Piano Concerto (twice)                                             Weber/Liszt       Polonaise Brillant (three times and sometimes in the solo version) 1891-1901.
Thus ended a decade of major importance in Lang’s life-many triumphs and a few bumps, the major one being his two years as conductor of the Handel and Haydn Society. By giving up his conductorship of the Apollo Club, he now had time to explore new musical experiences.  
 
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CHAPTER 05. (Part 3) BJL: ESTABLISHED MUSICAL FORCE: 1891-1901. SC(G). WC. TOPICS: LANG-MUSICAL DICTATOR OF BOSTON-CECILIA: TWENTY-THIRD SEASON, 1898-1899.

CHAPTER 05. (Part 3)   SC(G).   WC-10,855    10/01/2020

  • Lang- Musical Dictator of Boston.                                                                             Cecilia Twenty-first Season: 1896-1897.                                                                 Apollo Club Twenty-sixth Season: 1896-1897.                                                         Etude Interview with Lang About his Teaching.                                                        The Ditson Fund.                                                                                                                   Farm: Third Summer Season: 1897.                                                                             Summer- 1897.  Europe.
  • Cecilia Twenty-second Season: 1897-1898                                                            Apollo Club Twenty-seventh Season: 1897-1898.
  • Family Portraits.
  • Apthorp Lecture.                                                                                                           Bayreuth.                                                                                                                                   Bach Concerts.                                                                                                                       Cecilia Twenty-third Season: 1898-1899.
  • Personality.

LANG-MUSICAL DICTATOR OF BOSTON.

Lang occupied a major place in the musical world of Boston, and various other musicians were envious of the power that they thought Lang wielded. George W. Chadwick’s comments have been noted earlier. Another Boston organist, Henry M. Dunham, thought enough of his own career that he wrote an autobiography. In a Chapter entitled “Centers of Musical Activity” he wrote: “Further up on Tremont Street, and still opposite the Common, musical activity centers in the Chickering pianoforte warerooms and the studio of Mr. B. J. Lang. These places were the centers of activity for the musically inclined aristocracy of Boston, the headquarters, one might say, for the Cecilia Singing Society and the Apollo Club, both of which organizations owed their creation and fame to Mr. Lang, their conductor.” (Dunham, 77) Dunham then continued that he played the organ part for Haydn’s Creation during the period that Lang conducted Handel and Haydn Society. This would seem to be a generous offer on Lang’s part as Dunham was certainly not one of his pupils, and Lang had many pupils who could have done the job. Lang’s good deed did not soften Durham’s views. “Mr. Lang was neither a great pianist nor organist, and yet he was in considerable demand as a soloist on both these instruments…For many years we dubbed him ”The Musical Dictator of Boston,” which in a large degree was true.” (Dunham, Ibid)

W. J. Henderson in the New York Times wrote of another who thought that Lang exercised too much power. “There is something curious about Boston. At any rate, many artists who please New York find the atmosphere over there altogether too cool for them. Lillian Carlismith, for instance, spent some six years in the hub of the universe in a desperate struggle against those three fates, Gertrude Franklin, Gertrude Edmands, and B. J. Lang, and finally she gave it up and came to New York…This year she has sung in concert two or three times, and her voice and style have evoked hearty praise. But she will find New York a hard field to plow, too. It is not quite as full of cliques as Boston, but one must pull wires here to get started in music. This is unfortunate-wrong, indeed-but it is true.” (New York Times (January 24, 1897): Sunday Supplement, SM 14).

If Lang were a Dictator or not may be an open question, but his reputation was such that a certain Fraulein Mathilde Rudiger hired him to conduct an orchestra for her performance of the Liszt E Flat Piano Concerto. This was part of a recital in Bumstead Hall [the space under the Music Hall often used for rehearsals] where she introduced to Boston the “von Janko keyboard.” This was a piano developed in 1882 by the Hungarian pianist and engineer, Paul von Janko. Beginning in 1891 pianos with this type of keyboard were built by an American firm, and there was also a von Janko Conservatory in New York City.

Wikipedia, accessed May 9, 2020.

CECILIA: TWENTY FIRST SEASON, 1896-1897.

The opening concert was on Friday evening December 4, 1896 with full orchestra at the Music Hall. This was the choir’s 121st. concert and the featured work was Dvorak’s The Spectre’s Bride with George J. Parker singing the role of the Spectre-it was the third time that he had performed this part. The Herald [Woolf] didn’t care for the work but noted that “The chorus singing was excellent throughout in admirable quality of the tone and the clearness and steadiness of its work generally,” but then found fault with the choir’s “persistence with which it emphasized the first beat in a bar…The orchestra acquitted itself with strongly manifest attention to its task, but it was not always together, owing to causes which are too familiar to dwell upon again.” All orchestra shortcomings were Lang’s responsibility and they were due to “the apparently irremediable eccentricities of Mr. Lang’s use of the baton. The audience, a large one, applauded often and warmly.” (Herald, undated) Hale in the Journal wrote that this was the fourth time that Mr. Parker had sung the work-the Boston premiere on May 13, 1886, the second time on March 17, 1887, the third time on December 2, 1889 and now this performance. Hale also did not like the work: “I confess that the more I hear the cantata the less truly dramatic does it seem to me. Dvorak often shows on Olympian indifference to the sentiment of the text, which is presumably the same in Bohemian as in English. There is no true blending of music and drama.” Of the performance: “The chorus singing was most excellent last night in these respects: body and quality and balance of tone, pure intonation, and precision of attack. If in phrasing, and such included matters as accentuation and punctuation, they fell short occasionally of reasonable expectation, it was because they followed the conductor’s instruction; for the chorus of the Cecilia is made up of singers of more than ordinary intelligence, nor do I know a chorus anywhere that is capable of finer and more effective work under wholly satisfactory and favoring conditions.” Hale then cited a couple of places where the choir sang forte rather than the marked pianissimo, and blamed Lang “who does not insist rigidly at rehearsals on a proper following of the dynamic indications” probably because he was busy training the choir in all the positive aspects that Hale had listed earlier. Hale seems to not allow for any conductor decision that does not follow exactly what he sees on the page, whether or not that marking is effective or chorally appropriate. Hale spent a long paragraph listing the faults of the soloist Mr. Max Heinrich [who had also sung at the Boston premiere]: “Last night Mr. Heinrich was guilty of offenses for which there is no pardon.” (Journal, undated)

A review for their Wednesday evening [Wage Earner] February 3, 1897 Music Hall concert began: “Listening to the Cecilia is such a restful musical pleasure; there is never a moment of insecurity or suggestion of a possible flaw in their performance.” (BPL Lang Prog., Vol. 8)

The second concert, February 4, 1897 at the Music Hall included Phippen and Lewis as pianists and Mrs. H. H. Beach as soloist. She was the accompanist for the first Boston performance of her own The Rose of Avontown for women’s voices, and she also played a group of solos by Beethoven and Chopin in place of “Mr. Proctor” who was “ill and unable to play.” (700) Hale in the Journal said of the Beach work: “This composition is indeed a pleasing one, written with skill that is not ostentatious. The emotion is gentle and becomingly womanly…The performance was all that could be desired so far as the chorus was concerned; and I know of no female chorus that for purity and beauty of tone, courage and intelligence under a difficult task, and general musical sense can equal the women of the Cecilia.” (Journal (February 5, 1897): 3, GB). There must have been much applause when this was read at the next Cecilia rehearsal. Of Beach’s piano selection: “She appeared to her best advantage in the waltz [Chopin in E Minor]. In the Chopin prelude and in the variations by Beethoven there was little or no tonal color, and there was frequently metallic attack, as well as rigidity in phrasing.” (Ibid) Elson (?-the review is marked “Adv,” but this does not sound like Elson) in the Advertiser began negatively: “The chorus is poorly balanced, the male section being far more ready and dynamically stronger than that of the ladies. The sopranos have sweet voices, but only half enough of them; the altos are colorless and slow. Mr. Lang is not magnetic or inspiring as a conductor, but his taste in programme-making and shading is unquestionable.” The Beach piece was a positive: “Nothing but praise can be said regarding the composition or its performance-both interesting and artistic…Her [Mrs. Beach’s] accompaniment to her own composition was quite a part of its success. Conductor, chorus and pianist seemed in sympathetic, friendly accord, resulting in a beautiful ensemble in every sense of the word…Mr. Phippen’s accompanying of Madam Wyman’s songs were noticeably excellent.” (Advertiser, undated) Pieces by two other Boston composers were included-George L. Osgood’s Christmas carol, Listen, Lordlings, Unto Me, and a solo song by Mrs. Clara Rogers, River Floweth Strong, My Love.

Friday, March 12, 1897 saw the first performance in Boston of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis in D. Op. 123 which had not even been mentioned in the previous Annual Report of repertoire for the following year! In fact, what had been planned was a repeat of Massenet’s Eve, but “it occurred to the Musical Council to do something for the third concert a good deal better…It had been mentioned hesitatingly in the Musical Council for a number of years. Mr. Lang had taken care that it should not be lost sight of. It had always been passed over with the feeling that by-and-by we should be stronger. But at last, the Council was convinced that the time had come.” (1897 Annual Report) Sung at the Music Hall accompanied by members of the BSO, the soloists were Helen B. Wright, Lena Little, Frederick Smith, Arthur Beresford with Franz Kneisel, violin and Arthur Foote, organ. With so many other premiers having been offered by the Cecilia, it is strange that it took this long for this work to be sung in Boston. Wright and Smith were members of the choir! The New York first performance had been in 1872, and it was sung in Cincinnati at the May Festival with a chorus of 600 in May 1880 (Johnson, First, 55). The Cecilia sang this same work at the dedication of Symphony Hall on October 15, 1900 conducted by Gericke. One review said: “The performance was one of the finest the Cecilia has given; finer than its recent one of Berlioz’s Danremont-Requiem. And, considering the character of the work, such a performance is a triumph like few for any choral society. We have listened carefully to two performances, score in hand; we could not detect a single false entry in any of the parts, we heard only a very few timid and ineffectual ones. the quality of tone was in general fine, smooth and musical, at times brilliant; expression marks were regarded and implicitly obeyed. And just here let us thank Mr. Lang for two things: for his never exaggerating Beethoven’s pianissimo, not hushing it to that double and treble pianissimo which belongs solely to more modern works…Mr. Lang had the artistic feeling to allow Beethoven to speak as he speaks in the score, underscoring nothing, putting nothing in job type…The Cecilia may well be proud of being able to take a soprano and a tenor from its own ranks for the quartet in the Missa Solemnis; few even of the great singers of the world care to attack these terrible parts. The whole solo quartet did wonderfully well…Finer even than the individual performances of the four singers was their excellent ensemble; they sang together, as if they had long known the music and one another…In a word Mr. Lang and the Cecilia may be fairly proud of each other. Together, they have given one of the greatest works in existence, not impeccably, but solidly and intelligently well. They have made a date in the musical history of Boston.” (Anon., undated) Hale basically said that the work was not worth all the trouble taken to present it. He found the soloists inadequate and of the choir: “The chorus, too, was brave and its performance was often surprisingly good; yet in the terrible fugues in the Gloria and Credo the singers were so tired, especially the sopranos, that the result was unmusical in that there was no clear walk of the parts, no pronounced attack of the subject. I know of no chorus in this country that would have made a more courageous attempt or accomplished as much.” Hale then raised the question of whether doing such a difficult work was worth it. “For the sake of the record, let us then rejoice that the Missa Solemnis has been attempted in Boston. I do not believe that repeated hearings or even incredible performances would turn the vocal score into a marvel of strength and beauty, or convert the dry, thick, at times brutal orchestration into a glory for all time.” (Journal, undated) The Gazette recorded that: “Many extra rehearsals had been devoted to the preparation of the mess [!], and the performance was most honorable to the Cecilia.” The solo quartet “undertook the great tasks of the solo quartette and acquitted themselves excellently. There was a good-sized orchestra from the Symphony, which took much pains. Mr. Kneisel assumed the violin obbligati and Mr. Lang directed with intelligent and correct command.” (Gazette, undated) The Courier said of the work: “It is not a loveable work,” and not how difficult the work was. “The singers are to be congratulated for attempting to do what they were incapable of doing well. The work is most trying and most difficult…He knows what he wants and if singers are unequal to the demands, so much the worse for them…We have now heard the Missa Solemnis; let us now be grateful that the hiatus in our education has been filled in and the work done.” (Courier, undated)

The fourth concert was given on May 6, 1897 at the Music Hall with Phippen as accompanist and Adele aus der Ohe as piano soloist. Part of the program was Margaret’s Bonnie Ran the Burnie Down of which Hale in the N.Y. Musical Courier wrote: “Mr. Lang is not a good understudy for the Roman Father. If he were he would not have allowed his daughter’s amorphous, colorless, rhythmless piece to go into rehearsal.” He also complained: “Miss Aus der Ohe, I entreat you, extend your repertory! For heaven’s sake leave the exasperatingly familiar rut!” (N.Y. Musical Courier, undated) In another review, Hale wrote: “Miss Lang’s part-song, Bonnie Ran the Burnie Down is without rhythm or color; a dull thing, clumsily written, amorphous.” Of Miss Aus der Ohe, after disparaging her Bach and Mendelssohn, he wrote: “She played her own superb Etude, in which she displayed amazing brilliancy, and a Rhapsodie of Liszt, which called forth thunderous applause.” (717-719) Under the title “Last of the Cecilias” the Transcript wrote: “The Cecilia Society is always heard at its best in these short selections, and last evening’s performance was no exception to the rule. The programme included nine choral numbers, mostly from the modern school…Miss Margaret Lang contributed a musical setting of Bonnie Ran the Burnie Down which was well received. The musical scenery along the brook was very pretty, if not diversified…The work of the chorus was excellent throughout…Of Miss der Ohe’s piano numbers it need only be said that they were of her usual standard.” The Liszt “gave abundant opportunity for a brilliant display of marvelous technique…Altogether the concert was one of the most successful of the season.” (Transcript, undated) Another review said of Margaret’s piece: “Miss Lang’s song appeared to please, perhaps because of the spirit and dash with which it was sung.” Of the pianist: “Everything she does is backed by an honest sincerity which makes her performances wholly enjoyable. She was much applauded, and after her first appearance responded graciously to an encore. After her second appearance, she received many recalls. There was a large audience present, but it was not especially demonstrative, except over the playing of the soloists. ” (Anon., undated) President Thorndike wrote: “Miss Lang’s Bonnie Ran the Burnie Down, written with the scholarship and musical feeling which always mark her compositions, was sung with spirit and received great applause.” (1897 Annual Report) Of the accompanist Joshua Phippen, the President wrote that the choir was “indebted for such valuable service.” (Ibid)

President Thorndike began his Annual Report of May 27, 1897: “The Club has not only maintained but has added to the distinction of its record. It has in its third concert, to use the language of one of our friendly critics, ‘made a date in the musical history of Boston.'” [with the Missa Solemnis performance] He continued: “There are today few, perhaps no choirs of two hundred voices on either side of the water capable of finer and better work.” Again, as in the report of the previous year, he gave credit to Lang: “Mr. Lang may well be proud of what he has made the Cecilia, as the Cecilia has always been proud of Mr. Lang.” Of the Wage Earner Concert tickets we wrote: “It is manifest that the plan is a failure and entails a distinct loss.” He then announced that he was retiring as President after sixteen years as he felt that the choir would be “made stronger by the infusion of fresh blood, and the time always comes when the elder should give place to the younger.” He called his time with the choir “the pleasantest years of my musical life and [these musical] friendships [are] not easily forgotten.” (1897 Annual Report)

APOLLO TWENTY-SIXTH SEASON, 1896-1897.

Part of the “large” audience that would attend that night. The entrance street to the Music Hall was opposite the church tower.

“The opening concert [November 24, 1896] enjoyed the attendance being large and a [performance] of excellent quality…The singing was eminent for beauty of tone, fine projection in the parts, sensitiveness and even poetry of expression, and smooth, steady command of the material elements of song.” (Courier, unsinged, undated) There were two soloists, a soprano and the violinist. “Mr. Carl Halir, who comes to this country with a reputation of one of the great violinists of Europe…His debut was thoroughly successful.” (Ibid) Very little was said about the individual pieces on the program. Philip Hale’s three-paragraph review spent the first paragraph on Halir’s background and career to date; the second, longer paragraph, praising his musical qualities; the third, shortest paragraph gave one sentence to the vocalist and a second sentence listed the names of the composers of the choir’s pieces with no critical comment. The third, and final sentence was the typical snide Hale comment: “there was a very applausive audience.” (Journal (November 25, 1896): GB) The Herald review also concentrated on the violinist. It began: “The choral part of the program was about the same as usual in selections and effect,” and then went on to mention that Mr. Halir would be the soloist with the BSO the following week and gave 21 lines about his pieces and technique. The soprano soloist was mentioned at all. (Herald (November 25, 1896): 10, GB) Louis C. Elson wrote a well-balanced piece noting that the vocalist, Miss Stein, “made an excellent impression, being recalled many times,” but,” her enunciation is not very clear, and she was almost unintelligible in three different languages.” (Advertiser (November 25, 1896, 8, GB) He also made some sly comments about three of the choir’s pieces. In one he wrote: of the Brahms’ Lullaby-“Where 70 sturdy men sing one little infant to sleep.” (Ibid) However, he had to record that these three pieces “won the heartiest of encores!” (Ibid)

In mid-May the Club performed at Steinert Hall and the Herald noted that Lang’s Hi-fe-lin-ke-le was included. “It is not often that Mr. Lang comes before the concert-going public with an example of his powers as a composer, and when he breaks through the rule, the event calls for special recognition. In reply to an inquiry from a correspondent who was not present on the occasion, it may be stated confidently that Hi-fe-lin-ke-le is not a musical setting of one of Sir Edwin Arnold’s eastern poems, nor did its inspiration take root in Omar Khayam’s famous work. The oriental aspect of the title is misleading. the piece is merely a bit of musical humor, and its name has no more significance than has ”tooral-looral-loo” or ”tra-la-la-la,” and was doubtless thrown off in a moment of mirthful leisure, showing the composer, as it were, ”en pantoufles.”” In truth, these nonsense syllables were part of the original Swedish text and had nothing to do with Lang’s inspiration. The correspondent asking the original question then went on to ask if the work was published. “Mr. Lang has published few of his compositions: in fact, as far as can be ascertained, none of them except some of the earlier inspirations of this genius, which are now difficult to obtain a sight of except in the cabinets of collectors.” This piece is itself from an earlier period having been premiered by the Apollo Club in 1884 and then published by Charles Homeyer sometime after. Did the author of this article actually know of other Lang pieces that were published?

The Herald Social Page called the concert “a love feast…The place was crowded with every musician, music publisher, singer and player, past and present, we should think, in Boston. It was really a great occasion for them socially, as well as artistically. Mr. Lang seemed particularly happy in his part of the work, and there was an enthusiasm and a good fellowship in the air which were delightful. Mr. George H. Chickering was a prominent figure in one of the boxes, and Mrs. Gardner was in another with Mr. Proctor and a fellow-musician. The lady wore a hat which was loaded with roses, and a black and white silk blouse.” (Herald (May 16, 1897, 26, GB) The previous Sunday the Herald Society page had noted that his concert had “aroused especial enthusiasm, as the programme was made up of requests so that everyone enjoyed over again an old favorite. Mr. Myron Whitney had a perfect ovation after his noble rendering of the Two Grenadiers, and Mr. George Parker, another past member of the club, had a most gratifying reception.” (Herald (May 9, 1897): 27, GB)

The concert was repeated on Wednesday, May 12th. The Herald noted that Joshua Phippen was the piano accompanist and played a solo by Paderewski. “The programme was received with much appreciation, and the hall was well filled…with guests of the conductor and the active members.” (Herald (May 13, 1897): 6, GB)

ETUDE INTERVIEW WITH LANG ABOUT HIS TEACHING.

The interviewer began with this introduction: “Among the many conversations and discussions about things musical The Listener indulges in, few have proved as interesting and instructive as the little talk he arranged especially for The Etude with Mr. B. J. Lang from Boston.” (Etude, May, 1897, online, 8/9/2011) Next Lang’s weekly schedule was mentioned. “Mr. Lang’s entire week-day is filled with piano and organ teaching; his Sunday with two church services at historical King’s Chapel, where he is the organist and director of the quartet choir. His evenings during the winter are given to rehearsals with the three singing societies he directs,-the Handel and Haydn Oratorio Society, the Apollo Club (a male chorus), and the Cecilia (a chorus of mixed voices),-the three constituting as well-trained and thoroughly enjoyable ensemble singing as is to be found in America. Each society gives four or five concerts every season.. Imagine such an amount of rehearsal work on top of teaching and playing. Mr. Lang’s endurance is an object of wonder and admiration, spiced with envy in some quarters…Mr. Lang’s studio where he teaches is a large sunny apartment, fitted up with a pipe organ at one end, a grand piano not far distant, a great cheery open fire-place, and some interesting pieces of furniture. On the walls hang pictures signed by celebrated artists who presented their children of paint to ”friend Lang,” also framed autograph letters and poems from authors now famous. There we sat, while the afternoon sun streamed in across our flow of talk, Mr. Lang looking unworn and vigorous as though ready for anything, his kindly Scotch-blue eyes showing now and then a twinkle of bon camaraderie, suiting well his fresh, clear skin and friendly-looking grey beard, set off by a dark velvet smoking-jacket which he wears for comfort while teaching.” (Ibid)

The first question asked of Lang was “Who should Take Lessons.” “well, if I could have my own way I would enforce legislation that would debar all people who were not musical from studying the piano.” Lang then decried the “pounding, pounding, pounding” that was not only a curse but lowered “the general tone of art as well.” In order that his time and the time of the pupil was not wasted, “I frequently take pupils on a three month’s probation so that we may both be certain before we go ahead,” and if musicality was not present, the pupils were told this. “Perseverance and industry without native talent many mean brilliant success in some kinds of work, but to my mind, they do mean anything of the sort in the world of art.”

Lang then showed The Listener a unique aspect of his teaching. “I have two grand pianos, side by side, one the regulation height, the other built lower just so the end of the keyboard will fit under the end of the pupil’s…In this way, I make illustrations of phrasing. The pupil plays a phrase unmusically-I say, ”Listen, this is how the way the composer meant it to go.” Then I repeat the phrase on my piano, showing where her fault lay, giving my idea of the best way to play it. This arrangement was my own idea, and I save an infinite amount of time and strength by it.”

The next question concerned the use of a silent practice clavier, a practice that was popular at the time-some pupils spend a whole year using them. Lang noted that the ear of the pupil would not be developed by such a machine, and if used at all, it should be for a limited amount of time.

“How do you advise pupils to memorize music,” asked The Listener. The answer: “Memory is not a talent, it is a habit…As soon as children can play pieces they ought to be made to memorize them.” His method was to learn the notes as an actor learns his words, by “indelibly impressing every note on the brain.” Lang then told of one pupil who had no success memorizing a piece after three weeks of effort. “I had her sit down at the piano with a piece she had never seen before; then I told her to commit the notes as she would words. We worked together until, at the end of fifteen minutes, she knew four pages, and understood for the rest of her life what memorizing meant.”

THE DITSON FUND.

Among Lang’s other responsibilities was being President of the Ditson Fund which provided financial help to musicians in need. The Annual Meeting for 1897 was held late in May at the home of Mrs. Oliver Ditson. Lang was reelected, President and Trustee. The other Trustees were Arthur Foote and A. P. Browne. Not all the money available had been distributed, but “in the near future more deserving cases will be brought to the notice of the officers.” (Advertiser (May 28, 1897): 9, GB) Other donors had been inspired by Ditson’s bequest and had added donations of their own putting the Fund in a very positive position.

FARM: THIRD SUMMER SEASON, 1897.

Top: front of the house in 2011. Bottom: the ell, built in 1740, which was the original building. Photos by Quent and Carolyn Peacock.

In the summer of 1897 former pupil and now family friend Richard C. Dixey and his wife Rosamond were guests. Helen Hood’s visit during July 1897 was remembered by an original song, Reminiscence. Apthorp and his wife Octavie both signed with verses on July 10, 1897, followed by the third visit of Edward Burlingame Hill who left an eight-measure piece for piano, A Hedge Log[?] Danca. Severance Burrage returned for a third time, July 31-August 4, 1897 and drew two flowers found on the farm. The following week saw three more Burrages-Ruby M. Burrage, Alice Burrage and Eleanor? Burrage. The conductor Georg Henschel’s visit on September 16, 1897 was remembered with a verse and a three-measure musical quote. Arthur Foote, on September 24, 1897 also left a four-measure theme.

LANG’S SUMMER TRIP TO EUROPE-1897.

RMS (Royal Mail Steamer) CAMPANIA.

B. J. did not spend the whole summer with the family at the farm. On July 23, 1897 he arrived in Liverpool, having sailed from New York on the CAMPANIA. The passenger list puts his profession as musician and he seems to have been traveling alone. However, B. J. and Francis H. B. Byrne shared a room on the LUCANIA which sailed from Liverpool back to New York on August 21, 1897. According to the Boston Directory Byrne was a neighbor of Lang as he lived at the foot of Brimmer Street, 5 Otis Place, and his work address was given as 791 Tremont Street. This was the Chickering Piano Factory. The Herald reported in August that “Mr. B. J. Lang and Mr. Arthur Foote are both enjoying themselves hugely at Baireuth [sic]. Mr. Lang expects to be home about the 1st of September, and Mr. and Mrs. Foote and their daughter will come back the last of that month.” (Herald (August 22, 1897): 27, GB)                                                                                                                  The Herald had a short paragraph in the Social Section: “Mr. B. J. Lang, who has returned from Europe, where he attended the Bayreuth festival, succeeded in securing the American rights for the production of Berlioz’s Troyen and a new and beautiful work by Humperdinck, the author of Hansel and Gretel.” (Herald (September 26, 1897): 27, GB) The Humperdinck was the Pilgrimage to Kevlaar which the Cecilia performed on January 13, 1898.

RMS LUCANIA. Cunard.  Was the same dimensions and specifications as the CAMPANIA. Was the largest passenger liner afloat when launched in 1893. 2,000 total passengers: 600 in First (Saloon); 400 in Second and 1,000 in 3rd.  1894 to 1898 was the fastest ship crossing the Atlantic. In April 1897 Cunard advertised fares from Boston to Liverpool, via Queenstown, Cork: Cabin-$75 and upward, according to steamer and location; Second Cabin-$42.50 and upward; Steerage-at lowest rates. (Herald (April 19, 1897: 8, GB)   The Warren line, sailing the same route, matched Cunard’s rates for First and Second, and quoted Steerage at $25.50. (Ibid)

Wikipedia, accessed February 17, 2019.

Below: RMS LUCANIA at sea. Wikipedia, accessed February 17, 2019.

 

CECILIA: TWENTY-SECOND SEASON, 1897-1898.

1897-1898. Bruch’s Odysseus was again performed, this time on Thursday evening, December 2, 1897 at the Music Hall with an orchestra. The Gazette didn’t like the work: “It is not cheerful; it makes no strong appeal either to the heart or the head; it is without color or inspiration,” but of the performance: “It was well sung throughout, the chorus work being excellent. There was no dragging, no lack of unevenness of attack, and the singing was spirited and very effective.” Many of the soloists were given positive comments. (Gazette, undated) The President’s Report of May 1898 noted that choir members were used for eight of the twelve solo parts. Hale in the Journal also found the work “dull” but praised the choir. “The performance, so far as the chorus is concerned, was excellent in quality of tone, balance of parts, precision of attack.,” while the “orchestra played about as it pleased.” (Journal, undated) Just before this concert, the Transcript had an article giving the “Reasons Why the Cecilia Suspended” the Wage Earners Concert for the 97-98 Season. “The two great causes of the abandonment of the concerts were a lack of interest on the part of the wage-earners themselves and the misuse of the tickets by those to whom they were entrusted for distribution.” It seems that “agents of business houses distributed the tickets among their personal friends instead of to wage-earners.” Thus the Club losing “attendance at their own regular club concerts.” (Transcript, undated)

The Cecilia provided the chorus and solo singers for a performance at Harvard of Athalie by Racine. Mendelssohn’s music was used and the orchestra was composed of members of the BSO. The performances were given under the direction of the Harvard’s French Department and held on the evenings of December 6, 8 and 10, 1897. The cast was a combination of students, graduates, the Department’s Instructor “together with Miss Louise Cushing and Miss Mary Coolidge of Boston, who will play respectively the parts of Athalie and Joas. (NY Times (November 7, 1897): 11)

The second concert was on Thursday evening January 13, 1898 at the Music Hall with orchestra, and the repertoire was Brahms-Song of Destiny, Humperdinck-Pilgrimage to Kevlaar, [first Boston performance-had been done in NYC and Milwaukee in 1896:Johnson-First Performances] and The Swan and Skylark by Goring Thomas [first Boston performance-had been given by Zerrahn and the Worcester County Music Association on September 23, 1897, this Worcester performance was cited as the third time in this country: Johnson-First Performances]. The Herald reviewer praised the concert: “The chorus again distinguished itself by the precision, the steadiness and the admirable color of its singing,” with special praise going to the women’s voices who “can hardly be overpraised…the concert, taken altogether, may be ranked among the best that the organization has ever given. The audience was large and appreciatively bountiful in its applause.” (Herald, undated) T. P. Currier in the Journal found the Goring Thomas to suffer “for want of contrast. It is too much alike.” Two choir members who had solos in this concert were praised: Miss Palmer’s contralto solo “was well sung,” but the size of her voice was “hardly equal to the task of filling Music Hall,” while Mr. Townsend “was no less successful with the bass solos. The orchestra played for the most part admirably. The concert was wholly creditable to the club and its conductor.” (Journal, undated) The Gazette found the Humperdinck “pleasing and gracious” and the Goring Thomas “delightful, full of poetic imagination and artistic charm…The work was interpreted in the most satisfactory manner the chorus calling for particular praise. It sang with unusual spirit and fine intelligence…The concert throughout was most enjoyable, and there was hardly a fault of commission or omission to mar the pleasure. from beginning to end the chorus was admirable. There was full harmony between it and the orchestra, and it is a pleasure to record the Cecilia won a triumph that was well deserved. The art level was the highest yet reached by this society.” (Gazette, undated) It would seem from the tone of this last review in the Gazette that a new reviewer had been hired by that paper.

Schumann’s The Pilgrimage of the Rose was the main work presented on Thursday evening March 3, 1898 at the Music Hall with Foote as the accompanist-the other works were unaccompanied. The Transcript wrote: Foote “did full justice to the most beautiful poetic feature of this composition.” Most of the soloists were praised, but “Mr. Dunham was hardly the right man in the right place. The tenor part is not a particularly grateful task, but it need not be monotonous, tame and stiff.” (Transcript, undated) The Courier review was based “only upon the report of a listener on whose tried judgment we depend.” This person felt that the work was passe, and should only be sung in “a small space as it was meant for and its leading singers should be accomplished not less than well-intentioned. But the Cecilia had to depend mainly upon its own members for soloists, whose performance naturally lacked something of the authority of experienced singers. The chorus acquitted itself honorably as usual, and the male choir showed especial volume and richness.” (Courier, undated)

For the final concert of this season, “an opportunity will be afforded a small non-membership public to attend the final concert on Wednesday evening April 27.” The major work was Arthur Sullivan’s The Golden Legend which had only one previous Boston performance, on May 8, 1887, by the Boston Oratorio Society conducted by Frederick Archer. At that time Hale wrote: “twas a dull night.” (Johnson, First, 350) Zerrahn had also given the work with the Worcester County Musical Association on September 23, 1896. (Ibid)  The Cecilia concert used professional soloists and “a large orchestra from the Boston Symphony players,” and Mr. B. L. Whelpley as the organist. (Anon., undated)

The Courier wrote that the performance “was chiefly meritorious for its fine, equable, rich and noble choir work…The orchestral support was correct enough so far as reading the notes went, but beyond that it cannot be commended…Mr. Whelpley got remarkably fine effects from the organ.” (Courier, undated) The Gazette thought little of the Sullivan work but noted: “The best work of the evening was that done by the chorus that sang with unusual spirit, purity of intonation and intelligence. The soloists were less admirable; they sang in dry and perfunctory manner, and without any particular respect for the work in hand.” Of the orchestra: “The playing was without color or grace, and if any guidance were given to them they were inexcusably careless in not paying heed to it. The audience was good-natured and frequently gave applause where it was not deserved.” (Gazette, undated) Hale wrote that the soloists were inadequate and that one of them, Mr. Heinrich “was indisposed, and fainted while singing Lucifer’s mockery of the pilgrims.” He also noted that the orchestra “played without attention to dynamic indications…It was the fault of Mr. Lang, who, keeping his eyes fixed curiously on the score, gave no cues, gave no signals for dynamic gradations, but beat time mechanically, and often with an injudicious and unmusical choice of tempo. There was a good-sized audience and applausive [!] audience.”(Journal, undated) On the other hand the Globe reported: “The chorus parts, as a rule, deserve commendation. The attacks were prompt and the lights and shades were well defined and smoothly sung….The orchestra performed its duties well and the whole performance was a credit to the club.” (Globe (April 28, 1898): 6) For this concert there was also a social notice which recorded: “Miss Gertrude Edmands, who is always one of the best dressed of our local singers, was in deep yellow and white brocade, opening over a petticoat of white lace.” This notice also recorded that among those in the audience were the choir’s former president, Mr. Lothrop Thorndike, Mr. and Mrs. William Winch, and Mrs. Gardner. (Anon., undated)

The Transcript called the Sullivan “a decidedly weak work…It sounds old as the hills, without the dignity of age…Nowhere in the work does Sullivan strike a distinctly dramatic note…The performance by the chorus last evening was admirable in the extreme, admirable at all points…In rich fulness of tone, precision and vigor of attack, beauty of light and shade, the choral performance left nothing to be desired. The orchestra played with unusual smoothness, for men who had made up their minds to be uninterested in their work, but almost constantly too loud for the solo voices, and exasperatingly monotonously.” (Transcript, undated) The Annual Report of May 26, 1898 presented by the new president Arthur Astor Casey reviewed the Wage Earner Concert cancellation admitting that their cancellation had not added to the ranks of Associate Members in an amount “important enough to be significant,” but he listed the advantages that these concerts did provide to the choir. “They are useful, in the first place as dress rehearsals,” and secondly, “they add to the work of the society a larger motive of public spirit.” For these reasons he had recommended that they be reinstated, which they were. (1898 Annual Report) Among his overall comments was one about the men: “I have heard, and I believe it to be true, that the male chorus never has sung so well as it has this winter, and that the chorus as a whole has never sung better. Upon this result of their labors, we must congratulate both leader and chorus.” (Ibid)

In the fall of 1898, it was announced that the Wage Earners Concerts would resume on Monday nights with the regular member concerts being on Wednesday nights. “As before, the club proposes to give precisely the same concerts in all details to its audiences of wage-earners that it gives to its associate members.” (Anon., undated)

APOLLO CLUB TWENTY-SEVENTH SEASON, 1897-1898.

 

 

With the Boylston Street intersection behind you. Many cars and pedestrians headed up Tremont toward a restaurant and then the concert at the Music Hall. Johnston Collection.

A miscellaneous program opened the season, but the soloist, not the choir was the “Glory of the Occasion.” (Advertiser (December 12, 1897): 5) The choir’s “shading was generally excellent…and there was splendid robustness in Grieg’s Discovery…there were many encores during the concert,” but the French bass M. Plancon was “a revelation.” (Ibid) He sang six songs in all, one of which included a trill “as pure as Melba’s.” This “astonished the audience into enthusiasm, whereupon our flexible basso ceased trilling and became thrilling, giving Schumann’s Two Grenadiers in a manner that was simply stupendous…The culminating Marseillaise…ended in a blaze of glory…The audience arose, and began cheering.  Such a scene of enthusiasm has never been seen in a club concert, and very seldom anywhere,” and those who attended would remember it for the rest of their lives. (Ibid)

M. Plancon. Wikipedia. Accessed April 27, 2020.

The second concert was on January 26, 1898 and it included pieces by three Boston composers, one of whom was an Apollo member. This member, J. K. Smyth, composed a barcarolle entitled The Canoe Song which was described as “very pretty and expressive,” and after its performance the composer “was obliged to acknowledge the very hearty applause with which it was received.” (Advertiser (January 27, 1898): 2) Another local composer presented a world premiere; Gustav Strube, violinist with the BSO, had an Overture for Brasses played. The work “is perhaps not without merit, but while one highly respects the brasses in their proper place, one declines in their proper place, one declines to say that one is fond of dining on nothing but mustard.” The reviewer really would have rather had a Sousa march-outdoors. (Ibid) H. W. Parker’s My Love was encored and Chadwick’s “little ditty” The Boy and the Owl was called “a dainty little bit of humor,” and was well sung.” Performance standards were stressed; “admirable company of singers…precision of attack…artistic shading…sympathetic shading,” all combined “to produce a most enjoyable performance.” (Ibid) Except for the final piece which was called trivial; “to see and hear a hundred men, the majority of whom are-well, not youthful, sing an ever-recurring refrain of ‘Tra la la’ is not what one can call inspiring.” (Ibid)

The third concert was on March 23, 1898 and had the soprano, Miss Trebelli as the guest soloist. “The program was not one of sustained interest throughout, though much of it gave sincere pleasure.” (Advertiser (March 24, 1898): 8) The most classical piece in the program, di Lasso’s Villanelle, was encored. The comment on Chorus of Spirits and Hours was: “Much of the Dudley Buck music is strong and dramatic, while the remainder seems undeniably dull and heavy.” (Ibid) Almost half of this review was about the soloist which was summed up by this comment: “Miss Trebelli left nothing to be desired, and by those of last night’s audience who appreciate true artistry, it will not soon be forgotten.” (Ibid) The choir ended the program with a Lang favorite, the double chorus from the music to Oedipus by Mendelssohn.

On May 4, 1898 the club gave its 159th. concert. “A very large audience testified its most enthusiastic appreciation of an excellent and well-rendered programme.” (Daily Advertiser (May 5, 1898): 8, GB) The review noted that the club had lost “a dozen or more of its voices, some of the best,” but so good was the performance that “it was scarcely noticeable.” In fact, the “choir reaffirmed its right to be considered one of the best male choruses of its size and character in the country.” It was “a tribute to Mr. Lang, to whose care is due the precision of attack, and brilliancy and vehemence of the ensemble and masterful ease of phrasing.(Ibid) There were three vocal soloists, and E. Cutter Jr. was the pianist and B. L. Whelpley the organist. No mention was made that any of the pieces were premiers. “Every number was received with loud plaudits and several encores were given.” (Ibid)

cutterE. Cutter Jr. Taken from the website of the Springfield, MA Orpheus Club. Cutter conducted this male choir from 1890-1894.

The Herald “Social Life” section had a paragraph concerning the concert. Musically, it mentioned that the solo tenor from New York, Mr. Evan Wiliams “was in superb voice, and carried all before him,” whereas his appearance at the Cecilia concert the week before had been marred by a cold. A list of notables who were in the audience was next, and the final comments centered on Isabella Stewart Gardner. “Mrs. Gardner occupied a prominent balcony seat with Mrs. B. J. Lang. On her head was an odd creation of a bonnet tied under her chin, made of rose tulle and black plumes, the latter standing well up in front of her head.” (Herald (May 8, 1898): 26)

FAMILY PORTRAITS.

In the “Excerpts taken from Mrs. B. J. Lang’s Diaries” made by Rosamond Lang Galacar in 1954, references are made to a number of portraits being painted of family members during the period 1880 until 1897.  The numbers after the dates are the pages where the painting is mentioned.

1877 (15)   Alice Curtis does her first painting of Maidie (Margaret). Miss Alice Marion Curtis (1847-1911) was active both in Boston and Europe painting portraits and landscapes; her studio was at 154 Tremont Street.

1880.          “Mr. Gould called for a lock of Rosamond’s hair. He wants to paint the color.”  Frances’ remark on seeing the result-“It is horrible.”

1884 (33)  Alice Curtis painted Rosamond (Age 6) and Malcolm. “Dreadful disappointment.” It was redone-“Got better.”

1886 (40) B. J. by Hubert Herkomer. Sir Hubert Herkomer, R.[oyal] A.[cademy] (1849-1914) was a well known German-born, English artist who made two American visits; one in the winter of 1882-83 and the other in 1885-86. His January 1883 visit to Boston produced 12 portrait commissions, and he discovered that he felt much more at home in Boston than New York City. For his second visit, he came directly to Boston and was able to secure 36 commissions. His usual fee was $2,500 [$75,000 in 2020] rather than the $1,500 charged by American portrait painters. During one period of 10 weeks he “received 6,600 pounds [$800,000 in 2020] for 13 portraits making his income higher than any of the rich people he painted.” (www.spartacus-educational.com, accessed April 12, 2020) Along with the Lang portrait, most of the 1886 portraits are missing, but the one of architect H. H. Richardson, all joyful 390 pounds of him still exists. Herkomer swapped this painting for architectural designs for a house that he was to build in England. Looking at the outside of Trinity Church, Copley Square, Boston, you see many of the features Richardson used in Herkomer’s house design. (Edwards, 48-73, inter alia)

  • 1889 (48) Mrs. Whitman does a second portrait of Maidie.

1894 (59) Alice Curtis “wishes to paint Malcolm.”

1895 (61)  Joe Smith “is to paint my [Frances’] portrait.” Joseph Lindon Smith (1863-1950) was to become the premier painter of Egyptian archaeological subjects of his time which was the Golden Era of the first major tomb excavations. This began in 1898, but before, his first art education was at the Boston MFA School followed by two years in Paris and then a number of years wandering through Europe. During this time he met Isabella Gardner who became a friend and supporter. He returned to Boston and set up as a portrait and landscape painter. However, he did not enjoy portrait painting. “When I painted portraits my sitters were never on time, they invariably wriggled, and always had husbands or wives, mothers and other relatives each of whom had some criticism of the mouth, the nose or the chin.” With Egyptian tomb paintings, the subject “is always on time, never wriggles, and has no relatives.” After his marriage in 1899, he spent winters in Egypt and summers at Loon Point, Dublin, New Hampshire, just south of the Lang’s farm in New Boston. (Allam, 11)

1897 (64) Mrs. Page did a portrait of Rosamond for a fee of $250.

 

 APTHORP LECTURE.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Below: Baker, A Biographical Dictionary of Music, 19

In the middle of April 1898 William F. Apthorp gave a lecture at Steinert Hall on the subject “Musical Criticism.” The Social Life section of the Herald covered this event noting that there was “prolonged and hearty applause” at the end of the lecture which was attended by “an exceedingly fine and cultivated audience…There was not a dull moment in the talk of nearly an hour, and it abounded in delicious wit and humor.”  Among the fellow critics in attendance were Mr. Louis Elson, Mr. and Mrs. Philip Hale, and Mr. and Mrs. H. M. Ticknor. Among the important members of Boston’s musical circle noticed were Mrs. Apthorp, the Langs and Miss Lang, Mrs. Gardner, Mr. Perabo, Arthur Foote, Miss Lena Little, Mrs. Iasigi (Mrs. Apthorp’s mother) and Miss Iasigi (Mrs. Apthorp’s sister). It would be interesting to know how many audience members were the subject of the “delicious wit and humor.” (Herald (April 17, 1898): 27, GB)

BAYREUTH.

Foote relates a story about Bayreuth in the summer of 1898 [or 1893] when he and Lang snuck into the orchestra pit between acts of Gotterdammerung. ”The day was hot, everyone being in shirt-sleeves, and we could see how differently the majestic Richter behaved (the orchestra being quite out of sight of the audience). He shouted to different players and to the singers, gave them cues, and was quite a different person from the one we were used to seeing in the concert room. It was a remarkable experience. We were observed sitting in our corner, but the liberty we had taken was winked at.” (Foote, Auto., 78) Lang tells the story somewhat differently. In 1893 the word was that Hans Richter was to be the next conductor of the Boston Symphony. That didn’t happen, but various musicians in Boston were asked for an anecdote. Lang stated that he considered Richter a friend. He continues the story: “I took a seat among the players. Later on, unwittingly, I stood up. In a few moments, I became aware that the men about me were all looking at one spot very closely. Then a violin bow tapped my leg, and I, looking with the others, saw Richter glaring at me as if he would kill me. I sat down immediately. Of course, I should not have stood up; besides I was obstructing the view of a violinist. But if ever I thought a friend could kill me with a look it was then.” (Globe (April 15, 1893): 8, News)

BACH CONCERTS.

Crowds leaving the Bach concert held just down Tremont Street on the left. Johnston Collection. The Subway System had just been opened on September 1, 1897. Johnston Collection.

Spring 1898. Frances wrote in her Diary: “Lel wants to perform, next winter, all the Bach Concertos on a Harpsichord, which is to be sent from Paris. I do not smile on this idea, as he has given up piano playing in public, and he is before the public so much anyway, with the 2 singing societies, his organ playing etc. and etc…Lel is going on with his plan, only has decided to ask different musicians to play. Erard + Co. in Paris will send the harpsichord here.” (Diary 2, Spring 1898) On December 1, 1898 and January 12, 1899 Lang arranged two Bach Concerto Concerts performing on the Erard harpsichord imported from Paris which was done “by the kindness of Messrs. Chickering and Sons.” (BPL Lang Prog.) The purpose of these concerts, which were held at the Association Hall at three o’clock, was the “enlarging of the Ruth Burrage Library by the addition of full orchestral scores for the home use of Musicians.” (Ibid) As usual, Frances and family members were involved in the details. “I worked almost all day on the Announcements for the Bach Concerts. They are very handsome. The work of Updyke…Directed envelopes all day. Bach concerts.” (Diary 2, Fall 1898)

Johnston Collection.

At the first concert Lang and Madame Hopekirk played the Concerto in C Major for two keyboards, Lang played the Concerto in D Minor on the harpsichord, and Lang, Mr. Foote, and Mr. Proctor played the Concerto in C major for three keyboards. At the second concert Lang and Madame Szumowska played the Concerto in C Minor for two keyboards, Lang played the Concerto in F Major on the harpsichord, and the concert ended with Lang, Mr. Baermann, and the BSO conductor, Mr. Gericke performing the Concerto in D Minor for three keyboards. The accompaniment for all the concerti was provided by an orchestra under Mr. Kneisel. “The subscription list will include the first names in Boston, as Mr. Lang’s clientele is a distinguished one, and orders are pouring in at the Music Hall.” (Herald-Social Life (November 13, 1898): 31, GB)

These early music performances were not the first for B. J. At a concert at Bumstead Hall on Sunday, April 12, 1896 he included the Bach Concerto in C Major for Three Pianos which he followed with the Prelude in C Major by Bach and the Allegro in C Major by Handel which were performed on a harpsichord built by the Boston keyboard maker, Chickering. The concert finished with Bach’s Coffee Cantata using members of the Handel and Haydn Society. A note at the end of the program stated “except in some portions of the cantata, for which Mr. Lang will play accompaniments from Bach’s figured bass, the original instruments will be used.” (Anon., undated)

CECILIA: TWENTY-THIRD SEASON, 1898-1899.

December 5 and 7, 1898 saw the American premiere at the Music Hall of Verdi’s Te Deum for Double Chorus and Orchestra whose world premiere had been only a few months earlier in Paris, March 20, 1898! Mr. B. L. Whelpley was the organist and Miss Sara Anderson the soprano soloist for this concert. Verdi’s Stabat Mater and other shorter works were also on the program. (Cecilia program) Hale approved of the Verdi pieces, noted that the soprano “evidently gave pleasure to the large audience, [but] was not the Miss Anderson who triumphed at the Worcester Festival,” and ended his review with his now-familiar complaint: “But, as we know, orchestral rehearsals are few before Cecilia concerts, and Mr. Lang is not at his ease before an orchestra.” (Journal, undated) H. M. Ticknor gave more credit to Lang but echoed the rehearsal problem: “Mr. Lang conducted and obtained more faithful attention from the orchestra than the Symphony men always give to a leader not their own, but the Verdi hymns needed much more rehearsing than any of our choral societies can afford to pay for.” Ticknor also faulted the choir’s diction. “A mere stream of pulpy vowels without distinctive consonants means so little.” (Courier, undated)

The second concert of the season (134th. in all) has given on Wednesday evening January 25, and Thursday evening January 26, 1899 at the Music Hall with two new accompanists, Miss Alice Coleman and Miss Laura Hawkins. Mr. Melville Horner sang Margaret’s song, The King is Dead and the choir sang Love Plumes His Wings. [for SSAA choir] Elson wrote that “there had not [been] a single weak number on the programme…Once more the Cecilia has done a good deed for Boston’s music. When one remembers how many new works have been heard here because of the energy of this society, it seems as if a very large debt of public gratitude was due to this organization.” Of Margaret’s choral piece: “Love Plumes His Wings is a dainty bit of composition, well worth the singing, and the female voices gave it with feeling and finesse.” (Transcript, undated) The Herald headline was: “Fine Volume and Quality of Tone of the Singing of the Chorus—Miss Rock Piano Soloist.” This review recorded that there was “a very large audience present, and applause was generous and well deserved. The chorus sang in tune throughout the evening, with a fine volume and quality of tone. It sang expressively too, and was a credit to itself and its conductor.” Miss Rock played twice in the concert “in a manner which provoked the heartiest applause.” Nevin’s Wynken, Blynken and Nod was also part of the program. (Herald, undated) The Globe wrote: “The concert attracted a large and appreciative audience to the Music Hall last night. Mr. B. J. Lang’s marked ability as a conductor of chorus music was demonstrated anew…Miss Moulton’s love stanza, Love Plumes His Wings was given new meaning by Miss Lang’s melodious setting of the words…Miss Frances Rock assisted at this noteworthy concert, giving three piano compositions.” (Globe (January 27, 1899): 5)

The third concert was La Damnation de Faust by Berlioz, and “On account of the unusual expenses incurred to produce [this work], by reason of the artists engaged and an enlarged orchestra, a certain number of tickets will be placed on public sale at the Music Hall Box Office on and after March 1. Price, $1.50 and $2 each.” (Anon., undated) The performances were on Monday evening March 13, and Wednesday evening March 15, 1899. The Transcript wrote: “We think the performance, as a whole, the best the Cecilia has yet given of the Damnation, indeed, the best that has been heard since Mr. Lang’s first productions of the work here, in the Music Hall in 1880, and in Tremont Temple in 1881…It is getting past the time for praising the Cecilia chorus; their wonderful excellence in singing is becoming proverbial. The orchestra did better than usual…What was evidently lacking was sufficient rehearsing of all save the chorus.” (Transcript, undated) The Advertiser also praised the choir: “The work of the chorus from the very outset to the very end was admirable and always full of merit.” (Advertiser, undated) However, Hale began with the headline: “A Poor Performance of Berlioz’s Damnation of Faust in Music Hall Last Night.” he continued: “The performance last night was neither coldly accurate nor brilliantly wrong. It was colorless, dull, slovenly. Let me first of all praise the chorus for what it was allowed to do.” He continued with more praise of the choir, especially in unaccompanied works, but then wrote that when the group did orchestrally accompanied works, “it’s life is taken away by a stick, and it is sacrificed, as upon an altar and in the presence of the people.” (Journal, undated) That is certainly a new way to comment on Lang’s conducting. Another review began by saying that this was  “a performance which had marked merits and serious faults, but was upon the whole interesting and creditable. The many delicate points and fine shades of the score were not to be found in the rendering, can not be denied. But probably the heaviest blame for this should rest rather upon the singers than the conductor.” The writer, possibly a choral singer himself, then remarked on how often the conductor would call attention to points of interpretation only to have them forgotten and/or ignored the next time through. “One might fancy that common sense had temporarily deserted many of them.” He then mentioned the orchestra players, who knowing that little can be covered in the in-adequate rehearsals provided, “will play neglectfully, even if they are not wilfully recalcitrant. A strong, obstinate and quite expert leader might get better results than are generally obtained, but we doubt if even such as one could come very near to perfection.” (Anon., undated)

The fourth concert broke the usual pattern of a Miscellaneous Program with just piano accompaniment, instead, The Transfiguration of Christ by Perosi was given on April 14 and 26, 1899 at the Music Hall with Mr. B. L. Whelpley as the organist and members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Perosi was then only twenty-six but was already the Music Director of St. Mark’s in Venice. This performance was a Boston and American premiere-it had only been premiered in Italy a year earlier, March 20, 1898. A story written before the performance began with: “No event in the musical annals of Boston has ever been attended with greater or more deserved interest than the production of the Perosi oratorio by the Cecilia on the 27th.” [Actually April 24 and 26-Annual Report ] This writer noted that London, which was known to have much experience with “oratorio composers” and praised this work should account for much more than then the “grumblings of the Viennese” audience.  “Everything concerning the new composer is being read and discussed with an interest thoroughly Bostonian. There remains little to be said until we hear what he says for himself.” (Anon., undated) Hale’s review included interesting comments about Italian concert life. “We heard an oratorio by Perosi last week. How do you account for the success of the work in Italy? Perosi has two powerful backers; The Church and a rich and indefatigable publisher.” [Ricordi] He then suggested that The Church wanted to have the “dramatic intensity” of modern Italian opera “used in its own service,” but “unfortunately Perosi does not show himself in the works that I have heard to be a musician of either technical proficiency or marked temperament.” From the first “to the very last note of this story of the demonic child there is not a beautiful or moving phrase, there is nothing in recitative or in the accompaniment that excites any emotion whatever, religious or dramatic, there is nothing that suggests religious contemplation or leads to it…It is a bitter disappointment. For we all hoped to hear religious music that would move and uplift; and we heard music that is inherently, continuously and irretrievably dull.” After all this (and more) Hale had no space to say anything about the performance itself. Another Hale review said: “Verdi’s most effective Te Deum, sung for the second time at these concerts, brought relief, pleasure, and the heartiest admiration” after the Perosi where “the singers had performed bravely their repulsive tasks. Mr. Herbert Johnson, to whom fell the burden of the evening, sang with marked purity of voice and style. Alas! he had nothing to sing but notes-notes-notes.” (Journal, undated) Another reviewer noted the advance publicity which suggested that “a new musical genius was expected.” But, this reviewer felt that the composer handled “his art like a thoughtless amateur…To compare him to Palestrina, as his admirers have done, is to indulge in the most crushing satire…The concert ended with Verdi’s Te Deum, and it gave the audience the opportunity of judging between genius and incapacity.” (Anon., undated) After the concert, Richard Bliss of Newport, writing a Letter to the Editor of the Daily News noted: “It can scarcely be denied that Perosi has been absurdly overpraised by his countrymen,” but Bliss was concerned that all the Boston critics (except Louis C. Elson) “had been not only supercilious in tone, but [also] unfair and indiscrimination in substance.” Bliss did acknowledge that the work “seems to me like a number of musical fragments written at different times, and finally tacked together. That many of the individual parts are of great beauty does not make the work as a whole satisfying.” Of the performance: “The vocal parts were excellently well done, both by the soloists and choristers. But here praise for the execution must cease. The orchestra played with a carelessness and indifference that is astounding.” At the end of his letter, he returned to the choir: “The singing of the choristers was admirable, and their work was worthy of the highest praise.” (Daily News, undated)

This season also saw the choir taking part in performances by the Boston Symphony Orchestra on March 10 and 11 when the male voices took part in Liszt’s Faust Symphony, and on April 7 and 8 when “the full chorus, enlarged for this occasion, sang in the Manfred by Schumann.” Finally, the choir “again enlarged, sang in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the BSO…This makes a total of fourteen concerts which the Cecilia has taken part in this season.” These additional concerts were reported in the Annual Report of May 25, 1899 where it was also reported that “a contribution of one thousand dollars a year for the next five years has been secured from anonymous subscribers, to enable the Society to rearrange its system of sale of seats in such a way as to make receipts larger and the amount of work smaller, at least, than the amount you have done during the last year…The resumption of the ”Wage-earner Concerts” had been an entire success…The increased demand, it is interesting to note, seemed to come from teachers in the public schools.” President Carey then announced that due to having had to miss so many meetings, he was stepping down as President after only two years, but “I shall always feel the liveliest interest in the welfare of the Cecilia, and the greatest sympathy with it in its problems.” (1899 Annual Report)

PERSONALITY.

Writing probably about 1897, Elizabeth Porter Gould, who was probably a piano student of Lang’s, describes him as she saw him at the weekly Sunday afternoon Open House that the family offered. “Here the pleasant Sunday afternoons are held, where so informally and delightfully such good music is interspersed with good talk. For the chatelaine is a scholarly student in good literature, and fanatico par la musica as Mr. Lang may be, he is a man of many parts and well skilled in social accomplishment. Nervous yet self-possessed, Mr. Lang suggests the rare type of man of perfectly regulated enthusiasm. It is common to say of him that he might have excelled in any other line of life quite as distinctly as in the artistic, because he has been so industrious a workman; but talent is industry, and we all know for what shortcomings ‘the artistic temperament’ is made the scapegoat, while only to the vulgar critic irregularities of life are convincing proofs of greatness.” (Gould, Archive Book, HMA)

>>> Part: 123

CHAPTER 05. (Part 2) BJL: ESTABLISHED MUSICAL FORCE: 1891-1901. SC(G) WC. TOPICS: APOLLO TWENTY-THIRD SEASON, 1893-1894-LANG AS HANDEL AND HAYDN CONDUCTOR. (P2)

CHAPTER 05. (Part 2) SC(G).  WC: 12,313.

PART 2                                                                                                                                      Apollo Club Twenty-third Season: 1893-1894.                                                    Edward Burlingame Hill.                                                                                                Lang’s Musical Talks.                                                                                                          Hook and Hastings Studio Organ.                                                                                 Cecilia Nineteenth Season: 1894-1895.                                                                           Apollo Club Twenty-fourth Season: 1894-1895.                                                      New Boston Farm: First Summer Season-1895.                                                    Ship: Typical Journey.                                                                                                    Cecilia Twentieth Season: 1895-1896.                                                                       King’s Chapel: Easter and Christmas 1895.                                                                    Apollo Club Twenty-fifth Season: 1895-1896.                                                      Farm: Second Summer Season-1896.                                                                   American Guild of Organists.                                                                                           Handel and Haydn Society-Lang as Conductor. “Best concert in  its history.”

APOLLO TWENTY-THIRD SEASON, 1893-1894.

The first concert was given on November 22, 1893 with the wife of the conductor of the Boston Symphony as assisting artist. Mrs. Emil Paur played Beethoven’s Variations in C minor in the first half, and in the second half, she presented four lighter pieces which were highly praised. Hale called the choice of the Beethoven “unfortunate” and the performance “accurate” but “dry.” (Journal (November 23, 1893): 5, GB) My Native Land by Meyerbeer was “beautifully rendered” by the tenor from the choir, Mr. E. E. Holden, and “the soft repeating of each line by the chorus after the soloist was a device that was truly worthy of Meyerbeer…In the last verse the effect of the rolling river was truly wonderful.” (Advertiser (November 23, 1893): 4, GB) An unusual number which was a surprise to many was Stephen Foster’s Old Folks at Home in an arrangement that was called “Glorified.” The arranger was Mr. Frank Van der Stuken and the soloist was Mr. Clifford whose performance was “sweet and pathetic.” (Ibid) Hale noted that “the power of a popular and simple melody was again shown by the loud applause that followed” this arrangement. (Journal (November 23, 1893): 5, GB) This arrangement had just been copyrighted on the previous October 20, 1892-was this its Boston premiere? The Bedouin Song ended the concert in a performance of which the choir “may well be proud of.” (Ibid) It was noted that “Mr. Lang has brought his forces to a degree of such enviable perfection that scarcely a defect can be found by the most critical.” (Advertiser (November 23, 1893): 4, GB))

The next concert was given on Wednesday, January 17, 1894 at the Music Hall. Mr. Clifford was also a soloist in this concert. Philip Hale noted “his natural advantages; he has an excellent voice and a manly presence,” but he sang as though he were being “driven recklessly over a stoney street.” (Journal (January 18, 1894): 4, GB) Hale was complimentary about five of the choir’s pieces, but he had a number of negative comments concerning Buck’s King Olaf’s Christmas. These comments included balance problems between the piano and organ, poor attacks, “and in the 10th. verse the true pitch seemed an unknown quantity.” (Ibid) Hale could always be counted on for a pithy comment. The vocal soloist was Miss Marguerite Hall who “sang at times above the true pitch.” (Ibid) Then another Hale comment: “She was applauded heartily and gave in answer a Scotch ballad.” (Ibid)

The third concert was held on Wednesday, March 7, 1894 with an orchestra. The main work was the symphonic ode The Sea (1889) by Jean Louis Nicode (1853-1919). It used soprano soloist, Mrs. Jennie Patrick Walker and used a large number of the male singers of the Cecilia Society. “The work is a stupendous one, splendidly conceived and treated with the genius of a master. In style, it is nearly akin to Wagner…The chorus of 120 voices and more was not equal to the gigantic task in power, though excellent quality was noticeable.” (Advertiser (March 8, 1894): 5, GB) A note in the score asks for Tenor One-50 singers, Tenor 2-40, Baritone-40 and Bass 2-50 for a total of 180 singers. The work is in seven sections with the first, “The Sea” and the fourth, “Phosphorescent Light” being for orchestra only. A group of partsongs by McDowell was praised for its shading and ensemble.

