CHAPTER 03. (Part 3) SC(G) WC.BJL:APOLLO/CECILIA/TCHAIKOVSKY:1871-1881. TOPICS: LILLIAN HENSCHEL- CECILIA-THIRD INDEPEDENT SEASON: 1878-1879. (P3)

  • CHAPTER 03. (Part 3)      SC (G).        WC. 11,834   9/20/2020
  • LILLIAN JUNE BAILEY HENSCHEL. B. 1860, D. 1901.                                                  ST. SAENS-CONCERTO NO. 2.                                                                                MECHANICS’ HALL CONCERTS.                                                                              HANDEL AND HAYDN SOCIETY-LANG CONDUCTS.                                                SON AND STRANGER-MENDELSSOHN.                                                                  BOSTON CHURCH CHOIRS.                                                                                              WAGNER AND LANG.                                                                                                          LANG AS ASSISTING ARTIST.                                                                                           ST. SAENS PIANO CONCERTO NO. 2 IN NEW YORK CITY.                                 APOLLO CLUB SEASON 1876-1877.
  • APOLLO CLUB PUBLIC REHEARSALS.
  • PRESIDENT HAYES VISIT.
  • CECILIA-FIRST INDEPENDENT SEASON: 1876-1877.                                      CRAMER PIANOFORTE STUDIES.                                                                         AVERAGE WEEK.                                                                                                                         APOLLO CLUB SEASON 1877-1878.                                                                          CECILIA-SECOND INDEPENDENT SEASON: 1877-1878.                                   BIRTH OF ROSAMOND.                                                                                                 CECILIA CONTINUED.                                                                                                  CECILIA-THIRD INDEPENDENT SEASON: 1878-1879.

 

LILLIAN JUNE BAILEY HENSCHEL. b. 1860, d. 1901.

Georg Henschel and Lillian Bailey probably just before their marriage.  BSO Archive.

Among the many young artists that Lang helped was Lillian Bailey who later married Georg Henschel, the first conductor of the B. S.O. She was born in Ohio, and her first teachers were her uncle, Charles R. Hayden, and Mme. Rudersdorff. When but sixteen years old she made her first public appearance in Boston and met with much success. In 1878 she went to Paris and became a pupil of Mme. Viardot-Garcia. It was while singing his songs at a private recital in London that she met Georg Henschel. Later she became his pupil, and in 1881 they were married in Boston. Wherever Mrs. Henschel sang she met with success; her method was excellent and her voice possessed a charm that merited the applause given her. She appeared with her husband in song recitals in most of the largest cities in America and delighted most critical audiences, as well as the pubic at large. She died in London in 1901.” (Green, 370) The “first public performance” referred to above was probably a concert that she presented at the Revere House on Friday evening, April 7, 1876 where B. J. Lang was among the seven assisting artists. In this concert she only sang three songs with the majority of the concert being provided by the guest instrumentalists and vocalists (HMA Program Collection) Early in the program Lang made his only appearance, playing three solos: Allegro in C Major by Handel, his own Spinning Song in A Major, and the Caprice in E Minor by Mendelssohn. The concert ended with Mendelssohn’s Trio in D Minor Op. 49, a work often played by Lang, but in this case the piano part was taken by his pupil G. W. Sumner (HMA Program Collection) Arthur Foote referred to this concert: “In 1876 I assisted at two of Lang’s concerts in Boston…In these concerts a wonderful young girl, Lillian Bailey, afterwards Mrs. George Henschel, made her first appearance: a lovely voice and most beautiful singing-one of the finest artists I have known. She, her mother, brother, and uncle (Charles R. Hayden), lived at the top of the Hotel Pelham (where the Little Building now stands), and I was a frequent visitor, making music there with her.” (Foote, Auto., 44)

Hotel Pelham: corner of Boylston (left to right) and Tremont (up and down), the Boston Common is to your right and behind. Though called a hotel, this was an early version of an apartment house. By the time that Miss Bailey lived here, the building had been moved 14 feet to the right. Photo courtesy of the Boston Public Library. Information from “Lost New England” Series, Derek Strahan, accessed September 22, 2018.

On February 10, 1877 she presented a concert at Union Hall that was “appreciated by a large and cultivated crowd. This gifted lady, yet in her teens, shows a remarkable improvement since her first semi-private appearance a year ago. Her fresh, sweet, penetrating voice has developed into a larger volume and capacity of various expression…For she has intellectual talent likewise and seems to be prompted by a genuine musical enthusiasm…Miss Bailey’s teacher, Mr. C. R. Hayden, [her uncle] to whose judicious training the young maiden bore such testimony” also sang. Lang students Sumner and Foote were the accompanists. (Dwight (March 3, 1877): 399) Fifteen months before Mr. C. R. Hayden had been called “one of the best tenors of our concert rooms” when he took part in the 452nd. recital of NEC. (Dwight (December 11, 1875): 142) Lang knew Hayden as both had been faculty members of the National College of Music (1872-73).

In December 1877 Miss Bailey was the soloist at the Second Harvard Musical Association Orchestra Concert singing both with orchestra and piano accompaniment. Dwight wrote: “Miss Lillian Bailey, with her delicate, sweet, fresh voice, her charming naturalness of manner, and her artistic, earnest feeling and expression, sang to great acceptance. She has gained much in power and style within a year, and, being very young, she will gain more. But it is already a rare treat to listen to her.” (Dwight (December 8, 1877): 142) A month later she presented herself in a concert that “was very agreeable and lively. The audience, which filled Union Hall, was of as select and flattering a character as a young artist could be honored with.” Her uncle also sang and Mr. Dresel was the vocal accompanist. (Dwight (February 2, 1878): 175) Later that spring she appeared again at Union Hall at a “testimonial concert tendered to the favorite young Soprano by the Second Church Young People’s Fraternity.” It was a great success: “Union Hall was crowded: Miss Bailey sang her best.” Again her uncle was part of the performance, and Lang served as accompanist and piano soloist playing the Nocturne in C Minor and Etude in E Flat Major by Chopin and the “Introduction and Scherzo” from the G Minor Piano Concerto by Saint-Saëns. (Dwight (May 11, 1878): 231)

In October she sang the soprano solos in Messiah for the Handel and Haydn Society. “Miss Bailey, who sang here for the first time since her studies in Paris, and her successful career in England, took the soprano solos; and, considering her youth, and the yet juvenile though much-improved quality of her voice in firmness, evenness and fullness, acquitted herself most creditably…The young lady’s tones are pure and clear as a bird, her intonation faultless, and all the exacting arias were well studied and agreeably sustained with good style and expression.” (Dwight (October 23, 1880): 174) A month later it was noted that she was “affianced to George Henschel. (Dwight (November 20, 1880): 191) Two months later Bailey and Henschel were sharing recital programs where he “splendidly played all the accompaniments.” Lang and Henschel played the Moscheles Homage a Handel, a duet for two pianos to finish their January 31, 1881 concert at the Tremont Temple. (Dwight (February 26, 1881): 37)

Twenty-five years later, on Saturday, March 13, 1901 3 PM at the Association Hall, Lang and Foote repeated the St. Saens Variations on a Theme of Beethoven for two pianos which they had performed at Lillian’s Boston debut (which this 1901 program said had happened on March 13, 1876 “at Mr. Lang’s concert”), but this time the concert’s featured artist was Lillian and Georg Herschel’s daughter, Helen Henschel. This 1901 concert was a family affair, for part of the program was a group of duets sung by mother and daughter, accompanied by father. (BPL Lang Prog) Helen, the Henschel’s daughter, recorded the remarks of Edith Hipkins who remembered that in 1879 Georg’s London debut been “like a great wind, with his glorious voice, his flashing eyes and his splendid vitality. He was invited everywhere at once, and appeared even to be everywhere at once…As for your mother, she was too charming for words. And how jealous we all were when your father got engaged to her. That this glorious creature should be going to marry a very young and unknown singer from America seemed unbearable! But quite understandable, too. How pretty she was. So gentle and amusing. And she sang like a little bird.” (Henschel, H. 14)

B. J. studying a full score. Collection of Amy DuBois.

Lang’s orchestral conducting experience began early in his career. On May 12, 1867 at age thirty he conducted (a) Boston Symphony Orchestra at the Mechanic Hall in Salem, MA “In aid of the New Music Hall.” This concert was promoted by Mr. M. S. Downs and also included as soloist “Miss Adelaide Phillips, the celebrated Prima Dona.” The program was: Symphony # 5- Beethoven, Song-Donizetti, Overture: A Midsummer Night’s Dream-Mendelssohn, Cuban Song, Waltz-J. Strauss, Song, Wedding March: Midsummer Night’s Dream-Mendelssohn. Dwight’s review said: “The object was to raise funds towards the erection of a new music hall, which Salem surely ought to have, for it is now a city, and has some very musical people, sending quite a delegation always to our oratorios and Symphony Concerts in Boston. The occasion is said to have been in every sense most successful.” (Dwight (May 25, 1867): 39)

ST. SAENS – CONCERTO NO. 2.

On February 3, 1876 Lang gave the American premiere of the Second Piano Concerto by St. Saens with the Harvard Musical Association Orchestra. Apthorp wrote in the Atlantic Monthly that he thought this work to be the best concerto since those by Mendelssohn and Schumann. “The first movement is simply great. The dainty little scherzo that follows it and the tarantella finale are gems of their kind. In playing it, Mr. Lang fairly outdid himself, especially in the first two movements; the effect upon the audience was electric.” (Atlantic Monthly (May 1876): 635) He continued to say that as much as he enjoyed the piece, he could hardly remember it after the concert. The suggestion was made that Lang could have played the last movement with more fire; his was “a highly refined fire.” (Ibid, 636)

The Music Hall as it was in 1876 (Decorated for July 4th.). BPL, Digital.

Dwight found the concerto “entirely fresh and novel…very modern, to be sure, and very French.” It had “immense technical difficulties and sensational effects.” Cast in an unusual Slow, Fast, Fast arrangement, the opening Andante Sostenuto was “broad and massive, full of fire and strength.” The second, a Scherzo was “fascinating…[and] played [with] airy life and freedom.” It was encored! The final movement, a Presto in Tarantella style “whirls in ever-widening circles” and “Mr. Lang proved fully equal to its unrelenting demands…[The] whole performance [was] magnificent, surpassing all that has done before. The task was to his fancy. He embraced it con amore.” (Dwight (February 19, 1876): 183, GB)

The Traveler noted that “Mr. Lang insists upon stepping out of the beaten paths in selecting his number for performance…[The St. Saens] is brilliantly bright, flowing and graceful, and entirely unconventional…The piano part bristles with difficulties…The last movement requires more of the pianist than its predecessors. It abounds with technical requirements, and it is the highest praise to say that the difficulties were all ably met. Mr. Lang played with consummate zeal and fire, with a finish of execution which calls for the highest praise. The performance was throughout electrifying, and the audience has seldom been more honestly warmed. The orchestra seconded with rare devotion Mr. Lang’s efforts.” (Traveler (February 4, 1876): 1, GB)

MECHANICS’ HALL CONCERTS-MARCH 1876.

An ad appeared in March saying that Lang was to give two concerts on Thursday afternoons March 23 and 29 at 3 o’clock. “He will play two Concertos by Saint-Saens, the Tschaikowsky Concerto, a new Trio by Saint-Saens, numerous pianoforte pieces, etc., etc.” Additionally, songs were to be given by Miss Ita Welsh, Miss Lillian Bailey, and the other assisting artists would be Mr. Wulf Fries, Mr. August Fries and Mr. Arthur Foote. Season Tickets, three dollars.” (Traveler (March 13, 1876): 3, GB) The Traveler review of the second concert said that it was “a beautiful programme, interpreted with rare taste and excellence. The two concerts taken together have “seldom been equaled by any resident artist, in character, or character of performance.” (Traveler (March 31, 1876): 3) The Saint Saens Trio “was interesting throughout, and was superlatively well performed in all its parts. ” Of Miss Bailey the reviewer wrote: “We have not often heard a more intelligent, sweeter, sympathetic delivery” than she presented. (Ibid) The major work was the Tschaikowsky Piano Concerto No. 1 with Lang as the soloist and Sumner and Foote at a second piano providing the orchestral reduction. This was just a year after it’s world premiere! Even with four hands covering as much of the orchestral fabric as possible, “the orchestral part was much missed.” (Ibid) Lang’s performance was “intense…graceful…[one] he might be proud of, even” in comparison with that of Von Bulow. (Ibid) “A very large audience was present.” (Ibid) The Journal wrote: “In all these selections Mr. Lang played with fine taste and expression…There was an excellent attendance and the programme was presented in a manner to afford much genuine pleasure.” (Journal (March 31,, 1876): 1, GB)

Lang was to do much to further Miss Bailey’s career. Often she would appear as an assisting artist , as above, and also he would appear in her concerts as assisting artist/accompanist. Less than two weeks later he was part of a concert that she presented at the Revere House. Miss Bailey’s “taste and her powers are of the most enviable character.” (Traveler (April 10, 1876): 2)

HANDEL AND HAYDN SOCIETY – LANG CONDUCTS.

For the 1876 Easter Season the Handel and Haydn Society gave their usual series of “Easter Oratorios.” First, on Palm Sunday was Bach’s Passion Music with primarily local soloists-Mme. Rudersdorff, William and John Winch and Myron Whitney. Then on Easter Sunday came Handel’s Joshua in its Boston Premier with local and imported soloists. For the singers to have to learn such a long, new work during the time that they were having great demands made by their local choirs, was certainly testing their loyalty! Finally, on the next Wednesday, April 12th., Mendelssohn’s Hymn of Praise and Rossini’s Stabat Mater were presented. This performance was the last performance in America (she died a year later at the age of 46) of “the distinguished vocalist”(a seamless voice of three octaves) M’lle Theresa Titiens, and for this performance B. J. was the conductor and Professor John K. Paine of Harvard was the organist. (Traveler (April 11, 1876): 2) Possibly Zerrahn thought that three performances in such a short time were too much for one person, or possibly he had a conflicting engagement. For whatever reason, Lang had his chance to conduct the Handel and Haydn, but I don’t believe this happened again until he was appointed conductor in 1895.

SON AND STRANGER—MENDELSSOHN.

In May of 1876, Lang presented the operetta Son and Stranger (Heimkehr aus der fremde) by Mendelssohn at the new hall of the Young Men’s Christian Union on Boylston Street “before a very large and cultivated audience who had purchased tickets privately under the double inducement of artistic pleasure and of sympathy for want.”… The performers were amateurs and volunteering artists, Mr. Lang conducting, under whose direction the performance had been most carefully prepared, so that the representation of the work, both musically and scenically, was complete.” The overture was arranged for two pianos, eight hands and played by Lang, Mr. Parker, Mr. Leonard, and Mr. Sumner. The critic, Mr. Wm. F. Apthorp “was capitally made up for the respectable old German Mayor, and sang his one note in the Trio doubtless quite as well as the composer’s brother-in-law, the painter Hensel, for whom the part was written… Altogether the performance was a great success… The accompaniments were beautifully played by Mr. Lang, Mr. Leonhard assisting him again in the interlude (“Night and Morning”).” (Dwight (May 13, 1876): 231) Mendelssohn had written this work in 1829 for the silver wedding anniversary of his parents. (BPL Lang Prog., Vol. 2) Clara Rogers (Clara Doria) wrote: “A group of my friends, in which Mrs. James Lodge, Mrs. George Howe [Mrs. Lodge and Mrs. Howe were sisters], Mrs. [Leslie] Codman, the [Ellerton] Pratts, and Mr. Richard S. Fay were prominent, got it up to raise a goodly sum for a deserving benevolence. It was in the character of an amateur performance, though some professional musicians took part in it, the direction of the music being in charge of B. J. Lang…The cast was as follows: Lisbeth-Clara Doria; Ursula-Ita Welsh; the Mayor-William Apthorp; Hermann-Nat Childs; Hans-Doctor C. E. Bullard; Martin-A. S. Dabney… The rehearsals took place for the most part in my music room…It was a great success, a large proportion of Boston Brahmins turning out for the occasion, and a handsome sum being raised for the charity.” (Rogers, Memories, 448) Lang may have become interested in this work when the “Overture” was played at a concert in December 1865 in which he was a soloist.

1876 May. Lang performed the Saint-Saens Christmas Oratorio (Noel) at South Congregational. A year later, May 1877, the same work was performed as part of the Handel and Haydn Society’s “Fourth Triennial Festival.”

BOSTON CHURCH CHOIRS: 1876 and 1885.

In the spring of 1876, Dwight reprinted an article from the Sunday Herald of May 14 on “Boston Church Choirs-How Hard Times Affect the Service of Song.” The country was in a period of economic “hard times” and this had an effect on the quartet choirs which were the standard for most churches. “Quartet singing, which has been a costly item in the expenses of some churches heretofore, has in many instances been altogether abolished. In others, the salaries have been largely reduced. In others still, professional singers have been dismissed and volunteers substituted, whose chief merit lies in the attribute that they are willing to serve without pay.” (Dwight (May 27, 1876): 239 and 240) Thirty-seven churches were included in the survey. The comment for Lang’s quartet at South Congregational Church was: “There have no changes in the quartet at this church during the past year. its organization is-soprano, Mrs. Julia Houston West; alto, Mrs. J. F. Winch; tenor, Mr. W. J. Winch; bass, Mr. J. F. Winch.” (Ibid)

In March of 1885, the Journal published an article about “The Reorganization of Choirs Throughout the City.”  At this time the Winch brothers were still present at South Congregational Church, but the alto was not Mrs. Winch, but Miss Mary Howe, and the new soprano was to be Miss Emma Bockus. Other members of the Lang circle seemed to have little change. Arthur Foote at First Church [Unitarian] had George J. Parker for tenor and Clarence E. Hay as bass, both of whom Lang used regularly as soloists with the Cecilia. His pupil George W. Sumner was at Arlington Street Church [Unitarian] and had only one change, while at King’s Chapel, where Lang would soon take over the music, no changes were made and the soprano was Gertrude Franklin who later helped introduce Margaret’s early songs. Charles R. Adams, Lang’s tenor friend from the early 1860s, First Baptist days was at the Church of the Unity. George L. Osgood was Choir Master at Emmanuel Church, and Signor Campanari, who had been on the faculty of the National College of Music with Lang, went back to Europe. (Journal (March 30, 1885): 3, GB)

WAGNER AND LANG.

RMS PARTHIA. Cunard Line.

“In 1871 the Wagners and the Langs were calling on each other in Switzerland. Mrs. Lang owned several songs of Wagner,- among them Fuenf Gedichte translated into Italian by Arigo Boito! Attached to the music was found this note of Mrs. Lang: ‘Wagner’s Songs given to me by himself in Switzerland at our Hotel Luzerner Hof-Luzern’ – as he and Madame Wagner returned our call on July 22, 1871. They rowed over from Triebschen at 4 PM. We called at Triebschen on PM of July 21st.'” (Liepmann, 5) Always interested in the new compositions of his time, as “an ardent Wagnerian, Lang visited Wagner in 1871 and offered his assistance in publicizing the Bayreuth Festival in America. The Saloon Passenger List of the RMS PARTHIA sailing from Boston to Liverpool listed B. J. Lang as departing on August 7, 1875. An entry in Cosima Wagner’s Diary for August 26, 1875 mentions that she showed B. J. the Bayreuth Theater. In 1876 Lang and his wife were honored guests at the first performance of the Ring in Bayreuth.” (Ledbetter, Amer. Grove, 10) Arthur Foote also attended (Cipolla, Amer. Grove, 50).

Two illustrations from Jullian’s Wagner, Vol. 2, 269 and 259. The top one shows the theatre as it was in 1876 when it first opened and the bottom one shows the addition buildings-on the left the Victoria Column high on the hill with the large restaurant at the foot of that hill and the smaller restaurant on the right, adjacent to the theatre. On the lower right is a sketch of the sunken orchestra pit with its wooden hood.

Frances’ Diary recorded that they sailed from Philadelphia on June 24, 1876 together with Mr. and Mrs. Tucker (she=Jeanie). They were in London from July 4-14 and had rented a room at…..

If they were in London July4-14, this program shows that they went to a concert on their first night. It included the Beethoven Variations that Lang performed many times. BPL Lang Scrapbook.

14 Arlington Street; then Paris, July 14-23 during which they heard High mass at St. Sulpice where Mr. Widor’s “improvisations were delightful.” There were other things besides music. “Dressmakers, and buying clothes at the Bon Marche.” (Diary 2, Summer 1876)

The Wagner festival was August 6-23, and a letter from Frances dated August 9, 1876 from Bayreuth tells about the Festival. Apparently only the parents went on this journey as the letter is addressed to the children (?) She mentioned that they saw four operas, three times each! She noted in her Diary that on August 6, B. J. met Liszt and Mme. Wagner who gave him tickets to a private rehearsal of Rheingold to be given for the King! Frances was very excited to be a part of this event. (Diary, 6 and 7) Arthur Foote wrote that their party of five (Langs, Tuckers and him) had arrived in Bayreuth two weeks early. “We were now informed that there was to be a sort of dress rehearsal of the four opers on the week preceding the date scheduled, And so, not only did I hear the series expected (and paid for at the rate of twenty-five dollars a night), but also the preliminary performances.” (Foote, Auto., 62) In 1876 the town of Bayreuth was not able to handle the huge numbers of visitors to the Festival. For Foote: “My sleeping place was really a sort of large closet, and the bed consisted of bedding laid on some wooden planks supported by large logs. This was the least luxurious experience in the way of rooms that I ever had, the only similar one being that of sleeping in a bath-tub in Munich, when the town was overcrowded.” (Foote, Auto., 63) In an additional letter which Frances wrote to her parents more details are given the most important of which was that the pre-opening private performance given for the King of Bavaria, Wagner’s patron, was attended by the Wagners, the King, and his Suite and THE Langs! An 1882 article wrote: “His studies of the works of Wagner have been made with the assistance of the great composer himself.” (1882 Music and Drama Supplement)

 

Diary 2, Summer 1876.

On the return journey, after another stay in London, August 30-September 5, they set sail from Queenstown, Ireland on the Steamer CELTIC on September 6th. She noted that Mr. Foote was also on board. (Frances Lang Diary, 1876) Margaret, then aged eight, together with her nurse spent the time with Frances’ mother in Stockbridge, Western Massachusetts. “There were several other groups of Bostonians who went over chiefly on account of the Bayreuth production” including Arthur Foote who was introduced to the London music publishers Schott and Company by Lang. (Foote, Auto., 61).

Johnston Collection.

Among the American visitors to Bayreuth was Louis C. Elson (critic at the Boston Advertiser 1866-1920) who recorded his impressions of a visit to Bayreuth that he calls “A sleepy German town” in the late 1880s. He began with a reference to the slowness of the Bavarian railroads, and then continued: “July 20th. The town was still its normal condition, dull, sleepy and apathetic; but early on the next morning matters began to change with the rapidity of a fairy transformation scene. Train after train came in, crowed in every compartment, and bearing the motliest assemblage that ever a caricaturist could dream of. Fat, florid, and bespectacled men jostled against lean, long-haired specimens of the genus music professor, and the way in which greetings and kisses were interchanged was appalling to the American eye. At eight in the evening, fresh impetus was given to the growing excitement by the arrival of the special train from Vienna, bearing a vast crowd of South German artists and musicians. Locomotive decked with flowers, and flags hanging over some of the carriages, it slowly pushed into the immense crowd gathered at the station to welcome it… Many Americans were at the station. Correspondents from all over the world were there, and anxiety about lodgings grew apace. It was an odd spectacle to find princes lodging above grocers” shops and princesses coming to dwell with well-to-do sausage makers…It was a great delight to live with a quiet German family during the rush of the festival, and to be able to withdraw occasionally from the bustle of publicity into cool and neat rooms.” Joining him that year were George E. Whiting, Carl Faelten, and Miss Fanny Paine. He later saw Mr. Gericke, Franz Kneisel, Clayton Johns, Arthur Foote, Mrs. J. L. Gardner and other Americans. “An entire American colony was formed.” Elson visited Cosima Wagner and was immediately invited into “a room half drawing-room, half boudoir, in which sat a slim and graceful, but not beautiful, lady, writing. She arose and greeted me with cordiality, and in a few moments by kindly question and unaffected conversation put me at ease…She inquired after American friends, and particularly Mr. B. J. Lang.” She asked Elson if he knew how many Americans were in the city, and he replied “that I knew personally of some fifty who were coming, and that I had no doubt the number would reach two hundred or more… The resemblance of Madame Wagner to her father, Liszt, was more marked than ever as she grew animated.” (Elson, Reminiscences, 73-78)

“His interest in the Bayreuth Festival, the Franz benefit concert, the Dwight testimonial, the Liszt celebration, in short, in every memorable musical occasion has been earnest, thorough and, above all, practical. He has been honored with the personal friendship of the greatest composers of Europe, and his studies of the works of Wagner have been made with the assistance of the great composer himself. He has, like every earnest, original and competent worker, formed for himself a set of followers, pupils and disciples. It is impossible to enumerate these since the number of his pupils who have become concert soloists is over sixty. The work of the Cecilia Club is wholly due to Mr. Lang; that of the Apollo and Euterpe societies largely so. therefore, in the articles on these subjects, the reader will find a continuation of his too-brief personal sketch. Mr. Lang, although he has composed some very fine works, has, as yet, published nothing. As a musician he is armed at all points; he is one of the very surest of ensemble players and never loses his head. We can personally recall many instances where his calmness has saved careless or nervous players from disaster. He is a good organizer and a very efficient leader. At a time when no one else dared undertake playing with, or directing for, the belligerent Von Bulow or the meteoric Joseffy, he did both-and well. He is one of the surest of score-readers and, though not a virtuoso, is one of the best types of true musician. He has long been the organist of a leading Unitarian church. Of his Boston pupils, we may mention Mr. Arthur Foote… Mr. W. F. Apthorp is another of Mr. Lang’s eminent pupils.” (Elson, Musical Boston, 3)

Wagner was a patient of the American dentist Dr. Newell S. Jenkins who had a practice in Dresden from 1875 until Wagner’s death in 1883. In 1879 Wagner had the idea of migrating to America with his family. This came about because of various professional problems that he was having in Germany. “His life at this time was so unhappy that he thought he might get the needed support in America. Perhaps what influenced him in part was the fact that America, in 1876, had accepted his Grand Festival March composed for the Philadelphia Exposition, for which he received $5,000, that payment, as he remarked, being the best thing about it.” (HMA, Bulletin No. 21, 6) Jenkins sent a letter from Wagner about his possible move to John S. Dwight, “a foremost authority on matters musical and a widely renowned critic and writer” probably not being aware that “the very name of Wagner, let alone his music, was anathema to Dwight, and a less sympathetic consultant could hardly have been found.” (Op. cit., 7) Dwight showed the letter to various Boston associates including Lang, who then wrote to Wagner “reproving him for his lack of ”common sense” and advising him to withdraw the letter.” (Ibid) Wagner was not to be changed, and he wrote again to Jenkins on July 13, 1880 asking him to find a trusted friend who might be able to manage this enterprise. However, things in Germany improved for Wagner, and so nothing further was recorded about the project.

On January 6, 1876 Cosima Wagner wrote to B. J. “Dear Mr. Lang, I found the book you had the kindness to send to me as I came back from Vienna and was very glad to read it; receive my best thanks and also our best wishes for you and Mrs. Lang for the New Year. I have had so plenty to do in the past last time, that I even don’t know more if I answered the kind letter with the nice photograph of Mrs. Lang. If I didn’t I at least always intended it, and in her kindness Mrs. L will take the intension for the fact. I beg you today, to send the enclosed letter to Herr von Buelow; most probably you will know where he is now. Many thanks to you for doing so.” (Liepmann, 5 and 6) Liepmann also mentions a letter “to Mrs. Lang from Cosima when she was still Cosima von Buelow.” (Ibid)

LANG AS ASSISTING ARTIST.

Early in 1876, Lang was one of four organists who played the dedicatory recital for an invited audience of over 1,000 on the Hook and Hastings at Holy Cross Cathedral in Boston, The program went from “half-past seven to a little past ten o’clock,” just over two and a half hours, and even though Boston organ audiences were used to the Music Hall recitals of about one-hour, this event “was listened to with the utmost careful attention and evident attention.” (Dwight (February 4, 1876): 192) For Boston’s major Catholic church, the company built “their largest organ yet,” (Ibid) double the size of the instrument that they had built for the Catholic Cathedral in New York City. In fact, with its 5292 pipes, it was the largest in the country, except for the foreign-built instrument in the Boston Music Hall.

On Saturday evening, November 4, 1876 Lang was one of five assisting artists in a concert given by Miss Ita Welsh, soprano, at Mechanics Hall. Lang accompanied August Fries in Grieg’s Sonata in F Major Op. 3 for violin and piano, and near the end of the program played three solos, Prelude by Bach, Caprice by Widor, and Gavotte by Bach as arranged by Saint-Saens (HMA Program Collection).

Lang was part of another Complimentary Concert on Saturday evening, April 28, 1877 at Union Hall, 18 Boylston Street. Given for Miss Louie A. Homer, Lang and Wulf Fries opened the program with the “Allegro” from Mendelssohn’s Sonata in D Major for Cello and Piano. They also played a Polonaise for Cello and Piano by Chopin, and Lang presented three solos: Nocturne in C minor by Chopin, his own Spinning Song in A Major, and Caprice in E minor by Mendelssohn. (HMA Program Collection)

ST. SAENS PIANO CONCERTO NO. 2 IN NEW YORK CITY.

Lang played this work early in December at the Academy of Music one day after Mme. Essipoff played its New York premiere in Steinway Hall with the   Thomas Orchestra (Johnson, First, 309). Dwight’s New York correspondent wrote in defense of his original review: Lang’s “high reputation as a musician and a pianist is known to all readers of the Journal; therefore when he played the Concerto of Saint Saens, as I think badly, I felt no hesitation in saying so.” (Dwight (February 17, 1877): 389) Dwight had added a note after the original review that it seemed that the New York reviewer’s position was “colored by local prejudice.” (Ibid) Dwight was “surprised to hear of a strong prejudice in New York against any Boston artist who should venture to use a Boston piano in the Academy of Music.” (Dwight (February 3, 1877): 383) He then published reviews of Lang’s performance from four New York papers. The Tribune wrote: “Mr. Lang acquitted himself excellently. His execution is neat, clean, and finished, and his reading very correct…Mr. Lang secured a well-deserved recall.” The Evening Mail wrote: “Mr. B. J. Lang, of Boston, proved himself to be a pianist of the highest order. His rendering of the Saint-Saens was superb…The clearness, precision, and accuracy with which he gave the many runs of the piece were astonishing; especially was this noticeable in the difficult run of thirds which occurs in the presto.” The Daily Mail’s notice was very positive, also noting the third movement while the Sun called Lang’s performance “a charming rendering, and being fully equal to its many and great difficulties.” It did mention that Mme. Essipoff’s performance the night before had “excited her audience to a greater enthusiasm and admiration than she had at any previous time commanded.” It did say her performance did have a higher enthusiasm rating than did Lang’s. (Ibid) Lang’s hometown paper mentioned that this was “the first time a Boston pianist has been requested to play for the Philharmonic.” (Salem Register (December 7, 1876): 2, GB)

APOLLO CLUB 1876-1877.

Dwight’s review of January 20, 1877 said: “The first concert (sixth season) given by the Apollo to its friends, Tuesday evening, Jan. 2, placed this well-selected and well-trained body of now nearly one hundred singers in a brighter light than ever as an instance of what perfection may be reached, alike of technique and expression, in the execution of part-songs and choruses for mere male voices. For the most part, this time, it was the manner of presentation, more than the matter, that claimed attention.”The concert was mainly short works, and Dwight felt that fine performances did not make provide as much pleasure as the repertoire of a mixed chorus such as the newly formed Cecilia whose concerts supplied “sweets more inexhaustible.” (Dwight (January 20, 1877): 375) However, one of the soloists was praised: In the “Serenade by Storch, in the tenor solo of which that steadily ripening artist, Mr. Wm. J. Winch surpassed himself. ” The work was popular, being given three times in the 1870s (Zeller, Apollo Club Music Performance History)

In May of the same year Dwight writes: “The Apollo Club gave an admirable example in their last week’s concerts of what pitch of perfection part-singing can be brought to. Yet it is difficult not to bring in the ungracious ‘but’ very soon in speaking of these concerts.” His ‘but’ concerned the low level of the selections presented. After allowing that as the group was giving private concerts to friends, and thus could program whatever the group wanted, Dwight called the choir to a higher level as “They have the most transcendent means of performing or doing their part towards performing all that is greatest, highest and also most difficult in choral music…they should direct their efforts to producing really worthy works.” (Dwight (May 12, 1877): 24)

The April 24, 1877 concert was typical of Dwight’s comments. In fact, the critic of the Advertiser, after saying that this was their most “delightful” concert from all their “delightful” concerts wrote that the program would have been “nearly perfect” if only it included “one of the Greek tragedy choruses or double choruses of Mendelssohn to give it just a little more solidity.” (Advertiser (April 26, 1877):1, GB) This critic rated Rubinstein’s Morning and Lenz’s Wanderer’s Night Song the “choicest.” Italian Salad with Dr. Langmaid as the soloist was included, singing the solo “with fine judgment and skill.” The piece had been done the year before, (Zeller, Performance History) and would be done for President Hayes in two months. The “solo singers of the club” were featured with Mr. M. W. Whitney and Mr. John F. Winch singing the bass duet, “The Lord is a Man of War,” which was encored.  Mr. J. E. Winch did the recit. in Lohengrin, Dr. Langmaid as mentioned, and the tenors Mr. George F. Parker and Mr. Barnabee who sang “with exquisite taste” and was also encored. “The Apollo Club sang in its very best style,” with added strength and vitality. “Their pronunciation was just about faultless…In conclusion, we must say the usual word, even if it be trite, about Mr. Lang’s admirable conducting, adding that listening to some of his piano-forte accompaniments was of itself a pure pleasure.” (Ibid)

A month later (June 7, 1877 at Tremont Temple) Dwight hails the choir for “a task worthy of its unsurpassed vocal material and trained perfection, in Mendelssohn’s Antigone, which was given entire at the last concert, with the connecting text of Sophocles read (in English), it is said, very finely, by Prof. Churchill, of Andover. All who were present speak of the performance altogether as the finest achievement of the Apollo, giving unqualified delight.” Dwight then finishes with another suggestion, saying that the work had been done well, “so far as possible without orchestra.”(Dwight (June 23, 1877): 47) The soloists were Messrs. Dr. Bullard, Powers, Wilkie, Lincoln, Babcock, Allen A. Brown, and Aiken, with Arthur Foote at the piano. (Johnson, First, 253)

APOLLO CLUB PUBLIC REHEARSALS.

In the mid-1870s “Monthly Rehearsals” at Horticultural Hall were advertised in the newspapers (Advertiser for one) The Advertiser ad appeared in the Saturday paper before the Tuesday evening event. The time is given and nothing else; no mention of tickets, no mention of limits on audience size, get there early and form a line. It would seem that these were both for their audience, but also for those who were not able to get tickets for the regular concert series. For February 1877 the date was the 6th., but then the ad in March said that there would be no “Monthly Rehearsals” because concerts would be given on April 24 and 26. (Advertiser (March 6, 1877): 1, GB)

PRESIDENT HAYES VISIT.

Rutherford B. Hayes. Wikipedia, accessed August 8, 2020.