The fourth concert was given Wednesday, May 9, 1894 at the Music Hall before the usual large and enthusiastic audience. Among the partsongs was one by Arthur Foote and another, Jack Horner by Mr. E. Cutter, Jr., the choir’s accompanist. He “was obliged to bow his acknowledgment.” (Journal (May 10, 1894): 5, GB) The violinist Miss Carrie Duke was the assisting instrumentalist. Her lighter pieces were well received, but in the more difficult Polonaise by Wieniawski “her intonation was at times distressingly false.” (Ibid) Then the usual sly comment by Hale to finish: “She was loudly applauded and recalled.” (Ibid)

(Globe (April 8, 1894): 2).

Also published with this drawing were the names of the Audition/Examining Committee and the results of this process.  SECOND BASS: 100 apply-20 accepted, 80 rejected. FIRST TENOR: 100 apply-31 accepted, 69 rejected. SECOND TENOR: 100 apply: 26 accepted, 74 rejected. Then the names of those accepted are posted in the clubrooms for two weeks to be reviewed by the current members. A vote is taken on each name, and “if there are any sound reasons why he should not become a member, his name is signally dropped. Because of the care thus taken, the Apollo Club is made up of a fine class of men-morally and mentally as well as musically speaking…There is always a big waiting list; sometimes there are 500 names handed in of men eager for membership.”  (Ibid) One very qualified gentleman from Boston’s Back Bay had his name on the waiting list for seven years. In 1894 there were about 80 singing members rehearsing every Tuesday night [the same night is still used today-2020], October through May. Four programs were given each year, and each of the 500 non-singing Associate members were given four tickets-thus an automatic sellout for every concert because each Associate could easily give out three tickets to his friends because of the demand to hear the Apollo Club.

The annual meeting was held on Tuesday afternoon, June 5, 1894 at the Club’s rooms at 2A Park Street. The officers elected were: President-Arnold A. Rand; Vice President-George H. Chickering; Clerk-Arthur Reed; Treasurer-Charles T. Howard; and Librarian-Albert F. Harlow. (Herald (June 6, 1894): 6, GB)

EDWARD BURLINGAME HILL.

Photo from Wikipedia, accessed February 15, 2019.

Born in 1872 into a musical home, Hill was to teach music at Harvard from 1908 until 1940. After four years at Harvard where he graduated summa cum laude in 1894, Hill felt that his musical education under the one-person music department of Prof. John Knowles Paine was incomplete. During the summer of 1894, he studied piano with Lang, and the fact that he was a visitor to the Lang farm during the following summers of 1895, 96 and 97 would indicate that Hill had become part of the Lang musical circle. During the summer of 1897 Hill studied composition with Charles Marie Widor who was then composition professor at the Paris Conservatoire. Why Hill chose to study in France rather than Germany is not known for sure, but possibly Lang’s interest in French music at that time, Hill’s admiration for Edward MacDowell’s who had studied in Paris for three years, or Hill’s interest in the music of Charles Martin Loeffler, assistant concertmaster of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, whose music the BSO was beginning to program, any, or all of these factors may have influenced Hill.

Before his Harvard appointment in 1908, one of Hill’s means of support was as a reviewer for the Evening Transcript, a position he held from 1901 until 1908. For this paper, he wrote reviews of Lang’s Enoch Arden performance in 1902 and reviews of the Apollo Club in 1906 and 1907, Dubois’s Cantata in 1902, and reviews of The Boston Singing Club, conducted by Lang’s pupil Hiram Tucker, in 1902 (2) and 1908, and an article in 1907 about the coming production of Paine’s opera Azara, which was Lang’s final concert with the Cecilia Society.

LANG’S MUSICAL TALKS.

On October 23, 1894 Lang the “first of a series of 12 lessons. conversations or talks about the symphony concert programme of the week.” Chickering Hall was “well filled” and Lang organized his remarks  “based upon the supposition that his audience were students rather than professionals…In addition to a four-hand pianoforte reading of the leading works of the present week’s programme, in which Mr. Ernst Perabo gave his valuable assistance, Mr. Lang told many facts relating to the several compositions.” (Herald (October 24, 1894): 5, GB) These talks were to be continued every two weeks throughout the Symphony Season.

HOOK AND HASTINGS STUDIO ORGAN.

In 1894 Lang ordered this organ for his teaching studio. It is now in the Church of the Epiphany in Washington, D. C.

hh 1894 epiphanyrc dclang organ

CECILIA NINETEENTH SEASON: 1894-1895.

The fall of 1894 saw the Boston premiere of the opera Samson and Dalila by Saint-Saens given at the Music Hall on Tuesday, November 27 (Wage Earner Concert) and Wednesday evening, November 28 with the Boston Symphony. The soloists were Mrs. Julia L. Wyman, Clarence B. Davis, Heinrich Meyn, W. H. Clarke, Robert T. Hall, and Stephen S. Townsend, the last two being members of the Cecilia. Carl Zerrahn had conducted the work at Worcester’s Mechanics Hall just two months before. The Courier wrote that even though the work was called a biblical drama, “the music has a certain unmistakable oratorio flavor,” and as a staged version was probably not to be given in Boston, as it was one of “the composer’s most famous creations, it is far better to hear it given in this way than not at all…The performance had many fine points. The chorus sang admirably from beginning to end, with accuracy, authority and effect.” When the soprano soloist, Mrs. Wyman “sang the more famous passages…she dropped from English into the original French; a proceeding which may be criticizable on the ground of good taste, but was none the less welcome to us; it gave the music its true flavor, and showed it forth in a far more brilliant light…The orchestra, if we except some occasional moments of not perfectly clear playing, did well, doing justice to the wealth of color in the scoring and giving the often intricate detail-work with good effect. The Cecilia is heartily to be thanked for giving us so good an introduction to a work which every music-lover is interested to hear, and one which holds unquestionably high rank among the dramatic productions of the last quarter of the present century.” (Courier, undated) Hale in the Journal wrote that the first four scenes suffered from Lang’s “sluggish” tempi. “If the conductor is not a man of marked talent in orchestral leadership and the rehearsals are few, the most skillful players are apt to appear at a disadvantage. The chorus was generally excellent. It sang with beauty of tone, as a rule, and with understanding…It was a pleasure to hear it again, even with perhaps inevitable drawbacks. may the day soon come when this opera will be heard here as an opera.” (Journal, undated) Warren Davenport referred to Hale’s remarks about “sluggish” tempi, but wrote that he felt “Mr. Lang’s tempi was [sic] well-conceived, in my opinion.” Of the other aspects of the performance: “The work of the chorus was admirable in every particular, and Mr. Lang conducted the performance in a firm and confident manner.” (Globe, undated) Another review wanted to see the work as a staged opera “rather than perverted into an oratorio. The result of this perversion was that there was an absence of warmth and of color contrast…Palestine was changed to Boston, and the Philistines metamorphosed into Puritans…Nothing but praise is due to the chorus, all the members of which sang with spirit and with feeling. It may be truthfully said that, from an art-viewpoint, the chorus performed the best work of the evening…A word of protest may be urged against Mrs. Wyman’s bad taste and small art in singing several of her numbers in French, while the remainder of the opera was sung in English. Musically, there is no merit in pronouncing French correctly, and art propriety [what is that?] is of far more importance than linguistic skill. It remains to be added that at every available opportunity Mrs. Wyman was greeted with applause, which was enthusiastic at the conclusion of the love song in [the] first act.” (Anon., undated) Interesting ideas!

 

 

Another piece, Love Plumes His Wings,  by Margaret Ruthven Lang was premiered at the Wednesday evening, January 16 and Thursday evening, January 17, 1895 concerts at the Music Hall. The secondary headline of one review was: “A Not Particularly Interesting Programme Presented” (Anon., undated) while another review began: “The programme was most excellent and varied…The song for female voices by Miss Lang is charming in melody, and it is most skilfully and effectively arranged. It was sung with intelligence and sympathetic feeling, and was fully deserving of the applause that it won.” (Anon., undated) Hale listed the title of Miss Lang’s piece, but made no mention of the work saying: the concert “was not of special interest.” (Journal, undated) However, another review ended with the comment: “The whole concert was one of the most enjoyable of the smaller ones ever given by the Cecilia,” and described Miss Lang’s piece as “charming through and through.” (651-653) The Herald review wrote that Love Plumes His Wings was “Cleverly set for the voices, and is dainty, pretty and would be wholly admirable if it were more emphatic in its climax. It was tastefully and smoothly sung.” (Herald (January 18, 1895): 7, GB)

The third program of the season was given on Thursday evening March 28, 1895 at the Music Hall with orchestra and H. G. Tucker as organist. The Brahms Requiem and selections from Act One of Wagner’s Parsifal were performed. The Courier described the Brahms as “a long, heavy and complicated work, intensely honorable, thoroughly academic.” The writer thought little of the Wagner excerpt “which is vain and irrelevant without its context and poor concert material anyhow.” (Courier, undated) Hale called the Brahms “this crabbed and tiresome Requiem…It is unemotional, it does not provoke a good or mental emotion; it is without a religious feeling…Mr. Lang conducted in a perfunctory manner and without disclosing possible beauties that may lurk concealed…The chorus sang carefully and faithfully, but without marked distinction in dynamics. It must not be forgotten that the task of the chorus is exceedingly difficult, and the attacks and the intervals are dangerous even for picked and long-drilled singers. The orchestra did its best in the absence of a firm conductor.” Hale did not approve of opera excerpts, and the most positive thing that he could say was: “The performance was one of good faith.” (Journal, undated) The Transcript wrote that this second performance by the Cecilia of the Brahms “gave one fresh insight into the work; at the first performance, a few years ago, one listened to it, as one is often impelled to listen to something at once new and evidently beautiful and sublimity is a rather general way, but without very definite musical understanding…The Cecilia last evening sang the great music admirably for the most part; with careful attention to light and shade, firmness of attack, and often brilliancy…One wished that the singers would only sing with more of individual fervor, with more buoyancy of phrasing, in a word, with more style…The selections from Parsifal were sung far more satisfyingly and made a very powerful impression. The singing of the small choirs behind the stage was one of the most beautifully perfect things of its kind we have ever heard. The orchestra played unusually well throughout the concert; only in some portions of the Parsifal music was a certain lack of dynamic balance between different groups of instruments to be noticed.” (Transcript, undated)

The usual miscellaneous program finished the season on Thursday evening May 2, 1895 at the Music Hall with Frederic H. Lewis as the pianist and Rose [Laura, 1870-    ] and Ottilie [1872-    ] Sutro as the featured guest soloists. Their pieces were by Mozart-Fugue, Chopin-Rondo and Brahms-Theme and Variations Op. 56. Among the choral pieces were two by Boston composers, The Robin by Helen Hood and From a Bygone Day by George Osgood. Warren Davenport wrote: “The performance of the Sutro sisters was a delightful one, the ensemble of the effort being faultless. It was a thoroughly artistic effort devoid of affectation or sensationalism.” After the Chopin piece, “these admirable artists were recalled and played in a charming manner a Scherzetino by Charmenade.” [sic] “Mr. Lang conducted with his accustomed attention to detail and the concert was an agreeable experience on the part of the audience.” (665) The Sutro sisters were then in their early twenties, and their career continued to blossom to a point that they appeared during the 1916 Season of the Philadelphia Orchestra, probably conducted by Leopold Stokowski. (Wister, 227)

One “Wage-Earner” from Cambridge wrote to the Transcript saying that he was very insulted by the insert which had appeared in the last program which noted that the concerts: “are given at no profit to the club, and at great personal inconvenience to the members of the chorus.” He asked: “Are not the conductor, orchestra and many members of the chorus wage-earners? ” (Transcript, undated)

Winslow Homer lectronicrepro

Winslow Homer (United States, 1836-1910) Benjamin Johnson Lang (1837-1909), April 19, 1895. Graphite on paper, 16 x 13 3/8 inches. Portland Museum of Art, Maine. Gift of William D. Hamill, 1991.19.3. Reproduced by permission. Can not be downloaded without a fee to the Portland Museum.

An article entitled “Recent Accession-A Portrait Drawing by Winslow Homer” written by “JH” for a publication of the Portland Maine Museum of Art gives the specifics behind this work. It is “thought to have been drawn in the Lang Studios at 6 Newbury Street, and dated 19 April 1895…The Homers were good friends of the Langs and often visited them at their home on Brimmer Street. In a letter to Homer’s sister-in-law, Mrs. Charles S. Homer, Jr., on April 20, 1895, Homer reported; ”I send today the sketch of Mr. Lang. He was very prompt in giving me permission and opportunity and he likes the sketch. The light was bad and he was a hard subject. Such as it is you are now welcome to it. On no account think of sending me that $25 that you may think was a trade between us-as I shall not take it.”…This drawing is a strong work from the peak period of Homer’s career. its informality of pose and costume-an embroidered smoking jacket with contrasting collar-place the composition closer to Degas and Eakins than to Sargent’s flamboyance; Homer was always a precise draftsman while knowing what to accent and what to omit. the simplification is seen in the modeling of the head with its features intent on the effect of pulling a stop. The drawing is a fine instance od one artist’s appreciation for another united by their common interest in music.” The article mentions that Winslow played the guitar and sang when alone and that he was a patron of musical events. “He shared with Lang an appreciation of Wagner.”

Mrs. Charles S. Homer, Jr., known as Mattie, who requested the work was among the leading society dames of the period. “At the turn of the century on Prout’s Neck, Winslow Homer’s sister-in-law Mattie was the leading hostess; for one soiree she invited Madame Melba, the leading prima donna at the Metropolitan Opera.

APOLLO TWENTY-FOURTH SEASON: 1894-1895.

 

Rain doesn’t keep the Associates away. Childe Hassam. Rainy Day-Boston.

The first concert was given during a storm on Wednesday, November 21, 1894. “Not a single unworthy selection did the programme contain-if we may be pardoned for this left-hand complementing a club that for years, even from its first season, has been noted for the high artistic worthiness of its concert programmes.” (C. L. Capen in the Advertiser, November 22, 1894, 5) The major work was The Pilot by Max Spicker which Capen called a “masterpiece.” The assisting artists were the tenor, Mr. C. B. Shirley and Miss Mary Louise Cary whose voice was described as “both cumbersome and unpliant, voluminous but not pleasing, and with faulty and indecisive production of tone. (Ibid) However, the third soloist, Mr. Thomas L. Cushman displayed “a tenor voice of rare purity, sympathy and trueness, and with as refined and delightful phrasing as one would care to hear.” (Ibid) Mr. Basset was the pianist and Mr. Cutter the organist. The choir’s President, Mr. Arthur Reed, had the idea of interspersing appropriate selections from the poems of the late Oliver Wendell Holmes among the musical pieces.

NEW BOSTON FARM: FIRST SUMMER SEASON-1895.

the lang residence“The Lang Residence, New Boston, N. H.”  Johnston Collection.

After spending many summers in many different places, the Langs began to look for a place of their own. A house owned by the BSO founder was considered, land in Tenant’s Harbor was so appealing that Lang “came back crazy over it. He started us making house plans.” Then a farm auction in New Boston, New Hampshire came to their attention, they went and it was bought for $4,000. At first, Frances was not impressed but found the setting beside “a lovely river and a mill…picturesque.” (Diary 2, Summer 1894)This was a working farm, and so the Langs had to hire “a Farmer…Lel took Rosamond with him to New Boston yesterday. He talked with 2 different men who have applied” for the position. (Ibid) Neither was hired. By early October Lang had “received innumerable applications from Farmers..” (Diary 2, Fall 1894)

In June 1895 the Langs started a Guest Book for the “House of Lang,” his newly bought summer home in New Boston, New Hampshire. During the first summer, Mrs. Lang’s relatives visited: Emeline Burrage who visited that first month, June 1895, followed by Edward Burrage and Julia Severance Burrage, June 22, 1895. Elizabeth May Marsh, a B. J. piano pupil visited June 25, and the critic William F. Apthorp visited in July 1895 writing, “Push it along, it’ a good thing.” Another of Lang’s piano students who would later become a music professor at Harvard, Edward Burlingame Hill signed on August 3, 1895 and included four measures of a song. Martha E. Homer, the sister-in-law of Winslow Homer, signed on August 6, 1895 as did Charles H. Burrage and Lydia L. Burrage on August 19. 1895. Caroline Severance Burrage stayed from September 2nd. until the 5th., 1895. Lang’s pupil E. Cutter then arrived on September 5th. and stayed through the 7th. leaving both an eight-line poem and a musical quote from [his?] Fugato-Suite in G Minor. The next day, September 8, 1895 Herbert E. Burrage as did Ruby M. Burrage. Isabella Stewart Gardner signed on September 28, 1895  and she seems to be the last guest of the first season, and certainly the most famous.

Isabella Stewart Gardner by John Singer Sargent, 1888.

This portrait was first displayed at the St. Botolph Club, but her husband, John Gardner found it so offensive that it had it removed. It now hangs in Fenway Court, but she did not allow it to be shown to the public until after her death. From this painting it is obvious that Mrs. Gardner was the “possessor of a slender, curvy body,” and while the Boston women in the mid-1860s were still wearing hoops, she was wearing the latest fashions from Paris. When one gentleman remarked, “Pray, who undressed you?” she was able to drop the name of a most famous Paris designer of the day with her reply: “Worth, didn’t he do it well.?” (Vigderman, 37 and 38)

Isabella Stewart Gardner (April 14, 1840-July 17, 1924) was a good friend of the Lang family, so much so that she was in charge of arranging the flowers at B. J.’s funeral. The Langs also visited the Gardners-among the “first visitors at Beverly Farms [in 1895] were… B. J. Lang” – this was the summer home of the Gardner’s – they had just returned from almost a year in Europe. (Carter, 154) In a more informal situation: “Rosamond rode on her bicycle to Mrs. Gardner’s to make a dinner call.” (Frances’ Diary Excerpts)

Mrs. Gardner helped many in addition to B. J. Among the young men in her circle was the composer Clayton Johns who had taken a young piano student, Heinrich Gebhard under his tutelage. Johns had Gebhard play for Paderewski who was on tour in America-the suggestion was that Gebhard should study with Leschetizky. “However, before I left for Vienna, Mr. Johns wanted to present me to the Boston public as his pupil. So in April 1896, a concert was arranged in Copley Hall, where I played before a large representative audience a program [that included] the Schumann Concerto accompanied by sixty-five players of the Boston Symphony Orchestra under the leadership of Franz Kneisel. Mrs. Jack Gardner, that wonderful and brilliant woman, who so often was a benefactor to young promising talents, in her great generosity footed the bill for this expensive concert.” (HMA Bulletin No.13)

Arthur Foote wrote “that Boston began its greatest musical growth soon after he started living there. He attributes much of this growth to the local women and their clubs… The preeminent example of a woman dedicated to the arts was the wealthy Isabella Stewart Gardner, Foote’s kindly friend and patron. She gave moral and monetary support to musical performers, composers, painters, and sculptors… She exerted herself in helping musicians to establish the Boston Composers’ Manuscript Society. its aim was to give local composers a hearing.” (Tara, Foote, 57) Gardner’s biographer, Morris Carter was quoted as saying: “Whether a social renaissance was created or not may be a question, but ”the Brimmer set, which represents the old Puritan aristocracy,” and ”the Apthorp set, which represents the new Bohemianism,” did meet in her house on common ground.” (Ibid)

Phyllis Robbins had a farm in New Boston which she found during a visit to the Langs. “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) Robbins mentioned that: “Pianos were scattered here and there on the Langs’ 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) Yet another missing Lang composition! The Robbins farm was “a tiny white house, near the river, under a giant elm.” (Ibid) Quite often the actress Maude Adams would spend time during the summer at the farm of Miss Robbins. Miss Adams was also a friend of the Langs. “I had seen Miss Adams at a distance coming out of Boston’s famous old King’s Chapel on one of the Sunday evenings when Mr. B. J. Lang sometimes played the organ for his invited friends. He had sent her a card, though at the time she did not know him personally.” (Robbins, 69)

Maude Adams in 1892. Wikipedia article accessed July 10, 2016.

 SHIP: TYPICAL JOURNEY

As the summer of 1895 was the first year the Lang family spent at the New Boston farm, no one went to Europe. However, the earlier trip of 1893 in the ship MAJESTIC could have been much like what follows. A passenger on the Steamer PAVONIA made a ten-day westward journey from London to Boston, “sailing in early August,” thinking that the passage would be “pleasant,” but “the words ‘very unpleasant’ will have to characterize it.” From the first day, it rained and was “exceedingly chilly. The wind blew you about, while the steamer pitched, then rolled and tossed about in the tumultuous sea.”

SS PAVONIA. Cunard Line launched 1882, ran mainly from Liverpool to Boston, sometimes to New York, sold for scrap 1900. Wikipedia. Accessed March 25, 2020.

Steerage and second-class passengers boarded by means of a tender-thus you loaded all your luggage unto this small boat that took you out to the steamer that was in the middle of the river and then unloaded all that luggage unto the steamer. Those in first-class waited until the steamer docked, and then easily boarded-you could get a train from  London that arrived shipside just fifteen minutes before sailing and still have time to board! As so many ships needed to dock, each ship was allowed only one hour load and then sail. Seeing people off was still a novelty; the crowd gave the “impression that Liverpool men and women would rather watch the departure of a ship off to sea than work.”

There were 102 first-class passengers, which was an unusually large number of returnees for so early in the season. Because of the weather, many people didn’t come to the dining room, but instead took their meals “on deck or in the seclusion of their rooms.” During the first night, they sailed into a storm and they were awakened the next morning “by the goods and chattels in our rooms tumbling about in a very lively manner. At breakfast, there were very few indeed.”

Too bad they missed this breakfast. Wikipedia, accessed March 24, 2020.

The last stop before heading out into the Atlantic was Queenstown in Ireland. Here “bum-boats” surrounded the ship and the women in these boats were “hauled up by ropes with their baskets” of wares that included “sets of lace collars and souvenirs of oak.” Other women were selling “fruit and eatables” in second class and steerage. “The trading was continued even from the tender by means of a basket and rope, as a penny placed in the basket entitled you to four small apples.”

For the times when the passengers felt well enough to eat, French, English and American menus created by one of the best caterers in the Cunard fleet were available. “French soups and entrees, English game and bacon, we had such tempting American dishes as ice cream, sherbets, and ices daily, with codfish balls and apple dumplings to make us feel that we were eating at home.”

Wikipedia, accessed, March 24, 2020.

As they were nearing Boston, vaccinations had to be given to second class and steerage passengers. For entry into New York, only steerage passengers were required to have this done. “This is the reason that there is always a larger number of second cabin passengers to New York than to Boston. The ship’s surgeon has always to use considerable tact and diplomacy when there are several hundred and often 1,000 steerage to be vaccinated.”

Due to the winds of the various storms, the ship arrived in Boston at 7:30 PM of the day before it was due. Unfortunately, no one was at Quarantine to do the inspection, and so the passengers spent the evening within sight of Boston which aggravated many of them. The next morning “we were aroused for an early breakfast, unbearable heat and the trials of the custom-house.” All quotes from “A Midsummer Ocean Trip,” (Herald (August 25, 1895): 33 GB)

CECILIA TWENTIETH SEASON: 1895-1896.

The opening concert at the Music Hall on Thursday evening, December 5, 1895 presented the Berlioz Requiem. Hale gave his usual hedged review noting how difficult the score was, how large the orchestra; “It is seldom, then, that this mass is ever heard as it looks in the score and may be imagined from it. To say that the performance last evening was wholly excellent would be to say the thing which is not. Yet it may be said truthfully that the performance was respectable throughout, and at times admirable.” He ended his review: “In spite of the shortcomings, some of them inevitable, to which I have alluded, the performance was a creditable one, and this phrase applied to the Requiem means much.” (Journal, undated) Another review noted: “Considering its difficulties the Requiem was surprisingly well sung, although now and then the singers were in advance of or lagged behind the orchestra…It was, however, all conscientious and well-studied work, and at times reached a high point of excellence…No fault could be found with the excellent work of the orchestra [and then a few faults were listed].” (Anon., undated) The Globe first headline was “Another Splendid Performance of Berlioz’s Requiem” while the second headline noted “Last night Cecilia for 3rd. time in this city.” (Globe (December 6, 1895): 8) It also noted that in spite of the extremely inclement weather, there were only a very few seats empty. “The singing of the chorus was uniformly excellent and almost all the work was done by the chorus…The chorus throughout was well balanced, and the basses and sopranos sang remarkably well.” (Ibid) The reviewer had noted earlier that the work “is written without an alto part, but Mr. Lang utilized his contraltos by having them sing in unison with the tenors. The effect of this combination was very pleasing and the tenor part was decidedly stronger than it is in most of our concerts.” (Ibid) The Advertiser made many of the points mentioned above, calling special attention to the choir’s work in the “Sanctus, ” “excellently evinced,” and the “Rex Tremendae,” “the most telling” of the evening. The tenor soloist, Mr. J. C. Bartlett,  was found to be “profoundly impressive,” and although his voice was not powerful, “the B flats were placed and sustained with perfect ease.” (Advertiser (December 6, 1895): 5, GB)

The second concert was presented on Thursday evening February 13, 1896 at the Music Hall with Harry Fay and Frederic H. Lewis pianists. Margaret’s Irish Love Song was sung by Mrs. Jeannie Crocker Follett who seems to have had an ideal voice for this piece. The Transcript wrote: “Mrs. Follett was utterly unlike the soprano soloists we have heard in recent years, for she sang with no affected airs. Hers is the ideal ballad voice, simple, sympathetic and appealing. Her three songs were admirably chosen, and with Mr. Lang’s skillful accompaniments, gave genuine delight.” The review continued with comments about one of the accompanists. “We venture to suggest to Mr. Fay that he profit by the lesson given him by Mr. Lang. [Fay was a Lang pupil] Where the latter’s touch was delicate and subdued, Mr. Fay’s seemed harsh and noisy. Mr. Lang’s pianoforte work was a treat in itself. Mr. Fay’s made one squirm.” (Transcript, undated) On the other hand, the Globe wrote: “Messrs Fay and Lewis are to be congratulated for their work in the Wynken, Blinken and Nod accompaniment.” (Globe (February 14, 1896): 8) However, Lang’s paying was also praised: “The fine hand of Mr. Lang was probably not more noticeable in any other number on the program than in this [Wynken,Blinken and Nod]. The lights and shades were beautifully done.” (Ibid) Mrs. Follett’s rendering of Margaret’s Irish Love Song  “was especially good.” She had also done the solo in Wynken, Blinken and Nod. The concert opened with “O Gladsome Light” from Arthur Sullivan’s The Golden Legend, a work that Lang would do in its complete form in April 1898.

The third concert was given on Friday evening March 20, 1896 at the Music Hall using a string orchestra, harp and organ for the accompaniment; Foote and Lewis were the organists. Margaret’s work also appeared in this concert-not as a composer, but as the translator of a scene from Goethe’s Faust which opened the second half of the concert. The translated title was “The Shepherd deck’d him For the Dance” with music by Moritz Moszkowski, his Op. 44. The Gazette review was lukewarm: “The concert was solemn as befitted the occasion and somewhat dull.” The reviewer felt that “the Moszkowski music came in as appropriately as a clown at a death bed; it drew the line at solemnity and converted it into farce. A sample of bad taste not often heard at dignified concerts. The piece was not bad in itself, but its place was surely not on a programme of a religious or semi-religion [sic] nature.” Three movements of the St. Saens Noel found favor, and “the singing was admirable throughout, the soloists being surprisingly good…the orchestra played with independence; a large audience was liberal in its applause and the Cecilia may be congratulated on the excellent work done.” (Gazette, undated) Louis C. Elson also thought the Moszkowski “a bit of an interruption to the prevailing thought of the evening, but in itself proved a sparkling sketch of bucolic fun and laughter.” He approved of the Sgambati Te Deum for organ and strings which he described as “replete with spiritual exaltation” and played “with just the right touch of religious fervor, portraying a churchly pageant rather than a humble prayer.” (Advertiser, undated) Elson also enjoyed the Saint-Saens noting especially the chorus work in the final section. “Their splendid precision of attack, purity of tone, surety of intonation, were given free scope in that inspiring finale.” The choir’s performance inspired Elson to devote a paragraph to their place in Boston’s musical world. “With all due excuses for a display of local pride, we take pleasure in renewing our own assurance of unrivaled distinction for the Cecilia in the way of a body of ensemble singers, after hearing most of the best chorus work done in America. Even the patron saint of the society would find satisfaction in the tone quality of the soprani. Rarely in a body of singers are there to be found such distinctive qualities as refinement, power, tone and temperament, but in the Cecilia, the combination is refreshingly patent.” (Ibid)

The fourth concert was given on Thursday evening April 30, 1896 at the Music Hall with Ernst Perabo as the guest soloist and Lewis as accompanist, and Elson noted that he played “with discretion and good taste.” Elson also wrote: “Miss Margaret R. Lang’s In a Garden was graceful but nothing more; Miss Lang must beware of taking so long a time to say nothing.” He ended the review with the comment: “Altogether the evening was a pretty and unambitious ending to a season that has been even above the praiseworthy standard generally maintained by the Cecilia.” (Advertiser, undated) The Transcript review didn’t mention Margaret’s piece directly but noted: “Mrs. [Alice] Rice’s three songs were a delight to the ear and soul,” and of the solo pianist: “Mr. Perabo played exquisitely as ever.” (Transcript, undated) Hale also noted the pianist’s performance: “Mr. Perabo played with his customary thoughtfulness and reverence for the composers,” and of Margaret’s song: “Mrs. Bates-Rice sang [her three songs] with technical skill and genuine feeling.” (Journal, undated)

President Thorndike’s Annual report of May 28, 1896 wrote: the “kind public has greeted our successes with appreciative favor. Even the critics…have not found fault oftener than is the wont of their tribe or, perhaps, oftener than we have deserved.” He also called attention to the “higher standard of performance of the Cecilia” and cited one of the factors: “the playing of Mr. Higginson’s orchestra is superior to that of the orchestra of the Harvard Musical Association. And I am never tired of saying that the Cecilia owes most of this to Mr. Lang, who must have great pride in the manner in which the club has grown under his hands.” Thorndike then reflected on the general growth during the previous twenty years of all aspects of music in Boston. “The musical life of the city is far more intense and pervading, far more a necessary part of daily existence, than ever before. Fifty girls play the piano fairly well to one who played it fairly well when Mr. Lang and Mr. Dresel began to teach. ” He then addressed the younger members of the club: “Upon you, young people, it rest to see that the Cecilia takes its proper place in this general progress. You are the inheritors of all the gains that it has made in the time that is past, and it depends upon you to add like gains in the time that is to come.” One area of needed attention was financial support: “We could do much more than we have done if we had more associate members, and we must, each and all, neglect no opportunity of obtaining them.” The continued success of the Wage Earner Concerts was noted as was the continued abuse by some who used these cheap tickets even though they could afford to become Associates. “This dishonesty manifestly causes pecuniary loss to the Cecilia. Mr. Ryder [Secretary of the Wage Earner Committee] well remarks, ”If the evil cannot be abated, the Wage Earner Concerts must stop.”” The Report ended with news of the following season: “The next season will begin with a repetition of Dvorak’s The Spectre’s Bride, not heard here for seven years. In a later concert, Massenet’s Eve will be repeated.” (1896 Annual Report).

KING’S CHAPEL: EASTER AND CHRISTMAS 1895.

Just horse-drawn carriages-no cars yet. Johnston Collection.

The music for Easter Sunday 1895 included a Te Deum in G Flat Major by Lang together with Lang’s Easter Carol. While “G Flat Major” is possible, it is more probable that the “G” was a misprint for “B” which is located just below “G” on the keyboard. The choir for that day was: Mrs. Josslyn, Miss Lena Little, Mr. W. J. Winch and Mr. Max Heinrich. (Herald (April 12, 1895): 7, GB)

“Unitarians from all parts of the city attended the Christmas services at King’s Chapel yesterday forenoon [December 25th.] The interior of the chapel was elaborately decorated with evergreen and hemlock…The choir rendered a special musical programme. The numbers included Christmas Carol by Lang…Te Deum in D Major by Lang. (Herald (December 26, 1895): 6, GB)

APOLLO TWENTY-FIFTH SEASON: 1895-1896.

The first concert of the 25th. season was on Tuesday, November 26, 1895. The sole work was Oedipus Tyrannus by Harvard’s Prof. J. K. Paine which was accompanied by a full orchestra. This was the first complete performance, the Prelude having been given about fourteen years previously. Mr. George Riddle was the reader and Mr. William H. Rieger was the tenor soloist. (Herald, (November 24, 1895): 16, GB) On Friday, November 29 the Club repeated the work at Harvard’s Sanders Theatre. For this performance, all the parts were again read by George Riddle. The reviewer had “frequently spoken of it as the leading American work in music ” since its premiere in 1881. [That is the opposite of the third sentence] Mendelssohn had set Oedipus in Colonos and Antigone and had planned to set OedipusTyrannus before his death. “Comparisons are naturally in order between Mendelssohn and Paine,” but Mendelssohn, in his two Greek settings had “not attained the direct strength and majesty which characterize Prof. Paine’s setting.” Sanders Theatre was “more perfect in its acoustics than any large hall in Boston, and the chorus rang out with a virility and vigor that it could not have attained in Music Hall.” The auditorium was filled and all the performers, Paine, who conducted the Overture, Riddle and Lang were greeted with “ardent” applause. (Louis C. Elson in the Advertiser (November 30, 1895): 8, GB)

The fourth concert was given on Wednesday night, April 9, 1896 and it was mainly lighter material. A former singer in the group, Warren Davenport, was now the reviewer for the Journal (Philip Hale was also reviewing for this paper), and he wrote a detailed piece that covered both the choir and also the two vocal soloists. The tenor, who was new to Boston, had a voice “of ordinary character” and “a bad manner of producing it.” His “jaw was ridged,” and his tones “throaty, thin and forced.” The soprano’s efforts “were not marked by any high artistic excellence…[her] intonation was frequently sharp…[and] The audience was merely gracious in its recognition of her efforts.” The choir did sing one challenging composition, The Cavalier Songs, Opus 17 by the Englishman, Charles Villiers Stanford. They were “finely sung” by the club, and overall, “in all the work done by the club, there was that same excellence in dynamic expression, good attack, and admirable intonation that has always marked its efforts in concerted work. It showed the careful training of Mr. Lang, and deserved more recognition than was accorded it by the audience.” (Journal (April 9, 1896): 7, GB) The only encore was for the simple Bavarian Folk-Song.                                           The Globe also mentioned the audience. “The choruses were admirably sung and the work of the club deserved a heartier appreciation from a rather undemonstrative audience.” (Globe (April  9, 1896): 5) Whereas the Journal found tenor’s voice to be “ordinary,” the Globe found them to be “rich and sweet, and he proved himself an artist in phrasing, modulating and general execution…The contrasting group of Cavalier tunes, which brought out the robust quality of his tones, was sung in a style that awakened the audience to hearty applause.” (Ibid) Lang’s name was not mentioned once.

BJLang_ApolloClub

Apollo Club-25th. Anniversary Concert, May 6, 1896. Courtesy of the Trustees of the Boston Public    Library/Rare Books.

The 25th. Anniversary Concert was given on Wednesday, May 6, 1896 together with the Mendelssohn Glee Club of New York. A visit by the New York group to Boston during the winter of 1870-71 had led to the formation of the Apollo Club. Philip Hale wrote what would seem to be a rave from his pen: “The many excellent characteristics of the singing of the Apollo are familiar to all music lovers in Boston, and it is sufficient to say that last night the members were in the vein and the performance was of the best.” Hale then continued with an extensive section on the performance by the Mendelssohn Glee Club which ended: “In a word the singing of this society was long to be remembered. It was on a level with the best of the Symphony and Kneisel concerts.” He finished with a short paragraph about the soloist, Mrs. A. Sophia Markee “who flattered parochial pride by singing songs of Mrs. Beach, Mr. Chadwick and Miss Lang. Her singing was a disappointment. Her intonation was frequently impure.” (Journal (May 7, 1896): 8, GB) The Globe mentioned that the opening Mendelssohn double chorus from Antigone “was admirably interpreted, the different parts being given very smoothly and the clubs singing together as if they were one organization and familiar with Mr. Lang’s conducting.” (Globe (May 7, 1896): 4) The greatest success of the evening was a piece written by the Mendelssohn’s recent conductor, Joseph Mosenthal entitled Thanatopsis, text by Bryant. “The performance was as nearly perfect as one could wish,” and then many reasons given. (Ibid) The soprano soloist sang three pieces by local composers, Mrs. Beach, Mr. Chadwick and Margaret Ruthven Lang, but only “in a satisfactory manner.” The Apollos “sang admirably, and received warm applause.” Their repertoire included a cradle song by MacDowell, a Schumann setting, Suomi’s Song by Mair and Osgood’s In Picadie. “A humorous bit, The Chafer and the Flower went with a capital swing, and proved somewhat of a relief from the prevailing style of the selections.” (Ibid) All in all the evening was “especially enjoyable.”

FARM: SECOND SUMMER SEASON 1896.

The same angle as the postcard used for the First Year entry. Taken 2011 by Quent and Carolyn Peacock.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The first guest of the second season was Benjamin Lang, B. J.’s father who wrote: “well done my boy, I’ve seen the farm. its hill and dale and every charm. May heaven always bless you all.” Dated June 14, 1896. The singer Lena Little visited July 11-12, 1896, and Arthur Sturgis Dixey signed on August 3. 1896 and left a colored sketch. Emeline Burrage, Caroline Severance Burrage and Edward Burlingame Hill made return visits during September 1896. Winslow Homer’s brother, Charles and his wife, Martha E. Homer also stayed during September.

AMERICAN GUILD OF ORGANISTS.

Lang was one of the founding members of the American Guild of Organists whose first President was Gerrit Smith; his wife had organized in New York City a recital of Margaret’s songs. Other prominent Boston AGO members were Arthur Foote, John K. Paine. Horatio Parker, George Whiting and Dudley Buck who was named Honorary President during the period 1896-99. (Orr, 85)

HANDEL AND HAYDN SOCIETY: LANG AS CONDUCTOR. “Best concert in its history.”

After having been the organist for the Handel and Haydn Society for thirty-five seasons, Lang succeeded Carl Zerrahn as conductor for the two years 1895-1897, but this was a period when the group was at a low ebb and torn with dissensions. However, he conducted the “best concert in its history” with the Elijah performance. (Secretary notes)[February 1897] During the season before he became conductor, Lang had the chance to conduct the Feb. 3, 1895 concert of Handel’s Israel In Egypt as Zerrahn had had an accident. With no rehearsal, Lang conducted a brilliant performance. President Browne’s annual address included these words of praise: ”Mr. Lang conducted. He had no time for rehearsal with the chorus, but he held them so firmly and conducted with so much coolness and intelligence that it was a notably good performance.”(History-Vol. II, 47) Secretary Stone wrote: “Under such circumstances, Mr. Lang was the center of interest, and covered himself with glory. He held command of the situation throughout. His depiction of ‘There was not one feeble person’ was sublime: an amazing revelation of the possibilities of the passage. The chorus worked hard. its performance was somewhat uneven, but always powerful and vital. The reserve power which was flung into the final chorus carried it out with a sweep and rush that was new in the story of the Society…It was voted that the cordial thanks of the Society should be extended to Mr. Lang for his invaluable services, generously rendered without charge, in conducting the performance of Israel in Egypt.” (History-1911, 46 and 47) The critical response was very favorable: the Globe critic was very complimentary. Secretary Stone noted: “A most interesting event of the evening was the appearance of Myron W. Whitney, father and son. Mr. Whitney senior seemed restored to his old greatness, and the son showed himself a youth of noble promise.” (History-1911, 47) Louis Elson wrote: “Probably no audience has ever before heard ‘The Lord is a man of war’ given by father and son, and the result was something that both might be proud of.” (Ibid)

Lang had also conducted the Society almost twenty years before. At its April 12, 1876 concert at the Music Hall he had conducted Mendelssohn’s Hymn of Praise (their 12th. performance of the work) and the Rossini Stabat Mater (their 20th. performance). J. K. Paine had been the organist. (BPL Lang Prog., Vol. 2) Perhaps Zerrahn needed a rest or had an engagement with another group, as he had conducted the Society in Bach’s St. Matthew Passion on Palm Sunday, April 9, 1876, just four days before!

                                                                                                                                                       Handel and Haydn Scrapbook. BPL.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         At the June 25, 1895 meeting of the Board, President Browne read a letter from Carl Zerrahn saying ”that I will withdraw at any time from the candidacy of the conductorship.”(History, Vol II, 54) The year before: ”The opposition was so great that Mr. Zerrahn was not as usual elected at the early meetings of the board of 1894 and not until Sept. 10, 1894 when he was elected conducted at a salary of $1,000 and Mr. Lang organist at a salary of $300.” (History-Vol. II, 55) Therefore it probably was not a surprise when the June 25, 1895 meeting decided to accept Zerrahn’s withdrawal as a candidate for conductor. At the same meeting B. J. Lang was elected as conductor at a salary of $1,000 by a vote of nine yeas and three nays. The Anti-Lang Board Members were really more Pro-Zerrahn in that they felt that he “had not gone out altogether of his own will, and the unwillingness of the directors to say anything about it did not tend to settle the trouble.” (Advertiser (June 9, 1896): 1, News Arc)  The Board Members were not alone; 100 people attended the meeting. “Mr. Copeland led the attack.” He wanted to know details about the content of the letter. President Browne replied that members should trust the actions of the Board. Reporters were then asked to leave the room and President Browne told the story of the origin of “the letter.” Zerrahn had written it ten years before and given it to Browne with the instruction to use it when appropriate. After about 5 years, Browne began to notice that Zerrahn was gradually losing his hearing. Browne had been told this by a physician, and Browne “tried to tell him that it would be best if he retired now, but the words would not come…The remembrance of 40 years of service in the society arose and he had not the heart to speak.” (Advertiser (June 6, 1896): 1, News Arc) Browne had thought that Zerrahn would retire at the end of his 40th. year with the choir, but he did not. That was when Browne finally summoned courage to make this suggestion and the letter was written.” Zerrahn wrote: “I tender my resignation now or at any time in the future that you care to accept it.” (Ibid) Browne read all the correspondence involved, and then Vice-President Hagar “rehearsed the whole matter.” Secretary Stone “spoke to the same effect.” The six Anti-Lang members, headed by Boynton had visited Zerrahn and told him that the Directors’ action was not supported by much of the membership. He gave them the impression that he hadn’t actually resigned. President Browne’s reply was that “Dr. Zerrahn’s letters were on file.” Then two new directors were elected and the meeting ended. But “not, however without assurance from both sides that the warfare is over. But of that there is reasonable doubt.” (Ibid)

President Browne later wrote that ”With his (Zerrahn’s) retirement came, for the first time in forty years, the necessity of choosing a conductor, but hardly a question as to who it should be. The excellent musician who has been our organist for thirty-six years, and had, as conductor of the Cecilia and Apollo clubs during a quarter of a century, abundantly shown his high capacity in that regard, was, of course, the choice of the board…It might have been expected that a feeling of unfamiliarity because of the change in conductorship would operate to the disadvantage of the chorus singing, but nothing of the kind was shown. There was no falling off in attendance or interest at rehearsals or concerts, Mr. Lang’s devotion to his work has been above praise, as have his skill and success in instruction, so that in some very important respects the chorus improved during the year.” (History-Vol. II, 63) Thus after the success of his conducting debut with this group and his long connection as organist, Lang began leading the major choral group of Boston. Tara described Lang’s era: “Lang nursed back to health a Handel and Haydn Society that was almost moribund.” (Tara, Foote, 41)

The repertoire for Lang’s first season included two performances of Messiah in December (the 92nd. and 93rd. time the group had sung this work). One writer said of the first concert: ”As Conductor Lang walked up to the platform warmly applauded by the immense audience that completely filled Music Hall, one could not feel that it was a case of ‘Le Roi est mort; Vive le Roi”; for there in the foremost row sat Carl Zerrahn in the audience. As he watched the every motion of the man who now conducts his beloved Society, many an eye grew moist at the deep suggestion of the picture.” (Bradbury, History-Vol. II, 57) It is ironic that he would have to begin his conductorship with this work as ”Mr. Lang regarded the singing of Messiah by the Handel and Haydn on Christmas week so many consecutive years as having really no fitness for that season. He viewed as the most fitting music for that season the Christmas Oratorio by John [sic] Sebastian Bach. Bach, he considered the greatest name in Protestant church music.” (Transcript, April 5, 1909) The Herald noticed “many innovations in regard to the time in which the choruses were taken…for a more rapid pace was adopted.” This worked well in some cases but the “more flowery passages could not be sung clearly and steadily by so large a body of singers, and the effect was confused and muddy.” However, one of the most difficult, “‘For Unto Us a Child Is Born,’ was finely sung, with strong emphasis, admirable color and impressive spirit,” and nothing said about the roulades! “Mr. Lang was evidently suffering from nervousness, for he did not always hold his forces together, and there were many moments when he was at odds with both the singers and orchestra.” (Herald (December 23, 1895): 5, GB) Philip Hale in the Journal also noted the faster tempi: “Certain choruses were taken at a faster pace than has been the custom, and the majority of these choruses gained thereby.” However, those with roulades “were for the most part indistinct and without accent.” To Hale, the choir didn’t sound any different than it had under Zerrahn. The orchestra played poorly, and Hale wrote: “This was not the fault of the orchestra; it was the fault of Mr. Lang, who is apt to bury his head in the score, forgetting that even the most experienced player is often anxious for a cue.” (Journal (December 23, 1895): 5, GB)  Charles W. Stone, the Secretary of the Society would enter into the Minutes his own comments of each performance. Of this first Messiah he wrote: “The chorus work was more uneven than usual. It showed far greater merits and also some demerits. There was immense improvement in delicacy and in expression, but the great choruses were given with less power than usual. ‘For Unto Us a Child is Born’ was the especial success of the evening. Mr. Lang modified the tempo somewhat in several numbers. In the ‘Pastoral Symphony’ in particular, the local traditions were disregarded, the tempo was much quickened and the wood was kept playing throughout.” Stone then reviewed the soloists giving the two women only passing marks, but the tenor Mr. Johnson sang “with glorious voice, fine expression and musicianly style. He won golden opinions even from the Boston critics…The orchestra played a little better than usual.” (Ibid) A was a total of 368 singers and an orchestra of 54. The profit for the evening was $610. Even though this was Lang’s first appearance with the group, sales were poor and every singer was given a ticket free in order to help paper the house.

The Verdi Requiem was performed on Feb. 2, 1896 (for the fifth time) to mixed criticism. On Good Friday, April 3, 1896 Bach’ St. Matthew Passion was presented (for the thirteenth time), also to mixed critical response and a very poor house which led the Society’s Secretary Charles W. Stone to predict the ”doom” of this work as an annual feature in the Society’s programming. Only two days later, on Easter Sunday, Haydn’s Creation was given (the sixty-sixth time since 1819) to a full house that produced a profit of $1,282.80. The soloists were well received, the chorus performed well, and Lang was lauded by the critics. The choir numbered 381 and the orchestra 69. (Bradbury, History, Vol. 2, 58)

On Good Friday, April 3, 1896 the choir sang its 13th. performance of Bach’s “Passion Music with a chorus of 323, an orchestra of 61 and the usual boy choir.” (Bradbury, History, Vol. 2, 60) Ticket sales were very poor, and although the Society’s Secretary wrote that the “choral performance was superb, finer than ever before in the work,” (Bradbury, 60) this marked the last performance of the work.

A week later [!] the Society gave their 66th. performance of Haydn’s Creation. “The chorus numbered 354 and the orchestra 55. The house at this concert was full [ as opposed to the Bach performance] and not papered, for the receipts were $3,762.42 and the direct profit of $1,282.80. (Bradbury, 61) One of the soloists canceled at just a few hours’ notice, but Mrs. Henschel stepped in, singing, as Secretary Stone reported, “very well, evading the high notes and hard places in the highest style of the art.” (Ibid) “In almost every number the chorus executed its task in a manner to do credit to itself and to the training of Mr. B. J. Lang (Louis C. Elson), and “the chorus sang splendidly with vim, accuracy, sharpness of attack, and all due shading (Transcript-probably Apthorp).” (Ibid)

The Annual Meeting held on May 25, 1896 was described as ”stormy.” It was demanded that the correspondence between President Browne and Carl Zerrahn be read to the full meeting. The Journal had multiple headlines for its story: “A CONTEST OVER B. J. LANG; Handel and Haydn Society Have a Contest; What the Conductor Has to Say on the Subject; Secretary Stone talks Freely of the Affair”. Lang was asked by the Journal reporter what he knew about this situation, and Lang replied that he was just the conductor and not a member of the society. He did not attend meetings and so knew nothing of the affairs of the choir. The reporter brought up the deficit of c. $1,000 for Lang’s first season, but Secretary Stone replied: “There have been very few seasons for 12 or 15 years when we have paid expenses out of the season’s receipts.” concerning the Annual meeting Lang mentioned: “What happened, by the way, doesn’t concern me particularly. In the course of the day I have met perhaps 40 or 50 friends and pupils. Not one of them said anything to me about the incidents of last night’s meeting.” (Journal (May 27, 1896): 7, GB)

Philip Hale of the Journal did some investigative journalism. First he went to Lang’s teaching studio on Tremont Street for reaction to “the attempt to oust him from the conductorship of the Handel and Haydn Society at its annual Meeting.” (Journal (May 27, 1896): 7, News Arc) Lang read the article and replied: “This news to me.” As an employee he had not been invited to the meeting. He also said that he knew nothing of the finances. “I was engaged to conduct the society’s series of concerts last season. I did what I was engaged to do-nothing more.” Next Hale went to the home of the Secretary C. W. Stone on Chestnut Street and asked if the Society was concerned about the deficit of $1,200 for Lang’s first season. Stone’s reply was: “That is the normal state of things. There have been very few seasons for 13 or 15 years when we paid expenses out of the season’s receipts.” (Ibid)  Stone reminded everyone that the Society elects the Board and the Board makes the decisions-there had been some talk of “Why doesn’t the Society [singers] select the conductor.”

The meeting was continued until June 8. Two days later the Worcester Daily Spy reported: “The war in the Handel and Haydn Society of Boston is nominally ended, and Mr. Lang will continue as conductor. Two more directors favorable to him were elected by the Society, Monday night, so that the board stands 9 to 2 in his favor…There are hints, however, that the suspension of hostilities against Mr. Lang is merely a truce and not an established peace.” (Worcester Daily Spy (June 10, 1896): 4, GB) The actual vote was Nine in favor, Four against. At a final meeting on July 1, Lang was elected conductor for the next season. The program was to be Messiah in December, Elijah in February, and Horatio Parker’s Hora Novissima in April.

Philip Hale announced to his Journal readers: “Gentlemen of the Handel and Haydn, now lay aside all strife and unseemly bickering and consecrate yourselves to the arduous labors of nest season. It is rumored-and we see no reason for disbelieving the report-that you will produce on or about Christmas a new work, which has excited considerable attention in Europe. We believe the oratorio is entitled The Messiah. Gird up your loins and buckle yourselves bravely to the taste. Look your conductor straight in the face, and sing “Wonderful! Counselor!” (Journal (June 10, 1896): 10, News Arc.)

For the December 20 and 21, 1896 concerts Lang was unable to conduct because of pneumonia. “From an attack of congestion of the lungs, he was confined to his home by the imperative order of his physician.” (Herald (December 21, 1896): 5, GB) Without rehearsal, George W. Chadwick conducted the Messiahs. “It may be said, however, that there were no serious hitches, and that, all things considered, he acquitted himself with much credit.” (Ibid) “It will suffice to say of the chorus work that it was steady and generally praiseworthy. To criticize it more closely would not be kindly.” (Ibid) For the Sunday performance, there was a chorus of 346 and an orchestra of 54; for Monday’s concert, the numbers were 304 and 54. (Bradbury, History, Vol. 2, 68)

The February 7, 1897 Elijah performance was the 50th. for the Society and every seat in the hall was filled. The Society first sang the work on February 13, 1848, just nine months after its premiere in England. “So great was its success that it was performed on the next eight Sunday nights.” (Bradbury, Op. cit., 69) This 50th. performance was called a “triumph” for Lang, and even Philip Hale said ”It is only just to say that the performance as a whole deserves hearty praise.” (Ibid) The Globe gave more details. The second paragraph began: “The only notable novelty about the performance was the appearance of the distinguished boy soprano, Henry Donlan, in the part of the youth.” (Globe (February 8, 1897): 5) Before this date, this part had always been sung by a soprano. The ease with which he sang the high A at the end of his section was noted. However, another critic noted that he “lapsed from correct intonation,” and that instead of singing in “a simple childish manner,” he had been coached to produce a ” maturity of feeling quite out of keeping with his age, and that deprived his efforts of anything resembling sincerity.” (Herald (February 8, 1897): 4, GB) However, “Master Donlan received an ovation such is seldom seen anywhere. At intermission, when he left the stage, the audience arose and shouted for him.” (Worcester Daily Spy (February 8, 1897): 3. GB)

Another highlight of the performance was the singing of the Welshman Ffrangeon Davies, in the part of Elijah. He received “most generous applause” for his main aria, but also he was applauded for his recitatives, “the entire performance coming to a pause, while conductor Lang, resting his arm upon his music stand, waited for quiet to be restored.” (Ibid)

Of the choir: “Mr. Lang has made distinct improvements in his handling of the chorus. He has better control and leads with more confidence. The work of the great body of singers was unusually good. There was precision of attack and exact unanimity of action without which the effect of the work of a chorus is sadly marred. The balance was fairly good, though a little more volume of sound from the alto section would not have been amiss. The shading of tone volume was beautifully done, the chorus responding as accurately and surely to the conductor’s command as an organ does to the drawing of its stops.” (Ibid) The Worcester paper reported that this concert had been “one of the best in the history of the Handel and Haydn Society.” Lang had brought about “excellent dynamic effects of light and shade in both chorus and orchestra, good attacks and improved pronunciation” was evident, “while the orchestra was held well in hand and made more than usually effective in the solo accompaniments.” The young boy soloist “Master Donlan received an ovation such is seldom seen anywhere. At the intermission, when he left the stage, the audience arose and shouted for him.” (Worcester Spy (February 8, 1897): 3, GB) The Society’s Secretary wrote: “This was pronounced by the friends of the society the best concert of its history. It was a day of triumph for Mr. Lang…The chorus sang with amazing ease, grace, flexibility, responsiveness and power. its work was a revelation. [!] Immense enthusiasm attended the performance, and even the hostile critics [see Hale above] had not the temerity to deny it.” (Secretary notes, 261) But yet he was not hired for the next season! The choir numbered 334 and the orchestra 55. (Bradbury, History, Vol. 2, 69)

The Bach Passion was not presented this season. The Easter Sunday, April 18th. performance included Lang leading Mendelssohn’s Overture to St. Paul and Hear My Prayer together with J. C. D. Parker conducting his own Redemption Hymn and Horatio Parker conducting his own Hora Novissima. The high point of the performance was to have been the first Boston appearance of the English soprano, Miss Ella Russell, but “her rendering of the solos in Hear My Prayer was heavy and lacking ” in style, color, freedom and warmth of sentiment while the speed was so slow that “grace of phrasing were quite out of the question.” (Herald (April 19, 1897): 8, GB) Her major solo in Hora Novissima, “O Bona Patria” was marred by “the unimpassioned manner in which she interpreted it.” (Ibid).  The Redemption Hymn was “again listened to with pleasure and interest.” (Ibid) End of comment. The work of the chorus was “praiseworthy in every way…It has done nothing better than its firm and solid rendering of the difficult a capella chorus.” [In Hora Novissima] (Ibid) The orchestra played well, especially under Horatio Parker, and “the concert may be confidently pronounced the most commendable of the society’s season.” (Ibid) The choir numbered 329 and the orchestra 59. (Bradbury, History, Vol. 2, 70)

At the Annual Meeting of the Handel and Haydn Society on May 24, 1897 nine of the thirteen board members elected were seen as ”Anti-Lang men”. This board then elected Zerrahn conductor again, and, disregarding precedent, created an executive committee that did not include the Vice-President and Secretary. It also removed from the President the duties of appointing the voice committee and superintendents. The result was that the four major officers of the Society resigned. In a story dated June 23, 1897 in the Boston Record the various officers were quoted. Ledbetter summarizes the story-  “The four principal officers of the Society were older men, while new members of the board in 1897 were younger. Nonetheless, these younger fellows preferred Zerrahn to Lang, feeling that his personal magnetism and familiar ways of conducting were more healthful than the stricter discipline immediately imposed by Lang. Lang was at a disadvantage with the orchestra and had difficulty in holding all forces together in concerts. The younger men felt that the older Zerrahn had not outlived his usefulness and wanted him back again.” (Johnson,  Hallelujah Amen, 167, 168) The four officers were: President: Eugene Hagar, Vice-President: Gen. F. Daniel and Secretary: Charles W. Stone with Treasurer M. Grant Daniel resigning later. (Journal (June 23, 1897): no page number, GB) These men “had long been valued officers of the society.” (Ibid)

When Lang was questioned about this, he pointed out that he was not at this business meeting: “I am a musician. I have nothing to do with the business of the society…I understand that some gentlemen who are termed ‘anti-Lang’ were put into power…But I don’t know. Mr. Stone [Secretary of the Society] knows, I daresay. He lives on Mt. Vernon Street.” (Journal (May 25, 1897: 6. GB) The Journal was Boston’s more sensational paper of its time, and so Lang’s comments generated this headline: “MR. LANG AT SEA. He Doesn’t Know What Happened at the Handel and Haydn Society Meeting or What It Means.” (Ibid)

“This unfortunate situation explains why Elson refers to Lang as a musical ”admirable Crichton,” after the sixteenth-century Scottish scholar who was attacked one night by a party of armed and masked men. Crichton recognized one of them as his pupil and offered him his sword, and this young prince of Gonzaga immediately ran him through with it. Lang must have felt acutely the betrayal of the young Boston musicians.” (Fox, Papers,  11)

“The conflict rocked the town, and the Press gave the Society its most complete coverage to date. The Record showed a large drawing of the decrepit Zerrahn leading an orchestra of bald-headed men while disgruntled officers with large portfolios headed toward the Exit sign, above which, in a coffin, rested B. J. Lang on the shelf. The title was Why Do the Heathen Rage? Letters of a most confidential nature were gleefully printed in full in the Journal, and officers, behaving like primadonnas were interviewed… There was even hidden treasure! A rumor ran widespread that a wealthy man in another city intended to contribute about $150,000 to an organization that would use it effectively and that he had communicated with B. J. Lang. Mr. Lang talked it over with the President and Secretary of the Society, Mr. Hagar and Mr. Stone, giving the implication that the long-desired building might become a reality. This had the air of being a bid for the conductorship of Mr. Lang…Charges and countercharges upset the musical boat as the newspapers used the words ”row,” ”fight,” ”factions,” ”strife,” ”clash,” in protesting that both sides held Mr. Zerrahn in affection but that the dissenters felt that he had lost his ”vital fluid,” and they preferred Lang in perfect health at sixty years of age… The final meeting of September 29, 1897 proved to be quite tame, for the Lang forces withdrew, Zerrahn was ‘vindicated,’ and an unconvincing attempt made to gloss things over.” (Johnson, Hallelujah, 169 and 170) Zerrahn’s “Loss of vital fluid” some felt was due to having lost his wife the previous year, “and [he] naturally showed less vigor and strength for a time thereafter.” (Advertiser (May 26, 1897): 8, GB)

 

Herald (September 17, 1897): 1, GB). On the front page!

This September meeting elected officers for the coming year, but no one would stand for the post of President. E. P. Boynton, [lower left] “who has been all along the leader of the Zerrahn contingent” was elected Vice President…It has been freely hinted outside the meetings that those who are running the society at present would like to get for the new president such a man as either Col. H. L. Higginson or Richard H. Dana, and the failure to elect last night is construed as giving a semblance of probability to the story.” (Globe (September 30, 1897): 8) At the previous Annual Meeting on May 24, 1897, the four primary officers were reelected but the eight Directors and the Librarian were all “Anti-Lang Men.” As soon as they were elected, they passed a number of rule changes so that “the President was to be merely a figure-head, and the Vice-President not even as much as this…In consequence of this action Messrs. Hagar [President], Daniels [Vice-President], Stone [Secretary], and Daniell [Treasurer] resigned.” (History II, 78) In an interview of June 23, the Vice-President, Mr. G. F. Daniels said: “Mr. lang has brought the work of the society to a degree of excellence which it never before attained and this is solely due to the superiority of his methods. The very thoroness [sic] of these methods, however, made them more difficult for the members of the society, and consequently, they turn for relief to the easier and more magnetic methods of Mr. Zerrahn.”  (Op. cit., 79)

At the September 16, 1897 “Special Meeting” the four letters of resignation were read out and Mr. Simmons moved for acceptance. But before this, the long-time former President of the choir, Mr. A. Parker Browne, moved that this new board resign. The vote was Yeas 56 and Nays 57. By just one vote history was changed. After the vote, “Mr. Browne, followed by a large number of the Lang faction, left their seats in the hall.” (Op. cit., 92)

Between the May 24th. and September 29th. meetings various other candidates for conductor were mentioned. One longtime member suggested, “young Mr. Chadwick ” who had conducted a few times last year and was considered “first-rate…I think he would do more to bring up the society than any other man.” (Advertiser, Op. cit.) Other suggestions were Emil Mollenhauer and Horatio Parker. Mollenhauer was trained as a violinist and he began his career in New York City at the age of 9. He moved to Boston and joined the BSO in 1884. In 1889 he resigned and became the concertmaster of the newly formed Boston Festival Orchestra, and after three years, he then became the conductor for the following 22 years; c. 1892-c. 1914. After Lang’s two years with the Handel and Haydn Society and a following one final year with Zerrahn, Mollenhauer became the Society’s conductor “which he reorganized and revitalized after a period of musical decline. He took over the directorship of the Apollo Club after Lang’s retirement in 1901, and [much like Zerrahn] also led choral societies in Brookline, Lynn, Salem and Newburyport.” (Ledbetter entry in Vol. 3. The New Grove Dictionary of American Music, 255-256)

The Herald wrote on September 19, 1897 an article based on many articles published previously. “The published reports of the meeting in Bumstead Hall one evening last week indicated an intensity of feeling on the part of the vanquished [Lang’s men] that fell little short of indiscretion, to say nothing of oblivion to the dictates of becoming dignity. Nothing lasts forever, even the supreme control of an organization by a faction or a clique.” (Herald (September 19, 1897): 29, GB) The article then wished that all the energy generated by bickering had been instead directed to discussing how the choir could be returned to a place of major influence in the musical life of Boston, as it had ” ceased to be a prominent factor in musical progress here.” (Ibid) The ending sentence hoped that the incoming faction would be “inspired by like zeal for the welfare of the society.” (Ibid)

Philip Hale made his position known in the first issue of the Musical Record. “What is to be said about the Handel and Haydn row?-for row it is; row is the proper word…It is a pitiable sight, this spectacle of members of the venerable society squabbling, calling each other names, sulking, eager to fall into the hands of interviewers. Much might be forgiven if either Mr. Zerrahn or Mr. Lang were admirably qualified for the position. There are younger and far better-equipped men living in Boston, whose claims are not now considered. (Musical Record, October 1897, 2) Hale had made the point of how old both men were.

Zerrahn’s return lasted only one year, and after a May 2, 1898 “testimonial concert of Elijah-the work he had first led for the Handel and Haydn on December 3, 1854-combining these three choruses [H and H, Worcester Chorus, and the Salem Chorus] with similar groups from Lynn, Lowell, New Bedford, Hyde Park, Chelsea, Quincey, Waltham, a vast throng of 1700 voices with soloists headed by Johanna Gadski, the great Wagnerian prima donna” Zerrahn retired to Germany. However he spent only five years there, and then “returned to Milton, Massachusetts, where he enjoyed eleven years (1909) of comfortable retirement at the home of his son.” (Ibid, 171) Thus Zerrahn and Lang died in the same year.

While Lang was the conductor of the Handel and Haydn Society he had greater prestige among Boston Social Circles. The “Social Life” section of the Herald reported on the list of those who had already signed up as subscribers or patrons of the Castle Square Theatre, “that beautiful playhouse with the best people.” (Herald (September 27, 1896): 27, GB) He was the first on the list: “Mr. B. J. Lang, director of the Handel and Haydn and Cecilia Societies.”  Others listed were Mrs. W. B. Sewall of Commonwealth Avenue, Mrs. Skinner of Marlboro Street, Mrs. E. J. Andrews of Beacon Street, etc. The Langs now moved in very elevated circles.

>>> Part: 1   2   3 

CHAPTER 05. (Part 1) BJL: ESTABLISHED MUSICAL FORCE: 1891-1901. SC(G). WC. TOPICS, PREMIERS, SOCIAL EVENTS-CECILIA: EIGHTEENTH SEASON, 1893-1894. (P1)

Established Musical Force: 1891-1901. S.C. Topics, W. C.-13,057. SC (G)

TOPICS:

  • PART 1                                                                                                                                      Social Events.                                                                                                                      Apollo Sings for the Funeral of John H. Stickney.                                                Cecilia Sixteenth Season: 1891-1892.                                                                        Apollo Club Twenty-first Season: 1891-1892.                                                     Parsifal: Second Time. May 4, 1892.                                                                                  Boston Symphony Orchestra Chorus.
  • A French Life of Wagner.                                                                                                 Harvard Musical Association New Home.                                                               Lang’s Critics.                                                                                                                       Cecilia Seventeenth Season: 1892-1893.
  • Apollo Club Twenty-Second Season: 1892-1893.                                                       Lang on Piano Playing.                                                                                                         1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.                                                     Cecilia Eighteenth Season: 1893-1894.

PART 2                                                                                                                                      Apollo Club Twenty-third Season: 1893-1894.                                                    Edward Burlingame Hill.                                                                                                Lang’s Musical Talks.                                                                                                          Hook and Hastings Studio Organ.                                                                                 Cecilia Nineteenth Season: 1894-1895.                                                                           Apollo Club Twenty-fourth Season: 1894-1895.                                                      New Boston Farm: First Summer Season-1895.                                                    Ship: Typical Journey.                                                                                                    Cecilia Twentieth Season: 1895-1896.                                                                       King’s Chapel: Easter and Christmas1895.                                                                    Apollo Club Twenty-fifth Season: 1895-1896.                                                      Farm: Second Summer Season-1896.                                                                   American Guild of Organists.                                                                                           Handel and Haydn Society-Lang as Conductor. “Best concert in  its history.”

  • PART 3                                                                                                                                     Lang- Musical Dictator of Boston.                                                                             Cecilia Twenty-first Season: 1896-1897.                                                                 Apollo Club Twenty-sixth Season: 1896-1897.                                                         Etude Interview with Lang About his Teaching.                                                        The Ditson Fund.                                                                                                                   Farm: Third Summer Season: 1897.                                                                             Europe-Summer Trip, 1897.                                                                                         Cecilia Twenty-second Season: 1897-1898                                                            Apollo Club Twenty-seventh Season: 1897-1898.
  • Family Portraits.
  • Apthorp Lecture.                                                                                                           Bayreuth.                                                                                                                                   Bach Concerts.                                                                                                                       Cecilia Twenty-third Season: 1898-1899.
  • Personality
  • PART 4                                                                                                                                      Apollo Club Twenty-eighth Season: 1898-1899.                                   Murder.                                                                                                                                          Cecilia Twenty-fourth Season: 1899-1900.                                                              Apollo Club Twenty-ninth Season: 1899-1900.                                                        Missa Solemnis-Beethoven. Cecilia Sings at Symphony Hall Dedication.   Popular Taste in Music: Can It be Cultivated and Refined?                       Summer 1900.                                                                                                                Musicians’ Aid Concert.                                                                                                 Student Apes the Master.                                                                                                                                         Ex Governor Wolcott’s funeral.                                                                                                                                   Cecilia Twenty-fifth Season: 1900-1901.                                                                  Hiram G. Tucker Concert.                                                                                                 Farm: Summer Seasons 1897-1901.                                                                             Ruth Burrage Library of Orchestral Scores.                                                             Miss Helen Henschel’s Boston Debut Recital.                                                           King’s Chapel:Elijah.
  • Apollo Club Thirtieth Season: 1900-1901.
  • B. J. Resigns from the Apollo Club.                                                                                      Concerto Performances Through 1900.

CECILIA PREMIERS: All from the 1907 List unless noted.

(Boston)       Bach: Blessing, Glory, Wisdom and Might (with piano), January 24, 1894. .

(Boston)       Beach: The Rose of Avontown. Mrs. Beach was the accompanist. February 4, 1897.

(Boston)       Beethoven: Missa Solemnis.  March 12, 1897.

(American)    Berlioz: The Fifth of May, November 28, 1891. (First Wage Earner Concert)

(Boston)     Brahms: How Long Wilt Thou Forget Me, O God?  January 25, 1892.

(Boston)       Bruch: Siechen rost. January 25, 1893.

(Boston)       Chadwick: Phoenix Expirans. December 3 and 5, 1900.

(World)        Chadwick: The Pilgrims. April 2, 1891.

(American)    Coleridge-Taylor: Overture to Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast. March 12 and 14, 1900.

(Boston)       Coleridge-Taylor: Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast. March 12 and 14, 1900.

(American)    Coleridge-Taylor: Hiawatha’s Departure.  December 3 and 5, 1900.

(Boston)       Dvorak: Requiem. November 28 and 30, 1892. Second American-Dvorak conducted.

(Boston)       Elgar: My Love Dwelt in a Northern Land. January 17, 1895. Second American.

(Boston)       Fanchetti: Academic Festival Hymn (with piano). January 24, 1894.

(Boston)       Goring: The Swan and Skylark.  January 13, 1898.

(Boston)       Haydn: Salve Regina. March 20, 1896.

(Boston)       Humperdinck: Pilgrimage to Kevlaar. January 13, 1898.

(World)         B. J. Lang: The King is Dead. January 25 and 26, 1899.

(World)        M. R. Lang: Love Plumes His Wings. January 23 and 25, 1893. Repeated January 16 and 17, 1895.

(World)         M. R. Lang: Irish Love Song. February 13, 1896.

(World)         M. R. Lang: In a Garden.  April 30, 1896.

(World)         M. R. Lang: Bonnie Ran the Burnie Down. May 6, 1897.

(Boston)        MacCunn: It Was a Lass. January 22, 1891.

(Boston)        MacCunn: Lord Ullin’s Daughter. January 22, 1891.

(Boston)        Moskowski: Scenes from Faust, March 20, 1896.

(World)         Nevin: If She be Made of White and Red. May 11, 1893.

(Boston)        Palestrina: Sanctus. May 2, 1894

(Boston)        Palestrina: Missa Brevis. February 13, 1901.

(Boston)        Parker: Legend of St. Christopher, Opus 43. December 6, 1899. The  world premier had been just the year before. Parker conducted.

(American)     Perosi: The Transfiguration of Christ. April 14 and 26, 1899. The work had only been premiered in Italy a year earlier, March 20, 1898.

(Boston)        Saint-Saens: Samson and Dalila (Delilah). November 27 and 28, 1894.

(Boston)        Schubert: Miriam’s Song of Triumph. May 14, 1891.

(Boston?)       Sgambati: Andante Solenne (Organ and orchestra). March 20, 1896 at a Cecilia Concert.

(Boston)        Stanford: Phandrig Crohoore. March 14, 1900.

(Boston)        Thomas: The Swan and the Skylark. January 13, 1898.

(Boston)        Tinel: St. Francis of Assisi (Selections). November 23 and 24, 1893. Second American.

(Boston)        Tchaikovsky: Cherubim Song. January 24, 1900.

(American)   Verdi: Stabat Mater. December 5 and 7, 1898.

(American)   Verdi: Te Deum. December 5 and 7, 1898.

(Boston)        Verdi: Hymn to the Virgin. January 26, 1899.

(Boston)        Wagner: Parsifal (Concert Performance). April 14, 1891 by the Cecilia Society and the Apollo Club with 75 members of the New York Philharmonic. (Johnson, First, 387)

(Boston)        Wagner: “Quintet and Chorus” from Die Feen. January 31, 1899.

APOLLO PREMIERS:

(Boston)          Gericke, Wilhelm: The Autumn Sea. November 22, 1899. Premier mentioned in the November 23, 1899 Advertiser review. NEW, not on lists.

(Boston)          arr. Grieg: Fair Toro, a Norwegian folk-song. March 22, 1899. Premier mentioned in the November 23, 1899 Advertiser  review. NEW, not on lists.

(World)            Lang, Margaret: The Boatman’s Hymn. January 18, 1893.

(World)            Lang, Margaret: arr. second “orchestral accompaniment” for Estudiantina by Paul Lacome. (Yearbook, Vol. 10, 15)

(Boston)          MacDowell: Bonnie Ann, Opus 53, text by Robert Burns (?). March 22, 1899. Premier mentioned in the November 23, 1899 Advertiser  review. NEW, not on lists.

(Boston)           MacDowell: Dance of Gnomes. Words by MacDowell. March 3, 1893. Bomberger: MacD, 176. “Enormous success.”

(Boston)          MacDowell: Midsummer Clouds, November 30, 1898. (Advertiser (December 1, 1898): 4, GB)

(Boston)          Massenet, Jules: The Monks and the Pirates. November 22, 1899. Premier mentioned in the November 23, 1899 Advertiser review. NEW, not on lists.

(World?)          Osgood: In Picardie. May 3, 1893. (Advertiser (May 4, 1893): 5, GB)

(Boston)          Parker, Horatio W.: Three Words. November 22, 1899. Premier mentioned in the November 23, 1899 Advertiser review. NEW, not on lists.

(Boston)         Wahlgemuth, Gustav, arranged by: Secret Love. Premier mentioned in the November 23, 1899 Advertiser review. NEW, not on lists.

(Boston)         Williams, C. Lee: Song of the Pedlar. Premier mentioned in the November 23, 1899 Advertiser review. NEW, not on lists.

BY LANG STUDENTS:

(Boston??)     Sgambati: Piano Concerto in g minor, Op. 15. Hiram G. Tucker pianist with the BSO on October 31, 1890, Arthur Nikisch conductor. (Johnson, First, 336)

———————————————————–

SOCIAL EVENTS.

As an “Established Musical Force,” it fell to the Langs to host, attend or support many social events. During this ten-year period, the newspapers are full of reports listing Mr. and Mrs. attending, Mr. and Mrs. supporting, Mrs being a Patron, Mrs. and one or more of the children attending, etc. The family’s regular Lang Sunday afternoon open houses/musicales were listed under “Events In Society” on the “Personal and Social Gossip” page of the Sunday Herald.                                                                                                                            March 5.     Musicale.   Mrs. B. J. Lang,    8 Brimmer street.    4.[PM]                   (Herald (March 5, 1893): 23, GB)                                                                                There were also special events. “Dec. 28th. Lel gave a dinner of 12 for Paderewski. Some of the guests were  Nickish, Higginson, Chadwick, Foote, MacDowell, Johns, Apthorp and Winch…Also present at the dinner were Paderewski’s old school friends Joe and Jim Adamowski [Boston Symphony members].” (Diary 2, December 1891) The doyen of Boston Society, Isabella Stuart Gardner, was a family friend. “Mrs. Gardner has invited me to a luncheon given for Paderewski.” (Diary 2, Winter 1892) “Leonora Van Stesch [violinist] is staying with us. She receives a steady stream of callers. But also practices many hours each day.” (Ibid) In the fall Antonin Dvorak would be a house guest. Even rival conductors were welcomed: Mr. Damrosch dined with us before his concert.” (Diary 2, Winter 1893) For one Sunday open house: “We had a big crowd here Sunday afternoon to hear Eleanor Hyde sing.” (Ibid) “Went to the big supper for Paderewski at Mrs. Gardner’s.” (Ibid) The Langs knew the greats of their time: “Edwin Booth is dying. How well I remember going behind the scenes at the Boston Theatre and his being presented to us.” (Ibid) Then there were the composers: “Last evening Mr. and Mrs. Horatio Parker and Mr. and Mrs. Chadwick came to dinner. Afterwards all went up to the Billiard room.” (Diary 2, Fall 1893) “Our Sunday afternoons are getting very crowded. People seem to enjoy coming.” (Diary 2, Winter 1894) “At a big Tavern Club dinner Lel was called upon to make an impromptu speech. Afterwards Will Apthorp told him that it was one of the best speeches he had ever heard.” (Diary 2, Spring 1894) “Another wonderful party at Mrs. Gardner’s last night.” (Ibid) “There is not a moment to breathe. We are always on the go, or people are coming here.” (Diary 2, Spring 1895) “Our Sunday afternoons are more crowded than ever…Our days are filled with receptions, parties, concerts and the Opera.” (Diary 2, Winter 1896) Another side of society life was charity work. How did she have the time? “I am now going regularly to the Home for Incurables. I enjoy talking with them, also singing to them, which they often ask me to do.” (Ibid) “I am almost dead with so much going on.” (Ibid) The pace didn’t let up. An entry, “We go to the Opera almost continuously,” was closely followed by, “We had a brilliant Sunday afternoon yesterday. The talented Mr. Kittredge who played with Mrs. Robinson in In a Balcony sang exquisite French songs, playing his own accompaniments…I try to rest but there is never time…Now that April is here we have discontinued our Sunday afternoons” (Diary, 2 Spring 1898) However, ours had a longer season. “We went to a brilliant Garden Party at Mrs. Gardner’s. Next Day. Went to a large dinner at Mrs. Gardner’s. There were 16 of us, and after dinner, we had the greatest fun playing a Haydn Kinder Symphony.” (Ibid) There were also family obligations that took up time; “Mrs. Gardner went with Lel and me to see Noble’s School play against Roxbury Latin Sch. Malcolm played short-stop. Roxbury won 5-4” (Ibid) The Sunday Afternoons late in 1898 began on December 4th. (Diary 2, Winter 1898)

APOLLO CLUB SINGS FOR FUNERAL OF JOHN H. STICKNEY.

Handel and Haydn History, Vol. 2, 24.

On November 18, 1891 the choir sang at the funeral of John H. Stickney who was the only surviving member of J. C. D. Parker’s original twelve singers of the Chickering Club-he had often been a soloist with the Club. Such changes were reflected in Phillip Hale’s review of an 1892 concert where he wrote, “the first tenors are not now as strong as of old. Death and resignation took away valuable old members” (Baker, 15)  However H. M. Ticknor (bass in the choir and on the Harvard faculty) wrote in the Globe “of first tenors applying for membership, 31% are accepted, 26% of second tenors are accepted, and only one out of every five basses who apply are admitted to membership.” However critics grew more negative as reflected by this 1894 comment from B. E. Woolf in the Gazette-“B. J. Lang’s prevailing weakness as a conductor is evident…[he is] somewhat of an anachronism.”

CECILIA SIXTEENTH SEASON: 1891-1892.

Part of the crowd that would attend the concerts. The short street leading to the Music Hall was just opposite the steeple of the church.

The headline in the Transcript was: “CECILIA AS AN EDUCATOR.” This season presented “Wage-Earners Concerts,” held the night before the regular concert with ticket prices of 15 and 25 cents. The idea had first been tried in Chicago, to great success, and in Boston, “judging by the size of the gathering and the warm interest of the listeners the first trial of the plan was a complete success.” (516) The Herald headline was in three parts: “THE BEST MUSIC—LOW PRICES. The new Departure of the Cecilia Outlined. A Repetition of the Club Concerts at Low Prices-Plans for Distributing the Tickets for Sale to Wage-Earners-A Worthy Effort in the Right Direction.” This paper reminded their readers that it had reported on the efforts of the Apollo Club of Chicago when they first began: “The Herald was very anxious that steps should be taken to establish a similar course of concerts in this city, but at the time, for various reasons, it seemed to be impossible…During the last few weeks, a gentleman representing the club has visited substantially all the large employers of labor throughout the city with a view of interesting them in this enterprise…The Cecilia must be congratulated on the enterprise they have shown and the unselfishness with which their singers have gladly given their services.” (Herald, undated) Another paper also had an extensive headline: “MUSIC FOR THE MILLIONS. CECILIA’S NEW SERIES. Her Brave Effort to Play to Boston’s Wage Earners Has a Measure of Success. THROUGH MANY BIG SALARIES GOT IN.” (Anon. article)

The Wage Earner Concerts were continued for twenty years with prices of 25, 35 and 50 cents. Blocks of tickets were given to companies who then distributed them to their employees. Unfortunately, many tickets fell into the hands of those who could afford to pay full price, and this led to a discontinuing the concerts during the 1897-1898 Season. However, these concerts “had become a source of considerable revenue, and were renewed the following year and continued regularly until the season of 1909-1910.” (Hill, 9)

The first concerts of the season were presented on Sunday evening, November 29 (Wage-Earner Concert) and Monday evening, November 30, 1891, both at the Music Hall, both with orchestra and  concertmaster Kneisel, and both with the same repertoire: Dvorak-Patriotic Hymn, Bruch-Fair Ellen, and Berlioz-The Fifth of May whose text had been translated from the French by Margaret Ruthven Lang. The Musical Herald said: “Miss Lang is to complimented for her translation…Mr. Lang has a great troop of workers under him this year…An admirable orchestra, led by Mr. Kneisel, assisted at this concert.” (Musical Herald, undated)

 

The second concerts were held on Tuesday evening, January 26 and Wednesday evening, January 27, 1892 at the Music Hall with B. L. Whelpley as organist and Mrs. Arthur Nikisch singing two groups of songs which included Margaret’s In a Garden-this was the fourth time that her works had been part of Cecilia concerts. The Advertiser noted that the club “never sang before a more attentive, decorous audience than that which filled the big hall on the occasion of the second in the ”Wage-Earners’ series…Mrs. Nikisch found favor with the audience, and was given applause and recalls.” (Advertiser, undated)

The Concert is finishing.

Childe Hassam.  Street Scene with Carriage.

The third concerts were given on Wednesday evening, March 30 and Thursday evening March 31, 1892 at the Music Hall with orchestra, the work being Schumann’s Paradise and the Peri. The Transcript reviewed the earlier Boston performances of this work beginning with one given by the Parker Club in the early 1860s. It was then given by the Harvard Musical Association when the Cecilia was part of that group, and then again ten years later when Cecilia was an independent chorus. “The performance last evening, in so far as chorus and orchestra were concerned, was very fine indeed; the chorus, in especial, sang with noble firmness, vigor, and vitality, and also with the nicest attention to effects of light and shade. Better chorus singing could not be asked for.” The comments about orchestral accompaniment may have had some effect. “The orchestra, too, played with far more care and attention to their parts, and to the conductor, than they have done of late, outside of the symphony concerts, thus doing much to wipe off the stigma which they have, on more than one occasion, brought upon themselves.” (Herald, undated) The Herald also recorded: “The work of the chorus was especially good throughout the evening, and showed the body of singers to the best advantage, evidences of the thorough study given under Mr. Lang’s direction being evident in all their leading numbers…The orchestra was from the ranks of the Symphony men, and, under Mr. Lang’s baton, the many beauties of the instrumental score were most happily interpreted.” (Ibid) Woolf, in the Gazette, did his usual pan. Of the work itself: it is “dull, monotonous, and unimpressive,” and of the performance: it was “as a whole, far from praiseworthy, and showed in many directions the result of careless and inadequate rehearsing, and had a distressing go-as-you-pleaser aspect, generally.” (Gazette, undated) However, another reviewer, H. G. Hopper in the Times wrote: “Especially commendable was the performance in every detail and the whole work was a brilliant success, due, of course, to the care of the conductor, Mr. B. J. Lang, in the numberless rehearsals which must have taken place to produce such completeness…Of course every seat in the great hall was filled and the audience most attentive and enthusiastic.” (Times, undated)

The fourth concerts were given Wednesday evening May 11 and Thursday evening May 12, 1892 at the Music Hall with a miscellaneous program which included Mrs. H. H. A. Beach playing two groups of piano solos, one of which included her own work, Fireflies. Under the heading MUSIC AND THE DRAMA Hale wrote another positive review. “It is a pleasure to hear the Cecilia in such concerts, for the balance and the march of the parts are more clearly observed, and the quality of tone and the observance of dynamics carry greater authority than when the singers are drowned in orchestral floods…Last evening the concert was thoroughly enjoyed by many who at the end of the season, stunned and dazed by orchestral crashes and pianoforte pyrotechnics, realize that, after all, the human voice is still the noblest, the most potent of all instruments. The singing of the society was generally excellent.” (535-536) Warren Davenport praised Lang as an accompanist. “Mr. Lang played the accompaniments to the vocal solos in his own charming manner, an accomplishment that few possess.” He also noted the effect of having assigned seats-after the first piece latecomers were admitted, “and all along, for a half-hour or more after the performance began, the listeners were disturbed by people going to their reserved seats” including a music critic, whose arrival was noted at 8:20. (537) One final review (possibly from the Gazette) was also very positive. “In fact, the Cecilia has not acquitted itself more satisfactorily this season than it did on this occasion. The pleasure afforded the audience was frequently manifested in the hearty and fairly earned applause that rewarded the singing.” Mrs. Beach “was also cordially applauded and recalled” as was the soprano soloist, Mrs. Wyman who was “recalled three times” after her songs. (Anon. , undated)

The success of the Wage-Earner Concerts is reflected in a letter from “J. L. C.” written after their first season where he noted: “My daily or weekly wage is not low enough to fall into the one class benefited by the generosity of this singing club, nor high enough to enable me to afford and associate membership. Is this unfortunate middle class to be always shut out from the enjoyment of these concerts.” He then suggested a third [!] performance with ticket prices of “say 50 cents, or even 75 cents…Give the unfortunate middle class a chance.” (Anon.)

APOLLO TWENTY-FIRST SEASON: 1891-1892.

The second concert was given on Tuesday, February 23, 1893 at the Music Hall with orchestral accompaniment. The opening work was The Trumpeter by Templeton Strong. Elson wrote: “After hearing several of Mr. Strong’s compositions I believe him to be the foremost of the young American composers in ease of treatment of orchestra and in spontaneity of ideas.” (Advertiser (February 24, 1892): 4, GB) The final piece was March of the Monks of Bangor, words by Sir Walter Scott and music by George E. Whiting. Elson thought it was taken too fast-“as if the monks were in the direst hurry” but he ended his review with the statement that the “work, by itself, might make him famous.” (Ibid) Whiting had written the work for the tenth anniversary of the Apollo Club who sang the world premiere April 22, 1881. For this 1881 performance the Club had printed an edition of just the choral parts, and in 1887 the work was popular enough for John Church Co. of Cincinnati to bring out an edition for voices and piano.

The last concert was on April 27, 1894. By tradition, this concert was “a pleasant dessert after a solid feast “of the heavier works in earlier concerts. (Advertiser (April 28, 1894): 5) For Louis Elson: “Pleasant are those concerts which require no analytical reviews.” (Ibid) The opening and closing works were choruses from Mendelssohn’s Antigone, but the middle was full of “folksongs and musical sugarplums” which included Foote’s I Love My Love (encored) and Mr. E. Cutter’s ( the club’s accompanist) Farewell. Elson found both needed “more directness and less contrapuntal imitation.” (Ibid) The violinist Camilla Urso included one piece that had “simultaneous bowing and pizzicato,” played brilliantly. The vocalist, Lillian Blauvelt’s had a very successful debut, but her encore of The Last Rose of Summer, a work sung far too often and so “few people weep over it as copiously as they used to do. The fount of tears is nearly dry, and this particular rose is not a hardy perennial.” (Ibid)

The 22nd. Annual Meeting was held at the club’s rooms, 2A Park Street on Tuesday afternoon, June 7.  Those elected were: President-Arnold A. Rand; Vice President-George H. Chickering; Clerk-Arthur Reed; Treasurer-Charles Howard; Librarian-John N. Danforth, and Musical Director-B. J. Lang. (Journal (June 8, 1892): Vol. LIX, GB) For all the years that Lang conducted this group, he only had a year-to-year contract!

PARSIFAL: Second Time. May 4, 1892.

Just before the final Cecilia concerts mentioned above, Lang presented his second private performance of Wagner’s Parsifal on May 4, 1892. As the Globe noted, this concert was given without the aid of newspaper ads or public sale of tickets. There were not quite as many attending as for the first performance, a year before, but there were “very few vacant seats in the auditorium…Yesterday’s performance was almost an exact duplicate of last year’s production. The large Metropolitan Opera House orchestra was brought here again; the Cecilia again provided the choral singers, and, with one exception, the same soloists were heard again…It must be said, that the production reflected great credit upon its promoter and those who aided him in the undertaking. There are few in Boston who would be equal to the task so successfully accomplished by Mr. Lang.” (Globe (May 5, 1892): 2)

As usual, the Lang family was very involved in the preparations. From Frances’s Diary: “Went to a Bell Foundry on Allen Street to see bells for Parsifal. Shall go to see some in Worcester. Lel sent me to Worcester to see an experiment with bells…April. Lel to New York to have a Parsifal rehearsal with the Metropolitan Orchestra…People are agog to hear Parsifal again. Lel is terribly busy planning every single detail, and constantly having rehearsals…Parsifal performance-House packed and everyone wildly enthusiastic. It is the most beautiful music in the world.” (Diary 2. Spring 1892)

However, the Herald reported that the “attendance was considerably below that at last year’s production of this work, [but] the audience was most enthusiastic in its recognition of Mr. Lang’s enterprise and the merits of the performance…Taken as a whole, the performance reached a high degree of merit in all its parts, and the ovations which greeted and rewarded Mr. Lang were well deserved.” (Herald (May 5, 1892): 5, GB) However, the Advertiser noted that the audience was over 2,000-“a most brilliant one, and the closest attention, as well as abundant enthusiasm, were manifested throughout.” (Elson, Advertiser (May 5, 1892): 4, GB) The orchestra numbered 85 players and the chorus was large and performed very well. Two languages were used-the soloist in German and the chorus in English. For the audience a 20-page program/libretto with four pages of photos was available. Published by Edward Schuberth & Co. in New York, it had the German and English texts translated by John P. Johnson side-by-side.” The whole performance calls for an expression of thanks to Mr. Lang, who has in it shown an appreciation of the musical wants of our city.” (Ibid)

NEW: BOSTON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA CHORUS.

       In the fall of 1892, the Boston Symphony Orchestra announced that it was organizing a chorus of 200 voices “which will be trained by Arthur Foote.” (New York Tribune (September 19, 1892): 4, GB) Philip Hale recorded: “At the beginning of the season much was said about a new chorus that was to play the part of annex to the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Unfortunately, performance gave lie to promise. The chorus made two appearances, in the Ninth Symphony and in a bill that included Brahms” Song of Destiny and Foote’s Skeleton in Armor. The chorus was weak and timid. It was disbanded at the end of the season.” (MYB (1892-93): x) It was after this that the Cecilia began singing with the Symphony.                     However, this was not the first chorus that the Symphony had organized. At the end of Mr. Henschel’s second season, he placed an ad in the Herald that “proposed” the formation of a chorus which would sing three “Public Concerts of its own, apart from the regular series.” Rehearsals would begin in October on Friday [!] nights 7:30 to 9 PM and he would conduct “the rehearsals of the chorus as well as the concerts.” The three concerts would be given between Christmas and Easter with an accompaniment of 50 BSO players. Membership was $3 per year with an entrance fee [audition fee?] of $2. Anyone interested was to “apply to Mr. Henschel, 6 Otis Place between the hours of 3 and 5PM ’till April 28.” (Herald (April 22, 1883): 11, GB) This gave them only one week in which to apply!                                                   However, this would be the third chorus that Henschel would organize. For the last concert of his first season on March 11, 1882 he performed Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony for which he created and trained a “mixed ad hoc chorus” of 200 voices which one critic felt nicely balanced the orchestra of 70 players. Another critic noted that the “trying passages for soprano” were sung better than any previous performance. The next season, on March 31, 1883 he repeated the Beethoven and added his own setting of the Te Deum for chorus and Orchestra-Lang was mentioned as the organist but the chorus was not mentioned at all! For Henschel’s final concert of his third and final season, Beethoven again appeared; again the choir was a “mixed ad hoc chorus.” Now this would have been the third concert of the chorus which Henschel organized after his second season, but it does not seem to have a name yet, and with Henschel’s departure, the group may have folded.

A FRENCH LIFE OF WAGNER.

       In 1892 the Boston publisher, J. B. Millet Co. brought out an English translation of Richard Wagner: His Life and Works. This was written by the well known French author on musical subjects, Adolphe Jullien with the translation by Florence Percivel Hall and an introduction by B. J. Lang. The book was based on Jullien’s own collection of Wagner material that “is so vast that he has been able to add very considerably to the knowledge even of those who have read the german biographies.” (New York Tribune (May 22, 1892): 18, GB) Lang mentioned that most of the previous books in English were by German writers, and that American readers were quite ignorant concerning French scholarship about this composer. Naturally, the three years that Wagner spend in Paris is an important chapter, and the fourteen caricatures by Faustin-Latour were called “admirable and full of suggestion.” (New York Times (July 3, 1892): 5) This was a special edition, in two volumes, and limited to 1,000 copies.

HARVARD MUSICAL ASSOCIATION NEW HOME.

In November 1892 the HMA moved from 11 Park Square to 1 West Cedar Street, a building which they bought. Dwight made the move and he wrote to a friend about all the alterations that had to be made. On the second floor a concert hall was built. “We shall have a beautiful long room, three parlors end to end, with solid pine floor, uncarpeted; and I think eye and ear will find it very agreeable. ” (Cooke, Dwight, A Biography, 292) Dwight approved the repertoire that was chosen for the opening concert: “Beethoven’s great B-flat Trio (Lang, Kneisel and Schroder of the Symphony Orchestra); Adelaide, sung by W. J. Winch; and a Bach bass aria, sung by Lamson.” (Op. cit., 293)

LANG’S CRITICS.

Lang’s performances were not the only ones that received contradictory reviews. In the 77th. Annual Report of the Handel and Haydn Society, the writer took the time to quote from reviews of the group’s Messiah performance. Elson (Advertiser) wrote that the orchestra was insecure, rough, and “worse than anything we have heard in oratorio for a long time.” However Hale felt that “the work of the orchestra was unusually good.” The Herald echoed this by saying; “The orchestral work was all that the severest critic could demand,” while the Traveler took a middle position: “The orchestra played smoothly most of the time, with spots of raggedness that were entirely inexcusable.” The Beacon agreed with this position, but the Home Journal wrote: “The orchestra played uncommonly well.” (probably Hale) Finally, the Courier felt that “The orchestral playing was much better than is usually the case at the oratorio performances.” (H. and H. History, 16)

CECILIA SEVENTEENTH SEASON: 1892-1893.

DVORAK-REQUIEM.   The opening concert of this season presented the Boston Requiem of Dvorak, conducted by the composer at the Music Hall on Monday evening, November 28 and Wednesday evening, November 30, 1892 with orchestra and B. L. Whelpley at the organ. Dvorak had conducted the world premiere at the English Birmingham Festival on October 9, 1891, and the American premier had been in New York City in February 1892. (Johnson, First, 132). Hale, now writing for the Boston Journal used this three-sectioned headline: ” THE CECILIA. Antonin Dvorak Directs his Requiem Mass. Thoughts Suggested by the performance.” Hale began by writing: “It is now safe to say that he is a man of great musical talent, and it is possible that posterity will recognize him as a genius.” But, he then wrote that the composer wrote for the voice as though it were an instrumental instrument. “When the voice is treated as an orchestral instrument the composer suffers as well as the singer, for his intention is rarely carried into effect..” Of the performance itself: “The performance of the chorus was in the main excellent, an honor to the Cecilia and the city. It was evident that the chorus had been carefully and intelligently drilled by Mr. Lang, for in attack and in observance of the nuances there was little to be desired.” The soloists were praised, and “Mr. Dvorak was welcomed with warmth, frequently applauded, and at the end recalled with enthusiasm. It was a pleasure to see this simple. modest, kindly man of great talent directing his own music…The man, as well as his music, made a profound impression. (Journal, undated) Under the banner DRAMA AND MUSIC, this review called the performance a “gathering of social and artistic significance…The vocal scoring is rich and ”singable,” that is, it does not require a voice of phenomenal range for any of the parts. But the original treatment of the accompaniments by the instruments strews difficulties in the vocal pathway, which the quartet were quite successful in surmounting, and the same may be said of the choristers…The choruses were finely given, especially the parts allotted to the basses, and the orchestra played very smoothly.” (Anon.) Apthorp’s extensive review in the Transcript included: “We may be wrong, but our present impression is that the Requiem is a stronger work than the composer’s Stabat Mater,” but it would rank behind the Spectre’s Bride and the Patriotic Hymn. “The Requiem is a succession of brilliant, impressive and glowing pictures…One feels the work to be a great feat, powerfully performed. At least this is the first impression it produces-and beyond this we naturally cannot go now…The performance was exceedingly fine: never [!] have the Cecilia sung with more vigor and vitality of style… Although not accustomed to Dr. Dvorak’s beat, the singers followed him admirably, and responded to his every sign immediately and vigorously…The orchestra played with fire and spirit, if not always with the greatest nicety. But few such immensely difficult choral works have had so fine a performance in this city.” (Transcript, undated) The Herald noted “with gratitude” the many first performances given by the Cecilia. “The singers of the Cecilia are to be heartily commended for their faithful work in preparing this difficult work,” and the choir was also praised following Dvorak, who as a conductor, “is almost entirely lacking in personal magnetism, [and] has little force to control either singers or musicians, and withal is not a graceful man in either repose or motion.” (Herald, undated) Elson, also in an extensive review in the Advertiser called the Requiem “one of the most important and elaborate master-works that has been produced here for many years…The manner in which the Cecilia sang the choruses was extraordinarily able, under the circumstances. It was made clear that they had been industriously and intelligently rehearsed, and they sang with steadiness, a precision, and a fidelity to the composer’s indications in respect to the marks of expression that left little if anything to be asked for. Now and then there was false intonation, but if a composer insists on writing ear-baffling, and voice-trying intervals, he must take the consequences if they cannot be sung readily.” Dvorak’s conducting style was described: “With his primitively artless beat, he extracted from the orchestra a beautiful pianissimo, perfect crescendos and diminuendos, and other fine nuances…Mr. Dvorak was often applauded, and when all was over, he was recalled with exciting enthusiasm.” (Advertiser, undated)

Dvorak as he would have looked to the choir. From Music Magazine, September 1893. Johnston Collection.

“Pemberton Sq., Boston                                                                                           December 15, 1892

My dear Doctor,

I am directed by the government and members of the Cecelia to extend to you their cordial thanks for the honor which you conferred upon them in conducting their first performance of your glorious Requiem. The opportunity thus given them of making your personal acquaintance, of listening to your instruction, of singing under your baton and of paying you their sincere homage, is something which will not be easily forgotten by them.

Of the beauty of your noble composition it would be impertinent to speak. When the musical world has already spoken, any small body of music lovers can find nothing to add. Boston is fortunate in receiving its first impression of the great work at the hand of its great composer.

In the earnest hope that your stay in America may be pleasant to yourself as it will surely be profitable, and that Boston may have many more occasions of renewing an acquaintance so delightfully begun, I am my dear Doctor, most gratefully and respectfully yours.

S. Lothrop Thorndike”

(Beckerman, 193)

Philip Hale noted: “Dvorak conducted his Requiem Mass at a concert given by the Cecilia. There was naturally animal curiosity to see the man; but who recalls the work or the performance. The Cecilia maintained its reputation, however, as an excellent body of singers.” (Yearbook, Vol. 10, ix)

George Chadwick recorded: “There was much curiosity to see the man but he was a poor conductor and could not speak English, consequently he got no effect out of the work, which after all is not one of his best. I did not meet him.” (Chadwick, Memoirs) Dvorak was probably a house guest of the Lang family as Carl Faelton, in writing to Dvorak about visiting the New England Conservatory, mentions that he had asked B. J. “whether you might be not be interested to look over our Institution.” (Ibid) In Frances Lang’s Diaries, there is also a reference to the composer looking over Margaret’s instrumental compositions. B. J. has wasted no time in making use of Dvorak’s presence in America-he had only just arrived on September 27, 1892! Horowitz mentioned the critical response to this work: “Imagine denouncing such a refined work as ”barbarous”! This was Boston shorthand for ”Slavic” or ”non-German.”” (Horowitz, Dvorak, 116) Luckily there were other considerations that would overcome this first American negative reaction. Dvorak could take comfort in his salary as Director of the National Conservatory of Music for which he was paid $15,000 per year, a figure that exceeded “by one-third that of the mayor of New York.” (Horowitz, Op. cit., 21) He also could reflect that his duties included teaching “for two hours every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. This is fewer hours than he originally planned,” and this left him more time to compose. (Horowitz,  33). He also had part of his family with him in New York-his wife, Anna and two children, his daughter Otilka aged fourteen and his son Antonin aged nine, but four remained back in Prague. However, the four came to America in the summer of 1893, and the whole family spent the summer in Spillville, Iowa which had been settled primarily by Czechs. The Conservatory itself was a fine school-begun in 1885 by Jeannette Thurber, who had attended the Paris Conservatory, she had built a solid staff including James Gibbons Huneker, the critic, who also taught piano at the school. Victor Herbert, who was then the principal cellist in Seidl’s two orchestras, the New York Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera, also taught composition at the school. By the end of 1893, Dvorak would also have the triumph of the premiere of his Symphony No. 5, in E Minor, From the New World, conducted by his now good friend, Anton Seidl. In a letter dated 27. XI, 1892 written from Boston’s Parker House Hotel, Dvorak wrote : “Yesterday I came to Boston to conduct my obligatory concert (everything connected with it being arranged by the highly esteemed President of our Conservatory, the tireless Mrs. Jeanette M. Thurber) at which the Requiem will be given with several hundred performers. The concert on December 1st. will be for only the wealthy and the intelligentsia, but the preceding day my work will also be performed for poor workers who earn 18 dollars a week, the purpose being to give the poor and uneducated people the opportunity to hear the musical works of all times and all nations. That’s something, isn’t it? I am looking forward to it like a child.” (Sourek, 151). The performances were actually on November 29 and 30, 1892. (Sourek, 153) “Each program was given before an audience of wage-earners and their families on the evening preceding the regular concert.” (MYB 1892-93, 15)

The second concert was held on Wednesday evening, January 23, 1893 at the Music Hall with Maude Powell as the featured soloist. This was a miscellaneous program which included the premiere of Love Plumes His Wings by Margaret Ruthven Lang for female voices. Elson called this piece “the best I have yet heard by this composer. It is charmingly melodic, has enough of imitative treatment in the voices to keep up continuous interest from the harmonic, or contrapuntalside, and its unaffected grace and daintiness appeal to musician and non-musician alike. It received abundant and continued applause (and deserved it, too) but an encore was denied.” (Anon.) The Herald wrote: “The ladies never did better work than in Margaret Lang’s tuneful and pleasing Love Plumes Her [sic] Wings.” (Herald, undated) Hale, in his short two-paragraph review found the “programme not sufficiently diversified. its color was gray,” but “Miss Lang’s graceful setting of Mrs. Moulton’s Love Plumes His Wings to Fly Away stood out in delightful relief, and it was heartily applauded…The singing of the chorus was, as a rule, excellent in quality of tone, in balance of the parts and in phrasing.” (Undated) Another review, under “Theaters and Concerts” found that: “Miss Lang’s dainty and exceedingly cleverly written Love Plumes His Wings was a welcome ray of light in the midst of all this.” This reviewer felt that the program, as a whole, was “melancholy.” (Anon.) Another reviewer found that the program had a “lack of contrasts” which made it “somewhat dull.” However, “a pleasing feature of the concert was Miss Lang’s delightful music to Mrs. Moulton’s poem, Love Plumes His Wings to Fly Away. It was a wholly charming song, and met with cordial applause.” (Anon.) One final review wrote of: “the pure and elevated sentiment of the musical setting by Miss Margaret Ruthven Lang, to the words of Love Plumes His Wings, [which] contributed a very welcome share to the interesting character of the programme.” (Anon.) The choir President S. Lothrop Thorndike called the piece an “altogether delightful bit of four-part writing for female voices.” (Annual Report, 1892-1893)

The Cecilia presented a concert in Salem under the sponsorship of the Salem Oratorio Society [Arthur Foote conductor?] on Thursday evening February 9, 1893 at Cadet Hall which included Margaret’s Love Plumes His Wings. No reviews were preserved, but President Thorndike wrote that the choir “evidently did itself credit; for the audience and newspapers were unanimous in their approval of the excellence of the singing, of the dresses of the ladies, and, especially, of the fact that Mr. Lang had not only conducted the concert admirably, but had, at an earlier period, taken occasion to be born in Salem.” (Op. cit.)

The Monday evening, March 22, 1893 concert at the Music Hall presented The Damnation of Faust by Berlioz with Miss Elizabeth Hamlin, soprano; Mr. Geo. J. Parker, Tenor [and member of Apollo]; Mr. Max Heinrich, Baritone; Mr. Ivan Morawski, Bass; with an orchestra. (BMYB 1892-93, 16) One review said of the piece: “This work is one of immense power in certain essentials, but it must be confessed that much of it is painfully labored in effect. Berlioz, whatever his merits may have been otherwise, was not richly endowed with the gift of melody…The best moments of the work are its more stormy and bizarre…the difficulties of the work are very great, for both the singers and the players. that they were fully met on this occasion can hardly be conceded. The choruses were, on the whole, sung with fine precision, clearness and steadiness.” But, “the singing was too persistently and monotonously noisy…A similar effect was observable in the playing of the orchestra…Worse than this, however, was the roughness and raggedness of much of the playing; the happy-go-lucky manner in which difficulties were surmounted, the uncertainty in attack and the laxity in precision generally.” (Anon.) It had seemed as reflected in previous reviews that the orchestra performance had improved, but, it seems that this was not the case. Another review entitled “Berlioz’s Damnation of Faust receives a Fine Presentation” was more enthusiastic. “Soloists, chorus and orchestra each did their part to make the perfect whole, and it is doubtful if the work was ever given better in Boston…The Hungarian March was given with a snap and precision that brought forth hearty applause…The real climax of the piece, the wonderful ”Ride to hades” was grandly done…under the skillful direction of Mr. Lang.” (Anon.) In a third review, Warren Davenport wrote of the choir: “The singing of the chorus was always good and mostly excellent as regards precision, good intonation and balance of tone in the parts.” However, “the orchestra generally throughout the evening was loud, disjointed and careless in its efforts, but for the past four seasons this has been its general style.” Of the soloists: “Generally speaking the solo parts in this work are ungrateful tasks, melodically dry and technically difficult…These singers deserve great praise for overcoming the difficulties of their respective parts in the artistic manner that marked their efforts.” (Globe, undated) The Herald noted the concert in its social listings: “Miss Elizabeth Hamlin was a picture in her empire gown of satin white and enormous blue puff sleeves and bodice, as ”Marguerite,” at the Cecilia concert at Music Hall Wednesday night. Among the large and fashionable audience were noticed Mr. and Mrs. J. Montgomery Sears, Mrs. B. J. Lang, Miss Margaret Ruthven Lang, Dr. and Mrs. H. H. A. Beach, Mrs. John L. Gardner, Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Foote and many others.” (Herald (March 26, 1893): 26, GB)

Boston is today known as an Early Music City with its Festival of Early Music every two years and various musical groups that use authentic performance practice techniques, but B. J. Lang, 120 years before brought Boston an awareness of Early Music in the May 11, 1893 Music Hall Concert in honor of Shakespeare which used a harpsichord “kindly loaned by Messrs. Chickering & Sons.” The title of the concert was “Music in Shakespeare’s Time and Shakespeare In Music.” The assisting artists were Miss Fanny Richter, pianist who played Bach’s Italian Concerto and Mr. Ericsson F. Bushnell, bass. A first part of Renaissance material and a concluding part of contemporary works including pieces by Foote (When Icicles Hang By the Wall from Love’s Labors Lost) and Fenelosa based on Shakespeare texts was separated by three harpsichord solos by Byrde (Prelude in C Major and Pavan in A Minor)and Gibbons (Galliard in C Major) played by Lang. (BMYB 1892-93, 16) The Cecilia records have seven reviews of this performance! Hale felt that “Miss Fanny Richter played the Italian Concerto of Bach with a certain facility, but without individuality and without rhythmic distinction: in a word she played like an industrious pupil of an advanced class.” He also pointed out that the piece had no connection with this program. “Mr. Lang played a prelude and pavane by Bryd and a galliard by Gibbons on a harpsichord, a substitute for the virginal of Shakespeare’s day…It was a pleasure to hear the tinkling with its thin, acid tone, and such an instrument might be recommended to any modern formidable pianist who delights in thundering at length; if he exerted his strength he would break the harpsichord and thus give an excuse for the early departure of the audience.” (Journal, undated) The Globe noted: “A quaint and vastly interesting contribution to the evening’s pleasure was made by Mr. Lang in his performance upon the old harpsichord of the Chickering collection of a prelude in C major and a pavan in A minor by William Byrde and a galliard in C major by Orlando Gibbons, these old time compositions on such an instrument constituting a novelty, which was greatly enjoyed.” (Globe, undated) The Advertiser (Louis C. Elson) noted: “The twanging, picking style of the instrument was a new flavor to the modern concert room, but of course the instrument (the harpsichord is first cousin to the virginals) was not powerful enough for the hall…had the actual virginals been used they would have been quite inaudible…Mr. Lang played the two old dances and a prelude…in a manner that completely won the audience.” (Advertiser, undated) Another review entitled “THE CECILIA CONCERT. Mr. B. J. Lang’s Harpsichord Recital Much Applauded” noted: “Mr. Lang himself received most of the applause for his numbers on the harpsichord,” while about the choir: “Chorus singing such as the Cecilia’s at the concerts conducted by Mr. Lang deserve all the praise they get.” (Anon. review) Under the heading “Music In Boston” Hale wrote repeated his point made in an earlier review that many pianists might benefit from having to deal with the limited dynamic range of the harpsichord. he ended this article with: “The season as a whole was a dull one.” (Journal, undated) The Advertiser under “Theatre and Concert” called the concert “A most interesting evening…We doubt if the majority of the Cecilia audience ever enjoyed a concert more than this one last evening; Shakespeare was the bait, and they all took it greedily…Mr. Lang’s playing of the Virginals music on an old harpsichord was quaintly suggestive of how the music would have sounded if one could have heard it; but the disproportion between the size of the hall and the feeble voice of the instrument was so great that the effect was more imaginative-poetic than intelligibly musical…Mr. Lang and the forces under his baton are highly to be congratulated upon the artistic success of their ”Shakespeare evening.”” (Advertiser, undated) Warren Davenport praised the choir: “There was a good degree of contrast in the dynamic expression, and a fair observance of the nuances. The voices also were well balanced, and the singers attentive.” Of Lang’s harpsichord solos: “Mr. Lang touched the harpsichord with delicacy and clearness, and evoked their heartiest applause of the evening.” (Globe, undated) Certainly the choir had not expected such a positive response. In the May 1893 Annual Report the President wrote: “We were agreeably disappointed on the morning after the performance, when some of the best critics said that the concert was a good one, not merely from the antiquarian and educational, but from the musical standpoint…This was very satisfactory, and led us to believe that, after all, we had not made a bad ending of a notable season.” (1893 Annual Report)

At the Annual Meeting of the choir on May 25, 1893 it was reported that the ware-earner concerts had continued to be a success. “Enough tickets to fill the house were taken, at fifteen cents or twenty-five cents, according to location, by leading firms on behalf of their employees, and by individuals of the working class; and the audiences were as large and as enthusiastic as those of our regular concerts.” However, it was noted that some richer persons were using these tickets, and the President asked: “Will our friends kindly look to it that this does not happen again.” (1893 Annual Report) The President was S. Lothrop Thorndike who returned to the position after “an interval of eight years,” and he thanked “my worthy successors, now my predecessors, Colonel Browne and Mr. Coale.” He noted that during that period “the club, by innate strength and worth, survived three of four other organizations working in the same field, which had begun, continued, and ended, during the existence of the Cecilia.” (Ibid) In announcing the next season he mentioned that its third concert would be “our one hundredth,” and that “the Walpurgisnacht of Mendelssohn with which we began almost twenty years ago” would be presented. (Ibid)

APOLLO TWENTY-SECOND SEASON: 1892-1893.

The first concert of the club’s 22nd. season was given on Tuesday November 22, 1892 with E. Cutter, Jr., as pianist. The assisting artists were Mrs. Corinne Moore-Lawson, soprano and Mr. Alwin Schroeder, cellist. The concert began with The Longbeards’ Saga by the English composer Charles Harford Lloyd (1849-1919) for male voices and piano obbligato-there was no mention of an orchestra. “Piano obbligato” is a strange term to use for an accompaniment that is obviously needed. The work was published c. 1887 and thus was written when Lloyd was organist at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford. Lang probably discovered the work during the summer of 1891 which he spent in Europe with Margaret. Hale thought that the work was well made “but as a whole rather long winded and tedious.” (Journal (November 23, 1892): 7, GB) However, he thought that “as a whole this concert was worthy of the reputation of the club.” (Ibid)

On March 5 and 8, 1893, for a “Miscellaneous Program with Orchestra,” Margaret Ruthven Lang prepared a second “orchestral accompaniment” for Estudiantina by Paul Lacome. (Yearbook, Vol. 10, 15)  The first arrangement

had been made and performed on December 6, 1889. (Program-Johnston Collection) “Miss Lang’s second scoring of the accompaniment of Lacome’s Estudiantina is very effective-the first was quite good enough, for matter of that-and shows no little skill in handling the orchestra.” (Transcript, undated and unsigned review) (Why did Margaret destroy all her orchestral pieces?) The first half of the concert was Bruch’s Scenes from Frithiof’s Saga (with orchestra), which was “a work ever welcome, perhaps the best thing the composer ever did.” (Ibid) There was also a piece by John R[einhold, 1859-1925) Lund entitled March to Battle for choir and orchestra. “Of the pieces with orchestra Estudiantina was the most successful and required an encore. In the Frithiof the voices were overburdened by the players, so that much, if not most, of the vocal effect was lost. A most questionable arrangement of singers and players was had by which the forces were divided, the voices being on the left of the conductor, and the instruments on the right.” (Globe, Davenport undated review). This proved to be very unsatisfactory. The Gazette also mentioned the awkward placement of singers and orchestra. Pieces by Chadwick and MacDowell were also performed. The Gnome Dance by Mr. MacDowell, is a quaint and exceedingly clever idea, worked out with fine skill and humor, and Mr. Chadwick’s The Boy and the Owl is delightful fooling. Both compositions were cordially received. MacDowell did not attend the concert and he regretted this as it was reported that his piece had an “enormous success.” This was confirmed in an unusual manner. When MacDowell later met Chadwick he was looking very sour (Chadwick’s piece had followed MacDowell’s). (Bomberger, MacD, 176)  “Miss Lang’s orchestral arrangement of Lacome’s Estudiantina shows admirable understanding of instrumental effects, and is an able and a dainty bit of work, that was redemanded and repeated.” (Gazette, undated and unsigned review)                                                                    Philip Hale mentioned that Lang had to turn to face the orchestra and then turn back to direct the choir. “As a result there was a lack of precision, and the orchestra, as a rule, overpowered the singers.” (Journal (March 9, 1893): 10, GB) Hale then suggested his solution: “The singers should be close to the audience; the orchestra should be seated on an inclined platform behind the singers. Then the conductor can control the men; he can govern the singers and subdue the noble rage of the players.” (Ibid.)

The final concert was held on Wednesday night, May 3, 1893 at the Music Hall and before an audience of the usual great size. Louis Elson in the Advertiser noted that the chorus “has not been so rich in soloists this season as in previous years, and the first tenors have not been quite as brilliant as heretofore, but the club is still one of the leading societies of its class.” (Advertiser (May 4, 1893): 5, GB) The Journal critic wrote: “It is doubtful if this excellent club ever appeared to greater advantage, even under the skillful baton of Mr. B. J. Lang.” (Journal (May 4, 1893): 7, GB) This was  a programme was of a lighter nature which included a new part song by the Boston conductor/singer/composer,  G. L. Osgood entitled In Picardie. It was praised for its melody and graceful harmony. “The lights and shades in this number were deliciously artistic.”(Ibid) The assisting artist was the violinist Henri Marteau whose selections were of a lighter nature to fit with the rest of the program.

The 23rd. annual meeting was held at the clubrooms at 2A Park Street on June 6, 1893. Those elected were: President-Arnold A. Rand; Vice-President-George H. Chickering; Clerk-Arthur Reed; Treasurer-Charles T. Howard; Librarian-Robert T. Harlow; Musical Director-B. J. Lang; Committee on Music-Allen A. Brown for three years; Committee on Voices-L. H. Chubbuck and Henry Basford for two years. (Journal (June 7, 1893): 6, GB)

LANG ON PIANO PLAYING.

Lang was now a free-lance piano instructor as he had been “let go” in the summer of 1891 by the new Director of the New England Conservatory, Carl Faelten who had taken over upon the death of the founder, Eben Tourjee. Faelten “had severed ties with some of Boston’s most prestigious musicians, including Carl Zerrahn, B. J. Lang and Eugene Thayer, insisting on full-time teachers.” (McPherson, 50) He quickly established his own private studio and his reputation attracted an audience as mentioned below. “The ‘talk’ announced by Mr. B. J. Lang at Chickering Hall yesterday afternoon upon ‘Piano Playing. its Cause and Effect,’ proved a vastly interesting occasion to an audience which filled the auditorium selected for this event. Mr. Lang chatted in a delightfully informal fashion about the vices and virtues of piano playing, and spoke in his usual frank fashion about his performances in such matters. He gave practical demonstrations of his theories upon the pianos, told anecdotes of tests he had applied to show how much prejudice has to do in judging of the pianos of various makers, related his experiences, and altogether gave much interesting and valuable information upon the subject selected for his talk.” (Herald (November 11, 1893): 10, GB)

1893 WORLD’S COLUMBIAN EXPOSITION IN CHICAGO.

The conductor Theodore Thomas was the musical director of the Exposition. One aspect of the program was a call for American composers to submit their compositions for possible inclusion in one of the many orchestral concerts scheduled throughout the event. At first just Thomas was to evaluate the compositions, but in order to avoid criticism, he formed a seven-member committee to make the decisions. He was one member, and the choral conductor of the Exposition was another, and then there were three Americans, and Lang was one of the three. The other two positions were filled by the English conductor/composer A. C. MacKenzie and the French composer Camille Saint-Saens. (New York Tribune (September 19, 1892): 4, GB). One of Margaret’s compositions was selected-her Overture: Witichis was played on Saturday, July 29, 1893 at the Popular Orchestra Concert #45 at the Festival Hall, conducted by Theodore Thomas with the Exposition Orchestra. It was repeated August 4 at a Music Hall Series concert. (Guion) The work was played again on August 30th., this time conducted by the Concertmaster Max Bendix who had been promoted to the post of conductor after Thomas quit on August 12. “Mr. Bendix, hearing that Mr. B. J. Lang was in Chicago with his family, sent to ask if they would like to hear the Wichitis overture played, and arranged for it to be the first piece on the program of August 30, at 12 noon, Mr. Lang having an organ recital a little later on the afternoon, and it was to be the last day at the fair.” (Musical Courier, January 1895)  The orchestra concerts continued for one more week: September 2-7, but after that, the orchestra was disbanded for lack of funds. “When Thomas resigned, many contracts were canceled in order to save money. Had his plans been fulfilled, conductors Hans Richter and Arthur Nikisch, and composers Alexander Mackenzie, Jules Massenet and Camille Saint-Saens would have appeared in the later months of the fair.” (Ibid)

MusicHall The Music Hall, located at one end of the Peristlyle, was 246 feet long, 140 feet wide, and three stories high. Snap Shots, F. Dundas Todd, 1893. Unnumbered pages. The audience seating was 2,000 to 2,500; there was space for an orchestra of 120 and a chorus of 300; there was also a smaller hall of 500 seats which was used for chamber music and recitals.      PeristyleandMusicHallSnap Shots, F. Dundas Todd, 1893. Unnumbered pages. The Peristyle was the welcome gate for those arriving by boat. The Music Hall is on the left, and at the opposite end of the Peristyle was the Casino, which was a visitor welcome center. The Casino and Music Hall mirrored each other in design. The total cost for the two buildings and the Peristyle was $200,000.