“By request of the Governor of Massachusetts, the club gave a concert on June 23, 1877, to honor the President of the United States, [President Hayes] then on a visit to Boston.” (Elson, Musical Boston, 3)(Coburn, 584) Presented at the Music Hall, the program began with Prelude-Rink [sic] and Fugue-Bach, two organ pieces played by Mr. S. B. Whitney, and then the Club sang Mendelssohn’s To the Sons of Art. Mr. Eugene Thayer played Handel’s Organ Concerto No. 12 followed by The Long Day Closes-Sullivan, Italian Salad-Genee (a comic opera finale using random Italian musical terms. Genee wrote the libretto for Die Fledermaus by Strauss). Mr. Whitney

Choral Public Domain Library.

returned playing his own Pastorale and Fanfare-Lemmens, and the concert finished with the “Double Chorus” from Antigone by Mendelssohn; they had just performed this earlier in the month. (BPL Lang Prog.) The concert was to last no more than one hour. “The hall was filled with an exceptionally brilliant, appreciative, and withal, charming audience…The appointed hour was half-past eight, but the chief guest did not arrive until nearly a quarter before nine…As he appeared in the balcony the entire audience rose en masse and received him with a round of applause…The delicious Italian Salad was encored, the President himself joining in the demand. Dr. Langmaid took the solo part.” (Advertiser (June 27, 1877): 1, GB)

CECILIA-FIRST INDEPENDENT  SEASON: 1876-1877.

This shows the three main concert halls used by the Cecilia. Lower left (green arrow) Music Hall; middle right (purple arrow) Tremont Temple; to the upper left of Tremont Temple, Horticultural Hall (dark blue arrow).

The Cecilia was formally organized as an independent body with an active membership increased to 125 singers on April 20, 1876, and in November rehearsals began under Lang who conducted its first concert on January 11, 1877 in Horticultural Hall, which included the first Boston performance of Gade’s The Crusaders, considered by many to be his best choral work due to its great “variety” and “fresh imaginative beauty.” Dwight’s review began: “The Cecilia, that fine chorus of mixed voices, which lent so much charm to the last two seasons of the Symphony Concerts, but which is now reorganized upon an independent footing—many of its members feeling not quite at home in singing with an orchestra—gave its first concert to its associate members, in Horticultural Hall, on Thursday evening, Jan. 11, and repeated the same programme one week later [18th.]. The choir has been considerably strengthened, till it numbers about 120 sweet and effective voices, finely balanced, and very carefully trained under their old director, Mr. B. J. Lang. A more perfect body of sopranos we have not yet heard; they sing with one voice. The Contraltos, too, sound very rich and musical; and it is a rare thing indeed to hear so many pure, sweet tenors, singing so smoothly, with no harsh disturbing element. The Bass part only, needs more strength and substance, though the voices seem to be all good.” (Dwight (February 3, 1877): 382) Four part-songs and five solos filled the first part; Lang was the accompanist for the songs; two of the choral pieces were encored. The Gade cantata filled the second half and was the “Piece de resistance.” For the accompaniment “we had only the piano, with the aid of a cabinet organ, played by Mr. Foote, to strengthen the bass part and hold out the notes in the religious choruses and in the recitatives and airs of Peter the Hermit. The effect, on the whole, was quite effective.” Dwight noted that B. J. had heard this cantata at the Birmingham Festival. The soloists were Miss Clara Doria (Soprano), Dr. S. W. Langmaid (Tenor) and Dr. E. C. Bullard (Bass). One of the highlights was the “Chorus of the Sirens, a most exquisite piece of melody and harmony for female voices. It was exquisitely sung and had to be repeated…on the whole, it was a great triumph for the Cecilia, and warrants hope of fine things hereafter.” (Ibid) Dwight seems to have attended both performances of this program, for he ends his review with: “In the second concert, the part-songs did not go quite so perfectly as in the first, but The Crusaders was sung even better.” (Ibid) This performance no doubt inspired another performance of the work June 1881, this time by the Schubert Club of Salem which was conducted by Lang’s friend, Mr. W. J. Winch. (Dwight (June 18, 1881): 101)

As it looked in 1867 at its opening. Harpers Magazine.

The second set of concerts was given in Horticultural Hall on March 19 and 22, 1877, and Dwight’s review began “The Cecilia, our choicest and almost our youngest chorus of mixed voices,” certainly a reflection of what B. J. had been able to achieve in a very short period. The review continued: “The high degree of perfection in their singing at their first concert surprised and delighted us; this time, though the programme was hardly so interesting as the first one, execution seemed to us equally, if not even more successful.” It addition to conducting, Lang also served as accompanist. (Dwight (April 14, 1877): 7) Mr. Charles R. Hayden, the uncle of Lillian Bailey, was the soloist. After two seasons of a cappella concerts, the choir used an orchestra in one concert, and the norm became orchestral accompaniment for one or two of the three to four-concert season.

The May 23 and 25, 1877 concerts by The Cecilia presented again Schumann’s Paradise and the Peri, “with a small orchestra as could find room [for] in a corner of Horticultural Hall. The choruses went very finely, particularly on the second evening, when the Hall was less hot and crowded…Miss Lillian Bailey, who had not quite recovered from a hoarse cold, but who sang the part in a fresh, charming voice and manner in the second performance…The performance as a whole was very much enjoyed, doing great honor to the Conductor, Mr. Lang, and to all concerned…We are curious to know what good work the Cecilia, now so happily established, will set itself about after the summer’s rest.” (Dwight (June 23, 1877): 47) Among the soloists were the Winch brothers.

In June 1877 the President of the choir, S. Lothrop Thorndike, made his report at the Annual Meeting, where he reviewed the Club’s first two years (1874-76) as part of the Harvard Musical Association Concerts, the spring 1876 reorganization of the choir as an independent group, and then the repertoire presented in the 1876-77 Season. The ranks of Associate Members were oversubscribed: “We were obliged to limit the number to two hundred and fifty, for the reason that Horticultural Hall, in which we proposed to give our first series of concerts, would not allow to more than this number (in addition to our active members) the two seats to which they would be entitled for each performance.” That first season “embraced six entertainments (three concerts, each repeated), the music to be of a lighter character and greater variety than that which is offered by the larger choral societies… The music has been given with piano accompaniment, excepting the Paradise and the Peri, for which we had a small orchestra.” Thorndike noted “the Club is no longer without rivals in its own particular field. Three years ago it took possession of an unoccupied ground…We are not alone. At least one other society in Boston has embarked upon the same mission. This is no reason for discouragement, but an added stimulus. There is work enough for all. Let us bid our rivals good-speed, and hope to receive from them alike greeting. By our friendly emulation, the good cause will, in any event, be the gainer.” (Dwight (September 15, 1877): 93 and 94) The name of the other choir was the Boylston Club which was directed by the singer George L. Osgood who had recently returned to Boston after a period of European study. Thorndike then went on to say: “The list of active members of the Club during the past year has comprised one hundred and thirty-one voices, thirty-seven soprano, twenty-eight also, thirty-one tenor, and thirty-five bass. The real working force, however, has consisted of not more than one hundred singers. From these figures two things are apparent: first, that we still have some active members whose indifference renders them useless, who must be replaced by more valuable material; and secondly, that the balance of parts needs correction. The rectification of the Club in these respects will be the first duty of the coming season.” (Ibid) This report, in full, was printed by Dwight in his Journal of Music, obviously so that the choir members and the whole Boston choral community would know the direction of this choir. It would seem that Lang was intent upon making the choir the very best possible. A year later Thorndike repeated the same theme: “I am sure that you will join me in taking this occasion to pay our compliments to the Boylston Club, to whose admirable concerts most of us have listened with delight. We owe each other the debt due from everyone to an able rival. Each club has done better from having the other in the field. In such contests, both sides are the winners.” (Dwight (September 14, 1878): 303)

CRAMER PIANOFORTE STUDIES. 

In 1877 Oliver Ditson published 50 Selected Painoforte Studies of Cramer, arranged by Dr. Hans Von Bulow, translated and revised by B. J. Lang.

AVERAGE WEEK.

In 1877 Lang’s regular week was outlined in the Diary of his wife, Frances. “Mr. Lang’s regular weekly schedule was as follows;-he taught at his studio from 9-6 daily. His lunch brought to him from the house. Sunday A.M.s he always played the organ at church, and for many years had to undertake afternoon services also. Two evenings a week he regularly had rehearsals of the Cecilia Chorus and the Apollo Club (a male chorus). These groups each gave 3 concerts a season. Until the early 90s, Mr. Lang was preparing for, and giving pianoforte concerts, also occasionally organ recitals. He was constantly being asked to play at one affair or another. His interest in young musicians as well as many of the great ones who came to this country was inexhaustible. Every day was a full one.” (Diary 2, Fall 1877) Frances was busy with the house. She noted that Julia Nolan, their cook was paid $5 per week while their chambermaid was paid $4. (Ibid)

APOLLO CLUB SEASON 1877-1878.

By now a pattern had developed. The fall rehearsals would be spent preparing for the spring concerts. Possibly informal presentations were given specially invited audiences, but the fall months seem to have been used to train new members in the Club’s ways and to get by all the note pounding that was probably still needed.

Dwight reviewed concerts given on January 9 and 15, 1878 “before immense and most enthusiastic audiences. We know not when we ever listened to those seventy voices musical and manly voices with so much pleasure. The singing, the execution and expression of the music, was beyond praise. And there were more things of a substantial, noble character than has been usual in programmes mostly made up of part-songs.” Such things as William Winch’s “admirable singing of Schubert’s Erl-King, and the “Andante and Variations, and the Presto, from Beethoven’s Kreutzer …The other was a pleasing Romance in B flat, Op. 27 by Saint-Saens for violin, pianoforte and organ. “These programming changes earned the comment: “We said we never listened to the Apollo with more pleasure. We did not hear them sing the Antigone music last year, which must have been a greater treat. Will they not give it again?” (Dwight, Jan. 19, 1878) “Athenian,” wrote of these concerts: They “were two of the most thoroughly enjoyable concerts ever given by the Club, which, by the way, has now reached its seventh season.” (Brainard’s (February 1878): 29) he was so pleased that he listed the complete program and the performers for each piece

Early in his conductorship, Lang effected some changes that would later be adopted by other groups: “He was also an innovator in other aspects of concert presentation: for example, he experimented with the use of heavy paper for programs so they would not rustle in the hands of the audience, and had the texts of vocal compositions printed in the program in such a way as to avoid page turns at particularly quiet passages.” (Ledbetter, 10)

Dwight again makes his suggestion that orchestral accompaniment would enhance the Apollo’s performances when he refers in an April 27, 1878 review to a cantata which “doubtless the orchestral accompaniments, which were merely sketched on the piano, well as that was played by Mr. PETERSILIA, would have placed the whole work in a stronger light.” One wonders if Lang had spoken to Dwight about his desire to have orchestral accompaniments?

Dwight’s wish to hear Antigone was granted within six months together with his suggestion of orchestral accompaniment. “The concert of May 7, in the Tremont Temple, was entirely devoted to the performance of a single work, -but that perhaps the noblest work existing for a chorus of male voices: Mendelssohn’s music to Antigone of Sophocles…And it is the first of Mendelssohn’s creations of this kind, and the freshest. It was conceived in a high moment of his genius and executed while the mood possessed him…This time it was made complete by bringing in the full Orchestra, which added vastly to the inspiring grandeur of the work, and to the clear comprehension of it. The orchestra had been well drilled by Mr. Lang…The instrumentation throughout is singularly beautiful and chaste, and with the voices frequently sublime. The rich and manly voices of the Club, some seventy in number, perfectly well balanced, and trained to remarkable perfection, were admirably suited for such music, and the performance was almost without a flaw. It was the crowning achievement of the club. Would there were more such music for them!” (Dwight (June 8, 1878): 247)

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

The third pair of concerts on May 15 and 20, 1879 ended the season.”For both, there was the usual crowded and enthusiastic audience, and on both occasions, the splendid body of finely trained male voices, full of esprit de corps, seemed, if that were possible, to surpass their best previous instances of well-nigh perfect execution.” The first concert used mainly piano accompaniment with the addition of a string quartet for the Schumann Piano Quintet in E-flat and to accompany one extended choral piece. The second concert repeated three pieces from the first and added six new pieces that used orchestral accompaniment. B. J.’s song Ho, Pretty Page with words by Thackeray was sung by Mr. J. F. Winch, and Dwight’s review said it “catches and reproduces the fine pathetic humor of the verses, and is a fresh, genial, fascinating bit of music. As sung by Mr. Winch it took the audience almost off their feet, and had to be repeated.”(Dwight (May 24, 1879): 86) The Daily Evening Traveler of May 8, 1878 reported: “The club has not sung more artistically this season, the orchestra played with a finesse and unison altogether uncommon, and seemed to have been much longer preparing its part than was the fact. A great share of this excellence is due to Mr. Lang, whose guiding hand and thorough care were once more appreciable in their highest value.” (Scrapbook 1887-1906)

CECILIA-SECOND INDEPENDENT SEASON: 1877-1878.

Within six months Dwight recorded an example of this friendly rivalry. The December 6 and 13, 1877 concerts held at Tremont Temple by The Cecilia had a first half of short works and piano pieces. Arthur Foote had arranged the “Overture” to Cantata # 28 by Bach that he played with Mr. J. A. Preston; they also performed the Variations on a Theme by Beethoven (“Trio” from Piano Sonata, Op. 31, No. 3) by St. Saens. The second half was a cantata by Heinrich Hoffmann: The Fair Melusina. By coincidence, the Boylston Club’s December concert also included a cantata on a Mermaid/Watery Nymph subject, George Smart’s Bride of Dunkerron. Both choirs were praised by Dwight: The Cecilia “showed critical and careful training-indeed a marked improvement on the year before,” while the Boylston Club “was richer in numbers and in quality of voices than ever before, and sang with a precision, spirit, taste and nice light and shade, more honorable to themselves and their accomplished Conductor, Mr. Geo. L. Osgood.” (Dwight (January 19, 1878): 167) The Courier reviewer found the Hofmann cantata “dull and tiresome,” but he did find Foote’s Bach transcription to be “very fine,” as it brought “the public into a closer relation with great classic works.” The reviewer’s bias to older music is shown by his description of current composition as “of more or less chaotic music-writing.” However, the Gazette of December 8, 1877 found the Hofmann to be “the feature of the concert. It is a charming composition, abounding in poetic feeling and dramatic effect.” All in all “the entertainment was the most generally commendable the organization has given us.” This review has Foote and Lang playing the St. Saens. A third review, headed “The Vocal Clubs” praised the two pieces for two pianos, commented that the “choruses showed critical and careful training-indeed a marked improvement on the year before,” but felt that the Hofmann had “little that is strikingly original, or much above innocent, agreeable commonplace.” The soloists “all sang creditably. Dr. Bullard truly like an artist.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1)

BIRTH OF ROSAMOND.

On February 4th. “Lel drove out in the sleigh,-and to my horror, returned an hour later, with a broken arm. Dr. Hodges was sent for. Lel was put to bed in the upper front guest room. The bell rings constantly. Flowers inquiries, etc. etc.                                                                                                                                           Two days later:                                                                                                                           February 6th.  My little girl baby was born this morning at 8.45. I waked at 4, called Mrs. Pratt [her nurse]. Luther [B. J.’s “man”] went for Dr. Morton, and all was over. Flowers have literally poured into the house, also letters and cards. It is almost frightful. Baby is to be named Rosamond.” (Diary 2, February 4 and 6, 1878)                                                                                                        On February 19th. Dr. Hodges allowed B. J. to attend part of the Apollo rehearsal. The singers were quite surprised to see him and “they shouted and gave him a great ovation. Of course, he stayed there only a short time, and then returned home to sit with me and talk about it. And then wonder of wonders, we heard male voices singing outside, under our window,-and it was the Apollo Club. It was really too much. Lel opened the window and called out,-‘God bless you, thank you.’ Then they cheered and sang two more lovely songs. Lel thanked them again, calling out, ‘Mrs. Lang sends her love to you.'” (Diary 2, February 19, 1878)                                                              “The baby laughs, seems happy all day long and sleeps perfectly, so I do too. The Apthorps think that she looks like the Holbein Madonna.” (Ibid)

CECILIA CONTINUED.

Lang did not conduct the next concert given on Feb. 8, 1878. Mr. Arthur Foote conducted that performance as Lang “had the misfortune to be thrown from a sleigh, breaking the upper bone of his left arm.” (Dwight (February 16, 1878): 182) “Foote replaced him at the last minute and, among other things, conducted Mendelssohn’s Athalie. He was master of the situation, at ease with the music and the technical demands of conducting according to witnesses to the performance.” (Tara, Foote, 105) For this February 8th. performance, the Mozart “Overture” to Magic Flute was performed on two pianos, eight hands by Sumner, Tucker, Preston and Foote as was also the Mendelssohn “Overture” to Athalie and the “Priests War March.” Apthorp felt that the music in Athalie “cannot be mentioned in the same breath with his Antigone or Oedipus...It is unobtrusive, agreeable music, and, if rarely powerful, it is never dull and stupid. The performance was very fine, and reflected great credit both upon chorus and conductor.” The Gazette review noted that “Mr. Parker’s club brought out Athalie in Chickering Hall January 1, 1864, and repeated it in January 1870. On the first occasion, Mr. Thomas B. Frothingham read the narrative portions of the text. The South Boston Choral Union also gave the work in Watt’s Hall some six or seven years ago.” The solos were “generally well sung… The choruses were, for the most part, also well done, the most notable defect being a tendency to fall from the pitch.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1) Dwight reported: “Mr. Lang having happily recovered the use of his broken left arm, sufficiently at least to conduct, with that arm in a sling, -the Club on Thursday evening, March 14, gave the promised repetition of their concert of Feb. 8.” The main point of the review was how much better the pieces sounded with their original orchestral accompaniment, the Feb. 8 concert having been done only with piano accompaniment. “Not only did the instruments lend color, vividness, intensity, to what some before found rather monotonous and tame; they also brought out many unnoticed points and features into the light.” The orchestra was of about 35 pieces who “played with care, the noisier instruments being well subdued under the conductor’s sway; so that the voices in that resonant hall (Tremont Temple) were heard to excellent advantage… The prejudice, hitherto existing in our vocal clubs, against singing with an orchestra, must now, we think, confess itself unfounded; and it will henceforth pass for granted that the production of a great composition in its integrity, vocal and instrumental, is of too much consequence to be sacrificed to the perhaps natural, but blind desire of singers to have all sounds kept aloof which might divide the attention claimed exclusively for their own precious voices.” (Dwight (March 30, 1878): 207) A review of this second performance noted that an “overflowing audience” heard the fruits of “Mr. Lang’s careful and studious direction [which] resulted in a splendid giving of all the numbers…The soloists sang, if possible, better than ever before…We are sure everyone enjoyed the concert greatly.” These February and March 1878 performances were probably the first given by the group in Tremont Temple-their previous concerts had been at Horticultural Hall. (BPL Lang prog., Vol. 2) The Apollo Club also began to use Tremont Temple as a concert site at this time with a concert on June 4, 1878. (Ibid)

For the Friday evening, May 17 and Wednesday evening May 22, 1878 concerts at Tremont Temple, Acis and Galatea by Handel was given. Dwight devoted a page and a half to a detailed comment on each of the sections, as this was the first complete performance in Boston. However, he lamented that only the piano was used for the accompaniment. “As it was, it had to be given with such meager piano accompaniment as is put beneath the sketchy score in the edition of the Handel-Gesellschaft. “As it is, well as the present accompaniment was played by Mr. Lang, with able assistant, Mr. Foote, many of the airs must have seemed thin, long-spun and full of repetition to many in the audience… It was a rare treat as it was, and two audiences came away upon the whole delighted, their minds enriched with ever fresh flowers of musical fancy which will haunt them a long while.”(Dwight (June 8, 1878): 246) The soloists included Lillian Bailey, Ita Welsh, Dr. Langmaid and John F. Winch. No reviews are preserved in the Cecilia Program Collection, Vol. 1.

CECILIA-THIRD INDEPENDENT  SEASON: 1878-1879.

Dwight printed in October of 1878 a short announcement of the upcoming season that listed Cecilia concerts at Tremont Temple, concerts by the Boylston Club under George L. Osgood, “and now a new society, the Mendelssohn Choral Union, with numerous voices of both sexes, has begun rehearsals in the spacious hall of the Young Men’s Christian Association. Mr. Stephen Emery has been secured as conductor… We have not learned whether it is their intention this season to give public concerts.” (Dwight (October 26, 1878): 327) This new choir had A. D. Turner as the accompanist and such Boston musical notables as S. B. Whitney, J. C. D. Parker and E. Tourjee as Board members. (Ditson-Musical Record (November 2, 1878): Vol. 1, No. 5)

A month later Dwight announced the program for the late November pair of Cecilia concerts, November 25 and 29: two works for eight hands—”Allegro Vivace” from Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony played by Sumner, Foote, Preston and Fenollosa and Les Contrastes by Moscheles played by Lang, Sumner, Foote and Preston with the major choral work being Toggenburg by Rheinberger. (Dwight (November 23, 1878): 342) The Rheinberger was an American premier. (Dwight (August 16, 1879): 134) One review noted:” The club has given much brighter entertainments. It is hoped it will never give a duller one.” The Mendelssohn was described as a piece that gives “more delight to the players than to the listeners,” but the Moscheles, because it was an original piece for eight hands, “was far more enjoyable than the symphony extract.” The Rheinberger “has a doleful plot…The pathos of the story is well expressed in the music, and that is about the only sentiment there is to be found there.” However, the soloists “did good service,” and “the choral execution throughout the concert was very fine.” Just the opposite attitude was expressed by another reviewer who felt that “a distinguishing feature of the programme was the superior vocal character of the selections sung by the club.” Of the Rheinberger, “the music, as a whole is expressive, the pathetic portions being especially strong in this respect. Rheinberger is certainly one of the best vocal writers of the day.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1)

The Friday, February 7, 1879 concert at Tremont Temple was “the finest concert [given] thus far in the course of its three seasons.” Two contrasting cantatas were given-the second part of Bach’s Ich hatte viel Bekummerniss and Gade’s Crusaders; the Bach had been performed during the second season with the HMA (1875-1876) and the Gade had been performed during the choir’s first independent season (1876-1877). “An excellent orchestra was provided, with Mr. J. A. Preston at the organ, and the chorus of mixed voices was in fine condition.” In the Gade, which was its first local performance with instruments, the orchestra “put an entirely new life into it. Indeed, instrumentation is Gade’s strong side always, and to leave out the orchestra in such a work is to leave out the soul of it…Altogether it was a complete and signally successful performance. The concert was repeated on Monday evening, but unfortunately without the orchestra, it being impossible to procure one on that evening; so that the accompaniments were represented on the pianoforte (Mr. Tucker) and the organ (Mr. Preston), very creditably, it must be said.” (Dwight (February ??, 1879): 30) The Choir’s President mentioned in his Annual Report that this second performance with piano and organ accompaniment “had to be given, on the score of expense, and the contrast with the previous evening was depressing,-another occasion to point the moral that it will not answer to divorce works wedded to instruments from their lawful alliance, and a hopeful sign, in that the violence done was felt by everyone in the hall.” (Dwight (August 16, 1879): 134) the review in the Post began with the comment that this concert was given “in the presence of a large and fashionable audience, which gave frequent evidence of its appreciation during the evening…The chorus work was excellent throughout, and gave ample evidence of the careful instruction of Mr. Lang.” The reviewer in the Advertiser wrote: “Last night’s performance was the first in Boston with an orchestra. It is needless to say that the manifold beauties of the work were greatly increased in effect in consequence…The performances of all concerned were of a high order. The chorus did itself great credit, mainly to Mr. Lang’s skillful training and direction. The orchestra was large, and included many of the best resident musicians.” Another review said: “The orchestra deserves warm praise for its delicacy, unity and correctness.” This concert was repeated on Monday evening, February 10, but with no orchestra; instead, Mr. H. G. Tucker was at the piano and Mr. John A. Preston at the organ.

Handel was again featured in the spring concert of 1879 when the first half of the April 21 concert “consisted of copious selections from Handel’s L’Allegro ed il Pensieroso, which were given with full orchestra and with fine effect. Mr. Sumner presided at the organ.” (Dwight (May 10, 1879): 79) In a display of professional cordiality, Mr. George L. Osgood, conductor of their rival choir, the Boylston Club, was one of the soloists, as he was identified “with the production of this particular work on both sides of the water.” (Dwight (August 16, 1879): 134) As Osgood had sung this work in Germany, he decided to sing the “Trumpet Aria” in German that caused letters to the various papers. In a reply sent to the Transcript he defended this decision by saying that “the English vowels are mostly close and dull in this aria. The German vowels, on the other hand, are of the brightest description.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1) Based on the comments of another reviewer, Osgood should not have bothered. “The trumpets were, as usual, diabolically dissonant. If that was to represent ”mirth,” I would prefer to enjoy myself in some other manner.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1, article dated April 29, 1879, Boston, Mass) This same article did give high marks to the soprano section: “I noticed throughout the evening and especially in L’Allegro, how easily the soprano voices gave their phrases, even when they were in alt. Every voice seemed to tell. It was not, as in some clubs., where, when a high passage occurs, a ”forlorn hope,” of perhaps twelve veterans, constitute the storming party, and make a desperate attack on the heights, while the remainder of the army stand quiet, and wait for them to ”come down,” before they resume singing. It is an exciting moment when these daring spirits scale the mount or rather mount the scale.” (Op. cit.) The second half of the concert included part-songs, solos, “the clever comic glee of Humpty Dumpty by Caldicott, which was gleesomely received; and Gade’s cantata Spring Greeting, in which of course the orchestra was all-important.” The Courier review made reference to another Letter to its Editor from the aptly named “Deadhead” which took Lang to task for not encoring Humpty Dumpty. The writer noted the persistent applause to which Lang dismissed their request “with a superior bow which reminded them that the name of the glee was Humpty Dumpty! That it was in English! That it was written only a short time ago, by a man who is not even dead yet, and if they liked it they were entirely wrong and certainly should not be encouraged.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1)

The final concert of the season given at Tremont Temple on May 8, 1879 was the complete music to Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream with orchestra, women’s choir, solos and “an admirable reading of the play by Mr. George Riddle, one of the teachers of elocution in Harvard University” (Dwight (May 24, 1879): 85) who was lauded for his presentation which ranged from the roaring of Nick Bottom to the humor of Puck. The choral contribution was only two choruses for women’s voices-the soloists were Mrs. Hooper and Miss Gage. “Of all the readings with the music of the Mendelssohn-Shakespeare fairy play that we have had, this as a whole was much the most successful.” (Dwight (May 24, 1879): 85) All the other reviewers agreed: one called the concert “an entertainment of rare beauty,” while another wrote that “it may be fairly said that the Cecilia outdid themselves last evening.” Lang was praised for his “careful training,” and his “good taste and refined judgment [which] was everywhere made apparent.” Riddle was also praised for his “discrimination of the various characters,” while the orchestra generally played “with spirit and accuracy” except for “some slight inadvertencies” such as the “troublesome woodwind” who displayed their “chronic tendency to splatter.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1)

Dwight printed the report of the President of the Cecilia together with an introduction of four paragraphs. After tracing the early history of glee singing, German part-singing groups, and informal groups that met to sing masses and cantatas, he cites the new choral societies of mixed voices who have ”made it possible to bring out really important works by the best masters, and to do them justice… they (Cecilia and Boylston Club) do not sell tickets, they sing to invited audiences and in a friendly atmosphere; their treasury is kept full by subscribing ”associate members,” and sympathizing volunteers and backers, who delight to ”assist” at concerts and rehearsals..” He then congratulates the groups for using orchestras were appropriate. “In one or two instances a work has been given first with orchestra with triumphant effect, and then repeated (on grounds of economy) with nothing but pianoforte accompaniment, and the second performance fell so flat that everybody felt that the orchestra must be a sine qua non from this time forward.” The report itself by President S. Lothrop Thorndike covered the events of the group’s third season. (Dwight (August 16, 1879): 133 and 134)

The 1879-80 Season had a new element. “Since its first year the club had given its concerts in Tremont Temple, but during the summer of 1879 that hall was destroyed by fire and the Cecilia was driven for the next season to the Music Hall. It was felt to be a disadvantage. The Music Hall was too large for the club and the kind of work it had taken upon itself to do. But there was no help for it, and in the Music Hall were given the four concerts of the fourth season – and the number of active members was increased to 150 to partly compensate for the size of the Hall.” The original size of the choir when first organized was “about a hundred picked voices.” (Cecilia program clippings May 10, 1882 concert-BPL Collection) For the 1879-80 season, the Annual Assessment for Associate members was raised to $15 and additional Associates were admitted-this was due to the added costs of performing in the Music Hall. (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1)

This image appears in a chapter from the H and H Society History covering the years 1891-92. However, the darker beard and more hair would seem to place it much earlier. He would seem to be in his early forties. Bradbury, History of the Handel and Haydn Society, 1890-1897, between pages 24 and 25.

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CHAPTER 03. (Part 2) BJL:APOLLO/CECILIA/TCHAIKOVSKY:1871-1881. SC.(G) WC. TOPICS: HANDEL AND HAYDN SOCIETY- TCHAIKOVSKY PIANO CONCERTO NO. 1-WORLD PREMIER. (P2)

CHAPTER 03. (Part 2) BJL: APOLLO/CECILIA/TCHAIKOVSKY: 1871-1881.   SC (G)  WC: 12,617.     (9/20/2020)

  • HANDEL AND HAYDN SOCIETY.                                                                              ARTHUR FOOTE.                                                                                                                       MECHANICS’ HALL CONCERTS: 1874 FEBRUARY-MARCH.                           SALEM CONCERT.                                                                                                                LANG AS HANDEL AND HAYDN ORGANIST: Third Triennial Festival.                LANG’S MOTHER DIED.                                                                                               BOSTON PHILHARMONIC CLUB.                                                                              APOLLO CLUB SEASON 1874-1875.                                                                             BUNKER HILL-100TH. ANNIVERSARY.
  • CECILIA-BEGINNINGS.                                                                                            THOMAS CHORAL SOCIETY.                                                                                                MR. JOHN F. WINCH.                                                                                                       MECHANICS’ HALL CONCERTS: 1875.
  • SUMMER of 1875.                                                                                                                 APOLLO CLUB SEASON 1875-1876.                                                                         CHAMBER MUSIC: SPRING SERIES 1876.
  • VON BULOW.
  • TCHAIKOVSKY PIANO CONCERTO NO. 1 WORLD PREMIER.

HANDEL AND HAYDN SOCIETY.

In the June 1874 Annual Report of the Handel and Haydn Society, Lang’s role as accompanist was noted. “The pianist who is willing to devote his time to the dry study of the intricate choruses of any new and difficult work with a society of amateurs like ours, who stumble at every step, requiring the closest attention on his part to aid them in their work, most assuredly must be induced to do so from love of the compositions and from the advantages which must thereby accrue to the cause of art, and in this his chief recompense is found. Mr. Lang has not only shown a self-sacrificing spirit in all this, but he has in no small degree contributed his powerful and valuable support to the chorus from his obscure position behind the Beethoven statue, [at the Music Hall] through the instrumentality of the superb organ under his control. One less skillful than he might have jeopardized many a performance, however able the hand which wielded the baton.” (Dwight (June 13, 1874): 244)

ARTHUR FOOTE (b. March 5, 1853 at Salem, MA and d. April 8, 1937 at Boston, MA).

 “Arthur Foote As a Young Man.” Grove, American Supplement-1920, 206. Used in Elson’s The History of American Music, 1904, 188.

Foote was among the many talented pupils of Lang, and their association then became one of colleagues. Lang first taught Foote when he was 14. In 1870 Foote began at Harvard having “the good fortune to find John K. Paine there. His coming in 1869 marked the beginning of real musical instruction and of the development of a Department of Music…There were naturally few students for Paine at that time; in fugue I was the only one, taking my lessons at his house. He was college organist as well, and I had sense enough to appreciate the beautiful improvisations which I heard at chapel. I owe a great deal to him, not only for the excellent teaching but also for the important influence which he had on me at a time when it was sadly needed.” (HMA Bulletin No.4, 1) Foote graduated from Harvard in 1874, and he took organ lessons from Lang that summer—Lang convinced him to continue his music study. A year later he graduated from Harvard with the first MA in music. Foote opened a piano studio next door to the Harvard Musical Association and became a member. He was appointed organist of Church of the Disciples 1876, then in 1878 at First Unitarian Church, Boston where he stayed until 1910. Foote shared Lang’s love of Wagner. He attended the first Bayreuth Festival in 1876 and the premiere of the complete Ring of the Nibelungen (Cipolla, Am Nat Bio, Vol. 13, 190) He made eight trips abroad over a twenty-year span. He married in 1880—his only child, Katharine was born in 1881.

On Wednesday, April 22, 1891, Foote led “The Ladies” Vocal Club of Salem” at the Cadet Armory Hall in one of three “Popular Concerts” sponsored by the “Salem Oratorio Society” whose conductor was Carl Zerrahn. In addition to the vocal numbers, piano pieces included Lang playing the Etude, Opus 25, No. 7 by Chopin and “Scherzo” from Sonata, Opus 31, No. 3 by Beethoven; Lang and Foote playing the Variations on a Theme from Beethoven by Saint-Saens: and the piano quartet of Lang, Foote, Phippen and Fenollosa playing the “First Movement” from Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony and Les Contrastes by Moscheles. Foote taught at NEC from 1921 until his death in 1937. (Cipolla, 150) “Though he lived to 1937, Foote absorbed no twentieth-century styles. He was not a bigot, like Dwight. Rather, he acknowledged his timidity with typical equanimity: ”My influence from the beginning, as well as my predilection, were ultra-conservative”…Foote’s failure to grow was typical of Boston: like the writers he knew and admired, he was both supported and stifled by a benign cultural environment.” (Horowitz, 99) following the lead of his teacher Lang, Foote presented a series of eight chamber music concerts “on every Saturday evening in February and March.” [1881] at the Chickering Hall, 156 Tremont Street. (BPL Music Hall Prog., Vol. 3) Another series was presented in 1882.

Original at the HMA. Used with permission.

MECHANICS’ HALL CONCERTS: 1874 FEBRUARY—MARCH.

Lang presented a series of four chamber music concerts on Thursday afternoons from 3:30 PM until 5 PM on February 19, March 5, 12 and 26, 1874. The first concert opened with Beethoven’s Sonata in C minor, Op. 30 for Violin and Piano and closed with the Fantasie in form of a Sonata, Op. 5 by Saran which “Mr. Lang played with unflagging spirit and great brilliancy…to the delight of the whole company” except for Dwight who felt that there was just too much expression even though he did have to admit that the title did allow “more or less of moody freedom in this regard.” (Dwight (March 7, 1874): 190) The Metronome reported on the first concert: “We were unable to be present, but are pleased to hear on every hand that the concert was a perfect success. It could not have been otherwise, for Mr. Lang has fairly earned the reputation of being one of the most thorough pianists among us, and his fine taste as regards selections cannot be questioned. Those who have observed his musical career, have been pleased to note that his ambition has led him in the direction of true progress, both technical and aesthetically; by true merit, through indomitable will and keen judgment he has arrived at a most enviable position in his profession.” (Metronome (March 1874): 90) Additional repertoire included songs by Beethoven and Mendelssohn by Mr. Nelson Varley, and Lang played Impromptus, Op. 5, on a Theme by Clara Wieck by Schumann as the middle piece. Lang followed the model of the era by including two other artists in the program; the singer and a violinist for the Beethoven Sonata, Op. 30.