The fair covered 633 acres and admission was 50 cents; it had 14 major buildings, most being in the Beaux-Arts style, and each was covered in white stucco which led to the nickname “The White City,” but neither of the concert halls were among the 14; the total number of buildings was 200 with 65,000 exhibits; the admission was 50 cents; one major exhibit included Bach’s clavichord and Mozart’s spinet; 43 states and territories had independent buildings as did 23 foreign countries; America’s answer to the Eiffel Tower was the giant Ferris Wheel, designed and constructed by the Pittsburgh bridge-builder, George Washington Ferris, Jr. There were 36 passenger cars, each with 40 revolving seats and with standing room, space to accommodate up to 60 people-thus a total capacity of 2,160; other new inventions included electric lamps, elevators, burglar alarms and irons and products which are familiar today, such as Shredded Wheat, Pabst Blue-Ribbon Beer, Aunt Jemima syrup and Juicy Fruit Gum, made their first appearance; Edison built an 82 foot Tower of Light which displayed over 18,000 bulbs; electricity was relatively new, and this was reflected by having one of the major buildings, The Electricity Building. During the six months that the Exposition was open, over 27+ million visitors attended (when the total population of the USA was 63 million) and this was during an economic depression that was to last four years. At the end of the six months, there was a surplus of $1,000,000 that was returned to the 30,000 shareholders. (The World’s Columbian Exposition, internet site)

Ferris-wheelWikipedia article-August 11, 2015.  Public Domain.

A four-manual organ of 63 ranks, Opus 700, was installed in the 7,000 seat Festival Hall which was also called the Choral Hall. The stage area was large enough to seat a chorus of 2,000 and an orchestra of 200. It was built by Roosevelt Organ Works of New York but had a name-plate of the Detroit firm of Farrand & Votey who had recently bought the Roosevelt company. The instrument was not finished on time. In fact, the dedication was on July 30, three months after the opening of the Exposition. Thus all of the recitals were pushed into the second half of the Exposition. with a frequency of about two every three days. The total budget for and organ rental and the recitalists was $12, 079.50. With the organ rental costing $10,000, this left only $2,079.50 for fees for the players. In fact only $1,925 was spent-this gave an average fee of $31.05 per recital. A second large organ was planned for the Music Hall which seated 2,000 and was the site of classical concerts, mainly orchestral. Theodore Thomas made sure that the design of the stage area would not allow for an organ! The Festival Hall instrument was actually on loan (rental) to the Exposition for a fee of $10,000, and it was later sold to the University of Michigan for $15,000 and installed in University Hall. This was a win-win situation; the University got a bargain and the organ builder was able to cover the total cost of the instrument, $25,000.

ChoralHall3Choral/Festival Hall. Snap Shots, F. Dundas Todd, 1893. Unnumbered pages. Stage seating of 2,500 and audience seating of 6,500. There were no galleries. “A large foyer extends around the building, giving ample room for a promenade.” (White and Ingelhart, 410) The budget had a sum of $175,000 to hire an orchestra of 144 players for the six month period of the fair. Thomas used many members of the Chicago Orchestra (predecessor of the Chicago Symphony) of which he had just been named as conductor. The plan was to use the orchestra in 300 concerts during the period of the Exposition. (Ibid, 412)

Clarence Eddy was the official organist of the Exposition which gave him the responsibility of selecting the other organists who were to give recitals. In the end, there were 21 organists from 14 different cities who gave a total of 62 official recitals. Eddy gave 21 and the French organist, Alexandre Guilmant, making his first American tour, gave four recitals. Two other Boston organists played-George E. Whiting gave three early in the season, Louis A. Coerne gave one and Lang played one recital late in the season. (Smith, 23)(Hammann, 26) The date was Wednesday, August 30, at 12:30 PM. His program was more severe than most with three Bach pieces to open, then the Schumann Fugue on B-A-C-H, his own transcription of Mendelssohn’s Overture to a Midsummer Night’s Dream, an Improvisation, and then a final piece, his transcription of Beethoven’s Overture to Egmont. Alexandre Guilmant was in the audience-probably Lang had met him on one of his many European visits. One reviewer noted that Lang was not among the “many-fingered race of modern organ virtuosi, but he is a solid and artistic player.” (Friesen, Stopt Diapason (April 1983, Vol.4, No. 2): 15) Another questioned the place of transcriptions: Lang’s two “show the same old endeavor to make the organ masquerade as an orchestra, which calls to mind the fable of the jackdaw with the one peacock feather in its tail.” (Chicago Daily Tribune (August 31, 1893): 4, GB)

Attending an organ recital at Festival Hall was a challenge for the listeners. The intramural trains that past the building every minute took the opportunity to add their musical contribution by plowing their whistle. In loud passages, this was not noticed, but in soft sections, the effect was off-putting for both the player and the audience. At the end of each performance the hall’s ushers would shout “Out, out—get out, quick”; did they allow for encores? (Friesen, Stopt Diapason, June 1983, Vol.4, No. 3, 10) A final distraction was having the ushers put up flags during the concert which necessitated that they shout to each other across the room! (Op. cit., 13) The charge for these concerts was 25 cents and the audiences ranged in size from a full house for Guilmant to a very small house for some of the American players. It didn’t help that the recitals were at many different times. Lang’s time was 12:30PM, but the four recitals just before him were at 3:00PM, 12 noon, 4:30 PM, and 1:00 PM. (Friesen, articles in Stopt Diapason).

InteriorofChoralHallInterior of the Choral/Festival Hall. Snap Shots, F. Dundas Todd, 1893. Unnumbered pages.

The Cecilia Society was among 39 American choirs and seven instrumental organizations to take part in the Exposition; the Apollo Club was also invited. Their membership was noted as being 175 while the Apollo total was 65. Carl Zerrahn brought three groups: the Handel and Haydn Society (410 singers), the Oratorio Society of Salem, MA (250 singers), and the Worcester County Musical Association (500 singers). Boston was represented instrumentally by the Boston Symphony of 75 players conducted by Arthur Nikisch and the Mendelssohn Quintette Club. The only other New England groups to take part were the Haydn Society from Portland, ME conducted by Hermann Kotzschmar (125 singers), and the Arion choir from Providence, RI conducted by Jules Jordan (400 singers). (Upton, Musical Societies, 79)

CECILIA: EIGHTEENTH SEASON, 1893-1894.

Boston premiers continued with the oratorio St. Francis of Assisi Op. 36 by the Belgian composer Edgar Tinel (1854-1912) given at the Music Hall on November 23, 1893 with Mr. Almon Fairbanks as the organist. The American premiere had been given less than a year before in New York City conducted by Walter Damrosch. Henderson in the New York Times of March 19 said: “It is simply a natural advance on the path in which the oratorio has traveled ever since its birth. He has made his advance under the lines indicated by Mendelssohn. He has adopted the Wagnerian style of instrumental accompaniment. But the simple truth is that the work does not appeal forcibly to the general musical public.” (Johnson, First, 367) Hale in the Journal noted that the piece had been cut, but of the performance, he wrote: “First of all, the warmest praise may be awarded justly to the women of the chorus. Their body of tone was fresh, beautiful and sonorous. they sang with intelligence and with skill. The men were not heard to such advantage. Their attack was often timid…at times they were inaudible…With the exception of Mr. Ericsson F. Bushnell, the solo singers were not equal to the task imposed on them…The orchestra worked faithfully, but many rehearsals are necessary for a satisfactory performance of such a difficult work.” (Journal, undated) Warren Davenport called the sections that were omitted “the most striking numbers,” but he too wrote that “the chorus did admirably,” and that Mr. Bushnell was the best soloist “meriting thereby the warm applause he received.” Davenport wrote extensively of “the poor success” of Mr. Ricketson who had “no sense of the rhythmical demands of the role, to say nothing of an inability to even keep the time…It was well that Mr. Lang paid no heed to the singer in this case, but kept firmly in hand the orchestra and let the singer tag along in his own way.” (Globe, undated) The Courier praised the choir, thought “the solo work was inadequate,” and then spent the remaining half of its space to how badly the orchestra played. “The orchestra played away unintelligently and without distinction, overpowering the soloists, and making a thick, muddy mess of sound even when only the strings and wooden wind [sic or clever] were employed. (Courier, undated) The Transcript wrote of the piece: “We could find nothing particularly remarkable in it,” but “the performance was inexpressibly fine, in so far as the chorus was concerned; the chorus singing was absolutely superb at every point. the orchestra was far less satisfactory.” This review ended with a plea for more financial support for the choir so that it could continue to present “important choral works” without having to deal with “ridiculously insufficient orchestral rehearsing, and with solo talent that, on the average, barely comes within the boundaries of the excusable.” (Transcript, undated) Elson in the Advertiser noted “The roll of such works [Boston/American premiers] which this organization has first presented in Boston is a very large one, and scarcely any famous composition for chorus and orchestra has failed of a Boston hearing, thanks to its officers and energetic conductor. St. Francis d’Assisi by Edgar Tinel, is not the least of these, and its initial performance was an event of much importance in our musical annals.” He cited the ladies of the choir who “sang very finely…There were moments of timidity in some of the difficult numbers, and a number of places where the ensemble was not perfect, but this was to be expected in the first performance of so great an oratorio…where the scoring is the boldest ever attempted in an oratorio.” (Advertiser, undated) President Thorndike described the work in his 1894 Annual Report: “its splendid beauty and religious impressiveness, the richness of its harmony and orchestration, and the height and nobility of its inspiration have been sufficiently described by the critics. its length required vigorous cutting to bring it within the limits of one evening; but the curtailment was judiciously done by our conductor…The chorus singing was well done, the women winning especial praise; the solo work, entirely by singers from without the Club, was in the main adequately performed; and the orchestra, thanks to good conductorship, did far better than might be expected from somewhat meager rehearsal of a very difficult composition.” (1894 Annual Report)

The second concerts of the season were given on Wednesday, January 24 and Thursday, January 25, 1894 at the Music Hall with Charles P. Scott as the organist, Arthur Foote as pianist, and Miss Currie Duke as violinist: “She made a very favorable impression.” Two Boston composers were represented: Miss Duke played Mrs. Beach’s Romance for violin and piano and the choir sang “a brief and pretty trio for female voices by Mr. Clayton Johns, which was carefully and expressively given.” This reviewer felt that while the performance was “creditable to the organization,” it “was not fully up to its best standard.” (Anon. review) However, another reviewer began by saying: “Those who were fortunate enough to have tickets to ”The Cecilia” on Thursday evening heard one of the best concerts given for a long time by the society…The chorus of ladies was very picturesque, and added much to the appearance of the stage, as they were all costumed in light colors, blue, pink, and white, which was very effective.” No word on what the men wore. Miss Duke played “with so much success that she was obliged to respond with an encore. Mr. Lang accompanied her in his most finished manner.” (Anon. review)

The choir appeared again in Salem on Monday, February 5, 1894. This was mentioned in the program for the choir’s 100th. Concert-March 1894. “It remains to add to the history of the Club that it has never, except in two instances, sung outside of Boston. Upon these two occasions, it sang in Salem, desiring to pay tribute to the old music-loving town which gave birth not only to its conductor but to others whose names have often appeared upon its programmes.” (100th. Concert Program)

In March 1894 “our male chorus assisted at a concert of the Apollo Club in Nicode’s cantata, The Sea, and shared the honor which always attends a performance of our renowned brother society.” (Anon. review)

”Membership sometimes ran as high as 200 voices, but it never went below 100, but it was still referred to as the ‘small’ chorus in Boston as the Handel and Haydn Society often did Messiah with 500 singers. (Gould-Our History part 3, 3) Until 1900 no tickets were sold to individual concerts and thus no advertisement was needed. Tickets were sold by the season to 300 “associate members” and each singer was given 6 tickets per concert to be distributed to friends. Thus the Cecilia performed to full houses, but fundraising was always needed to balance the books. In most seasons an orchestra was employed for only two of the four concerts and many works with orchestral accompaniment were performed only with keyboard accompaniment. As a final gift to the choir, B.J. headed an Endowment Drive, which was able to raise $40,000, but even this support was not enough to guarantee the high ideals of Lang. The $2,000 yearly income from this endowment covered Arthur Fiedler’s salary of $600 per concert but little else. Luckily the Boston Symphony covered all the other major expenses. In 1894 the Board wrote that it hoped to pay its conductor $1,000 per season, but Lang never actually received more than $500, and often this amount was returned to the group via “purchase of tickets or direct contribution.” (Gould-Our History part 2, 3)

       The March 15, 1894 concert was the 100th. since the founding of the group in 1874. To mark the occasion the same work was performed in 1894 that been presented in 1874-Mendelssohn’s First Walpurgis Night. Schumann’s Selections from Faust were also performed. The program for that concert gave a three-page history of the group and then listed the current singers – Soprano: 55, Alto: 47, Tenor: 45, and Bass: 50. Among the tenors was Edward C. Burrage and among the basses was H. G. Tucker. Neither Frances nor Margaret were singing members at that time. “The vocal capacity of the Club has been greatly improved both in quantity and quality since its early days, when its hundred voices found it hard to cope with the full orchestra of the Harvard Association or to fill the great space of Music Hall. It has now nearly two hundred voices. The vocal parts are well balanced; and each part, by dint of strict conditions of admission and of ruthless weeding out of useless material, is of excellent quality and power.” (100th Concert Program) The choir had continued since 1874 “outliving three or four organizations working in the same field, which have begun and ended during its existence.” (Ibid) During its first twenty years “its presidents have been Charles C. Perkins, S. Lothrop Thorndike, A. Parker Browne, and George O. C. Coale.” (Ibid) The Gazette found the Schumann “dull and almost tiresomely monotonous,” which generated applause that was “very slight and merely formal at that,” but the Mendelssohn “was much better done, and was far more favorably received.” Woolf had to include his usual comment on Lang’s conducting: “On Mr. B. J. Lang’s peculiar methods of conducting, it is unnecessary, and would be wearisome to dwell again. They are admirable object lessons to young conductors, on what to avoid.” (Gazette, undated) Warren Davenport wrote: “As a choral body last evening it must be said that it acquitted itself admirably. In the Faust number, the singing was excellent when the difficulties of the work are considered…The singing of the club in the Walpurgis Night, with one exception, was excellent.” The orchestra again was panned: “The playing throughout the whole performance was devoid of precision, expression, and proper attention to the firm and definite beat of the conductor. [Interesting evaluation of Lang’s conducting]  The unheeding attitude of the players, with eyes fixed upon their music or with attention divided among themselves, produced results that might be expected from a circus band only, while the total disregard of the conductor’s movements can be referred to as little less than disgraceful. Mr. Lang’s endeavors were of the best, and with the chorus accomplished admirable results. The accompaniment was a blot on the performance.” (Globe, undated)

Also in March 1894, for the third concert of their season, The Damnation of Faust by Berlioz was performed. In his Annual Report for 1893-94, President Thorndike referred back to Lang’s presentation in 1880 which had been “his own private undertaking.” He had asked the critic Apthorp which performance had been better-Apthorp thought that the first in 1880, while Thorndike thought the second in 1894, “But why make comparisons. Both performances were excellent, even remarkable.” (BPL Lang Prog.)

“On April 13 and 14 our ladies, with Mrs. Smith and Miss Whittier [members of the soprano section of Cecilia] in the solo parts, cheerfully accepted Mr. Paur’s invitation to sing the fairy music in the Midsummer-Night Dream, and made the symphony concerts for those days more than usually attractive.” (1894 Annual Report)

The final concerts of the season were given on Wednesday evening May 2 (Wage Earner Concert) and Thursday evening May 3, 1894 at the Music Hall with Almon Fairbanks as the organist. Edward MacDowell played his Shadow Dance Opus 39, No. 8 and March Wind Opus 46, #10, but Warren Davenport wrote: “Mr. McDowell [sic] was not at his best,” but “he was recalled after the performance of his group of pieces.” (Globe, undated) Hale reported that MacDowell also played pieces by Bach, Chopin, Alabieff-Liszt and Geisler in addition to his own compositions. “He gave much pleasure, and he was twice recalled.” (Journal, undated) The Transcript wrote of the soprano soloist, Miss Anita Muldoon, who was new to Boston: she “made a very favorable impression…She has a rich voice of considerable compass…she uses it uncommonly well, singing musically and with a great deal of ”temperament.” Mr. MacDowell’s pianoforte playing was a delightful feature of the concert and excited well-merited enthusiasm; he was twice recalled. The club sang admirably as ever, proving itself to be, as of yore, a chorus of which Mr. Lang may well feel proud.” (Transcript, undated) President Thorndike’s Report referred to MacDowell’s playing, saying that all the pieces had been “presented with great brilliancy of technique and charm of expression.” The choir had sung the Eia Mater by Dvorak, Mendelssohn’s Hear My Prayer, and “sundry part songs of the usual sort.” (1894 Annual Report)

“The Cecilia Society often gave evidence of its affection and regard for Mr. Lang. TWENTY YEARS of service as conductor were marked on May 24, 1894, by a reception when he was presented an inlaid mahogany table and carved chair from the chorus.” (Hill, History, 10)

 

This mahogany table is in the family-is it the one presented by the Cecilia Society?

Another member of the same family has this chair which might be the “carved chair” presented that evening.

On the bottom of the chair is this label. What the initials mean has not been determined.

In 1901, when Arthur Foote was the President of the Cecilia Society, he was responsible for a commemoration on May 9, 1901 at the Hotel Vendome that honored Lang’s twenty-five years as conductor. Foote made the main speech and presented to Lang a silver bowl [that was passed on to Rosamund on B.J.’s death]. The Herald noted the event: “All Boston surely sends laurels to the festival which the Cecilia holds on Thursday, at the Vendome, in honor of Mr. Lang…The club began its existence under his leadership, and owes to him its present well-earned fame…The club opened the season with the Beethoven mass at the dedication of Symphony Hall, and also sang farewell to the old hall at the last Symphony concert there. These things suggest the intimate relation this society holds with the life of the community, and to what a noble position and outlook it has been brought by the leader to whom it pays loving tribute.” (Herald  (May 5, 1901): 30)

The May 1894 Report of the President noted that the club had just finished its twentieth year, eighteen years of that being an independent group. “I am sorry to have to find fault with the attendance at rehearsals, and I recommend to the officers having charge of that matter a more strict enforcement of the by-laws provided for the case. The constant attendance of the best musicians is as necessary as that of the poor ones, in some respects more necessary. It isn’t enough that they already know their parts. What would happen if a dozen of the best string players in the Symphony Orchestra were to attempt to offer that excuse for non-attendance at rehearsals?” He then urged that more members be used for solo parts: “We have sometimes made a mistake in going outside for work that could be done just as well from within the Club. The course suggested would, moreover, benefit the Club itself. We should get many valuable additions if it were clearly understood that the only chance of singing at a Cecilia concert would be by joining the Cecilia.” (1894 Annual Report)

>>> Part: 123

 

 

CHAPTER 04. BJL: MIDDLE YEARS: 1881-1891: SC. TOPICS. WC.

 SPELL CHECKED NOVEMBER 30, 2018. WORD COUNT-46,843.

MIDDLE YEARS: 1881-1891. (12 point Georgia)                                             TOPICS: Mendelssohn: Son and Stranger.                                                                Franz Liszt Dinner.                                                                                                                Lang and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.                                                        Ethelbert Nevin.                                                                                                                      Lang:conduct B.S.O?                                                                                                              Henschel and the B.S.O.                                                                                                    Sixth Cecilia Season. 1881-1882.                                                                                    Eleventh Apollo Club Season. 1881-1882.                                                          Damnation of Faust.                                                                                                       Fidelio.                                                                                                                                      Lang’s Musical Position in Boston.                                                                    Diphtheria.                                                                                                                          Soloist with the Philharmonic Society. Tchaikovsky.                                     Twelfth Apollo Club Season. 1882-1883.                                                               Seventh Cecilia Season. 1882-1883.                                                                                 Helen Hood                                                                                                                          Attacks on Lang Through Tucker and Foote.                                                  Schumann Piano Works.                                                                                            Lectures on Piano Technique.                                                                               Thirteenth Apollo Club Season. 1883-1884.                                                          Church of the Immaculate Conception.                                                                 Eighth Cecilia Season. 1883-1884.                                                                               Lang Premiers by the Apollo Club.                                                                           Lecture Business-Lang, Chadwick, Paine and Elson.                                          Allen A. Brown.                                                                                                                          St. Boltoph Club.                                                                                                             Wilhelm Gericke.                                                                                                         Fourteenth Apollo Club Season. 1884-1885.                                                            Ninth Cecilia Season. 1884-1885.                                                                                  Bach Birthday Concert.                                                                                                 Summer of 1885. Margaret begins her studies in Munich.                          Fifteenth Apollo Club Season. 1885-1886.                                                              Tenth Cecilia Season. 1885-1886.                                                                                 Lang Assists.                                                                                                                         Lang’s Support of Chadwick.                                                                                        Liszt’s Death and Funeral.                                                                                        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.                                               Lang Leaves South Congregational Church.                                                      Twelfth Cecilia Season. 1887-1888.                                                             Seventeenth Apollo Club Season. 1887-1888.                                                              Mrs. Jack Gardner painted by Sargent.                                                                          Mrs. Louise Inches painted by Sargent.                                                               European Vacation, Summer 1888.                                                                    MacDowell, Edward Alexander.                                                                             Gilmore’s Jubilee.                                                                                                        Eighteenth Apollo Club Season. 1888-1889.                                                   Thirteenth Cecilia Season. 1888-1889.                                                                    Singing with the Boston Symphony.                                                                            Hymn of Praise for Charity.                                                                                              Arthur Nikisch.                                                                                                                        Lang as a Piano Instructor.                                                                                     Nineteenth Apollo Club Season. 1889-1890.                                                  Fourteenth Cecilia Season. 1889-1890.                                                                     King’s Chapel-Christmas 1890.                                                                                  Handel and Haydn Salary.                                                                                                   New Choir: the Boston Singers (Replaced Boylston Club)                            Fifteenth Cecila Season. 1890-1891.                                                                       Twentieth Apollo Club Season. 1890-1891.                                                         Parsifal.                                                                                                                                    Salem Oratorio Society.                                                                                                   Lang’s Magic as an Organist at King’s Chapel.                                                          Trip to Europe. 1891.

LANG PREMIERS: (Non Apollo and Cecilia)                                                                  (American) Bach: Coffee Cantata. March 21, 1885 (2) Herald pre-concert article of March 15, 1885, 10, GB, says this was an American premier.                                                                                                                      (American) Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 2, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Georg Henschel conductor, March 14 and 15, 1884.                                    (Boston) Brahms: Trio, Opus 40, Kneisel Quartet, February 1887.

LANG STUDENT PREMIERS:
(Boston) Dvorak’s Concerto No. 2 in B Minor; on March 25th. Mr. Whelpley played the Boston premier (Herald, March 2, 1890, 9, GB)
(Boston) Godard: Introduction and Allegro, Op. 49 at the B. J. Lang Pianoforte Concerto Concert of April 10, 1888 with Mr. G. W. Sumner as the soloist. (Boston Musical Yearbook 1887-88, 12)
(American) MacDowell: Piano Concerto No. 1 in A Minor, Op. 15, B. J. Lang Pianoforte Concerto-Concert” where Lang conducted and his pupil B. J. Whelpley played the solo part, April 3, 1888 (MYB, 1887-88, 12). This would have been the first American performance of the complete work; sections had been played earlier in New York. (Johnson, First, 225)
(Boston) Mozart: Concerto for Three Pianos in F with Miss Ann Gilbreth, Mr. G. W. Sumner and Mr. Arthur Mayo at the B. J. Lang Piano-Concerto Concert on April 1, 1890. (Boston Musical Yearbook-1889-90, 13)
(Boston) St.-Saens: Concerto No. 1 in D Major, Op. 17 by Joshua Phippen. (Herald (March 30, 1887): 2, GB)
(American or Boston) Sgambati: Concerto in G minor, Op. 14 (ca. 1881), with Hiram G. Tucker as soloist at the Music Hall, BSO with Nikisch conducting, October 31, 1890. (Johnson, First, 336).

CECILIA PREMIERS: All from the 1907 List unless noted.
(American) Bach: Christmas Oratorio, Part VI, April 2, 1883.
(Boston) Beethoven: The Praise of Music, March 22, 1888.
(Boston) Berlioz: Requiem, Op. 5, February 12, 1882 (Johnson, First, 69). Second American
(Boston) Brahms: German Requiem, December 3, 1888.                             (Boston) Brahms: Gipsy Songs, May 16, 1889.                                                               (Boston) Brahms: Naenie, May 22, 1890 (with piano).
(Boston) Bruch: The Lay of the Bell, May 16, 1883 (Bruch conducting).
(World) Chadwick: The Pilgrims. April 2, 1891.
(American?) Cornelius: The Barber of Bagdad (selections) May 10, 1888.
(Boston) Dvorak: Stabat Mater, January 15, 1885.
(Boston) Dvorak: The Spectre’s Bride, May 13, 1886.
(    ??     ) Dvorak: A Patriotic Hymn, March 22, 1888.
(World) Foote: The Wreck of the Hesperous, January 26, 1888 (with piano) and March 27, 1890 (with orchestra).
(Boston) Gade: Psyche (with piano and organ), January 18, 1883.
(    ??     ) Gade: Spring Fantasy, March 22, 1888.
(    ??     ) Handel: Zadok the Priest, March 25, 1886.
(Boston) Hofmann: Cinderella (with piano) November 30, 1881.
(Boston) Hood: The Robin, March 27, 1884.
(Boston) Jensen: Brier Rose, May 10, 1888.
(World) Jones: Up the Hillside, May 5, 1887.
(World) Lang, B. J.: The Chase, April 12, 1882.
(World) Lang, B. J.: Sing, Maiden, Sing, February 4, 1886.
(World) Lang, M. R.: In a Meadow, February 1, 1889.
(Boston) Lassus: Matona, Lovely Maiden, May 22, 1891.
(Boston) Liszt: The Legend of St. Elizabeth, November 18, 1886.             (Boston) MacDowell: Barcarolle. May 22, 1890.                                        (American) Massenet: Eve, March 27, 1890.                                            (American?) Massenet: Mary Magdalen, November 20, 1890.                (Boston) Mendelssohn: Camacho’s Wedding, March 19, 1885 (Was not the Second world performance-Johnson lists two American performances before this one, both in 1875, both presented by the Thomas orchestra)(Johnson, First, 257).                                                                                                   (Boston for music and World for combined) Mendelssohn: Athalie, January 27, 1887 (First performance of the Racine text and Mendelssohn’s music). Myron Whitney-soloist; Howard M. Ticknor-reader. Boston Orchestral Club (an amateur group usually led by Bernhard Listemann). Also December 6, 8 and 11, 1897-sung in French at Harvard with Mrs. Alice Bates Rich as the principal soloist and Prof. de Sumichrast as the narrator.                                                                                                                         (Boston) Mendelssohn: Ave Maria, May 10, 1888.                                              (Boston) Mendelssohn: 13th. Psalm, May 22, 1890.                                           (World) Nevin: The Night Has a Thousand Eyes, January 31, 1889.                 (World) Nevin: Wynken, Blynken and Nod, May 22, 1890.                          (American) Raff: Romeo and Juliet Overture, November 20, 1890.          (Boston) Schubert: Miriam’s Song of Triumph. May 14, 1891.                       (Boston) Schumann: Mignon’s Requiem, April 12, 1882 (with Piano).

APOLLO CLUB PREMIERS. (1=Zeller List)(2=Johnson, First Performances)(3=Boston Musical Year Book) (4=Composed for Apollo Club, Zeller List, November 2009)                                                                                                          (Boston) Becker: A Wood Morning. April 30 and May 2, 1884. Sung by a quartet. (1)(3)                                                                                                                  (Boston) Brackett: Cavalier’s Song. April 29, 1885 and May 4, 1886.(1)(3)(4)    (Boston) Brahms: Rinaldo. December 15, 1883, Charles R. Adams, soloist. (1 says December 5 and December 10, 1883 based on Wilson Yearbook I-IV: 1884-1887)                                                                                                      (Boston) Brambach: Columbus. February 20, 1888. Date from program. Johnston Collection. The Club sang it again February 17 and 23, 1892.           (Boston) Bruch: Salamis. April 26, 1882. Brainard’s Musical World, June 1882,  93.                                                                                                                                       (Boston) Buck: Annie Laurie (harmonized for TTBB). 1889 (1)(4)                                                                                                                               (Boston) Buck: Chorus of Spirits and Hours. February 11 and 16, 1885. (1)(3)(4) (Boston) Buck: King Olaf’s Christmas. December 7 and 12, 1881. Advertiser review mentions that this was the Boston premier. The work waspublishedin1881.(4)                                                                                                          (World) Chadwick: Jabberwocky, February 16 and 23, 1887. (4)                           (American) Cowen: The Language of Flowers. A Suite for Orchestra. December 5 and 10, 1883. (1) (3)                                                                               (Boston) Debois: Lovely Maiden, Sleep On-translation by Charles W. Sprague. December 3 and 8, 1885. (1)(3)                                                                                                                                (Boston) Englesberg: Love Song. December 11 and 18, 1885. (1)(3)             (Boston) Englesberg: Love, As a Nightingale. February 11 and 16, 1886. (1)(3)(Boston) Esser: Mahomet’s Song. December 3 and 8, 1885. (1)(3)                                                                                                                              (Boston) Foote: Cavalry Song, April 27 and May 2, 1887. Boston Musical Yearbook 1886-87, p. 12, 44 and 45. Sung by a Quartet.                                  (Boston) Foote: Farewell to [of-Cipolla] Hiawatha. May 12 and 17, 1887. (1) [Cipolla says 1886]                                                                                                          (World) Foote: If Doughty Deeds My Lady Please. April 29, 1885 and May 4, 1886. (1)                                                                                                                                        (Boston) Foote: Into the Silent Land, April 27 and May 2, 1887. Boston Musical Yearbook 1886-87, 12, 44 and 45, but Cipolla Foote Catalog says sung as part of the 250th. Anniversary of Harvard, 1636-1886. [Of course, strictly speaking, this was a Cambridge, not Boston performance] Was published by Schmidt in 1886.                                                                                                                             (Boston) Gauby: A Song to Praise thy Beauty. April 30 and May 2, 1884.(1) (World) Henschel: The King and the Poet. April 26, 1882. Gazette review probably written by B. E. Woolf.                                                                                (Boston) Kremser: A Venetian Serenade. February 20 and 25, 1884. (1)(3)(Boston) Lachner: Woodcock Song. December 7 and 12, 1881, mentioned as a Boston premier in the Advertiser review.                                                          (World) Lang, B. J.: Hi-fe-lin-ke-le, February 20 and 25, 1884; May 12 and 17, 1887; and April 30, 1890. (1)                                                                                   (World) Lang, B. J.: Nocturne for tenor solo, April 29 and May 4, 1885; April 27 and May 2, 1887; April 29, 1891 and May 5, 1897. (1)                                   (World) Lang, B. J.: The Lass of Carlisle, solo for baritone sung by Mr. Hay, April 29, 1885 and May 4, 1885. (1)                                                                                      (World) Lang, B. J.: My True Love Has My Heart, May 12 and 17, 1886. (1)                                                                                                                                     (World) Lang, M. R.:  The Maiden and the Butterfly. May 1 and 6, 1889. (1).                                                                                                                                         (World) Lang, M. R.: The Jumblies. December 3 and 8, 1890. Date from program-Johnston Collection.                                                                                                                      (Boston) Mohr: The Sea. February 20 and 25, 1884. (1)(3)                                   (Boston) Osgood: Proposal. April 29 and May 4, 1885 (1)(3) and February 10, 1886, and May 4, 1886. (1)                                                                                              (Boston) Paine: Summons to Love. April 26 and May 2, 1882. (1) –Brainard’s Musical World, June 1882, 93.                                                                                   (World) Parker, J. C. D.: The Blind King for baritone solo, male chorus and orchestra. “Written for the Apollo Club.” April 25, 1883. Program-Johnston Collection. Repeated April 29 and May 4, 1885. (1)                                                                                                                                   (Boston) Raff: Italian Suite. December 3 and 8, 1884. BPL Reviews.             (Boston) St.-Saens: The Soldiers of Gideon. February 11 and 16, 1885. (1)(3) (World) Strong, Templeton: The Knights and the Naiads. February 19 and 24, 1890. Written for the Club.                                                                                        (Boston) Strong, Templeton: The Trumpeter. February 20, 1888. From the program. Johnston Collection.                                                                                (World) Thayer: Sea Greeting. February 16 and 23, 1887. (1)(3) Not available ill.                                                                                                                                       (Boston) Thayer: Heinz von Stein. April 27 and May 2, 1887. (1)(3) Not available ill.                                                                                                                   (Boston) Wagner: “Chorus of Sailors” from the last act of Flying Dutchman. December 7 and 12, 1881. Advertiser undatedreview.                                                                                                             (World) Whiting: Free Lances. “Written for the Apollo Club.” April 25, 1883. Program-Johnston Collection. Also February 11, 1891.                                 (Boston) Whiting: Henry of Navarre. April 29 and May 4, 1885. (1)(3) Also February 19, 1890.                                                                                                         (Boston) Whiting: Overture to The Princess for orchestra. April 30 and May 1884. (BPL Reviews)                                                                                                       (Boston) Zoellner: The Feast of the Vine in Blossom. April 30 and May 2, 1884. (1)(3)                                                                                                                                      (Boston) Zoellner: Young Siegfried. February 11 and 16, 1885. (1)(3)

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MIDDLE YEARS: 1881-1891.

For Lang, the years 1881-1891 were a period of continued artistic growth. His two choral groups were well established and receiving fine reviews. Both choirs featured premiers with The Cecilia giving thirty-seven and the Apollo Club presenting thirty-five. Included among these were first performances of his own compositions and also those of his daughter, Margaret. He continued his solo career with performances with the newly formed Boston Symphony Orchestra. For his advanced piano pupils be organized concerto concerts so that they also would have the experience of performing with an orchestra. He continued in his support of his former piano teacher, Franz Liszt, and of his friend Richard Wagner.

MENDELSSOHN: SON AND STRANGER.

1881 saw the first Boston complete performance with full orchestra of Mendelssohn’s youthful operetta Son and Stranger at the Boston Museum in aid of the fund for the proposed Hospital for Convalescents. Lang had conducted the American premier in May 1876 using just piano accompaniment. That performance had also been for a charity event. For this concert Mrs. E. Humphrey-Allen sang Lisbeth, “with sweet, pure voice and a cheerful grace,” and Miss Louie Homer sang Ursula (contralto) “in tones fraught with the melancholy of an anxious mother…The chorus was made up of fresh, refined voices, amateurs, and the accompaniments were nicely played. (Dwight (May 7, 1881): 85).

FRANZ LISZT DINNER.

Lang organized a dinner in October to honor the 70th. Birthday of his teacher, Franz Liszt. “As a result of several meeting of ladies and gentlemen” who shared this goal, “it has been decided that a dinner at THE BRUNSWICK on the 21st at 6PM would be the most practical plan to adopt. It is also intended that appropriate music shall be performed…The price of the dinner will not exceed three dollars for each person, exclusive of wines.” The date of this notice was October 10th., and people were asked to contact a committee member before the 19th.! The members were: B. J. Lang, 156 Tremont Street; Miss Jessie Cochrane, Hotel Vendome; W. H. Sherwood, 157 Tremont Street; L. C. Elson, Roxbury and F. H. Jenks, Transcript Office.

At the dinner “General Henry K. Oliver presided, and there were addresses by B. J. Lang, W. H. Sherwood, C. C. Perkins, L. C. Elson, and others. The most interesting features of the evening, however, was [sic] the performances of some of Liszt’s works by John Orth, Louis Maas, Gustave Satter, Mr. Sherwood, Carlyle Petersilea and other pianists, and Miss Therese Liebe, the violinist, and the singing of some of the composer’s songs by Mrs. Henry M. Rogers (formerly Miss Clara Doria), Mrs. Henschel and Miss Abbott. Mr. Lang, Mr. Henschel and Mr. G. W. Sumner were the accompanists.” (Brainard’s (December 1881): 189)

LANG AND THE BOSTON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA.

Henry Lee Higginson.

In 1914, when the founder of the BSO, Henry Lee Higginson was eighty years old, he wrote to the then members of the BSO concerning the founding of the orchestra. He began by reviewing the two and one half years he spent as a music student in Vienna. This experience created a desire “that our own country should have such fine orchestras” as he heard in Europe. He returned to Boston, took part in the Civil War, married, became successful in business, and “at the end of two very good years of business began concerts in the fall of 1881. It seemed best to undertake the matter single-handed, and, beyond one fine gift from a dear friend, I have borne the costs alone…It seemed clear that an orchestra of fair size and under possible conditions would cost at least $20,000 [c. $350,000 today] a year more than the public would pay. therefore, I expected this deficit each year…It was a large sum of money, which depended on my business each year and on the public. If the concert halls were filled, that would help me; if my business went well, that would help me; and the truth is, that the great public stood by me nobly.” (Perry, Life and Letters of Henry Lee Higginson, 291 and 292)

Boston was ready for this orchestra in 1881 as “forty-years” preparation of the Boston musical public” had been done by other groups. In 1840 J. S. Dwight had written of a dream of “an orchestra worthy to execute the grand works of Haydn and Mozart.” The Academy of Music concerts in the 1840s led to the Musical Fund Society and then to the Germania Orchestra concerts of the 1850s. The building of the Boston Music Hall led to the orchestra concerts of the Harvard Musical Association and the Philharmonic Society of the 1860s and 70s. The visits of Theodore Thomas’s orchestra to Boston also added to the preparedness for the BSO. (Ibid, 297) But, “The professional symphony orchestra operating on a full-time basis with a series of established concerts running weekly (or nearly so) throughout the winter season from October to April-not an opera orchestra that gives occasional concerts, or a mixed orchestra of professionals with nonprofessionals, or an ensemble that performs monthly or less-is an American invention. Henry Lee Higginson’s creation of the Boston Symphony Orchestra is the earliest full-fledged example.” (Ledbetter, “Higginson and Chadwick,” American Music, Spring 2001: 52) The pay scale was “$3 for each rehearsal and $6 for each concert.” (Boston Record American (October 25, 1881): 13, GB)

During the first years of the Boston Symphony Lang appeared as piano soloist in five seasons – “83 and “84 under Henschel and “85, “86, and “89 under Gericke. He also appeared as an organist during the “83 Season. (Howe, BSO, 253) He had been scheduled to make his BSO debut at the fourth concert of the first season, but illness forced him to cancel. (BSO Website)

However Lang made the B. S. O January 1883 concerts playing Rubinstein’s Third Piano Concerto, and the Polacca Brilliante by Weber, orchestrated by Liszt conducted by Georg Henschel. Lang had done the American première of the Rubinstein with the Harvard Musical Association on February 1, 1872. (Johnson, First, 302) The reviews were mostly very positive. The Courier began: “The concerto was the best performed of last night’s concert. Mr. Lang played with greater ease and steadier shading than at the recent Philharmonic Concert…In the Polacca the lighter passages were very daintily rendered, but the heavier portions demanded something of Neupert’s bravura style. More power was needed.” (Courtesy of the Boston Symphony Orchestra Archives) The Globe said of Lang: “He was received with evident satisfaction and unmistakable enthusiasm. Rubinstein’s Concerto for the Pianoforte in G afforded him an excellent opportunity to exhibit the rich results of training and study. After the performance of the concerto he was recalled twice.” (Ibid) The Evening Transcript of Monday, January 3, 1883 contained the confession of the reviewer’s “absolute inability to feel any enthusiasm for Rubinstein’s concerto. It is a work that has always left us cold.” The review ended with: “In the Weber-Liszt Polacca we were carried away at once by both player and music. The performance was utterly superb.” (Ibid)

In March 1884 Lang played the American premier of the Brahms Second Piano Concerto. Apthorp’s review in the Transcript hailed Brahms who “has given to the world the “great concerto for which it has been waiting so long; a work which can fairly be called fit companion to the Beethoven and Schumann concertos.” (Johnson, Op. cit., 84) The work had its world premiered with Brahms as the soloist in 1881; this is yet another example of Lang being incredibly aware of what was new and worthy. The Evening Transcript was enthusiastic about the Brahms, writing: “The better one becomes acquainted with the works of this wonderful man, the firmer faith has one that each new composition of his will bring with it a fresh revelation of true power and greatness… This truly great concerto found in Mr. Lang a thoroughly able and sympathetic interpreter. As this was decidedly the severest task Mr. Lang has imposed upon himself for years…He overcame the technical difficulties of the work without the appearance of effort—which, on the whole, does not happen to him too often. In the higher artistic sense, too, he rose to the full height of his task. Such exhaustive rendering of a great and noble work is rare; such exquisite finish and beauty of detail work, united with such noble breadth of style, such genuine depth of sentiment, and such ample totality of conception.” (Courtesy of the Boston Symphony Orchestra Archives)

In February 1885, during the B. S. O. fourth season Lang played Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 (just under ten years after having conducted the world premier in Boston). The Home Journal (probably C. L. Capen) devoted about ninety percent of its attention to the concerto. The writer spent half of his space telling why he didn’t like the work, and then, in a most convoluted manner, described Lang’s performance. Fault was found with his tone, but praise given for “his nice sense of phrasing.” The Globe noted that the concerto “held the closest attention of the audience. Mr. Lang’s clean touch and artistic interpretation gave this well-known concerto [well known only ten years after its world premier!] new life, the last movement being especially fine.” (Globe Archive, (February 22, 1885): 3) A review with the headline of “The Nineteenth Symphony Concert” began by noting that the concerto “has been occasionally played” in Boston since its premier, [certainly a different position than the one taken in the previous review] but the reviewer found only small aspects of the work to approve of. “The orchestra did excellent work, and Mr. Lang, who was the pianist, was often strong, clear, sure and effective, although at times his natural nervousness seemed to prevent his doing his best, as an occasional inexactitude in the many double octave passages and dispersed harmonies indicated. The full chords of the introductions were sharply and positively struck, and in the andantino he read smoothly and lightly.” The Gazette review was probably written by Woolf who could never find anything positive to say about Lang. “The soloist was Mr. B. J. Lang, who played Tchaikovsky’s Concerto for Piano, Op. 23, a work which, the better one becomes acquainted with it, the more pretentious it seems, and the more frivolous and vulgar it is in effect. Of Mr. Lang’s playing there is not a great deal to be said. There was much jumping of hands from the keyboard, much that was spasmodic in style and effect, and but little that was clear…This restless dancing up and down of the hands at last became a distracting feature of the performance…The best effects were achieved in the first half of the opening movement, and in the middle of the andante. He was received with great heartiness on his first appearance, and at the end of the concert was applauded and recalled with no less enthusiasm.” [Which must have really upset the reviewer] (All quotes taken from reviews-Courtesy of the Boston Symphony Orchestra Archives)

Lang appeared early in January 1886 (Fifth Season) as soloist in Saint-Saens Rhapsodie d’Auvergne for Piano, Opus 73 (whose premier performance had been in early December 1884). In such a short period of thirteen months, how did Lang learn about this piece, decide to learn the piece, and find a performing group interested in the piece? These concerts, conducted by William Gericke, the second B. S. O. conductor, produced the following critical notice in the January 4 issue of the Traveler: “It seemed quite a natural thing that the novelty of the concert should be put into Mr. Lang’s hands to interpret; that it was a composition by St. Saens is another coincidence. The Rhapsodie d’Auvergne is the latest thing which we have heard from its composer…The piano is never unduly prominent, nor is the orchestration as bizarre as one might excuse under so fantastic a title. Mr. Lang enjoyed his part of the work and made it very delightful. This time the artist could lose himself in the virtuoso and read the notes for what they were on the surface. The piece was enjoyed by the audience, and Mr. Lang’s recalls were warm and hearty.” The Courier reviewer wrote: “The Rhapsodie d’Auvergne, by Saint-Saens proved to be a spirited idealization of striking folk songs for the piano, in good classical form however, and with some good thematic development… Mr. Lang took it at a dashing pace, giving much verve to the composition, yet never becoming unclear. What with the catchy glissando effects, the sparkling themes and the sharp contrasts, the work and the pianist won much favor, and Mr. Lang received a double recall of the heartiest character.” (Ibid)

On March 22 and 23, 1889, together with Franz Kneisel, violin and Fritz Gieze, cello, Lang was the piano soloist in Beethoven’s Triple Concerto. This was his last appearance as a soloist with the B. S. O. The Times wrote: “There is a good reason why the Beethoven concerto is seldom heard; it requires of the soloists the greatest breadth of style and most thorough virtuosity, and yet offers no opportunity for brilliancy and display. It was grandly given. The tone of Mr. Giese’s ‘cello was not as of yore, but in matters of execution all the players deserved more than the generous applause which they received.” The Transcript wrote: “The ‘triple’ concerto is not often heard. It is indifferently forceful, though it has moments of the real Beethoven. Barring Mr. Lang’s too great delicacy, the ensemble was admirable; strictures on the manner in which the work was read cannot rest; it was, from a musical point of view, a superior performance. The concert gave great pleasure to a very large audience.” The Globe presented a very extensive review. “The concerto was Exquisitely Played, the soloists chosen being Mr. Kneisel, Mr. Giese and Mr. Lang… It would be a difficult task to find any one else to play the piano part as Mr. Lang played it, and close upon an impossibility to have it better rendered. His long experience in accompaniment and the truly modest spirit with which he always subordinates piano or organ to the singer or the player whom he has to support, here stood him in good stead, while his technical command of the delicious toned Chickering he used, enabled him to make his attitude appreciated by his hearers. There was always tone enough to give the piano part its consequence, but never did the instrument, which can so easily override others, dominate… The whole second movement was a beautiful exemplification of how such a support should be given, and, in brief, the solo work as a whole illustrated the best kind of ensemble playing.” The Home Journal said first that “the concert was absolutely without a dull moment,” and then continued: “In their treatment of this work, Messrs. Lang, Giese and Kneisel played with all their characteristic earnestness, care and intelligence.” (Home Journal  (March 23, 1889): 12)

ETHELBERT NEVIN.  

One of Lang’s noteable pupils was Ethelbert Nevin. He arrived in Boston in 1881 at the age of eighteen, and immediately “sought out the man who stood at the top of his profession in the Boston of that day, B. J. Lang, a pupil of Von Bulow and Liszt.” (Thompson, Life of Nevin, 23) Nevin wrote to his mother “Mr. Lang was busy in his room. I went and sat outside, as I was too early. Soon he came out, welcomed me, took me into his room and asked me to play-in this manner: ‘Now I want you to amuse me, not as if I were to be your instructor, but as if I were some fellow you were entertaining.’ I played that little Album Leaf of Kirchner’s. He said: ‘Very interesting: now play me something else.’ So I played that Romance of Schumann’s. He said: ‘Very interesting indeed. Now play me something frivolous.’ I suggested Olivette, but he said: ‘No, not quite so frivolous. ’So I played Winklemann’s Schottische-a scale two or three times: then he remarked: ‘You are very interesting’ (His favorite expression, I presume.) ‘Very, indeed, and you play with an immense amount of expression. Your manner of playing is graceful, light and rippling, but you lack aplomb and firmness. I am going to take an interest in you –you have inspired it and if you will be patient and bear with me for six lessons, I will make you feel satisfied with yourself.’ So he gave me some of the stupidest, meanest exercises by Cramer. The ones I took in Dresden were simply paradise to these. Mr. Lang said: ‘Now practice this one (marking one) for two hours every day and this scale I have written for you an hour and a half, if you get time.’ well, his writing looks more like hieroglyphics than anything else I have ever seen, so it took me a long time to figure it out. I am to go back again on Monday. He invited me to go to the St. Cecilia Club tonight. He wields the baton there, you know.” (Thompson, Op. cit., 24)

These “stupidest, meanest exercises” were a central part of Lang’s teaching method. He had translated into English Hans von Bulow’s edition of the Fifty Selected Piano-Studies by J. B. Cramer (1771-1858) which was published in 1877 by Oliver Ditson in Boston and went through many printings; possibly Lang and von Bulow had discussed this project two years earlier when they had collaborated on the world premier of the Tchaikovsky First Piano Concerto. Obviously other teachers thought highly of the Cramer exercises, for as late as 1927 G. Schirmer in New York City published another edition translated by Albert R. Parsons and B. Boekelman and “newly revised by Dr. Theodore Baker.” The ill World Catalog shows new editions of this work dated as late as 1989!

Lang also took a personal interest in Nevin and introduced him to another pianist his own age, and encouraged him to make use of “a room in the upper part of this building full of the choicest and finest music ever published. A legacy left by a wealthy person for the use of students. You could practice there, (in the Burrage Room). Here are two Chickering grands. You and Mr. Smith could play duets for two pianos.” (Thompson,  Op. cit., 25) Nevin continues his letter with a description of Lang’s studio. “Mr. Lang’s room is a curiosity. It is very small…In it are two pianos and a dumb keyboard. He sits at the piano back of mine, the keyboard not quite so high. Then he has a high bookcase filled with music, two writing desks, a sofa and a hundred and one beautiful things lying about the room. A great many fine engravings and music manuscripts of great composers and so forth.” (Thompson, Op. cit., 25-26) By the middle of September Nevin is writing that Lang “is very nice but he gets angry sometimes: however I expect to get along very well with him.” (Thompson, Op. cit., 26) After the first six lessons, mainly concerned with exercises, Lang then gave Nevin a song by Rubinstein, transcribed with variations by Liszt. Nevin can soon report that in addition to his good progress in harmony with Stephen A. Emery, “Mr. Lang also told me that I am doing well.” (Thompson, Op. cit., 27) After only six weeks he had become Lang’s favorite pupil, but in November he writes that “Am still at five-finger exercises – eight weeks of them.” (Thompson, Op. cit., 29)

The devotion of both teacher and pupil is reflected in the fact that Nevin’s lesson on Thanksgiving Day lasted from twelve until one-fifteen. By December, after various etudes had been mastered, Mendelssohn’s Concerto in B Flat was studied, and after only one week of practice on this piece, Nevin received his first genuine compliment from his teacher: “After I had finished playing, he said: ‘When did I give you that?’ My last lesson,’ I replied. ‘I thought so,’ he answered, ‘but fancied I must be mistaken, as you played it so well! ’” (Thompson, Op. cit., 30) The next repertoire assigned was Bach’s well-Tempered Clavier, and the usual practice period was eight hours a day. Nevin also was asked to play the cymbals in the orchestra at the Cecilia performance of the Berlioz Requiem given on Sunday, February 12th. at the Music Hall (Lang used three other piano pupils for bass drum, triangle, and tenor drum).

Howard quotes from one of Nevin’s November letters: “Mr. Lang asked me if I cared to hear him practice, so I met him this evening at Chickering’s after the Handel and Haydn. He played until ten o’clock on a Rubinstein Concerto, which he is going to play at one of the Philharmonic Concerts. I am going to have the second piano part with him! Just think of playing with such an artist! He is without exception the cleanest, broadest and most truly artistic (in every sense of the word) pianist I have yet heard. He does not stoop to any of the little tricks that are effective but not artistic. He is too much of a man for that.” (Howard, Nevin, 35)

Leaving Boston in April 1882, Nevin returned the following September, and following Lang’s advice advertised for pupils. He wrote home that “It is very hard to get pupils, when there are 275 teachers who have been here at least five years, and twenty-eight of Mr. Lang’s pupils also give lessons; and then there are Mr. Lang and Mr. Sherwood who teach, not counting hundreds of pupils at the Conservatory. All Mr. Lang’s pupils play as well, and many of them better than I.” (Thompson, Op. cit., 33)

Even in his second year of study the hateful five-finger exercises were continued for building technique, but this led to an invitation to play at a Cecilia concert, “and this morning Mr. Lang told me I had done splendidly and that I had played much better MY first time, than did many of his ‘brag’ pupils.” (Thompson, Op. cit., 36)

After two years with Lang, Nevin spent the next two winters in Pittsburgh, teaching piano, composing, and giving concerts. Lang came to Pittsburgh to play the Saint-Saens Concerto in G Minor with his former pupil who was now twenty-one years old! Nevin went to Europe in August 1884, settling in Berlin; the summer of 1885 was spent back at Vineacre, near Pittsburgh, and then he returned to Berlin for another year of study. In November of 1886 he returned to America settling again in Pittsburgh, but by early 1887 he was back in Boston, and by March he was playing “at the second of Mr. Lang’s concerts in Chickering Hall, playing the Liszt Concerto in E flat major, with orchestra.” (Thompson, 79 ) This concert was a great success as was a concert that included some of Nevin’s own works given a few days later on March 11.

 

(1) From Elson, 249 and Thompson, 83 where it mentions that this photo was from 1887 when Nevin was about 25 .   (2) Thompson, facing title page. 

LANG AS B.S.O. CONDUCTOR.

Some friends of Lang thought that he should be considered for the conductorship of the newly formed Symphony. They based this expectation on his fine service to the Boston musical community through his leadership of the Apollo Club and Cecilia, and also the fact that Lang had conducted the Tchaikovsky premier with such success. Fox feels that Lang’s “amazingly steadfast and loyal personality traits may have kept him from achieving some things,” (Fox, Papers, 12) She quotes Apthorp as saying that “In the dark days of the Harvard Musical Association, and some years before Mr. Henry L. Higginson had founded the present Boston Symphony Orchestra, Lang might easily have made a coup d’etat and swept the whole orchestral field in Boston single handed. He was particularly ambitious to conduct an orchestra; he was at the time the strongest musical power within the public in the whole city, and was perfectly well aware of that fact. He had never failed in anything he had undertaken, and could be sure of all the financial backing he needed. He might have established annual courses of symphony concerts on his own account, and might have postponed Mr. Higginson’s enterprise for several years. No sane man who knows what the times then were in Boston and what Lang was, can doubt this for a moment. He, for one, was sure of it. But he was a member of the Harvard Musical Association, was on its concert and programme committees, and his loyalty to it would not allow him to take any step in antagonistic competition with the Harvard.” (Fox, Op. cit., 10)

HENSCHEL AND THE B. S. O.

Lillian and Georg Henschel. Boston Symphony Archive.

Georg Henschel, whose early career was as a bass vocalist, often gave vocal recitals with his wife, Lillian June Bailey, a soprano; B. J. often acted as their accompanist. In fact, Lang had presented Bailey’s Boston debut “in the spring of 1876, when [she was] only just sixteen years old” in a concert that also included Arthur Foote. “These two men… had from that time taken a most kindly interest in the young lady, whose rare talent, earnestness, and charming personality had greatly impressed them.” (Henschel, Musings, 268) Henschel described Lang as a “thorough and enthusiastic musician, broadminded, tactful, of great general culture and a rare kindness of heart, he was the acknowledged leader of the musical community of Boston.” (Ibid) Henschel also stated that “I doubt if without them [Lang and Foote] I should have come out of the first season of the Boston Symphony alive” as even though he had the complete support of Mr. Higginson, the attitude of the press was not of “enthusiasm or… universal approval.” (Henschel, Op. cit., 270)

Thus the Langs and the Henschels quickly became close musical and family friends, and so it would concern the Langs that Georg was continuing to have problems as conductor of the BSO. Henschel felt that Lang was a major booster who helped him survive his first year conducting in Boston. Early in 1882 “Athenian”, the Boston correspondent for Brainard’s Musical World wrote: “The critics pretty generally have found fault with Mr. Henschel’s conducting, and now his friends have come forward with long communications to the newspapers, criticising and abusing the critics. A very nice little quarrel is being worked up which promises to shake Boston as profoundly as did the little tea disturbance a little over a century ago…The friends of the gentleman are very foolish in denying the right of the newspaper men to criticise him as Zerrahn, Listemann, Maas and others have been criticised.” (Brainard (January 1882): 13)

In the face of the BSO, other orchestras continued to present concerts, at least for a while. By January 1882 the Philharmonic Society conducted by Dr. Maas had presented two concerts, and the HMA Orchestra conducted by Zerrahn was scheduled to begin early in February with a series of five. (Ibid) The Philharmonic Society continued into the spring of 1883. By May it had given “seven concerts and seven public rehearsals.” The 1882-83 BSO Season had a total of 26 concerts and 26 public rehearsals. (Brainard (May 1883): 76)

In February 1883 “Atheian” was again writing about the BSO. A “unharmonious subject which is agitating musical circles here at present is the question, ”Is Mr. Henschel likely ever to become a great conductor?” The answer in most quarters has been in the negative.” The writer then speaks of a Schubert Great C Major performance that was the “tamest possible” and a Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony that was “the worst performance” of the piece that he had ever heard.” “Athenian” felt that part of the problem was the placement of the orchestra with the strings divided and the basses placed “at the front of the stage where their tone overpowers all else, and sounds raspy enough to suggest a sawmill…The concerts of the Philharmonic Society, under Zerrahn, with a smaller orchestra, with fewer famous musicians in its ranks are achieving fine artistic results.” (Brainard (February 1883): 29)

SIXTH CECILIA SEASON. 1881-1882.

The opening concert of the Cecilia’s Sixth Season was given at Tremont Temple on Wednesday, November 30, 1881.There was just one work on the program, a first Boston performance of Cinderella by Heinrich Hofmann (the American premier had been in Milwaukee on December 4, 1879-another example of Lang being on top of new works). The English translation was printed, but no program notes of any kind were provided. The Herald noted that the work was given without orchestra, and that while it “abounds in pleasing, flowing melodies, it has little variety, and the absence of any strong dramatic elements makes it, on the whole, rather a spiritless production…Mr. Lang’s thorough work was plainly shown in the success attending the numbers for chorus.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1) The Musical Herald felt that the work was “no more [than] a succession of pleasant part-songs, chiefly in dance and march rhythms. It was finely performed by the Cecilia Club, but the lack of an orchestra made the work seem rather colorless.” (Musical Herald (January 1882): 5)  The back page advertised the group’s next concert: the Berlioz Requiem to be given Sunday Evening February 12, 1882 at the Music Hall. (Program, Johnston Collection) The first American performance had been in New York just the year before. (Op. cit., 68) In this same issue of the Musical Herald it was reported that the Boylston Club had performed the Messe Solennelle of Gounod, “but the lack of orchestra and thinness in tenor and soprano parts caused the work to fail of making a deep impression.” (Ibid)

On Sunday evening February 12, 1882 at the Music Hall, Cecilia presented the first Boston performance of the Requiem by Berlioz. The Post review noted: “Although written in 1836 and performed in the Church of the Invalides, Paris, in 1837, yet no attempt was made to produce it in this country until last May [led by Dr. Damrosch], when it was made a special attraction at the festival in New York. The effort then made, though creditable, was not satisfactory, and the Cecilia determined to produce it in Boston during the present season…The club numbered some 300 voices…To produce the orchestral effects required by the composer, the full orchestra was supplemented by a grand array of trumpets, trombones, horns and kettle drums, which were located in the first balcony on either side of the extended platform.” At the end of the final section “the audience remained quiet and cheerfully accorded their careful attention, and at proper intervals expressed their appreciation of the great success attained.” (Cecilia Reviews) The review in the Transcript began by calling the performance “a triumph” led by “its progressive leader” to which the audience paid “closest attention…Chorus and orchestra performed their respective tasks with commendable enthusiasm and devotion. The execution was not free from error, but these were few, and were in no case glaringly offensive.” (Cecilia Reviews) The Musical Herald wrote: “The chorus sang excellently, especially when we consider that Berlioz is merciless in his treatment of voices in this work as ever Beethoven was, the Ninth Symphony not excepted. But there was no trace of screaming even on the high B’s, and the tempi and attacks were sure and steady…The orchestras were generally sure, and the great passages for brasses before the “Tuba Mirum” were effectively thundered forth.” (Musical Herald (March 1882): 75)

First performances continued with the Boston premier of Schumann’s Requiem for Mignon, Op. 98b on Wednesday, April 12, 1882. However, the work most cited by the reviewers was Lang’s own song, The Chase, a hunting song sung by Mr. J. F. Winch “with spirit, but without any especial shading. It is a bright, dashing composition, with the usual empty fifths, etc.,” but it produced the only call for an encore that evening. Another review described Lang’s song as “full of the oxygen of out-door life as intensified and concentrated by exciting sport. The piano accompaniment (played by Mr. Lang) pictures brilliantly the dash and impetuous rush of the riders to be ‘in at the death.’ Mr. Winch’s singing of the song was most effective, and he was compelled by the applause to repeat its closing lines.” However, another reviewer wrote: “The chief fault of his work was that there was no lightness in the repetition of the opening phrase.” well, a critic has to be critical it seems even, even if it refers to only one phrase. (Cecilia Reviews.)