A review by Dwight did not always guarantee a positive evaluation of Lang. The second concert “offered to a crowed audience” included Mendelssohn’s youthful Piano and String Quartet in B minor, Op. 5 with three members of the Mendelssohn Quintette Club “which he composed over two years before the Midsummer Night’s Dream Overture…Mr. Lang showed an easy mastery of its great difficulties, and the work went well as a whole.” Mr. George L. Osgood sang Schubert and Beethoven, and Lang played Chopin’s Fantasie in F minor, Op. 49, but not to the best review: “We have had [it] better played in concerts of Mr. Dresel and, more recently, of Rubenstein. Mr. Lang was not at his best in it, -at least not so happy as in his rendering of some other not less trying works of Chopin.” The concert ended with Schumann’s Piano Quintet in E flat major, Op. 44-no critical comment was made. (Dwight (March 21, 1874): 178 and 179)

On March 12, which was the third in the series, Lang and the brothers August and Wulf Fries played Mendelssohn’s Trio in C Minor.” Mr. Lang repeated the Fantasie Sonata by Saran, with the same brilliancy and clearness as before, and, to our feeling, much more satisfactorily with regard to evenness of tempo and chaste simplicity of expression. The concert closed with an admirable performance, by himself and Wulf Fries, of the Introduction and Polonaise, Op. 3 for piano and cello, by Chopin.” The tenor, Mr. Charles R. Hayden also performed. (Dwight (April 4, 1874): 206 and 207)

The final concert in that year’s series was given on March 26: it “was a remarkably attractive one, -at all events Mechanics’ Hall was thronged. The great feature was the Trio in B flat, Opus 52, [for piano, violin and cello] by Rubinstein, a fiery, strange, effective work, bristling with difficulties from which many a deft and staunch pianist might well shrink; but Mr. Lang seemed in his element while resolutely, gracefully surmounting them, and came out loudly cheered…Mr. Lang’s piano solos came all together in a series of six pieces in the middle of the concert…finally, again by Chopin, that ever welcome great Nocturne in C minor (opus 48), for which we have several times expressed our indebtedness to Mr. Lang, who played it con amore.”(Dwight (April 18, 1874): 214) The thirty-year-old vocalist Miss Clara Doria also took part. Miss Doria recently arrived in Boston, and Lang hired her professionally and then came to know her socially when she married the Boston lawyer Henry Monroe Rogers. The daughter of the English composer John Barrett,  Miss Doria was the “youngest student ever accepted by the Leipzig Conservatory, where she studied piano and singing.” (Grove Amer., Vol/IV, 75)

Wiliam F. Apthrop gave a very favorable review of the series; “Mr. Lang’s series of concerts at Mechanic’s Hall closed March 26. They have been decided favorites with the lovers of classical music, every concert being largely attended. With able assistants, Mr. Lang presented on each occasion good selections, and rendered them in a manner worthy of his high reputation as a musical artist.” (Brian, 59: original in Folio, May 1874, 148) Of course this was written by a former pupil of Lang’s.

Of the final three concerts, the Metronome thought that the programs would “compare favorably with those of any other series of classical concerts ever given.” This critic did not like the singer of the third concert “Mr. Chas. R. Hayden, who was neither happy in his selections nor the performance of them.” However, of Lang’s playing: “We were well aware of Mr. Lang’s’ rare ability as a pianist, but must say it occurred to us that he played at these concerts with more than his wonted excellence, and this opinion is shared by many who are best acquainted with his public performances. The concerts were attended by full houses.” (Metronome (April 1874): 3)

SALEM CONCERT.

Lang continued his early musical connection by various concerts throughout his career. On April 16, 1874 he presented a solo piano recital at Plummer Hall including music of Chopin, Mendelssohn, Handel, Schumann, Saran, Bargiel and Liszt. Also on the program were “Lang’s diversions, caprice and spinning song. The tickets were 50 cents. (Salem Register (April 13, 1874): 2, GB)

Other Lang appearances. HMA Program Collection.

LANG AS HANDEL AND HAYDN ORGANIST: THIRD TRIENNIAL FESTIVAL.

“Mr. B. J. Lang, the organist of the Handel and Haydn Society exhibited the greatest taste in his manipulations of the ”Grand organ” during the choral performance of the festival. This matter of organ playing in conjunction with chorus singing is a very important one, for the finest vocal effort can be totally destroyed by injudicious use of the organ. Mr. Lang’s quick perception in adding the organ at the right moment and in the right quantity was notable and deserves the highest mention. We can not recall to mind any organist who could have so skillfully filled the position. We think Mr. Lang stands alone in this particular…We would again draw the attention of our readers to the fact that Mr. Lang filled one of the most onerous positions in the performance of the festival, and with extraordinary success.” (Metronome (May 1874): 13) The Festival ran from Tuesday evening May 5 to Sunday evening May 10, and Lang’s energy was such that at the Friday St. Matthew Passion performance it was noted that “the great organ, Played by Mr. Lang, lent new intensity and overwhelming grandeur.” (Perkins, Vol. 1, 345)

On Saturday, May 9, 1874 Lang gave a solo organ concert. The program was: Fantasie in G-Bach, Sonata No. 4-Mendelssohn, Improvisation and Transcription for organ of Mendelssohn’s Hymn of Praise Symphony (in three parts). This was prepared along with the organ parts to: Handel’s Judas Maccabeus, the First part of  Haydn’s The Seasons, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Mendelssohn’s Hear My Prayer and Christus, Buck’s 46th. Psalm, Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, Paine’s new oratorio, St. Peter and Messiah. Both the conductor and organist were paid extra for the Festival; Zerrahn $1,000 and Lang $400. (Perkins, 350)

“Artistically, musically, the Festival was a great success,” (Perkins, 348) but there was a loss of $4,400 which “had to be assessed upon the guarantors.” However, this Festival had done better than the Second. The question was asked:  Is the Festival too long: “Why should we, in this busy country, attempt to go beyond the musical festivals abroad, which seldom, if ever, last more than three days?” (Perkins, 349)

LANG’S MOTHER DIED.

Lang’s mother, Hannah B. Lang (maiden name Learock) died from cancer on September 25, 1874 at 93 Waltham Street, Boston—57 years, 7 months. She had been born in Salem. Her father was listed as John Learock, also born in Salem, and her mother was also named Hannah; both her parents had been born in Salem. (Death Certificate)

BOSTON PHILHARMONIC CLUB.

In addition to promoting his own concerts, B. J. appeared in those organized by others. After the headline “Boston Philharmonic Club” Dwight wrote: “The first Classical Matinee of Mr. Bernard Listemann and his accomplished associates, took place Nov. 30th, in Mechanics Hall, before a very appreciative audience. And it was one of the finest chamber concerts we have heard for many a day.” After the String Quartet in D minor, Opus 77 by Raff, and a French Horn solo, “The piano selections were interpreted by Mr. Lang; that happy little, bright Allegro from Handel, with which he pleased so much last year, was played more exquisitely than ever; and that almost impossible Etude of Chopin, with the wide arpeggio chords, kept up unflaggingly, all came out clearly and effectively.” The concert ended with Beethoven’s Trio Opus 87 for Piano, Violin, and Cello. (Dwight (December 12, 1874) “The Boston Philharmonic Club” was organized much like the Mendelssohn Quintette Club in that it was a combination of string and wind players. The players in 1874 were: Bernard Listemann, violin; Fritz Listemann, violin; Emil Gramm, viola and violin; Adolph Hartdegen, cello; Eugene Weiner, flute, and Adolph Belz, horn and viola. The piano accompanists listed were E. Gramm. A. Belz, and F. Listemann (HMA Program Collection).

APOLLO CLUB SEASON 1874-1875.

Dwight reviewed the concerts of late 1874 as being “Singularly perfect and delightful specimens” of male part-singing. “The Apollo Club (64 good singers, with fine voices, and well balanced), have given two concerts, with essentially the same programme, to their crowds of friends; and never has their singing seemed so perfect in the finish and refinement, as well as the rich volume and grand power of tone, and the harmonious blending of tone colors” (Dwight (Jan 9. 1875): 367) Dwight continues by decrying that the group should spend so much time on trivial material, but concludes, “on the other hand, there was the grandly satisfying double chorus from Oedipus of Mendelssohn, which closed the concert, and was sung magnificently, to the effective piano accompaniment of their accomplished conductor, Mr. B. J. Lang.”(Dwight (Jan. 9, 1875): 367)

In 1875 Dwight continued his good reviews. Mentioning a June concert, he said: “The singing of the former (Apollo Club), -a well-selected, solid, and well-balanced body of 67 voices, -even surpassed their own high standard of past years. The sweet, pure, rich ensemble of tone, its vital resonance, was most remarkable; and the execution, in all points of precision, light and shade, etc., was singularly perfect. Vocal solos and a Rondo for two pianos by Chopin were also included. (Dwight (June 26, 1875): 47)

100th. ANNIVERSARY OF BUNKER HILL.

Nearly all the members of the Apollo Club, by invitation of the Bunker Hill Monument Association, assisted at the services on the occasion of the First Centennial Anniversary of the Battle of Bunker Hill, June 17, 1875. They sang the hymn God Save the Queen with words by Charles James Sprague and Loyal Song with music by Kuchen and words by Sprague. The final hymn had words by “G. W. W.” and music by Abt. The Benediction was given by Rev. Phillips Brooks. “G. W. W.” was George Washington Warren who was President of the Bunker Hill Monument Association, and he had given the address. Lang thought enough of the event that he saved his “City of Boston Pass” which allowed him “through all the lines, military and police.” (BPL Lang Prog., Vol. 2)

THE CECILIA-BEGINNINGS.

The Cecilia was formed in 1874 as a 100 member mixed choir as an adjunct of the Harvard Musical Association so that its orchestra would have “a choral adjunct to strengthen its position musically and financially.” (Hill-p.5) The first joint concert was held in The Music Hall on November 19, 1874 with Carl Zerrahn conducting (the choir had been prepared by Lang) and the second half of the concert was Mendelsohn’s First Walpurgis Night. Dwight wrote: “The introduction of the new Choral element and the first appearance of ‘The Cecilia’ drew an immense audience to the Music Hall on Thursday afternoon ‘at 3 PM precisely’, Nov. 19. This was the second concert of their tenth season. To give the hundred or more singers a fair chance on the stage, so that they could be massed together in the middle front, the orchestra was [?] placed down in front, on a platform half the height of the stage, and stretching over its entire width… The arrangement was, on the whole, a good one for the singers, but not so altogether for the orchestra.” After the opening overture, the first sounds from the new choral group were that of an a cappella madrigal by Weelkes, and this was followed by a Mendelssohn’s part—song  The Lark—both were conducted by Lang and were reviewed in a very positive manner. “The great event of the concert, and of the musical season so far, was the revival of Mendelssohn’s Walpurgis Night under the direction of Mr. Lang, who had first brought it out here in the small hall some ten years ago, giving it twice over in one evening. It was a success then; of course a much greater success now. Yet it was a bold undertaking, with only two orchestral rehearsals, only one for orchestra and chorus, to produce a work so difficult and so exacting… Dr. Langmaid sang the tenor solos with great sweetness and nobility of tone, and with consummate style and beauty of expression… We may find room to treat the theme with fuller justice should Walpurgis Night be repeated, which there is a fair prospect that it will be at an early date, as there has been much call for it; in that case, it will doubtless go still further and will be better understood.” (Dwight (Nov. 28, 1874): 343)

1874cecilia-1  Johnston Collection.

At the same time that Lang was preparing this new choir, he was also continuing his own piano performance career. This is shown by two ads that appeared next to each other in the Boston Daily Globe of November 28, 1874. The first ad announced “Four Subscription Concerts” to be given by the Boston Philharmonic Club. Lang played a Chopin piece as a soloist in the first program, November 30th. Just two days before he had been part of the committee that organized a “Grand Testimonial Concert” for Mr. J. D. Mansfield. Among the volunteer performers was Mr. C. R. Hayden, “The Favorite Tenor” who was Lillian Bailey’s uncle and voice teacher.

At the December 24, 1874 concert the First Walpurgis Night was indeed “Repeated by request” after its performance a month earlier. Dwight’s review reported that “The day, a busy one for many so preoccupied with Christmas trees and presents, besides being stormy, was not very favorable, and yet the audience was large and it’s attention hearty and unflagging from the beginning to the end of the cheerful and attractive programme… The repetition of the Walpurgis Night was decidedly an improvement on the first performance, gratifying as that was. [But there were no a capella pieces in this performance]. This was the fruit, partly, of renewed rehearsal by the singers, and partly of more self-possession and control of the orchestral forces acquired by Mr. Lang in the bringing out of the very trying prelude and accompaniments; nut it was also greatly owing to the better arrangement and chorus on the stage, the former being grouped behind the voices. The sopranos and altos were massed together on one wing of the front, the tenors and basses on the other, for the reason that the choruses in this work for the most part are alternating for male and female voices.” (Dwight (Jan. 9, 1875): 366) Two soloists were singled out for praise: “Mr. John Winch, whose grand voice and delivery, in the baritone solos of the Druid Priest, won him the chief honors; but the sweet tenor tones, the well-trained organ, the refined, expressive art of Dr. Langmaid, if not so telling in a great hall, deserve equal praise.” (Dwight (Jan. 9, 1875): 366)

The eighth Symphony Concert of the 1874-1875 season was given at 3 PM on Thursday afternoon, February 18, 1875, and it “drew a great crowd to the Music Hall to hear the first Boston performance with orchestra, of Schumann’s wonderful cantata Paradise and the Peri. The vast crowd listened to it all-for nearly two hours-with almost absolute attention, and with abundant signs at first of wonder, then of steadily increasing interest and delight… . Mr. Lang conducted carefully, -perhaps a little mite too anxiously, -but in the main firmly, doing his best to keep down the noisier instruments so as to give the voice a chance. It is obvious, however, that the instruments of the orchestra are sometimes not entirely sure of his intentions, and that the baton does not always lead them in spite of themselves… The Cecilia had been very patiently and thoroughly trained in all the choruses; if there was any fault it was that possibly the drill had been too strict and careful, leaving not enough of spontaneity and freedom to the singers for the best effect sometimes… But they had entered into their work with enthusiasm; the voices of sopranos and altos especially, were delightfully fresh and telling, and the tenors and basses showed a vigorous reinforcement since the Walpurgis Night was sung.” Only two professional soloists were used with the other solos being sung by members of the choir. “There appears to be a pretty general desire to have Paradise and the Peri repeated. Such an effort does indeed seem too great to be spent upon only one performance; and doubtless, a second time. Both public and performers would come better prepared both for the appreciation and the rendering of so great a work.” (Dwight (March 6, 1875): 398 and 399) Among the eight soloists were Miss Ida Welsh (Alto), Mr. George L. Osgood (Tenor) and Mr. John F, Winch (Bass). There was enough public interest to warrant a second performance which Lang conducted on Wednesday, April 14 at Horticultural Hall with one change among the soloists: “The part of the Peri this time will be sung by Miss Henrietta Beebe, of New York; the other solos as before (Mrs. Gilbert, Miss Ita Welsh, Mr. George L. Osgood, Mr. John F. Winch, etc.)” (Dwight (April 3, 1875): 415)

The reviewer in the Gazette took a less enthusiastic position. “There was an immense audience present, the hall being literally crammed. We do not think that Schumann’s genius was quite fitted to deal with the theme of this particular quality. In other words, to transfer to music the airy grace and delicate fantasy and the tender brilliance of Moore’s music. The sweetness of the poem and the almost melancholy seriousness of the music to which Schumann had wedded it, do not blend happily. The effect on the audience was, we think, disappointing. For the performance, we do not know what to say. It was good and bad in turn.” (Johnson, 331 and 332) The work had been presented in Boston eleven years earlier at a private performance at Chickering Hall on April 25, 1863 led by J. C. D. Parker and a “Club of amateurs” with the soloists, Mrs. Harwood, Miss Huntley, and Dr. Langmaid (Johnson, 331).

Just a month later the choir was part of a concert with the Harvard Musical Association Orchestra concert that included the Boston premiere of sections from Mendelssohn’s unfinished opera Loreley, Op. 98. Dwight’s review of this March 18, 1875 event at the Music Hall said: “The tenth and last concert of the tenth season called out a large audience on Thursday afternoon, March 18. The Cecilia, in full numbers, under Mr. Lang’s direction, again lent its valuable aid, and the programme consisted of about equal halves of vocal and of purely instrumental music.” The concert opened with the second performance of the Magnificat by Durante for choir and orchestra with “the choral parts well sung by the Cecilia,” and also included two part-songs by J. C. D. Parker conducted by the composer which “were to many of the singers’ pleasing reminiscences of the old Parker Club… They were indeed exquisitely sung, and were enjoyed as charming specimens of delicate, poetic harmony.” During the second half, three sections from Loreley were sung… “The ‘Finale’ is by far the most important of these fragments and the most important contribution of the Cecilia to that closing concert… The whole was given with great spirit and with vivid coloring, the alternate passages of chorus and soprano keeping up a breathless interest. Miss Whinery in the earlier portions was a little weak and tremulous, but she rose to the full height of the long, impassioned climax, her voice coming out quite splendidly on the high notes, showing what dramatic fire and fervor she is capable.” (Dwight (April 3, 1875): 414 and 415)

Print from the lower first page of Harper’s Weekly, April 13, 1867. Johnston Collection.

 Clark’s Boston Blue Book 1888,  320.

Thus in its first season, the Cecilia took part in four of the Harvard Symphony Concerts and repeated Schumann’s Paradise and the Peri after the season closed. (Music, June 3, 1882) Originally this repeat of the Schumann was to have been with orchestra, but “the music-loving public, probably from sheer satiety after so much musical excitement, seemed quite indifferent to so rare an opportunity. To have given it again, at so unpropitious a moment, would have entailed a serious loss…But Cecilia had her revenge, in a more private social way, by inviting her friends to Horticultural Hall, on Wednesday evening, and there, singing it with simple pianoforte accompaniment. And the entertainment was really delightful…The remarkably fine voices which comprise this chorus were at least heard for once, and the excellence of their singing was appreciated.; their sound was neither covered up by an overpowering orchestra, nor lost in space.” (Dwight (April 17, 1875): 7)

THOMAS CHORAL SOCIETY.

Just as Lang was establishing the Cecilia, another symphonic choir had been formed by the New York conductor, Theodore Thomas, for use in his Boston performances. In March 1875 it was noted that: “The Thomas Choral Society will rehearse Bach’s cantata My Spirit Was In Heaviness,” in Bumstead Hall, this evening.” It was described as one of Bach’s grandest works, and it would be an American premiere at the Thomas April 3 concert where “the society is to have the valuable assistance of Mr. Theodore Thomas’s orchestra and distinguished solo talent.” (Advertiser (March 18, 1875): 1, GB)

MR. JOHN F. WINCH.

1000 Massachusetts Men, 1888, 1013.

The Winch brothers were important members of Lang’s musical circle. William Johnson Winch (tenor) and John F. Winch (bass) were “Boston merchants, whose part-time careers as tenor and bass ranked them only a little lower than the angels.” (Johnson, Hallelujah, 135) “The Winch brothers illustrate a difference in temperaments. John F. Winch, the bass, was direct and positive in his acceptance of engagements. William J. took a long time to make up his mind whether or not he was available, whether or not he wanted to sing the role offered, or whether or not the price was acceptable, with or without expenses of hotels and travel. In as much as he was the best tenor for the music of Bach, some patience was needed to obtain a definite commitment.” (Idem, 133) On Easter Sunday 1874 the Handel and Haydn Society presented Mendelssohn’s Elijah. “The new point of interest was the rendering of the Prophet’s part by Mr. J. F. Winch whose rich, elastic quality of voice gave unusual life to all the music. And he improved as he went on; rarely anywhere have we heard the beauty and deep pathos of ”It is enough,” or the emphatic energy of ”Is not the word” more satisfactorily brought out.” (Dwight (April 18, 1874): 215) W. J. Winch was also a conductor- he led a performance of Gade’s Crusaders with the Salem Schubert Club on December 30, 1879 at Plummer Hall. (Dwight (January 31, 1880): 16) He appeared as soloist with the BSO on nine programs during the seasons ’85, ’89, ’90, ’91 and ’92. (Howe, BSO, 261) The 1892 appearance was as the tenor soloist in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. (MYB, 1892-93, 10) When Chadwick and his wife returned from their summer in Europe (1888) they “went by previous arrangement to Wm. Winch’s in Brookline, to stay until we found a place to settle down. His house was on Longwood Ave. next to the present No. 124 which was then a vacant lot…We had a delightful time at the Winchs, with fun and music every night and we made many new acquaintances among the nice people who live in that neighborhood. One night uncle Joseph, the eldest of the three Winch Bros. was at the house. We coaxed him to sing ”Every Valley” which he did in remarkable style for a man of seventy.” (Chadwick, Unpublished Memoirs) Clara Rogers described William Winch: “the ever genial and witty, and who had, happily, remained immune from tenor-itis…overflowing with fun, as usual.” (Rogers, Two Lives, 191)

CONCERTS AT MECHANICS’ HALL-APRIL 1875.

This illustration appeared in the Herald of September 17, 1897, 2.

“Mr. B. J. Lang gave the first of two concerts, at Mechanics’ Hall, last Thursday afternoon (April 22, 1875), which drew the large audience which his concerts always command; and it was a concert full of interest.” Two artists assisted: Miss Grace Sampson, one of his pupils, played Mozart’s Sonata in D for Two Pianos” with her teacher; the two giving us a very finished and artistic rendering…Miss Sampson’s touch is nice, her execution clean and even, and her whole performance had not a little of the fineness as well as the vigor of her master’s.” Miss Ita Welsh, not in the best of voice, sang four songs to Lang’s accompaniment, and his solos included Chopin’s Impromptu in F Sharp Minor, Handel’s Bourree in G, and the concert ended with Schumann’s Concertstuck in G, Op. 92 with Lang as soloist and his pupil playing the orchestral accompaniment. Dwight mentioned that Lang had played this work twice before with orchestra. (Dwight (May 1, 1875): 15)

The second concert on April 29 used the same three performers and the same program arrangement. At this concert Miss Ita Welsh was in fine voice earning and encore, “and in all her songs she succeeded admirably.” (Dwight (May 29, 1875): 30)

SUMMER of 1875.

“Aug. 7th. Lel sailed for Europe. Mr. Breed and Mr. Tucker with him…Aug. 23rd. Maidie and I to Stockbridge for a long visit with mother. It is very gay here. Continuous parties. I am often asked to sing, and must confess that I enjoy it all…Sept. 18th. Lel returned from Europe. He came directly up here.” (Diary 2- 1875)

APOLLO CLUB 1875-1876.

Dwight’s review of the January 1876 concert said that the club “sang more admirably than ever.” The Mendelssohn “Bacchus” chorus again closed the concert, and the guest soloist was a soprano from Brooklyn. But, “Part-songs, sentimental or playful, filled the intervening space, all sung with that exquisite finish, which becomes cloying after a certain time. One critic described the effect with more truth than he intended when he called the execution ”dead perfect.” It is not that anything can be sung too well; the secret of the fatigue lies, we think, in our feeling of the disproportion between comparatively little consequence of the music itself and the great amount of time and pains which it must cost to render it so perfectly.” (Dwight (Jan 22, 1876): 167) In a review following of the Boylston Club, mention is made of the Apollo Club’s having “many ripe, smooth, well-matched high tenors.” (Ibid)

This previous review provoked “S. L. B” (presumably a member of the Apollo Club) to write to Dwight-this letter Dwight published in two full columns of his February 5, 1876 edition. The gist of the letter was that the Apollo committee had spent much time and effort in researching the best male repertoire and that many of the great composers of the time had set short poems: If triviality is inherent in brevity, then all of these worthies must bear the charge, for they have not sought to elevate the character of Liederkranz and Mannerchor by offering important works…The mind is not always attuned to grandeur and profundity…The four-part songs of the great composers include some of their sweetest musical thoughts.” Dwight is forced to admit “That we cannot, any more than the Apollo Committee, draw up a list of noble pieces to be added to the Antigone choruses, etc., which they have already sung.” Dwight’s solution is to have the club become a mixed voice choir, a solution that they have not followed up to the current day.

Dwight review of the May 3 and 26, 1876 concerts began: “May and early June bring to the songbirds, with and without wings. Our vocal Clubs, -it is theirs by right to sing out the long concert season, and usher in the summer.” Dr. Langmaid (tenor), Mr. J. F. Winch (barytone), and Mr. W. J. Winch (tenor) were the featured soloists. The accompaniments were done on the piano, and five of the choral pieces had been translated “for the club by Mr. Charles J. Sprague sung on this occasion for the first time in this country.” It would seem that having the audience understand the texts was important to B. J. “We may truly say that we have never enjoyed an Apollo Concert quite so well as this one. It has long seemed as if they had about reached the last limit of attainable perfection in the balance and well-blended beauty of their voices, and the nice, effective and expressive execution of whatever music that are wont to undertake. But this time they really pushed the limit farther back; the rich, full manly, sweet ensemble of tone, the precision, force and delicacy of execution, the truth to every shade and contrast of sentiment, too, though still kept within the rather exhausted and monotonous sphere of male part-songs, had uncommon freshness…Mr. Sprague has been happy in his exploration after fresh material, as well as in his singable translations.” Dwight ended with a paragraph from another paper, the Advertiser:  “Upon the stage of the Music hall, during the concert of the Apollo club last evening was to be seen a very beautiful bronze statuette of the Apollo Belvidere. This work-a Barbedienne and an exquisite specimen of its kind-was obtained through Messrs. Bigelow, Kennard & Co., expressly for the active members of the Apollo Club, who last night presented it to their conductor, Mr. Lang. The gift was certainly an appropriate expression of the feeling of admiration and regard cherished by the corps for the accomplished artist under whose guidance they have won so many artistic triumphs.” (Dwight, June 10, 1876, pp. 246 and 247) Other reviewers were enthusiastic; the “Traveler” critic ended: “We cannot find words to say what is due to Mr. Lang. He gave his whole soul to the performance and inspired the singers throughout. A justifiable pride should be his in the success of the concert.” (Scrapbook) The Advertiser reviewer held the same opinion: “The last concert of the club marks the highest point which it has yet attained, and seems to leave little more to be accomplished.” (Scrapbook)

Music Hall-July 4, 1876. BPL Digital.

CECILIA SECOND SEASON: 1875–1876.

The choir took part in three of the Harvard Symphony Concerts during the 1875-76 Season. The third concert of the season was given Thursday, December 2, 1875 and included in the first half the cantata Spring’s Greeting by Gade, the 23rd. Psalm Op. 132 for female voices by Schubert. In the second half, two fragments from Mendelssohn’s unfinished opera, Loreley, the “Ave Maria” and the “Finale for Soprano solo and Chorus” were performed. “The attraction of the Concert was the singing with and without orchestra, by The Cecilia, conducted by Mr. Lang…The voices, now raised to about 120 in number, are fresh and musical, making a fine ensemble. The tones blend richly, beautifully; and all the four parts were effective, though the balance is still capable of improvement.” (Dwight (December 11, 1875): 142) Dwight felt that the Gade was not a major work, but charming. He commended Mr. Sumner for his accompaniment of the Schubert.

The sixth concert of the season, “owing chiefly to the attraction of the Cecilia, under Mr. Lang, had the largest audience of the season.” The choir sang Gade’s cantata, Comala, text from Ossian; the complete text was printed in the program. Part of the preparation for this concert was that Frances had to “copy the words of Comala into the orchestral score to help Lel.” (1876 Diary, January 4, 1876) “The performance was unequal; the male chorus of bards and warriors commencing rather timidly, partly because the time was taken too slow, and partly because they were too weak in number and too widely set apart upon the platform. The weakness was felt more than once. But the soprano and alto portion of the chorus was altogether beautiful and telling.” The soloists were mentioned: Miss Clara Doria “was in excellent voice;” Dr. Bullard sang with “judgment and refinement,” but was covered in many parts by the orchestra. (Dwight (February 5, 1876): 174 and 174) The second half of the concert had several shorter numbers including Schubert’s psalm setting of The Lord is My Shepherd, “repeated by request, confirmed the beautiful impression which it had made before, and must stand as so far the most successful effort of the Cecilia. The delicate piano part was nicely played by Mr. Arthur W. Foote, -A very spirited performance of the Fifth Symphony of Beethoven brought the concert to a grand conclusion.” (Ibid)

The tenth (and last) concert of the 1875-1876 season had Carl Zerrahn conducting the first half and B. J. Lang conducting the second half of the concert. The second part began with Bach’s cantata Ich hatte veil Bekummerniss with George L. Osgood and Miss Clara Doria as soloists who were members of the choir. John F. Winch, a non-chorus member was the bass soloist. It certainly speaks well of the choir that it and Lang attracted such fine voices as those of Osgood and Doria. Osgood was to go on to lead choirs somewhat in competition to the Cecilia; Doria would give up her solo career when she married a Boston lawyer in 1878, but she was very active as a vocal teacher and hostess on the Boston social scene until her death in 1931. G. W. Sumner as organist for this performance. An ad for the concert mentioned additional “members of the Cecilia” who would be soloists: Miss Ita Welsh, Dr. S. W. Langmaid and Dr. E. C. Bullard.” (Traveler (March 13, 1876): 3, GB) Dwight, while finding the “tenors and basses still inferior in number and volume to the sopranos and contraltos,” did better than in previous concerts. Knowing that a Bach cantata was a difficult offering for the Boston audience of this time, began one paragraph of his review with: “And what impression did the Cantata make? Good enough upon the whole, we think, to justify the risk of introducing it, and to give promise of better yet in this sort for the future.” (Dwight (April 1, 1876): 207)

By the spring of 1876 it had been determined that the choir, in fact, did not add financially, and separation was suggested. Gould cites the reasons for the separation as being the “frustration at being overwhelmed by such a large orchestra and the difficulty experienced by singing businessmen in attending the afternoon rehearsals.” (Gould-Our History Part 1, 1) A two-page notice dated November 16, 1876 gave details of the new, independent organization – about one-hundred singers, SATB, which would give three programs per season (each repeated) at Horticultural Hall, “the music presented to be a lighter character and greater variety than that which is offered by the larger choral societies of this city.” To defray expenses, three-hundred Associate members, either ladies or gentlemen were assessed $10 for which they received two tickets for every performance- “No tickets are to be sold.” The notice also stated that solo pieces would be included and that members of the choir would be used as soloists. This policy of using soloists from the ranks of the choir obviously made membership attractive to many singers, but it also was to create a problem for the future as in many works the voices were not up to the solo demands of the works performed-a fact that was cited by the critics often.


“Lel is almost ready to give up the conductorship of the Cecilia and the Bach Cantata Ass. All this because the Orchestra plays so carelessly and indifferently.” (Diary 2 – Winter 1876)

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CHAMBER MUSIC: SPRING SERIES 1876.

The two 3 PM chamber music concerts held in the spring of 1876 were given on Thursday afternoons March 23 and 30, again at Mechanics’ Hall. “His programmes were unique, the distinctive feature being the great prominence given to the French composer who has excited so much interest here of late, Camille Saint-Saens…On his visit to Europe last summer the Harvard Musical Association commissioned Mr. Lang to procure, for its Library and its Concerts, some of the principal compositions of Saint-Saens.” Dwight wrote at the time: Saint-Saens, “organist at the Madeline in Paris, a musician thoroughly trained in the best classical school, at home in Bach [important to Dwight], [had] a streak of genius in him.” (Dwight (April 15, 1876);  213) As a result of Lang’s music-buying the HMA performed the Saint-Saens Second Piano Concerto with Lang as the soloist, and the Concerto for Cello with Mr. Wulf Fries and the symphonic poem, Phaeton.

For the first concert on March 23 concert, Lang and Arthur Foote opened with the American premier [Foote, Auto., p. 44] of Saint-Saens’ Variations for Two Pianofortes on a Theme by Beethoven, Opus 35 which had just been composed and published only two years before in 1874. “These were the days when St. Saens’ music came to us as a stunning novelty.” (Foote, Auto., 44) About twenty-five years later the Bostonian Mabel Daniels, who was a music student in Munich at that time (1902) recorded that she played this piece with her teacher. “I think it is great, especially the big fugue at the end.” (Daniels (Am. Girl): 258) It would be interesting to know if she had previously heard the work in Boston. In the same concert Miss Ita Welsh sang two songs, Lang played four short Bach pieces as transcribed by Saint-Saens and the concert ended with Lang as the soloist and Foote providing the orchestra parts in the Saint-Saens Concerto No. 2 in G Minor. Lang had played the American premiere of this work two months before with Carl Zerrahn conducting the Harvard Musical Association at the Music Hall. Lang was able to play the work with an orchestra again at the end of the year. He performed with The New York Philharmonic Society led by Leopold Damrosch on December 9, 1876, but the New York premiere of the work had been done only one day before with the Thomas Orchestra at Steinway Hall with Annette Essipoff, pianist!

The program of the second chamber music concert again followed the outline of the first. The Trio in F Major for Piano, Violin, and Cello by St. Saens played by Lang and the two Wulf brothers opened the concert, followed by two songs, this time sung by Miss Lillian Bailey were separated by four Bach/Saint-Saens transcriptions, and the concert ended with Lang as the soloist in the Tschaikowsky (sic) Piano Concerto in B Flat Minor and the orchestral part played by Arthur Foote. (BPL Lang Prog., Vol. 2)  Dwight did not enjoy the Tchaikovsky. “The Russian Concerto suffered peculiarly by being deprived of its orchestral background; for it is a work conceived in the extreme modern style, dependent upon brilliant accessories and color contrasts for its effect.” Then Dwight weighed in with his critical comment on the work. “Without these, what intrinsically remains, with all its ingenuity and brilliancy, seems poor and uninspired and dull. Mr. Lang had mastered its immense technical difficulties surprisingly well…How much of the pretentious music of today can bear this test? But Beethoven is Beethoven if you only feel his shadow pass you in the twilight.” (Dwight (April 15, 1876): 213 and 214) Lang had been the conductor of the world premiere of the Tchaikovsky concerto with Hans von Bulow as soloist only six months before (October 25, 1875).

This had been Miss Bailey’s debut: “She is a bright, enthusiastic maiden of sixteen, with a soprano voice of singular purity and sweetness, and of a sympathetic quality. For one so young she seems to have made careful studies, as well as to have intelligence beyond her years.” (Ibid) The opera singer Clara Rogers was also present at Bailey’s debut, and she noted: “Her singing at that time was almost amusingly unbridled, but her fresh, young voice and musical instinct had a charm of their own. She had not then the remotest idea how to adapt the spoken sentence to the musical phrase; good diction was an unknown quantity to her! I mention this because it was precisely the timely acquisition of good diction in her studies abroad that made her a finished artist; the distinguishing feature of her delightful singing being her faultlessly clear enunciation of every word.” (Rogers (Two Lives): 70 and 71) Dwight also remarked on the vocalist: “A fresh and interesting feature of this concert was the singing of Miss Lillian Bailey,-her first public effort, we believe. She is a bright, enthusiastic maiden of sixteen, with a soprano voice of singular purity and sweetness. For one so young she seems to have made careful studies, as well as to possess intelligence beyond her years, and we should say a decidedly musical nature.” Lang seems to have found and helped yet another young talent. (Dwight, Op. cit.)

von BULOW.