Johnston Collection.

The fourth and final concert of the season was on Wednesday evening, May 10, 1882 at Tremont Temple with full orchestra and Boston Symphony Orchestra conductor, Georg Henschel as the primary soloist in Odysseus by Max Bruch. The Musical Herald wrote: “They have given the work before, but never with such sustained excellence as on this occasion…Mr. Henschel sang the part of Odysseus gloriously…The choruses were flawless in the choral parts. It was one of the best performances the club has ever give.” (Musical Herald (June 1882): 159) The Advertiser repeated this praise for the choir and Henschel, but did note: “The chorus sang with generally admirable power and expression, but often with hesitation of attack that evidently gave Mr. Lang some anxiety and him to an unusual vehemence in his calisthenics of conductorship. Some of the more sudden and vigorous passages were nearly ruined by this uncertainty of attack. The orchestral work was so good in almost every particular that it would be hard to suggest how it could have been bettered. The balance between orchestra and singers was planned with excellent judgment and maintained unswervingly.” (Advertiser, Cecilia Reviews) The Musical Herald wrote: “They have given the work before, but never with such sustained excellence as on this occasion…Mr. Henschel sang the part of Odysseus gloriously…The choruses were flawless in the choral parts. It was one of the best performances the club has ever give.” (Musical Herald (June 1882): 159)

President Thorndike’s Annual Report on June 8, 1882 noted how much the group had grown artistically in the last five years. “Five years ago we were distrustful of our own voices, afraid of being overcrowed by an orchestra, unacquainted with each other, and therefore lacking the unity and clearness only acquired by long singing together. We were feeble in some parts and unbalanced. In short, we were beginners,” whereas in 1882 the choir “have no apology to make” in any of these areas, and this was due to the dedication of the singing members, the support of the associate members and “last, but not least, to the unfailing energy, judgment, taste, and skill of out leader.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1)

By 1882, membership in the choir was a privilege: “No one can be admitted to its ranks who does not pledge unintermitted attendance upon rehearsals. These conditions secure very choice gratification to the aristocratic clique who sustain the enterprise,” and serve as a testament to the talents of its conductor. (HMA Program Clippings, Musical American, (June 3, 1882)

Lang ‘s illustration for the 1882 Musical Boston.

ELEVENTH APOLLO CLUB SEASON. 1881-1882.

The December 7 and 12, 1881 concerts had the famous violinist Camilla Urso as one of the assisting artists. George Sumner opened the program with an organ solo, the “Andante and Fugue” from Judas Maccabeus by Handel. Every item in the concert except one was new to the choir and most were first performances in Boston. The Advertiser called the pieces “all of sterling worth.” (Advertiser) The choir’s pianist, John A. Preston was singled out for “unstinting praise.” (Ibid)  Madame Urso and the tenor soloist, Mr. Theodore J. Toedt (Boston singing teacher, 1853-1920) performed most of the new pieces. The Journal noted: “The singing of the soloists was very fine, especially that of Mr. Toedt, who showed himself to be an artist of power as well as finish.” (Journal)  The choir premiered the Woodcock Song by V. Lachner, King Olaf’s Christmas by Dudley Buck and the “Chorus of Sailors” from the beginning of the last act of Flying Dutchman by Wagner. (Ibid) The music of the Buck was “strikingly interesting on a first hearing.” (Ibid) The Home Journal mentioned that the program contained  “more things of a substantial, noble character than has been usual in programmes mostly made up of part songs.” (Home Journal) The Journal took the opposite position: “In spite of the excellence of the evening’s performance, however, a feeling would creep in that the club might be doing the cause of music still better service. With a corps of such fine singers it should be possible to produce some great compositions, and it is hoped that this will be done before the season closes.” (Journal)

   John Knowles Paine. (1839-1906) Howard, facing 315.

Would pieces by Harvard’s J. K. Paine qualify as “great compositions?” For the February 15 and 20, 1882 concerts the choir sang three choruses from Paine’s Oedipus Tyrannus. “Every new experience with this delightful music enhances the admiration of it.” (Home Journal) The first half ended with Mendelssohn’s Overture-Athalie. B. J. had the idea of adding an organ part to the last section which produced a “thrilling effect.” (Ibid) However, the Transcript noted, “it’s mighty voice [was] much out of tune.” (Transcript) This paper also took notice of the fact that “The presence of an orchestra has now become almost a matter of course at the Apollo concerts,” and it went on concerning the Paine, “The first fine impression made by the music last year in Cambridge is only strengthened by repeated hearings. It seems to us that, of all the fine things Mr. Paine has done, this music is the finest.” (Ibid) The final piece was the March of the Monks of Bangor by G. E. Whiting that the choir had premiered the previous season.  Perhaps the suggestion that the piece be performed every year was to be taken! However, the Transcript review was not as enthusiastic as other reviews calling the work uneven “Every now and then a weak place appears with unexpected suddenness.” (Transcript, Op. cit.)

Elson, 268.

There were only three concerts in the 1881-1882 season with the third set being held on April 26 and May 1882 with full orchestra accompaniment. The major work was Salamis by Max Bruch for double male chorus and orchestra; “a rich and impressive piece of writing, finely scored and masterly in effect.” (Gazette) One premier of the evening was Summons to Love, Opus 37 by J. K. Paine that was written expressly for the Apollo Club. “It is a strong and vigorous work, abundant in poetic feeling, and fully in harmony with the poem to which it is set. In breadth of design and depth of sentiment we think it is superior to any of the composer’s previous efforts in the same direction.” (Ibid) Another premier was the part song by Mr. Henschel, The King and the Poet. “It is not the most pleasing of the works we have heard from the same source, and is more remarkable for its ingenuities of harmonic progression than for its clearness of design or its beauty of theme.” (Ibid) “Dux” wrote: “The Apollo Club gave a fine concert April 26th. at the Music Hall. Several new works were brought out and the cream the cream of the old stock. Of the new works (to Boston) I was thrilled by the power and nobility of Bruch’s Salamis, which I consider to be far more spontaneous than the same composers Roman Song of Triumph. Another grand work was Paine’s Summons to Love…A new part song by Mr. Henschel showed the composer in his best light. He unites counterpoint and melodic feeling in a manner like that of Robert Franz. The singing  was of the best quality, as it always is with the finest of vocal clubs.” (Brainard’s (June 1882): 93)

The Transcript recorded: “Of the singing of the club what can be said but that they sang with all their accustomed perfection, and with even more than their wonted fire. Mr. Lang has now brought the chorus to the point that enables one to write, as the Leipzig critics do of the Gewandhaus orchestra, ‘The performance was perfect, as usual.’” (Transcript) A review dated May 1, 1882 in a New York publication rated the chorus very highly; “The Apollo sing as no other club in America or (to my knowledge) anywhere else can sing. I wish that some of your Knickerbocker aristocracy could induce them to give one of their private concerts in New York. I assure you it would be a musical treat beyond anything that Boston has yet sent you.”(Apollo Reviews)

DAMNATION OF FAUST.

1882 saw yet another presentation of Berlioz’s Damnation of Faust, this time “for the benefit of the Associated Charities of Boston.” Held on Monday evening March 24th at the Music Hall, the soloists were “Mrs. Henschel, Mr. Charles R. Adams, Mr. Henschel and Mr. Sebastian Schlesinger” and “an orchestral of unusual size.” Even with his heavy schedule as conductor of the BSO, Georg Henschel appeared with other Boston groups and also presented vocal recitals (where he sometimes also acted as accompanist) There were fewer sectional rehearsals for the chorus this time: only one for the ladies, and three for the men with two full orchestral/choir/soloists rehearsals. “It is thought that with the rehearsals so near together, an exceptionally good performance could be given by singers who already know the music.” (BPL Lang Prog.)

FIDELIO.

On Wednesday evening, March 29, 1882 at 7:45PM Lang presented a concert performance of Beethoven’s Fidelio with full chorus and orchestra at the Music Hall. Among the six soloists, the most notable was Georg Henschel.  Seats were $1.50 (BPL Lang Prog.) He also advertised a Public Rehearsal for the afternoon before with tickets at 50 cents. The Herald had done a short notice about five weeks before which mentioned that the mixed choir would have 150 voices while the male choir would number 100 “invited from the private singing clubs of the city.” (Herald (February 19, 1882): 3, GB) Critical coverage was scant. For these types of events Lang acted as producer-hiring the hall, engaging and rehearsing the musicians, arranging for ticket sales, and all the other elements of the concert. He also could keep all the profits!

LANG’S MUSICAL POSITION IN BOSTON.

An 1882 article written by Louis Elson summed up B. J.’s position in Musical Boston. “B. J. Lang has been mentioned before in this short [short!-six pages, three columns per page, very fine print] chronicle, in connection with the Handel and Haydn Society. His influence at their concerts for the last twenty-two years has been an important and influential one. His power in Boston’s music has always been exerted for good, and even in the days of Dresel, Kreissmann and Leonhard was felt in the counsels which preceded every important movement. It was he who first suggested the great series of Harvard Symphony Concerts; it was he who more than any other held the programs up to their first high level; he has also been one of the leading subscribers since the beginning of the series. It was his influence which brought out in Boston for the first time the great pianoforte concertos of Bach, and most of those of Schumann, Mendelssohn, and Beethoven, as well as the works of the newer school, the concertos of Rubinstein, St. Saens, Bronsart, etc. For the past ten years he has been in the habit of giving a series of pianoforte concerts, the present season forming the only exception. He has given five different sets of symphony concerts, and in these has always followed the good German idea of a large orchestra in a small hall, so that no possible effect should be lost. He is one of the very few American musicians who have given concerts abroad with success. He has appeared as pianist in Berlin, Dresden and Vienna. His interest in the Bayreuth Festival, the Franz benefit concert, the Dwight testimonial, the Liszt celebration, in short, in every memorable musical occasion has been earnest, thorough and, above all, practical. He has been honored with the personal friendship of the greatest composers of Europe, and his studies of the works of Wagner have been made with the assistance of the great composer himself. He has, like every earnest, original and competent worker, formed for himself a set of followers, pupils and disciples. It is impossible to enumerate these since the number of his pupils who have become concert soloists is over sixty. The work of the Cecilia Club is wholly due to Mr. Lang; that of the Apollo and Euterpe societies largely so. therefore, in the articles on these subjects, the reader will find a continuation of his too brief personal sketch. Mr. Lang, although he has composed some very fine works, has, as yet, published nothing. As a musician he is armed at all points; he is one of the very surest of ensemble players and never loses his head. We can personally recall many instances where his calmness has saved careless or nervous players from disaster. He is a good organizer and a very efficient leader. At a time when no one else dared undertake playing with, or directing for, the belligerent Von Bulow or the meteoric Joseffy, he did both-and well. He is one of the surest of score-readers and, though not a virtuoso, is one of the best types of true musician. He has long been the organist of a leading Unitarian church. Of his Boston pupils we may mention Mr. Arthur Foote…Mr. W. F. Apthorp is another of Mr. Lang’s eminent pupils.” (Elson, Musical Boston, 3)

DIPHTHERIA.

The fact that Lang was a well known citizen is shown in the fact that the Globe reported in their “Local Lines” section that “Mr. J. B. [sic] Lang’s wife and eldest daughter are seriously ill with diphtheria.” (Globe (August 3, 1882): 4) The nine piano recitals became the five recitals of the complete Schumann piano works.

SOLOIST WITH THE PHILHARMONIC SOCIETY. TCHAIKOVSKY.

At the second concert of their series, Lang was the soloist in the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto whose world premier he had conducted about seven years ago. “It was very evident that Mr. Lang was at his best. He rendered the difficult finger passages in a clean, precise way, and brought out the composer’s ideas in a style that was almost a revelation. He thoroughly deserved the warm reception he received, not only on this occasion, but later in the evening , when he gave a feeling interpretation of Liszt’s Benediction de Dieu dans la solitude.” (Globe ( December 21, 1882): 2) “A more delightful programme than that of the Philharmonic Society’s second concert in the Music Hall last evening has seldom been provided for our musical public…[The Tchaikovsky] It is rare that a work in this form containing so much that is immediately interesting for its purely musical beauties is heard here. These beauties are of a very high order, and the characteristic northern flavor of the whole-its phrases of more barbaric intensity alternating with many a passage full of quaint sweetness-its clearness of form and true concerto spirit-which requires the piano and orchestra to be integral parts of a whole, while giving the solo instrument its due prominence-these give the work an interest peculiarly strong for its individuality. Mr. Lang played in his own almost faultless style, yet with not quite all the boldness and freedom that comes only with complete familiarity with one”s music.” (Daily Advertiser (December 21, 1882): 4, GB). The critique was probably written by Dr. Maas who had conducted the Philharmonic the previous season, 1881-1882. It is strange that the conductor’s name, Carl Zerrahn, is not mentioned at all.

TWELFTH APOLLO CLUB SEASON. 1882-1883.

This season also had only three different programs. The December 5 and 11, 1882 and the February 14 and 19, 1883 pairs of concerts both ended with choruses by Wagner; the February concerts ended with the “Chorus of Sailors” from the Flying Dutchman. The Apollo Club had introduced this work to Boston in December 1881. Lang was doing his best to make Wagner’s name known. Lang met Wagner in 1857 when Lang was a student in Germany. In the summer of 1871 B. J. and Frances were invited to lunch with the Wagners and B. J. pledged to raise money in America to fund the building of the opera house in Bayreuth. Then, in the summer of 1875 Cosima gave B. J.  a private tour of the recently completed opera house.

J. C. D. Parker, organist of Trinity Church, Copley Square (see People and Places article)

The fifth and sixth pair were held on Wednesday evening, April 25 and Friday evening, April 27, 1883 at the Music Hall with an accompaniment of full orchestra. The opening work, “written for the Apollo Club,” was the world premier [?] of The Blind King by J. C. D. Parker. This work was written for baritone solo, [probably Mr. C. E. Hay] male chorus and orchestra. Another work “written for the Apollo Club” was Free Lances by George Whiting written for male chorus with wind instruments and drums. The second half opened with an orchestral piece, Scherzo, Op. 19 by Goldmark. An interesting comment on concert etiquette of the time is shown by the notice just before the final piece in the program: “It is earnestly requested that no one will disturb both the audience and the Club by leaving the hall during the final chorus.” its time was listed as eight minutes. (Information from the program-Johnston Collection)

SEVENTH CECILIA SEASON. 1882-1883.

The Berlioz Requiem was repeated to open the Seventh Season on Sunday evening November 26, 1882. The Herald wrote: “The work is a tone picture, at once impressive, imposing and weird,” and said of the chorus that “it was evident that the music had been thoroughly rehearsed; but on account of the great difficulties, there was some hesitation in taking the leads, and bad intonation, and in the more dramatic places there was a lack of power-all of which would seem to be consequent upon attempting a work of such immense proportions, with a small chorus, in a large hall.” (Herald, Cecilia Reviews) The Transcript wrote: “It were hard to praise too highly the energy of the Cecilia in repeating a work which is so fatiguing to prepare, and, as ‘the largest orchestra score in existence,’ so expensive to give…The performance last evening was far beyond that given last season. The basses of the chorus were really superb, while doubling of the first tenors by the altos gave the tenor part a rich volume and distinctness of tone which the dearth of high tenor voices in this country makes very rare in our choruses…We have never heard any chorus in this city enunciate so distinctly, and often elegantly…Boston can now say that it has heard a really intelligible performance of a work to which but few cities in the world have had the privilege of listening.” (Transcript, Cecilia Reviews) The Advertiser called the work “Requiem stupendous.” However, “Dux” felt that the chorus “did almost as well as in the excellent performance of last year.” (Brainard (January 1883): 13) Choir President Thorndike felt that “the whole concert passed with hardly a blemish, and it was noticeable that the over-wise newspaper criticisms which were expended upon our first presentation of this great work were not repeated.” (Cecilia Programs. Vol. 1)

The second concert of the season was performed on Thursday evening, January 18, 1883 at Tremont Temple with the Boston premier of Gade’s Psyche, Op. 60 with piano (Joshua Phippen) and organ (Frank Lynes) as the accompaniment. Choir President Thorndike confessed to “a feeling of disappointment in the cantata itself during all the rehearsals, a feeling not entirely dissipated by the performance…I do not think the fault was in myself, for I find that more able critics agree with me. I am sure the fault was not in the soloists or the chorus, whose whole work was excellently done. The sense of something wanting may be partly but not wholly accounted for by the absence of orchestra. The real lack seemed to be of strong and salient points in the composition, of any mark of genius.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1) The Musical Herald agreed that  the piece was not equal to Gade’s Crusaders, noted that the club “sang it exquisitely, and, had it had the assistance of orchestra, would undoubtedly have achieved a high triumph. It is said, we believe, of Gade, that, if he were to write merely an A for clarinet, he would concieve to have it sound differently from anybody else’s A.” (Musical Herald (February 1883): 53, GB)

The third concert was on Monday evening, April 2, 1883 at Tremont Temple with a full orchestra and J. A. Preston at the organ and Georg Henschel as the major soloist. The works performed were selections from Part 6 of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio and Mendelssohn’s First Walpurgis Night. The Transcript said of the Mendelssohn that “here we have the composer at his best,” and then went on to rank his choral works: “Putting the Oedipus music first, and the Antigone second, the Walpurgis Night must rank easily as third… The performance last night was markedly a fine one. The overture made little effect, from the smallness of the orchestra…Now that our ears have become habituated to a full-grown orchestra, anything under ten first violins sounds feeble; two double basses sound like no bass at all…Dr. Langmaid sang the tenor music excellently (it may be remembered that he was the first to sing it in Boston, years ago, under Mr. Lang’s baton in the Music Hall)… Mr. Lang, too, is highly to be complimented upon the singing of his choir; never have the Cecilia sung with greater freedom and vigor.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1) “Athenian” felt that the Bach “was not perfectly sung, but ample amends were made in Mendelssohn’s Walpurgis Night in which chorus, orchestra, and soloists all won great success. The weird pictures conveyed in the chorus, ”Come with Torches,” could scarcely have been intensified. The flickering flames pictures by the flute runs, the heavy crashes of full orchestra, the majesty of the vocal parts above the din, were all very thoroughly rendered, but best of all was the sing of the Druid solos sung by Mr. Henschel, who, although suffering from a very severe cold, sang with great fervor and dramatic power. (Brainard (May 1883): 76)

The Choir President’s comment on the Bach was: “The Bach selection consisted of the sixth part of the oratorio with some omissions. As a whole it was well performed, to the interest of all, the satisfaction of many, the delight of a few…I hope that we shall all live to know the Passions, the Christmas Oratorio, the great Mass, the Magnificat, the principal motettes and cantatas, as well as we know the oratorios and psalms of Mendelssohn.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1)

The fourth and final concert for the season held on May 16, 1883 at the Music Hall “in the presence of a very large audience” and using “an orchestra of considerable size” featured the Boston premier (Herald, May 17, 1883) of Bruch’s Lay of the Bell, Op. 46 conducted by the composer-Lang played the organ. The Journal found the piece “an important and graceful work, if less powerful than some of his other compositions notably the Arminius whose first performance in this country he [Bruch] conducted at the recent festival of the Handel and Haydn Society… One of its most promising defects is a sameness which at times becomes monotony… It has many moments of dullness.” The chorus was not able to save the work: “There was often, however, a lack of power, and, still more, a want of that fine shading and expression which can only come from strong intellectual appreciation of a composer’s thought and purpose-in short, much of the chorus singing seemed dry and perfunctory.” (Cecilia Programs. Vol. 1) Even though Lang had the foresight to hire Bruch to appear with his group, the Cecilia, when he was in Boston conducting the Handel and Haydn Society, even the composer’s touch in preparing and leading the performance did not bring the work to life, at least in the view of some reviewers. However, the Cecilia President in his Report of June 1883 refuted this position. He called it “a greater work than the Arminius which attracted so much attention at the Handel and Haydn festival. Of the excellence of the performance there was no question. The voice of praise [for the choir] was unanimous.” He did note, “The criticisms which appeared next day upon the work itself were curiously diverse in their tone. All the reporters confessed the great interest of the occasion. But some avoided committing themselves.” The female soloists had been members of the choir, and their performances had been “most creditable and interesting. The choir clothed itself with glory as with a garland.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1) The Musical Herald was “astounded at the coolness with which the work was received, and still more so to find many of the cirtics recording their opinion that the work is not equal to Arminius…But, while Arminius is almost without contrast , the Lay of the Bell is full of the most vivid changes…It seems to us the greatest work of the master…The whole work ought to be heard frequently in America, as familiarity will make its solid worth more generally apparent.” (Musical Herald (July 1883): 195, GB)

Thorndike’s Annual Report of June 14, 1883 (his seventh) noted that the ranks of the choir had remained full, and that there had “always been abundant reserves on the waiting list to supply the places of any who might fall out. The attendance has been excellent, the discipline, enthusiasm and vocal training better than ever,” and he credited Lang’s “master hand in whatever the Club has achieved.” He then added: “I beg also here to tender our thanks to Mr. Preston for various valuable services.” He also noted that the club had used an orchestra for 3 of their 4 concerts, and that all concerts next season would be presented at the Music Hall. (Cecilia Programs. Vol. 1)

HELEN HOOD.

“Helen Francis Hood, from a 1908 publication.” Wikipedia, May 20, 2019.

In 1883 Schmidt published a song by Helen Hood entitled A Disappointent. It was to become one of her most well known and “one of her best.” (Wikipedia, accessed May 15, 2019). The dedication was “To Mr. B. J. Lang,” her piano teacher. Her dates were: born June 28,  1863 and died January 22, 1949. Thus, in 1883 she was only twenty years old. This song was one of a set of four. After her piano studies with Lang during her teen-aged years, she then went to Belin to study with Moritz Moszkowski and Philipp Scharwenka. (Ibid) Along with Margaret Ruthven Lang, Hood also had her music performed at 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago winning “a diploma and medal for her achievements.” (Ibid) Her Summer Song was “given a triple encore at its performance on 6 July.” (Fox in Grove Dic. Women Com., 227) In 1903 Arthur Elson wrote: “Helen Hood is one of America’s few really gifted musical women.” (A. Elson, 207) He felt that among the works written up to that time, the Piano Trio and the Two Violin Suites were “made of excellent material.” (Ibid) At about the same time, 1904, Louis C. Elson added to her list of works a Te Deum in E flat (the same key as Margaret’s), a String Quartette, “but her fame rest chiefly on her very graceful songs and piano sketches. (L. Elson, Am. Mus., 306) Fox lists the Diaries of Frances Lang as one of three items in her Bibliography for the Grove article.

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CHAPTER 04. (Part 4) BJL: MIDDLE YEARS: 1881-1891: SC(G). WC. TOPICS: THIRTEENTH CECILIA SEASON, 1888-1889-TRIP TO EUROPE, 1891..

CHAPTER 04.      SC(G).      WC-14,544.

PART 4                                                                                                                              Thirteenth Cecilia Season. 1888-1889.                                                                    Singing with the Boston Symphony.                                                                            Hymn of Praise for Charity.                                                                                              Arthur Nikisch.                                                                                                                        Piano Instructor-Lang’s Methods.                                                                                     Nineteenth Apollo Club Season. 1889-1890.                                                  Fourteenth Cecilia Season. 1889-1890.                                                                     King’s Chapel-Christmas 1890.                                                                                  Handel and Haydn Salary.                                                                                                   New Choir: the Boston Singers (Replaced Boylston Club)                            Fifteenth Cecila Season. 1890-1891.                                                                       Twentieth Apollo Club Season. 1890-1891.                                                         Parsifal: First Time. April 15, 1891.                                                                                  Salem Oratorio Society.                                                                                                   King’s Chapel: Lang’s Magic as an Organist.                                                           Trip to Europe. 1891.

THIRTEENTH CECILIA SEASON. 1888-1889.

At the December 3, 1888 Music Hall concert, the choir sang one of their more important premiers, the first Boston performance of the German Requiem by Brahms. This was the first half of the concert, with a repetition of the Patriotic Hymn by Dvorak as the second half. The soloists were Miss Elizabeth Hamlin and Mr. Eliot Hubbard with Arthur Foote as the organist and a full orchestra accompaniment. The Boston Transcript December 5th. review written by William F. Apthorp noted: “Here is a composition to find the like of which we must go back to the soulful conventionality of the oratorios of Handel and Haydn, back to the inspired technique of Mozart’s Masses and Requiem and search among the works of the preacher of the musical gospel, Sebastian Bach.” (Transcript, Cecilia Reviews) The review in the  Herald recorded: “The merits… failed to fully appear, the composer having apparently a somewhat indefinite idea of an idea not readily grasped by the forces engaged in its presentation. While it shows the hand of a skilled musician, its vagueness and fragmentary themes do not offer much satisfaction. The soloist[s], chorus, and orchestra appeared to be alike in doubt as to a full understanding of the score, and the ill success attending its presentation was about evenly shared by all participants.” (Herald, February 12, 1888 as shown in Johnson, 87) Johnson lists the first American complete performance as one given by the Oratorio Society of New York, conducted by Leopold Damrosch on March 15, 1877 in Steinway Hall. The New York Times of March 16 noted: “It is exceedingly scholarly, but its length and its monotonousness are such that it is scarcely likely to impress any but students.” (Johnson, 86) Warren Davenport writing in the June issue of the Folio noted: “Brahm’s [many made this apostrophe placement mistake at this time] Requiem proved to be a work of great contrapuntal value exhibiting this learned composer in a most classically scientific light. At one hearing it seemed to lack in spontaneity and as it proceeded became monotonous in its effect upon the listener. The chorus parts are quite difficult and consequently, the singers had a hard struggle with the work and had it not been for the happy thought of Mr. Lang to put a piano among the singers to assist in taking up the leads it is doubtful what might otherwise have been the result. The Club deserves credit for the general effectiveness of the effort. Mr. Lang conducted with his usual care and held the forces well together… Dvorak’s Patriotic Hymn, a warm, effective composition, brilliantly scored, was finely rendered by the Club and brought a strange dull concert to a pleasant conclusion.” (Folio, Cecilia Reviews) Davenport had been a bass in the Apollo Club in the early 1880’s but was no longer a member in 1891. The Traveler review felt that “The eminently sympathetic results of the initial presentation of the Brahms Requiem is due in a large measure to Mr. Lang’s intelligent rehearsing of the work in private, and to his splendid hold upon his forces through its performance. The orchestra, made up of Symphony players, was excellent; but its unfamiliarity with the music was apparent more than once.” (Traveler, Cecilia Reviews) This review also noted that there was only one rehearsal with orchestra!

The headline of the Globe’s review by Howard Malcolm Ticknor was: “SUPERB CHORAL WORK,” with smaller headlines of: “First Acquaintance of Bostonians with This Charming Piece” and “Large Audience is Delighted by the Performance… It is only just and reasonable to say [that this work] could not have been heard but for this society… The performance was a triumphantly successful one, and it was but rarely that there was anything like reluctance in taking up the leads or uncertainty in following them.” This review also mentioned the piano among the singers to provide “unobtrusive help.” Other reviews had mentioned various problems of the soprano soloist, and Ticknor finished his piece by saying: “One fundamental thing she has yet to learn, however [she had just returned from study in Europe], before she can be accepted for a first-place among singers, and that is enunciation; I caught some single syllables, but not one solitary entire word reached me in an intelligible form.” (Globe, Cecilia Reviews) The Journal noted how difficult the piece was, but wrote: “Mr. Lang was evidently not to be staggered by the intricacies of harmony or the difficulties in the way of its rendition, and the result is a triumph for Mr. Lang and the club, and a critical and intelligent musical audience heard this work for the first time.” (Journal, Cecilia Reviews) The Transcript also noted the difficulties of the work: “To undertake a performance of it is no light matter for any choral society; its difficulty is so exceptional that none save the finest choral forces can dare to face it… Of the composition itself, one can speak only in reverent admiration. If ever Brahms has shown himself to be truly great, it is here, in this stupendous work… Dvorak’s Patriotic Hymn was superbly given, and outdid even the fine impression it made when the Cecilia first sang it here.” (Transcript, Cecilia Reviews) The choir never sang this piece again until its performance on March 16, 2003 at Jordan Hall, New England Conservatory. (Cecilia program Note by Steven Ledbetter) In President Coale’s Report of June 1889, he quoted a review by “a well-known critic” who called the choir “fine, vigorous, and wonderfully impressive” in a work “many pages of which can be hopefully met by only two classes of singers, the professional choristers of England and the Continent; or such intelligent, earnest, and well-equipped amateurs as the Cecilia can boast.” (Cecilia Clippings, President’s Report June 1889)

The Thursday evening, January 31, 1889 concert at the Music Hall included Margaret’s In a Meadow sung as a quartet.  Mr. E. Cutter, Jr. and Mr. G. W. Sumner were the accompanists. (Cecilia Reviews) This was the second time that her works had been performed by the group. One review noted: “Miss Lang’s piece, a good deal developed in form, is new evidence of a gift for composition from which something of real moment is likely to come. She handles the voices with certainty, considers their range like a sympathetic craftsman, while she infuses a charming melodic manner in a form which is harmonically pure.” (Traveler, Cecilia Reviews) Another review called Margaret piece one of two “prominent successes of the evening,” (Cecilia Reviews) and another described the piece as “a pretty, graceful and effective piece of writing, with some interesting harmonies and a charming piano accompaniment.” (Cecilia Reviews) “Much commendation must be given to a quartet by our young composer Margaret R. Lang. It is entitled In a Meadow and, although some of the solo phrases sound thin, it has moments of high power.” But then the reviewer continued: “It is melodious in an unwonted degree, and its grace and daintiness (admirably suited to the words) together with the excellence of its execution, by Mrs. Galvin, Miss How, and Messrs. Want and Wellington, made it one of the best-appreciated numbers of a programme which, as will be seen, was rich in good things.” (Cecilia Reviews) Another review made about the same comment. “Miss Lang’s new composition, In a Meadow, proved to be a very graceful and refined vocal quartet, which was only weak in some of its solo phrases” (Cecilia Reviews) Possibly both were written by the same pen-one for the daily press and the other for a music periodical. “Miss Lang’s quartette was enthusiastically received by the audience. It is extremely well written both in voice and piano parts, and one only misses the logic and richness of construction which thought and experience will bring.” (Cecilia Reviews) It was noted, “that with fatherly care Mr. Lang played the piano accompaniment” of Margaret’s piece. (Cecilia Clippings, American Art Journal, February 1889)

The third concert was on Thursday evening, March 28, 1889 at the Music Hall with orchestra and Mr. E. Cutter Jr. and Hiram Hall as organists. The featured work was the Stabat Mater by Dvorak which one reviewer describes as “undoubtedly a very great one” but monotonous due to “adherence to minor keys… The performance, though creditable in some respects, was rough and crude in many essentials.” Other problems were cited and traced to the reviewer’s view that all the problems were traced to shortcomings of the conductor. “The soloists were scarcely efficient to do the highest justice to their tasks,” but then Mr. Parker’s major solo “was sung by him with fine grace and tenderness,” and “the best solo work, however, was done by Mr. Babcock, who may be commended unstintingly for the largeness, the nobility and the clearness of his singing throughout. His rich, warm voice was used with splendid effect in his solos and afforded steady and strong support in the concerted numbers. A large audience was present, and, though not over-cordial, it was appreciative.” (Cecilia Reviews) This review may be the work of Benjamin Woolf in the Evening Gazette. The Post also found the work gloomy, but noted: “The excellent work of the orchestra should not be passed over, which, under the careful leadership of Mr. Lang, was in every way commendable.” (Post, Cecilia Reviews) The Transcript noted that this was the third time that the Cecilia had presented this work: first, some selections in January 1884, “and afterward, the entire work, several years ago.” [January 15, 1885] The reviewer mentioned that after the concert he consulted what he had written about these two earlier performances which had “left a very strong and fine impression upon” him while the current performance he found “upon the whole, rather dreary. All we can say is that we are rather thunderstruck at finding ourselves half bored, half nonplussed, by a composition which once filled us with delight. The performance certainly could not have been at fault, for it was one of the very finest the Cecilia has ever given. The chorus sang admirably from beginning to end, and in some passages of the final chorus, gave out the most superb volume of choral tone we have yet heard in the Music Hall. The solo singers, too, did excellently well… The orchestra was adequate, and Mr. Lang may well feel proud of achieving so fine a performance of a work, the difficulties of which are both many and serious.” (Transcript, Cecilia Reviews) This reviewer was probably William F. Apthorp—he never did give an answer to his opening question of why this performance didn’t move him. The Home Journal singled out one of the soloists—”On the whole, we are inclined to regard the most laudable achievement of the performance as unquestionably with Miss How. She was not only in her best voice but throughout she sang in a noble sympathetic style that was simply charming in its relation to the music of her part. Mr. Lang was fully master of the difficulties the work presented to his lead, and the honors of the Cecilia’s success with the choruses belong largely with him.” (Home Journal, possibly by Philip Hale, Cecilia Reviews)

The season ended on May 16 with a miscellaneous program that President Coale called “more successful than previous” such concerts. The most interesting part of the concert was “a new set of Gipsy Songs by Brahms” performed by the Brahms Quartet”—Mrs. Allen, Miss Edmands, Mr. Parker, and Mr. W. L. Whitney with Lang as accompanist. This was a Boston first performance, and “Mr. Lang’s playing of the piano-forte part will long be remembered for its beauty and delicacy. It was a real treat in itself. The members of the Brahms Quartet deserve our thanks for their kindness in singing at this concert in a work which required so much study as this book of songs.” (President’s Report, June 1889) This concert was the 68th. given by the club and ended its 13th. Season. But, just before the final concert, the club received a letter from the BSO conductor Wilhelm Gericke asking it they would sing at his May 23rd. Farewell Concert selections from Wagner’s Parsifal. They did, and then received a very kind letter of thanks calling them “so splendid a chorus.” (Ibid)

 

This photo was used by Mathews in A Hundred Years of Music in America, 427, copyright 1889. This signed copy is from the Johnston Collection. In this book Lang was described as “hale and hearty, a young man [though he was then in his early fifties], albeit thinly thatched with white and gray upon the top of his well-rounded skull…He is happily married and lives in elegance.”

SINGING WITH THE BOSTON SYMPHONY.

“In Boston it [the Cecilia Society] has rarely sung except to its own associates, the most notable instance being in 1885, when it joined with the Symphony Orchestra in doing honor to the memory of John [sic] Sebastian Bach.” (Courtesy BSO Archives-100th. Concert Program) The Cecilia, prepared by Lang, also performed with the BSO during the ”89, (Parsifal, mentioned above) “92, “94, “99, “00, “09, “10 and “11 Seasons. Prepared by Malcolm Lang, they appeared in the “25, “26, “27, “28 and “29 Seasons, and prepared by Arthur Fiedler, they sang in the “30 and “31 Seasons. Other choral groups also appeared during this period- a BSO Chorus appeared in the “86, “92 and “93 Seasons, and prepared by Stephen Townsend they appeared in the “18, “19 and “20 Seasons, and also in the “21 and “22 Seasons. (Howe, BSO,  246) The Boston Singers Society appeared once during the “91 Season as did the Boston Choral Art Society who appeared once in the “03 Season. The Handel and Haydn Society sang once in “04 prepared by Emil Mollenhauer while the Thursday Morning Musical Art Club appeared once in each of the “03, “06, “11 and “16 Seasons. Lang-prepared choruses supplied most of the voices for the BSO during Lang’s connection with the groups and even beyond. (Howe, Op. cit., 246-260)

The Annual Report of the Cecilia President for June 1889 noted: “only six members” had withdrawn during the previous summer leaving “an unprecedentedly small number of vacancies” for new members. He described the Brahms Requiem concert as “one of the important, if not the most important, of the musical events of the year,” and noted that two other Boston choirs had previously scheduled the work but not brought it to performance. The President noted the death of Dr. E. C. Bullard “one of the organizers of the Club.” (President’s Report June 1889)

HYMN OF PRAISE FOR CHARITY.

Lang returned to South Congregational Church for a performance of Mendelssohn’s Hymn of Praise on Saturday, April 7, 1889. The building was now the Union Park Street Synagogue-it had been sold after the merger of the South Congregational congregation with the Hollis Street Church. The performance, which was in aid of the South End Industrial School, “enlisted the services of the singers of the leading quartet choirs of the Unitarian city churches, making a chorus of about 40 voices,” and it used organ accompaniment by Lang (Herald (April 8, 1889) 5, GB) The church was full, mainly of people from the area who had looked upon this edifice as their home church. “A handsome amount was realized for the object benefited.” (Ibid) This performance was 27 years after Lang had given the Boston premiere of this work at Old South Church in January 1862, but at that time he was only able to organize a quartet choir of 16 singers.

ARTHUR NIKISCH.

ARTHUR NIKISCH. Postcard of an autographed photo done by Dreyfoos in New York – the card was printed in Germany. Johnston Collection.

Leichtentritt described the BSO audience of the early 1890s as being Boston’s most exclusive society, the residents of Back Bay, with additional forces from Brookline and Cambridge [who] set the tone. In this festive assembly of dignified ladies and gentlemen, the socially unimportant little music lovers in the second balcony and the standing room [of which, as an undergraduate at Harvard, he was one] only served to heighten by contrast the general picture of rank, wealth, and proud self-consciousness. Arthur Nikisch, the conductor, seemed to be especially created for this Boston Symphony audience. The handsome man with his raven-black hair and artistically shaped beard, the pallor that made his face even more romantic, his slim figure with its perfectly tailored dress suit, was elegance itself. As he raised his fine hand, overshadowed by broad snow-white cuffs, with an inimitable wave and the most graceful bend of the wrist, with a nonchalantly protruding little finger crowned by a sparkling diamond ring, and as his long, tapering baton gave the sign for the orchestra, one could feel in the air the pent-up admiration of the ladies – one almost expected a loud acclamation of bravos and enthusiastic applause. The faux-pas was, however, averted at the last moment by the sounds emanating from the orchestra. So far Nikisch might have been taken for a Hungarian count, a fascinating hero of the salon. But as his baton seemed to draw the music out of the instruments – now caressing, now beseeching, now commanding – he was transformed into a true artist, a musician filled with the ecstasy of the creator, and at the grand climaxes he carried the orchestra away to an irresistibly brilliant dash, a frenzy of passion that never missed in its effect on the audience. With his wonderfully keen sense of orchestral color Nikisch often produced real marvels of sound. (Leichtentritt, 368) He was thirty-three years old when he came to Boston. “Nikisch was hypnotic, a poised Svengali with fathomless eyes. ”He does not really conduct,” Tchaikovsky later testified. ”He resigns himself to a magical enchantment. ”(Horowitz, 56 and 57) He brought his family with him and settled in Mrs. Scully’s house on High Street in Brookline. He was pleased with everything, very amiable and gracious to everybody, complimentary to the orchestra and everybody thought he would be an improvement on the humdrum Gericke. “The new broom swept very clean for a little while, but before very long we began to hear some queer tempi in familiar classic works, inner parts of small importance inflated to twice their natural size, and other innovations which made things different but not better… but they did gain in elasticity and brilliancy whenever Nikisch took it in his head to require it.” (Undated and unsigned article, courtesy of the Boston Symphony orchestra Archive”) Artur Foote wrote of the “remarkable memory of Nikisch. When he first came to Boston he conducted everything without score: later, with twenty-four different programs each season, he gave this up. In 1891 he conducted from memory a MS. suite of mine, and probably never thought of it again. But when I called on him in London, four years later, he said, ”You remember that suite we played?” and, sitting down at the piano, went through the first movement. I could hardly have played four measures of it. An extraordinarily gifted man he was: at [the] sight of me the tune came right into his head.” (Foote, Auto., 111)

Soon after he arrived he dined with the Lang’s. “Lel invited Nickish [as it appears] to dinner. He is altogether delightful. Handsome, small and exquisitely nice. And such white hands. Speaks English very well, and he’s only been here ten weeks. He and Lel played Billiards later in the evening. Soon after Lang arranged a reception for Nikisch. “Lel’s reception for Nickish was a great success. About 250 people came. Malcolm [aged 8] passed cigars and cigarettes. Nickish had dinner with us afterward.” He again dined with the Lang’s in early December (Diary 2, Fall 1889)

PIANO INSTRUCTOR-LANG’S METHODS.

“Mr. Lang’s reputation as a teacher is national, and perhaps few instructors have so many pupils before the public today in concert work as he. He began with full classes and his days are always crowded. When a mere boy in Salem, his father being taken suddenly ill, young Lang was at a moment’s notice obligated to take so many pupils that every day and every hour were devoted to teaching.” (Globe, (December 22, 1907: 33) “A teacher of incredible activity (when I knew him he was giving regular lessons from 8.30 to 6).” (Foote, Auto, 45) Lang “considered teaching to be one of the great professions.” (Cecilia Program, December 2, 1909)

The singer Clara Kathleen Rogers (Clara Doria) wrote that Lang “had an unusually large following of devoted disciples… [His] pupils, one and all, adored him, and only awaited a sign from him to render willing service. One sometimes wondered what was the secret of his magnetism. I fancy, however, that it lay largely in the subtle, inferential admiration which his manner conveyed. (Rogers, Two Lives, 146 and 147)

As a piano teacher, Lang was very well regarded. “His class of private pupils upon the pianoforte belongs to the very elite of Boston, and is as distinguished for talent as for style-a combination peculiarly Bostonian.” (Mathews, 429) Another source from c. 1886 said that “He is highly esteemed as a teacher, and of his many pupils over sixty are concert soloists. Though not a virtuoso in the strictest sense of the word, he is a fine player, and above all, a thoroughly educated and sound musician.” (Jones, Handbook, 84) Fox states that his “pedagogical dedication was indeed remarkable since he taught as many as fourteen lessons daily and claimed to have instructed over two hundred concert pianists.” (Fox, Papers, 4) My research found sixty soloists; they are listed at the beginning of the Chapter “Piano Instructor.” His obituary in the Globe was headlined: “B. J. Lang Dies of Pneumonia-Half a Century One of Boston’s Foremost Musicians-Noted as Conductor and Organist and Had Taught 5,000 Pupils.” (Globe (Apr. 5, 1909): 1) The article listed among his most well-known pupils, “Arthur Foote, J. A. Preston, H. G. Tucker, and the late G. W. Sumner. The building at 6 Newbury St. where he had his studio is entirely peopled with his former students.” (Ibid)

He had quickly established himself among his peers, for in late December 1860 his name was used in an ad for the “New Modern School for the Piano-Forte” published by the Boston firm of Russell & Tolman. Among the many hundreds of international artists who have given the highest testimonials of their “Modern School,” local names included B. J’s teacher, Francis G. Hill, Lowell Mason, J. C. D. Parker, Otto Dresel and thirty-three others. (BMT (December 15, 1860): 355)

Early in his teaching career, he was connected with the “National College of Music” which had been established by the Mendelssohn Quintette Club with its clarinetist, Thomas Ryan as the Director in September of 1872. Dwight had announced in his June 1872 issue that, “The Mendelssohn Quintette, with Mr. B. J. Lang, and other good musicians and teachers, will open in September, here in Boston a new National College of Music.” (Dwight (June 15, 1872): 255) “The assistant piano teachers were all brilliant young men whom Lang had taught and developed, namely: Mr. Geo. W. Sumner, well known and beloved organist for seventeen years at the Arlington Street Church, Mr. Hiram Tucker, Mr. W. F. Apthorp, Mr. Dixie, and Mr. J. Q. Adams. All these men would naturally teach according to the Lang method, and that certainly was a commendable system…Our plans were all right, and we started off with goodly numbers, -not far from two hundred pupils. In October, just one month later, the great Boston fire occurred; and it made everybody poor. The majority of the pupils were from the city or neighborhood, and over one half of them were forced to notify us that they could not continue their attendance another term. The fire really killed our school. We worried along to the end of the year, met our losses as best we could, and returned to our old system of traveling.” (Ryan, 172 and 173) Dwight reported on the school’s first “Exhibition Concert of Pupils” held on April 15, 1873, “The solo singing all gave evidence of talent and of excellent instruction,” but “The most remarkable performance of the afternoon was that of the difficult Schumann Concerto by Miss Barton, a young pupil of Mr. Lang, whose rendering of the first movement was highly satisfactory…It was a most arduous undertaking for a young girl, and such a measure of success seems full of promise.” (Dwight (Journal, May 3, 1873): 14)

Lang’s association with the National School of Music lasted just the one year of its existence, 1872-1873. In the summer of 1873, he published a notice to his students saying that he was resuming his “connection with New England Conservatory of Music (Music Hall) and that all class teaching he may do in the future, will be in that institution. ” He then recommended that school to his students as he had been connected “with the school during its entire existence, excepting last year.” (BPL, Lang Program Collection, Vol. 1)

The critic Philip Hale took time during a review of one of Lang’s students, Benjamin Lincoln Whelpley; to outline what he felt were the problems with Lang’s teaching. His April 11, 1891 review of a Whelpley recital began: “Mr. Whelpley has good fingers and many excellent musical ideas. He is careful and conscientious in his work, and there are many things to be admired and praised in his playing. He belongs to a certain school of pianists [Lang’s], a prominent school in this city; and this is unfortunate, and it hampers his artistic development. For the members of this family do not pay sufficient attention to tone production and gradation of tone; the legato is so slighted by them, and the use of pedals is so imperfectly understood that song-passages are not sung; and these players are deficient in appreciation of rhythm and rhythmic effects. And when any one of this school plays in public, the hearer is at once aware of the fact that the pianoforte is a percussion instrument.” After getting this off his chest, Hale continued, “Not that Mr. Whelpley pounds.” (BPL Hale Criticism, Vol. 1)

A reference to Lang’s own piano technique was part of a review of a concert by Cecilia on February 12, 1896. Mr. Fay accompanied the choir that evening, but Lang accompanied the soloist. “Mr. Lang’s accompaniments gave genuine delight. We venture to suggest to Mr. Fay that he profit by the lesson given him by Mr. Lang. Where the latter’s touch was delicate and subdued, Mr. Fails seemed harsh and noisy. Mr. Lang’s pianoforte work was a treat in itself.” (BPL Lang Program Collection, Vol. 8)

In 1893 William Apthorp, one of Lang’s pupils mentioned above, wrote an extensive article about his teacher. “The amount of work he would get through in a day, what with pupils and rehearsals, seems almost fabulous. No one but a man of the most vigorous constitution and of his regular singularly abstemious habits-he has never touched beer, wine, spirits, tea or coffee in his life, and his experience with tobacco is limited to part of a cigar that Satter once gave him when he was a very young man, and which he has not forgotten to this day-could stand such work: sometimes fourteen to eighteen lessons in a day!” [seven to nine hours] (Boston Evening Transcript, April 13, 1907, being mostly a reprint of Apthorp’s article for Music magazine in 1893)

Another pupil wrote a poem to her teacher:

TO B. J. LANG.

They say there are ministering spirits who come out of God’s loving heart To show us the wisdom and beauty of action, of thought, and of art.

Now I love to call such our “teachers”-a name that the ages have blest;   And to such cast a wreath of remembrance ere they are called back to their rest.

So here’s to my true music-teacher, who lighted a torch in my youth            By which I have always had Music to gladden each new path of Truth.

Boston, 1897                     Elizabeth Porter Gould (Gould Archive Book, HMA)

 

Lang taught privately at various places during his career; his home, at the studios in the Chickering Building at 153 Tremont Street (as late as 1903) and at 6 Newbury Street where he “and a colony of his pupils occupied rooms at the Lang Studios.” (Foote, Auto, 49) On Jan. 9, 1910, just a few months after B. J.’s death, a newspaper clipping entitled “Notes of the Studio” described the Newbury Street location: “In the great front studio on the second floor, with its high windows with large globular colored spots, the fine old marble fireplace, its big pipe organ and grand piano, works the son [Malcolm] of B. J. Lang, founder of the Lang studios…Just outside the door is the Ruth Burrage library of orchestral scores…To this rich reservoir may come the student of music to take away for four days’ study and practice famous scores of orchestral music.” The Globe “Table gossip” of April 30, 1905 had reported that “Mrs. Whiteside had sold her house, numbered 6 Newbury St. adjoining the St. Botolph Club, near the corner of Arlington St. to Mr. B. J. Lang, who will make extensive improvements and occupy. It is one of the very few Back Bay estates on Newbury St. that has an extensive frontage, being a four-story octagon brownstone front brick house. It was thought at one time that the St. Botolph Club would buy this estate.” (Globe (April 30, 1905): 46) Amy DuBois related that this building was the last in Boston to have gas lighting, as “My grandfather [Malcolm] didn’t think things were getting better.” (Amy Dubois Interview)

PIANOS: SPECIAL DOUBLE PIANO AND SILENT PRACTICE PIANO.

An article in the Transcript dated September 30 (no year) describes two inventions of B. J. designed to help the busy piano teacher. The article noted the problem, when giving lessons, of having the student move off the piano seat so that the teacher can then sit and demonstrate whatever is needed. A second problem was if the studio could afford two pianos, there was no way that they could be placed so that the teacher could see what the student was doing; also two copies of all pieces would be required. “Mr. Lang has completely overcome these difficulties as follows:” (Transcript, September no year, Foote Scrapbook) For the first problem B. J. had a smaller grand built (by Chickering and Sons) with legs only a foot high. It was placed to the right and under the student’s piano. The lowest note of the teacher’s instrument was just under the “A (first leger line above the staff in the G clef” (Ibid) of the student’s instrument. In this way the teacher could look over the student’s right shoulder easily and read from the student’s music.  “At every step in the lesson the teacher can show the pupil what he wishes by actual and immediate example.” (Ibid) No one has to move.                                                                                                                                          The second invention was a practice piano. For professional pianists who have to practice many hours a day, finding a place where they are not bothering their neighbors is often impossible. Some players, Joseffy for instance, put strips of cloth between the strings to soften the sound, but this also put the instrument out of tune. B. J. produced an upright that could play pppppppp to pp! The author of the article wrote: “The new mechanism by which this particular end is accomplished is beautifully simple, but cannot easily be explained in untechnical terms.” (Ibid) The pedals also worked in this new instrument and “gradations (relative) of tone can be produced…which never rises above a sweet whisper, inaudible outside of the room in which the instrument stands.” (Ibid) Did this instrument ever make it into production?

NINETEENTH APOLLO CLUB SEASON. 1889-1890.

For the Apollo concerts of Friday evening December 6 and Monday evening December 9, 1889 at the Music Hall, Margaret Ruthven Lang did an orchestration of the male choral piece Estudiantina by Paul Lacome

[1838-1920] “the accompaniment to which was arranged in a very dainty and charming manner for orchestra.” It was given “most delightfully, and was redemanded.” The Post review said that the orchestration “was delicately done; so prettily that the absence of the castanets was but a pleasing relief from the usual methods”. (Scrapbooks) For this concert, the chorus numbered 75 and the orchestra 44. (MYB 1889-90, 14) The major work in this concert was Damon and Pythias by the English composer Prout which filled the first half of the concert. There was very little critical comment of this piece. Estudiantina was repeated at the March 5, 1893 “Miscellaneous Concert” which was also accompanied by an orchestra. (MYB 1892-93, 15)

The February 19 and 24, 1890 concerts again included a world premier-The Knights and the Naiads by Templeton Strong for Soprano, Alto and Bass soloists, male choir and orchestra was sung. This piece had been written for the Apollo Club. The poem was originally in German; “But German humor is often another name for German rudeness…The result is an exhibition of ingenuity; but where is the music? This trivial subject is treated as though it were a symphonic poem…The composition throughout is musical hifalutin…Truly there is ingenious writing for the orchestra, but it is labored, often irrelevant and sometimes impertinent, while the voice parts are inexcusably uninteresting and difficult. (Home Journal, undated and unsigned review, but probably by Hale) The “German rudeness” referred to by the first reviewer is described in more detail by the Beacon. “It is a setting of a long and not attractive German ballad, the point of which is a feeble mother-in-law joke, and its most interesting and valuable portions lie almost exclusively in the orchestral score, which is often fanciful, quaint and absolutely original.” (Beacon) This writer found the chorus and solo parts unmelodious and unvocal. “The orchestra did pretty well with their share, and the singers, considering the difficulties they had to meet, did wonders.” (Ibid)  The final piece of the concert was Whiting’s Henry of Navarre, Opus 48 for tenor solo, male choir and orchestra that was also originally written for the Apollo Club and premiered by them in 1885. “There are effective passages of a descriptive nature for the orchestra, but the work is too heavily scored. There is little contrast; the brass and the drums are too busy. The orchestra is so used that the voices are covered.” (Home Journal) “It is an extremely elaborate composition, not always easy to sing or to hear, the accompaniment contains many bold and brilliant suggestions of battle and its excitement, but it really does not add much. (Beacon, undated and unsigned review) Arthur Weld in the Post disliked the Whiting. “This composition is openly uninteresting and so noisily scored, as far as the orchestra is concerned, that at times one’s ears suffered severely.” The choir he praised: “The work was sung in a conscientious and painstaking manner by the club, and the orchestra (especially the brass) played very well.” (Post, undated review by Arthur Weld) Elson was disappointed in Strong’s work, especially after he had praised an earlier work, The Haunted Mill by calling it “an honor to the American repertoire…The female voices in the trio of the Naiads were not quite in Character. Naiads can swim, but these sank distressingly.” (Advertiser, undated review by Louis C. Elson) Whiting’s work was also compared negatively to his earlier Monks of Bangor. “Taber’s Cannibal Idyll was one of the great successes of the evening, its pretty waltz theme for first basses and its direct humor charming everyone.” (Ibid)

At the choir’s mid-winter supper the club performed a parody where the club’s secretary, Mr. Arthur Reed combined texts from the Knights and the Naiads and Cannibal Idyll which resulted in a new poem of three stanzas, The Knights and the Cannibals. “The music was a bit of patchwork, made out of original tunes by Mr. Arthur Thayer.” (Apollo Reviews) The poem began: “Twelve cannibal Naiads loved too well, Twelve helpless Knights of old. And charmingly their love did tell, For passion made them bold; But the Knights held back, for they were poor, And had nothing in the bank. And the maidens’ wardrobes seemed to be Almost a perfect blank. ‘T was a problem vexing, vexing quite, For every maid and every Knight…But a youth appeared, to their great surprise, Who had known the girls of old…And those twelve Maids each lost a Knight.” (Ibid)

The April 30 and May 5, 1890 concerts featured the famous violinist, Maud Powell and the singer, Miss Mary Howe. B. J.’s pupil, Mrs. Marsh accompanied Miss Powell in the Polonaise de Concert by Laub. (Program, Johnston Collection) It also included the third appearance of B. J.’s only published piece for men’s choir, Hi-fi-link-i-le. It had been premiered in February 1884 and repeated in May 1886. its humorous style was appropriate for the end of the Apollo season. “It was written with a decided bias toward the bass parts, and it has as much unison work as a chant of the third century, but, all the same, it is jolly, and it shows that the man who has done so much for the club music of Boston is as yet a youth as any of us.” (Advertiser, Apollo Reviews)

“Musical Matters” noted: “As for directing from the piano, Mr. Lang does it all the time at rehearsals, and the club likes it.” The Post reviewer, Arthur Weld seemed to be in a bad mood: “There is no denying the fact that there is very little good music written for men’s voices…The smaller pieces are all more or less dreadful.” (Post, Apollo Reviews) Weld made reference to the accompanist but said it was Mrs. Marsh [a Lang piano pupil] which brought forth the following Letter to the Editor: “The enterprising musical critic of the esteemed Post must have heard the Apollo concert rather with his imagination than his senses, for he confounds Mr. Lang with a woman and attributes to Mrs. Marsh, who was ill at home, the piano accompaniments, which were all played by that gentleman, undisguised by any feminine apparel. He also says, “Mr. Lang was recently quoted in a contemporary as having uttered some very sound and sweeping statements with regard to the granting of encores, but last night he seemed to have forgotten these remarks, or else has changed his mind. The most feeble and scattering applause was sufficient to insure a repetition, and it was hard to keep count the number which were granted.” The fact is, that but one encore was given by the club and this after Mr. Lang had been called out three times, while the solo artists-with whose encores the conductor had nothing to do, of course-Miss Powell yielded once and Miss Howe repeated the last page of her first air and added a new song after her second selection upon almost universal demand.” (Apollo Reviews)

It seems that people leaving concerts during the final number continued to be a problem. To deal with this, a sentence was placed in the program just before the words of the final piece: “Those who wish to leave the hall before the end of the concert are respectfully, but earnestly, requested to do so during this pause.” (Program December 3, 1890-Johnston Collection) Then the length of the final piece was given so that the concertgoer could decide if leaving was really necessary.

Around 1889 the group was described: “the Apollo Club still occupies an honorable position in Boston, the concerts being sold out at the beginning of the season, the audiences being distinguished for elegance and musical appreciation-a combination rare outside the limits of Boston. The standard of vocal work in this society has always been high, and it was one of the first to introduce many of the better class of compositions of this school.” (Mathews, 428) “Among the names on the list of the original fifty-two members is that of Henry Clay Barnabee of ‘The Bostonians’ fame; also Myron W. Whitney, the great bass.” (Syford, 165)

FOURTEENTH CECILIA SEASON. 1889-1890.

People head up Tremont Street to the Music Hall which was opposite the steeple of Park Street Church, located in the center of the photo.

The season opened on Monday, December 2, 1889 at the Music Hall. Dvorak’s Spectre’s Bride was presented with full orchestra-it was the third time the choir had programmed this work. The Advertiser wrote: “From the very start the chorus brought to bear an immense amount of enthusiasm that bespoke success, and sustained throughout the reputation they have so well and honestly earned in the past.” Mr. Parker’s contribution was praised: “His beautiful voice is always listened to with great pleasure,” and the return to the Music Hall stage of the older singer J. F. Rudolphsen was noted but no critical comment made. “Mr. Lang kept the orchestra and chorus under good control for the most part, and with the exception of too much prominence being given to the accompaniments in some places, can be congratulated upon having given a very satisfactory reading of one of the principal works of this Slavonic composer.” (Advertiser, Cecilia Reviews) Another review recorded the “large audience,” and that the “full orchestra including two harps, assisting.” This was certainly a step forward from the usual use of piano for harp parts. This review praised the chorus, but felt that the “orchestra, though composed of admirable material, acquitted itself with a ragged, noisy effect, and too often with a woeful lack of precision.” Mme. Zela “who was heard here for the first time, has a soprano voice of rather uneven and throaty quality,” while “Mr. Rudolphsen, whose voice is remarkably well preserved, manifested all of his old fire and musicianly taste, and much of the efficiency that characterized his work here years ago.” This reviewer found the work as a whole “monotonous and dreary… It was listened to apathetically, and there was no enthusiasm and but little applause.” (Cecilia Reviews) A third review described Mme. Zela’s as having “a high soprano voice of some power, of excellent quality in its upper range-she took her high C with great ease-but wanting in timbre in its lower part… Of Mr. Rudolphsen’s singing of the part of the Narrator, one would rather say nothing; let us try to forget it, and remember, instead, the admirable work he used to do here twenty years ago.” (Cecilia Reviews) The Post reviewed previous performances of this work by the Cecilia. “The club sang this work as a novelty at their spring concert the year after it was first produced at the Birmingham festival and repeated it the following March.” Of this third performance, “The Cecilia has never sung better than last night… and the addition of two harps lent peculiar charm to the two choruses where they had before been replaced by the piano… Mr. J. F. Rudolphsen suffered most unfortunately as the narrator by comparison with Max Heinrich, who sang the part at both previous renderings of the work.” (Post, Cecilia Reviews)

The second concert was held Thursday evening, January 23, 1890 at the Music Hall with the largely amateur Boston Orchestral Club. Selections from Haydns The Seasons (about ninety minutes of music) were presented with the soloists Miss Gertrude Franklin, Mr. G. J. Parker and Mr. C. E. Hay. Louis C. Elson in the Advertiser wrote of Franklin: she “deserves great praise for the intelligence she displayed in every part of her work. The orchestra was described as “generally excellent and often more than that. Mr. Sabin was concertmeister, with Miss Lillian Shattuck at the second desk and a liberal sprinkling of Mr. Julius Eichberg’s advanced students in the ranks.” Elson noted that the final chorus from the “Spring” section closed the work, “and as Haydn was never over-proud of the actual finale of this work, one may let the transference pass unchallenged, but it would be a hazardous thing to do with any other masterpiece.” (Advertiser, Cecilia Reviews) Arthur Weld wrote that “the cuts which were made were very injudicious, and some of the most celebrated numbers were omitted. Very little good can be done by presenting classical works in so insufficient and incomplete a manner, and they would be better left on the shelf, dead and forgotten.” Weld also did not like Lang’s conducting technique. “The chorus sang very roughly and were particularly at fault with regard to rhythmic precision, and the orchestra, which does so well under Mr. Chadwick was apparently dazed and confused by Mr. Lang’s different methods, and played in a very wooden and mechanical style.” (Probably Post, Cecilia Reviews) Another review noted that selections were presented, “but this mattered little, as the pure musical treatment of any and every scene is apparent whatever the context.” This review also noted how moved the audience was: “expressions of approval during last night’s performance were numerous and deserved.” It was also commented upon “The Cecilia found no difficulty in doing ample justice to the choruses… Mr. Lang held his combined forces under good control.” (Cecilia Reviews) Maybe Weld and this reviewer sat in very different places in the Music Hall. Philip Hale in the Home Journal began with: “Improper liberties were taken with the body of this sturdy child of Haydn’s old age,” but he was very positive about Miss Franklin. “It is a pleasure to pay tribute to ” her art, and he also described the cadenza as “musical in itself.” The two male soloists were also praised, but the orchestra “played roughly and without rhythm. Often it apparently groped its way from measure to measure,” and the fault was laid upon Lang. “However versatile and accomplished a musician Mr. Lang may be, it is plain that when he takes his stick in hand to lead a chorus or orchestra, his beat is indecisive and perplexing.” (Home Journal, Cecilia Reviews) The reviewer in the Times also noted the incomplete performance: “The entire work was not given by the Cecilia, but excellent taste was shown in the selections that were made; and by the substitution of the ‘God of light’ chorus with its free fugue for a finale instead of the last chorus of ‘Winter’ with its drunken fugue,’ as Haydn called it, the work gained an effective climax… The choruses [were] all sung with an integrity and heartiness that none present could have failed to appreciate [well, a couple did fail to appreciate].” Miss Franklin’s performance was singled out was praised for a whole paragraph ending with: “In brief, she sang in a wonderfully finished and flawless manner.” The review ended: “Despite the inclement weather the concert was attended by a large audience.” (Times, Cecilia Reviews)

On Thursday evening, March 27, 1890 at the Music Hall the choir gave the Boston premiere of Massenet’s Eve with an orchestra. Also on the program were a repeat of The Wreck of the Hesperus by Arthur Foote and The Song of Fate by Brahms. Johnson quotes Hale’s review from the  Post of March 28: “Dubois’ idea of the Fall in which we all sinned was spectacular and erotic. Massenet, in his Eve, is more than erotic, he is pornographic.” (Johnson, First, 230) The premiere of this work had been on March 18, 1875 in Paris. G. Schirmer published an undated edition in English, which was probably the one used in Lang’s performance. Louis C. Elson began his review in the Advertiser: “Another red-letter night for the Cecilia!” However, of the Foote work, he wrote: it “does not make a better impression on a second hearing.” The second work in the concert, “Brahms’ noble Song of Fate was sung in a manner that did honor to director and chorus, every difficult detail, even the sforzando effects and the staccato passages being given as a single voice… Then came a work new to Boston, and exciting enough to be classed as ‘extra hazardous.’ It is a mystery how Eve, a mystery, could have been transplanted to cold-blooded Boston. It is as erotic and ecstatic as the most passionate of French composers-Massenet-could make it and the chorus sang it as if inspired. Never have the Cecilians surpassed their work of last night.” The soprano soloist, Mrs. Jennie P. Walker was praised for her “charming, shading expression, and intonation even in alt passages.” The review ended: “We must have this work again and soon… I doubt whether any Parisian vocal society can excel the work of the Cecilia in it.” (Advertiser, Cecilia Reviews) G. H. W. [George H. Wilson, editor of the Boston Musical Yearbook] wrote that he was only mildly enthusiastic about the Foote cantata. Of the Brahms, he felt that it “was splendidly sung by the chorus,” and he made the same comment concerning the Massenet. “The performance of the chorus portions of Massenet’s work was of a high order, and in places, notably the unaccompanied writing which introduces part two, very fine. Excellent attention was paid to Mr. Lang, who gave to the work his best pains.” Some fault was found with the orchestra and this was linked to the limited funds available. “The town should see to it that a society like the Cecilia should have a plethoric, not a fading treasury.” The soprano soloist was also praised in this review. “Mrs. Walker is no less an artist because she is a Boston church singer and Boston taught… The singer is musical and has advanced in her art by normal, honest and conscientious labor.” The review ended with extra praise: “We must add a word about the sopranos of the Cecilia chorus; these voices are angelic.” (Cecilia Reviews)

By far the longest review (probably for the Home Journal) was that by Philip Hale who, after much introductory material, finally mentioned the music: “It is extremely well written both for voices and for orchestra; in fact, the instrumentation is often of exquisite fancy,” and examples followed. “The performance was upon the whole a very creditable one.” Then came the usual Lang slam. “It is true that Mr. Lang did not seem to have a keen sense of the proper tempo of several numbers; nor has he apparently the true idea of the andante, which he invariably takes at too slow a pace. The work of the chorus in Eve, and throughout the program, was a marked improvement over that shown at former concerts of this season. The body of tone was fuller and better balanced.” Of Mrs. Walker, he wrote: she “sang well the difficult part of Eve. One could have here wished a little more passion, there more breadth; but it was an admirable performance of a difficult task.” Hale also referred to the orchestra: “There should be money enough raised to insure a finished performance of the orchestra score.” The Brahms work received only one line ending with: the work “was sung with accuracy,” while the Foote was dismissed with “it is not a musical work. The passages given to the soloists are not dramatic. They are indeed feeble.” (Home Journal (?), Cecilia Reviews) The Transcript [William F. Apthorp] noted the problem facing a composer when the text is “a simple, homely ballad in a very catchy and quite unvarying rhythm.” The reviewer felt that the orchestration helped to overcome this basic problem. Of the Brahms: “Here we have ‘the real Brahms,’ who is not content with a fine plan, but must carry out that plan in a fine and noble way. The music is not only suggestive and appealing; it is solidly satisfying. You feel that you could hear the work again and again, with ever-growing delight and edification.” This was certainly a progressive opinion in Boston at this time. Of the Massenet: “It shows the composer fairly at his best in every respect… the performance of all three works was admirable. Not only did the chorus sing with all their usual firmness, purity of tone and perfection of ensemble, but the orchestra did its work most excellently, with precision, brilliancy and nicety of finish, and the solo singers were more than adequate… Mr. Lang is highly to be congratulated upon the success of this concert, which was not only brilliant artistically, but called forth enthusiastic applause from the large audience.” (Transcript, Cecilia Reviews)

The photo below from New England Magazine, February 1890.

 

However, another review had high praise for the Foote cantata: “It is a work which might be claimed with pride by any of the elder nationalities. It was finely sung by the soloists and chorus, and heartily applauded.” Of the Massenet: “The work is one of fascinating beauty throughout, and bears the stamp of inspiration and genius in every measure… To the chorus and orchestra, no words of praise can be too excessive, for better work could not be desired than that given in the performance of the many beauties of the work.” (Cecilia Reviews) One final, short review ended: “It is a credit to Mr. B. J. Lang, the director of the club, that the skillful efforts of the club, and the disciplinary effects exhibited, were first-class in every respect so that tokens of approval were freely bestowed by the audience.” (Cecilia Reviews)

The fourth concert of the season was given on Thursday evening, May 22, 1890 at the Music Hall with Foote as pianist and Cutter and Nevin as organists. “Variety programmes without orchestra are not precisely the things one looks forward to with most pleasure, in the way of choral club concerts, but this one of last evening provided a delightful exception to the rule; it was well balanced, well-diversified, and nothing in it was dull.” (Cecilia Reviews) However the Herald began by saying that the concert was “a dull ending to the events of the year…the programme having little to relieve its general dullness,” however it did say that “the singers of the club gave their best efforts throughout the evening.” The novelties of the program included three songs composed by Lang: Aladdin’s Lamp (James Russell Lowell), Sing, Maiden, Sing (Barry Cornwall), and Cradle Song (Words from the German by Charles T. Brooks). (Cecilia Reviews) [Sing, Maiden, Sing had been sung at the Cecilia concert of February 4, 1886 by Miss Bockus, a member of the choir] “Mr. Lang’s three songs seem to us to reach about the high-water mark in American songwriting. They show such genial melodic invention, such easy command of style, and are withal so essentially lyrical in character… Both in form and expression, they are songs pure and simple; the lyrical element always predominates. In a word, they are charming. They were capitally sung, with great expressiveness, by Mr. Winch.” (Cecilia Reviews) The program also included a first public performance of a MacDowell choral piece, his Barcarole, which was encored, and Nevin’s Wynken, Blynken and Nod along with instrumental pieces by the cellist Mr. Griese, which were well received. (Cecilia Reviews) The Post (Weld or Hale) review called the Barcarolle “a very satisfactory number” while the Nevin “was one of the most delightful parts of the programme.” The Lang songs “all of them charming in color and particularly melodious, although the first two are somewhat overweighed by the too florid accompaniment. Mr. Winch sang them all in a most artistic manner and with his usual elegance and finish of phrasing.” (Post, Cecilia Reviews) A review entitled “Musical Notes” also approved of Lang’s songs, they were described as “graceful and pleasing in style, though conventional in character. The first two suffered from too elaborate accompaniments, which imparted to them the effect of piano studies with vocal interpolations. Mr. Winch sang them very beautifully.” (Cecilia Reviews) Another review wrote: “Mr. Lang’s group of songs got a well-merited round of applause, and those styled Aladdin’s Lamp and Cradle Song were in this composer’s best vein. Mr. Winch sang the songs with charming effect.” (Cecilia Reviews) The Traveler praised the MacDowell: “Certainly few if any of the American school could write more lovely music than that which marks the climax of the piece, at the words, ‘Ah, loved one.’” On Lang’s songs: “Mr. Winch sang with the purest musical feeling and with a freer emission of tone than he sometimes uses. The three songs by Mr. Lang, all new, are simply gems; we wish they might be published. Mr. Lang was Mr. Winch’s accompanist.” (Traveler, Cecilia Reviews)

MacDowell’s Barcarole is available at the Library of Congress-American Choral Music site. It is scored for SSAATTBB choir and piano, four-hand accompaniment. “One could easily imagine MacDowell playing the piano part alongside his wife Marian.” (LC Site) Nevin’s Wynken, Blynken and Nod was published by Boston Music (then at 28 West Street) but copyrighted by G. Schirmer in 1889 in arrangements for Mixed, Female and Male voices-each 40 cents per copy. “Orchestra parts may be had of the publisher.” (Copy in Johnston collection)

KING’S CHAPEL-CHRISTMAS 1890.

The Daily Advertiser gave a detailed account of the Christmas Day service at King’s Chapel. “The decorations were simple and massive hemlock everywhere, here in graceful convolutions and there in heavy masses…Everything was encircled with evergreen trimmings,” including the organ. The music included a prelude from Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, four extracts from Handel’s Messiah, Te Deum in F Major by Lang, Jubilate by Dr. Hopkins, Christmas Song by Lang, and a Hymn by Sir Arthur Sullivan.” (Daily Advertiser (December 26, 1890): 2, GB) Leading the service was Lang’s former Pastor from South Congregational Church, Rev. Edward Hale. That must have been an interesting reunion.

HANDEL AND HAYDN SALARY.

For the 1890-91 Season, Lang’s salary as “organist and pianist” was $300. Zerrahn was promised $750 “and such further sum not exceeding two hundred fifty dollars ($250) as the Society may be able to pay out of the current receipts of the season.” (History-1911, 7) For the next season, 1891-92 Zerrahn was promised $1,000 while Lang remained at $300. (Op. cit., 15) These terms were the same for the 1894-95 Season. (Op. cit., 45)

BOSTON SINGERS (REPLACED BOYLSTON CLUB)

Arthur Weld wrote a piece, probably for a music periodical, in which he noted the fact “that Mr. Osgood has started a new [singing] society,” and that he hoped that a rivalry would not develop between it and the Cecilia. “Not only is our city amply large enough for two such institutions, but it would be extremely detrimental to either should the other cease to exist.” This new choir, the Boston Singers, was to fill the place of the recently “defunct Boylston Club.” Weld then went on to catalog the many important premiers that the Cecilia had given, calling it a “remarkable list… Mr. Lang is sure to offer good work and excellent programmes to the public, and it would be gross ingratitude on the part of the musical world if they should fail to support him.” (Cecilia Clippings)

FIFTEENTH CECILIA SEASON. 1890-1891.

The first concert was on Thursday evening, November 20, 1890 at the Music Hall with Franz Kneisel as concertmaster and Cutter at the organ. After the success of Eve the previous March, Lang turned again to Massenet and gave the first Boston performance of his Mary Magdalen. The Herald notice mentioned a “new departure made this season by this organization,” and this was “throwing open its subscription books to the public.” It also noted that the officers of the choir “recognize the necessity of securing competent professional singers in appealing to the general public for support.” The review also asked why “an organization, which has shown so much enterprise in the production of novelties of all schools” was just getting around to present this work which had its world premiere in 1873.” (Herald, Cecilia Reviews) Hale’s extensive review in the Post gave a detailed description of the plot, but then called the work a “very unequal composition.” Of the performance, he wrote: “The best work was done by the chorus… The female voices, especially the altos, were beyond reproach… As a whole the performance of the Cecilia chorus was a marked advance upon the work of last year.” The work of the orchestra “was not what it should have been… There was a general lack of precision and observance of dynamic marks. The audience heartily applauded solo singers and chorus.” (Post, Cecilia Reviews) Elson in the Advertiser wrote of the Massenet: “It is altogether too sensational for an oratorio, and too ambitious for a cantata… It has al least one merit-it is oriental in many of its touches… As to the performance, very much praise can be spoken; the club is to be congratulated on having had excellent soloists… the chorus sang well; the shading and delicacy of all the ”choruses of women” cannot be overpraised… The orchestra played roughly.” Elson’s final paragraph sounds very reactionary: “Everyone should be grateful to the Cecilia for such an important concert, and even if one does not approve [!] of the theatrical style of the chief work given, it is none the less a valuable lesson to hear specimens of such a school, and we may learn to appreciate the works of Bach and Handel, or even Mendelssohn, better, for this experience of the sacred side of the music of Massenet.” (Advertiser, Cecilia Reviews) It was not such a bitter pill for much of the audience, as Hale reported, “The audience heartily applauded.” (Post, Cecilia Reviews) Woolf in the Gazette liked the instrumental portions of the Massenet. “The instrumental preludes are the best portions of the score, the introduction to the second part being of rare beauty.” Following this was an extensive description of the various parts of the work, and then another Lang slam. “The work made no very profound impression, and the audience evidently became weary of it long before it was over. It is true it was heard under some disadvantage. Mr. Lang is never quite at ease when at the head of an orchestra… The uncertainty of Mr. Lang’s beating time placed the orchestra frequently at odds with the singers. The chorus work was, as a rule, very well done. In fact, its efforts were the best feature in the performance. The female voices were particularly good, and in one of the choruses for these voices alone, were heard with charming results, notably the altos.” The final sentence of the review-“There was much applause for both soloists and chorus”-contradicted the earlier statement-“The audience evidently became weary of it long before it was over.” (Gazette, Cecilia Reviews)

The main interest of the miscellaneous program of January 18, 1891 was that it contained pieces by four Boston composers. The songs Because of Thee-Clayton Johns, Herbstgefuehl-Ethelbert Nevin, Bedouin Love Song-G. W. Chadwick were sung by the baritone Mr. Eliot Hubbard and the two part-songs, The River Sprite and The Sea Hath Its Pearls by J. C. D. Parker were sung by the choir. (Herald (January 18, 1891): 10, GB).

Early in March 1891 the Herald announced that the Cecilia would give a special benefit performance for the Aural Department of the Massachusetts Charitable Eye and Ear Infirmary on March 18th. at the Music Hall; Mrs. Lang was a member of the sponsoring committee. Lang would conduct them in a repeat of Eve by Massenet, and the BSO, conducted by Arthur Nikisch would present a Beethoven “Overture” and songs sung by Mrs. Nikisch. (Herald (March 1, 1891): 13) “All the artists have volunteered to appear without pay…[and] Mr. Higginson gives the services of the symphony orchestra.” (Herald (March 8, 1891): 19, GB) The Herald reported that the event “was an immense success, and drew out a large and enthusiastic audience.” (Herald (March 22, 1891): 19, GB) The Journal found that the New York soloists were mismatched, with the two men not equal to the soprano. (Journal (March 17, 1891): 4, GB) in order to be part of this concert, the Cecilia moved their concert, originally scheduled for March 18 to April 2. The Herald noted that the “men of the Symphony orchestra…played superbly.” (Herald (March 17, 1891: 7, GB) One assumes that this also applied to their playing during Lang’s conducting of Eve. Was this because their boss, Nikisch, and sponsor, Higginson were in the room?

The photo below is from New England Magazine, February 1890.

On April 2, 1891 (their 75th. concert) at the Music Hall the choir sang the world premiere of George Whitefield Chadwick’s The Pilgrims based on the poem “The Landing of the Pilgrim Fathers in New England” originally published in Edinburgh in 1828, written by Felicia Dorothea Browne Hemans (1793-1835). The singers were: Gertrude Edmands, William Ludwig, George J. Parker and Joshua Phippen [one of Lang’s piano pupils]. The composer conducted. (Faucett, GWC, A Bio-Bibliography, 143) Chadwick noted in his Diary:  “I had been teaching counterpoint eight years, during which time I learned more myself that I should have taught my pupils. This accounted for [the] next work I tackled which was The Pilgrims. The final fugue with two subjects in that work I had started as an example for my class at the conservatory and the middle part I worked out as an example of a choral concerted piece. Several anthems (trios) were preliminary studies for this piece. When this piece was done by the Cecilia a year or two afterward L. C. Elson remarked that I had used the trumpets at the line “Not with the roll of the stirring drum and the trumpet that sings of fame” to show the Pilgrims did not come! This shows that even a critic may have an occasional gleam of humor.” (Chadwick, Memoirs) “I never had any great affection for this piece and never made another in the academic style. But singularly enough this piece has been performed more times than any other of my choral works. Probably on account of the words, which are dear to the popular heart…I was not very proud of it – except as good voice writing.” (Op. cit.) But Chadwick added a footnote noting that he was writing this comment on January 20, 1920, and that “The Pilgrims is being performed this very night in Lowell, Mass.” (Op. cit.) Hale, in his Post review, devoted one-half of his space to the Chadwick work, saying: “The composer has been very successful in his treatment of this poem. It is descriptive without being extravagant: it is melodious without being trivial; it is scholarly without being dull. There are many harmonic effects that are so happily invented that they seem spontaneous and inevitable… The Pilgrims is an effective and pleasing composition, and it well deserves a second hearing.”(Post, Cecilia Reviews) Elson in the Advertiser gave an extensive description of various parts of the work including the humorous comment referred to by Chadwick above. “The execution of the choruses [of the Chadwick] as up to the Cecilia standard, which is praise enough for anything. The same high compliment can be paid to the performance of Bruch’s Odysseus, a work which the Cecilia has made peculiarly its own, and one which never seems to lose its savor, either for the singers or the public… To the chorus here belongs the lion’s share of admiration and praise, for they sang the work as if they loved it… When a chorus can take B flat in soprano and A in tenor parts and do it sweetly and without screaming, when the altos become a really melodic part and not merely interior padding, when the basses are sturdy, the soloists zealous and the orchestra (with just a few mental reservations here as to ensemble) fiery and dashing, the critic can surely suspend their fault-finding side of his occupation and join in the general plaudits.” (Advertiser, Cecilia Reviews)

The fourth concert was given at the Music Hall on Thursday evening, May 14, 1891 with accompanists Foote, Nevin and Cutter. Miss Gertrude Franklin sang three songs by Margaret: My Lady Jacqueminot, In a Garden, and Night. This was the third time that her works had been part of this group’s concerts-the first was May 10, 1888 and the second January 31, 1889. Hale, in the Post, wrote a rave review, at least for him, (though shorter than usual) praising the choir, the soloists, Miss Franklin and Mr. Winch, who stood in on short notice for Mr. Dunham who was ill. Hale also mentioned Mr. Nevin whose piano solos were praised, as was “his setting of Eugene Field’s poem” which was encored repeatedly. He also mentioned that Nevin was making his last appearance in Boston before leaving for Paris “where he proposes to study composition for three or four years.” Hale then recalled the highlights of the season: “These concerts have been of a high order of merit, so far as the work of the singers was concerned. The society also gave an admirable performance of Eve in aid of a charity, and it supplied the chorus in Mr. Lang’s private performance of Parsifal. The concerts of next season will be looked forward to with genuine interest.” (Post, Cecilia Reviews) The Herald review began by calling the concert “full of attractive features… Mr. Lang’s careful work in rehearsals brought forth admirable results.” Whereas Hale had found Schubert’s Miriam’s Song dull, this reviewer called the performance a “grand interpretation. Margaret’s songs were called “graceful,” and Nevins piano pieces “won him the hearty commendation of the audience.” (Herald, Cecilia Reviews)

An extensive article (nine paragraphs) reviewed the Annual meeting as presented by its President George O. G. Coale. Most paragraphs were devoted to the orchestral accompaniment problem, noting that all Boston choral groups suffered, no matter who was conducting-“Whether it is Mr. Lang, or Mr. Zerrahn, or Mr. Nikisch, this orchestra… plays loosely and at random in the accompaniment of chorus or singer.” Coale then made a very interesting observation that countered the recurring comments of some critics concerning Lang’s conducting style. “The players from New York who did such excellent work in the private performance of Parsifal were unfamiliar with Mr. Lang’s methods, but their respect for the music itself was such and the esprit de corps was so great that they played as though Mr. Lang had been their sole conductor, and in so doing they gave an object lesson.” He then mentioned that for an orchestra of 40 players, each rehearsal would cost $160. “If some of them continually talk and laugh and show a disposition to treat the performance as a colossal joke, would even ten such rehearsals prove to be of benefit?… Accompanying choral numbers is not a task unworthy of their skill. For two years at least oratorios and cantatas have met with shabby treatment at their hands.” (Post, Report of the Annual Meeting)

TWENTIETH APOLLO CLUB SEASON. 1890-1891.

The December 1890 concerts, which opened their twentieth season, included the premiere of Margaret’s The Jumblies. The Transcript of December 8 noted that in spite of the stormy night, the audience at the Music Hall was full. “The programme was carried out in a manner that reflects great credit upon all concerned. The parts were well balanced and, and all the numbers were sung with precision and steadiness.” Margaret’s piece was “given with spirit,” but the reviewer didn’t find much humor in the piece, although he did admit that it was very difficult to create humor through “musical tones and harmonies.” (Apollo Reviews) Louis Elson in the Advertiser of December 4 also didn’t find much merriment in the work, and “felt sorry to find a brilliant young composer giving a set of merely correct harmonies to a succession of nonsense verses.” (Scrapbook 1887-1906)

Text as it appeared in the December 3, 1890 program. Johnston Collection.

Another premier was Hymn to Apollo by Mr. A. W. Thayer. The Courier recorded: “This number was excellently given, and cordially received;” it was the longest work on the program. Of the Lang, it wrote: “Considering the light humor of the subject, the music seemed somewhat heavy and labored, and the elaborate pianoforte accompaniments…also appeared to be the result of too much deliberate calculation.” The actual performance was poor. “Doubt and uncertainty seemed to affect the minds of chorus, players, and, presumably, conductor.” Mr. Cutter and Mr. Nevin were the pianists playing very “artistically.” (Courier, undated review by T. P. Currier) The poor reviews continued. The Home Journal [Philip Hale] printed: “Miss Lang’s composition written expressly for the club is not at all in the spirit of the words and is barren of melody. The pianoforte parts are more interesting in her piece than the parts allotted to the voices.” (Home Journal, undated and unsigned review) Philip Hale had just begun his one-year stint at the Post and began his review with praise for the chorus whose performance was “marked by precision of attack, steadiness in tempo, correct intonation and an agreeable balancing of parts.” (Post, undated review by Philip Hale) After the three lines of praise were ten lines of criticism which included “each singer seemed to tie his voice in a hard knot and throw it from him.” (Ibid) The Jumblies he called the “Novelty” of the evening. “The text calls for simple, jolly music…The voice parts are not always graceful, and this is surprising, for in songs already published, Miss Lang has shown no mean skill in writing for the voice. The composition lacks clearness, directness and humor; its frenzy is out of place.” (Ibid) Another reviewer felt: “Miss Lang’s possible purpose was to develop a mock-heroic style.  But since there is very little of the positively funny in music, and especially since subtleties of humor are almost impossible of expression in musical tones and harmonies, successfully to carry out with vocal or instrumental means the droll conceits of a rhymester requires both native humor and a mastery of the science of music on the part of the composer.” (Transcript, undated and unsigned review) The reviewer felt that Margaret possessed neither qualification. B. E. Woolf of the Gazette was not a Lang supporter. His evaluation of The Jumblies was: “It is curious as a total misconception by the composer of the spirit of the words to which she has set music. It was all too earnest, and was not over clear, especially in the contrapuntal part-writing for voices, which was in itself very ‘jumbly’ in effect. It does not do justice to Miss Lang, who has achieved far better work.” (Gazette, undated review by B. E. Woolf) Woolf didn’t like the Hymn to Apollo either. “It is an over-long and rambling composition, a bit of high aspiring nothingness, manufactured with much industry, a little skill, and no taste. It does not say anything, and it says it with noisy dullness. It was sung with great fire, but made no very favorable impression.” (Ibid) The reviewer “G. H. W.” heard both performances of Margaret’s piece. “Miss Lang’s imagination is considerable, but her humor is wanting…[the piece] is well written for the voices, ambitiously so, it is true, with unexpected harmonies…In parts it swings along confidently, the rhythms are all effective, and it has both color and contrast. A second hearing gives one a better idea of the work.” (G. H. W. undated review with no newspaper information) Of the Thayer work he wrote: “Arthur Thayer’s Hymn only needs judicious condensing to show how strong are its ideas and how excellent is the workmanship.” (Ibid)

The February 11 and 16, 1891 concerts included three repeats; the Free Lances by Whiting, The Haunted Mill by Templeton Strong, and three movements from the Language of Flowers by Cowen. The Courier wrote of Free Lances: “This work is ingenious and tuneful, and shows again the fondness of its composer for stirring, martial effects which he has before demonstrated. its spirit and brilliancy, as well as its novelty, at once established its popularity; and it was enthusiastically received.” (Courier, undated and unsigned review) Of the Strong piece, he noted: “Mr. Strong has illustrated with much exquisiteness of touch in the orchestral part of the score; his combinations of the various instruments, producing effects that are exceedingly picturesque, as well as artistic. The vocal portion is charming in fancy, and, though difficult, well adapted to the voices.” (ibid) The Gazette referred to these two pieces; “Free Lances, with its impressive scoring and its pervading fire and brilliancy,” and “Strong’s The Haunted Mill, the orchestration of which again pleased by its grace and fancy.” (Gazette, undated and unsigned review) A long review by G. H. W. mentioned all eleven pieces in the concert pretty much equally. “Strong’s The Haunted Mill was most important. It is a charming and imaginative piece of writing. The voices are handled normally, and in detail, and are ever musicianly…Free Lances, a martial piece with a too extended episode of revery, is always welcome, yet it revives a regret we have before expressed concerning Mr. Whiting’s present tendency to neglect composition; he writes so well and has such a manly and virile manner that it is a pity his vocation as a teacher should take his energy and time.” (G. H. W., undated review in the Traveler) G. H. W. also mentioned that Margaret had done the English translation of the opening number by Cornelius, a chorus from his opera Barber of Bagdad. (Ibid) C. L. Capen of the Advertiser wrote: “Mr. Whiting always writes with a free hand, a warm heart and a clear head,” and Capen found Free Lances to be melodious, skillful, and ear-catching…Mr. whiting always writes with a free hand, a warm heart and a clear head, and his Free Lances is not only a very melodious piece of music, but it is skillfully made  He described the choir: “They often sing as artists and as artists with but a single thought. and with hearts that beat as one…The participating singers are not simply musical but brainy.” (C. L. Capen, undated review in the Advertiser) The Haunted Mill was “simply exquisite; is pregnant with delicious harmonies and enchanting strains, with mystically harmonious and melodic breathings…Both compositions were charmingly well sung.” (Ibid) To Philip Hale goes the last word. “Free Lances is an ambitious and original work. It opens admirably, but the interest is not sustained unto the end, and the arrangements of words are occasionally clumsy…Strong’s Haunted Mill is full of fantasy and the instruments are treated with a skill which is not so marked in the vocal parts. “One of Cowen’s orchestral pieces was encored. ‘The Yellow Jasmine,’ a charming piece of orchestral uniting, was repeated, so pleasing was it to the audience.”(Philip Hale, undated review with no newspaper cited) The program ended with The Thunder Storm by Hermann Mohn for baritone solo, male choir and orchestra. The program mentioned that this last piece would last twelve minutes in case anyone in the audience could not stay that long! People leaving during the final composition was still a problem.

At the April 29 and May 4, 1891 concerts at the Music Hall Mr. G. L. Parker, tenor, sang B. J. Lang’s Nocturne, the Club sang Chadwick’s Song of the Viking with orchestral accompaniment. The Nocturne text, “Up to her Chamber Window” by Aldrich sung by Mr. Parker, “always an artist,” was described as “throughout excellent. The song itself is a gem. Its graceful contrasts of major and minor, and its dainty figure treatment, are very effective.” (Advertiser (May 5, 1891): 4, GB) They ended with Schumann’s The Dreamy Lake and Mendelssohn’s “Bacchus Chorus” from Antigone, the last two pieces with the additional help of “fifty former members of the Club.” (Yearbook, Vol. 10, 15) Elson had special praise for the men’s voice arrangement of Rheinberger’s mixed-voice part-song, Stars In Heaven. The arrangement he called “skillful” and the original part-song he felt was “the finest mixed chorus that the German master ever wrote.” (Advertiser, Op. cit.)  Also on the program was Chadwick’s The Boy and the Owl. (Program-Johnston Collection)

Page from the May 4, 1891 program showing that there were still eight original members singing twenty years after the founding of the club. Johnston Collection.

There were three Honorary Members of the Chorus: B. J. Lang, George H. Chickering of the piano firm who was the Vice-President but did not sing in the group, and Charles James Sprague. Sprague had done and would continue to do translations of many of the songs that the choir sang. None of the repertoire was sung in the original language, and Sprague did so many translations that he edited two TTBB part-song collections. The other parts of his life were banking and botany, and he was the curator of botany in the Boston Society of Natural History. The May 4th. program had this photo of him in recognition of his work for the group.

PARSIFAL: First Time. April, 15, 1891.

The Herald “Personal and Social Gossip” page of Sunday, March 22, 1891 announced that Lang’s “private performance of the music of Wagner’s Parsifal, to be given in the Music Hall on Wednesday afternoon and evening, April 15, promises to be one of the most fashionable musical events of an unusually interesting and notable musical winter. The most remarkable array of distinguished soloists are to take part, in addition to a chorus of solo singers, and an extra pleasure will be in hearing the great Seidl orchestra that is coming over from New York for this special occasion…Mr. Lang announces that there can be but this one performance of this remarkable work, and it is further announced that there will be no public advertisement of the event.”(Herald (March 22, 1891): 19) What was this story, if not a public ad-it even gave information on how to obtain a ticket. Philip Hale gave more information: “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 or formal preliminary announcement, no tickets may be put on open sale, and all who may attend must be either subscribers or invited guests.” (Herald (January 4, 1903): 36, GB) Hale was writing about Lang’s second Parsifal performance, but the same terms had applied to the first performance twelve years before.

The Herald wrote: “The first attempt at a complete hearing of the work in this city, and the hall was filled with a deeply interested audience, proving beyond question the correct estimate made by Mr. Lang of the curiosity on the part of the local music public regarding this work.” The reviewer noted that in the 19 years since its premiere, it “has been more written about and discussed” than any other Wagner work. That saved telling the story. Mr. Lang was thanked for assuming the vast financial and production risks, and “again proved that there are few so capable of carrying to a successful ending whatever he begins…The audience paid rapt attention from the first note to the finale, and the work of the afternoon and evening appeared to give unqualified satisfaction to all present…[The] production reflected high credit upon all who participated…Mr. Lang had a special ovation upon his entrance, and at the end of the performance, he was again similarly honored.” (Herald (April 16, 1891): 5, GB)

The Lang family did much of the behind-the-scenes preparation. Frances wrote: “Went to Stearns and got 6000 envelopes which will be used in connection with the Parsifal notices etc. Also went to the Printer’s to have a talk about the Parsifal Circulars. Very satisfactory interview. This P.M. stayed at home planning about the circulars…All-day long we are writing on envelopes or folding Circulars. Friends come in to help, but it will be a long job. People even come here to ask for Circulars. The tickets are very handsome. Coupons are already printed and this means more work. More than 1000 Parsifal tickets have been ordered already. Today Maidie timed (for Lel) the 1st. and 2nd. Acts. The 1st. Act was one and a quarter hours and the 2nd. was 54 minutes…I may go to Providence tomorrow to see about Bells for Parsifal...The Bells from Theodore Thomas’s Orchestra in Chicago have arrived…Lel, fortunately, sleeps wonderfully, for the detailed work of giving Parsifal is appalling…Lel returned from N.Y. Says the rehearsal was a splendid one…Today Lel had three rehearsals.  (Day of performance) Mrs. Gardner came to the house to copy the cuts…When Lel walked on to the stage he was received with wild enthusiasm…[Afterwards] Such a scene of excitement…Afterward, we went to Young’s Hotel…The Homers gave Lel a most beautiful silver cup.” (Diary 2, Spring 1891) When Theodore Thomas did his 1884 Wagner Festival in Boston, he too had problems with the “Bells” required “in order to give the full effects demanded.” For  the particular selections from Parsifal that he had programmed, the bells were “supplied at a cost of $3,000.” (Herald (February 17, 1884): 9, GB)

SALEM ORATORIO SOCIETY.

Carl Zerrahn was the conductor of the Salem Oratorio Society which, in addition to their own concerts, sponsored other concerts as well. On Wednesday evening, April 22, 1891, the choir presented a concert by The Ladies Vocal Club of Salem which was conducted at that time by Arthur Foote. Among the assisting artists were B. J. Lang, W. S. Fenollosa (accompanist for the oratorio Society) and Joshua Phippen. With the addition of Foote, this made possible some eight-hand pieces that Lang often programmed in Boston. For this concert, they performed the first movement of Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony and Les Contrastes by Moscheles. Lang and Foote played the Variations on a Theme from Beethoven by St. Saens. This concert was part of the “Popular Concerts held at the Cadet Amory Hall in Salem.” (Program from HMA Collection)

KING’S CHAPEL: VESPERS. LANG’S MAGIC AS AN ORGANIST.

Lang had now established himself at King’s Chapel, and one aspect of the music program that he had created was Sunday Afternoon Vesper Services. Arthur Foote attended many of them and wrote of his impressions. “Many will remember the beautiful Sunday evenings at King’s Chapel; he would play in the dark church for an hour or so, before each piece leaning over the edge of the choir and telling us what it was to be. In those evenings was seen a characteristic trait, -the keen perception of how surroundings and conditions affect our enjoyment of music. The dark church, with only a spot of light at the organ desk, the absolute quiet, the churchly feeling, all helped to create a mental picture that made the listener doubly sensitive. A curious manifestation of this feeling for fitness was shown in his various experiments in programmes that should not rattle, or rustle, or require leaves should be turned over at inopportune times (Transcript, May 1, 1909). Another source describes these recitals as follows: “Mr. Lang has provided many musical treats of his own motion for the musical people of Boston. Among the chiefs of these are the Sunday evening organ recitals at the Chapel. Here his dusky neophyte inspects your card of invitation at the door, and you enter the dim interior, only lit by the veiled burners of the organ-loft, the pews peopled with shadowy, silent forms which might be Dr. Caner, Vassal, and the other departed worthies who once filled them in the flesh. You find your way to some quiet corner and become one of the ghostly, expectant company. All at once the air quivers and throbs with the opening of a mighty fugue of the greatest contrapuntal master, and, whether in the body or out of the body you cannot tell, you are swept up into the heavens, passing from circle to circle at the will of one and another of the Immortals as they appeal or soothe or thrill through the commanding interpretation of those skillful fingers. Such an hour is scarcely possible elsewhere on this side of the Atlantic. The hearers melt away in the gloom when it is over, and as they pass into familiar Sunday evening streets of loiterers and shopgirls, smug churchgoers and holiday-makers, they seem to themselves ghosts again in a sordid, unfamiliar world.” (Elizabeth Porter Gould Collection, HMA) Not usually done for church services, the Vespers were “reviewed” and the repertoire announced. “The series of vespers that is going on at King’s  Chapel is the most acceptable Mr. Lang has yet brought out. Mozart’s seventh mass will be sung this afternoon.” (Herald (February 16, 1902): 30, GB) In 1907, a writer for the Society Section of the Herald wrote about how the Society parishioners of King’s Chapel were well satisfied with Mr. Lang’s presentations “which have a unique distinction and charm. One’s card of invitation admits [you] to the dimly lighted chapel, where Mr. Lang’s wonderful organ music is heard at its best.” (Herald (January 27, 1907): 35, GB) The Prodigal Son was to be featured at the next Vesper-no composer was given. As Lang was investigating and programming French composers at this time, could this be Debussy’s Prix de Rome?

TRIP TO EUROPE. 1891.

The Post Card shows a few passengers on board, but many still milling around. The building to the right was the “Landing Post Office.” Johnston Collection.

B. J. and Margaret spent part of the summer of 1891 in Europe. Their return voyage was from Liverpool on September 4, 1891. The passenger list of the S.S. UMBRIA  seems to show that Margaret shared a room with Miss Marien Otis who was possibly a Lang pupil. “Mr. B. J. Lang and Miss Margaret Lang were the recipients of much attention in musical and social circles in Paris before leaving for Bayreuth.” (Herald “Personal and Social Gossip,” (August 9, 1891): 23, GB)

For this trip B. J. applied for a new Passport which also included a “daughter,” “Margaret R. Lamb (sic), aged 20 (sic) years.” Two mistakes within one line- the last name is clearly “Lamb” instead of “Lang,” and the age should have been 23 instead of 20. And, strangely B. J.s birthday was listed as December 28, 1840 instead of 1837, and finally, his birth place was listed as Salem rather than Cambridgeport!

The specific description items of B. J. were: STATURE- 5 feet, 8 inches; FOREHEAD- medium; EYES- blue; NOSE- straight; MOUTH- medium; CHIN- full beard; HAIR- partly bald; COMPLEXION- fair; FACE- oval; AGE- 51 (sic). Just under this information is Lang’s signature swearing as to the truth of all the information.

>>> Part: 1   2   3   4 

CHAPTER 04. (Part 3) BJL: MIDDLE YEARS: 1881-1891: SC(G). WC. TOPICS: LANG ASSISTS-EIGHTEENTH APOLLO CLUB SEASON, 1888-1889.

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.

 

LANG ASSISTS.

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.

Johnston Collection.

 

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.      https://i.pinimg.com/236x/4e/74/6a/4e746a019ce30244e9af425f7af00239.jpg

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.

GILMORE’S JUBILEE.

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.

Johnston Collection.

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.

COSTUME BALL.

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!

>>> Part: 1   2   3   4 

CHAPTER 04. (Part 2) BJL: MIDDLE YEARS: 1881-1891. SC(G). WC. TOPICS: ATTACKS ON LANG THROUGH TUCKER AND FOOTE-TENTH CECILIA SEASON, 1885-1886.

CHAPTER 04. (Part  2) BJL: MIDDLE YEARS: 1881-1891.  WC-13,422.  SC(G).

  • Attacks on Lang Through Tucker and Foote.                                                  Schumann Piano Works.                                                                                            Lectures on TEACHING the Art of Pianoforte Playing.                                           Thirteenth Apollo Club Season. 1883-1884.
  • Chickering Hall Dedication.
  • Choral Training Techniques of Lang
  • Church of the Immaculate Conception.                                                                 Eighth Cecilia Season. 1883-1884.
  • Lang’s Works Premiered by the Apollo Club.
  • Lecture Business-Lang, Chadwick, Paine and Elson.                                          Allen A. Brown
  • St. Boltoph Club. Chadwick Describes.                                                                            Wilhelm Gericke.                                                                                                         Fourteenth Apollo Club Season. 1884-1885.                                                            Ninth Cecilia Season. 1884-1885.                                                                                  Bach Birthday Concert.                                                                                                 Summer of 1885. Margaret begins her studies in Munich.                          Fifteenth Apollo Club Season. 1885-1886.                                                              Tenth Cecilia Season. 1885-1886.

 

ATTACKS ON LANG THROUGH TUCKER AND FOOTE.

A month after Lang’s debut with the BSO playing the Third Piano Concerto by Rubinstein, his pupil, Hiram G. Tucker made his own BSO debut playing the Fourth Piano Concerto by Rubinstein! One critic gave a very negative review. “It is not pleasant to make severe remarks, but it is my unpleasant duty this time to say, that the gentleman in question was totally unable to cope with the difficulties of the works he tried to play. The Rubinstein Concerto was altogether too ambitious a task for him, the last movement being nothing but a great scramble from beginning to end, the solo numbers were no better…Mr. Henschel, the conductor of these Symphony Concerts, has brought out several pupils of Mr. Lang, thereby no doubt earning the gratitude of this gentleman, but certainly not rendering any service to art or the public of Boston, since he only lowers the standard of these concerts by engaging such mediocre soloists.” (Undated, unsigned review found in Foote’s Scrapbooks.)

Arthur Foote, Elson, 1888.

A second attack against Lang was made through a review of Arthur Foote’s BSO performance of the Hiller Concerto in F Sharp minor, Op. 69, a work that Lang had performed for the first time in Boston on January 14, 1875 with the HMA Orchestra. This concert was held on Saturday, November 10, 1883. The review begins listing Lang’s known attributes-that he “is well-nigh incomparable in his excellent ability to read some of the most difficult of classic and modern pianoforte music at first sight.” (Ibid) The author goes on to list other compliments and then lists three elements of Lang’s teaching of piano technique with which he does not agree. The first was that Lang’s piano technique did not strengthen the third and fourth fingers of both hands; the second was that the technique was “more dependent upon mannerism for its popular success than upon any legitimately artistic effects,” while the third was that it produced “a so-called technique that is not only rigid in its outlook, but that is suggestively corpse-like in its effect upon the keyboard.” (Ibid) The reviewer then cited specific examples that he felt he heard in Foote’s performance. (1) “Very many notes struck by him with the third and fourth fingers of either the right or left hand were plainly to be distinguished in the tone that was produced. (2) He illustrated, and no doubt with an alluring effect upon nine-tenths of his audience, some of the most stylish mannerisms of the school to which he belongs; and last, but not least (3) his execution of the mere notes of the concerto was almost wholly lacking the elasticity that should have belonged to it.” (Ibid) The reviewer then softened his previous statements. “Let us note, then, that we were charmingly impressed by the sincerity of the performance; that the interpretation, while it was far more scholastic and scholarly, was nevertheless based upon the very best models; and, thirdly, the extreme technical difficulties of the concerto were mastered to a very precise degree…He was very cordially received and applauded by the audience, and this very just recognition of his ability as a musician was unquestionably his due.” (Ibid)

For all of the reviewer’s knowledge of Lang’s teaching technique, it would seem to be refuted by Lang’s own words on the subject. “I care little for ”methods” as such. Like ”quack medicines,” there are many which may have desirable points, and have been of more or less value. But individuality is the thing. One who has it in him will become a pianist, no matter what method he has used, or whether or not it has been of assistance or a hindrance to his development. The art in him will come out in any case. The teacher must be governed by each individual case.” (Storer, “Advance of Musical Education In America,” The Musician, (October 1907): 1)

SCHUMANN PIANO WORKS SERIES.

Boston Manual, 1888 Revised Edition, 15. Johnston Collection. Opened December 18, 1882 with seats for 1,000, the architecture and decoration were Moorish in style. It was heated by steam and lighted by the new Edison method, the installation of which he supervised himself. “It is an exquisite theatre, the dainty parlor of the Boston places of amusement.” (King Handbook, 7th. Edition, 250-51).

The month before Lang’s second B.S.O. appearance, he presented a series of five recitals playing the complete piano works of Robert Schumann. Presented on March 1, 8, 15, 22, and 29, 1883 on Thursday afternoons at 2:30 PM at the Bijou Theater, each recital was advertised to be about two hours in length. “For these recitals, Mr. Lang has chosen the Bijou Theatre on account of its fine acoustics, which must be conspicuous on these occasions, when audiences of but three or four hundred are assembled.” (BPL Lang Prog., ) “The remarkable acoustics of the old auditorium when known as the Melodeon and Gaiety Theatre have been improved by its new arrangement.” (Herald (March 2, 1883): 4, GB) Each piece had a short explanation printed in the program. Other pianists and vocalists also took part: Madame Schiller, H. G. Tucker,  John A. Preston, W. F. Fenollosa, Joshua Phippen, Arthur Foote and G. W. Sumner were the assisting keyboards artists. Single tickets were $1.50 and season tickets, $5 from A. P. Schmidt”s Music Store. (BPL Lang Prog.) For the first program Mrs. J. E. Tippett was the vocalist; for the third, Mr. George L. Osgood; and for the fourth, Mrs. Georg Henschel. The Advertiser noted that the “house was just about comfortably filled” with an audience that was “distinctively musical.” (Advertiser (March 9, 1883): 5, GB)

The second concert “attracted another very large audience.” Mme. Madeline Schiller and Mr. H. G. Tucker were the assisting pianists while Mr. Henschel was the vocalist. Lang’s performance presented the “composer’s ideas clearly, intelligently and vigorously,” Mr. Tucker “exhibited good technical abilities,” Mme. Schiller’s “playing was more fully realized than ever before,” and Mr. Henschel’s small contribution “was as faultless as when heard at his own recital last season.” (Herald (March 9, 1883): 1, GB)

The fourth recital had a “very large and unusually attentive audience.” John A. Preston and Joshua Phippen were the assisting pianists. “The programme of piano selections, as a whole, proved one of the most interesting of the series.” Mrs. Henschel was the vocalist, and she sang three songs. Her voice being heard with rare enjoyment in such a perfect auditorium, and the applause which followed the singer’s efforts was a fitting tribute to the artistic abilities of the singer.” (Herald (March 23, 1883): 5, GB)

The Herald noted that Lang’s sixth Schumann recital (it seems that an additional recital was added to the original five, or what would have been the original nine except for the diphtheria outbreak) would be on Friday afternoon, April 6 “for the purpose of playing the children’s pieces which exists in such profusion and variety. A set of four-part songs for female voices…, and the Andante and Variations for two pianofortes, will be included in the programme.” (Herald (March 18, 1883): 10, GB)) No mention was made of who would sing the part-songs.

LECTURES ON TEACHING THE ART OF PIANOFORTE PLAYING WITH AN EXPLANATION OF HIS SYSTEM OF MODERN PIANOFORTE TECHNIQUE.

  • In 1883 Lang announced a series of three lectures “upon pianoforte playing” for May 1, 5 and 8 at Chickering Hall at 2:30 PM. The three lecture titles were: “Teaching the Art of Playing the Pianoforte,” “Mr. Lang’s System of Modern Piano-forte Technics,” and “The higher development of the Musical Senses.” Tickets were Three Dollars for the series and individual lectures could be bought for $1.50 if seats were available. (BPL Lang Prog.) This announcement inspired a lengthy article “Mr. Lang’s Lectures” in support of this presentation. “Mr. B. J. Lang is one of those artists whose personality and whose work are best enjoyed when one can come close to them. Thoughtful, delicate and sensitive, his temperament is inclined to shrink from those larger and more public tests of professional accomplishment…when he has to stand out alone before a great public, something of the freedom is at times lost, and those who have only heard and known him on such occasions, have not fully heard him and known him…He has studied and taught the pianoforte for many years, to many pupils of various minds and dispositions. Such experience brings much to a man who thinks, and we were glad when Mr. Lang began modestly to tell something of his experiences and his thoughts a few months ago. Since that time he has arranged what he wants to say into three lectures upon pianoforte playing as he understands and teaches it, and upon that awakening and development of the artistic sense, which are as essential in music as in painting. If we may judge the future by the past, these conferences (for they will be more than mere bald lectures) will have interest for many other persons than students of the pianoforte, and we shall hope that Chickering Hall will be filled with an audience so interested and sympathetic that Mr. Lang will speak as brightly and suggestively as he often does to a single friend.” (Courtesy of the Boston Symphony Orchestra Archives) Another article, unsigned and without title, also referred to Lang’s series of lectures. “It was a characteristic idea of Mr. Lang to set an unusual hour for his lectures on pianoforte playing, and to ask so high a price for the tickets, and then to follow it up by his subsequent action. When the audience has assembled for the first lecture, he confessed that he had felt a great curiosity to know if anyone in town cared enough for the matter to pay a big price and submit to an inconvenient hour, for the sake of what he might have to say. His ruse had proved successful, and he should therefore make the audience his guests, and their ticket money should be returned to them the day of the second lecture.” (Courtesy of the Boston Symphony Orchestra Archives)                                                                                         In November of the same year, 1883, Lang advertised two lectures with the title as shown above to be given at the Chickering Hall on Friday, November 16 and the following Tuesday 11:30 AM. (Advertiser (November 15, 1883): 2, GB) The price was $3 which was refunded at the second lecture. The following are notes taken from one or both of these lectures:
  • The three requisites for good teaching were good sense, good judgment and a knowledge of human nature.
  • “You must be able to go hand in hand with your pupil sympathetically. Find out how old your pupil is musically so that you will not make the mistake of giving him work that is above him or beneath him.”
  • “The limit should be your pupil’s interest. Make him feel a wish that the lesson was a little longer.”
  • Assume that the practicing is a bore. When a boy prefers five-finger exercises to baseball something must be wrong.
  • [his story about his being wrong in discouraging a pupil…dress making example]
  • “The hand that meets yours cordially at all points, that is the pianist’s hand-but the stiff, unyielding, unsympathetic hand cannot play.”
  • Everybody has a bound beyond which he cannot go.
  • The only certainties are uncertainties.
  • Exercises at working the mind as well as the fingers.
  • “He had until recently been so nervous as to be nauseated before playing.”
  • Sent by Fletcher DuBois, August 16, 2011.

THIRTEENTH APOLLO CLUB SEASON. 1883-1884.

On Wednesday afternoon November 7, 1883 at 3 PM and in the evening at 8 PM, the Apollo Club closed the concerts dedicating the new “Chickering Hall.” They sang Mendelssohn’s To the Sons of Art. Lang and Perabo also played in these concerts the Hommage a Handel by Moscheles. (BPL Lang Prog., Vol. 4)

For the first (December 5, 1883) and the second (Monday evening, December 10, 1883) concerts of its Thirteenth Season the opening piece was Rinaldo, Op. 50 by Brahms with Charles R. Adams as the soloist. Also included was the first American performance of The Language of Flowers [Suite de ballet, Set One, 1880; a copy of the full score is available from the Sibley Library Mirroring Project at the Eastman School of Music], a suite of six orchestral movements by the English composer Frederic H.  Cowen [1852-1935]. The Transcript called the Suite “wholly charming” and “fanciful…yet the composer has not been content to be merely fanciful, but has given his work musical coherence and beauty.” (Apollo reviews-unsigned, undated) Rinaldo was a Boston first performance. The Transcript called the piece “the work of genius with great melodic beauty.” (Transcript, Apollo Reviews) Lang experimented with the orchestral placement in this concert. Instead of the normal orchestra in front and chorus behind, “The orchestra was placed behind the chorus so that the men could sing point-blank at the audience without having the sound of their voices filtered through the orchestra.” The reviewer mentioned that he had suggested this arrangement some ten to fifteen years before. (Ibid) Taking the opposite view, Ticknor in the December 16, 1883 Herald wrote: “If 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, First, 87) Howard M. Ticknor, a Harvard graduate, was the son of the founder of the book-publishing firm of Ticknor and Fields. He had also been a member of the bass section of the Apollo Club according to the 1883-1884 Membership List.

The Traveller noted that the choir was “in semicircular lines so that the four parts were more merged into one volume of tone…The voices will now stand out, as they should, and the instruments make their proper background.” (Traveller (December 6, 1883): unsigned review) The Courier approved of the new performing arrangement, and had compliments for the orchestra and the choir; the concert “deserves to rank with the most enjoyable ever given” by the club, and “the entire concert seemed as pleasant to the audience as to the critic.” (Courier) Elson writing in Key Note spoke of the Cowen suite: “Every one of these pieces is a gem.” (Key Note, December 9, 1883)

For the Wednesday night, February 20, 1884 concert, a lighter miscellaneous program, the Daily Advertiser printed a “review” set as a conversation between two attendees. The first thought the repertoire was “throughout a concession to popular taste,” while the other admitted that “there are concessions which have to be made to the popular taste,” and then this second man asked of the first: “But if you had the matter in hand, could you do better?” (Advertiser (March 1, 1884): 2, GB)-full text listed by date in Geneology Bank) Lang programmed his own arrangement of a Swedish folksong Hi-fi-kin-ke-le which the audience loved and demanded an encore. “Mr. Lang, with marked modesty, declined for a time to accede to their calls, but at the last, after a half-dozen times bowing a denial, he was forced to direct the last two stanzas over again.” (Journal) The words had been first translated into English in 1851 and published in the Knickerbocker Magazine.

Provided by Herb Zeller, Historian of the Apollo Club.

 

Another lighter number was the world premiere of a Fantasie that the pianist Ernst Perabo arranged from themes in Sullivan’s Iolanthe. The Advertiser described the work as “so brilliant, so captivating, and so well written a composition that he was obliged to accept an encore for it.” (Advertiser) Perabo had shown this work to the composer Carl Reinecke of Leipsic ” who hailed it as a high-minded and brilliant addition to pianoforte music and calculated in a good sense to interest the public at large.” (Undated, unsigned review) For the repeat of this concert on February 25, 1884, Lang and Perabo played Moscheles’s Hommage a Handel. Perabo repeated his Iolanthe Fantasie and for his encore played again selections from this work. (Unsigned, undated review)

For the fifth and sixth concerts in the season presented on Wednesday evening, April 30 and Monday evening, May 5, 1884, the main works were not choral, but orchestral. Ovide Musin played Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto, and the Overture, The Princess by George E. Whiting received its Boston premiere. Musin, born in Belgium was an experienced soloist who had played successfully in Vienna, Paris, and London. Choral highlights included a chorus from Paine’s Oedipus followed by a double chorus from Mendelssohn’s Antigone. “I can honestly say that the American work lost nothing by the juxtaposition.” (Brainard’s,  May 14, 1884) The Advertiser noted that “Mr. Lang conducted with even more than his wonted skill, and the orchestra, composed of the very best men, accompanied all well, and the concerto with wonderful taste and accuracy.” (Advertiser, undated and unsigned review) Possibly the reviewer was Howard Ticknor. His appreciation of the conductor and orchestra was a nice change from the predictable harangues of some reviewers. The concert was very popular with all the seats taken, as were “all the good standing places.” (Traveller (May 1, 1884): unsigned review) The Times thought the program “of unusual interest,” and the performance “at all times smooth, delicate, finished and brilliant.” (Times)

The reviewer for the New York City Key Notes wrote of his visit to Boston when he heard the choir at the Centennial Celebration of the Battle of Bunker Hill. “The Apollo Club covered itself with glory. The singing made a far more profound impression that the oration and the orator was and is one of the most eloquent men in Massachusetts. We haven’t any club in Brooklyn or New York that can hold a candle to it. The truth is, in vocal music, Boston people are ahead of New York because they give their minds to it. Why Charley Howard would no more think of absenting himself from a rehearsal than from his own funeral.” (Key Notes, May 5, 1884)

CHICKERING HALL DEDICATION.

Lang had been involved with the Chickering firm since his childhood when he was loaned an instrument for his own use. For the Dedication of this Hall, he was involved with both the afternoon and evening concerts. In the afternoon the program included vocal numbers by Mr. and Mrs. Henschel and Mr. Charles R. Adams together with two piano duets. Lang played in the second duet with Ernst Perabo. The evening’s concert ended with Mendelssohn’s To the Sons of Art sung by the Lang’s Apollo Club.                  The Chickering firm had just taken possession of this building on Tremont Street and immediately created a concert hall on the second floor with seating for 462 persons, “all but about 100 of the chairs…being upon the floor.” At the front of this floor were offices and a showroom, “and in addition to entrances from either side of, and direct from, the main warerooms has an exit from the rear opening upon Mason Street…The decoration of the hall is mainly in light blues and buffs, with a darker coloring as a stage background.” (Herald (November 8, 1883): 4, GB)

CHORAL TRAINING TECHNIQUES OF LANG.

A section of the 1907 article “The Career of B. J.  Lang” is entitled “Mr. Lang as a Conductor” in which Lang’s methods of training a choir are outlined. “His principle was that in chorus singing as in every sort of musical performance, the indispensable basis is technique; without a solid technique nothing worthwhile can be done, and technique is to be acquired only through severe drilling. He carried out this idea ruthlessly. He subjected the Apollo and Cecilia to a sort of rehearsing that hardly anyone would dare to inflict upon amateur choruses whose members had come together for the pleasure of singing, and not for pay. Nothing but enjoying the entire confidence of the singers could have enabled him to carry his plan triumphantly through. At first the singers were required to pay such strict attention to just the sort of details that amateurs, as a rule, are most prone to overlook-giving every note its proper value, not singing a dotted-quarter and an eighth like two quarters, holding the final note of a phrase its full length, etc.-that, when it came to the concert, they had no attention left for anything else, and the performances sounded rigidly correct but rather dry and lifeless. But no expostulations nor adverse criticism could drive Lang off his chosen track for a moment; he persevered in spite of all, and the singers persevered with him. After a while this exact attention to correctness of detail, this singing music just as it is written grew to be a habit with both the Cecilia and Apollo Club; when this time had come, then Lang began to egg on his choral forces to vivacity of style, emotional vigor, in a word to thoroughly artistic performance. Then both singers and listeners began to earn the enviable reputation they enjoyed among the choral clubs in the United States.” (Transcript (April 13, 1907): no page, GB)

These methods were used with any group that he conducted. “It has been said that Mr. Lang would never have been successful in drilling women singers as has been Mr. Zerrahn [conductor of the Handel and Haydn Society]. The story is told that at one time Mr. Zerrahn was ill. Mr. Lang took his place as director…During the evening he lost his temper. And the ladies in the chorus were the cause. Speaking on the impulse, he plainly told them that they were lazy. As may be imagined, the ladies did not like this.  At the next rehearsal, Mr. Lang was seated at the piano [as he was the regular accompanist] when Mr. Zerrahn appeared in the hall. At the sight of him, the ladies immediately broke into applause. Their evinced joy at seeing Mr. Zerrahn was rather a damper to the spirits of Mr. Lang, which was exactly what they intended it should be. It wasn’t long after this that Mr. Zerrahn himself got a little testy one night and said to the ladies: ‘I heard what Mr. Lang said about you, ladies, and its all true, every word of it.'” (Globe article, April 1894)

CHURCH OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION.