It was von Bulow more than anybody else who by the force of personality, skill, perseverance and rasplike intelligence established the supremacy of the German school for several decades. He was the archetype of the German Tonkunstler: demanding, dictatorial, testy, chauvinistic, convinced of his superiority, possessed of a fine musical culture plus executive ability and leadership…The most valued member of the Wagner circle, he conducted the world premiers of Tristan und Isolde in 1865 and of Die Meistersinger in 1868. During the Tristan period, he was married to Liszt’s daughter Cosima. Wagner and she had an affair, three children resulted, and eventually, she divorced von Bulow for him.” (Schonberg, 244)                                                     von Bulow had met Liszt in 1849 and was overwhelmed. After hearing him play a number of times he did a self-analysis of his own piano technique: “a want of freedom and spontaneity” he decided. In 1850 Liszt agreed to take him as a student, and von Bulow “turned out to be his first great pupil.” (Op. cit., 246) After three years of study, he began his concert career, and then two years later he mixed administration, opera and orchestral conducting into his schedule.                                                                                                                    He made three tours to America. The first, 1875-76, was arranged by Chickering-they paid $20,000 for 172 concerts (he completed 139) The Tschaikovsky premier was on this tour. The second tour was in 1889 and the third in 1890. At first, America impressed him. He enjoyed studying the women, especially their ears. In Chicago, the critics attacked him for his “heavy” programs. At a concert soon after, he spoke to the audience saying that as a German he would “always worship in the temples of the great masters,” and that he felt that he did not have to play down to them as “American audiences are the best before which I have had the honor to play anywhere in the world.” (Op. cit. 247)                                                                           He never seemed to overcome his self-analysis of “a want of freedom and spontaneity.” The critic James Huneker called his playing “all intellect: his Bach, Beethoven, Chopin and Brahms were cerebral, not emotional. He has the temperament of a pedant.” Clara Schumann wrote: “To me he is the most wearisome player; there is no touch of vigor or enthusiasm, everything is calculated.” Another critic found his tone rang like steel and was almost as hard. (Op. cit., 249) He died only three years after his last American tour in 1890, and his last year was spent in an institution.

TCHAIKOVSKY PIANO CONCERTO NO. 1- WORLD PREMIER.

The year 1875 was also important for Lang as an orchestral conductor as he led the world premiere performance of the Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with Von Bulow as the soloist on Oct. 25, 1875. This created quite a sensation. (Foote, Auto., 44) Lang learned the piece in “less than 24 hours.” (Herald (December 16, 1900): 17, GB-written when Lang again conducted the work 25 years after the premiere) Johnson in First Performances states that this concert was not actually part of the regular season given by the Harvard Musical Association, but that the group was “generally speaking the same body of players.” (Johnson, 364) Lang and Von Bulow had met back in the summer of 1860. Liszt had provided one of his own cards as an introduction to Von Bulow who was, at that time, his son-in-law. (Excerpt 1860 B. J. L. Diary)

The details of the event are covered well in the following story filed by the Boston correspondent of the Graphic. “Von Bulow’s Quarrel with Bergmann. It may not be generally known that Von Bulow quarreled with Carl Bergmann, who came on here to conduct the orchestra at his opening concerts. The New York conductor, be it known, is no stranger to Boston, for he came here twenty-four years ago at the head of the Germanians before proceeding to New York. At rehearsal, the German pianist is extremely fiery if things go wrong, and things did go exceedingly wrong at one of the preliminary rehearsals of the terribly difficult concerto by the Russian composer, Tschaikowski, which had never been performed at all until brought out here. Indeed, matters had gone wrong on several occasions. At this particular time, the diminutive doctor became more animated than ever, and made a sarcastic remark which Bergmann resented. The result was that the latter conducted one more concert, which was to finish the first week, and then departed for New York. There were some thoughts of sending for Dr. Damrosch, who is an old friend of Dr. Von Bulow, but it was decided to try Mr. B. J. Lang, who was also personally known to the pianist. Lang accordingly passed the next day, Sunday, in studying the music with Von Bulow, and the result was highly satisfactory to the latter and very creditable to our Boston musician, who continued to conduct at the remaining concerts.” (Cincinnati Daily Gazette (November 19, 1875): 2, GB)

Verlag Hans Dursthoff-Berlin: J. W. Johnston Collection.

Von Bulow almost did not make it to America in 1875. “During the end of the 1874-75 season, while on a tour to England, he suffered an ‘apoplectic stroke’ that partially paralyzed the right side of his body. In late June [1875] he wrote Cosima that his health was ‘completely shattered,’ and he feared he would be ‘incapable of starting for America.’ A couple of weeks later he was able to view his situation not ‘too tragically or pathetically’ but still made arrangements for a ‘fatal ending,’ drawing up his will and giving instructions to Cosima for disbursing his possessions. It was in this debilitated physical condition and cynical state that Bulow began the musical preparation for his American tour.” (Lott, Peoria, 237 and 238) He had done his will as “He knew that he would be in North America for at least nine months…There was a predictable division of money and personal property to the three daughters Daniela, Blandine, and Isolde (the last whom he continued to call his own.” (Walker, 211) Cosima was a major reason for this tour-it was six years since she had left him for his friend Wagner, “and he was still struggling to regain control of his life-mentally, emotionally, and physically.” (Lott, Trance, 530) He also needed money and this tour would provide that. Over a period of eight months, he was to give 172 concerts; this averaged five concerts per week for which he would be paid c. $20,000 (about $450,000 in 2018). However, even though during the early weeks (October 1875) he called America a “marvelous country” with “splendid people,” and he was “housed and served like a prince” which made him “consider remaining in the New World,” by the following March physical and emotional depression had set in and he “withdrew from his contract with thirty-three concerts remaining.” (Op. cit., 531 and 541) He had played 139 concerts in thirty-nine different American cities, and in some, such as Boston and New York, he gave multiple performances. 101 were solo recitals, 20 were with orchestra, and 18 were with chamber ensembles. (Op. cit., 548 and 549)

E. Bieber, Berlin “Photographer to the Court.” Johnston Collection.

“The American tour began in Boston, on Monday, October 18, 1875, after a very rough transatlantic crossing on the steamer Parthia, during which Bulow was seasick. Immediately after his arrival in Boston, he locked himself away in his private quarters at 23 Beacon Street. The local newspapers reported that he practiced for eight or nine hours a day-as well he might in view of the workload before him.” (Walker, 213)

For his first concert on October 18th. the Music Hall’s 2,700 seats were filled. His entrance caused some comment: “Bulow walked onto the platform, a short, dapper figure, carrying a hat. This disconcerting appendage he proceeded to place under the piano. He also wore gloves which he ceremoniously removed before surveying the audience with his usual aristocratic disdain…This opening concert was hugely successful and Bulow could not have been happier with the press notices…The New York Times accorded him a position of preeminence among the pianists who had visited America during the past fifteen years…During the first few days in Boston, Bulow gave four more concerts. But it was his appearance the following week, on October 25, that has entered the history books.” (Walker, 212 and 213) This was the world premiere of Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto.

Dwight’s Journal of November 13, 1875 states that this concert was the fifth in a series of seven, [dates of the concerts were: #1-Monday, October, 18;#2-Wednesday, October 20; #3-Friday, October 22; #4 Saturday, October 23;#5-Monday, October 25;#6-Friday, October 29; #7-Saturday, October 30] and that the entire program of number five was repeated for the seventh concert. Between the Monday, October 25 Fifth Concert and the Friday, October 29 Sixth Concert, Bulow gave two recitals in Providence! (Lott, p. 301) “Mr. Peck, to whose enterprise we are indebted for these seven feasts, has made arrangements to have him [von Bulow] return in January [1876] and give some concerts of Chamber music with the Philharmonic Club (Messers. Listemann, etc.).” The program for the Fifth Concert was:

Overture-Jessonda-Weber

Grand Concerto in B-flat (sic)-Tschaikowski

Sonata, Opus 27 (Moonlight Sonata)-Beethoven

Overture-Prometheus-Beethoven

Grand Fantasie, Opus 15- Schubert arranged for Piano and Orchestra by F. Liszt

Wedding March-Mendelssohn

“The Overtures went smoothly under the baton of Mr. Lang who had been called to succeed Mr. Bergmann and who [Lang], being himself a pianist and an enthusiastic admirer of von Bulow, was in better sympathy and understanding with him for the rendering of the extremely difficult, strange, wild, ultra-modern Russian score. It is the composition of a young professor at the Conservatory in Moscow, a pupil of Rubinstein’s (indeed the work contained not a few suggestions of the master), and is dedicated to Bulow, who complimented Boston very first performance. A compliment well-meant, and warmly responded to by the applauding audience, -twice-for this program was repeated for the seventh concert… How wonderfully von Bulow rendered it, there is no need of telling; all that a hearty sympathy, a masterly conception, and an infallible technique could do for it, it had the fullest degree; and the young author well knew that his work could not suffer in such hands.”(Johnson, First Performances, 364) “Privately, Bulow thought Lang’s performance was ‘very decent’ and a repeat performance of the Tchaikovsky was ‘most spirited.’ Publicly, he linked his arm in Lang’s after his first performance and insisted on sharing the applause with him. ” (Lott, Peoria, 243) Lott amplifies this story in a footnote, saying: “One writer remembered Bulow being ‘extravagant in testifying his satisfaction’ with Lang and reported this conversation with the pianists: ‘Did you see my little scene with the conductor?’ I said that I did, and asked why he was so desperately demonstrative, and why he made such a scene. ‘Ah! you ask that? I expected you would,’ he said. ‘But why not? It did me no harm, and it may do him good. Besides, I was so grateful that the conducting was no worse, that I could not restrain myself.”’ (Lott, 339) Bulow’s gratefulness extended to having Lang also conduct the sixth concert: “The little orchestra still manifested improvement,” and Lang also appeared with von Bulow in the last piece: “The Chopin Rondo (in C Major for two pianos) was very finely rendered by both artists, who kept perfectly together; and this compliment of Von Bulow to his new conductor, like the one before, when he led him out to share the honors of a recall, found a sympathetic audience.” (Dwight (November 13, 1875): 126) Recently Steinberg mused: “I do wonder, though, what it all sounded like with B. J. Lang’s little orchestra with its four first violins (Steinberg, 477) Dwight had reported in his issue of October 30, 1875 concerning the fifth concert in the series: “Carl Bergmann’s baton gave a fair outline, although, to be sure, four first violins were rather thin and feeble for the great crescendo of the Leonora No. 3.” Dwight earlier in this same review had said: “There has been an orchestra, a small one to be sure, with the best conductor in America at its head during the first week” of the von Bulow concerts. (Dwight (Oct. 30, 1875): 118) This would then make Lang better than the best conductor then in America!

Upton, Musical Memories, facing 54.

The question remains as to why Bergmann was dismissed which then gave Lang his chance to conduct. Bulow recorded that “Bergmann had not taken much interest in the concerts as he had in drinking beer, he had missed two meetings to discuss the concerts which forced Bulow to make suggestions to the orchestra himself, and then, while Bulow was beginning his solo pieces in one of the concerts, Bergmann audibly invited the musicians to ”go get some refreshments,” and brought six of them back half tipsy.” (Lott, Peoria, 251) At Bulow’s next stop on his tour, New York City, he was asked during an interview with the New York Sun to explain why he had fired Bergmann who was well regarded, especially in the German community. Bulow began “by denouncing Bergmann as incompetent. He then went on to berate him for ”showing more interest in drinking beer” than in pursuing his duties as a conductor…The interview was so outspoken that it created what Harper’s Magazine called a ”hullabulow”. The German press gored him, calling him a great artist but a small man. That only made matters worse. Bulow went on to criticize the Germans in general as a beer-swilling crowd who drank until their brains were stupid, rendering them incapable of appreciating great music because they listened to everything through an alcoholic haze. This led to a further outcry and Bulow received the predictable crop of hostile letters.” (Walker, 214)

As late as the program for the Forth Concert held on October 23rd., Bergmann was still listed as the conductor of the fifth concert to be held two days later! In the fifth concert program, Lang is advertised as the conductor, and also for the sixth and seventh concerts, which was a repeat of the material from the fifth concert. Nowhere in the program is there any mention of who the orchestra was. Walker describes the group as “a scratch orchestra of a mere thirty-five players.” (Walker, 213) Also, there were no notes about the music, but only various articles about von Bulow. (HMA Program Collection) Bergmann, as conductor of the New York Philharmonic, had built that group “into a fine orchestra,” but according to Howard Shanet, “the modern chronicler of the Philharmonic,” Bergmann “was now professionally so sloppy, spiritually so depressed, physically so decayed, and continually so drunk that only the great affection that his men bore him kept him in his post.”…”By August 1876 he would be dead.” (Lott, Peoria,  251 and 152) This was a sad ending for someone who had conducted the New York Philharmonic beginning in 1858: “Bergmann was the Philharmonic’s most potent artistic personality for more than three decades. He also happened to be America’s first potent advocate of the music of Richard Wagner.” (Horowitz, Wagner, 38) The careers of Theodore Thomas and Bergmann “intertwined…Thomas, fourteen years Bergmann’s junior, frequently played the violin under Bergmann’s baton. Bergmann was initially the cellist in the historic chamber-music concerts of Thomas and the pianist William Mason. It was Thomas who brought the work Bergmann had helped begin to a plateau of high fruition.” (Ibid) In Thomas’s autobiography he evaluates Bergmann: “Bergmann was a talented musician and a fair ”cello player…He lacked most of the qualities of a first-rank conductor, but he had one great redeeming quality for those days which soon brought him into prominence. He possessed an artistic nature and was in sympathy with the so-called ”Zukunft Musik” [”Music of the Future”]. He lacked the force, however, to make an impression, and had no standard. He derived his principal inspiration from our chamber music practice. His readings of Beethoven’s works showed clearly that he had no tradition, and that it was not based on study.” And, if this was not damning enough, Thomas ended with: “Bergmann never practiced.” (Horowitz, Wagner, 38 and 29)

TCHAIKOVSKY PREMIER.

HMA Program Collection

Von Bulow had made known that “the grand composition of Tschaikovsky, the most eminent Russian maestro of the present day, composed last April and dedicated by its author to Hans von Bulow, has NEVER BEEN PERFORMED, the composer himself never having enjoyed an audition of his masterpiece. To Boston is reserved the honor of its initial representation and the opportunity to impress the first verdict on a work of surpassing musical interest.” (Steinberg, 477) Originally the composer had dedicated the piece to Nicolai Rubinstein, Head of the Moscow Conservatory (from its founding in 1866 to his death in 1881), but Rubinstein’s reaction, which Tchaikovsky recorded three years after the event in a letter to his patron, von Meck so upset the composer that he vowed to ignore Rubinstein’s suggestions and publish the work “exactly as it stands”-which he did (Steinberg, 475) He wrote to von Meck: “It transpired that my concerto was no good, that it was impossible to play, that some passages were hackneyed, awkward, and clumsy beyond redemption, that as a composition it was bad and banal, that I had pilfered this bit from here and that from there, that there were only two or three passages which would do, and that the rest would have to be either discarded or completely reworked.” (Lott, Peoria, 241 quoting from a letter) The connection between the composer and von Bulow seems to be Karl Klindworth who “was a colleague [of Tchaikovsky] at the Moscow Conservatory,” and with Bulow, a fellow pupil of Liszt. (Ibid) “Bulow had already written favorably of some of Tchaikovsky’s earlier works… Upon receiving the concerto, Bulow wrote to Tchaikovsky: ”The ideas are so lofty, strong, and original. The details, which although profuse, in no way obscure the work as a whole…The form is so perfect, mature, and full of style – in the sense that the intention and craftsmanship are everywhere concealed.”” (Ibid) After such a response, naturally, the work was given to von Bulow.

Not everything was perfect at the premiere. “The distinguished Boston composer George W. Chadwick, then just about to turn 21, heard the performance and recalled in a memoir years later, ”They had not rehearsed much and the trombones got in wrong in the ”tutti” in the middle of the first movement, whereupon Bulow sang out in a perfectly audible voice, ”The brass may go to hell.” This was the first Tchaikovsky piece [I] ever heard and I thought it the greatest ever, but it rather mystified some of our local scribes [critics], who could not have dreamed how many times they would have to hear it in the future.” (Ledbetter, Program Note) “Critical reaction to what is now the world’s favorite piano concerto was decidedly mixed. its lyrical themes and colorful orchestration were immediately recognized and praised, but the sheer length of the work and the rambling first movement, in particular, were obstacles to appreciation. The Boston Evening Transcript found the ”elaborate work [to be] as difficult for popular apprehension as the name of the composer.” because of the ”long stretches of what seems, on the first hearing at least, formless void, sprinkled only with tinklings of the piano and snatchy obbligatos from all the various wind and string instruments in turn.” Dwight judged the last movement of the ”strange, wild, ultra-modern work” to be ”extremely brilliant and exciting,” but he wondered whether the public could ”ever learn to love such music.” …The public’s response was not nearly as guarded. A reporter for the New York Daily Tribune, in Boston for the premiere, thought the performance was ”irresistible, and the effect upon the audience most intense.” In fact, the exhilarating last movement, despite some ensemble problems, was so enthusiastically received that it had to be repeated. Tchaikovsky wrote to Rimsky-Korsakov after Bulow informed him of this demand, which happened more than once: ”Think what appetites these Americans have: after every performance Bulow was obligated to repeat the entire finale! Such a thing could never happen here.”” (Lott, Peoria, 241 and 242) Having taken over as conductor of the fifth concert, Lang was retained for the sixth concert and then the seventh. For the sixth concert, he had only two or three days to prepare another new piece, the Raff Concerto!

SIXTH CONCERT PROGRAM.

HMA Program Collection.

Lang was also the conductor for the Sixth Concert on October 29, 1875 (see program above). Note that Lang and von Bulow ended the concert with Chopin’s Rondo in C Major, a piece that Lang would later program with his pupils. Lang and von Bulow repeated the Grand Concerto as part of von Bulow’s Seventh and final Concert in Boston.

Genealogy Bank. June 19, 2020.

 

Then during December of the same year, at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia von Bulow played five concerts. On Friday, December 17, 21, and 22 these were orchestral performances, and on December 18 and 23 these were solo recitals. Lang’s name was printed as the conductor for the third and fourth concerts and was written in as conductor for the first concert, but the Tchaikovsky does not appear in any of these programs. (BPL Lang Prog.) Lang’s biographical entry in the 1886 A Handbook of American Music and Musicians edited by F. O. Jones characterized his conducting as follows: “His calmness and presence of mind under all circumstances and surety of score reading has more than once saved a careless or nervous performer from disaster. These qualities make him one of the best conductors, and enabled him to successfully act in that capacity for the belligerent von Bulow and the meteoric Joseffy.” (Jones – first page of ”L” section) Von Bulow played the Tchaikovsky Concerto in 139 out of a total of 172 concerts that he presented that 1875-76 season! As a performer himself, Lang was very considerate of the soloist when he conducted. Apthorp relates more of Lang’s experience with von Bulow in their Philadelphia appearance. Lang, “having heard reports that the Philadelphia orchestra was none of the best at that time, besides knowing that von Bulow was liable to be nervous and at times rather obstreperous at rehearsals, thought it wise to have some rehearsing without his presence. Among other things Beethoven’s G major concert [sic] was to be played; Lang agreed with von Bulow to have the rehearsal at ten o’clock the next morning, but privately sent word to the orchestra that it would be called at nine. This would give him an hour’s rehearsal before von Bulow appeared on the ground. The orchestra assembled as ordered, the orchestral numbers and accompaniments were rehearsed; when it got to be six or seven minutes to ten, Lang and the orchestra were still hammering away at the accompaniment to the G major concerto. But it happened that von Bulow got there some minutes before his appointed time, and, finding Lang already rehearsing without him, took a seat at the back of the hall to wait until this unexpected preliminary rehearsal should be over. Lang standing with his back to the house, of course, did not see him and went on with his work unsuspicious of his presence. When the orchestra got to the tutti hold on the dominant that ushers in the cadenza and Lang had cut the chord short with a wave of his baton, he was not a little startled to hear von Bulow shriek out behind him in his sharpest and most acrid voice: ‘The woodwind may go to hell!’ Lang turned around just in time to see the infuriated pianist jam his stove-pipe upon his head and rush out of the hall as fast as his legs could carry him; von Bulow was not to be found again that morning, and the G major Concerto was played in the evening without rehearsal with the pianoforte.” (Apthorp, 357 and 358) When this story was repeated in the Springfield newspaper, the writer interpreted this last sentence to mean that “in the evening the concerto was played with a piano accompaniment instead of the orchestra.” (Springfield Republican (September 29, 1893): 10, GB) However, the concerts went well: the pick-up orchestra played accurately and expressively under Lang’s meticulous direction. What he lacked in magnetism, Lang compensated for through his careful study and preparation of the orchestra… Bulow’s faith in Lang’s abilities was validated by excellent performances…Bulow’s continued to share the credit publicly with Lang. After a performance of Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto, Bulow grabbed both of Lang’s hands and ”led him impulsively to the footlights to share blushingly the honors of the occasion.” (Lott, 260) Later, Lang himself was the soloist in this work at performances with the BSO in 1883 and 1885. (Steinberg, 473)

Another story of von Bulow’s “artistic eccentricities” was told about his appearance in Baltimore. While the conductor was rehearsing the orchestra von Bulow “shot out” as if fired by a gun,”advanced through the forest of trombones and big fiddles to the conductor’s stand…caught him to his bosom and kissed him.” (Memphis Ledger (December 21, 1875): 2, GB, reprinted from the Baltimore Bulletin) The conductor was an old pupil of his, but this joyous reunion “lasted but a moment, and the darker side of his temper flashed out.” Von Bulow was upset that the piano maker, Chickering, had sent a sign with “large gilt letters” which was placed on the instrument. First, he placed it face down, then, during the rehearsal, he moved the sign to “under the tail” of the piano,” and then he later got up and kicked it…’I am not’ he said with a look of scorn, ‘ a traveling advertisement’…Thus was he appeased with blood.” (Ibid)

Articles before the concert talked about fortunate Philadelphia was to have von Bulow perform there; it would be his first performance in the city. On review began by calling the event “a conspicuous event in our musical history…The pleasure incident to his performance is lasting, thorough and complete…It was so perfect that criticism seems out of place.” (Philadelphia North American (December 18, 1875): 2, GB)  “In all of these the same easy mastery of difficulties, the same felicity of expression and the same entire subordination to the music in hand was apparent.” (Philadelphia Inquirer (December 22, 1875): 8) He was called an equal to Rubinstein and Thalberg, both of whom had performed to great acclaim in the city. Comments about Lang were also made before the concert. One noted that he was a “pianist and organist of high repute, but not an orchestral director in any sense,” while the same paper also said: “Why he was selected as the director of a Philadelphia orchestra remains to be seen.” (Philadelphia Inquirer (December 13 and 17, 1875): 3 and 8, GB) Five days after the second comment about Lang, the Inquirer included the following: “One word should be said in praise of the orchestra at these concerts. It was hastily collected from such material as was attainable. Many of the best performers…could not be had. But the thirty-six gentlemen composing the orchestra have shown a care and intelligence, and an unusual degree of accuracy and expression in the accompaniments, which must have been as gratifying to the soloist as to the audience. Mr. B. J. Lang directed last night with his usual care, and shows long study of and familiarity with the music.” (Philadelphia Inquirer (December 22, 1875): 8, GB) The other reviewer called the orchestra as one “of only fair capability, very well led by Mr. Lang of Boston.” (North American, Op. cit.)

Genealogy Bank. June 19, 2020.

  • Philadelphia Inquirer, December 22, 1875, 8, GB. Comparing the ad with the program below you can see that the three additional orchestral pieces were not listed in the ad. There were obviously other orchestral pieces for the December 17 and 21 concerts. Fox lists the Overture-The Naiads, Opus 15 as being played December 22. Was there also an orchestral concert that night in addition to the recital?

PHILADELPHIA PROGRAMS:

Friday, December 17.  8 PM. Orchestra.  Beethoven: Piano Concerto # 4 and Liszt: Fantasie Hongroise (dedicated to von Bulow)

  • Saturday, December 18. 2 PM.  Recital.
  • Tuesday, December 21. 8 PM. Orchestra. Henselt: Concerto in f minor and Weber/Liszt: Polonaise Brilliante.
  • Wednesday, December 22. 8 PM. Beethoven: Piano Concerto # 5 and Schubert/Liszt Fantasie. Von Bulow also played four solo Chopin pieces AND the orchestra played, Mozart: Overture-Magic Flute, Mendelssohn: Overture-Return from Abroad and Schubert-Entr’act from Rosamond.
  • Thursday, December 23. 2PM. Recital.

During November and the first two weeks of December, Lang would have had to learn the Henselt Concerto and the Liszt Fantasie Hongroise together with three orchestral pieces for the December 18 and 21st. concerts. Certainly from the reviews he found time to do this among his others responsibilities.

Tchaikovsky was very moved by the news of Bulow’s success with his concerto. In a letter dated February 13, 1876 he thanked Bulow for the news of “another American success that I owe to you,” the first being the Boston premiere. (Walker, 214) This second success was the New York performance of the concerto led by Leopold Damrosch whom Bulow had known in Weimar. For this performance, the finale was also encored as it had been in Boston. Tchaikovsky also noted that he had known Bulow “only a short time,” and having been treated so badly by his mentor, Anton Rubinstein, Tchaikovsky expressed to Bulow “the immense gratitude that I owe you, to you who were not my master and who are not even a compatriot.” (Walker,  215)

Bulow had some interesting observations on the musical audience in Boston. A year after his first appearances there, in 1876, Bulow told the Chicago Times: “There are two types of musical cultivation: for want of better terminology. I might call them in-breath and in-depth. In the latter respect, I would consider Boston the most cultivated; but the people are narrow and too pretentious for the measure of their knowledge. Puritanism has frozen art in New England; it’s a miracle that it hasn’t killed it altogether in the last 100 years. The Bostonians feel their indifference not only to an extreme degree: they even display it openly with pride. Presumably they reckon it as one of the Fine Arts. But that it is not. It is simply a form of paralysis…nevertheless, for a certain sort of technical facility and depth of musical cultivation, Boston takes first place.” (Horowitz, America, 10 and 11)

Lang also learned the solo piano part of the Tchaikovsky work. At the February 19 and 20, 1885 concerts (19th. Pair of the Fourth Season) of the BSO Lang soloed in this work which just ten years earlier he had conducted its world premiere; this time the conductor was Georg Henschel. He had done the “Allegro” only at a Fitchburg concert of March 1883. Lang was still conducting this work 25 years later. At a Sunday night December 16, 1900 concert at Symphony Hall, Lang conducted an orchestra of 55 in a “GRAND CONCERT given by and for the benefit of the Musicians” Aid Society.” The orchestra solos were the “Overture” to St. Paul by Mendelssohn and the Overture-In Memoriam by Sullivan (Mr. J. Wallace Goodwich-organist) The main soloist was Ossip Gabrilowitsch who played the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto in B Flat Minor Opus 23 and Liszt’s Hongarian Fantasie for piano and orchestra. (BPL Lang Prog.)

>>> Part: 1   2   3   4 

CHAPTER 03. (Part 1) BJL:APOLLO/CECILIA/TCHAIKOVSKY:1871-1881. SC(G). WC. TOPICS, PREMIERS, RETURN TO HARNESS-WORCESTER RECITAL.

APOLLO/CECILIA/TCHAIKOVSKY: 1871-1881. SC(G) TOPICS. Total Words: 12,163

TOPICS.

  • PART 1                                                                                                                              RETURN TO HARNESS.                                                                                                   APOLLO CLUB: FORMATION.
  • B. J.’S SISTER-MARIETTA (ETTA) AND FAMILY MUSICALES.               RUBINSTEIN PIANO CONCERTO IN G-BOSTON PREMIER.                         SECOND SERIES OF CONCERTS AT THE GLOBE THEATRE.                      STUDENT CONCERTO CONCERTS II.                                                                             RUTH BURRAGE ROOM.
  • WORLD PEACE JUBILEE: 1872.                                                                                                SUMMER OF 1872.                                                                                                                TREMONT TEMPLE REOPENING.                                                                                        HOUSE AT 8 OTIS PLACE.                                                                                       NATIONAL COLLEGE OF MUSIC.                                                                                GREAT BOSTON FIRE.                                                                                                     APOLLO CLUB SEASON 1872-1873.                                                                 MECHANICS’ HALL CONCERTS-MARCH 1873.                                                     EARLY CHORAL GROUPS; SOLOIST; ACCOMPANIST of the                                      SOUTH BOSTON CHORAL UNION, CHELSEA CHORAL SOCIETY and
  • BOSTON ORCHESTRAL CLUB.
  • MADAME ERMINA RUDERSDORF.                                                              MENDELSSOHN QUINTETTE CLUB AND THE CATHOLIC CHORAL SOCIETY.                                                                                                                                SALEM ORATORIO SOCIETY.                                                                                             APOLLO CLUB SEASON 1873-1874.                                                                    BOYLSTON CLUB.                                                                                                   WORCESTER RECITAL.
  • PART 2                                                                                                                                HANDEL AND HAYDN SOCIETY.                                                                              ARTHUR FOOTE.                                                                                                                       MECHANICS’ HALL CONCERTS: 1874 FEBRUARY-MARCH.                           SALEM CONCERT.                                                                                                                LANG AS HANDEL AND HAYDN ORGANIST: Third Triennial Festival.                LANG’S MOTHER DIED.                                                                                               BOSTON PHILHARMONIC CLUB.                                                                              APOLLO CLUB SEASON 1874-1875.                                                                             100TH. ANNIVERSARY OF BUNKER HILL.                                                                    THE CECILIA-BEGININGS.                                                                                            THOMAS CHORAL SOCIETY.                                                                                                MR. JOHN F. WINCH.                                                                                                       MECHANICS’ HALL CONCERTS: 1875.
  • SUMMER 1875.                                                                                                                 APOLLO CLUB SEASON 1875-1876.                                                                         CHAMBER MUSIC: SPRING SERIES 1876.
  • VON BULOW
  • TCKAIKOVSKY PIANO CONCERTO NO. 1 WORLD PREMIER.
  • PART 3                                                                                                                                  LILLIAN JUNE BAILEY HENSCHEL. B. 1860, D. 1901.                                                  ST. SAENS-CONCERTO NO. 2.                                                                                MECHANICS’ HALL CONCERTS.                                                                              HANDEL AND HAYDN SOCIETY-LANG CONDUCTS.                                                SON AND STRANGER-MENDELSSOHN.                                                                  BOSTON CHURCH CHOIRS.                                                                                              WAGNER AND LANG.                                                                                                          LANG AS ASSISTING ARTIST.                                                                                           ST. SAENS PIANO CONCERTO NO. 2 IN NEW YORK CITY.                                 APOLLO CLUB SEASON 1876-1877.
  • APOLLO CLUB PUBLIC REHEARSALS.                                                                              PRESIDENT HAYES VISIT.
  • CECILIA-FIRST INDEPENDENT SEASON: 1876-1877.                                      CRAMER PIANOFORTE STUDIES.                                                                         AVERAGE WEEK.                                                                                                                         APOLLO CLUB SEASON 1877-1878.                                                                          CECILIA-SECOND INDEPENDENT SEASON: 1877-1878.                                   BIRTH OF ROSAMOND.                                                                                                 CECILIA CONTINUED.                                                                                                  CECILIA-THIRD INDEPENDENT SEASON: 1878-1879.

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

Instrumental Premiers:

(American) Bach: Concerto for Four Keyboards and String Accompaniment. Lang Concert at Mechanics’ Hall on April 1, 1880. (Dwight (May 8, 1880): 79)

(Boston) Beethoven: The Ruins of Athens (Selections), January 24, 1881.

(Boston) Bennett: Capriccio in E with HMA January 29, 1874. (Johnson, 59) He had played it in the chamber form before.

(Boston) von Bronsart: Concerto in F-sharp minor with HMA March 25, 1880. (Johnson, 93)

(Boston) von Bronsart: Piano Trio in G Minor, March 20, 1879.

(Boston) Goldmark: Pianoforte and String Quintet in B Flat, Opus 30. Lang Concert at Mechanics’ Hall, April 29, 1880. (Dwight, May 8, 1880, 79)

(Boston) Hiller: Concerto No. 2 in F-sharp minor with HMA January 14, 1875. (Johnson, 195)

(Boston) Rubinstein: Concerto in G major with HMA February 1, 1872. (Johnson, 302)

(American) Saint-Saens: Concerto No. 2 in G minor with HMA February 3, 1876 (Johnson, p. 309) He then played it in New York with the Philharmonic Society conducted by Leopold Damrosch ONE DAY after Annette Essipoff had played it’s New York premiere on December 8, 1876 with the Thomas Orchestra!

(Boston) Saint-Saens: Sonata for Cello and Piano in c Minor. Fries and Lang at a Lang Concert on April 1, 1880. (Globe Archive, April 2, 1880, 2).

(Boston) Schumann: Concertstuck in G-minor (Introduction and Allegro) with HMA, Zerrahn conducting, February 6, 1873. (Johnson, 330)

(Basic list from an unidentified obit, BPL Rare Books Room. Specific dates from Johnson)

(American) Raff: Sinfonietta, Op. 188 for ten woodwinds. Tremont Temple, February 24, 1881. Dwight review, March 26, 1881. Herald review February 25, 1881, 4, GB.

(Boston) Rubinstein: Quintet in F Major for Piano and Woodwinds. Tremont Temple Concert, February 24, 1881. Dwight review, March 26, 1881. Herald, February 25, 1881, 4, GB.

(Probably Boston, maybe American) Rubinstein: Octet for Piano, Strings and Woodwinds. Tremont Temple Concert, February 24, 1881. Dwight review, March 26, 1881.

Lang student premiers:

(Boston) Mozart: Piano Concerto in A (No. 23, K. 488), HMA December 19, 1879. Tucker “came in at a day’s warning” as a substitute for a singer. (Dwight (January 18, 1879): 15) Johnson (266) also lists the premiere of Mozart’s Concerto No. 12 in A, K. 414 (1782) on the same program. The confusion may come from the fact that Dwight’s review only mentions the concerto’s key, with no K. number, and both Concertos No. 12 and 23 were in A.

(Boston) Reinecke: Concerto in G-minor, Op. 33. Music Hall, Mr. R. C. Dixey, unnamed orchestra, Lang conducting, April 18, 1872. (Johnson, 292)

(American) Saint-Saens: Variations for Two Pianofortes on a Theme by Beethoven, Opus 35 at Mechanics’ Hall on March 23, 1876.

(American) Saint-Saens: Concerto No. 4 in C-minor, Op. 44 at Music Hall, Mr. John A. Preston, with HMA, Zerrahn conducting, February 14, 1878. (Johnson, 310)

(Boston) Schumann: Concert Allegro with Introduction for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 134, Music Hall, Mr. H. G. Tucker, HMA with Zerrahn conducting, February 17, 1876. (Johnson, 330)

(Boston) Wagner/Tanzig: Ride of the Walkurea, December 19, 1879. A solo by Mr. H. G. Tucker at this HMA concert; see Mozart above.

CECILIA PREMIERS: All entries from the 1907 List, except where noted.

(Boston)         Bach: Ich hatte viel Bekummemiss. March 16, 1876.

(Boston)         Bach: Bide With Us (with piano). February 27, 1880.

(Boston)         Bach: God’s Time is Best (with piano). December 13, 1880.

(Boston)         Beethoven: The Ruins of Athens (Selections). January 24, 1881.

(Boston)         Bruch: Fair Ellen. March 19, 1877.

(Boston)         Bruch: Odysseus. December 22, 1879.