Immaculate Conception Church. Johnston Collection.

In 1883 Frances noted in her Diary that “Lel has been asked to take the position of Organist of the Church of [the] Immaculate Conception.” The organ was Opus 322 built in 1863 by E. & G. G. Hook, and it had three manuals, forty-five stops and fifty-five ranks. It was rebuilt in 1902 as Opus

 

Nave, Gallery, and Organ Case. 1902 Hook and Hastings. Photograph by William T. Van Pelt 1999-05-04. The Organ Historical Society Pipe Organ Database.

1959 with four manuals, sixty-three stops and sixty-nine ranks. (OHS Pipe Organ Database) B. J. did not take the job.

The organ has been removed and is in storage at Boston College awaiting the building of a concert hall, and the building has been converted into condos.

EIGHTH CECILIA SEASON. 1883-1884.

The season began on Monday evening, November 19, 1883 at the Music Hall with full orchestra and B. L. Whelpley as organist. Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, Parts One and Two and Gade’s Crusaders were presented. The Transcript review was critical of the orchestra, especially in the Bach, but allowed that they were better in the Gade, although “again left much to be desired.” This reviewer noted that the choir had sung the Gade “at least four times before, but that the piece “wears well.” (Transcript, Cecilia Programs, Vol. 2) The Courier writer mentioned his seat position “behind the woodwind,” but in this review, he did note that “The shading of the chorales in the Bach work and the orchestral work throughout the latter part of the evening was excellent.” (Courier, Cecilia Programs, Vol. 2) In an article written sixteen years later, December 1899, it was recalled that “the papers acclaimed Mr. E. M. Bagley the hero of the hour; he played the first trumpet part exactly as Bach wrote it, by having a D crook put to a small E-flat cornet, thus playing almost without a flaw Bach’s part for a D trumpet, high C’s and all. Mr. Bagley would have his Bach ”straight,” by hook or by crook.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 4)

Dvorak’s Stabat Mater had its world premiere in Prague in 1880 followed by first performances in Berlin in 1881 and London 1883. The Cecilia performed five numbers from the work on Thursday evening, January 24, 1884 with full orchestra, J. Phippen (organist) at the Music Hall, while the American premiere of the complete work was given by Theodore Thomas and the New York Chorus Society on April 3, the same year (Cecilia programs-clippings) President Thordike’s Annual Report made mention of “the floods which poured from the sky and through the streets.” He also wrote of the Dvorak: “Genius is visible throughout, in the orchestration, the vocal treatment, the development of themes, the simple but grand musical effects. The choir sang con amore, and the hearers listened with increasing delight. The demand for a performance of the entire work at an early date was universal.” The Evening Transcript notice of Friday, January 25, 1884 mentioned: “The Cecilia has followed suit to the Apollo Club in placing the orchestra behind the chorus and with equally gratifying results. Indeed, the effect was so incomparably finer than that of the old arrangement, that one could not help wishing that the club would repeat the great Berlioz Requiem… so that the chorus could be heard to better advantage in it has before.” (Ibid) The Evening Transcript closed with: “Mr. Lang conducted, and the performance constantly showed his taste and training, which had not, however, been able to prevail on the male chorus to pronounce ”mountain” and ”fountain” correctly.” The January 1884 partial performance inspired a letter to the Editor of the Transcript critical of only being given sections of the work. “It was like asking a man to shake hands with a new acquaintance around a corner, and to form an estimate of his character from the warmth and pressure of the hand.” It was signed by “S. B. W.” and created so much comment that S. B. Whitney, a well-known Boston musician wrote to the Editor saying it was not he who had written the first letter. A third writer supported the original “S. B. W.,” but went on to point out “even a Boston audience (musical as it is)” needed a balanced program of new and old pieces at each concert. He further pointed to the many “repetitions of The Messiah, Elijah, and the Passion Music by the Handel and Haydn Society,” and that “we almost always find an old friend or two among the numbers on our Apollo programme, while the Boylston Club is beginning to be associated with The Desert and some old part-songs which it has sung many times… Boston vocal societies have certainly a hard task before them in striving to be truly musical in the highest sense of the word and at the same time to keep the wolf from the door.” The reviews of this concert reflected the extremes in the Boston critical fraternity: “Mention should also be made of the spirited rendering of the Vintagers Song from The Loreley” (Folio) verses “The Vintage Chorus was deserving of better success, but it was so tamely sung that it seemed to contain more water than wine.” (Courier-January 27, 1884). Perhaps these Letters to the Editor gave the group the will to present the Boston premiere of the complete work, which it did a year later at the Music Hall on January 15, 1885 with full orchestra and Mr. Arthur Foote as the organist. The work was again repeated four years later on Thursday evening, March 28, 1889 at the Boston Music Hall with an orchestra and two organists: Mr. E. Cutter, Jr., and Mr. Hiram Hall.

The third concert of the season was given on Thursday evening, March 27, 1884 at the Music Hall. “It began with an organ sonata by Mendelssohn, admirably played by Mr. Arthur Foote, but in which the fact that the organ was out of tune was lamentably noticeable. The flute stops, especially disagreed with the rest of the organ.” Foote’s playing of the Mendelssohn was one of the “last utterances” of the organ before it was banished from the Music Hall. [Was this neglect of the organ part of Higginson’s plan to have it removed from the hall?] The reviewer noted: “the club are [?] making good artistic advancement, and have improved in the matter of refined shading.” The writer also noted that the size of the group seemed larger than ever before. This review seemed to be in a magazine as it covered a number of different types of concerts and it was signed by L. C. E. (Louis C. Elson)(Cecilia Reviews, Vol. 2). The second half of the concert was The Fair Melusina by Hofmann, which did not seem to create much excitement in any of the reviews, especially as the accompaniment was only by piano. “One sees no valid reason why Heinrich Hofmann should have a claim upon the charity of Boston music-lovers… We have yet to discover the interesting or charming side of Hofmann’s cantatas… The solo parts especially are kill-joys of the most baleful description.” (Cecilia Reviews, Vol. 2)

The fourth concert of the season was held on Thursday evening, May 15, 1884 at the Music Hall with full orchestra. It was described as “A concert of highest character, educational for the masses, yet thoroughly enjoyable to musician and non-musician alike… It presented Mendelssohn’s Athalia [not given by the Club since 1878] and the third part of Schumann’s Faust. The later work, or rather its fragment, was heard to better advantage than on the occasion of its presentation by the society last season.” Interestingly, whereas in some cases the club was rebuked for only giving parts of a work, this reviewer felt that “The presentation of a single part and that part the culmination of the whole work, was just suited to awakening the public’s interest and sustaining it… A complete performance of this masterpiece is rather too heavy a dose at one time for the coi polloi, even if they are an especial kind and attend club concerts… of the choruses, we can only speak in the highest terms. The sweetness of tone, the solidity in the stronger passages, the excellent ensemble throughout, made this one of the best concerts that the club has given-worthy to be ranked with the greatest performance of the Crusaders years ago.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 2)

President Thorndike’s Annual Report of June 1884 reviewed the first ten years of the choir; the first two years as part of the Harvard Musical Association, and then eight as an independent organization. “The conductor was appointed who has ever since led us so faithfully and well. Now and at all times it is our duty and our pleasure to express the debt of gratitude which we owe to Mr. B. J. Lang.” In addition to maturing as a singing group, Thorndike wrote: “We have arrived at a more perfect understanding of our real sphere—the performance of cantatas of some magnitude and importance. Our miscellaneous programmes are not favorites with either singers or audience.” He then listed the various first performances, both Boston and American, and then addressed the subject of soloists: “We have neither the money nor the inclination to procure expensive soloists. We propose that our club shall be chiefly made up of amateurs and that our solos shall be chiefly sung by members.” He ended his report with details of the following season, “a large and brilliant plan, requiring an orchestra for every performance”—a first for the choir. (Cecilia Clippings. President’s Annual Report, June 1884)

LANG’S WORKS PREMIERED BY THE APOLLO CLUB.

Between 1884 and 1887 four pieces composed by B. J. were sung during Apollo Club concerts; two were repeated in later seasons. Hi-fi-lin-ke-le, premiered on  February 20 and 26, 1884; repeated May 12 and 17, 1886 and  April 30, 1890 (Program, Johnston Collection). Two solos were written specifically for the April 29 and May 4, 1885 concerts. The Lass of Carlisle, a solo for baritone was performed by Mr. Hay, while Nocturne, a solo for tenor was sung by Mr. G. J. Parker. These two pieces were repeated on April 29 and May 2, 1887. Finally, My True Love Has My Heart was premiered at the May 12 and 17, 1886 concerts. (Apollo Scrapbook, Vol. 3)

concerning Hi-fi-lin-ke-le the Advertiser wrote: “…a delicious little bit of writing by Mr. Lang, in the shape of a Swedish love ditty, set to a melody to be sung by the whole chorus in unison, except for the harmony of the close.” (Scrapbook) It was encored. Another review suggested that shouting the final chords a little louder could make a better effect. The Journal said: “Another work of decidedly humorous character was Mr. Lang’s song composed upon a Swedish poem reciting the fate of the maid ”who will not when she might,” and when she would, cannot. It is a light but thoroughly well-arranged composition, and brings out the vocal resources of the club as few of the numbers in its repertory are able to do. It was much admired by the audience, who were urgent in their demands for a repetition. Mr. Lang, with marked modesty, declined for a time to accede to their calls, but at last, after a half-dozen times bowing a denial, he was forced to direct the last two stanzas over again.” (Apollo Scrapbook, Vol. 3)

Words from the program of Wednesday evening, April 30, 1890 at the Boston Music Hall: 121th. Concert, 5th. of the 19th. Season. Johnston Collection.

Concerning The Lass of Carlisle and Nocturne the Journal said: “its melody [The Lass of Carlisle] is singularly quaint, and in the refrain, it has just the queerness which fits the queer poem of Ettrick Shepherd. In Mr. Aldrich’s ‘Up to her chamber window,’ – called on the bill a Nocturne – Mr. Lang found fancy and feeling happily combined in a poem, finely adapted to his delicate skill as a composer.” The piece was encored. (Apollo Scrapbook, Vol. 3)

LECTURE BUSINESS – LANG, CHADWICK, PAINE AND ELSON.

In addition to appearing as a soloist, Lang had other connections with the B.S.O. During the fourth season he, together with George W. Chadwick, gave “lectures on the structure of the Beethoven symphonies as they were played” through the season. (Howe, BSO, 68) Early in October of 1884, B. J. announced a series of 12 “Symphony—Concert Lessons” to be held at Chickering Hall on alternate Thursdays beginning October 23. “The music of the following Symphony-Concert will be explained, analyzed, and made more interesting by helpful information, besides being played through upon two Piano-fortes. So far as possible, the solo performer for each concert will play his respective part. A full explanation of the construction of a symphony will be given, together with a description of all orchestral instruments, their quality, range, &c.” (BPL Lang Prog.) The cost for the series of 12 lectures was $5. In reviewing the programs it becomes obvious that the preparation represented an enormous amount of work; doing the analysis, deciding what “helpful information” to give, finding (or making) the two-piano arrangements of all the repertoire with a period of only two weeks between each presentation was a major undertaking. And, in the middle of the series, he was the soloist in the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto! The series ended with the 12th. Lecture on Thursday, March 19, 1885 which covered two orchestral works, one vocal solo, and the “First and Second Parts” of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio! (BPL Lang Prog.)

George Chadwick felt that this idea for public lectures had been stolen from him! He wrote in his Diary: “Teaching began quite prosperously. Mrs. Oliver Peabody organized a class in symphonic analysis among her friends and so at last I began to get into [the] sacred higher circle of Boston society. These nice women, all of them quite mature met at my studio in the church [Park Street Church] every Friday morning and went to the Symphony rehearsal in the afternoon. I talked and played to them the music of the current Sym. concert and sometimes that of other concerts. It paid me about $10 per hour and was very pleasant. I suppose I must have interested them for they continued the class the next year and also got up for me another class of their daughters and other young ladies some of whom were very good pianists and could read the Symphonies with me ‘a quatre main.’ But the most sincere feature of all came from Mr. Lang who hearing of my success at the game went into it with a public class, which he held in Chickering Hall! Of course, he had a perfect night to do it and it did not cut into my classes in the least but I felt at the time that it showed a kind of professional greed to which a really generous nature would not have stooped… And so began the great industry of Symphonic lectures.” (Chadwick, Unpublished Memoirs, 1880-1893) Louis Charles Elson, writing as “Proteus” in 1884 gave this impression of the lecture scene: “Boston is tending toward musical lectures. Mr. B. J. Lang is giving Symphonic Analysis at Chickering’s, Mr. Chadwick is doing the same at his studio, Prof. J. K. Paine is giving historico-musical lectures once a week, [and] Mr. L. C. Elson is analyzing symphonies once a week at the New England Conservatory of Music.” (Faucett, Bio-Bib., 235 and 236)

ALLEN A. BROWN.  

Ryan, Recollections, plate opposite 38. Ryan is incorrect using the middle initial of “T”. (BPL Music Site)

Lang was very fortunate to have the help of many important men and women of Boston. One of these was Allen A. Brown (1835-1916). Barbara Duncan, BPL Music Librarian writing in 1941 began her short notice with: “The life of Allen A. Brown was happy and enviable.” She noted that he had been born in Boston, attended Roxbury Latin, and entered Harvard in the class of 1856. In college, he began collecting the scores and books that were to become the nucleus of the collection that he presented to the BPL. He was a musical amateur “of more than ordinary attainments”-he played violin and had a fine tenor voice. He sang in church “and in the Foster, Parker, Chickering, Apollo, and Cecilia Societies for many years,” and he was the secretary and librarian of “these singing societies and did an enormous amount of arranging, copying, and translating for them… The unique feature of the collection is the wealth of material with which he grangerized the volumes.” Reviews, ticket stubs, anything related to the event were all included, and all were carefully indexed. “The Brown music library is an interesting example of what can be done with some money, knowledge of the subject, a love of collecting, and prodigious industry.” (Duncan, 12 and 13) Brown “has been one of the most earnest organizers of the Apollo, and his great musical library has always been at the disposal of the club, and has been of material service in many instances.” (Elson, Musical Boston, 3)

Allen A. Brown donated to the Boston Public Library “the largest musical library in the country, a historical collection consisting not only of numerous scores and a tremendous amount of general musical literature but also of arranged and classified data regarding musical performances, criticisms, notices, covering the last twenty years [c. 1880-1900]; in short, a unique collection such as must aid not only the general musician but the musical historian, at every step.” (Elson, American Music, 91) Another volume included the facts that Brown was a businessman, and that the collection began with 7,000 volumes, but then grew by 1910 to 11,000 items, and later [1920] to 15,000 items. “It is rich in many different directions-in scores of every sort, instrumental and vocal, in standard critical editions of the complete works of great composers, in historical, theoretical and critical works about music, in unique collections of programs, etc.” (Pratt, 145) Brown joined the St. Botolph Club in June 1889. (E-mail from Roger Howlett) It would be interesting to know if Lang sponsored him.

ST. BOLTOPH CLUB. CHADWICK DESCRIBES.

Chadwick was asked to join the St. Botolph Club [c. 1884], which at that time was located at 85 Boylston Street. Lang had been a Founding Member, joining in January 1880. “The President was Francis Parkman” and, “at that time the membership, as the Constitution stated, [was] composed of men interested in literature and art.” Painters, architects, writers, and of “musicians, there were not so many.” therefore Chadwick felt honored to join “Eichberg, Lang, Henschel, Foote and Preston… therefore I really felt much honored by my election and proceeded to become quite a ”clubable” man.” (Chadwick, Unpublished Memoirs, 1880-1893) “There was much stimulating and diverting conversation at the club. Every Saturday night there was a supper after which congenial souls gathered about the tables and discussed the artistic and other affairs of the town and the nation. And as many members came directly from the Symphony concert, we often had the soloists of the evening with us… There was a nice little gallery extending to Park Sq. where we had three or four picture exhibitions each year and thus was an advantage to both our local painters and the public who were admitted there.” (Op. cit.) Lang and Chadwick continued to have professional contact at this club. Both are listed as active members in the 1909 membership list. (Clark’s Boston Blue Book, 681 and 683) By 1889 it was “situated on Newbury Street, and was modeled after the plan of the Century Club in New York. its particular feature is its Saturday evening and monthly meetings, to which men eminent in literature and art are invited. its gallery contains a choice collection of sculptures and pictures. It is noted for its musicales, “smoke talks” and theatricals. On Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons, a stringed quartette not only plays a choice repertory but also compositions by members of the club. These concerts are very popular and are one of the features of this peculiarly artistic club, whose membership is limited to men of literary and aesthetic tastes and pursuits,” (Grieve, 100) Among the notable events held during the years that both Lang and Chadwick were members would be the display by member John Singer Sargent of his portrait of Mrs. Gardner which caused “some stir” and the first Boston exhibit of works by Claude Monet, “many of whose paintings were loaned by Club members.” (Club Website)

WILHELM GERICKE (b. April 18, 1845, d. October 27, 1925).

Elson, 54.

Gericke conducted the BSO from 1884 until 1889 and again from 1898 until 1906. Lang was a soloist with him for three concerts during his first tenure. “He was assistant conductor at the Vienna Hofoper when Henry Lee Higginson heard him conduct a performance of Aida in October 1883 and invited him to replace George Henschel as conductor of the Boston SO…He was a stern drillmaster, and after his first season dismissed 20 members of the orchestra and replaced them with young European players. At first, there were complaints in Boston about this procedure, but most observers soon agreed that the orchestra’s improvement justified it…Gericke’s programs were thoroughly serious,” (Green, 283) in contrast to those of Henschel, who had customarily opened with a symphony and filled the rest of the program with miscellaneous lighter pieces; Gericke also broke with a long-standing tradition by offering concerts without guest soloists. As a friend or personal acquaintance of Wagner, Brahms, Bruckner, and Liszt, he included a great deal of their music and introduced new European works, as well as compositions by American composers such as Chadwick, Beach, Converse, and Foote. Gericke “undertook the difficult but needed reform of replacing a number of old musicians, formerly prominent in the city’s musical life, who were holding their posts in the orchestra principally through courtesy, with younger musicians from Europe… For five years Gericke remained at the head of this organization, at the end of which time he returned to Germany and resumed the leadership of the Concert Society in Vienna, which he conducted until 1895. Then followed a period of three years’ freedom from professional activities, and in 1898 Gericke was again engaged to conduct the Boston Symphony Orchestra. For eight years longer Gericke directed the body of musicians which he had brought to its present perfection of ensemble; then, in the season of 1905 and 1906 resigned his post, and in the latter year returned to Vienna… Gericke is said to have forwarded the cause of music in America more than any other one man, with the possible exception of Theodore Thomas. Elson speaks of him as the finest drillmaster among conductors… His reading of scores is considered remarkable” (Ibid) Among the new musicians that he hired for his second season was the twenty-year-old concertmaster, Franz Kneisel, and “numerous other new members to replace ‘old’ and ‘overworked musicians’ no longer fit for the demands of modern and more difficult orchestral ensemble. He subdued the brass in order to perfect the balance and tone of the ensemble. He insisted on rehearsal conditions never imposed by Henschel or Carl Zerrahn. He disciplined musicians who took the stage intoxicated, in some cases repeatedly… His repertoire, stressing Beethoven, was less adventurous than Thomas’ in New York, less conservative than has been Dwight’s and the Harvard Musical Associations’s. As he disciplined his orchestra, Gericke disciplined his audience, and not by insisting on more “serious” programs. Latecomers were not admitted except during pauses. Encores were discouraged… Gericke himself called his Boston listeners ‘one of the most cultivated and best understanding musical publics I Know’… Henschel had adopted the formulas of ‘lightening heavier programmes;’ Gericke had not.

But Gericke supported the notion of a summer season modeled after the garden concerts of Germany and Austria. As it happened, the initial summer Promenade season materialized in 1885, near the beginning of Gericke’s tenure… For the Promenade concerts, the Music Hall’s downstairs seats were removed and replaced with tables and shrubs…Light alcoholic beverages were served (a breach of public morals requiring a special annual permit). On opening night Boston’s highest social circles turned out in force and there were not enough tables and waiters to meet the demand.” (Horowitz,  50-54)

Lang was responsible for acquainting the Gericke with what had already been presented to Boston audiences. The critic Apthorp remembered in 1911 that: “Shortly after Mr. Gericke’s arrival in Boston, B. J. Lang asked him if he would not be interested to see the programmes of past symphony concerts in our city; to which he replied he had already seen them all and had studied them carefully. ‘All’ sounded rather startling; so Lang asked him how many seasons of programmes he had seen. ‘Oh, there have been only three,’ answered Mr. Gericke. ‘Ah, I see’ said Lang, ‘you mean the programmes of the Boston Symphony; but wouldn’t you like to see the programmes for the seventeen years of concerts given by the Harvard Musical Association, before the Symphony existed?’ Mr. Gericke’s eyes opened wide at this, and he eagerly accepted the offer. So Lang gave him the two bound volumes of programmes, which he returned in a few days, saying, ‘I am completely dumbfounded! I do not see what is left for me to do here. You seem to have had everything already; more, much more than we ever had in Vienna!’” (Howe, Op. cit., 67).

Lang did his best to make Gericke feel at home. In 1884 Lang invited him to the Lang’s summer home which was a farm in Weston. Luckily the critic and Lang’s former piano pupil, William Apthorp was also invited as Gericke spoke almost no English, Apthorp saved the evening as he understood him “better than the rest of us did.” (Diary 2, Summer 1884) Frances found him “modest, handsome and really delightful.” (Ibid) In the fall of 1884, Lang took Gericke to the St. Botolph Club. (Diary 2, Fall 1884) At this time the two of them were trying to decide what piece Lang should play with the Symphony the following February-Gericke suggested the Schumann Concertstuck, but Lang preferred Bach or Tschaikovsky.” (Ibid) Lang prevailed-On February 19 and 20, 1885 he played the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1, just about ten years after he had conducted the world premiere with von Bulow as the soloist.

Lang was partly responsible for Gericke’s second term as conductor. George Chadwick recorded that in February 1898 the BSO Chairman, Henry Higginson arranged a dinner with Chadwick, Lang, the critics Apthorp and Parker, Thorndike, who was the vice-president of the Conservatory Board, and the orchestra’s manager, Charles Ellis. (Memoirs, February 1898 as cited in Betz, 106) The topic- a successor to Emil Paur. Many names were mentioned, included Theodore Thomas and Frank Van der Stucken (who had included Margaret’s song in his Paris American Composers’ Concert), but Higginson decided to ask Gericke to return. Has Gericke had become a well-liked Lang family friend during his first term as BSO conductor, one wonders how hard Lang pushed for this selection?

FOURTEENTH APOLLO CLUB SEASON. 1884-1885.

The caliber of voices in the 1884-85 membership of the Apollo Club is reflected by the fact that Lang used George J. Parker, one of the tenors, and Clarence E. Hay, one of the basses as soloists with The Cecilia. They both had solo parts in Schumann’s Paradise and the Peri given by The Cecila with orchestral accompaniment on November 17, 1884. This was the fifth time that the choir had performed this Schumann work. (BMYB 1884-85, 46) Both singers were also soloists in The Cecilia’s performance with orchestra of The Damnation of Faust by Berlioz at the end of the season, May 14, 1885. (Op. cit., 47) However, in the June 1885 issue of the Courier, the following appeared: “It is true that the Apollo Club is not quite up to its standard of a few years ago, but it is none the less above the standard attained by any other American male chorus.” (Baker, 11)

  • WORLD PREMIERS:
  • Brackett: Cavalier’s Song
  • Whiting: Henry of Navarre-tenor solo, male chorus and orchestra. Dedicated to Theodore Thomas but premiered at this concert.
  • Osgood: Proposal
  • Foote: If Doughty Deeds My Lady Please
  • Chadwick: Introduction and Allegro (became the first movement of his Symphony No. 2)
  • Lang: Nocturne-Up to her chamber window
  • Lang: The Lass of Carlisle

The April 29 and May 4, 1885 concerts featured “selections composed by prominent local musicians, most of the numbers having been written especially for the club…With a programme of this character, it was to be expected that the good and the indifferent would be presented, and such proved to be the case.” (Journal (April 30, 1885): 4, GB) Included among the world premiers was Arthur Foote’s If Doughty Deeds My Lady Please, words by Graham of Gartmore, which was then published by Schmidt in 1885 as Oct. no. 34 (Apollo Club Collection no. 1). (Cipolla, 35) The piece was dedicated to Allen A. Brown, fellow Apollo Club member and donor of the beginning music collection of the Boston Public Library. Foote’s piece was a “fine bit of harmony and was throughout a very pleasing number.” (Journal, Op. cit.) “Mr. Foote’s music is well suited to the antique verse” of the poet, ” while in the use of the refrain-and especially in the sudden change of key,” the attention of the listener is well sustained. (Advertiser (April 30, 1885): 4, GB) After the orchestral opening to the concert, the choir sang Frank H. Brackett’s Cavalier’s Song with its “dashing melody, following closely in description the proud, knightly words of the text. It was strong and vigorous in character and eminently pleasing. In its rendering the club could not be excelled.” (Ibid) The “gem” of the evening was the “exquisite little song” Proposal by Geo. L. Osgood, “a beautiful melody appealing to the very soul of music. It well deserved its quick repetition, nothing that the club has presented was more enjoyable.” (Ibid)

“The most ambitious, and in many respects the most important of the new works was Mr. Whiting’s Henry of Navarre, which has almost the proportions of a cantata…[The piece] contains many beauties, and does great credit to its accomplished composer…The scoring of the composition was exceptionally interesting, and in many passages, it attained great ingenuity.” (Advertiser (April 30, 1885): 4, GB) The Journal remarked upon the “merry sound” of the “pretty opening melody,” but found the rest of the vocal setting “plain and unattractive.” However, “the instruments gave a brilliant picture of the entire scene, especially excelling in the description of the din and clash of battle.” (Journal (April 20, 1885): 4, GB) The usual problem of the orchestra playing too loudly, in the case, was “commended.” Writing in 1913 of Whiting’s three cantatas, Arthur Elson felt that “…his intensely and virile cantatas deserve especial praise. The Tale of the Viking, Henry of Navarre and The March of the Monks of Bangor are all spirited and effective, and will stand comparison in part with Bruch’s best work.” (Arthur Elson, 898) In addition to these premiers, a piece that the club had premiered in 1883 was again performed; The Blind King by J. C. D. Parker.

The first Lang premier was The Lass of Carlisle based on James Hogg’s “eccentric poem.” The Journal review found little to like except the “vocal gymnastics of the refrain, when the words, ‘Sing hey, hickerty, dickerty, hickerty, dickerty dear,” were set to a queer, quickened strain, taxing to the highest degree the vocal ability of the singer.” (Ibid) The Advertiser only mentioned that Mr. Hay’s performance was “very effective.” However, the Advertiser found Lang’s second piece, the Nocturne-Up to her chamber window to be a happy combination of the skills of the poet and composer. “The musical setting proved to be dainty and beautiful, both in the vocal part and the piano accompaniment and in the final phrases, and especially in the last line it displayed high poetic feeling and matched Mr. Aldrich’s verse with exquisite aptness.” (Advertiser (April 30, 1885): 4, GB) The Journal’s only mention of the Nocturne was that it was an “other selection” that was “rendered by George Parker.” (Journal (April 30, 1885): 4, GB)

“The final local composer included was Harvard’s Professor of Music, John. K. Paine, who had two excerpts from his Oedipus music performed; the overture opened the concert and one of the choruses closed the evening.” (Ibid)

A comparison of the 1885 Boston Directory with the 1883-84 membership list of the Apollo Club gives an interesting insight into the broad range of social backgrounds of the singers. There were Professional Musicians, Financiers, Merchants, Lawyers, Salesmen, Clerks, Doctors and Government Officials.

It was reported in the Worcester Spy “applications for membership in the Apollo Club are so numerous that his was nearly the 400th. waiting to be acted upon, and it was eleven years before he could become a member…The Apollo is very prosperous, and has an abundance of means to enable it to make a fine appearance in public.” (Worcester Daily Spy, (September 24, 1885): 2) Certainly, Lang could be very proud of such an achievement.

NINTH CECILIA SEASON. 1884-1885.

The first concert was on Monday evening, November 17, 1884 at the Music Hall with a full orchestra. Schumann’s Paradise and the Peri [possibly given three times before] was presented with Clarence E. Hay, bass and George J. Parker, tenor as the main soloists. Here the problem of using soloists from the group was again noticed; the Herald review wrote that the performance “suffered somewhat in having an array of light-voiced soloists in almost all of the solo numbers. As this work consists of an almost unbroken string of solos, it is hazardous to give it with any but the best of artists… Even when given at its best, Paradise and the Peri suffers from too much solo.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 2) Woolf in the Evening Gazette wrote an extensive review calling the performance “dull and inadequate as an interpretation” which then led to an extensive critique of Lang as an orchestral conductor. “It has long been our conviction that Mr. Lang is a mistake whenever he takes the baton in hand to interpret an important work or to lead an orchestra… His peculiar leaning towards mechanical literalness leads him constantly to present the cold body of a work without its soul… His jerky and eccentric beating of time are always confusing.” Woolf then refers to the Frog of fable fame which probably inspired the following printed in a different newspaper:

The Wolf and the Lang.

A Fable.

A peaceful Lang was one day teaching a little band of tadpoles to follow their leader through an orchestral stream. A savage wolf, who occupied by chance a slightly elevated position hard by, was so much affected at the sight that, to conceal his own emotions, he sprang upon the defenseless Lang and tore him to pieces with his cruel pen.

Moral 1. Everybody does not always know how to conduct himself.

Moral 2. It is often harder to play upon two pianos than upon a harp with one string.

Woolf then continued in another article to savage Lang in response to words written by William Foster Apthorp. Woolf saw the Cecilia Club as “simply a ramification of a small and tyrannical clique that has for years attempted to establish a dictatorship over musical affairs in Boston… The Cecilia Club is but another name for the head of this clique, and the Apollo also is one of its pseudonyms.” Then Lang’s career as a piano teacher was attacked. “They are not particularly good players, for they have absorbed all the faults, and, they are many, of Mr. Lang’s method… Whenever any of these pupils appear in public, the mouthpiece of the clique [Apthorp], also one of Lang’s pupils, expatiates to the extent of half a column upon their merits, their poetic feeling, their deep artistic sentiment and their earnestness of style; in fact, everything but their playing, all of which is indirectly a laudation of Mr. Lang… There is too much of Lang and of Langification in our musical affairs.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 2)

The second concert was given on January 15, 1885 with full orchestra and Arthur Foote as organist. Dvorak’s Stabat Mater was given in full, and the Advertiser review spent much time on the soloists, saying, in effect, that they were not really up to the task. “Last night the quartette was composed of Mrs. J. E. Tippett, whose slender, sweet voice is also as cool as it is clear; Mr. W. J. Winch, who never lacks manly, earnest directness and energy, but who is not emotional, to use a much-perverted word; Dr. Bullard, whose pleasant and cultivated organ has not the depth and massiveness the music ought to find, and Miss Mary H. How, who alone of all the four sang as if she felt the composer’s spirit and was seeking to convey it. Add to this that the volumes and timbres of the four voices were widely different, and it will easily be understood that, carefully and well in their respective manners as the vocalists sang, there could be no real ensemble in their union.” (Advertiser, Cecilia Programs, Vol. 2) The Gazette, while finding the choir’s singing to be “creditable and characterized generally by smoothness and promptness,” used a final paragraph of twenty-one lines to fault Lang’s conducting. “The nervous unsteadiness of his beat frequently created an indecision among the performers that seemed to foretell impending disaster, from which, however, escape was always made,” which must have disappointed the critic, Mr. Woolf. (Gazette, Cecilia Programs, Vol. 2)

The third concert was held on Thursday evening, March 19, 1885 at the Music Hall and consisted of Mendelssohn’s operetta Camacho’s Wedding: “Mr. [H. G.] Tucker left his triumphs in pianoforte music and became Camacho for the occasion.” The Advertiser wrote: “Mr. Tucker, after his first nervousness wore off, made the small part quite telling, although it must be confessed that he is more happy as a pianist than as a vocalist.” It was advertised as the first performance since its Berlin premiere in 1827, but the Home Journal felt that it should never have been revived; in fact, the writer thought, “It would be unfair to presume that the esteemed conductor of The Cecilia entertains a very high opinion of the work.” The accompaniment was by two pianos with Lang playing the solo and recit. accompaniments with Mr. Sumner and Mr. Preston “at a second piano and accompanied the choruses where Mr. Lang took up the conductor’s baton.” The Evening Transcript noted: “Of the duet-playing of the overture, it can only be said that the two pianists owed it to their reputation (if to nothing else) not to attempt to play with the instruments so far apart that it was physically impossible they should keep together.” The Courier recorded the eight different soloists involved but noted: “Their ensembles generally were very ragged and insecure. The chorus did better, and some numbers were very pleasing, but, the whole performance lagged because there was little in the music and nothing in the libretto to interest… This was one of Mendelssohn’s earliest attempts at opera.” (Courier, Cecilia Programs, Vol. 2)

The final concert on Thursday evening, May 14, 1885 at the Music Hall with a full orchestra was of The Damnation of Faust by Berlioz. The principal soloists were Mrs. E. Humphrey Allen, Mr. George J. Parker (Tenor) and Mr. Clarence E. Hay (Bass), and “The Male Chorus of the Club is enlarged for this occasion by sixty gentlemen, who have kindly volunteered their services.” [Apollo Club?] The review in Key Notes of May 1885 by Louis C. Elson noted: “The soloists were not great enough for the inordinate demands of the work.” Elson then remembered “the absolutely great performance given by Mr. Henschel.” However he ended with: “The general excellence of the choruses, and the steadiness of the orchestra combined to make the concert one worth going two miles in a rainstorm to see; therefore there will be no more vitriol thrown upon it this week from the pen of L. C. E.” The Advertiser felt that the addition of sixty male voices “added greatly in fullness and richness of tone, the bass being particularly smooth and strong,” but the reviewer felt that “the contraltos were sometimes lost [don’t altos sing with tenors in the traditional Berlioz three-part texture?]… The chorus singing was generally most creditable in accuracy of time and tune, but not always nice in finish or positive in accent… The orchestra was made up of the very cream of local players, and as a consequence, most of the instrumental work was finely done… In spite of the tempestuous night, the audience was large, very few desirable seats being left vacant.” The Courier mentioned repeated previous performances of this work by the Club, “nevertheless the repeated performances have resulted in a choral performance that is almost beyond criticism. All of the chorus work was of a character that calls only for praise… The orchestral work, also, calls for much commendation. The Rakoscky March was given in a very brilliant manner, and won and deserved an imperative encore.” This reviewer also found the soloists not up to the task and the memory of Henschel’s “glorious performance of some five years ago” was again mentioned. “The Cecilia may add this occasion as one of the many triumphs which have graced their history.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 2)

BACH BIRTHDAY CONCERT.

B. J. Lang organized a concert for March 21, 1885 in celebration of J. S. Bach’s 200th. birthday. “It appears, from research by the writer, [William Lyman Johnson] that there was only one harpsichord in Boston in 1885 in playable condition. It was the property of Mr. Morris Steinert, founder of the house of M. Steinert and Sons. In Bach’s Coffee Cantata there is the need of a harpsichord, and Mr. Lang played Mr. Steinert’s instrument. This was probably the first time for a period of sixty years that a harpsichord had been used in a public concert in Boston.” (HMA Bulletin No. 14) However, other reports mention that Chickering built the harpsichord used. The concert on Saturday afternoon, March 21, 1885 at 2:30 PM at Chickering Hall included the concertos for two, three and four keyboards with Lang, Foote, Tucker, Sumner and W. S. Fenollosa as the soloists. Lang soloed in the Concerto in A minor. The Herald had specific comments on each of the concerti. The first was for two keyboards in C major played by Arthur Foote and Lang where “their clean and intelligent execution serving admirably to accentuate the clear and limpid qualities of the work.” This was followed by the D major solo concerto played by Lang which was played on the harpsichord whose “sharp metallic, yet agreeable tones of the quaint instrument were a key to the manner in which its contemporaries wrote.[?]…Mr. Lang’s playing of this instrument called forth discriminating applause, which he acknowledged with careless composure.” The concerto for three keyboards was next, played by Foote, Tucker and Lang, and after the cantata, the Concerto in C minor for Four Keyboards with Fennellosa, Sumner, Tucker and Lang “ended this interesting concert, which in its entirety seemed to reflect the more cheerful moods of Bach’s muse.” (Herald (March 22, 1885): 16, GB)

Also on the program was the American premiere of the Coffee Cantata with Louise Gage, William J. and John F. Winch as the soloists. In a pre-concert article in the Herald, the writer compared Bach’s “keen sense of the ridiculous” to that of “Arthur Sullivan’s more modern efforts in this line.” (Herald (March 15, 1885): 10, GB) The basic story is of a father trying to break his daughter’s coffee habit. This leads to such unusual recitatives as: “Don’t be cross, father dear, for if I’m not allowed to drink three cups of coffee clear, my strength will fall and down I’ll break, like a poor donkey overladen;” this sung to Bach’s usual vocal style. (Ibid) For some reason, Johnson listed this as a first Boston performance by the Apollo Club. (Johnson, First, 14)

After playing his own concert at 2:30 in the afternoon, Lang was also part of the Boston Symphony’s Commemoration of Bach’s 200th. Birthday that evening. His pupil Mr. Tucker played the piano accompaniment for “My Heart Ever Faithful” in the First Half, and Lang was the organist for “Parts One and Two” of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio in the Second Half. Wilhelm Gericke was the conductor, in this his first season with the Symphony, and he had also prepared the chorus of 300 voices. “But it appeared difficult for the singers to understand his beat at times, and much unsteadiness was shown in many of the chorus numbers. The choral ‘Break forth, oh beauteous heavenly light’ was about the only number in which the chorus sang with entire confidence.” (Herald (March 22, 1885): 6, GB) It would be interesting to know Lang’s thoughts about that choir.

SUMMER OF 1885. MARGARET BEGINS HER STUDIES IN MUNICH.

During the summer of 1885 the Lang family and nurse Ellen Sheehan moved to Europe. Frances, in her Diary entries of 1884 and then more so in 1885 noted “I am tired to death all the time…I have a feeling that I shall drop suddenly…So busy. I am miserable fighting against all sorts of aches and pains…Too tired for anything.” (Diary 2, Fall 1884 and Spring 1885) She and B. J. had spoken at length about the best direction for the whole family. One Doctor had diagnosed exhaustion and nervousness while a second said that “I must be kept from all excitement, go out very little, no late hours, and on no account stand,” but the same day she received these instructions she forced herself to make calls and attend two big affairs. (Diary 2, Spring 1885) So the only way to keep her from this schedule was to remove her from it, and she knew this. “I know from something he said, that he would like to take us all abroad. (Next day) I told Lel that I had decided it might be best for us to go abroad. He seemed much relieved and delighted.” (Ibid) They left Boston on June 13, 1885 on the S. S. CATALONIA [launched May 14, 1881, 200 in First Class and 1500 in Steerage, covered the Boston/Liverpool route], and visited Brussels, Cologne, Wurtzburg and “then Munich 48 Brienner Strasse where we [Frances and the children only] lived 2 winters.” The Music Conservatory was just three blocks away. While they were in Munich they visited with Cosima Wagner who was at the Marienbad Hotel. Two of her daughters, Eva and Isolda were also there. Mrs. Lang and Margaret stood outside the Odeon Salle as the “Vorspiel” from Lohengrin was being played by a full orchestra with an audience of one, Cosima Wagner. “A great experience.” (Excerpts from Francis M. Lang’s Note Book, 7)

When B. J. returned to Boston in September 1885 he gave an extensive interview to the Herald which was entitled “Mr. B. J. Lang chats About Music in Europe.” The article began with the story of how Lang was able to reach his steamer back to American two hours AFTER it had sailed. “A tug was chartered and a race for the lead with the steamer was begun with some disadvantage for the tug. This proved successful for the smaller vessel, and the captain of the steamer Etrurfa could not refuse a passage to such a determined passenger when the tug puffed up alongside and demanded the courtesy for her solitary passenger.” Lang and family attended the Handel Festival at the Crystal Palace where Israel In Egypt was given with 1,000 in the orchestra and 3,000 in the chorus with an audience of 24,000. The effect of these large forces no not even the same as “20 performers in Boston Music Hall.” Tempos were slowed and the greatest soloists of the time including the “soprano Albani and Lloyd, the tenor…were barely audible.” However, “the Handel performance in Westminster Abbey, to an audience of 10,000 people, two-thirds of whom stood for three hours in rapt attention to listen to the Dettingen Te Deum and an anthem by Handel, was splendid.” Lang found the performance of a choir from Amsterdam conducted by Daniel de Lange to be of great interest. They did pieces by Sweelinck, Dufay, Lassus, both sacred and secular. Lang heard Gilbert and Sullivan’s Mikado, but felt it musically one of “Sullivan’s feeblest efforts,” but the production at the old Savoy Theatre “was a feast for the eyes, as well as being bright and charming altogether.” In Frankfurt Lang was “surprised to find there an opera house of great beauty and comfort, with an orchestra, chorus and artists of the very best order…Here he heard some of the best performances of opera to be heard in Germany…Mr. Lang has left his family in Germany, and proposes to return there in the spring, spending his time in north Germany and Norway.” Lang also attended the Birmingham Festival in England. He recalled that the “public are made to feel these performances are costly” as he had to pay $5 per seat for each concert. (all quotes from the Herald (September 27, 1885): 13, GB)

FIFTEENTH APOLLO CLUB SEASON. 1885-1886.

People on their way to the Apollo Club concert.

 

Childe Hassam. Across the Common on a Winter Evening. 1885-86.

The 97th. concert was sung at the Music Hall on Monday evening, February 15, 1886. This was the fourth concert of the fifteenth season. The assisting artists were Mr. Fritz Giese, cellist, and Miss Zippora Monteith, soprano. The opening piece was the Song of the Viking by George W. Chadwick (with piano accompaniment). A part song by Georg Henschel, The King and the Poet, and The Soldiers of Gideon, Opus 46 for double chorus by Saint-Saens were the two other major choral pieces in the first half. Solos for the two assisting artists and the premier (?) of the Proposal by George L. Osgood, “Written for the Apollo Club” were major parts of the second half. The finale was the double chorus from Oedipus by Mendelssohn. (Program, Johnston Collection)

The 97th. and 98th. concerts were sung on Wednesday evening, May 12 and Monday evening, May 17, 1886. Included in the program was the premiere of Arthur Foote’s The Farewell of Hiawatha, Op. 11 that was “Written for the Apollo Club.”  “The earliest ‘Indian’ cantata was the product of Arthur Foote…Foote set the concluding portion of the final canto of Longfellow’s The Song of Hiawatha (1885) for his The Farewell of Hiawatha (1886). This lengthy poem is generally considered the initial major work in American literature to elevate and humanize the Indian. Of more importance to this study is the remarkable resemblance between Longfellow’s Hiawatha and Jesus Christ. Each came to earth to help his people and returned to heaven when his mission was completed. Foote did not use aboriginal melodies in his cantata. Later composers did, however, as they were able to benefit from the work of ethnomusicologists, which began in earnest in the 1880s.” (Stopp, 392) Six months later another Foote premiere was conducted by Lang, but this time, with the Cecilia Society. The Club again performed this piece on May 10, 1938 under the direction of Thompson Stone. (Cipolla, 34) The other major work was “Scenes from Frithiof’s Saga” by Max Bruch for soprano and baritone solos, male chorus and orchestra. The soloists were Miss Gertrude Franklin and Mr. John F. Winch. Winch had sung at the Boston premiere of the work given by the Apollo Club on February 4 and 9, 1881. A third performance of the work would be given on March 5 and 8, 1893. Lang included two of his own pieces in this program-a part song, My True Love Hath My Heart and the arrangement of the Swedish folksong, Hi-Fe-Lin-Ke-Le. The part song was a premier while the folksong had been premiered two years before. The finale was a Lang favorite-“Double Chorus” from Antigone by Mendelssohn. (Program, Johnston Collection)

TENTH CECILIA SEASON. 1885-1886.

Dated October 20, 1885, the Cecilia sent out a letter outlining the coming season. “An increase in the number of Associate members is necessary to enable the Society to carry out its plans as it desires.” Four concerts on Thursday evenings were advertised with the two major works being a repeat of Bruch’s Odysseus to be given with “full orchestra and competent solo singers” (Advertiser)(last given by the Society in May 1882) and Dvorak’s Spectre’s Bride “the most conspicuous success of the recent festival at Birmingham. England.” The yearly fee was $15 for which you got four tickets to each performance. “The chorus of the Society is as large and efficient as ever; the best orchestral and solo talent possible will be employed; and the concerts will be given under the direction of the conductor of the Society, Mr. B. J. Lang.” (BPL Lang Prog.) At the June Annual meeting Mr. S. L. Thorndike, President since the choir’s formation declined re-election, and Mr. A. Parker Browne was elected to the post.

The “early months of autumn [1885] were rather anxious times” wrote the Cecilia’s new President (a year later in his Annual Report of 1886) as the President for the past nine years had declined re-election, “and it seemed to many that the Club could not well get along without him. The expenses of the [previous] season had used up both income and surplus, and there was no certainty that our income for the new year would enable us to continue in the way we had been going.” However, by the fall, the associate members had made their contributions, and with only two of the concerts using orchestra, the Club finished the season “without debt.” (Annual Report 1886)

The first concert was on Thursday evening, December 10, 1885 at the Music Hall performing Bruch’s Odysseus with a full orchestra as promised and with most of the solos taken by chorus members. The Transcript noted the previous performances of this cantata by the Cecilia calling the work: “one of the finest; one of those which best repay repetition. The performance last evening, in so far as the work of the chorus is concerned, was very fine indeed… In a word, the singing of the chorus was admirable.” The orchestral work was also praised, but the soloists were found lacking: “Mr. Adams, who was cast for the title role, had the ill-luck to be completely out of voice.” the other main soloists had various problems, and “the other solo parts were acceptably filled.” So much for the promise of “competent solo singers.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 2)

In 1885 the poor financial condition of the country also affected musicians. Samuel L. Thorndike, former President of the Cecilia Society, wrote to the Treasurer of the Harvard Musical Association: “I am so poor this winter that I am unable even to go to the [Harvard Orchestra] concerts, – or any other concerts, though it is worse than having one’s teeth drawn to stay away. It is not ”virtuous economy,” but absolute incapacity to pay for a ticket that keeps me away.” (Hepner, 21)

As part of the February 4, 1886 Music Hall concert, Miss Bockus, a member of the club sang songs by Schubert, Chadwick, Hiller and Lang’s Sing, Maiden, Sing. (Yearbook, Vol. 3, 52) “This was an unusual programme for the Cecilia, the chorus giving all their numbers, except The Nixie, without accompaniment. The pleasure our audience manifested on this occasion would seem to indicate that though our field is confessedly that of Cantata, with orchestral accompaniment, we shall hazard no loss of support if we occasionally present such a programme as this.” (President’s Report, June 1886)

 

The third concert, a miscellaneous program, was held on Thursday evening, March 25, 1886 at the Music Hall and included excerpts from Handel’s Acis and Galatea [this was the second time that the Club had done excerpts from this work which led the Club’s new President to “hope we may soon give it with orchestra”] with the soloists, Miss Brockus, Mr. Webber, and Mr. J. F. Winch. Lang and Mr. J. A. Preston, the accompanist for the evening, played Homage a Handel for two pianos by Moscheles which the Courier found “rather tame and uninteresting,” while the Traveler found that the work “added zest and contrast,” but a third reviewer found the performance of this work “rather dry, but that may have been the fault of the work itself, certainly the ensemble was good.” Mr. Winch “was excellent in Mr. Lang’s spirited song The Chase, giving it with hearty abandon and fire… The concert was evidently thoroughly enjoyed by the audience.” Another reviewer wrote that the concert “may be classed as one of the successes of the club, particularly in the chorus work which was resolute and of good volume.” So much for President Thorndike’s recent comments about how neither the audience nor the choir enjoyed a miscellaneous program. Another review mentioned Lang’s song noting that it had been sung “with real brio and splendid voice. He was enthusiastically recalled, and certainly deserved it.” This review also mentioned that Winch had come to grief in his Handel “Oh ruddier than the cherry,” and had been saved by Lang “who at the piano, skipped over all breaks with the vocalists, and covered his retreat with courage and ability. It would have been a total shipwreck, and the singer never would have reached a port of safety, had it not been firm the calmness of Mr. B. J. Lang.” The Courier also had noted Lang’s “admirable presence of mind. It is not the first time that we have admired this quality in Mr. Lang; and we can add that the important accompaniments, in his hands, became as elastic and effective as public, or singer, could desire.” (Courier, Cecilia Programs, Vol. 2)

The fourth concert was held on Thursday evening, May 13, 1886 at the Music Hall with “a small but excellent orchestra assisted.” The featured work was The Spectre’s Bride by Dvorak with Miss Kehew (The Maiden), Mr. George J. Parker (The Spectre), and Mr. Max Heinrich (The Narrator). In fact, Miss Kehew became ill, and Mrs. J. R. Tippett “very kindly assumed [the part] at a day’s notice.” The Traveler review ended with: “Mr. Lang got a good grip on everything during the performance, and the success of the work is mainly due to his relentless rehearsing of the chorus through the few weeks given to a study of the work. No audience at a Cecilia concert in Boston ever received a new work with so many evidences of appreciation, and in adding it to their repertoire the Cecilia has put the town under obligations,” (Traveler, Cecilia Reviews) while a second reviewer began:” I am still enthusiastic over the work and the glorious manner in which the choruses were sung. The Society surpassed itself in this concert.” This review ended with: “This work made a profound impression, and we trust will be repeated next season.” A third review began: “Last Thursday was a red-letter night with the Cecilia Club, and a more successful performance than that given to Dvorak’s new work could not be desired, save by the hypercritical.” This reviewer wrote “the chorus did more than well. Their precision” was perfection. A final comment in the review made reference to a problem noted by many earlier reviewers-audience members leaving before the end of the final number. “Not a person, so far as we saw, left before the final pizzicato notes had brought the cantata to its impressive end, and after that, the applause burst forth with a vehemence unusual in a club concert. We thank Mr. Lang and the club for giving such a work in such a manner, and believe that concerts such as these give a true educational aim to the work of the Cecilia Society.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 2)

>>> Part: 1   2   3   4 

CHAPTER 04. (Part 1) BJL: MIDDLE YEARS: 1881-1891: SC(G) WC. TOPICS, PREMIERS, MIDDLE YEARS-HELEN HOOD.

 SC (G)  WORD COUNT, PART 1-11,466.  9/28/2020.

MIDDLE YEARS: 1881-1891. (12 point Georgia)   

TOPICS:

  • PART 1                                                                                                                       Mendelssohn: Son and Stranger.                                                                                 Franz Liszt Dinner.                                                                                                                 Boston Symphony Orchestra and Lang.                                                          Ethelbert Nevin.                                                                                                                      Lang: conduct the BSO?                                                                                                                                 Henschel and the B.S.O.                                                                                                    Sixth Cecilia Season. 1881-1882.                                                                                    Eleventh Apollo Club Season. 1881-1882.                                                          Damnation of Faust.                                                                                                       Fidelio.                                                                                                                                      Lang’s Musical Position in Boston.                                                                    Diphtheria.                                                                                                                           Philharmonic Society Soloist. Tchaikovsky.
  • Twelfth Apollo Club Season. 1882-1883.                                                               Seventh Cecilia Season. 1882-1883.                                                                                 Helen Hood
  • PART 2                                                                                                                                       Attacks on Lang Through Tucker and Foote.                                                  Schumann Piano Works.                                                                                            Lectures on TEACHING the Art of Pianoforte Playing.                                             Thirteenth Apollo Club Season. 1883-1884.
  • Chickering Hall Dedication.
  • Choral Training Techniques of Lang
  • Church of the Immaculate Conception.                                                                 Eighth Cecilia Season. 1883-1884.
  • Lang’s Works Premiered by the Apollo Club.
  • Lecture Business-Lang, Chadwick, Paine and Elson.                                          Allen A. Brown
  • St. Boltoph Club.                                                                                                             Wilhelm Gericke.                                                                                                         Fourteenth Apollo Club Season. 1884-1885.                                                            Ninth Cecilia Season. 1884-1885.                                                                                  Bach Birthday Concert.                                                                                                 Summer of 1885. Margaret begins her studies in Munich.                          Fifteenth Apollo Club Season. 1885-1886.                                                              Tenth Cecilia Season. 1885-1886.
  • PART 3                                                                                                                                        Lang Assists.                                                                                                                          Chadwick- Support by Lang.
  • Liszt 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.

PART 4                                                                                                                              Thirteenth Cecilia Season. 1888-1889.                                                                    Singing with the Boston Symphony.                                                                            Hymn of Praise for Charity.                                                                                              Arthur Nikisch.                                                                                                                        Piano Instructor-Lang’s Methods.                                                                                     Nineteenth Apollo Club Season. 1889-1890.                                                  Fourteenth Cecilia Season. 1889-1890.                                                                     King’s Chapel-Christmas 1890.                                                                                  Handel and Haydn Salary.                                                                                                   New Choir: the Boston Singers (Replaced Boylston Club)                            Fifteenth Cecila Season. 1890-1891.                                                                       Twentieth Apollo Club Season. 1890-1891.                                                         Parsifal.                                                                                                                                    Salem Oratorio Society.                                                                                                   King’s Chapel: Lang’s Magic as an Organist.                                                           Trip to Europe. 1891.

LANG PREMIERS: (Non-Apollo and Cecilia)                                                                  (American) Bach: Coffee Cantata. March 21, 1885 (2) Herald pre-concert article of March 15, 1885, 10, GB, says this was an American premier.                                                                                                                      (American) Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 2, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Georg Henschel conductor, March 14 and 15, 1884.                                    (Boston) Brahms: Trio, Opus 40, Kneisel Quartet, February 1887.

LANG STUDENT PREMIERS:
(Boston) Dvorak’s Concerto No. 2 in B Minor; on March 25th. Mr. Whelpley played the Boston premier (Herald, March 2, 1890, 9, GB)
(Boston) Godard: Introduction and Allegro, Op. 49 at the B. J. Lang Pianoforte Concerto Concert of April 10, 1888 with Mr. G. W. Sumner as the soloist. (Boston Musical Yearbook 1887-88, 12)
(American) MacDowell: Piano Concerto No. 1 in A Minor, Op. 15, B. J. Lang Pianoforte Concerto-Concert” where Lang conducted and his pupil B. J. Whelpley played the solo part, April 3, 1888 (MYB, 1887-88, 12). This would have been the first American performance of the complete work; sections had been played earlier in New York. (Johnson, First, 225)
(Boston) Mozart: Concerto for Three Pianos in F with Miss Ann Gilbreth, Mr. G. W. Sumner and Mr. Arthur Mayo at the B. J. Lang Piano-Concerto Concert on April 1, 1890. (Boston Musical Yearbook-1889-90, 13)
(Boston) St.-Saens: Concerto No. 1 in D Major, Op. 17 by Joshua Phippen. (Herald (March 30, 1887): 2, GB)
(American or Boston) Sgambati: Concerto in G minor, Op. 14 (ca. 1881), with Hiram G. Tucker as soloist at the Music Hall, BSO with Nikisch conducting, October 31, 1890. (Johnson, First, 336).

CECILIA PREMIERS: All from the 1907 List unless noted.
(American) Bach: Christmas Oratorio, Part VI, April 2, 1883.
(Boston) Beethoven: The Praise of Music, March 22, 1888.
(Boston) Berlioz: Requiem, Op. 5, February 12, 1882 (Johnson, First, 69). Second American
(Boston) Brahms: German Requiem, December 3, 1888.                             (Boston) Brahms: Gipsy Songs, May 16, 1889.                                                               (Boston) Brahms: Naenie, May 22, 1890 (with piano).
(Boston) Bruch: The Lay of the Bell, May 16, 1883 (Bruch conducting).
(World) Chadwick: The Pilgrims. April 2, 1891.
(American?) Cornelius: The Barber of Bagdad (selections) May 10, 1888.
(Boston) Dvorak: Stabat Mater, January 15, 1885.
(Boston) Dvorak: The Spectre’s Bride, May 13, 1886.
(    ??     ) Dvorak: A Patriotic Hymn, March 22, 1888.
(World) Foote: The Wreck of the Hesperus, January 26, 1888 (with piano) and March 27, 1890 (with orchestra).
(Boston) Gade: Psyche (with piano and organ), January 18, 1883.
(    ??     ) Gade: Spring Fantasy, March 22, 1888.
(    ??     ) Handel: Zadok the Priest, March 25, 1886.
(Boston) Hofmann: Cinderella (with piano) November 30, 1881.
(Boston) Hood: The Robin, March 27, 1884.
(Boston) Jensen: Brier Rose, May 10, 1888.
(World) Jones: Up the Hillside, May 5, 1887.
(World) Lang, B. J.: The Chase, April 12, 1882.
(World) Lang, B. J.: Sing, Maiden, Sing, February 4, 1886.
(World) Lang, M. R.: In a Meadow, February 1, 1889.
(Boston) Lassus: Matona, Lovely Maiden, May 22, 1891.
(Boston) Liszt: The Legend of St. Elizabeth, November 18, 1886.             (Boston) MacDowell: Barcarolle. May 22, 1890.                                        (American) Massenet: Eve, March 27, 1890.                                            (American?) Massenet: Mary Magdalen, November 20, 1890.                (Boston) Mendelssohn: Camacho’s Wedding, March 19, 1885 (Was not the Second world performance-Johnson lists two American performances before this one, both in 1875, both presented by the Thomas orchestra)(Johnson, First, 257).                                                                                                   (Boston for music and World for combined) Mendelssohn: Athalie, January 27, 1887 (First performance of the Racine text and Mendelssohn’s music). Myron Whitney-soloist; Howard M. Ticknor-reader. Boston Orchestral Club (an amateur group usually led by Bernhard Listemann). Also December 6, 8 and 11, 1897-sung in French at Harvard with Mrs. Alice Bates Rich as the principal soloist and Prof. de Sumichrast as the narrator.                                                                                                                         (Boston) Mendelssohn: Ave Maria, May 10, 1888.                                              (Boston) Mendelssohn: 13th. Psalm, May 22, 1890.                                           (World) Nevin: The Night Has a Thousand Eyes, January 31, 1889.                 (World) Nevin: Wynken, Blynken and Nod, May 22, 1890.                          (American) Raff: Romeo and Juliet Overture, November 20, 1890.          (Boston) Schubert: Miriam’s Song of Triumph. May 14, 1891.                       (Boston) Schumann: Mignon’s Requiem, April 12, 1882 (with Piano).