(Boston)         Buck: The Golden Legend, January 24, 1881.

(Boston)         Gade: Comala. January 21, 1876. (first Boston performance with orchestra)

(American)      Gade: The Crusaders (with piano). January 11, 1877. (with orchestra) February 7, 1879.

(Boston)         Grieg: At the Cloister Gate (with piano). December 13, 1880. (with orchestra) January 24, 1881.

(Boston)         Handel: Acis and Galatea. May 17, 1878.

(Boston)         Handel: L’Allegro ed Il Penseroso (selections). April 21, 1879. (first Boston with orchestra)

(Boston)         Hofmann: The Tale of the Fair Melusina, December 6, 1877.

(Boston)         Mendelssohn: Laudate pueri-motet for female voices. March 16, 1876.

(Boston)         Mendelssohn: The Lorely. March 18, 1875.

(Boston)         Mendelssohn: Forty-third Psalm. (unaccompanied) February 27, 1880.

(Boston)         Rheinberger: Toggenburg. November 25, 1878.

(Boston)         Schubert: 23rd. Psalm. December 27 and 28, 1875.

(Boston)         Schumann: Paradise and the Peri. February 18, 1875. With HMA. (First time with orchestra)

(Boston)         Schumann: Manfred. April 24, 1880.

(American)      Schumann: Scenes from Faust. March 28, 1881.

APOLLO CLUB PREMIERS (1=Zeller list)(WFAC)=Written for the Apollo Club and premiered by them. From Zeller list.

(World)            Berlioz: The Marseilles Hymn “instrumented” for the club. February 4 and 9, 1881. (1) WFAC.

(Boston)          Bruch: Frithiof’s Saga, Op. 23. February 4 and 9, 1881. (1)

(World)           Chadwick: The Viking’s Last Voyage. Chadwick conducted. April 22, 1881. Part of Apollo Club 10th. Anniversary Concert (Lang’s sixty-eighth with the club). Have vocal score. WFAC.

(World)           Lang, B. J.: Her I Love, sung by Mr. William J. Winch, March 3, 1874. (1) WFAC.

(World)           Lang, B. J.: Part Song-Who comes so gracefully, gliding along. June 1, 1874. (1)  (Dwight (June 13, 1874): 247) WFAC.

(World)           Lang, B. J.: The Sea-King, duet, June 1, 1874. (1) “Sung by the Brothers Winch.” (Dwight (June 13, 1874): 247) WFAC.

(World)           Lang, B. J.: The Two Roses, sung by Mr. William J. Winch, March 3, 1874. (1) WFAC.

(Boston)          Mendelssohn: Antigone of Sophocles, Opus 55. At Tremont Temple on June 7, 1877. Soloists: Dr. Bullard, Powers, Wilkie, Lincoln, Babcock, Allen Brown, Aiken; reader-Prof. Churchill; pianist-Arthur Foote.

(Boston)          Mendelssohn: Oedipus in Colonos, Opus 93. At the Music Hall on January 27, 1880 with orchestra, Lang conducting. Reader-Howard M. Ticknor.

(World)           Whiting: March of the Monks of Bangor. April 22, 1881. WFAC’s Tenth Anniversary Concert. Sung again January 8, 1924. (1)

RETURN TO HARNESS.

On Friday evening October 27, 1871 Lang was one of the assisting artists in “Mr. Peck’s Popular Concerts” at the Music Hall. He played the solo version of Liszt’s Grand Fantasie on Weber’s Polonasie in E Major “with exceedingly fine effect. (Journal (October 28, 1871): 1, GB). Among the other guest artists was Mrs. Frohock who opened the concert with an organ solo (un-named) and Miss Phillipps. General admission was 25 cents with reserved tickets at 50 cents. (BPL Lang Prog., 6272) However, the “greatest  success of the evening was won unquestionably by the blind violinist Mr. Joseph Heine…He performed…a one-stringed version (by Paganini) of the Prayer from Moses in Egypt” which was “vociferous encored.” (Journal, op. cit.)       The next day a matinée performance was offered by pretty much the same group of performers-for this Lang played Thalberg’s Fantasie on Themes from Moses in Egypt.” (Ibid) Lang played in another Peck concert on Thursday evening December 28, 1871. His solo was Liszt’s Fantasie on La Charitie. This concert opened with an organ introduction played by Mr. Eugene Thayer. Miss Adelaide Phillipps was also among the assisting artists for this event as she was for a similar concert advertised for Saturday afternoon December 30, 1871 and Sunday evening December 31, 1871. (BPL Lang Prog.)

APOLLO CLUB: FORMATION.

Before his connection with the Apollo Club, Lang had organized a male choir in Salem in 1860. Known “under the name of the Amphions, rehearsals were held weekly at Mr. Lang’s room [his father’s music shop]. The first and only concert was given at Mechanic Hall, April 18, 1861. There were twenty singing members and a roll of honorary members. Much of the music used by the club was selected by Mr. Lang while in Europe. The Amphions assisted the Mendelssohn QUINTETTE Club at a concert in Salem and were invited to take part in a series of classical concerts in Boston.” (Whipple, 121) The Civil War “thinned the ranks of the organization and it was dissolved in 1862.” (Ibid)

The New Horticultural Hall, Tremont Street.

Ten years later, in 1871, Lang was named as the first conductor of the Apollo Club at the age of 33. He was to lead the group for thirty years, resigning in the spring of 1902 when he was then 63. The 25th. Anniversary Program book of the Apollo Club (May 6, 1896) recorded: “In the winter of 1870-71 the Mendelssohn Glee Club of New York, then four years old, came to Boston and gave a concert in Horticultural Hall. Previous to that time there had been little male-voice music in Boston among American singers…The Chickering Club, of twelve voices, was the principal male-voice organization in active service, and admission to its concerts was obtainable only by invitation from its singing members.” This concert by the New York

HMA Program Collection.

Mendelssohn Glee Club was held on April 25, 1871. Dwight wrote: Better part-singing by male voices we have never heard than the specimens here given by this club of amateurs. Here we heard, with the volume of a choir of thirty, the same perfection of which we have had an example in the eight or ten voices of our own ”Chickering Club.'” (Dwight (May 6, 1871): 23 ) The Chickering Club had been formed earlier as “a Vocal Club of twelve amateur singers gathered in 1866 by James Cutler Dunn Parker (1828-1916), organist of Trinity Church and later a member of the Boston University faculty. The members were:

 (The empty stool at the right may be for the missing member)

First Tenors: William I. Winch, Dr. Samuel W. Langmaid, and John H. Stickney.                                                                                                                             Second Tenors: William B. Merrill, Allen A. Brown, and David W.Loring.           First Basses: George H. Chickering, P. H. Powers, and Henry Payolt.        Second Basses: Charles J. Sprague, John F. Winch, and Myron W. Whitney.” (Baker, 3)

George H. Chickering, first bass, was of the piano-manufacturing family. The Club eventually performed in his company’s Chickering Hall (then at 246 Washington Street) and became known as the Chickering Club. Lang’s first connection with this group was in 1869. Dwight reported in his May 22, 1869 issue that “Mr. Parker’s Vocal Club of amateurs sang another exquisite programme on the evenings of May 1st. and 8th. The severe bereavement which had befallen Mr. Parker deprived them of his presence (a requiem for a child was part of the program) and Mr. Lang kindly took his place for the occasion.” (Baker, 3) Probably this where Lang first learned of Schumann’s Requiem for Mignon, a work which he would later perform with orchestra accompaniment with the Cecilia. “‘Tis a tired playmate whom we bring you. Let her rest.”

Two members of this choir, John H. Stickney and Charles James Sprague  together with John N. Danforth worked through the summer of 1871 to organize this new choir projected to have about forty members. The dozen members of the Chickering Club were absorbed into the new organization. On June 26th. a second meeting was held, the plan of the club decided, the Hon. John Phelps Putnam elected President and Mr. B. J. Lang musical director. (Baker, 4) The first informal concert was held on Tuesday evening, September 5, 1871 by the fifty-two founding members. Lang was the elected conductor, but he had not yet returned from Europe, and so Charles James Sprague led this first event. At this time there were only 193 members on the Associate List, but after the first concert, it quickly grew to the projected 500 and remained there. (Herald (November 22, 1903): 53, GB) Lang conducted the group until May 1, 1901 except for certain periods when the “breaking of an arm or a neck, or some other portion of his anatomy” prevented this; “but at such times it has been found that he could easily conduct the Club with A Foote.” (BPL Lang Prog., 6618-A Sketch prepared for the 100th. concert of the Club, December 21, 1886). “During the first season, several informal concerts, or monthly rehearsals, as they were called, were given in small halls, and three concerts in Music Hall, two of which were with orchestra.” (Ibid) Among the fifty-two Active Members were some of the most famous local singers of the day-Messrs. Aiken, Barnabee, Allen A. Brown, Cook, Fessenden, Fitz, Langmaid, Loring, Merrill, Powers, Ryder, Sprague, Stickney, Wetherbee, M. W. Whitney, John F. Winch, and William J. Winch were among the number.” (25th. Anniversary Concert program book) By November the five hundredth gentleman, Robert M. Morse, Jr. joined the Club as an Associate Member, thus closing the books to additional members; twelve years later he would become the second President of the Club. For the first season, the assessment upon Associate members was $10, but this was raised to $15 the second year, the justification being that the group needed to pay for Club-rooms and a small hall which was to be part of a building being erected at 151 to 153 Tremont Street. The group moved into these quarters in April 1873. (Ibid) The choir was very fortunate in having as their first President, Judge John Phelps. As a non-singer, and thus having no ax to grind, and as a notable member of Boston society, he was uniquely able to gather support for the organization. (Herald (September 14, 1947): 28, GB)

“The success of the Apollo, both musically and socially, was so great and so rapid that it soon had imitators all over the country, and there have been several Apollo Clubs in various parts of the United States, besides many clubs founded on the same plan, but not taking our name. In Boston, the Boylston Club started during our third year but soon gave up rivalry as a male-voice club, deeming it better to marry a wife and settle down to a different sort of work. The Arlington Club [conducted by John F. Winch] also started and lived for a few years, but we have practically had the field to ourselves for ten or twelve years, and today I believe I am safe in saying that our Associate Members exceed in number those of the other vocal clubs and some of the orchestral clubs, combined.” (Ibid)

The general taste of the time was represented by the light part-songs of the lesser German Romantic composers, but B.J. favored larger works with orchestral accompaniment. However, as conductor of the Apollo Club, he was essentially a hired hand and had nothing to do with the selection of the music. With nine out of ten of the singers against singing with an orchestra, he had a great prejudice to overcome. The feeling was “After we have been working like oxen over our music, and have got it all down to a fine point, we don’t want to be drowned out by a band!” Lang’s rehearsal methods also were not appreciated by some: Apthorp wrote-“Nothing like such drilling has ever been known before in Boston. The immediate results were not found to be satisfactory by a considerable proportion of the audiences, and it took no mean amount of pertinacity and backbone on the conductor’s part to follow out the plan on which he started. His principle was that in chorus singing, as in every sort of musical performance, the indispensable basis is technique; without a solid technique nothing worthwhile can be done, and the technique can only be acquired through severe drilling. At first, the singers were required to pay strict attention to just the sort of details that amateurs as a rule are most prone to overlook-giving every note its proper value, etc. But when it came to the concert, they had no attention left for anything else, the performances sounded rigidly correct but rather dry and lifeless. After a while, this exact attention to correctness of detail began to egg on his choral forces to vivacity of style, emotional vigor, and to thoroughly artistic performance. That arduous system of drilling to which Gericke subjected the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and which was so much commented on at the time, both favorably and adversely, as something utterly unprecedented by its severity, was really first applied to the Apollo Club and Cecilia by Lang.” (Fox, Lang Papers, 7)

Elson’s opinion was that “The Apollo Club, formed largely of professionals, gave the best male chorus-singing of the country.” (Elson,  81-82) This drawing is from the 1890s, but probably from the beginning, this is how Lang would have rehearsed the group. Himself at the piano playing what notes were needed during the learning process, and then having the accompanist play while he conducted.

From the beginning, great things were expected. “The Handel and Haydn Society of Boston is about played out. Its white-headed members are beginning to grow famous by their squeaky, husky voices-and they ought to know it. They wouldn’t think of retiring in the background, or of admitting young voices and fresh talent into their exclusive ranks. They have grown old-fogyish in their notions, and can’t give a respectable concert without outside assistance. Their day is past; and our hopes now centre in the rising Apollo Club, from which the public is led to expect many wonderful successes.” (Folio, February 1872)

Syford noted: “The first concerts of the organization were given in the old Music Hall. An account that refers to the first formal concert in 1871 says: ”Music Hall was packed with an audience composed of the elite of Boston.” The report of the critic refers to the strong, resonant and fine quality of the voices, the light and shade, delicate pianissimo swelling into a storm of power with beautiful, smooth gradation; the clear, crisp enunciation of all the words as with one voice; the mingling and wielding of the transitional expression as though one mind directed it.” (Syford, 161-162) The program was:

Spring Night– Fischer; Cheerful Wanderer-Mendelssohn; I Long For Thee-Hartel (Hartell); Praise of Song-Maurer; Soldier’s Farewell-Kinkel (Kindel); Serenade-Mendelssohn; Intermission; Loyal Song-Kucken(Kucher); Lovely Night-Chwatal (Churatal); Miller’s Song-Zoellner (Zollner); The Voyage-Mendelssohn; Serenade-Eisenhofer; Rhine Wine Song-Mendelssohn; (Syford, 165)

Baker gives the date of this concert as November 7, 1871 noting that Horticultural Hall was on Tremont Street between Bromfield and Bosworth Streets; his composer spellings are given in parenthesis above. (Baker, 7)

Dwight’s review of this concert stated: “The new ‘Apollo Club of Boston’ treated their associate members and a few invited guests to a taste of their part-singing quality at Horticultural Hall on the evening of November 7. There were about forty voices, the finest in their separate quality, and the most musical, sonorous, rich and full in their ensemble, that we remember hardly ever to have heard…Mr. Lang, with whom they had had as yet but few opportunities of practice, conducted, and their singing of each and every piece was a model of blended sweetness, refined purity of tone, good light and shade, well tempered power and right expression.” Dwight then laments the limitedness of male part-singing and asks for more weighty works such as Mendelssohn’s Antigone choruses. His final suggestion is that the group considers adding female voices! (Dwight (Nov. 18, 1871): 135) For the early concerts in each season, which were called “Rehearsals,” single cards with just the titles and composers were the programs, but for the later concerts, program books of eight pages which included the full texts and soloists names and occasional comments were produced.

The program for the Wednesday, January 10 and Tuesday, January 16, 1872 concerts at the Music Hall contained: “the Beethoven Overture to Prometheus, part-songs by Gade and Mendelssohn, Beethoven’s “Chorus of Dervishes” and ”Turkish March” from The Ruins of Athens, part-songs by Lachner, Kocken, Johann Kinkel and M. Anton Storch, interrupted by the Chopin Scherzo in B-flat minor played by Lang, and concluding with Mendelssohn’s To the Sons of Art.” (Osborne, 34) Baker refers to these two concerts as “given privately for associate members and guests only,” and that the same program had been performed December 5, 1871 as “the first formal public rehearsal.” (Baker, 8) “The Apollo Club has given two private concerts at Music Hall, which were decidedly the best vocal entertainments given in Boston within our remembrance. truly we have reason to be proud that the Hub possesses the very best male chorus in America.” (Dexter Smith’s (March 1872): 53) The Folio, of January 1872 had printed: “The Boston Apollo Club is the name of a Musical Association, whose modesty is only exceeded by its genuine worth and superiority. Many of our readers, we dare say, have never heard of the name before; and those who have heard of it, have so by mere accident. The ”Apollo Club” is a thoroughly American institution, and is composed of male singers wholly. its membership includes the names of many of our most eminent musicians. Although the society has been in existence but a short time, it already bids fair to surpass, in singing, any similar organization in the country. In a word, it is a noble body.” Then, in the Folio’s February 1872 issue it presented an extensive review. “The Apollo Concert. Nothing but an occasion of uncommon interest could have so completely filled Music Hall, on the 10th inst.; and many months have elapsed since we looked upon so fair and intelligent audience…To say that the concert was a grand success, but feebly bespeaks our mind. Altogether it was one of the most enjoyable ones of the season.” After several points of specific praise, Lang’s piano solo was mentioned. “Mr. Lang’s playing of Chopin’s Scherzo in b flat minor was in his usual style, and of course above criticism. In a word the concert was delightful in the extreme; and again we note the superiority of the Apollo Club.” (Folio, February 1872) Another reviewer wrote: “The Apollo Club has given two private concerts at Music Hall, which were decidedly the best vocal entertainments given in Boston within our remembrance. Truly we have reason to be proud that the Hub possesses the very best male chorus in America.” (Dexter Smith’s (March 1872): 53) Not bad for a choir begun less than a year before to be able to present two concerts in the major concert hall of the city! Strangely no names are listed in the program-no conductor, no accompanist, no reference to who played the Chopin piano solo, no list of singers, no reference to who played the two overtures that opened each half, but the English words were printed for every choral selection.

By the following spring Dwight reported: “On Friday Evening, May 31 (1872), the great Music Hall was crowded once more by invited friends of male part-singing, interested in the success, already very marked, of the ”Apollo Club,” which hardly has been organized a twelvemonth. The club is in a flourishing condition, having several hundred ‘passive’ or subscribing members, including many gentlemen of high social character and culture, besides the actual singing nucleus, which is composed of over fifty singers, -the pick of the best tenors and basses in our city. In power and quality of voices never has so good an ensemble been brought together here before…They have an artistic leader and instructor. Mr. B. J. Lang has proved himself one of the best of choral drill masters…There was no full orchestra, and no overtures, as in the two great concerts given in the winter.” However woodwinds were used to accompany some items and were featured alone in Hummel’s “Andante With Variations” from his Septet in D Minor. The second half opened with Mendelssohn’s Fest-Gesang-to the Artists. Lighter pieces completed the program. Another paper commented: “The closing concert of the season of the Apollo Club was a splendid success. This is certainly the best male singing society in America.” (Dexter Smith’s, July 1872)

The Apollo Club was not without competition. Dwight reviewed the Abt Male Singing Society concert of December 1872. he began: “The hall was densely filled by a brilliant audience, which manifests great enthusiasm. The program was rich and judiciously varied, and every piece was rendered with that precision and crispness of tone which has ever characterized the society’s performances…I should not omit to mention the great improvement over the former efforts of the Society in this line. Mr. Clarke, the conductor, and the entire Society are to be sincerely congratulated on the success of this concert, which was the undoubted result of their hearty and earnest labor in rehearsing.” (Dwight (December 28, 1872): 358)

B. J.’s SISTER-MARIETTA (ETTA) AND FAMILY MUSICALES.

Mrs. Lang recorded in her Diary events held early in 1872. “Jan. Boston. Father Lang’s Musicale [this would be B. J.’s father] was very gay and successful. Etta (Mr. Lang’s sister)[Marietta] and I [Frances] among the performers. She and I sang duets. Lel gave a successful concert. (There were frequent parties and Musicales, at which Mr. Lang played, and Mrs. Lang sang.) [B. J.’s father and mother, or B. J. and his wife] We play Quartets twice a week. Lel’s concert last evening was deeply enjoyed. Ruth Burrage died yesterday. Poor child, she has suffered so terribly. At Ruth’s funeral today Lel played music he had written to Hymns of Whittier.” (Diary-Rosamond)

RUBINSTEIN PIANO CONCERTO IN G-BOSTON PREMIER.

Lang played this piece with the HMA Orchestra in early February 1872. Dwight republished a review from the Saturday Evening Gazette whose title was “Thoroughly Out of Humor.” The reviewer found the Rubinstein “never strikingly original” and “commonplace…Whether Mr. Lang was dispirited by the nature of the work he had undertaken to perform, or whether he was not in a favorable mood for playing, we cannot say, but we were disappointed with his performance…We have no doubt [that] his relief at its termination was no less than that of the audience.” (Dwight (February 10, 1872): 181)

SECOND SERIES OF CONCERTS AT THE GLOBE THEATRE.

 The Boston Manual, E. W. Doyle. 1888. Johnston Collection.

“Mr. B. J. Lang began his second series of four Concerts, at the Globe Theatre again, on Thursday, February 14, [1872] at 3 P.M. The attendance was flattering both in character and numbers; the social and artistic atmosphere and the surroundings very pleasant.” The Mendelssohn Quintette Club shared the program, and opened with Mozart’s String Quartet No. 8 in F major. Then Lang played two Chopin pieces-the Nocturne in C Minor, Opus 48, and then, “to eke out its brevity he also played one of the most admired of Chopin’s Ballades with rare grace and finesse.” The final piece was the Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 1 in B Flat, Opus 19 with the accompaniment played by a second piano (Mr. Sumner), string quintet and flute. The work had only been played in Boston once before: January 16, 1868 by the Harvard Musical Association with Lang as soloist. Dwight’s review of the first performance mentioned that “There is abundant opportunity for the player to show his good taste, ease, and reserve power, the subjection of deft, thoroughly practiced hands to expression, all of which Mr. Lang eminently did show. It was a most elegant and happy rendering of a charming composition with which all were glad to have made acquaintance.” (Johnson, 46)

The program for the second concert on Thursday, February 29 was-Beethoven String Quartet No. 7 in F Minor, four Nocturnes Opus 23 by Schumann, and the Mendelssohn Sonata for Cello and Piano, Opus 58. The review for this concert began: “The charming little theatre has been fuller each time…Instead of the four Nocturnes, however, Mr. Lang played only the first, -so interesting in itself, so well interpreted, that one could not be quite resigned to the withholding of its promised three companions.” (Dwight (March 23, 1872): 206 and 207) The reason for this change was that the Beethoven Piano Concerto in B flat was repeated from the first concert. Also, the Beethoven Quartet was No. 11, rather than No. 7.

The March 14 third concert included a Concerto by Bach for two violins; a four-hand composition by Mr. Bradlee, an accomplished amateur of our city; Chopin’s Etude in C sharp minor, Opus 25; and a Trio in B flat by Rubinstein. Lang and Mr. Perabo played the Bradlee work which led to an encore of the first movement of Rubinstein’s Ocean Symphony which prepared the audience for the Rubinstein Trio which was “played con amore and with great life and spirit, [and] charmed the audience, unfolding richer and richer as it went on.” Lang’s Chopin solo was mentioned: “As a technical etude it presents great difficulties, but these the hearer was not allowed to think of, so fully was he made to feel the charm and meaning of the piece.” (Op. cit., 207)

”The final concert on March 28 was advertised as having the Bach Concerto in D minor for Three Pianos, two movements of a Quintet in C by Lachner, and the Third Piano Concerto by Beethoven. (Dwight (March 23, 1872): 207)

STUDENT CONCERTO CONCERTS II

A second series of Thursday afternoon 3 PM orchestral concerts was performed April 11, 18, 25 and May 2, 1872 at Mechanics’ Hall, Bedford Street. Lang’s announcement stated: “Mr. Lang begs leave to remind his friends of the Symphony Concerts which he once gave at Mercantile Hall, of the Bumstead Hall Pianoforte Concerts of last Spring, and to announce that he now proposes to give a series of Symphony Concerts, at Mechanics’ Hall (Bedford St.) on Thursday Afternoons. ” (BPL Lang Prog., 6281) Season tickets were $4, single tickets were $1.25. An appreciation of Lang’s concert giving activities is reflected in an announcement printed in the Folio: “The public will learn, with no small degrees of pleasure, that our talented pianist Mr. B. J. Lang, proposes to give a second series of Symphony Concerts, at Mechanics’ Hall, beginning on Thursday afternoon, April 11th, at three o’clock. There will be four concerts in the series. We need offer no remarks relative to the great worth and importance of these classical entertainments.” (Folio, May 1872) The critic William F. Apthorp, one of Lang’s pupils, was one of the soloists in the series. The first concert on April 11, 1872 featured Mr. G. A. Adams as the soloist in Schumann’s Concerto in A Minor Opus 51. (BPL Lang Prog., 6277)

Dwight reviewed the second and third of “these attractive ‘Thursday Afternoons’ [which] have shown improvement in the orchestral performance and increase of interest.” The second program included Beethoven’s, Symphony No. 7, Reinecke’s Concertstuck, Opus 33 played by B. J.’s pupil, Mr. R. C. Dixey, the “Aria and Gavotte” from Bach’s Suite in D Minor, the “Barcarole” from Sterndale Bennett’s Piano Concerto No. 4 played by Mr. William F. Apthorp, and the finale was the Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Beethoven’s Seventh was rather a large Symphony for an orchestra of thirty, yet for the most part, it was remarkably well rendered and appreciated…Mr. Dixey was received with warm signs of favor…Mr. Apthorp’s selection was of a less pretentious and altogether graceful, pleasing character…Not demanding any high degree of execution, -except that it grows a little tasking toward the end, -it showed the taste and musical intelligence and feeling of the ardent young interpreter to good advantage.” The review for the third concert of April 25 praised the playing of B. J.’s young pupil, Mr. H. G. Tucker in Beethoven’s Fifth Piano Concerto.”(BPL, Lang Program Collection)

These concerts at Mechanics’ Hall were seen to be supplementing in some sense, in a smaller hall, the regular symphony season. “In the third concert Mr. H. G. Tucker played Beethoven’s Concerto in E-flat, No. 5... The playing of these pupils gave great satisfaction to hosts of friends who were present, and who bestowed applause most liberally upon their efforts. They evinced positive talent and there is much that is commendable in their playing, although we are inclined to think that had they selected works of lesser difficulty of execution it would have placed them in a more favorable position… Mr. Lang as a conductor shows himself to be a careful score reader and a faithful servant of the master whose work he has in hand… Mr. Lang is an earnest student, is ambitious, and possesses the requisite qualities to make a good conductor and he will undoubtedly succeed.” The review also mentioned the orchestra. “The orchestra was composed of some thirty or more instrumentalists who, to speak candidly, played tolerably well. There was a certain coarseness of execution in their playing-a want of unity and lack of expression-which was very manifest at times, although no fault of the conductor’s… The string department was ample considering the size of the hall [Mechanics’ Hall, Bedford Street], and was made up of as good resident talent as could be obtained. The violas were somewhat weak and ‘faded out,’ so to speak, and there were heard sundry gusty sounds coming from the regions of the Faggotti, and occasional asthmatic wheezes from the oboes. The horns and trumpets were well represented, and there were two prime cellos, played by Mr. Wulf Fries and Mr. Adolph Hartdegen. The three double basses furnished the foundation work, which were played strongly but not always clearly. The tympani were well managed and carefully played. The first clarinet was in the hands of Mr. E. Weber, than whom, no better player can be found. The flutes were excellent; the first violins, six in number, were good, and were led by Mr. William Schultze.” (Metronome (May 1872): 13)

Dwight ended his review by mentioning Lang’s fourth and final concert in the series which “passes fairly over into the domain of Chamber Music, dispensing with full orchestra and offering the flowing selections: Hummel’s Pianoforte Septet (played by Mr. G. W. Sumner); Beethoven’s Septet; Concerto for Three Pianofortes in C, Bach, (played by Mr. G. A. Adams, Mr. G. W. Sumner, and Mr. H. G. Tucker)” with presumably B. J. playing the orchestral part on a fourth piano. (Dwight (May 4, 1872): 230 and 231) Dwight’s review of the fourth concert was rather brief and ended with compliments to the three pianists: “It was a sweet and wholesome ending to a choice and enjoyable little after-series of concerts. With the accession of all these able young pianists Boston may feel rich indeed in that department.” (Dwight (May 18, 1872): 239) The Metronome review noted Mr. G. W. Sumner was the pianist in Hummel’s  “famous Septett… in which the pianist has such a rare chance to display his powers. Mr. Sumner proved himself to be an able executant, and evinced enthusiasm, power and brilliancy in the playing. He delivered the more delicate passages with fine feeling and with a degree of certainty in the handling of the instrument and a conception of the music which is rarely met with in young pianists. The concert closed with Bach’s Concerto in C for Three Pianos, played by Messes. Sumner, Adams and Tucker.” (Metronome (June 1872): 21)

RUTH BURRAGE ROOM.

Lang was also very concerned that his pupils should have access to musical scores, and he was responsible for founding a special library. In 1879 he gave the details of it’s founding in an article for the New York Music Trade review which was then republished in Dwight’s issue of August 2, 1879.”In the upper story of Chickering & Sons building, accessible by an elevator, there exists a tastefully furnished room, containing two concert grand piano-fortes and a beautiful mahogany case containing every piece of music that exists for two piano-fortes, two players, and for two piano-fortes, four players (eight hands). Every symphony, concerto, overture, suite, etc., to the extent in value of about three thousand dollars, is there, conveniently bound, with catalogues complete. Under appropriate rules for the convenience of the beneficiaries, this room is absolutely free to all, even without asking. That this wonderful place is in constant use from morning until night and has been from the moment it was inaugurated until now (nearly two years), is a matter of course.

From whence came all this?

A few years since [1872] there died in Boston a lovely girl of twenty-two (a fine pianist herself), a daughter of the Hon. A[lvah]. A. Burrage, who, on her death-bed expressed the wish that the little property of which she was possessed should be given, under the guidance of Mr. B. J. Lang, to deserving musical students.The before mentioned collection of music was purchased with Miss Ruth Burrage’s [b. 1850 d. 1872] money. Messrs. Chickering & Sons allowed Mr. Lang to construct the room, and to retain it free of rent for the purpose, so long as they (the Messrs., Chickering) occupy the building; and, furthermore, do generously supply, free of cost, the two grand piano-fortes.

Consider what delight one can get from this place. Have you two grand piano-fortes? Have you a hundred and fifty volumes of music for those two piano-fortes? This is a very expensive sort of music, while it is not just what one cares to own year in and year out. This attractive place is called the ‘Ruth Burrage Room.’ May this little description lead some generous mortal to carry out the same idea in some other of our musical centers.”(Dwight (August 2, 1879): 127) Ten rules for the use of the room were then listed including #7-“Parties are to assemble on the lower floor, in order that the elevator may be used once only to reach the room. They are expected to use the stairs in descending.” (Dwight, ibid)

No doubt Arthur Foote often made use of the Burrage Room. In 1909 he remembered “For thirty years there has been a library in Boston of music for the piano (four and eight hands) to which everyone has access; it was housed in the Chickering Building for a long time, and lately has been at 162 Boylston Street. [Steinert Hall building] The money that established it came from a legacy of Miss Ruth Burrage [Francis Lang’s cousin and a pupil of B. J. at New England Conservatory], and it has been called by her name: some years ago Mr. Lang gave a series of concerts of Bach concertos, etc., to raise money for an extension of this library, by which orchestra scores should be added, and lent to any who apply, under certain conditions. This library of scores is at 6 Newbury Street, and both of them have been of great use to many students. It was a wise man that thought of these two things, and was willing constantly to supervise them and look after their details.” (Arthur Foote in the Transcript, May 1, 1909) The Bach Concerto Concerts referred to were given at 3 PM on December 1, 1898 and January 12, 1899. Lang played an Erard and Co. harpsichord at each concert. (BPL Lang Prog., Vol. 7) There is exceedingly little two-pianoforte music now published that cannot be found there; the collection is almost complete.

“The success of the Ruth Burrage Room – that is, the well-nigh unintermittent use that has been made for it for a quarter of a century, is good earnest of the wisdom of Mr. Lang’s plan. Almost countless pianoforte-playing music-lovers, who would otherwise have had no little difficulty in finding two instruments in tune together in a place where they would be free from interruption, have here found two admirable grands, always in good order, together with a collection of music to select from such is probably not duplicated in this country. Since the room was first thrown open to the public the pianofortes have been renewed a dozen times at least. In a word, the room has found a public want, and well filled it.”(Newspaper article, 1897) “It has lately [1897] been augmented by the addition of many works by Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Chaminade and others of the newer schools. In fact, there is exceedingly little two-pianoforte music now published that cannot be found there, the collection is almost complete.”     (Journal (October 27, 1897): 4, GB) The question today is-what became of that collection?

It would seem that B. J’s suggestion for the establishment of this library was somewhat self-serving as he was part of an ensemble that “was sometimes jokingly called the Ottoman Quartet. The four leading resident pianists-Otto Dresel, B. J. Lang, Hugo Leonhard, and J. C. D. Parker-were fond of playing pieces for two pianofortes, eight hands (a otto mani), in public now and then; hence the nickname, with which Dresel’s Christian name may also have had something to do.” (Swan-Apthorp, 73)

In 1912 Musical America ran an article titled “Music Library For Boston Students-Ruth Burrage Collections of Piano Works of Great Value.” At this time the Ruth Burrage Room had been moved to the Piano dealer M. Steinert & Son on Boylston Street. The second part of the collection, the instrumental scores was now available at the studio of Malcolm Lang. (Musical America (March 9, 1912): 23)

WORLD PEACE JUBILEE: 1872.

Everything was bigger for this Jubilee. A five-day event became an eighteen-day event. The hall was to be larger, covering seven acres and with no internal roof-supporting posts as in the 1869 Jubilee building (which blocked sightlines), but it collapsed during construction. A larger version of the 1869 building was constructed instead. Professional military bands from Austria, England, France and Prussia were a big hit. “They created a splendid show each day by marching in uniformed formation into the coliseum. And they sounded, many people thought, a lot better than the 26 American bands, which included the United States Marine Band .” (Jarman)                                                                                                                              Johann Strauss, The Waltz King, making his only trip to America, was well received. His fee was $20,000. for which he had to conduct one of his waltzes on each of the 18 days as well as at the Grand Ball. He enjoyed himself: “On the musicians’ tribune there were 20,000 singers; in front of then the 2,000 members of the orchestra. A 100 assistant conductors had been played at my disposal. I was face-to-face with a public of 40,000 Americans. Suddenly a cannon shot rang out, a gently hint for us…to start playing.” (Jarman)                                                                                                                Yes, there was audience seating for 40,000, but even with lower prices, attendance was poor. The size of the choir dwindled every night; the grand organ broke down on opening night because the bellows required so much air pressure, that the motor powering them gave out; the Boston businessmen who backed the event lost money and so again, no money was raised for the “widows and orphans.” Dwight was more critical of this festival: The great, usurping, tyrannizing, noisy and pretentious thing is over, and there is a general feeling of relief as if a heavy, brooding nightmare had been lifted from us all.” Positive aspects were new enthusiasm for bands and a higher standard of their performance and growth in the number of people singing in choirs. (Cipolla, F., inter alia) In February of 1872, the Handel and Haydn Society agreed to supply 700 voices for the Festival.

The second page listed the work: Israel in Egypt and the soloists were all Boston singers-Mrs. Rudersdorff, Mrs. C. A. Barry, Mr. W. J. Winch and Mr. J. F. Rudolphsen. At the bottom of this page, Lang’s name was listed on the left and Zerrahn’s on the right. The third page listed each of the singers taking part, and if they were not members of the local choral societies, their home towns were given. HMA Collection. Used with permission.

In February 1872 the Handel and Haydn Society agreed to supply 700 voices for the Festival. Late spring was spent in rehearsals of Handel’s Israel In Egypt with 3 other area choirs. The concert itself had a choir of 1,400 and an orchestra of 250, but the performance fell flat as the audience only numbered 5,000 in that giant room. The opening concert on June 17 had a choir of 17,000 and an orchestra of 1,500. However, the pre-event publicity had promised even more: a choir of 20,000 and an orchestra of 2,000. Military bands from “every nation,” delegations from Greece, the Holy Land, Turkey, China and Japan all in a Coliseum of 100,000 people!

George W. Curtis wrote about 1800 words for the Atlantic magazine. “At last the Jubilee is over. The monster whose coming was heralded some months ago [has] become a thing of the past. Its career has been at times a brilliant, at times a sluggish [and[ at all times an oppressive one. But if the monster came in like a lion, it certainly went out like the mildest of lambs…We think the Jubilee, on the whole, a failure,…owing to the want of any unity of purpose in the whole scheme. The thing tried to be too many things at once. It tried to combine a musical festival with a sort of all-the-world’s Fourth of July…The most interesting as well as the most successful part of the Jubilee was the appearance of the French, English, and German bands,” with the winner being the English band “whose whole audience seemed to welcome them as brother and kinsmen…The Germans played with great fire and precision, but in loud passages, they greatly overblew their instruments. They even played Strauss waltzes as if they were marching to battle.” Another highlight was Johann Strauss’s conducting. “His command

Ryan, 201.

over the orchestra was simply wonderful; they were like an instrument with him, and he played upon the men under his baton just as much as he played upon the violin in his hands.” Many of the solo singers had difficulty filling the whole room; one local singer” was compelled to force her tones until her singing became a positive screech.” Even the imported famous artists suffered the same fate; for one, ” it was painful to see such a genuine and accomplished artist, in the highest sense of the word, placed in such a false position.” However, “Madame Peschka-Leutner’s singing was in every way a charming success. Her rich telling voice easily penetrated every part of the building, so that even the most rapid passage-work was lost by anybody.” (Atlantic, 376-379)

The famous Bass Drum was 25 feet in diameter, but it was so huge that it did not vibrate properly, and so it was hung on the wall for show. (Jarman)

SUMMER of 1872.

“The Lang’s went away for the summer. No mention of where.” (Diary-Rosamond)

TREMONT TEMPLE REOPENING.

On September 24, 1872 the Tremont Temple was reopened with a concert “having been entirely renovated and beautified.” Included among the performers were “artist-teachers in the National College of Music” now located in the building which included Lang, and his pupils, now colleagues, G. W. Sumner, G. A. Adams, H. G. Tucker. Lang played the Liszt/Weber Polonaise in E Minor, Sumner opened the program with the last movement from Mendelssohn’s’ First Organ Sonata, and the concert ended with Bach’s Concerto for Three Pianos in C played by Adams, Sumner and Tucker with a quintette accompaniment by the Mendelssohn Quintette Club (possibly with Lang conducting). (Traveler (September 23, 1872): 2, GB)

HOUSE AT 8 OTIS PLACE.

[May 1872] “Lel went to Boston to see a house on Otis Place. Talked it over in the evening, and have decided to buy it. Many changes will have to be made…We seem constantly on the hunt for furnishings for our house. Silver, carpets, fixtures, etc. Also mirrors and wallpapers…[Nov. 1st] We moved into 8 Otis Place.” (Diary 2-Rosamond) In 1873 she wrote: “We love our Otis Place house. Today took Maidie to Miss Garland’s Kindergarten School, on Chestnut Street. Took Maidie to hear her father play a concert. She was restless, said the music was horrid.” (Diary 2-Rosamond) Margaret was then five years old. Rosamond then continued: “Nothing very outstanding occurred during the year [1872]. Mr. Lang gave a number of Pianoforte concerts, had his Apollo Club Concerts; and Mrs. Lang was constantly being asked to sing at one party or another. They went frequently to the Opera and Theatre,” Margaret was six years old on November 27, 1872. Mother Lang came for a visit. (Diary 2-Rosamond)

NATIONAL COLLEGE OF MUSIC

According to Dwight’s article of October 5, 1872, this college was founded by Thomas Ryan, clarinetist with the Mendelssohn Quintette Club, and was located within the Tremont Temple. It’s opening recital, September 24, 1872 included Lang, as a professor, playing Liszt’s transcription of Weber’s Polonaise in E minor, and Lang presenting three of his students, Messrs. Adams, Sumner, and Tucker in Bach’s Concerto for Three Pianos in C major, [C MAJOR OR C MINOR-SEE ABOVE] with an accompaniment of string quartet. Sumner had opened the recital with the Last Movement from Mendelssohn’s First Organ Sonata. This notice had appeared in Dwight’s June 15, 1872 issue: “MUSICAL EDUCATION. The Mendelssohn Quintette, with Mr. B. J. Lang, and other good musicians and teachers, will open in September, here in Boston, a new ‘National College of Music.’ During the coming weeks, while the city is full of musical visitors, the Directors will be present at their rooms in Tremont Temple, every day, from 11 to 1 o’clock, to answer questions.” A notice in the September Folio also noted: “Another marked feature of this college will be the new vocal teacher, Mr. Cirillo, secured through the agency of Mr. Howard Ticknor, who writes of him pleasantly.” (Folio, September 1872) Ticknor remarked on how difficult it was to find good vocalists, even in Italy. He felt that Cirillo “is upon the whole the best vocal teacher I have ever met, and he is the man of men whom I would like to bestow on Boston…If he could work in Boston for one year, I’ll stake all my critical reputation that even the unskillful in such matters will recognize his rare merits.” (Ibid) He then mentioned his eight years of journalism “to support the development of good taste.” (Ibid) On April 15, 1873, the college gave “its first Exhibition Concert of the Pupils, closing the Spring term… The most remarkable performance of the afternoon was that of the difficult Schumann Concerto, by Miss Barton, a young pupil of Mr. Lang, whose rendering of the first movement was highly satisfactory… It was a most arduous undertaking for a young girl, and such a measure of success seems full of promise. There was at least the merit of adhering to true time in all the movements; one could trust her teacher for that, who sat at a second piano, helping out the quintet accompaniment.” (Dwight (May 3, 1873): 14)

Apthorp, a teacher of the school described its organization: “The teachers in each department look to someone definite head for guidance in the management of their various classes. The headteacher in each department [Lang in piano] has been brought up in the same school of playing or singing as the other teachers under his direction, many of whom have for some years been his own pupils and coworkers [George W. Sumner, Hiram Tucker, William Apthorp, Mr. Dixie, and J. Q. Adams (Ryan, 172)], so that a pupil may begin at the lowest grade in any department and successively pass on to higher and higher grades, without being forced to adopt a new system at each successive step.” (Musselman, 101) Unfortunately, the great Boston Fire of 1872 happened just a month after the school had opened,   and this forced many students to withdraw which in turn affected the financial condition of the institution. “We worried along to the end of the year, met our losses as best we could, and returned to our old system of travelling,-in short, ‘took to the road’ again.” (Ryan, 173) The school did present an “Exhibition Concert of the Pupils” which represented the closing of the Spring Term on Tuesday afternoon, April 15, 1873 at Tremont Temple. Their teachers and the Mendelssohn QUINTETTE Club assisted the students. A Summer Term was advertised to begin April 21, 1873 with a “Corps of Artist Teachers” including “Mr. C. R. Hayden, tenor singer, recently a graduate from Leipsic [sic] Conservatory, and for two years afterward a student under the best singing masters in Naples, has just commenced his labors in the college…The celebrates Tosti, known throughout Italy as a finishing teacher for the opera, in Rome and Naples, has been secured and may be expected next term (HMA Program Collection). Unfortunately, this term never happened, and the College only lasted one year. In the fall of 1873, Lang returned to teaching at the New England Conservatory—he was then thirty-five.

GREAT BOSTON FIRE.

The Great Boston Fire began in the evening of November 9, 1872, and it was not until the following Sunday at 2 PM that it was put under control. Sixty-five acres were destroyed which included 776 buildings. The total cost of personal property and merchandise lost was “estimated at close to $7 billion in today’s dollars.” (Puleo, 178) Lang’s former church, Old South was threatened but saved. “Flames licked at the venerable church’s door, even as crews poured streams of water on its walls and several brave firefighters climbed the roof to sweep away sparks. Even Burt [Postmaster General who had advocated blowing up buildings to stop the fire] resisted demands that Old South be blown up. The battle to save the church raged through the night, and when the steeple clock struck 6:00 AM, one bystander said, ”Dear old church, I’m afraid we shall never hear that bell again.” But at the last moment, a steam engine from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, arrived; it had been loaded on a flatbed train with the Portsmouth fire company and taken to Boston. Fresh firefighters and equipment turned the tide; the fire was stopped at Washington Street and Old South survived.” (Puleo, 181)

Frances noted in her Diary: “Nov. 9th. The big Boston fire. Lel and I went to see it all last evening. It was too horrible for words. Nov. 10th. I dressed in Marion’s old clothes, and after breakfast, Helen and I, with Owen the Butler for courier, went around the city to give some of the wearied workers, bread and coffee. We also gave some to the exhausted firemen. Nov. 11th. Went to the top of the P. O. Building and looked down on the still blazing city. It was like a volcano.” (Diary 2, Nov. 10 and 11-Rosamond)

In presenting concerts, Lang not only had the effects of the Great Boston Fire to contend with, but also the safety of his concert goers. The Boston musical paper published by Dexter Smith reported in December 1872: “Boston is now the most unsafe city in the Union, as regards life and property. Nearly every day brings its murder or robbery, and the victim is not allowed a choice between being shot down in his own doorway (like a dog), or cut up, packed in barrels and thrown into the river. A ‘committee of safety’ is being talked of by the citizens, and we hope it will result in something more than talk. A little old-fashioned hanging would be a good thing now.” (Dexter Smith’s (December 1872): 284)

APOLLO CLUB SEASON 1872-73

“Lel has written 2 lovely compositions for the Apollo Club to sing.” (Diary 2, November 1872) This comment by Frances raises the question: two more missing pieces by B. J., or were they the two solos premiered in March 1874 or the duet premiered in June 1874? Previously when she meant vocal pieces, she used the word “solos.” The use of “compositions for the Apollo Club” would seem to imply choral works.

The early publicity for this concert was very complimentary. “The concerts are likely to prove the musical event of the season, since the club is in excellent condition.” Traveler (December 18, 1872): 2, GB) Dwight agreed. He reported on these first concerts of the season given on Jan. 3 and 6, 1873 at the Music Hall (originally scheduled for late December): “Never in this city have we heard so capital a chorus of male singers; the voices being of the choicest quality in all the four parts, -particularly the smooth, sweet, clearly soaring upper tenors and the rich, mellow, manly basses, -and their ensemble very perfect under the careful training and the sure and nice conductorship of Mr. B. J. Lang. They numbered nearly a dozen voices of each part…and their whole performance was obviously a marked improvement upon that of a year ago, good as that seemed to most of us.” The programme was the same for both nights, but at the second concert, an orchestra was used for certain accompaniments and two overtures. Dwight called attention to how much more effective the orchestrally accompanied pieces were at the second concert. The “Bacchus” Chorus” from Mendelssohn’s Antigone was sung with full orchestra which leads Dwight to ask for the complete work. Of the opening work, Beethoven’s Coriolanus Overture which was given “with great spirit” by the full orchestra at the second performance, Dwight wrote that one first concert performance at two pianos, played by Lang “and his pupils Messrs. Sumner, Apthorp and Tucker ineffectively foreshadowed” what the orchestra sound would be. (Dwight (January 25, 1873): 374) Another reviewer stated: “The private concerts given by the Apollo Club, at Music Hall, Jan. 3rd and 6th, were glorious feasts to the musical audiences who crowded the vast hall to overflowing on both occasions. The program comprised gems from the best composers, which were most artistically rendered by the Club. We noticed a great improvement over their efforts of last season, even, especially in delicacy of shading, the pianissimos being remarkably well sung. Boston has reason to be proud of the Apollo Club.” (Dexter Smith’s, February 1873,  33) To have two full houses was quite a feat considering that “with nearly two thousand cases of small-pox, and sixty deaths a week, the Board of Health have (sic) provided a hospital for one hundred patients, and talk of ”complete isolation.”” (Ibid) Dexter Smith’s issue of July 1873 made the comment: “It is a pity that so good a paper as the Courier has such a weak musical ‘critic.'” (Dexter Smith’s (July 1873): 5) Also mentioned in that issue were that “Clara Doria has settled in Boston,” and that “F. H. Torrington [of King’s Chapel] has received most flattering offers to go to Montreal, but has concluded not to accept them.” (Ibid) Torrington did not resist too long, actually, only about three months, as it was announced that “John W. Tufts is now organist at King’s Chapel.” (Dexter Smith’s (November 1873): 139) But, before that, it was announced that John K. Paine from Harvard was to succeed Torrington as organist at King’s Chapel. (Dexter  Smith’s (October 1873): 125)  One wonders what happened that Paine should withdraw from a position as important as organist at the premier Unitarian church of its time, King’s Chapel. Under “Editorial Etceteras” the paper noted: “The piano-forte trade suffered severely by the late fire. The elegant showrooms of Messrs. Chickering & Son, J. W. Brackett and Barnabee & Winch were destroyed, and other similar establishments suffered damage.” (Op. cit., 8) Also of note: “Miss Alice Dutton, pianist, has returned from Paris, and will reside in Boston.” (Dexter Smith’s (November 1873): 135)

The club became legal. “A bill was reported to incorporate the Apollo Club of Boston, J. H. Stickney, John P. Putnam and C. C. Wentworth corporators, with not over $100,000 capital, to encourage music in Boston.” (Traveler (February 28, 1873): 4, GB) On March 25th. the House concurred with a Senate amendment and the deal was done. On April 3rd. new rehearsal and office rooms, which included the three upper floors, were dedicated in the new building erected by the Union Mutual Life Insurance Company at 152 Tremont Street. The upper two floors were the rehearsal /performance hall which included committee rooms at each end. The opening collation was uniquely described: “How much caloric is neccesary for ‘warming’ a large building is something of a problem, and the Apollo Club endeavored to solve the same last evening. The active members assembled at about 8 1/2 o’clock and made merry till midnight, singing and partaking of an excellent collation. Mr. J. M. Bellew, the distinguished reader, was the invited guest of the occasion, and the gentleman made a very pleasant and effective address to the members of the club. The rooms were pronounced simply perfect by the gentlemen present.” (Traveler (April 4, 1873): 2, GB)

BPL Map Collection. 1883 Map.

In addition to active and subscribing members, the Society also elected honorary members, “composed of persons distinguished for their interest in the purposes of the club, or who have rendered it valuable service. This membership numbers four; Allen A. Brown, Arthur Reed, B. J. Lang and Mr. Chickering.” (Syford, 160) Allen A. Brown provided access to his “unequaled musical library (which now occupies a spacious room in the Boston Public Library)” (Syford, 165) and he also served many years on the music committee; Arthur Reed was the first Secretary and held the office for twenty-five years.

The May 26, 1873 concert at “the crowded Music Hall” used an orchestra to accompany three of the double choruses from Mendelssohn’s Antigone.  “These had evidently been carefully rehearsed by the singers, but not so thoroughly by the players; so that the best intentions of Mr. Lang and his attentive followers were in some degree balked.” The orchestra also played Mendelssohn’s Overture to Heimkehr and Bennett’s Overture to Naiads which “agreeably varied” the program. Some items were thought “trivial for solid men with grey bears (some of them) to be so absorbed in,” and “The ‘Pilgrim Chorus’ from Tannhauser was not entirely happy in the introductory recitative. But these drawbacks were accidents, and it was clear enough to all that still the motto of the ‘Apollo’ is Excelsior!” (Dwight (June 28, 1873): 47) It would seem that Dwight’s request the year before for Mendelssohn had been quickly answered.

MECHANICS’ HALL CONCERTS-MARCH 1873.

In 1873 B. J. gave a series of four concerts at Mechanics’ Hall: March 6 and 20 and April 3 and 17 at three o’clock. Season tickets were $4. (6285) The first concert, given to a completely filled hall, “a large and fashionable audience,” (Folio, April 1873, 104) included Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto, which “was rendered by Mr. Lang with delicacy and refinement,” (Ibid) (Mr. Sumner supplied the outline of the orchestral accompaniment effectively on a second grand piano). “It was an uncommonly fine Chickering on which Mr. Lang played, and the two instruments, being brought forward into the open hall, sounded much better than we have heard pianos sound there before.” (Dwight (March 22, 1873): 406, GB) Also on the program were three songs by Mendelssohn sung by Mr. Charles R. Hayden (who was Lillian Bailey’s uncle and singing teacher), the Cello Sonata, Opus 69 by Beethoven, played by Mr. Wulf Fries who “sustained his usual good reputation,” (Folio, Op. cit.) Lang played Six Pieces for piano Opus 72 by Mendelssohn, and the concert ended with    the Mozart Sonata In D Minor for Two Pianos, Opus 53 “which was admirably rendered by Mr. J. C. D. Parker and B. J. Lang.” (Ibid) Dwight reported: “Mozart’s Sonata for two pianos was a most acceptable novelty, full of the truest Mozart life and charm throughout, and the performance by Mr. Parker and Mr. Lang was all that could be wished. The six little Kinderstucke by Mendelssohn were a pleasant offering gracefully presented.” (Dwight (March 22, 1873): 406 and 407)

The second concert which “was even more interesting than the first,” featured Bach’s Concerto for Two Pianos in C major played by Lang and Mr. Otto Dresel with string quartet accompaniment-“Even more beautiful than that for three pianos.” Lang played two solo pieces by Bach and Chopin’s Nocturne in C minor, Op. 48, and the concert concluded with Schumann’s Quintet for Piano and Strings which “was given with great spirit and triumphant mastery, as if the whole thing were the inspiration of the moment.” (Dwight (April 5, 1873): 414) The Globe reported on the second of these concerts: “There was a remarkably good attendance at Mechanics’ Hall, yesterday afternoon, in spite of the very unfavorable state of the weather. The concert was an excellent one, and gave general satisfaction.” (Globe (March 21, 1873): 1)

The third concert included solo piano works, Schumann’s Sonata for Violin and Piano Op. 105, “and then, having forgotten to bring the notes of a Beethoven Rondo promised in the programme, he repeated, to the delight of all, the wonderful Nocturne in C Minor, Opus 48 by Chopin in a masterly manner. Chopin’s Rondo in C, op. 73, for two pianos, very finely played by Mr. Hugo Leonhard and Mr. Lang, brought the concert grandly to a close.” (Dwight (May 3, 1873): 14) (6288) Another substitution was made after “Finding that a second piano-forte was inadequate for the orchestral accompaniment of the Mozart Concerto in D Minor, Mr. Lang gave admirably the Sonata in E Flat by Darsck, which he performed with so much acceptance in the Mendelssohn Quintette Club series.” This reviewer felt that the performance of the Chopin Rondo “was most beautifully played, concluding the concert delightfully. Mr. Lang’s next matinée will offer a programme surpassing in beauty, if possible, all the predecessors of the series.” (Traveler (April 4, 1873): 2, GB)

“The fourth and final concert, given on April 17 included two piano concertos (Beethoven Concerto in C Minor Opus 15 and Mendelssohn’s Concerto in D Minor Opus 40) played by B. J. with orchestral parts played by Mr. G. W. Sumner, songs by Beethoven and five of his piano Bagatelles, and Schumann’s Andante and Variations, op. 46 for two pianos with Mr. Ernst Perabo. (Ibid)

EARLY CHORAL GROUPS. SOLOIST. ACCOMPANIST.

Before Lang founded The Cecilia, and in addition to the special concerts that he arranged with his church choirs, he conducted other Boston-area choral societies.

South Boston Choral Union.

“The South Boston Choral Union, B. J. Lang director, gave a concert Jan. 9th. at Wait’s Hall, assisted by Misses E. M. Abbot, M. C. Hill, H. M. Hayes, and Messrs. M. L. Ingalls, and G. W. Dudley, as soloists. The choruses were sung with marked precision and good effect. Misses Abbot and Hill, and Mr. Ingalls sang finely, their several selections being vociferously applauded. Mr. Lang volunteered a piano solo, which was rendered in his usual artistic manner.” (Folio (February 1873): 43) Earlier, in October of 1870, the Choral Union had sung as the choir at the “Laying of the Corner Stone of Harvard Memorial Hall.” For this event, the choir was conducted by Harvard’s Director of Music, J. K. Paine, and a chorus from his oratorio St. Peter closed the service. (Herald (October 7, 1870: 4, GB) Paine may not have been their regular conductor. Later in 1873 “Mendelssohn’s Elijah was given April 17th, at Phillips Church, South Boston, B. J. Lang, conductor” with “Mrs. J. H. West, Mrs. H. E. Sawyer, Misses H. S. B. Dykes, and A. M. Culver, Messrs. W. J. Winch, J. F. Winch, principal vocalists, G. W. Sumner, organist, H. G. Tucker, pianists.” The tickets were 50 cents. (Folio (June 1873): 171)(BPL Lang Prog.) By 1874 Mr. G. W. Dudley was listed as the conductor, and the choir’s April concert included Bennett’s May Queen and Rice’s Morning. (Advertiser (April 9, 1874): 2, GB)

The December 1873 issue of the Folio recorded that he had been re-elected as conductor of the Chelsea Choral Society (Folio (December 1873): 164).

Chelsea Choral Society.

“…last concert this season on Thursday next, at City Hall. Rossini’s Stabat Mater...Also the duet and chorus “I Waited For the Lord” from Hymn of Praise...besides some miscellaneous music. The tickets have been taken rapidly and a full house is consequently expected.” (Traveler (May 11, 1870): 2. GB) Mr. J. W. Tufts was the conductor.

The December 1873 issue of the Folio recorded that Lang had been re-elected as conductor of the Chelsea Choral Society (Folio (December 1873): 164).

“…began its rehearsals last night (Monday, November 9) with George L. Osgood for conductor and Miss Mary Greeley for pianist.” (Advertiser (November 10, 1874): 1. GB)

The “first concert this season in the new Broadway Hall, the performance being mostly of a choral sort, and including, besides part-songs and glees, Mendelssohn’s Hear My Prayer and Schumann’s Gypsy Life.” (Advertiser (March 17, 1875): 4. GB) “The audience was large…The society, numbering over two hundred voices, occupied the entire stage…The choruses, with scarcely an exception, were well rendered…Mr. Osgood, as conductor, has succeeded in bringing the society to a higher standard than they have ever reached before. ” (Advertiser (March 18, 1875): 1, GB)

“…commences its rehearsals this evening, under the direction of Mr. George L. Osgood.” (Traveler (October 18, 1875): 2, GB)

It would seem that Lang’s time with this choir was short, probably the 1872-1873 and 1873-1874 with Osgood beginning for the 1874-1875 season and continuing at least through the 1875-1876 season.

Boston Orchestral Club.

Lang continued to appear as a soloist in concerts of other organizations. The “First Grand Concert” by the “Boston Orchestral Club,” an orchestra of forty-five, presented a concert at the Music Hall on Sunday evening April 19, 1874 with Frederic F. Ford and Lang as soloist in the Second Part of the concert performing Capriccio in B Minor for Piano and Orchestra by Mendelssohn. Lang was only one of five other assisting artists plus a Horn Quartette! (HMA Program Collection)(BPL Lang Prog., Vol. 2) Tickets were fifty cents.

Madame Ermina Rudersdorf.

One of the leading soloists of the era was Madame  Ermina Rudersdorf [born Russia 1822-1882] for whom Lang seemed to be her preferred accompanist. At her Mechanics’ Hall matinee on Tuesday, January 21, 1873 Lang played for her selections while another accompanist, Lang’s pupil William F. Apthorp, played for the rest of the program. “Lang performed the accompaniments to Madame Rudersdorf’s songs with much delicacy and finish.” (Traveler (January 22, 1873): 1, GB) The Journal noted that Lang gave “excellent service” as her accompanist. (Journal (January 22, 1873): 4, GB) This concert was the second of three with the last to be on February 4. (Ibid) A week later all three musicians were involved in a “Grand Charity Concert” to aid the YMCA. The choir of the Church of the Advent “most generously offered their services” as did Madame Rudersdorf, “who also gives the services of…[and] our own popular pianist, Mr. B. J. Lang, and Mr. Wm. F. Apthorp who will preside at the piano.” (Traveler (January 29, 1873): 3, GB)

Mendelssohn Quintette Club and the Catholic Choral Society.

Then in February Lang appeared with the Mendelssohn QUINTETTE Club, was a soloist in the Catholic Choral Society Music Hall concert conducted by his friend, Mr. George E. Whiting on February 16, and then in March/April he presented his own series of four Thursday afternoon concerts on March 6 and 20 and April 3 and 17. (Traveler (February 14, 1873): 1, GB) All of this on top of his regular schedule!

SALEM ORATORIO SOCIETY.

Lang was the organist and a Mr. Francis ____ was the pianist for the Salem Oratorio Society performance of Mendelssohn’s St. Paul which was given at the Mechanic Hall on Thursday, March ?, 1873. The Germania Orchestra also accompanied, and Lang played the “New Concert Organ,” just newly installed. The soloists were Mrs. Julia West, Mrs. Barry and the Winch brothers, all conducted by Carl Zerrahn. The choir was “the entire Chorus of the Society, numbering about four hundred voices.” (Information from a Program offered on eBay, April 14, 2014)

APOLLO CLUB 1873-1874.

The first annual meeting of the club as a ‘corporation’ took place on Tuesday, October 8, 1873 at the club’s rooms, 152 Tremont Street. The officers were elected and after other business was taken care of, everyone walked up Tremont Street to Horticultural Hall for a “delightful public rehearsal…before a very appreciative audience. The selections were performed with much finish, and the return of pleasure for those who attended abundantly compensated for the difficulties of reaching the hall on account of the storm.” (Traveler (October 8, 1873): 2, GB)

Hassam-Rainy Day.

The December 30, 1873 Music Hall concert (repeated a week later) was sung to a full crowd, and “was the best public manifestation which this strong and select choir of admirable voices has yet given of its quality. The singing of the larger pieces, -this time without orchestra, – was much better than upon the last occasion. There were sixty voices, finely balanced, sweet, rich, musical, trained to a nicety in all points of expression and effect. The only accompaniment was that of their able conductor, Mr. B. J. Lang, at the piano. The programme, too, contained a greater proportion than ever before of compositions of decided and enduring value. “Two choruses from Mendelssohn’s Antigone, including the “Bacchus” chorus, were sung “most admirably.” The second half included “lighter, sentimental pieces” including solos by William and John Winch, and the finale was the “Pilgrim Chorus” from Tannhauser. (Dwight (January 10, 1874): 159)

SENATOR SUMNER’S FUNERAL. In addition to their own concerts at the Music Hall, the choir was called upon to contribute to a number of civic occasions. “A large number of the members of the club also, by invitation of the city of Boston, assisted at the memorial services in honor of Charles Sumner, one of Massachusetts’ most illustrious senators, on April 29, 1874. After Lang’s organ prelude of the “Final Chorus” from the Passion by Bach [St. Matthew?], they sang a Prayer by Storch. Then, after a prayer by Rev. Phillips Brooks, they sang a Hymn written for the occasion by Oliver Wendell Holmes, set to a Holland National Air arranged by Lang. (BPL Lang Prog., Vol. 2 )(Advertiser (April 30, 1874): 4, GB) Sumner’s funeral had been on March 16, 1874, and among the pallbearers were “Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and John Greenleaf Whittier…The body had lain for thousands of mourners to view” at the Massachusetts State House, and this was followed by a “brief prayer service at King’s Chapel,” which was followed by burial at Mount Auburn Cemetary in Cambridge. America had lost its “most passionate, vociferous, long-standing, unwavering, and inexhaustible antislavery champion.”(Puleo, 186 and 187) “Prof. Charles W. French, secretary and business manager [1947], still has in his files a letter from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, thanking the club for its program.” (Herald (September 14, 1947): 28, GB)

Good notices continued with a June 1874 review that reported: “The Apollo Club, its active force now raised to sixty singers, gave about the best feast of male part-singing, in the Music Hall, June 1, that we have yet had…They quite surpassed their previous efforts, greatly as those were admired.” Again Lang was the accompanist, the brothers’ Winch soloed [in Lang’s The Sea King], and “The whole concert did great honor to the Club and to their excellent conductor.”(Dwight (June 13, 1874): 247) The  Advertiser also cited Lang’s duet: Mr. Lang’s own compositions were heard with unaffected pleasure. The duet, The Sea King is picturesque and striking in many ways, but on the whole less interesting than the part song Who Comes So Gracefully-a piece dainty, delicate and exquisitely fanciful, set to a tender bewitching melody and ingenious in its harmonic forms.” The review went on to describe the state of the choir: “The body of sound is splendid in sweetness, harmoniousness and purity…They have learned the difficult art of singing a genuine pianissimo and fortissimo…We have dwelt, on other occasions, upon the advantage of such soloists as Messrs. Winch, Dr. Langmaid, Mr. Powers, Mr. Stickney and many others perhaps equally worthy of mention.” (Advertiser (June 3, 1874): 2, GB) Frances had noted in her Diary late in 1872: “Lel has written two lovely compositions for the Apollo Club to sing.” (Diary-Rosamond)

BOYLSTON CLUB. Two years after the Apollo Club was formed, another male choir was organized. In May 1873 the Boylston Club began as purely a male-voice, part-song choir “who rehearsed for a long time privately under Mr. J. B. Sharland.” Sharland was in charge of music education in the Boston schools. In 1874 the group was called: “One of the youngest and most prosperous musical societies in the city…The reports of the several officers showed the affairs of the society to be in a flourishing condition.” (Advertiser (May 7, 1874): 1, GB)   However, in 1875 the group reorganized. The choir “mated itself with an equally large and select choir of female voices, so that it could present works either for male, or female, or mixed chorus.” Mr. Osgood used his knowledge as a singer to improve the group so that it “reaches a degree of excellence in singing which compares well with any of its rivals.” Osgood expanded the repertoire to include not only part-songs but also larger works by Cherubini, Palestrina and Schumann. (Above from interalia, Dwight,  History of Music in Boston) At what was probably Osgood’s first concert with the group, it was noted: “The club exhibited a very marked improvement on its former efforts, thanks to the severe and well-planned drill to which it has been subjected by its director, Mr. Osgood.” (Advertiser (December 31, 1875): 1, GB) It seems that Lang was not the only Boston choral conductor drilling his choir. The conductor also appeared as a soloist and composer for the choir.

The repertoire expanded so that by the mid-1880s “full orchestras” were part of the performances. The season increased to five concerts and at the concerts, “every available seat was occupied, and the audience, with its characteristic generosity, wildly applauded every number.” (Herald (May 5, 1887): 4, GB) However, the review went on to say “that majority of the numbers have been heard, again and again, almost ad nauseam,” (Ibid) and this may have led to “lack of financial support” which was the major reason cited by the Board deciding to disband the group in June 1889 after 18 years of “excellent work.” (Journal (June 7, 1889): 3, GB) However, it took only 2 1/2 months for a group of Boston’s leading music supporters (from the families of Fairchild, Gardner, Hemenway, Higginson, Howe, Cabot Lodge, Winthrop Sargent, Sears, Shaw and others) to reorganize the group with 18 Patronesses and Mr. J. M. Sears as Board President. The musical organization remained the same-male choir, female choir and joining together for mixed voice works. Mr. Osgood continued as conductor and the pianist was Clayton Johns, a society favorite.

 

WORCESTER RECITAL.

Lang continued to assist his pupils whenever he could. On February 11, 1874 he gave a piano recital at the Worcester Country Music School where his pupil, George Sumner was on the faculty. He opened with the Mendelssohn Piano Concerto in G Minor, played two solos, Nocturne in C Minor, Op. 48  by Chopin and Caprice in C Major by Lang, and ended the program with Liszt’s transcription of Weber’s Polonaise in E Minor. Sumner played the piano reduction for the opening concerto. Also in the program were three songs sung by Mr. Charles Hayden who was also a faculty member of the school. He was the uncle and voice teacher of Lillian Bailey, the future Mrs. Georg Henschel. (Copy of program from the HMA Program Collection)

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CHAPTER 02. (Part 3) B J L: EARLY CAREER: 1858-1871. SC.(G) WC. TOPICS: LANG AND PETERSILEA-MENDELSSOHN QUINTETTE CLUB PERFORMANCES.

PART 3.      WC-13,602 (09/15/2020)

  • Carlyle Petersilia and Lang.                                                                                           Premiers of Beethoven and Liszt/Schubert.                                                          Gilmore Concert.                                                                                                                Concert to Help the Patriots of Crete.                                                                           Salem Concerts.                                                                                                                       Clara F. Joy- Early Lang Pupil                                                                                  Summer-1867.                                                                                                                        Piano Technique Lectures-1867 and 1883.                                                                     Margaret Ruthven Lang.                                                                                           Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 1-Boston Premier.                                 Mendelssohn-Eighth Book of Songs Without Words.
  • Handel and Haydn-First Triennial Festival.  1868.                                                        First Lectures.                                                                                                                 Mercantile Hall Concerts.                                                                                                    First Symphony Series.                                                                                                     Music Hall Organ Concerts.
  • Peace Jubilee: 1869.                                                                                                             Year In Europe-1869 to 70: Berlin Concert. Rome and Liszt. April. Vienna    Concert. June. July. August 12th.                                                                                                                                                 Fall of 1870.                                                                                                                             Hiram G. Tucker.                                                                                                                   Teacher of Piano.                                                                                                                        Other Concerts.                                                                                                                  Globe Theatre Concerts.                                                                                           Frances’ Singing Lessons.                                                                                                William Foster Apthorp.                                                                                            Benjamin Edward Woolf.                                                                                                  Salem Oratorio Society.
  • Student Concerto Concerts.                                                                                         Another European Summer-1871.
  • Mendelssohn Quintette Club Performances-1860 to 1869.

CARLYLE PETERSILEA AND LANG.

Carlyle Petersilea (1844-1903) presented a series of concerts centered on Schumann. The “Second Schumann Soiree” was performed “on Saturday evening, January 26, [1867 at] Chickering’s Hall [which] was filled by an audience of music lovers eager to hear the performance of a programme which, in point of magnitude, and contrast of subjects, is unequaled in our annals of piano concerts.” Lang took part in three of the four major pieces; a vocalist, Miss Edith Abel sang four songs scattered throughout the program. Petersilia performed the solo parts to the last two movements of Chopin’s Concerto in E minor and Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A minor with Lang providing the orchestral accompaniments at a second piano “with nicety of execution and truthful conception, thereby adding greatly to the performance.” The final number of the concert was Schumann’s Variations for Two Pianos where “Messrs. Lang and Petersilea completely electrified the audience.” (BMT (February 2, 1867): 15 and 16)

PREMIERS OF BEETHOVEN AND LISZT/SCHUBERT.

On February 1, 1867, at the fifth concert of the second season of HMA, Lang was the soloist in two more Boston premiers when he played the Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 2 and the Liszt/Schubert Wanderer Fantasia Op. 15 for piano and orchestra. Dwight felt that the first two movements were not Beethoven’s best, “but the whole Rondo finale, quaint and piquant, is full of vitality, and become electric under Lang’s touch…Mr. Lang really surpassed himself in this performance.” (Dwight (February 16, 1867): 398) Of the Schubert/Liszt, Dwight generally approved of Liszt’s work which included embellishing “the piano part, making it a very effective piece and of great difficulty.” (Ibid)

Below: Ryan, facing 186.

GILMORE CONCERT.

On February 3, 1867, two days after the HMA concert, Lang was the guest conductor of a Gilmore Grand Sacred Concert.  He conducted his pupil, Miss Alice Dutton as soloist in Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 25. Lang and Gilmore possibly first met when Gilmore became the director of the Salem Brass Band in 1857. With the new director’s enthusiasm, a group that had been good became a group that rivaled more established bands.                                                                                                                                         The next month Lang played the orchestral part for the Mendelsohn when another of his pupils soloed at a concert at Chelsea City Hall on March 7, 1867.