  • APOLLO CLUB PREMIERS. (1=Zeller List)(2=Johnson, First Performances)(3=Boston Musical Year Book) (4=Composed for Apollo Club, Zeller List, November 2009)                                                                                                          (Boston) Becker: A Wood Morning. April 30 and May 2, 1884. Sung by a quartet. (1)(3)                                                                                                                  (Boston) Brackett: Cavalier’s Song. April 29, 1885 and May 4, 1886. (1)(3)(4)    (Boston) Brahms: Rinaldo. December 15, 1883, Charles R. Adams, soloist. (1 says December 5 and December 10, 1883 based on Wilson Yearbook I-IV: 1884-1887)                                                                                                     
  • (Boston) Brambach: Columbus. February 20, 1888. Date from the program. Johnston Collection. The Club sang it again on February 17 and 23, 1892.          (Boston) Bruch: Salamis. April 26, 1882. Brainard’s Musical World, June 1882,  93.                                                                                                                                       (Boston) Buck: Annie Laurie (harmonized for TTBB). 1889 (1)(4)
  • (Boston) Buck: Chorus of Spirits and Hours. February 11 and 16, 1885. (1)(3)(4) (Boston) Buck: King Olaf’s Christmas. December 7 and 12, 1881. Advertiser review mentions that this was the Boston premiere. The work waspublishedin1881.(4)                                                                                                          (World) Chadwick: Jabberwocky, February 16 and 23, 1887. (4)                           (American) Cowen: The Language of Flowers. A Suite for Orchestra. December 5 and 10, 1883. (1) (3)                                                                               (Boston) Debois: Lovely Maiden, Sleep On-translation by Charles W. Sprague. December 3 and 8, 1885. (1)(3)
  • (Boston) Englesberg: Love Song. December 11 and 18, 1885. (1)(3)             (Boston) Englesberg: Love, As a Nightingale. February 11 and 16, 1886. (1)(3)(Boston) Esser: Mahomet’s Song. December 3 and 8, 1885. (1)(3)
  • (Boston) Foote: Cavalry Song, April 27 and May 2, 1887. Boston Musical Yearbook 1886-87, p. 12, 44 and 45. Sung by a Quartet.                                  (Boston) Foote: Farewell to [of-Cipolla] Hiawatha. May 12 and 17, 1887. (1) [Cipolla says 1886]                                                                                                          (World) Foote: If Doughty Deeds My Lady Please. April 29, 1885 and May 4, 1886. (1)                                                                                                                                        (Boston) Foote: Into the Silent Land, April 27 and May 2, 1887. Boston Musical Yearbook 1886-87, 12, 44 and 45, but Cipolla Foote Catalog says sung as part of the 250th. Anniversary of Harvard, 1636-1886. [Of course, strictly speaking, this was a Cambridge, not Boston performance] Was published by Schmidt in 1886.                                                                                                                             (Boston) Gauby: A Song to Praise thy Beauty. April 30 and May 2, 1884.(1) (World) Henschel: The King and the Poet. April 26, 1882. Gazette review probably written by B. E. Woolf.                                                                                (Boston) Kremser: A Venetian Serenade. February 20 and 25, 1884. (1)(3)(Boston) Lachner: Woodcock Song. December 7 and 12, 1881, mentioned as a Boston premiere in the Advertiser review.                                                          (World) Lang, B. J.: Hi-fe-lin-ke-le, February 20 and 25, 1884; May 12 and 17, 1887; and April 30, 1890. (1)                                                                                   (World) Lang, B. J.: Nocturne for tenor solo, April 29 and May 4, 1885; April 27 and May 2, 1887; April 29, 1891 and May 5, 1897. (1)                                   (World) Lang, B. J.: The Lass of Carlisle, solo for baritone sung by Mr. Hay, April 29, 1885 and May 4, 1885. (1)                                                                                      (World) Lang, B. J.: My True Love Has My Heart, May 12 and 17, 1886.(1)        (World) Lang, M. R.:  The Maiden and the Butterfly. May 1 and 6, 1889. (1).                                                                                                                                         (World) Lang, M. R.: The Jumblies. December 3 and 8, 1890. Date from program-Johnston Collection.                                                                                                                      (Boston) Mohr: The Sea. February 20 and 25, 1884. (1)(3)                                   (Boston) Osgood: Proposal. April 29 and May 4, 1885 (1)(3) and February 10, 1886, and May 4, 1886. (1)                                                                                              (Boston) Paine: Summons to Love. April 26 and May 2, 1882. (1) –Brainard’s Musical World, June 1882, 93.                                                                                   (World) Parker, J. C. D.: The Blind King for baritone solo, male chorus and orchestra. “Written for the Apollo Club.” April 25, 1883. Program-Johnston Collection. Repeated April 29 and May 4, 1885. (1)                                                 (Boston) Raff: Italian Suite. December 3 and 8, 1884. BPL Reviews.             (Boston) St.-Saens: The Soldiers of Gideon. February 11 and 16, 1885. (1)(3) (World) Strong, Templeton: The Knights and the Naiads. February 19 and 24, 1890. Written for the Club.                                                                                        (Boston) Strong, Templeton: The Trumpeter. February 20, 1888. From the program. Johnston Collection.                                                                                (World) Thayer: Sea Greeting. February 16 and 23, 1887. (1)(3) Not available ILL.                                                                                                                                       (Boston) Thayer: Heinz von Stein. April 27 and May 2, 1887. (1)(3) Not available ILL.                                                                                                                   (Boston) Wagner: “Chorus of Sailors” from the last act of Flying Dutchman. December 7 and 12, 1881. Advertiser updated review.                                                     (World) Whiting: Free Lances. “Written for the Apollo Club.” April 25, 1883. Program-Johnston Collection. Also February 11, 1891.                                 (Boston) Whiting: Henry of Navarre. April 29 and May 4, 1885. (1)(3) Also February 19, 1890.                                                                                                         (Boston) Whiting: Overture to The Princess for orchestra. April 30 and May 1884. (BPL Reviews)                                                                                                       (Boston) Zoellner: The Feast of the Vine in Blossom. April 30 and May 2, 1884. (1)(3)                                                                                                                                      (Boston) Zoellner: Young Siegfried. February 11 and 16, 1885. (1)(3)

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MIDDLE YEARS: 1881-1891.

For Lang, the years 1881-1891 were a period of continued artistic growth. His two choral groups were well established and receiving fine reviews. Both choirs featured premiers with The Cecilia giving thirty-seven and the Apollo Club presenting thirty-five. Included among these were first performances of his own compositions and also those of his daughter, Margaret. He continued his solo career with performances with the newly formed Boston Symphony Orchestra. For his advanced piano pupils be organized concerto concerts so that they also would have the experience of performing with an orchestra. He continued in his support of his former piano teacher, Franz Liszt, and of his friend Richard Wagner.

MENDELSSOHN: SON AND STRANGER.

1881 saw the first Boston complete performance with full orchestra of Mendelssohn’s youthful operetta Son and Stranger at the Boston Museum in aid of the fund for the proposed Hospital for Convalescents. Lang had conducted the American premiere in May 1876 using just piano accompaniment. That performance had also been for a charity event. For this concert Mrs. E. Humphrey-Allen sang Lisbeth, “with a sweet, pure voice and a cheerful grace,” and Miss Louie Homer sang Ursula (contralto) “in tones fraught with the melancholy of an anxious mother…The chorus was made up of fresh, refined voices, amateurs, and the accompaniments were nicely played. (Dwight (May 7, 1881): 85).

FRANZ LISZT DINNER.

Lang organized a dinner in October to honor the 70th. Birthday of his teacher, Franz Liszt. “As a result of several meeting of ladies and gentlemen” who shared this goal, “it has been decided that a dinner at THE BRUNSWICK on the 21st at 6 PM would be the most practical plan to adopt. It is also intended that appropriate music shall be performed…The price of the dinner will not exceed three dollars for each person, exclusive of wines.” The date of this notice was October 10th., and people were asked to contact a committee member before the 19th.! The members were: B. J. Lang, 156 Tremont Street; Miss Jessie Cochrane, Hotel Vendome; W. H. Sherwood, 157 Tremont Street; L. C. Elson, Roxbury and F. H. Jenks, Transcript Office.

At the dinner “General Henry K. Oliver presided, and there were addresses by B. J. Lang, W. H. Sherwood, C. C. Perkins, L. C. Elson, and others. The most interesting features of the evening, however, was [sic] the performances of some of Liszt’s works by John Orth, Louis Maas, Gustave Satter, Mr. Sherwood, Carlyle Petersilea and other pianists, and Miss Therese Liebe, the violinist, and the singing of some of the composer’s songs by Mrs. Henry M. Rogers (formerly Miss Clara Doria), Mrs. Henschel and Miss Abbott. Mr. Lang, Mr. Henschel and Mr. G. W. Sumner were the accompanists.” (Brainard’s (December 1881): 189)

BOSTON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA AND LANG.

Henry Lee Higginson.

In 1914, when the founder of the BSO, Henry Lee Higginson was eighty years old, he wrote to the then members of the BSO concerning the founding of the orchestra. He began by reviewing the two and one-half years he spent as a music student in Vienna. This experience created a desire “that our own country should have such fine orchestras” as he heard in Europe. He returned to Boston, took part in the Civil War, married, became successful in business, and “at the end of two very good years of business began concerts in the fall of 1881. It seemed best to undertake the matter single-handed, and, beyond one fine gift from a dear friend, I have borne the costs alone…It seemed clear that an orchestra of fair size and under possible conditions would cost at least $20,000 [c. $350,000 today] a year more than the public would pay. therefore, I expected this deficit each year…It was a large sum of money, which depended on my business each year and on the public. If the concert halls were filled, that would help me; if my business went well, that would help me; and the truth is, that the great public stood by me nobly.” (Perry, Life and Letters of Henry Lee Higginson, 291 and 292)

Boston was ready for this orchestra in 1881 as “forty-years” preparation of the Boston musical public” had been done by other groups. In 1840 J. S. Dwight had written of a dream of “an orchestra worthy to execute the grand works of Haydn and Mozart.” The Academy of Music concerts in the 1840s led to the Musical Fund Society and then to the Germania Orchestra concerts of the 1850s. The building of the Boston Music Hall led to the orchestra concerts of the Harvard Musical Association and the Philharmonic Society of the 1860s and 70s. The visits of Theodore Thomas’s orchestra to Boston also added to the preparedness for the BSO. (Ibid, 297) But, “The professional symphony orchestra operating on a full-time basis with a series of established concerts running weekly (or nearly so) throughout the winter season from October to April-not an opera orchestra that gives occasional concerts, or a mixed orchestra of professionals with nonprofessionals, or an ensemble that performs monthly or less-is an American invention. Henry Lee Higginson’s creation of the Boston Symphony Orchestra is the earliest full-fledged example.” (Ledbetter, “Higginson and Chadwick,” American Music, Spring 2001: 52) The pay scale was “$3 for each rehearsal and $6 for each concert.” (Boston Record American (October 25, 1881): 13, GB)

During the first years of the Boston Symphony Lang appeared as piano soloist in five seasons – “83 and “84 under Henschel and “85, “86, and “89 under Gericke. He also appeared as an organist during the “83 Season. (Howe, BSO, 253) He had been scheduled to make his BSO debut at the fourth concert of the first season, but illness forced him to cancel. (BSO Website)

However Lang made the B. S. O January 1883 concerts playing Rubinstein’s Third Piano Concerto, and the Polacca Brilliante by Weber, orchestrated by Liszt conducted by Georg Henschel. Lang had done the American première of the Rubinstein with the Harvard Musical Association on February 1, 1872. (Johnson, First, 302) The reviews were mostly very positive. The Courier began: “The concerto was the best performed of last night’s concert. Mr. Lang played with greater ease and steadier shading than at the recent Philharmonic Concert…In the Polacca the lighter passages were very daintily rendered, but the heavier portions demanded something of Neupert’s bravura style. More power was needed.” (Courtesy of the Boston Symphony Orchestra Archives) The Globe said of Lang: “He was received with evident satisfaction and unmistakable enthusiasm. Rubinstein’s Concerto for the Pianoforte in G afforded him an excellent opportunity to exhibit the rich results of training and study. After the performance of the concerto, he was recalled twice.” (Ibid) The Evening Transcript of Monday, January 3, 1883 contained the confession of the reviewer’s “absolute inability to feel any enthusiasm for Rubinstein’s concerto. It is a work that has always left us cold.” The review ended with: “In the Weber-Liszt Polacca we were carried away at once by both player and music. The performance was utterly superb.” (Ibid)

In March 1884 Lang played the American premiere of the Brahms Second Piano Concerto. Apthorp’s review in the Transcript hailed Brahms who “has given to the world the “great concerto for which it has been waiting so long; a work which can fairly be called fit companion to the Beethoven and Schumann concertos.” (Johnson, Op. cit., 84) The work had its world premiered with Brahms as the soloist in 1881; this is yet another example of Lang being incredibly aware of what was new and worthy. The Evening Transcript was enthusiastic about the Brahms, writing: “The better one becomes acquainted with the works of this wonderful man, the firmer faith has one that each new composition of his will bring with it a fresh revelation of true power and greatness… This truly great concerto found in Mr. Lang a thoroughly able and sympathetic interpreter. As this was decidedly the severest task Mr. Lang has imposed upon himself for years…He overcame the technical difficulties of the work without the appearance of effort—which, on the whole, does not happen to him too often. In the higher artistic sense, too, he rose to the full height of his task. Such exhaustive rendering of a great and noble work is rare; such exquisite finish and beauty of detail work, united with such noble breadth of style, such genuine depth of sentiment, and such ample totality of conception.” (Courtesy of the Boston Symphony Orchestra Archives)

In February 1885, during the B. S. O. fourth season Lang played Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 (just under ten years after having conducted the world premiere in Boston). The Home Journal (probably C. L. Capen) devoted about ninety percent of its attention to the concerto. The writer spent half of his space telling why he didn’t like the work, and then, in a most convoluted manner, described Lang’s performance. Fault was found with his tone, but praise was given for “his nice sense of phrasing.” The Globe noted that the concerto “held the closest attention of the audience. Mr. Lang’s clean touch and artistic interpretation gave this well-known concerto [well known only ten years after its world premiere!] new life, the last movement being especially fine.” (Globe Archive, (February 22, 1885): 3) A review with the headline of “The Nineteenth Symphony Concert” began by noting that the concerto “has been occasionally played” in Boston since its premier, [certainly a different position than the one taken in the previous review] but the reviewer found only small aspects of the work to approve of. “The orchestra did excellent work, and Mr. Lang, who was the pianist, was often strong, clear, sure and effective, although at times his natural nervousness seemed to prevent his doing his best, as an occasional inexactitude in the many double octave passages and dispersed harmonies indicated. The full chords of the introductions were sharply and positively struck, and in the andantino he read smoothly and lightly.” The Gazette review was probably written by Woolf who could never find anything positive to say about Lang. “The soloist was Mr. B. J. Lang, who played Tchaikovsky’s Concerto for Piano, Op. 23, a work which, the better one becomes acquainted with it, the more pretentious it seems, and the more frivolous and vulgar it is in effect. Of Mr. Lang’s playing there is not a great deal to be said. There was much jumping of hands from the keyboard, much that was spasmodic in style and effect, and but little that was clear…This restless dancing up and down of the hands at last became a distracting feature of the performance…The best effects were achieved in the first half of the opening movement and in the middle of the andante. He was received with great heartiness on his first appearance, and at the end of the concert was applauded and recalled with no less enthusiasm.” [Which must have really upset the reviewer] (All quotes taken from reviews-Courtesy of the Boston Symphony Orchestra Archives)

Lang appeared early in January 1886 (Fifth Season) as soloist in Saint-Saens Rhapsodie d’Auvergne for Piano, Opus 73 (whose premiere performance had been in early December 1884). In such a short period of thirteen months, how did Lang learn about this piece, decide to learn the piece, and find a performing group interested in the piece? These concerts, conducted by William Gericke, the second B. S. O. conductor, produced the following critical notice in the January 4 issue of the Traveler: “It seemed quite a natural thing that the novelty of the concert should be put into Mr. Lang’s hands to interpret; that it was a composition by St. Saens is another coincidence. The Rhapsodie d’Auvergne is the latest thing which we have heard from its composer…The piano is never unduly prominent, nor is the orchestration as bizarre as one might excuse under so fantastic a title. Mr. Lang enjoyed his part of the work and made it very delightful. This time the artist could lose himself in the virtuoso and read the notes for what they were on the surface. The piece was enjoyed by the audience, and Mr. Lang’s recalls were warm and hearty.” The Courier reviewer wrote: “The Rhapsodie d’Auvergne, by Saint-Saens proved to be a spirited idealization of striking folk songs for the piano, in good classical form, however, and with some good thematic development… Mr. Lang took it at a dashing pace, giving much verve to the composition, yet never becoming unclear. What with the catchy glissando effects, the sparkling themes and the sharp contrasts, the work and the pianist won much favor, and Mr. Lang received a double recall of the heartiest character.” (Ibid)

On March 22 and 23, 1889, together with Franz Kneisel, violin and Fritz Giese, cello, Lang was the piano soloist in Beethoven’s Triple Concerto. This was his last appearance as a soloist with the B. S. O. The Times wrote: “There is a good reason why the Beethoven concerto is seldom heard; it requires of the soloists the greatest breadth of style and most thorough virtuosity, and yet offers no opportunity for brilliancy and display. It was grandly given. The tone of Mr. Giese’s ‘cello was not as of yore, but in matters of execution all the players deserved more than the generous applause which they received.” The Transcript wrote: “The ‘triple’ concerto is not often heard. It is indifferently forceful, though it has moments of the real Beethoven. Barring Mr. Lang’s too great delicacy, the ensemble was admirable; strictures on the manner in which the work was read cannot rest; it was, from a musical point of view, a superior performance. The concert gave great pleasure to a very large audience.” The Globe presented a very extensive review. “The concerto was Exquisitely Played, the soloists chosen being Mr. Kneisel, Mr. Giese and Mr. Lang… It would be a difficult task to find anyone else to play the piano part as Mr. Lang played it, and close upon an impossibility to have it better rendered. His long experience in accompaniment and the truly modest spirit with which he always subordinates piano or organ to the singer or the player whom he has to support, here stood him in good stead, while his technical command of the delicious toned Chickering he used, enabled him to make his attitude appreciated by his hearers. There was always tone enough to give the piano part its consequence, but never did the instrument, which can so easily override others, dominate… The whole second movement was a beautiful exemplification of how such a support should be given, and, in brief, the solo work as a whole illustrated the best kind of ensemble playing.” The Home Journal said first that “the concert was absolutely without a dull moment,” and then continued: “In their treatment of this work, Messrs. Lang, Giese and Kneisel played with all their characteristic earnestness, care and intelligence.” (Home Journal  (March 23, 1889): 12)

ETHELBERT NEVIN.  

One of Lang’s notable pupils was Ethelbert Nevin. He arrived in Boston in 1881 at the age of eighteen, and immediately “sought out the man who stood at the top of his profession in the Boston of that day, B. J. Lang, a pupil of Von Bulow and Liszt.” (Thompson, Life of Nevin, 23) Nevin wrote to his mother “Mr. Lang was busy in his room. I went and sat outside, as I was too early. Soon he came out, welcomed me, took me into his room and asked me to play-in this manner: ‘Now I want you to amuse me, not as if I were to be your instructor, but as if I were some fellow you were entertaining.’ I played that little Album Leaf of Kirchner’s. He said: ‘Very interesting: now play me something else.’ So I played that Romance of Schumann’s. He said: ‘Very interesting indeed. Now play me something frivolous.’ I suggested Olivette, but he said: ‘No, not quite so frivolous. ’So I played Winklemann’s Schottische-a scale two or three times: then he remarked: ‘You are very interesting’ (His favorite expression, I presume.) ‘Very, indeed, and you play with an immense amount of expression. Your manner of playing is graceful, light and rippling, but you lack aplomb and firmness. I am going to take an interest in you –you have inspired it and if you will be patient and bear with me for six lessons, I will make you feel satisfied with yourself.’ So he gave me some of the stupidest, meanest exercises by Cramer. The ones I took in Dresden were simply paradise to these. Mr. Lang said: ‘Now practice this one (marking one) for two hours every day and this scale I have written for you an hour and a half, if you get time.’ well, his writing looks more like hieroglyphics than anything else I have ever seen, so it took me a long time to figure it out. I am to go back again on Monday. He invited me to go to the St. Cecilia Club tonight. He wields the baton there, you know.” (Thompson, Op. cit., 24)

These “stupidest, meanest exercises” were a central part of Lang’s teaching method. He had translated into English Hans von Bulow’s edition of the Fifty Selected Piano-Studies by J. B. Cramer (1771-1858) which was published in 1877 by Oliver Ditson in Boston and went through many printings; possibly Lang and von Bulow had discussed this project two years earlier when they had collaborated on the world premiere of the Tchaikovsky First Piano Concerto. Obviously other teachers thought highly of the Cramer exercises, for as late as 1927 G. Schirmer in New York City published another edition translated by Albert R. Parsons and B. Boekelman and “newly revised by Dr. Theodore Baker.” The ILL World Catalog shows new editions of this work dated as late as 1989!

Lang also took a personal interest in Nevin and introduced him to another pianist his own age, and encouraged him to make use of “a room in the upper part of this building full of the choicest and finest music ever published. A legacy left by a wealthy person for the use of students. You could practice there, (in the Burrage Room). Here are two Chickering grands. You and Mr. Smith could play duets for two pianos.” (Thompson,  Op. cit., 25) Nevin continues his letter with a description of Lang’s studio. “Mr. Lang’s room is a curiosity. It is very small…In it are two pianos and a dumb keyboard. He sits at the piano back of mine, the keyboard not quite so high. Then he has a high bookcase filled with music, two writing desks, a sofa and a hundred and one beautiful things lying about the room. A great many fine engravings and music manuscripts of great composers and so forth.” (Thompson, Op. cit., 25-26) By the middle of September Nevin is writing that Lang “is very nice but he gets angry sometimes: however I expect to get along very well with him.” (Thompson, Op. cit., 26) After the first six lessons, mainly concerned with exercises, Lang then gave Nevin a song by Rubinstein, transcribed with variations by Liszt. Nevin can soon report that in addition to his good progress in harmony with Stephen A. Emery, “Mr. Lang also told me that I am doing well.” (Thompson, Op. cit., 27) After only six weeks he had become Lang’s favorite pupil, but in November he writes that “Am still at five-finger exercises – eight weeks of them.” (Thompson, Op. cit., 29)

The devotion of both teacher and pupil is reflected in the fact that Nevin’s lesson on Thanksgiving Day lasted from twelve until one-fifteen. By December, after various etudes had been mastered, Mendelssohn’s Concerto in B Flat was studied, and after only one week of practice on this piece, Nevin received his first genuine compliment from his teacher: “After I had finished playing, he said: ‘When did I give you that?’ My last lesson,’ I replied. ‘I thought so,’ he answered, ‘but fancied I must be mistaken, as you played it so well! ’” (Thompson, Op. cit., 30) The next repertoire assigned was Bach’s well-Tempered Clavier, and the usual practice period was eight hours a day. Nevin also was asked to play the cymbals in the orchestra at the Cecilia performance of the Berlioz Requiem given on Sunday, February 12th. at the Music Hall (Lang used three other piano pupils for bass drum, triangle, and tenor drum).

Howard quotes from one of Nevin’s November letters: “Mr. Lang asked me if I cared to hear him practice, so I met him this evening at Chickering’s after the Handel and Haydn. He played until ten o’clock on a Rubinstein Concerto, which he is going to play at one of the Philharmonic Concerts. I am going to have the second piano part with him! Just think of playing with such an artist! He is without exception the cleanest, broadest and most truly artistic (in every sense of the word) pianist I have yet heard. He does not stoop to any of the little tricks that are effective but not artistic. He is too much of a man for that.” (Howard, Nevin, 35)

Leaving Boston in April 1882, Nevin returned the following September and following Lang’s advice advertised for pupils. He wrote home that “It is very hard to get pupils when there are 275 teachers who have been here at least five years, and twenty-eight of Mr. Lang’s pupils also give lessons; and then there are Mr. Lang and Mr. Sherwood who teach, not counting hundreds of pupils at the Conservatory. All Mr. Lang’s pupils play as well, and many of them better than I.” (Thompson, Op. cit., 33)

Even in his second year of study, the hateful five-finger exercises were continued for building technique, but this led to an invitation to play at a Cecilia concert, “and this morning Mr. Lang told me I had done splendidly and that I had played much better MY first time, than did many of his ‘brag’ pupils.” (Thompson, Op. cit., 36)

After two years with Lang, Nevin spent the next two winters in Pittsburgh, teaching piano, composing, and giving concerts. Lang came to Pittsburgh to play the Saint-Saens Concerto in G Minor with his former pupil who was now twenty-one years old! Nevin went to Europe in August 1884, settling in Berlin; the summer of 1885 was spent back at Vineacre, near Pittsburgh, and then he returned to Berlin for another year of study. In November of 1886 he returned to America settling again in Pittsburgh, but by early 1887 he was back in Boston, and by March he was playing “at the second of Mr. Lang’s concerts in Chickering Hall, playing the Liszt Concerto in E flat major, with orchestra.” (Thompson, 79 ) This concert was a great success as was a concert that included some of Nevin’s own works given a few days later on March 11.

Ethelbert Nevin

 

(1) From Elson, 249 and Thompson, 83 where it mentions that this photo was from 1887 when Nevin was about 25.   (2) Thompson, facing the title page. 

LANG AS B.S.O. CONDUCTOR.

Some friends of Lang thought that he should be considered for the conductorship of the newly formed Symphony. They based this expectation on his fine service to the Boston musical community through his leadership of the Apollo Club and Cecilia, and also the fact that Lang had conducted the Tchaikovsky premier with such success. Fox feels that Lang’s “amazingly steadfast and loyal personality traits may have kept him from achieving some things,” (Fox, Papers, 12) She quotes Apthorp as saying that “In the dark days of the Harvard Musical Association, and some years before Mr. Henry L. Higginson had founded the present Boston Symphony Orchestra, Lang might easily have made a coup d’etat and swept the whole orchestral field in Boston single-handed. He was particularly ambitious to conduct an orchestra; he was at the time the strongest musical power within the public in the whole city and was perfectly well aware of that fact. He had never failed in anything he had undertaken and could be sure of all the financial backing he needed. He might have established annual courses of symphony concerts on his own account, and might have postponed Mr. Higginson’s enterprise for several years. No sane man who knows what the times then were in Boston and what Lang was, can doubt this for a moment. He, for one, was sure of it. But he was a member of the Harvard Musical Association, was on its concert and programme committees, and his loyalty to it would not allow him to take any step in antagonistic competition with the Harvard.” (Fox, Op. cit., 10)

HENSCHEL AND THE B. S. O.

Lillian and Georg Henschel. Boston Symphony Archive.

Georg Henschel, whose early career was as a bass vocalist, often gave vocal recitals with his wife, Lillian June Bailey, a soprano; B. J. often acted as their accompanist. In fact, Lang had presented Bailey’s Boston debut “in the spring of 1876, when [she was] only just sixteen years old” in a concert that also included Arthur Foote. “These two men… had from that time taken a most kindly interest in the young lady, whose rare talent, earnestness, and charming personality had greatly impressed them.” (Henschel, Musings, 268) Henschel described Lang as a “thorough and enthusiastic musician, broadminded, tactful, of great general culture and a rare kindness of heart, he was the acknowledged leader of the musical community of Boston.” (Ibid) Henschel also stated that “I doubt if without them [Lang and Foote] I should have come out of the first season of the Boston Symphony alive” as even though he had the complete support of Mr. Higginson, the attitude of the press was not of “enthusiasm or… universal approval.” (Henschel, Op. cit., 270)

Thus the Langs and the Henschels quickly became close musical and family friends, and so it would concern the Langs that Georg was continuing to have problems as conductor of the BSO. Henschel felt that Lang was a major booster who helped him survive his first year conducting in Boston. Early in 1882 “Athenian”, the Boston correspondent for Brainard’s Musical World wrote: “The critics pretty generally have found fault with Mr. Henschel’s conducting, and now his friends have come forward with long communications to the newspapers, criticizing and abusing the critics. A very nice little quarrel is being worked up which promises to shake Boston as profoundly as did the little tea disturbance a little over a century ago…The friends of the gentleman are very foolish in denying the right of the newspapermen to criticize him as Zerrahn, Listemann, Maas and others have been criticized.” (Brainard (January 1882): 13)

In the face of the BSO, other orchestras continued to present concerts, at least for a while. By January 1882 the Philharmonic Society conducted by Dr. Maas had presented two concerts, and the HMA Orchestra conducted by Zerrahn was scheduled to begin early in February with a series of five. (Ibid) The Philharmonic Society continued into the spring of 1883. By May it had given “seven concerts and seven public rehearsals.” The 1882-83 BSO Season had a total of 26 concerts and 26 public rehearsals. (Brainard (May 1883): 76)

In February 1883 “Atheian” was again writing about the BSO. An “unharmonious subject which is agitating musical circles here at present is the question, ”Is Mr. Henschel likely ever to become a great conductor?” The answer in most quarters has been in the negative.” The writer then speaks of a Schubert Great C Major performance that was the “tamest possible” and a Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony that was “the worst performance” of the piece that he had ever heard.” “Athenian” felt that part of the problem was the placement of the orchestra with the strings divided and the basses placed “at the front of the stage where their tone overpowers all else, and sounds raspy enough to suggest a sawmill…The concerts of the Philharmonic Society, under Zerrahn, with a smaller orchestra, with fewer famous musicians in its ranks are achieving fine artistic results.” (Brainard (February 1883): 29)

SIXTH CECILIA SEASON. 1881-1882.

The opening concert of the Cecilia’s Sixth Season was given at Tremont Temple on Wednesday, November 30, 1881.There was just one work on the program, a first Boston performance of Cinderella by Heinrich Hofmann (the American premier had been in Milwaukee on December 4, 1879-another example of Lang being on top of new works). The English translation was printed, but no program notes of any kind were provided. The Herald noted that the work was given without orchestra, and that while it “abounds in pleasing, flowing melodies, it has little variety, and the absence of any strong dramatic elements makes it, on the whole, rather a spiritless production…Mr. Lang’s thorough work was plainly shown in the success attending the numbers for chorus.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1) The Musical Herald felt that the work was “no more [than] a succession of pleasant part-songs, chiefly in dance and march rhythms. It was finely performed by the Cecilia Club, but the lack of an orchestra made the work seem rather colorless.” (Musical Herald (January 1882): 5)  The back page advertised the group’s next concert: the Berlioz Requiem to be given Sunday Evening February 12, 1882 at the Music Hall. (Program, Johnston Collection) The first American performance had been in New York just the year before. (Op. cit., 68) In this same issue of the Musical Herald it was reported that the Boylston Club had performed the Messe Solennelle of Gounod, “but the lack of orchestra and thinness in tenor and soprano parts caused the work to fail of making a deep impression.” (Ibid)

On Sunday evening February 12, 1882 at the Music Hall, Cecilia presented the first Boston performance of the Requiem by Berlioz. The Post review noted: “Although written in 1836 and performed in the Church of the Invalides, Paris, in 1837, yet no attempt was made to produce it in this country until last May [led by Dr. Damrosch] when it was made a special attraction at the festival in New York. The effort then made, though creditable, was not satisfactory, and the Cecilia determined to produce it in Boston during the present season…The club numbered some 300 voices…To produce the orchestral effects required by the composer, the full orchestra was supplemented by a grand array of trumpets, trombones, horns and kettle drums, which were located in the first balcony on either side of the extended platform.” At the end of the final section “the audience remained quiet and cheerfully accorded their careful attention, and at proper intervals expressed their appreciation of the great success attained.” (Cecilia Reviews) The review in the Transcript began by calling the performance “a triumph” led by “its progressive leader” to which the audience paid “closest attention…Chorus and orchestra performed their respective tasks with commendable enthusiasm and devotion. The execution was not free from error, but these were few, and were in no case glaringly offensive.” (Cecilia Reviews) The Musical Herald wrote: “The chorus sang excellently, especially when we consider that Berlioz is merciless in his treatment of voices in this work as ever Beethoven was, the Ninth Symphony not excepted. But there was no trace of screaming even on the high B’s, and the tempi and attacks were sure and steady…The orchestras were generally sure, and the great passages for brasses before the “Tuba Mirum” were effectively thundered forth.” (Musical Herald (March 1882): 75)

First performances continued with the Boston premiere of Schumann’s Requiem for Mignon, Op. 98b on Wednesday, April 12, 1882. However, the work most cited by the reviewers was Lang’s own song, The Chase, a hunting song sung by Mr. J. F. Winch “with spirit, but without any especial shading. It is a bright, dashing composition, with the usual empty fifths, etc.,” but it produced the only call for an encore that evening. Another review described Lang’s song as “full of the oxygen of out-door life as intensified and concentrated by exciting sport. The piano accompaniment (played by Mr. Lang) pictures brilliantly the dash and impetuous rush of the riders to be ‘in at the death.’ Mr. Winch’s singing of the song was most effective, and he was compelled by the applause to repeat its closing lines.” However, another reviewer wrote: “The chief fault of his work was that there was no lightness in the repetition of the opening phrase.” well, a critic has to be critical it seems even, even if it refers to only one phrase. (Cecilia Reviews.) Another critic was more enthusiastic: “The Chase was the most striking number of the programme, and the setting…fitted the abilities of the singer so happily that the audience was thoroughly aroused by the brilliancy of the composition and the spirited style of its rendering… Mr. Lang’s piano accompaniment was quite as effective as the singing of the vocalist, but he modestly declined to acknowledge the enthusiastic applause following the number.” (Herald (April 13, 1882): 5, GB)    One of the instrumental pieces was a Romance for Piano, Organ and Violin by Saint Saens played by Mr. J. Phippen, Mr. John A. Preston and Mr. Gustav Dannreuther in “excellent taste.” This was another of Lang’s recent discoveries as it had just been published a few years before. The women’s voices performed In Name They Shall Rejoice by the BSO conductor Georg Henschel, “a composition of rare beauty.” (Ibid) However, the “Benedictus” from Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis was “particularly ineffective in the interpretation given it by soloists and chorus alike.” (Ibid)

Johnston Collection.

The fourth and final concert of the season was on Wednesday evening, May 10, 1882 at Tremont Temple with full orchestra and Boston Symphony Orchestra conductor, Georg Henschel as the primary soloist in Odysseus by Max Bruch. The Musical Herald wrote: “They have given the work before, but never with such sustained excellence as on this occasion…Mr. Henschel sang the part of Odysseus gloriously…The choruses were flawless in the choral parts. It was one of the best performances the club has ever give.” (Musical Herald (June 1882): 159) The Advertiser repeated this praise for the choir and Henschel, but did note: “The chorus sang with generally admirable power and expression, but often with hesitation of attack that evidently gave Mr. Lang some anxiety and him to an unusual vehemence in his calisthenics of conductorship. Some of the more sudden and vigorous passages were nearly ruined by this uncertainty of attack. The orchestral work was so good in almost every particular that it would be hard to suggest how it could have been bettered. The balance between orchestra and singers was planned with excellent judgment and maintained unswervingly.” (Advertiser, Cecilia Reviews) The Musical Herald wrote: “They have given the work before, but never with such sustained excellence as on this occasion…Mr. Henschel sang the part of Odysseus gloriously…The choruses were flawless in the choral parts. It was one of the best performances the club has ever give.” (Musical Herald (June 1882): 159)

President Thorndike’s Annual Report on June 8, 1882 noted how much the group had grown artistically in the last five years. “Five years ago we were distrustful of our own voices, afraid of being overcrowded by an orchestra, unacquainted with each other, and therefore lacking the unity and clearness only acquired by long singing together. We were feeble in some parts and unbalanced. In short, we were beginners,” whereas in 1882 the choir “have no apology to make” in any of these areas, and this was due to the dedication of the singing members, the support of the associate members and “last, but not least, to the unfailing energy, judgment, taste, and skill of out leader.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1)

By 1882, membership in the choir was a privilege: “No one can be admitted to its ranks who does not pledge unintermittent attendance upon rehearsals. These conditions secure very choice gratification to the aristocratic clique who sustain the enterprise,” and serve as a testament to the talents of its conductor. (HMA Program Clippings, Musical American, (June 3, 1882)

Lang ‘s illustration for the 1882 Musical Boston.

ELEVENTH APOLLO CLUB SEASON. 1881-1882.

The December 7 and 12, 1881 concerts had the famous violinist Camilla Urso as one of the assisting artists. George Sumner opened the program with an organ solo, the “Andante and Fugue” from Judas Maccabeus by Handel. Every item in the concert except one was new to the choir and most were first performances in Boston. The Advertiser called the pieces “all of sterling worth.” (Advertiser) The choir’s pianist, John A. Preston was singled out for “unstinting praise.” (Ibid)  Madame Urso and the tenor soloist, Mr. Theodore J. Toedt (Boston singing teacher, 1853-1920) performed most of the new pieces. The Journal noted: “The singing of the soloists was very fine, especially that of Mr. Toedt, who showed himself to be an artist of power as well as finish.” (Journal)  The choir premiered the Woodcock Song by V. Lachner, King Olaf’s Christmas by Dudley Buck and the “Chorus of Sailors” from the beginning of the last act of Flying Dutchman by Wagner. (Ibid) The music of the Buck was “strikingly interesting on a first hearing.” (Ibid) The Home Journal mentioned that the program contained  “more things of a substantial, noble character than has been usual in programmes mostly made up of part songs.” (Home Journal) The Journal took the opposite position: “In spite of the excellence of the evening’s performance, however, a feeling would creep in that the club might be doing the cause of music still better service. With a corps of such fine singers, it should be possible to produce some great compositions, and it is hoped that this will be done before the season closes.” (Journal)

   John Knowles Paine. (1839-1906) Howard, facing 315.

Would pieces by Harvard’s J. K. Paine qualify as “great compositions?” For the February 15 and 20, 1882 concerts the choir sang three choruses from Paine’s Oedipus Tyrannus. “Every new experience with this delightful music enhances the admiration of it.” (Home Journal) The first half ended with Mendelssohn’s Overture-Athalie. B. J. had the idea of adding an organ part to the last section which produced a “thrilling effect.” (Ibid) However, the Transcript noted, “it’s mighty voice [was] much out of tune.” (Transcript) This paper also took notice of the fact that “The presence of an orchestra has now become almost a matter of course at the Apollo concerts,” and it went on concerning the Paine, “The first fine impression made by the music last year in Cambridge is only strengthened by repeated hearings. It seems to us that, of all the fine things Mr. Paine has done, this music is the finest.” (Ibid) The final piece was the March of the Monks of Bangor by G. E. Whiting that the choir had premiered the previous season.  Perhaps the suggestion that the piece be performed every year was to be taken! However, the Transcript review was not as enthusiastic as other reviews calling the work uneven “Every now and then a weak place appears with unexpected suddenness.” (Transcript, Op. cit.)

Elson, 268.

There were only three concerts in the 1881-1882 season with the third set being held on April 26 and May 1882 with full orchestra accompaniment. The major work was Salamis by Max Bruch for double male chorus and orchestra; “a rich and impressive piece of writing, finely scored and masterly in effect.” (Gazette) One premier of the evening was Summons to Love, Opus 37 by J. K. Paine that was written expressly for the Apollo Club. “It is a strong and vigorous work, abundant in poetic feeling, and fully in harmony with the poem to which it is set. In breadth of design and depth of sentiment, we think it is superior to any of the composer’s previous efforts in the same direction.” (Ibid) Another premier was the part song by Mr. Henschel, The King and the Poet. “It is not the most pleasing of the works we have heard from the same source, and is more remarkable for its ingenuities of harmonic progression than for its clearness of design or its beauty of theme.” (Ibid) “Dux” wrote: “The Apollo Club gave a fine concert April 26th. at the Music Hall. Several new works were brought out and the cream of the old stock. Of the new works (to Boston) I was thrilled by the power and nobility of Bruch’s Salamis, which I consider to be far more spontaneous than the same composers Roman Song of Triumph. Another grand work was Paine’s Summons to Love…A new part song by Mr. Henschel showed the composer in his best light. He unites counterpoint and melodic feeling in a manner like that of Robert Franz. The singing  was of the best quality, as it always is with the finest of vocal clubs.” (Brainard’s (June 1882): 93)

The Transcript recorded: “Of the singing of the club what can be said but that they sang with all their accustomed perfection, and with even more than their wonted fire. Mr. Lang has now brought the chorus to the point that enables one to write, as the Leipzig critics do of the Gewandhaus orchestra, ‘The performance was perfect, as usual.’” (Transcript) A review dated May 1, 1882 in a New York publication rated the chorus very highly; “The Apollo sing as no other club in America or (to my knowledge) anywhere else can sing. I wish that some of your Knickerbocker aristocracy could induce them to give one of their private concerts in New York. I assure you it would be a musical treat beyond anything that Boston has yet sent you.”(Apollo Reviews)

DAMNATION OF FAUST.

1882 saw yet another presentation of Berlioz’s Damnation of Faust, this time “for the benefit of the Associated Charities of Boston.” Held on Monday evening March 24th at the Music Hall, the soloists were “Mrs. Henschel, Mr. Charles R. Adams, Mr. Henschel and Mr. Sebastian Schlesinger” and “an orchestral of unusual size.” Even with his heavy schedule as conductor of the BSO, Georg Henschel appeared with other Boston groups and also presented vocal recitals (where he sometimes also acted as accompanist) There were fewer sectional rehearsals for the chorus this time: only one for the ladies, and three for the men with two full orchestral/choir/soloists rehearsals. “It is thought that with the rehearsals so near together, an exceptionally good performance could be given by singers who already know the music.” (BPL Lang Prog.)

FIDELIO.

On Wednesday evening, March 29, 1882 at 7:45 PM Lang presented a concert performance of Beethoven’s Fidelio with full chorus and orchestra at the Music Hall. Among the six soloists, the most notable was Georg Henschel.  Seats were $1.50 (BPL Lang Prog.) He also advertised a Public Rehearsal for the afternoon before with tickets at 50 cents. The Herald had done a short notice about five weeks before which mentioned that the mixed choir would have 150 voices while the male choir would number 100 “invited from the private singing clubs of the city.” (Herald (February 19, 1882): 3, GB) Critical coverage was scant. For these types of events, Lang acted as producer-hiring the hall, engaging and rehearsing the musicians, arranging for ticket sales, and all the other elements of the concert. He also could keep all the profits!

LANG’S MUSICAL POSITION IN BOSTON.

An 1882 article written by Louis Elson summed up B. J.’s position in Musical Boston. “B. J. Lang has been mentioned before in this short [short!-six pages, three columns per page, very fine print] chronicle, in connection with the Handel and Haydn Society. His influence at their concerts for the last twenty-two years has been an important and influential one. His power in Boston’s music has always been exerted for good, and even in the days of Dresel, Kreissmann and Leonhard was felt in the counsels which preceded every important movement. It was he who first suggested the great series of Harvard Symphony Concerts; it was he who more than any other held the programs up to their first high level; he has also been one of the leading subscribers since the beginning of the series. It was his influence which brought out in Boston for the first time the great pianoforte concertos of Bach, and most of those of Schumann, Mendelssohn, and Beethoven, as well as the works of the newer school, the concertos of Rubinstein, St. Saens, Bronsart, etc. For the past ten years, he has been in the habit of giving a series of pianoforte concerts, the present season forming the only exception. He has given five different sets of symphony concerts, and in these has always followed the good German idea of a large orchestra in a small hall, so that no possible effect should be lost. He is one of the very few American musicians who have given concerts abroad with success. He has appeared as pianist in Berlin, Dresden and Vienna. His interest in the Bayreuth Festival, the Franz benefit concert, the Dwight testimonial, the Liszt celebration, in short, in every memorable musical occasion has been earnest, thorough, and, above all, practical. He has been honored with the personal friendship of the greatest composers of Europe, and his studies of the works of Wagner have been made with the assistance of the great composer himself. He has, like every earnest, original and competent worker, formed for himself a set of followers, pupils and disciples. It is impossible to enumerate these since the number of his pupils who have become concert soloists is over sixty. The work of the Cecilia Club is wholly due to Mr. Lang; that of the Apollo and Euterpe societies largely so. therefore, in the articles on these subjects, the reader will find a continuation of his too-brief personal sketch. Mr. Lang, although he has composed some very fine works, has, as yet, published nothing. As a musician he is armed at all points; he is one of the very surest of ensemble players and never loses his head. We can personally recall many instances where his calmness has saved careless or nervous players from disaster. He is a good organizer and a very efficient leader. At a time when no one else dared undertake playing with, or directing for, the belligerent Von Bulow or the meteoric Joseffy, he did both-and well. He is one of the surest of score-readers and, though not a virtuoso, is one of the best types of true musician. He has long been the organist of a leading Unitarian church. Of his Boston pupils, we may mention Mr. Arthur Foote…Mr. W. F. Apthorp is another of Mr. Lang’s eminent pupils.” (Elson, Musical Boston, 3)

DIPHTHERIA.

The fact that Lang was a well-known citizen is shown in the fact that the Globe reported in their “Local Lines” section that “Mr. J. B. [sic] Lang’s wife and eldest daughter are seriously ill with diphtheria.” (Globe (August 3, 1882): 4) The nine piano recitals became the five recitals of the complete Schumann piano works.

PHILHARMONIC SOCIETY SOLOIST. TCHAIKOVSKY.

At the second concert of their series, Lang was the soloist in the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto whose world premier he had conducted about seven years ago. “It was very evident that Mr. Lang was at his best. He rendered the difficult finger passages in a clean, precise way, and brought out the composer’s ideas in a style that was almost a revelation. He thoroughly deserved the warm reception he received, not only on this occasion but later in the evening , when he gave a feeling interpretation of Liszt’s Benediction de Dieu dans la solitude.” (Globe ( December 21, 1882): 2) “A more delightful programme than that of the Philharmonic Society’s second concert in the Music Hall last evening has seldom been provided for our musical public…[The Tchaikovsky] It is rare that a work in this form containing so much that is immediately interesting for its purely musical beauties is heard here. These beauties are of a very high order, and the characteristic northern flavor of the whole-its phrases of more barbaric intensity alternating with many a passage full of quaint sweetness-its clearness of form and true concerto spirit-which requires the piano and orchestra to be integral parts of a whole, while giving the solo instrument its due prominence-these give the work an interest peculiarly strong for its individuality. Mr. Lang played in his own almost faultless style, yet with not quite all the boldness and freedom that comes only with complete familiarity with one”s music.” (Daily Advertiser (December 21, 1882): 4, GB). The critique was probably written by Dr. Maas who had conducted the Philharmonic the previous season, 1881-1882. It is strange that the conductor’s name, Carl Zerrahn, is not mentioned at all.

TWELFTH APOLLO CLUB SEASON. 1882-1883.

This season also had only three different programs. The December 5 and 11, 1882 and the February 14 and 19, 1883 pairs of concerts both ended with choruses by Wagner; the February concerts ended with the “Chorus of Sailors” from the Flying Dutchman. The Apollo Club had introduced this work to Boston in December 1881. Lang was doing his best to make Wagner’s name known. Lang met Wagner in 1857 when Lang was a student in Germany. In the summer of 1871 B. J. and Frances were invited to lunch with the Wagners and B. J. pledged to raise money in America to fund the building of the opera house in Bayreuth. Then, in the summer of 1875, Cosima gave B. J.  a private tour of the recently completed opera house.

J. C. D. Parker, organist of Trinity Church, Copley Square (see People and Places article)

The fifth and sixth pair were held on Wednesday evening, April 25 and Friday evening, April 27, 1883 at the Music Hall with an accompaniment of a full orchestra. The opening work, “written for the Apollo Club,” was the world premiere [?] of The Blind King by J. C. D. Parker. This work was written for baritone solo, [probably Mr. C. E. Hay] male chorus and orchestra. Another work “written for the Apollo Club” was Free Lances by George Whiting written for male chorus with wind instruments and drums. The second half opened with an orchestral piece, Scherzo, Op. 19 by Goldmark, and just after that, a change of mood; Radway’s Ready Relief. As you can see, this was a setting of a newspaper ad for Sleeping Pills, and the composer was the Music Professor at Harvard! A note in the program states that the piece was composed twenty years before, which would be just after he had started at Harvard. Possibly he didn’t feel that this should be connected with him at that time. The 1883 date for Radway’s Ready Relief comes two years after the premiere of his music for the Greek play at Harvard-now he could show another side to his personality.

Copy from WorldCat.

An interesting comment on concert etiquette of the time is shown by the notice just before the final piece in the program: “It is earnestly requested that no one will disturb both the audience and the Club by leaving the hall during the final chorus.” its time was listed as eight minutes. (Information from the program-Johnston Collection)

SEVENTH CECILIA SEASON. 1882-1883.

The Berlioz Requiem was repeated to open the Seventh Season on Sunday evening November 26, 1882. The Herald wrote: “The work is a tone picture, at once impressive, imposing and weird,” and said of the chorus that “it was evident that the music had been thoroughly rehearsed; but on account of the great difficulties, there was some hesitation in taking the leads, and bad intonation, and in the more dramatic places there was a lack of power-all of which would seem to be consequent upon attempting a work of such immense proportions, with a small chorus, in a large hall.” (Herald, Cecilia Reviews) The Transcript wrote: “It were hard to praise too highly the energy of the Cecilia in repeating a work which is so fatiguing to prepare, and, as ‘the largest orchestra score in existence,’ so expensive to give…The performance last evening was far beyond that given last season. The basses of the chorus were really superb, while doubling of the first tenors by the altos gave the tenor part a rich volume and distinctness of tone which the dearth of high tenor voices in this country makes very rare in our choruses…We have never heard any chorus in this city enunciate so distinctly, and often elegantly…Boston can now say that it has heard a really intelligible performance of a work to which but few cities in the world have had the privilege of listening.” (Transcript, Cecilia Reviews) The Advertiser called the work “Requiem stupendous.” However, “Dux” felt that the chorus “did almost as well as in the excellent performance of last year.” (Brainard (January 1883): 13) Choir President Thorndike felt that “the whole concert passed with hardly a blemish, and it was noticeable that the over-wise newspaper criticisms which were expended upon our first presentation of this great work were not repeated.” (Cecilia Programs. Vol. 1)

The second concert of the season was performed on Thursday evening, January 18, 1883 at Tremont Temple with the Boston premiere of Gade’s Psyche, Op. 60 with piano (Joshua Phippen) and organ (Frank Lynes) as the accompaniment. Choir President Thorndike confessed to “a feeling of disappointment in the cantata itself during all the rehearsals, a feeling not entirely dissipated by the performance…I do not think the fault was in myself, for I find that more able critics agree with me. I am sure the fault was not in the soloists or the chorus, whose whole work was excellently done. The sense of something wanting may be partly but not wholly accounted for by the absence of orchestra. The real lack seemed to be of strong and salient points in the composition, of any mark of genius.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1) The Musical Herald agreed that the piece was not equal to Gade’s Crusaders, noted that the club “sang it exquisitely, and, had it had the assistance of orchestra, would undoubtedly have achieved a high triumph. It is said, we believe, of Gade, that, if he were to write merely an “A” for clarinet, he would conceive to have it sound differently from anybody else’s A.” (Musical Herald (February 1883): 53, GB)

The third concert was on Monday evening, April 2, 1883 at Tremont Temple with a full orchestra and J. A. Preston at the organ and Georg Henschel as the major soloist. The works performed were selections from Part 6 of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio and Mendelssohn’s First Walpurgis Night. The Transcript said of the Mendelssohn that “here we have the composer at his best,” and then went on to rank his choral works: “Putting the Oedipus music first, and the Antigone second, the Walpurgis Night must rank easily as third… The performance last night was markedly a fine one. The overture made little effect, from the smallness of the orchestra…Now that our ears have become habituated to a full-grown orchestra, anything under ten first violins sounds feeble; two double basses sound like no bass at all…Dr. Langmaid sang the tenor music excellently (it may be remembered that he was the first to sing it in Boston, years ago, under Mr. Lang’s baton in the Music Hall)… Mr. Lang, too, is highly to be complimented upon the singing of his choir; never have the Cecilia sung with greater freedom and vigor.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1) “Athenian” felt that the Bach “was not perfectly sung, but ample amends were made in Mendelssohn’s Walpurgis Night in which chorus, orchestra, and soloists all won great success. The weird pictures conveyed in the chorus, ”Come with Torches,” could scarcely have been intensified. The flickering flames pictures by the flute runs, the heavy crashes of full orchestra, the majesty of the vocal parts above the din, were all very thoroughly rendered, but best of all was the sing of the Druid solos sung by Mr. Henschel, who, although suffering from a very severe cold, sang with great fervor and dramatic power. (Brainard (May 1883): 76)

The Choir President’s comment on the Bach was: “The Bach selection consisted of the sixth part of the oratorio with some omissions. As a whole it was well performed, to the interest of all, the satisfaction of many, the delight of a few…I hope that we shall all live to know the Passions, the Christmas Oratorio, the great Mass, the Magnificat, the principal motets and cantatas, as well as we know the oratorios and psalms of Mendelssohn.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1)

The fourth and final concert for the season held on May 16, 1883 at the Music Hall “in the presence of a very large audience” and using “an orchestra of considerable size” featured the Boston premier (Herald, May 17, 1883) of Bruch’s Lay of the Bell, Op. 46 conducted by the composer-Lang played the organ. The Journal found the piece “an important and graceful work, if less powerful than some of his other compositions notably the Arminius whose first performance in this country he [Bruch] conducted at the recent festival of the Handel and Haydn Society… One of its most promising defects is a sameness which at times becomes monotony… It has many moments of dullness.” The chorus was not able to save the work: “There was often, however, a lack of power, and, still more, a want of that fine shading and expression which can only come from strong intellectual appreciation of a composer’s thought and purpose-in short, much of the chorus singing seemed dry and perfunctory.” (Cecilia Programs. Vol. 1) Even though Lang had the foresight to hire Bruch to appear with his group, the Cecilia, when he was in Boston conducting the Handel and Haydn Society, even the composer’s touch in preparing and leading the performance did not bring the work to life, at least in the view of some reviewers. However, the Cecilia President in his Report of June 1883 refuted this position. He called it “a greater work than the Arminius which attracted so much attention at the Handel and Haydn festival. Of the excellence of the performance, there was no question. The voice of praise [for the choir] was unanimous.” He did note, “The criticisms which appeared the next day upon the work itself were curiously diverse in their tone. All the reporters confessed the great interest of the occasion. But some avoided committing themselves.” The female soloists had been members of the choir, and their performances had been “most creditable and interesting. The choir clothed itself with glory as with a garland.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1) The Musical Herald was “astounded at the coolness with which the work was received, and still more so to find many of the critics recording their opinion that the work is not equal to Arminius…But, while Arminius is almost without contrast, the Lay of the Bell is full of the most vivid changes…It seems to us the greatest work of the master…The whole work ought to be heard frequently in America, as familiarity will make its solid worth more generally apparent.” (Musical Herald (July 1883): 195, GB)

Thorndike’s Annual Report of June 14, 1883 (his seventh) noted that the ranks of the choir had remained full and that there had “always been abundant reserves on the waiting list to supply the places of any who might fall out. The attendance has been excellent, the discipline, enthusiasm and vocal training better than ever,” and he credited Lang’s “master hand in whatever the Club has achieved.” He then added: “I beg also here to tender our thanks to Mr. Preston for various valuable services.” He also noted that the club had used an orchestra for 3 of their 4 concerts and that all concerts next season would be presented at the Music Hall. (Cecilia Programs. Vol. 1)

HELEN HOOD.

“Helen Francis Hood, from a 1908 publication.” Wikipedia, May 20, 2019.

In 1883 Schmidt published a song by Helen Hood entitled A Disappointment. It was to become one of her most well known and “one of her best.” (Wikipedia, accessed May 15, 2019). The dedication was “To Mr. B. J. Lang,” her piano teacher. Her dates were: born June 28,  1863 and died January 22, 1949. Thus, in 1883 she was only twenty years old. This song was one of a set of four. After her piano studies with Lang during her teen-aged years, she then went to Belin to study with Moritz Moszkowski and Philipp Scharwenka. (Ibid) Along with Margaret Ruthven Lang, Hood also had her music performed at 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago winning “a diploma and medal for her achievements.” (Ibid) Her Summer Song was “given a triple encore at its performance on 6 July.” (Fox in Grove Dic. Women Com., 227) In 1903 Arthur Elson wrote: “Helen Hood is one of America’s few really gifted musical women.” (A. Elson, 207) He felt that among the works written up to that time, the Piano Trio and the Two Violin Suites were “made of excellent material.” (Ibid) At about the same time, 1904, Louis C. Elson added to her list of works a Te Deum in E flat (the same key as Margaret’s), a String Quartette, “but her fame rest chiefly on her very graceful songs and piano sketches. (L. Elson, Am. Mus., 306) Fox lists the Diaries of Frances Lang as one of three items in her Bibliography for the Grove article.

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CHAPTER 03. (Part 4) BJL:APOLLO/CECILIA/TCHAIKOVSKY:1871-1881. SC (G) WC. TOPICS: APOLLO CLUB SEASON 1878-1879-LANG’S TRIPS BACK TO EUROPE. (P4)

  • PART 4      WC 13,670.  2/05/2021.
  •                                                                                                                       
  • APOLLO CLUB SEASON 1878-1879.                                                                  ARLINGTON CLUB.                                                                                                    EUTERPE.                                                                                                                                 PIANO RECITALS.                                                                                                               CLIQUE IN BOSTON.                                                                                                                   
  • APOLLO CLUB SEASON 1879-1880.                                                                            CECILIA-FOURTH INDEPENDENT SEASON: 1879-1880.                                RAFAEL JOSEFFY.                                                                                                                       ST. BOTOLPH CLUB. HISTORY.                                                                                              MECHANICS’ HALL CONCERTS: 1880.                                                                                                                                             CENSUS-1880.                                                                                                                  BERLIOZ: DAMNATION OF FAUST-THREE TIMES!                                          DWIGHT COMPLIMENTARY CONCERT.                                                                BENJAMIN EDWARD WOOLF-CRITIC.                                                                          TREMONT TEMPLE NEW ORGAN.                                                                           APOLLO CLUB SEASON 1880-1881.                                                                             CECILIA SEASON 1880-1881. 5th. Indi.                          
  • CHADWICK PREMIER WITH APOLLO CLUB.                                                         CECILIA SEASON 1880-1881 CONCLUDED.                                                                   CECILIA DETRACTOR.                                                                                                     TREMONT TEMPLE CHAMBER MUSIC CONCERTS OF LANG.                               ORCHESTRAL CONCERTS OF LANG.                                                                                     ST. SAENS: NOEL-CHRISTMAS ORATORIO.                                                          APOLLO-SPRING 1881. TENTH ANNIVERSARY.                                              HENSCHEL MARRIAGE.                                                                                               BOSTON PHILHARMONIC SOCIETY.                                                                          BIRTH OF MALCOLM LANG.                                                                                         TRIPS BACK TO EUROPE.

APOLLO CLUB SEASON 1878-1879.

Dwight reprinted an announcement of the forthcoming 1878-79 Season.“The Apollo Club, Mr. Lang, director, (as we learn by the Courier) will give the first concert of its eighth season in Tremont Temple, December 6. Subsequent concerts will be given in Music Hall, December 9, February 19 and 24, and two in May. The committee make[s] no announcements of the works to be presented. But the associate members may rest assured, had they any need of that assurance, that the programme will be made up with the care that has been expended on them, that the rehearsals will be through, and the performances quite up to the club’s high standard. The list of applicants for associate membership now numbers over three hundred names.”(Dwight (October 26, 1878): 327)

The reputation of the Club after just seven seasons was such that non-Boston papers were also posting reviews. The Springfield Republican ran a lengthy review of the December 9, 1878 concert (December 9 rather than December 6, and at the Music Hall rather than Tremont Temple, as Dwight had announced)-it was signed by Baritone. Such phrases as “A large, well-balanced and artistic chorus..such immense power…nicety in pianissimo…It is so seldom that a mixed chorus gives anything like satisfaction…As a rule rather than the exception, the average chorus is apt to be unevenly balanced, and the persistent sopranos gather up all their available lung-power and screech the other parts pretty nearly out of sight.” The reviewer was aware of the “professional talent” of such singers as “Whitney, John and W. J. Winch, Barnabee, Wilkie and others…Mr. B. J. Lang, who is such a thorough artist, and so eminently fitted for the position, is director, and his perfect control over the chorus is something remarkable, and not unlike Theodore Thomas’s masterly handling of his orchestra.” Also mentioned was the Serenade by Abt where  the “tenor solo taken by Mr. Want, was lovely and sung with faultless expression.” The review ends with the suggestion that the Orpheus Club (one guesses that this is a male-voice choir in Springfield) “Take the Apollo for a pattern.” (Springfield Republican (December 13, 1878): 2, GB)

The third pair of concerts on May 15 and 20, 1879 ended the season. “For both there was the usual crowded and enthusiastic audience, and on both occasions the splendid body of finely trained male voices, full of esprit de corps, seemed, if that were possible, to surpass their best previous instances of well-nigh perfect execution.” The concerts used mainly piano accompaniment with the addition of a string quartet for the Schumann Piano Quintet in E-flat and to accompany one extended choral piece. The second concert repeated three pieces from the first and added six new pieces that used orchestral accompaniment. B. J.’s song Ho, Pretty Page with words by Thackeray was sung by Mr. J. F. Winch, and Dwight’s review said it “catches and reproduces the fine pathetic humor of the verses, and is a fresh, genial, fascinating bit of music. As sung by Mr. Winch it took the audience almost off their feet, and had to be repeated.”(Dwight (May 24, 1879): 86)