CONCERT TO HELP THE PATRIOTS OF CRETE.

Just over two weeks later, on Monday, February 18, 1867 the Harvard Musical Association arranged a benefit concert to aid “the exiled and starving women and children of the Cretan patriots, fighting for liberty against the Turks.” The Music Hall was sold out with many standing for the performance, and all the musicians donated their talents. Lang, together with Messrs. Dresel, Leonard, and Perabo performed the Duet for Two Pianos-Les Contrastes by Moscheles; Lang had included this same piece in his “Complimentary Concert” during the spring of 1860. The piece “was made very effective, however, in the execution; for four masters were united in it, and it was done with a power, a precision, a perfect unity and aplomb which could not fail to make an impression.” (Dwight (March 2, 1867): 407) The concert made a net profit of the “very noble sum of $2,249.22.” (Dwight (February 1867) 416)[in 2017 that amount would be equal to $35,544.52]

SALEM CONCERTS. 3: 1866-67. B. J. CONDUCTS A “BSO.”

Lang returned to his hometown of Salem to be part of “A Grand Sacred Concert” at the South Church under the direction of Mr. M. S. Downs on February 19, 1866. Among the other assisting artists were Miss. J. E. Houston and Mr. Julius Eichberg. Just over a year later Lang arranged a concert for Monday evening, March 4, 1867 at Lyceum Hall. He opened as the soloist in Mendelssohn’s Concerto No. 2 in D Minor, Opus 40 with his student, Alice Dutton playing the orchestral accompaniment. After a song by Miss Sarah W. Barton, Lang and Dutton switched places with Miss Dutton as the soloist in Mendelssohn’s Concerto No. 1 in G Minor, Opus 25 with Lang providing the orchestral accompaniment. Miss Barton sang two other solos, Lang played Liszt’s Transcription of Weber’s Polonaise in E, Opus 72 and the program ended with Lang and Dutton playing the Grand Duo on themes from Norma by Thalberg. (BPL Lang Prog.) The success of this concert may have led to the following orchestral concert.

In an article headed “Salem, Mass,” Dwight noted that “Last Monday evening [May 20, 1867] this old town rejoiced in its first Symphony Concert, given by Mr. M. S. Downs, with the aid of Miss Adelaide Phillipps and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Mr. B. J. Lang. The object was to raise funds towards the erection of a new music hall, which Salem surely ought to have, for it is now a city, and has some very musical people, sending quite a delegation always to our Oratorios and Symphony Concerts in Boston. The occasion is said to have been in every sense most successful. This was the programme: Symphony No. 5, Op. 57-Beethoven, “Oh mio Fernando” from Favorita-Donizetti. * Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream-Mendelssohn, Cuban Song-Gradyer, * Concert Waltz, The Village Swallows-J. Strauss, Brindisi Galathes-Masse, * Wedding March-Mendelssohn. * = solos by Miss Phillipps (BPL Lang Prog.) (Dwight (May 25, 1867): 39)

CLARA F. JOY-EARLY LANG PUPIL.

Miss Clara F. Joy performed Chopin’s piano solos Andante Spianato and Polonaise at a concert given by the Orchestral Union on April 10, 1867. Dwight wrote that she played “in a really artistic manner, at least for a pupil.” (Dwight (April 13, 1867): 15). This was Miss Joy’s debut, and the Journal wrote that she played “with most excellent effect. To an easy and graceful execution she unites power and distinctness, together with an intelligent rendering which marks the true artist. Her performance made a splendid impression and was greatly applauded.” (Dwight (April 11, 1867): 4, GB) On the evening of this same day, at a concert to raise funds for the Consumptives” Home, “two piano pieces from the skillful fingers of Messrs. Lang and Perabo (one a four-handed piece, and the other for two pianos)” were presented. The concert “was largely attended and proved a very excellent entertainment.” (Ibid) On the same program was heard “a nicely executed bugle solo”-something for everyone.

SUMMER of 1867.

“July 31st. Lel sailed for Europe, taking father. [J. C. Burrage, Frances’ father] to be gone six weeks.” (Diary-Rosamond)

PIANO TECHNIQUE LECTURES-1867 and 1883.

On Saturday afternoon, October 26, 1867 Lang presented a lecture on the piano at Chickering’s Hall primarily to pupils of the New England Conservatory, but other interested parties attended. “Mr. Lang spoke about three-quarters of an hour in an off-hand and rather pleasant manner. The merit of his lecture was in the practical suggestions he threw out, which were evolved from his own experience as a teacher. He promised at the start that he should be crude, and he was a little so, but the information imparted was more than an offset. Some of his anecdotes were a little musty and not always apropos, but he gave on the whole satisfaction to his hears. For a first attempt, it was fair. But it is no injustice to Mr. Lang to say that he plays better than he preaches.” Among his comments: he preferred “Uprights” over “Squares;” there are too many that attempt to learn the piano-“Mere practice, however long continued, will not make a player unless there is an original capacity [talent] for it;” in his travel abroad, he found the best piano in Spain and the worst in Ireland; “A Boston piano, made by Boston mechanics, is good enough;” regular chairs were better than piano stools; “He thought ladies were naturally better players and teachers than men, as they have a power to easily acquire and impart.” The article had originally appeared in the Post. (Dwight (November 9, 1867): 136) The Boston Musical Times also used the Post article, noting, in addition to what Dwight reported: “Mr. Lang’s views with regard to popular musical entertainments are exceedingly severe and do not accord with those of a vast majority of the people, but he deserves credit for frankness…Mr. Lang gave much good and practical advice as to learning and teaching the piano. He uttered some pretty severer things against the music of the day and regarded miscellaneous concerts as crude and unsatisfactory. Entertainments in which a whole symphony is given he regards as something worthwhile to listen to. In this connection he commended the concerts of the Harvard Musical Association and Orchestral Union…Some of the English peculiarities of playing the piano were adverted to, and their absurdities pointed out. The English have their way in the matter of piano playing just as they do in some other things, and stick to it whether good or bad. As to the art of playing and the manner, he said he could not state it. It defied language to express. It was a thing to hear, not to describe…The merit of his lecture was in the practical suggestions he threw out, which were evolved from his own experience as a teacher.” (BMT (November 2, 1867): 87)

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 at 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 such than mere bald lectures) will have interest for many other persons than students of the pianoforte, and will 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 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)

MARGARET RUTHVEN LANG.

On November 27, 1867 the Lang’s first surviving child, Margaret Ruthven Lang, was born at 112 Boylston Street. B, J.’s occupation was listed as “Musician.” (Birth Certificate) He was 29. B. J.’s family was still living with the parents of Frances.

BEETHOVEN PIANO CONCERTO NO. 1-BOSTON PREMIER.

On January 16, 1868 Lang played the Boston premiere of this concerto. Dwight felt that this concert “was one of the most fully attended and most interesting presented recently….Beethoven’s Concerto in C, the earliest of the five, though hitherto entirely passed over in favor of the greater ones, fully justifies Mr. Lang’s choice…The three movements are very individual in character…In the piano part there is no great striving after brilliant effects or rioting in intricate embellishment. There was abundant opportunity for the player to show his good taste, the ease of reserved power, the subjection of deft, thoroughly practiced expression; all which Mr. Lang eminently did show…To speak of improvement in so accomplished a master of the instrument as Mr. Lang has been for years, would seem supercilious almost; yet we must note with pleasure the more even and subdued force which he now shows in the strong passages, without any sacrifice of contrast or emphatic point.” (Dwight (February 1, 1868): 182 and 183)

MENDELSSOHN EIGHTH BOOK OF SONGS WITHOUT WORDS.

In March 1868 “Mr. B. J. Lang had ”the pleasure” he so courteously craved ”of introducing to the musical public of Boston” the Eighth Book of Songs Without Words (first brought to light so recently) by his favorite composer. (Mendelssohn) He must have had that pleasure in a high degree, introducing them to an audience so select, so large, and so much gratified as that assembled in Chickering Hall on the afternoon of March 18.” The concert opened with Beethoven’s Sonata Op. 22 and ended with Mendelssohn’s Sonata Op. 58 for Cello and Piano.”  We did not think Mr. Lang quite so happy in his interpretation of the Beethoven Sonata as he is with Mendelssohn; but the Sonata Duo, with Wulf Fries, went splendidly and was worth the whole.” The sequence of six pieces was played twice. (Dwight, March 28, 1868, 215) In Lang’s announcement of this concert he mentioned that these Mendelssohn pieces had been “published for the first time last month and just received from Europe.” It would seem that this was another Boston or American first performance by Lang. The tickets were $1. (BPL Lang Prog.,)

Possibly to make ends meet, or to stay in the good graces of Zerrahn, Lang was still traveling to Worcester. He was organist with a “Full Orchestra from the Boston Orchestral Union” at an April 2, 1868 performance of Mendelssohn’s St. Paul given by the Worcester Mozart and Beethoven Choral Union. (Program, GB)

HANDEL AND HAYDN-FIRST TRIENNIAL FESTIVAL.

  • The opening concert on Tuesday, May 5, 1868.
  • The Festival ran from Tuesday, May 5 to Sunday, May 10, 1868. There were “five great oratorios, grandly given by a well balanced, well trained force of seven hundred and fifty voices, with an orchestra of more than a hundred instruments, the best solo singers in the country, with one of the grandest organs in the world too, as well as in the noblest Music Hall upon this continent-besides four Symphony concerts,” and on Saturday at noon, Lang presented a solo organ recital which included:
  • Prelude and Fugue in C-Bach
  • Sonata in B flat, Op. 65, No. 4-Mendelssohn
  • Pastorale in F-Bach
  • Fugue on the letters B-A-C-H-Schumann
  • Improvisation
  • Fantaisie in G, Grave (full power of the Organ)-Bach (H & H History, Vol. 1, 264 and 277)
  • The Festival made a profit of $3,336.94 which was added to the Permanent Fund, bringing its total to $7,576.05 (Op. cit., 278)

FIRST LECTURES.

Another area in which Lang supported the HMA Orchestral Concerts and broadened his pupils’ musical knowledge was through pre-concert lectures. Dwight praised him for “assembling a hundred or two of his pupils and their friends on the Thursday preceding that of each concert, and, with the aid of a brother pianist (Mr. Perabo), playing over the entire programme to them with historical and analytic explanations. “December 1868 was the third winter that he had been doing this. (Dwight (December 12, 1868): 367)

MERCANTILE HALL.

Mercantile Library, corner of and Hawley Summer Streets. From an issue of Ballou’s Pictorial, 1856. Johnston Collection.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c5/Spectacles_for_young_eyes_-_Boston_%281862%29_%2814765025524%29.jpg

 From Spectacles for Young Eyes, Boston, 1862. Wikipedia, accessed November 2, 2017.

In 1852 the club advertised that it had 12,000 volumes and that the Reading Room subscribed to 150 magazines and newspapers. In addition to both sponsoring concerts and renting out to other concert groups, lectures were a major part of the club’s program. In the 1840s such speakers as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Edward Everett, Horace Mann and Charles Sumner appeared. In the 1850s, Harry Ward Beecher, Rufus Choate, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. spoke. These lectures continued until 1877 when the collection of 18,000 books was given to the South End Branch of the Boston Public Library. From the second illustration above you can see that the ground floor was let out to various businesses. The second floor housed the Mercantile Academy, the Musical Education Society and the Mercantile Library Association,  and there was also a third floor. (Wikipedia, accessed December 15, 2017)

FIRST SYMPHONY SERIES.

In the spring of 1869 Lang expanded his conducting/concert production activities by presenting a series of three orchestral concerts on Tuesdays at 3:30 PM. The programs for “Mr. B. J. Lang’s Symphony Concerts at Mercantile Hall” were:

Tuesday April 6, 1869                                                                                                              Overture to Prometheus – Beethoven; Symphony # 3 in E Flat – Mozart; Serenade and Allegro in B Minor – Mendelssohn, Miss Alice Dutton (Lang’s pupil); Symphony # 4 (Italian) – Mendelssohn.

Tuesday April 13                                                                                                                   Symphony # 8 – Beethoven; Overture: Calm Sea… – Mendelssohn; Piano Concerto # 4 – Beethoven, Mr. Hugo Leonard (a fellow Boston pianist); Overture: The Naiads – Sterndale Bennett.

Tuesday April 20                                                                                                                    Symphony # 6 – Beethoven; Overture: The Hebrides – Mendelssohn; Violin Concerto – Beethoven, Mr. Bernhard Listemann; Symphony # 7 in G Major – Haydn (BPL Lang Prog.).

After the first concert, Dwight wrote that it was “a decided success in every respect: large and cultivated audience; fine programme; the pianist,  Miss Dutton’s playing was “almost perfect,” and that the concert gave “thorough enjoyment,” and there were “no end of congratulations at the end.” There were many concerts that week, and so “This is all that we have room to say now.” (Dwight (April 10, 1869): 16)

After the fourth concert, he referred to these concerts as a “short after-summer [season]” following “the close of the great season, with the last Symphony Concert and the Easter Oratorios… Mr. Lang’s very successful experiment is over for the present. Mercantile Hall has been crowded each time, and with the best kind of audience… The only drawback to the full enjoyment of those orchestral performances was in the character of the hall, which neither has a musical and cheerful aspect, nor very good acoustic qualities. To all but the remotest listeners the sounds were hard and dry, the fortissimos more striking than inspiring; the timpani, for instance, in the storm part of the Pastoral Symphony, dealt something more like blows than sounds upon our tympanum… Mr. Lang is rapidly making himself at home in his new function as Conductor, and he does wisely to take a small and modest house at first, -a picked orchestra of a few more than thirty instruments (six first violins); capable and faithful with a few, he may yet be ruler over many… Mr. Lang has made many thankful for this fine little after-season of symphonic life and sunshine” (Dwight (April 24, 1869): 22 and 23)

MUSIC HALL ORGAN CONCERTS.

Dwight printed an overview of the repertoire for the organ recitals presented at the Music Hall during the previous two years. He reviewed FORTY concerts and noted that Lang and J.  H. Willcox had each played nine times, Eugene Thayer seven times, Mrs. Frohock and G. E. Whiting each five times, and John K. Paine, among others had only played once. He also noted a concert that Lang gave at his own church, “South Congregational “which was crowded with invited listeners.” (Dwight (July 17, 1869): 71) Dwight finished his review with this evaluation: “On the whole, there has been a great deal of perversion of the noble instrument to very trivial uses, and though doubtless the Organ has been played on many ”popular” occasions of which our memoranda have no note, the sound, religious, real Organ music seems to have maintained its ascendancy, and Bach and Mendelssohn make the best show.” (Ibid)

PEACE JUBILEE: 1869.

Ryan, facing 186.

June 15, Opening Day during the singing of Glory to God. Originally from Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, # 717. BPL, Digital Commonwealth from Historic New England. This “Coliseum” had seating for 30,000 in the audience, 10,000 in the choir, and 1,000 for the orchestra. It was the largest building of its kind ever built in Boston. Choirs came from New England and the Middle-West and the orchestra and band were composed of professionals from a very wide area-how else would you find 1,000 professional band players? President Grant, members of his cabinet, several governors, and many military leaders came to Boston for the event.

For five days, June 15 to 19, 1869 inclusive, Boston was the site of the Peace Jubilee. The Handel and Haydn Society had had many discussions about joining this event, but in the end, the Board vote was nine to two to take part, with the President voting nay. “They formed the nucleus, the sure and solid heart and centre of the great chorus of ten thousand voices (instead of twenty thousand, as at first announced), and they did their work as well as practicable under the strange conditions, the vast hall for sound, the audience too multitudinous for musical appreciation.” They sang the “great choruses of Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Mendelssohn, and more which need not be mentioned. It shared the abundant popular applause.” (H & H, Vol. 1, 286 and 287) Specific mention of Lang’s part is not made, but one guesses that he took over the organ for the major chorus numbers in order to give the support for which he was known, but there was a festival organist, so Lang might have escaped the whole event.

View from the choir. Wikipedia, accessed July 6, 2020.

Chorus Members were “expected to be present…during the entire four days. Rehearsals will occur each day at ten, A. M. Singers are expected to be in their seats half an hour before the commencement of the afternoon concert…Loud talking, humming, singing, while in seats, is strictly forbidden…No one must leave the chorus seats during the concerts without special permission. (Gilmore, 421-22)                                                                      Gilmore involved the important musical men of the time in this project. Eben Tourjee, from NEC, organized the choir and its principal conductor was Carl Zerrahn from the Handel and Haydn Society. The Director of the Boston Conservatory, who was also the superintendent of music for the Boston public schools conducted some of the instrumental pieces. However, for the showpieces, Gilmore conducted himself! The “Anvil Chorus” from Il Trovatore by Verdi was one such showpiece: the famous 100 Boston firemen striking anvils, cannons, church bells, the huge bass drum, and a loud pipe organ specially built for this room.                                                                               The one-keyboard organ was built by the Boston firm of E & G. G. Hook for $3,000. There were ten stops (sets of pipes, 61 pipes in each set) that were divided treble and bass-that gave you twenty stops. Then there were an additional six stops including the 16 Foot Grand Sub-Bass which was described as being of “a large scale and very deep and powerful tone, furnishing a firm and solid foundation for the whole structure, including orchestra and chorus.” The Festival Organist was John H. Wilcox who played every day except Saturday (Gilmore, 405-6)                                             The Jubilee lasted five days, was considered a great success by most, but did not raise money for “Widows and Orphans of Soldiers and Sailors” as was its purpose. The only person to benefit directly was Gilmore himself who was given $39,028.04 by the Board for his efforts. (Op. cit., 654) One man remarked: “A ridiculous plan redeemed by a magnificent success.” Gilmore later wrote a book of 760 pages giving every little detail including the text of the prayer he offered when he thought the whole event was about to collapse. But, he had reason to be proud-nothing like this had ever been done anywhere in the world. (Cipolla, inter alia)

YEAR IN EUROPE—1869-70.

This European year of 1869-70 began with the Lang’s departure on Tuesday, November 30, 1869 on the S. S. SILESIA bound for Hamburg.

SS SILESIA (These drawings are SS FRISIA), same design as SS SILESIA. Accessed Wikipedia, March 12, 2019. Steel hull, two masts, and one steam funnel. It took 12 men shoveling coal continuously from her four coal bunkers to keep her engines running around the clock (Wikipedia). It carried 600 and its maiden voyage was June 23, 1869.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               “After a long illness, [Lang] sailed for Europe with his family and several of his pupils, intending to spend about a year principally in Dresden.” (History of H. and H., 288) “A cat got into Miss S’s [a Lang pupil?] cabin last night and caused much excitement. Maidie [Margaret] well and happy playing with her doll Marie Antoinette. Sea is getting rougher.” (Diary 2-Rosamond) “During the fall and winter he gave piano recitals in Berlin, Leipzig, Dresden.” (Ibid). Also traveling with them were Mr. and Mrs. J. C. Burrage (parents of Frances), Mr. and Mrs. Dixey, (he was a Lang piano student of independent means who owned a home on Beacon Street close to the State House), Mr. Tucker, (also a Lang piano pupil), Margaret and nurse Wardwell. They arrived in Hamburg on December 12th. and spent Christmas in Berlin. (Frances M. Lang’s Note Book, Excerpts, 1). The List of Passengers also listed as traveling with J. C. Burrage and his wife, “Misses Helen, Emma, Ruth and Mariam Burrage.” These would be three sisters of Frances and her cousin, Ruth. Mr. Tucker’s name was not listed; possibly he was with the “And others in the Steerage.” (Program, GB)

HMA Program Collection.

BERLIN CONCERT. Lang gave a recital at the Hotel de Rome in Berlin on December 28, 1869 with the following program: Beethoven’s Sonata Opus 22, Chopin’s Scherzo Opus 31, two works by Bach, Mendelssohn’s Caprice in E Opus 16, and ended with Liszt’s arrangement of Weber’s Polonaise. (BPL Lang Prog.) Frances wrote in her Diary: “I am now 30 years old (Dec. 18th.). Lel’s [B. J.’s name within the family] concert [in Berlin] a great success. Hall crowded, in spite of a snowstorm. Afterward, a number of people returned to our rooms where we had a big supper.” (Diary 2-Rosamond) They then went onto Dresden where they heard “a marvelous Rubenstein concert,” followed by three days in Prague, and then to Vienna where they heard Clara Schumann play. Some days were spent in Venice and Florence and then to Rome where “we saw the Pope. He was just as jolly as possible. He blew his nose on a horrid blue handkerchief.” (Diary 2) B. J. bought a painting. “I could hardly believe it. We are now the owners of a veritable Carlo Morotti painting. A Madonna and Child. It is exquisite. I shall never sleep thinking of it.” (Diary 2)

DRESDEN CONCERT. On Friday, March 11, 1870 Lang played at the “Saale des Herrn Hof-Pianofortefabrikant Ronisch in Dresden.” (Hall of the Rhoenisch Piano-forte Warehouses) The program was much the same as in Berlin, but he included Mendelssohn’s Concerto in G, Opus 25 (no mention of who played the orchestral part, but it was probably his student Mr. Tucker who was with him. With Lang as soloist and Tucker as accompanist, they had played this piece in Boston in December of the previous year). Also performed were, Phantasien in A dur and in C dur of Lang’s own composition. (BPL Lang Prog.) In his April 9, 1870 issue, Dwight printed a translation of a review by Carl Banck, “the distinguished critic” of the Dresdener Journal. “Herr B. J. Lang, of Boston, gave a piano concert on Friday, March 11…His playing showed a technique very clean and thorough, with an easy handling; while his rendering evinced a sound musical culture, and an intelligent conception shaping all with fine and careful shading… Of the two fantasies of his own composition, short lyric pieces-Songs without Words-the first particularly showed a right fine and thoughtful feeling. Herr L. will give another concert by the end of this month.” Another paper, the Tageblatt said: “The artistic understanding with which the programme was put together showed, that Herr Lang belongs among those virtuosos, whose power results from aesthetic striving, and not from mere mechanical studies. With equal excellence he interpreted Bach, Handel and Mendelssohn, as well as Chopin and Liszt… His own two Fantasies, in A major and C major, with whose rendering Herr Lang gave pleasure, are cleverly invented, and particularly distinguished by enchanting modulation.” (Dwight (April 9, 1870): 223) While in Dresden B. J. “bought some autograph letters of Mendelssohn, Bach, Hummel and Liszt.” (Diary 2, April 1870)

Margaret talked about these European sojourns: “Later when we lived in Munich-we had gone abroad because of my mother’s health-we knew the Wagners very well. They used to send Isolde under my mother’s wing to go to concerts. Isolde would go very faint listening to Liszt and we had to take her out of the concert. That made me very mad! (Miller, Globe article) Isolde had been born in 1865-Margaret and her mother were in Munich in 1886-87 when Margaret was a student-Isolde would have been 21 then, possibly too old to be fainting. Perhaps there are other entries in the Frances’ Diaries that refer to this.

ROME AND LISZT. By early February they were in Rome where they were to visit Liszt. Referring to Liszt: “We say the Pope. He was just as jolly as possible. He blew his nose on a horrible blue handkerchief. Lel came in with the most wonderful purchase today. I could hardly believe it. We are now the owners of a veritable Carlo Morotti [or Marotti] painting. A Madonna and Child. It was exquisite. I shall never sleep thinking of it.” (Diary 2, Winter 1870-Rosamond) For their visit with Liszt, they were “ushered up a long staircase with a long hall. We could look into his great music room with its Chickering and Erard grand pianos. We heard exclamations and he appeared. (His servant had given him our cards) He came into the room holding a candle in his hand, high above his head and making an impressive picture. He greeted us very cordially and led us into a smaller room where there was a blazing fire. Lel asked him to write his name on a few pieces of paper, for the ladies, and he immediately took out some photographs and wrote on the backs. He asked me [Frances] to try his piano. Lel said, “You must ask her to sing.” But of course I couldn’t and wouldn’t because my cold was so bad. Then he sat down and kept us spellbound. He played the Benediction  [Benediction de Dieu dans la Solitude-a piece that Lang played regularly throughout his career], etc. He played like a God. Finally, we thanked him and said we must go. He took both my hands in his and made the most delightful little speech about coming back sometime to Weimar and bringing the baby, and took me downstairs into the starlight and put me into the carriage. We were all breathless. That night we went to Florence.” (Frances’ Diary Excerpts, 1 and 2) Maidie, then two years old had remained in Dresden with her nurse. (Diary 2, Winter 1870-Rosamond)

  1.  B. J. was considered such a good friend to Liszt, that he was part of Liszt’s funeral cortege. Clara Doria the singer (wife of Henry Rogers, the Boston lawyer) wrote of her trip in 1889 to 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 continues with an observation that 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)

APRIL. The Lang’s traveled to Milan and then returned “to Dresden to see that all was well with little Maidie. At Dresden, Lel bought some autograph letters of Mendelssohn, Bach, Hummel and Liszt. Lel left for Leipsic. Heard from him later that the 2 concerts he gave there, were the greatest possible success. He was called 4 times before the curtain and cheered. He writes that all is very gay there, and he is going all the time.” (Diary-Rosamond)

VIENNA CONCERT. A Lang concert in Vienna on Friday, May 13, 1870 at Bosendorfer’s Hall included the Mendelssohn Concerto, the Liszt/Weber and four songs by Lang sung by Carl Adams of the Opera House: their titles were Spring, Spinning, Love and Lied-Psalm 86. (BPL Lang Prog.). Carl Adams had been the tenor in Lang’s quartet at the Baptist Church in Boston where Lang played just before he went to Europe to study. “Lel wrote me from Vienna after his second concert which was a great success. Adams sang 3 of Lel’s songs, also his 86th. Psalm, which everyone was wild over.” (Diary-Rosamond) An article mentioned that Lang had been one of the few Americans who had successfully performed in Europe. (Mus. Ob., 1884) After Vienna, they went to Venice and Florence “remaining a few days in each,” before going on to Rome. (Diary-Rosamond)

JUNE. It appears that the whole party rented a villa in Switzerland-Villa Rosa. “I played with Tucker on his piano. Lel showed us his music for 4 Psalms. We go to Dresden for shopping. Helen and Emma each have a piano in their rooms…Lel busy all day, writing music for the Psalms. He showed me 2 of them, and I thought them very lovely. O I shall lose my voice if I don’t sing more. With all the pianos, there is music all the time. Parties every evening, everything so gay.” (Diary 2, April 1870-Rosamond)

JULY. July 4th. Fireworks at the American Consuls” and big party afterward…Sister Helen’s 22d Birthday. Lel wrote some lovely music for her. Lel is leaving to be gone 5 days. First to Zurich and then Lucerne. I went up the Rigi on horseback. O the mountains!” (Diary-Rosamond)

AUGUST. AUGUST 12th. Frances recorded the progress of the war-Paris on the defense. “Great Prussian victories…Lel to St. Moritz. The rest of us to Munich.” The family seemed to be able to travel easily in spite of the war. However, Tucker, in traveling to Rotterdam “was delayed by the masses of wounded soldiers…Lel is in Paris. Perhaps years later I shall be glad that Lel could be in Paris at this exciting time…Miss C. told me today that Napoleon has surrendered to the King of Prussia. Metz has surrendered, Gen. McMahon and 150,000 prisoners. So all the Prussians need do is to march on to Paris…Great excitement: parades, illuminations, etc. Today they fired 10 guns when news was received that Napoleon had been captured…I have been married 9 years!” At about this time B. J. sailed to Boston, leaving his family at the Swiss villa. (Diary-Rosamond)

As the Lang’s were in Europe during the summer of 1870, neighbors submitted information for the July Census. B. J., was listed as aged 37 organist-in Europe, “Fanny,” aged 32-in Europe, and “Mary,” [Margaret] aged 2-in Europe (Census, 1870). The family address at this time was 1 Otis Place according to a note Margaret added to a letter written at that time. (Ms. Lang, Vol. 24, No. 3)

“Mr. Lang arrived on Tuesday, after a year’s stay in Europe, with health thoroughly restored, enriched with musical experience and strong for the winter’s work.” (Dwight (September 24, 1870): 319). He arrived in Boston on September 20, 1870 on the Palmyra from Liverpool with his age being listed as 26, [?], and an “Estimated Birth Year” of about 1844. [?] traveling with him were Miss Burrage, aged 28 a spinster and Mr. H. G. Tucker, aged 18. (Boston Passenger and Crew Lists, 1820-1943.) The Miss Burrage was probably Ruth-if the age 28 was really 20 miss read, then it was certainly Ruth as she had been born in 1850. Frances’s father and Mr. and Mrs. Dixey had probably returned to Boston previously. Frances’s mother and her sisters remained with her until the following February 1871.

FALL OF 1870.

Frances noted in her Diary that B. J. had written “he already had 40 pupils. [He] also has been engaged to conduct Midsummer Night’s Dream for Mrs. Scott Siddons.” (Diary, Rosamond)

HIRAM G. TUCKER. (1851-1932).

Handel and Haydn History, Vol. 2, 135.

After his year in Europe with the Lang’s, Tucker enrolled in the New England Conservatory. In 1871 he was described as “an accomplished pupil of Mr. Lang” when he played at the 145th. concert given by the New England Conservatory. (Dwight (March 25, 1871): 423) At the Dedication of a new concert hall at 409 Washington Street on December 3, 1870 Lang played the solo in Mendelssohn’s Concerto in G Minor Opus 25 with Tucker providing the orchestral reduction. (BPL Lang Prog., Vol. 1) In May 1875 “Mr. H. G. Tucker’s Concert at Mechanics Hall (Wednesday evening May 6) was an occasion of considerable interest…Mr. Tucker, well-known as one of the most accomplished pupils of Mr. Lang, gave ample evidence of steadfast improvement in all these various renderings. He is an earnest student, and quite unaffected; and his great strength, which serves him so well, is accompanied by great self-possession, and is becoming also more refined into as delicacy of style resembling his master’s. His execution is indeed quite remarkable, and often brilliant.” (Dwight (May 29, 1875): 31)

Tucker and Arthur Foote shared a concert at Mechanic’s Hall on May 3, 1876 that Dwight did not attend, but “which we learn was very successful.” Together they played the Variations on a Theme of Beethoven by Saint-Saens “which was introduced in Mr. Lang’s concert,” and he soloed in the Introduction and Allegro, Op. 154 by Schumann, “which he had played before with orchestra in one of the last Harvard Concerts.” Possibly at the suggestion of B. J. Lang, “Miss Lillian Bailey sang.” (Dwight (May 13, 1876): 231) Mr. and Mrs. Tucker again went to Europe with the Lang’s in 1876. Tucker was listed as the conductor of the Newton Musical Association’s performance of Haydn’s Creation on December 16, 1878. Fellow Lang student John A. Preston was the pianist, and Dr. S. W. Langmaid and John F. Winch were among the soloists. (BPL Music Hall Prog., Vol. 2) For the HMA Orchestra concert on December 19, 1879, Tucker, “who came in at a day’s warning when the committee was disappointed by a singer, generously sacrificed himself in some degree to give us the not too common pleasure of hearing a Mozart Concerto. This one in A major is very beautiful [No. 23, K. 488, Johnson, First, 268]…The brilliant, strong, young virtuoso did not seem to feel quite in his element…taken as a whole it is a rich and beautiful Concerto. Mr. Tucker had his chance for strength and brilliancy in Tausig’s transcription of the Ride of the Walkuren.” (Dwight (January 18, 1879): 15) The Mozart concerto and the Wagner-Tausig were both Boston premiers. (Ibid) So it would seem that when Lang himself was not presenting premiers, he was preparing his students to do so!

Tucker continued to present a recital each spring. On Thursday afternoon, May 20, 1880 he played at Mechanics Hall assisted by the tenor Mr. Charles R. Adams. He began with  “the novelty of the occasion,” the Rubinstein Sonata in A Minor, Op. 100, which was “three-quarters of an hour, -a length seldom reached by a grand Symphony.” Dwight missed the first two movements, but of the final two movements, he reported: “It offered plenty of difficulties, and called for great strength and endurance in the interpreter, to which Mr. Tucker proved himself abundantly equal.” Of the Chopin pieces, Dwight wrote: “In the two Chopin Preludes, [E Flat Major and E major] Mr. Tucker showed more of grace and delicacy than was his wont. The Concert Allegro in A Major of Chopin was played with great brilliancy and freedom.” (Dwight (June 19, 1880): 102) On Friday evening April 1, 1881 the venue was Chickering Hall at 156 Tremont Street; and on Monday evening March 20, 1882 again at Chickering Hall. In each of these three recitals one vocalist appeared as an assisting artist. (BPL Music Hall Prog, Vol. 5) Dwight’s comment of the 1881 concert was: “Mr. H. G. Tucker, the strong and brilliant young pianist, never appeared to better advantage than in the concert which he gave at Chickering’s on Friday, April 1.” (Dwight (April 23, 1881): 69) At a Boston Art Club concert on Monday evening March 4, 1889 Tucker and Lang played An der Nixenquelle Opus 29 for two pianos by Templeton-Strong, and they finished the concert with the Variations on a Theme of Beethoven by St. Saens. (BPL Lang Prog., Vol. 5) Tucker was soloist with the BSO during the Second Season (1882-83: Henschel), during the Sixth Season (1886-87: Gericke), and during the tenth Season (1890-91: Nikisch) (BSO Programs 1881-96) The concerto for the tenth season was the Sgambati Concerto for Piano in G Minor, Op. 15 that he played on November 1, 1890 with Arthur Nikisch. (Musical Year Book, 1890-91, 9) Lang had prepared Tucker for this appearance by having him play the work the previous March 10, 1890 at the opening concert of Lang’s Third Season of “Piano-Concerto Concerts” at Chickering Hall. (Musical Year Book, 1889-90:  13) However Hale wrote of the Sgambati: “It is a thankless work for the player, as severe a task for him to play as for the audience to hear.” (Hale Crit., Vol. 1)

Probably Lang proposed Tucker for membership in the Harvard Musical Association. In the report of the March 1, 1878 social meeting of the club, Tucker joined fellow Lang pupil in piano duets: “Two short pieces by Heinrich Hoffmann, and a Grotesque Chinese Overture to Turandot by Weber. (HMA Bulletin No. 11) At the Friday, December 17th. meeting he played piano solos and joined with Arthur Foote in works for four-hands. (Ibid) During the 1889 season, he performed with Wulf Fries, the cellist. (Ibid) Listed among Lang’s pupils “who deserve mention because of musical prominence,” was Tucker “whose excellent work we have recently [c. 1882] recorded in the columns of this journal.” (Elson, Supplement, 3) Tucker was the pianist for the 1895-96 season of the Handel and Haydn Society-Lang’s first year as conductor. (Annual Meeting Address, May 25, 1896) But, he had also appeared with the Society during the 1894-95 Season as pianist in the April 12, 1895 performance of Bach’s Passion Music with Lang as the organist. One assumes that his role was as the continuo player. (History-1911, 49) Before this, he had “played the pianoforte accompaniments to the recitatives with admirable judgment in the March 31, 1893 performance of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion.” (History-1911, 31) Just a few days later, on April 2, 1893 he was the pianist for Handel’s Samson with Lang as organist and an orchestra of 57. (Ibid) This may be the same H. G. Tucker who founded a singing club in 1900, which then became the “Boston Singing Club” in 1901 which “was a mixed chorus for the performance of music of all schools, including modern choral works, oratorios, and a cappella music of the 16th and 17th centuries… [the choir] gives three concerts annually, each preceded by public rehearsals for music students.” (Grove’s-1921, 369)

TEACHER OF PIANO.

During the ten years, 1860-70, Lang built a piano and organ teaching career of great success; he was considered a very thorough teacher. He had first begun teaching in 1852 when a sudden illness “of his father’s compelled Mr. Lang to take over the former’s pupils…He has continued to give instruction with uninterrupted activity ever since.” (Groves-1921, 631) An article in the January 26, 1884 issue of the Musical Observer credited him with over sixty pupils who had become concert artists. Arthur Foote studied organ with Lang and characterized his teaching as being concerned with basic musical values; one was not allowed to break a phrase or disturb the rhythm in order to change stops. Improvisation was also a Lang strong point, and in teaching this skill he insisted upon his pupils taking a specific theme or motive and sticking to it.                                                                                                Soon Lang’s pupils were using his name as a reference in their ads. In an ad dated September 23, 1865, R. C. Dixey listed himself as a teacher of piano and organ, and gave three references: B. J. Lang, Dr. A. A. Hayes, Hon. Seth Ames. (Evening Transcript (September 23, 1865): 3, GB) “A young man of experience as a church organist desires to obtain a good situation in Boston or vicinity.” This “young man,” Mr. M. A. Smith, listed his references in order as Mr. B. J. Lang, Rev. J. A. Bolles, D. D., and Mr. Henry Carter. (Evening Transcript (March 9, 1865): 3, GB) Mrs. H. W. Cole, who offered piano lessons, listed her extensive references as: B. J. Lang, Esq., Dr. J. B. Upham, Dr. J Nelson Boriand, Col. Thomas E. Chickering, and Oliver Ditson, Esq. (Journal (November 6, 1866): 3, GB) R. F. Raymond “Teacher of Piano… Terms$24…Refers to Mr. B. J. Lang.” (Herald (October 16, 1867): 5, GB) Here was Mr. Raymond, a Lang pupil charging $24 per term, whereas an ad just above was of  “A Lady graduate of a Music School [with] good references,” but none specifically listed, charging $10 per term. Even this early in his career, Lang’s name meant something.                                                                 Lang’s actions also meant something. In describing the help he had given to Lillian Bailey (later Georg Henschel’s wife) at the beginning of her career: “…Mr. B. J. Lang, [who was] the able musician and loyal friend, who has stood sponsor for so many of Boston’s young artists. He had, further, a large influence over her success, a helpful friendship which later included both husband and herself.” BPL clipping)                                                                 One of Lang’s last pupils, Hamilton C. MacDougall, who later became Music Professor at Wellesley, recalled in 1943 Lang’s style of giving a lesson. “Lang had one peculiarity, almost a mannerism, in teaching that might well be copied in a majority of all sorts of teachers; he would silently hear me play, making no comment whatever, but following at once with ‘play it again.’ In your ‘salad days’ did you not often feel that you would have played brilliantly, indeed, if you could have had a second chance.” (Diapason, July 1943)  MacDougall then goes on to describe Lang’s studio at 149a Tremont Street, the Chickering Building, where at one period the Apollo Club had their rehearsal and fellowship rooms. “The Lang studio had two intercommunicating rooms, one of good size, the other a bit smaller and more like a business office; the larger room had a Chickering grand piano and a small two-manual pipe organ. ‘B. J.’ divided his working days into hour periods and was always on duty; I never knew a businessman more satisfactory to deal with; when he was ‘in residence,’ so to speak,’ a card hung under the bell-pull which read: ‘Ring once. Mr. Lang will answer as soon as he is at liberty.’ A comfortable sofa in the corridor could be used by callers from every part of the U.S.A. and on every kind of musical business.”(Ibid)

Childe Hassam, At the Piano. Public domain.                                                                                                                                                      After almost thirty years of teaching Lang was still inspiring his pupils. In 1897, one of them this penned this Ode to her teacher:

Gould materials, Harvard Musical Association.

OTHER CONCERTS.

Lang continued to appear in concerts promoted by others. On Saturday evening, December 3, 1870 Mr. J. W. Brackett invited listeners to the opening of “his new Music Hall, No. 409 Washington St.,” and the program included Lang playing Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto in G Minor, Op. 25 with the orchestral accompaniment played at “a second Piano Forte by Mr. H. G. Tucker .” (HMA Program Collection).

GLOBE THEATRE CONCERTS.

Seating diagram from BOSTON MANUAL of 1888 showing the 1874 building. The building that Lang had used burned in May 1873, and this new building now seated over 2,000 patrons. Johnston Collection.

Lang expanded further his concert production activities during the spring of 1871 using the Mendelssohn Quintette Club as assisting artists-in the past he had been the assisting artist at their concerts… Dwight announced that “Mr. B. J. Lang has made arrangements to give four concerts at the Globe Theatre on Thursday afternoons, beginning Jan. 19 [1871], and alternating with the Harvard Symphony concerts. There will be a piano trio, a piano concerto and a string quartet at each concert.” (Dwight (December 31, 1870): 375) “The Programmes have been made up with special consideration for the younger class of Concertgoers.” The series cost $5, or single tickets were $1.50. (BPL Lang Prog.) The first was given on Thursday afternoon, January 19 and “drew a very choice and (for a chamber concert) a large audience. There were at least three hundred good listeners, seated mostly in the parquette of the handsome theatre, in comfortable seats with everything cozy and harmonious about them.” The Mendelssohn Quintette Club participated in Mozart’s Quintet, Opus 108, Beethoven’s Trio in C Minor Opus 1, No. 4, and formed the accompaniment, with the addition of a double bass, for the Mendelssohn Piano Concerto in G minor, Opus 25 for which “Mr. Lang’s was a very fervent, carefully studied, finished and intelligent performance.” As a solo, he played the Chopin Scherzo in B flat minor, Opus 31, “and conveyed it to his hearers so well that one scarcely thought of the masterly ease of execution it involved.” (Dwight (January 28,  1871): 391)      Dwight’s final comment was: “These concerts come in pleasant alternation with the Harvard Symphony Concerts.” (Ibid) The Journal mentioned “apprehensions” about the acoustics with the sage hangings, carpeted floor, etc. “Notwithstanding these facts the effect of the music was much better than was anticipated.” This reviewer found that the orchestral accompaniment of only five instruments “sounded thin and unsatisfactory compared with the full and rich harmonies produced by Thomas’s orchestra no longer ago than Wednesday afternoon, but Mr. Lang distinguished himself by a very fine rendering of the piano part.” (Journal (January 20, 1871): 1, GB)

The second concert on Thursday afternoon February 1, 1871 at 3:30 PM opened with Schubert’s String Quintet in C, Opus 163. Again, the Mendelssohn Quintette Club was used as the accompaniment for the Beethoven First Piano Concerto Opus 15 with Lang as soloist, Dwight felt that “with only the shadow of an orchestra (string quartet with double-bass) it sounded to us more dry and tame than” when Lang had played it with full orchestra three years previously. However, he ended with: “We are thankful for the too-rare chance of hearing such a work.” The comment on B. J.’s contribution as a pianist was: “Mr. Lang had ample sphere for all his fine, clear, finished technique, and tasteful phrasing.” This probably referred to his performance of Chopin’s Ballade in A Flat Major Opus 49. The concert ended with Mendelssohn’s Trio in C Minor No. 2, Opus 66. (Dwight (February 11, 1871): 399)

This third concert of the series on Thursday afternoon February 16, 1871, again using the Mendelssohn Quintette Club as assisting artists began with the Haydn Quartet No. 67, continued with two piano solos: Capriccio, Opus 22 by Sterndale Bennett and Benediction de Dieu dans la Solitude by Liszt, and ended with “the great B-flat Trio [Opus 97] of Beethoven.” (Dwight (February 11, 1871): 406 and 407) Dwight felt that the Liszt piece’s “inspiration had all faded out before the end,” but that “Mr. Lang played it, however, con amore and devoutly, with much expression, and had the close (no doubt with many the sympathetic) attention of the audience throughout.” (Ibid)

The fourth and last concert of this chamber music series was given Tuesday afternoon, March 2 to “an uncommonly large and cultivated audience.” The program was: Mendelssohn Quintet in B Flat Major, Op. 87; Bach-Concerto for Three Pianofortes; Pianoforte Pieces-Lang; Mendelssohn-Pianoforte Concerto in D Minor, Op. 40. Messrs. Lang, Leonhard, and Parker played the Bach with an accompaniment of string quartet plus double bass. Dwight’s commented on Lang’s pieces: “For piano solos, Mr. Lang played a couple of very graceful, airy, finished little fancies of his own, which were much enjoyed, and, in answer to an encore, another, not (we should think) from the same source, which seemed a little tame.” Dwight continued: “The D-minor Concerto of Mendelssohn, was, if we remember rightly, first introduced to a Boston public by Mr. Lang, with orchestra, more than a dozen years ago. It is needless to say that he plays it very finely now, but the Quintet abridgment feebly supplied the place of the orchestra. And so the pleasant company dispersed, rather reluctantly at thinking that no more such feasts remained.” (Dwight (March 11, 1871): 415)

Later, that same spring (1871) Lang presented a series of four piano concerts given on successive Monday afternoons during April in Bumstead Hall featuring his pupils. Mr. G. W. Sumner, Mr. W. F. Apthorp, Mr. G. A. Adams, and Mr. H. G. Tucker performed solo works, duets, and concertos “before large and cultivated audiences… The young knights summon witnesses to see that their spurs are well won, for they shrink not from the highest tasks. It must be acknowledged that so far they have acquitted themselves with honor… Mr. Lang himself (teacher and “head centre” of the group) outlined the orchestral parts upon another piano.” (Dwight (April 22, 1871): 14)

FRANCES’ SINGING LESSONS.

In January 1871 Frances, her mother, and her sisters were still in Dresden. In January Frances took the opportunity to take German lessons and also singing lessons from Herr Sharfe. At the first lesson he said “that I must learn to breathe more easily. He is to come twice a week” (Diary 2, January 1870). By the end of February, she could write: “Today I sang Schubert’s Hark Hark the Lark, to Herr Sharfe’s entire satisfaction.”Singing was to be an important musical outlet for Frances throughout her life. Her Diary entry for January 3, 1876 was: “At 11:00 I took my Rubinstein and Schubert and went to Mrs. Bell’s where I sang an hour.” The day before, B. J’s piano pupil Hiram Tucker and his wife came to dine at 1PM, and after tea at 6PM, B. J. went off to the Handel and Haydn rehearsal and Frances “sang nearly an hour to Tucker’s playing  Jensen and Schubert.” In the same week she sang two songs at an afternoon musicale given by Mrs. Eldridge, Mrs. Bell accompanied, and four songs Friday evening. (1878 Diary January 5 and 7)

WILLIAM FOSTER APTHORP.

Apthorp as a young man. Rogers, Story of Two Lives, facing 190.

Many reference books make mention that Lang taught piano to Apthorp (see paragraph above) for seven or eight years after Apthorp had graduated from Harvard in 1869. As Lang spend the year 1869-70 in Europe, Apthorp’s instruction probably began in 1870. He was the “son of Robert Apthorp and Eliza Hunt. Since before the American Revolution, Apthorp’s ancestors had participated in the mercantile and intellectual life of Boston.” (Saloman, Am. Nat. Biog., Vol. 13, 567) Grant gives more about his family background. “Apthorp was the direct descendant of officers of the British Crown; one of his ancestors had been paymaster of the British Navy during the Revolutionary War. As a boy he was taken by his parents all over Europe to be educated—France, Dresden, Berlin, Rome-and as a result was fluent in many languages… His parents had first dreamed of his becoming a great painter; now they saw him as a budding concert pianist. Apthorp himself realized he wasn’t quite good enough and began a teaching career in the early 1870s. He taught “piano and theory at the National College of Music from 1872 to 1873, then taught piano, theory, counterpoint and fugue at the New England Conservatory from 1873 to 1886. He also held classes in aesthetics and the history of music in the College of Music of Boston University until 1886” (Saloman, Op. cit.) During his one year at the National College of Music, he was part of the piano faculty that Lang headed, which consisted of only former Lang students.

He graduated from Harvard in 1869 having taken musical classes with J. K. Paine. “Coming from an old Boston family whose efforts in the cause of art have always been most intimately linked with its progress in the city, he has won a career not less worthy than any of his line.” (Elson, Supplement, 3) Apthorp’s musical tastes were influenced in part by Dwight’s Journal which began when Apthorp was four years old. “Since it is such a significant chronicle of the music scene in America, it would naturally reflect musical tastes of society, especially in Boston, during Apthorp’s formative years. These tastes and convictions would become a permanent ingredient of Apthorp’s personality and musical sense which, in turn, would be reflected in his own criticisms and commentaries.” (Brian, 39)

Baker, A Biographical Dictionary of Music, 19

Apthorp wrote musical criticism, first with the Atlantic Monthly from 1872-77. “His most remarkable work, however, was for the Evening Transcript, from 1881-1903.” (Nelson, vi) His reviews of Lang concerts were always positive, but not without critical aspects. He added the job of drama critic a year later. The Evening Transcript was first published on July 24, 1830, and by the 1880s it had assumed the place of “the tea-table paper of Boston, its principal function consisting in presenting the news of the day in a manner especially acceptable in the quiet and refined homes of Boston.” (Nelson, 99 quoting the Daily Advertiser) “Apthorp was praised for his open-mindedness, perception, and common sense, and he successfully balanced progressive and conservative viewpoints in his criticisms. He championed new music and American music. Ever mindful that the public was his true audience, his lucid, instructive writing style appealed to everyone.” (Nelson, vi) In all he “served as music critic for twenty-two years, from 1881 to 1903.” (Nelson, 99) From 1892 he edited the program books for the BSO.

Ms. Apthorp

In 1876 Apthorp married Octavie Loir Iasigi “of Boston, a hospitable, gracious woman and a leader of society. The family resided at 14 Otis Place in Boston [which they had built right on the edge of the Charles River] and spent their summers at their cottage in Nahant. They had one son, Algernon.” (Nelson, 280) Octavie was the daughter of Joseph Iasigi who was of Greek origin, and in 1852 had a house on Louisburg Square. (Internet. Celebrate Boston- “Athens of America origin”) Mrs. Apthorp seems to have had a mind of her own. In December 1900 The New York Times printed a story about Mrs. Apthorp: “WEARS HER HAT IN THEATRES-Mrs. Apthorp of Boston Refuses to Comply with City Ordinance. BOSTON, Dec. 11. Mrs. William F. Apthorp, wife of the musical critic, is evidently out on a crusade against the theatre hat ordinance, which has been in force in Boston for three years. Mrs. Apthorp is hardly second to Mrs. “Jack” Gardner as the social queen of Boston, and is very elaborately dressed when she goes out in public. Last evening, with her husband, she occupied an orchestra stall at the Hollis Street Theatre and did not remove her bonnet when the curtain rose. An usher requested her to do so, but Mrs. Apthorp declined to comply. The management was appealed to and the lady was informed that she must either remove her hat or leave the theatre. She chose the latter alternative and went home and wrote a letter about it to the Evening Transcript. This evening Mrs. Apthorp went to the Boston Museum and again refused to remove her bonnet. This time she fared a little differently, Manager Field taking her to his box behind the curtain, while Mr. Apthorp remained in his seat.” (Internet archive source: The New York Times, December 12, 1900)

New York Public Library Digital Library.

The song composer Clayton Johns describes the musical household kept by the Apthorp’s; the Lang’s would have attended many of these events. “Among other interesting houses in the Boston of those days let me not forget that of Mr. and Mrs. Apthorp. For many years their Sunday evenings were unique. Many times during the winter they gave little dinners of six or eight people, usually having some “high-light” guest like Paderewski, Melba, Sarah Bernhardt, Coquelin, or Salvini. After dinner, special friends were invited to meet the honored guest. Mrs. Gardner and Gericke were always there. Besides, there were members of the younger set-youth and beauty for decoration. Mr. and Mrs. Apthorp were rare entertainers, given to hospitality in its best sense. Later in the evening, beer and cigars lent a Bohemian air to the occasions. Mrs. Apthorp appeared, carrying a large pitcher of beer in one hand, beer mugs hanging from each finger of her other hand. As Blue Laws still obtained, dancing was not allowed until, after midnight, but then it was ‘On with the dance.’” (Johns, 71 and 72) Arthur Foote’s daughter Katharine remembered the Sunday evenings at the Apthorp’s: “There my parents met many more of the great figures of the world of music, art, literature and the stage, among them Ellen Terry and Henry Irving, the Kendall’s-a husband and wife team who were the Lunt’s of their day, Eleanora Duse, Melba, and many more that I have forgotten.” (Tara, Foote, 70) “A connoisseur of culinary delights, he was known to don apron and bonnet de chef and whip up some gourmet cuisine.” (Nelson, 282) The Apthorp’s place in the Boston social scene is reflected by the report in the Globe’s “Table Gossip” that “Mr. and Mrs. Wm. F. Apthorp, who will stay abroad some time are now in Dresden, where they will remain a month or two longer.” (Globe (February 3, 1907): 50) “A diligent a worker as he was, his social circle was wide. He was a member of the Harvard Musical Association, the St. Botolph Club, the Tavern Club, and the Papyrus Club, where he served a term as president.” (Nelson, 282)

Mathews, A Hundred Years of Music in America, 369.

Apthorp “died in Vevey, Switzerland [1913], whither he had gone in 1903 after giving up active work.” (Dic. Am. Biog., 336) Grant stated that the reason for Apthorp’s retirement was that he was “going blind from all these toils,”-the toils being his BSO program notes, and the books that he had written. (Grant, 69) “Their spacious apartment, situated high in a hotel of that resort town, overlooked Lake Geneva and the Swiss Alps. It was their intention to return to Boston someday, as they maintained their Boston ties and even left some furniture. When his Boston friends visited they were distressed at his worsening health. He suffered from cataracts, which were successfully corrected with surgery. He was long afflicted with a bronchial cough, which weakened his heart. Apthorp died in Vevey, 19 February 1913, and was buried there.” (Nelson, 281 and 282)

BENJAMIN EDWARD WOOLF. (London: February 16, 1836-Boston: February 7, 1901)

Woolf was almost always negative in tone when reviewing a Lang event. Arthur Foote described Woolf, when he was writing for the Saturday Evening Gazette as “a musically well-equipped critic, who was more feared than loved. How he did delight to pitch into John S. Dwight and B. J. Lang. He could never find any good in either.” (HMA Bulletin No. 4, 2) Woolf, “Born in London, multifaceted, was a composer, violinist, and libretto writer who married an actress, joined the Globe in 1870 and the following year the Saturday Evening Gazette, [a weekly] for which he wrote music and drama reviews; in the 1890s he left the Gazette for the Herald. The American organist Henry M. Dunham wrote of Woolf’s criticism; “We disliked him extremely because of his rough and uncompromising style. He had almost no concession to offer for anyone’s short-comings, and on that very account what he had to say carried additional weight with the artist he was criticizing.” [Dunham, Life, 220] On the other hand, Philip Hale, Woolf’s Herald successor, asserted that Woolf had been caustic only toward ”incompetence, shams, humbugs, snobs and snobbery in art,” and noted that when Woolf began to write in the Gazette, music criticism in Boston was mere ”honey daubing” of local favorites. Hale added that toward ”really promising beginners,” Woolf was never severe but gave personal advice and often financial aid.” (Grant, 68)

He had been the leader of the orchestra at the Boston Museum [conducted by Julius Eichberg] from 1859 until 1864. He then led orchestras “in Philadelphia and New Orleans. He married Josephine Orton, an actress, [of the Boston Museum Stock Company, Dic. Am. Bio, 514] on 15 April 1867, and then returned to Boston, where Woolf became editor of the Saturday Evening Gazette in 1871… He created or collaborated in six operettas, including The Doctor of Alcantara (1862), music by Julius Eichberg. As a critic, he was a musical conservative with exacting standards and a caustic pen, but his breadth of knowledge and his musical skill did much to elevate the quality of American criticism. Throughout his career Woolf’s versatility was his greatest asset, but it was also a limitation. The Herald observed in its obituary that  his labor might have been concentrated upon fewer objects with better effect.” (Am. Grove, Vol. 4, 561)

SALEM ORATORIO SOCIETY.

This choir presented Mendelssohn’s St. Paul on March 2, 1871. Carl Zerrahn contacted, the brothers W. J. and J. F. Winch were the male soloists and B. J. “presided at the organ.” No mention was made of an orchestra. (Metronome (April 1871): 2)

STUDENT CONCERTO CONCERTS.

In the spring of 1871, Lang presented a second series of four concerts on Monday afternoons at 3:30 PM, beginning with April 10, 1871. These concerts featured his pupils Mr. G. A. Adams, Mr. William F. Apthorp, Mr. G. W. Sumner, and Mr. Tucker.

The first concert included:

“Prelude in C,” well Tempered Clavichord, Bach (Adams)                             “Fugue in E minor,” Fourth Suite, Handel (Adams)                                            Three Diversions, Piano Four hands, Opus 17, Sterndale Bennett
 (Apthorp)Concerto in F minor Opus 21, Chopin (Sumner)                         “Festspiel und Brautlied” from Wagner’s Lohengrin arr. Liszt (Tucker)

The second concert on Monday, April 17 included:

Concerto in E Flat Opus 73, Beethoven (Adams)                                                Fantasia Cromatica e Fuga in D minor, Bach (Sumner)                              Concertstuck in F Opus 79, Weber (Tucker)

The third concert on Monday, April 24 included:

Ballade in A Flat Opus 53, Chopin (Sumner)                                                          Concerto in A minor Opus 54, Schumann (Tucker)                                           “Arioso (Tristan’s Vision)” from Die Walkure, Wagner (Apthorp     accompanist for Dr. Langmaid)                                                                                  Rondo in C for Two Pianos Opus 73, Chopin (Sumner & Adams)

The fourth and final concert on May 1 included:

 Andante, Spianato and Polonaise Brillante Opus 22, Chopin (Adams)            “Slow Movement” from Fantasia Opus 17 Schumann (Sumner)                  Ballade in A Flat Opus 20, Reinecke (Tucker)                                                           Concerto in C Minor for Three Pianos, Bach (Adams, Sumner, and Tucker with Apthorp playing the orchestral part) (Citations from BPL Lang Prog.)

ANOTHER EUROPEAN SUMMER-1871.

With the Spring of 1871, Lang, then aged 33, finished the first thirteen years of his Boston career, and during the summer another European trip was made. This time the party was all family: B. J., Frances, Margaret Ruthven, the parents of Frances-Johnson Carter Burrage and Emeline Brigham Burrage, and three of her sisters, Helen, Emma and Minnie. (ALEPPO Manifest) While in Germany, B. J. and Margaret visited Wagner, and B. J. offered to help raise funds in America for the building of Wagner’s theater in Bayreuth.

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.

In the month (July 1871) that Lang visited Cosima, he recalled the details of their first meeting. On the following day, July 21, B. J. and his wife visited the Wagners for lunch during which he repeated his offer of support for the building of Bayreuth. Cosima noted that their four girls were presented to the Langs. She recorded that she enjoyed speaking English, but that Richard regarded it not a serious language, but only a dialect.(Cosima, Diaries, 394)

The Langs did not return to Boston until the fall. On October 13 B. J., Frances and Margaret (aged four) arrived in Boston from Liverpool on the “Aleppo” together with the father and mother of Frances and three of her sisters and Nurse Waldwell. The sister’s names are not listed, only their ages of 23, 20, and 18. (Aleppo Manifest)

MENDELSSOHN QUINTETTE CLUB PERFORMANCES.

Below: Ryan, MQC in 1849, 94

The Mendelssohn Quintette Club continued to be an important part of B. J.’s performing career. At the end of February 1860 Lang played in the sixth of eight concerts, at the new Bumstead Hall [the hall in the basement of the Music Hall]. For this concert on Tuesday, February 28, 1860 Dwight recorded: the concert “in the pleasant new hall in Bumstead Place, with [a] large audience, and, for the most part, excellent programme.” Lang’s contributions were in the Mendelssohn Sonata Duo for Piano and Violoncello, Op. 58 where he “displayed his fine crisp qualities of easy execution to fine advantage” together with cellist Wulf Fries, and as a soloist, he performed the Chopin Ballade in A Flat, Op. 47 which “was played with facile brilliancy; and yet there was a lack of life in it; one missed the aura of Chopin.”  (Dwight (March 3, 1860): 190)

On December 4, 1860 Lang played again with the Club in the second concert of their 1860-61 Season. The performance featured Mendelssohn’s Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor, “and it was generally conceded that the piece had never been more successfully performed here. Mr. Lang also played Liszt’s transcription for piano, La Charite [by Rossini] with nice finish and clear execution.” (BMT (December 15, 1860): 344) Dwight wrote of Lang: ” We have not heard this artist for some time [one year], but he seems to have added to his great ease and strength of execution a nicer taste and deeper feeling than we noticed before.” (Dwight (December 8, 1860): 295)

During this same month, Lang appeared again with the Club on Tuesday, December 18, 1860 playing the Mendelssohn Trio No. 1 (repeated by request), and Dwight again praised Lang. “Mr. Lang did himself a great deal of credit by playing his part of the Piano Trio by Mendelssohn as well as he did. The first, third and fourth movements were especially good. He played with taste and feeling, and many passages were exquisite. …Mr. Lang does honor to America, and Boston especially, and we were glad of the very favorable remarks his playing elicited from the very greatest of living pianists, Dr. Liszt, as we happen to know from a trustworthy source.” (Dwight (December 22, 1860): 310)

Just two months later, in February 1861, Lang and the Club shared three concerts within two weeks! The February 9, 1861 issue of the Boston Musical Times reported: “Mr. B. J. Lang gave a concert in Salem, last Thursday week. Mr. Lang was assisted by the Mendelssohn Quintette Club, the Amphions, an amateur vocal society, and Miss Lang, who made a first appearance in public, and who is said to have a voice of great purity, and to give promise of high attainments in the divine art.” (BMT (February 9, 1861): 410) This Miss Lang would have been B. J.’s sister, Henrietta Maria (Harriet), who was then fifteen years old. Later in that same month at the Fourth Saturday Concert, Lang performed the “Adagio and Scherzo” from the Mendelssohn Piano Trio in D minor with the Club together with a selection of Mendelssohn’s Songs Without Words.

Within days “The Club had the assistance of Mr. Lang and were greeted by a large and pleased audience” for their Seventh Regular Concert. [Tuesday, February 12, 1861, Chickering Hall, Washington Street] Lang’s part included the Boston premiere of Dussek’s Quartette for Piano and Strings in F minor, Op. 41 and Mendelssohn’s Capriccio in B minor for Piano with Quintette accompaniment. “Mr. Lang’s performance of the Mendelssohn Capriccio was masterly in the extreme. The two styles, so different, of Dussek and Mendelssohn, were alike artistically presented. He is rapidly rising to a high position among the pianists in this country.” (BMT (February, 23, 1861): 3) Just a few days later Lang was part of another Club concert performing Song Without Words by Mendelssohn and the piano part of the “Adagio and Scherzo” from Mendelssohn’s Piano Trio in D minor. (Ibid) In November of the same year he played Mendelssohn’s Second Piano Trio in C Minor, Op. 66, and Dwight felt that this work “gave us the opportunity to see how greatly Mr. B. J. Lang, always clever, has improved his uncommon talent for the piano. He played it with perfect clearness and marked, intelligent emphasis…This piece made the great impression of the evening.” (Dwight (November 30, 1861): 279)

Within two weeks Lang was playing in a concert given by one of his pupils. “Miss Mary Fay gives a concert in Boston soon in which she, with Mr. Lang, will play Thalberg Grand Fantasia on Themes from Norma.” (BMT (March 9, 1861): 22) Lang was to play the same piece in another of Miss Fay’s concerts less than a year later. Then, within two weeks Lang was the soloist in Mozart’s Concerto in E flat with the Orchestral Union conducted by Carl Zerrahn. Unfortunately, few braved the storm that raged that day, but those who did “were amply repaid…Mr. Lang played the Mozart Concerto most admirably. It is evidently a favorite with him, and we have rarely heard him play anything with more expression. In reply to a persistent encore, he played a clever little polka, unknown to us.” (BMT (April 6, 1861): 54)

Such busy schedules seemed to be the norm in the early years of the Civil War. “If music will preserve the Union, the Mendelssohn Quintette Club deserves credit for contributing their share toward the preserving grace. Witness their last week’s labors:

Monday evening-private concert in Brookline.                                                  Tuesday evening-regular concert in Boston.                                                   Wednesday afternoon-concert of Orchestral Union.                                     Wednesday evening-concert in Salem.                                                                 Thursday evening-concert in New Bedford.                                                          Friday evening-concert in Worcester.                                                                Saturday-Eichberg’s concert in Boston.

In addition to the above concerts, a portion of each forenoon is devoted to rehearsals of the Club, and each member has more or less pupils to attend to during the remaining portion of the day, if anybody can discover what portion remains not devoted to traveling.” (BMT (March 9, 1861): 22

Other Boston musicians were making use of Lang’s talents. J. H. Willcox, (1827-1875) who was the director of music of “the New Catholic Church” which was “seventy feet longer than the Music Hall” and was “the finest building for sound, either for music, or…for speaking” [Immaculate Conception, which had a new, large Hook organ] used Lang as an

Church of the Immaculate Conception, Boston, Ma.  Johnston Collection

accompanist which inspired Dwight to say: “With such skillful accompanists [Lang and Wilcox] it will be seen that there was nothing wanting to please the immense audience that filled every seat in the church.” (Dwight (March 2, 1861): 390) Lang was one of the assisting artists in a “Complimentary Concert” for Master C. R. Rentz on January 3, 1861. Held at Chickering’s Rooms at 246 Washington Street, in addition to the seven performers taking part, a “Committee of Arrangements” of twelve including seven who were “Esq.” were in charge. (Program, GB) A month later, February 7, 1861, Lang was the accompanist for Signor Giorgio Stigelli at Washburn Hall in Worcester. The assisting artist was Carlotta Patti, “The Celebrated Vocalist from New York”-Lang was listed as “The Distinguished Pianist.” Lang had two solo spots; in the first half, he played “Etudes for Piano Forte,” no composer listed. In the second half, he played an Impromptu that he had composed. (Program, GB) This same concert was presented at Howard Hall in Providence. “Signor Stigelli will appear, with Carlotta Patti, Formes and B. J.  Lang, a weight of talent that seldom graces a single stage.” (Providence Evening Press (January 26, 1861): 2, GB)

1861-62.

Lang assisted the Mendelssohn Quintette Club in two concerts during the 1861-62 Season, their thirteenth. For the fifth of eight concerts, on Tuesday, February 5, 1862 he again played the Liszt Benediction de Dieu dans la Solitude” (The Blessing of God In Solitude) from I Harmonies poetiques et religieuses and the Chopin Scherzo in B-flat minor, Op. 31 (Dowell, 396). The Liszt has been described as a work “Most rich and incense-laden,” one that is “most chaste yet voluptuous; a work of supreme contemplative ardor in which a central blessing is flanked by outer sections suggesting both the promise and fulfillment – or after-glow – of this momentous event…Liszt saw life as ‘a prayer, a perpetual adoration,’ and felt that in the Benediction he had, at least partially, expressed such a state of grace.” (Bryce Morrison, program note for the Stephen Hough CD Liszt on Virgin Classics: VC 7 90700-2) The work lasts just over seventeen minutes. Lang may have studied this piece with Liszt and then became its American leading proponent.

Lang also played in the final concert of their 13th. season which “was attended by an audience which filled not only the hall of Messrs. Chickering but the ante-rooms besides. The programme was well selected, and the Club played with even more nicety than usual. A prominent feature in the concert was the American premiere of a pianoforte Quintette in G minor, Op. 7 by C. P. Graedener, a new name here. The work is highly interesting and of considerable originality, though the movements, particularly the last, close with an abruptness rather startling. The piano part was finely rendered by Mr. Lang.” (BMT, April 5, 1862) C. P. Graedener was described as a composer who “followed in the wake of Schumann,” and after describing each of the movements, ended by saying that he hoped “to hear this work again, when we may note its character more closely. Mr. Lang seemed to enter quite into the spirit of it.” (Dwight (March 22, 1862), 407)

Lang also played with other groups. He was an assisting artist for Mr. Eichberg’s Soiree at Chickering Hall on February 14, 1863 where he was the pianist in the Mendelssohn Trio in D minor, accompanied Eichberg in Beethoven’s “Variations and Finale” from Sonata Op. 47, and offered three piano solos. Tickets were 75 cents each or two for $1.00 (HMA Program Collection). Dwight’s opinion of the evening was it “was a success, and, for lovers of good classical music, who filled the hall, one of the pleasantest musical offerings of the season.” (Dwight (February 21, 1863): 374) The previous month Lang had assisted at Mary Fay’s Soiree on Saturday, January 25, 1862 at Chickering Hall where he joined Fay in the Thalberg Fantasie on Norma for two pianos. (BPL Lang Prog., Vol. 1)

1862-63. 

On December 3, 1862 Lang took part in the second of the 1862-63 Series with two solos: Beethoven’s Sonata in B-flat Op. 22 and two of Mendelssohn’s Songs Without Words (Dowell, 401). A month and one-half later, on Thursday, January 29, 1863 Lang appeared with Stelle in Schumann’s Andante and Variations for Two Pianos, Op. 46 and as a soloist in the Rondo by Hummel (Dowell, 405).

1863-64.

For the February 4, 1864 concert by the Club, Lang was part of Mendelssohn’s Piano Quartet in B-minor, Op. 2, and he played two solos by Julius Schulhoff and Stephen Heller, the second of which was encored (Dowell, 410). In the Tuesday, December 20, 1864 concert Lang’s pupil Alice Dutton played Chopin’s Scherzo in B-flat minor, Op. 31, a work that Lang had played in the Club’s performance on February 2, 1862 (Dowell, 412).

“Mr. Thomas Ryan, whose labors in the cause of classical music, in connection with the Mendelssohn Quintette Club from the very birth thereof, as well as with all our orchestras, and with hosts of pupils, have so identified him with the musical life of Boston, and the country around, had an interesting benefit concert at Chickering’s last Saturday evening” in which Lang soloed with two Mendelssohn Songs Without Words and was the pianist in Mendelssohn’s Piano Trio in D Minor, Op. 49, Allegro and Scherzo. “A fine bust of Mendelssohn wreathed with ivy” adorned the stage. (Dwight (May 30, 1863): 39)

1865-66

At the third of four concerts in the 1865-66 Season of the Mendelssohn Quintette Club, Lang performed another first Boston performance-the Bach Concerto for Clavier No. 7 in g [BWV 1058] was played at Chickering Hall on February 14, 1865 using a quartet of strings which led Dwight to comment in his Journal of February 18: “A novelty, a quaint one, and as it proved, quite captivating was a concerto by Bach in G minor for pianoforte with quartet for strings. Mr. Lang played it with delicacy and nicely, entering into the lightsome, racy humor of it; and it gave great delight, especially the first and middle movements. After this experiment, and those of Mr. Dresel, may we not say that the Bach bug-bear is already vanishing?” (Johnson, First, 8) In this concert, Lang also was part of the Beethoven Piano Trio in B-flat, Op. 97 (“Archduke”) performance with Schultze and W. Fries (Dowell, 414). “Mr. Lang played the really ‘Grand’ Piano Trio in B Flat by Beethoven… its charm is infallible, if decently well played, and this time the interpretation was masterly.” (Dwight (February 18, 1865): 399) On Tuesday, March 13, 1866 Lang repeated the Bach Concerto from the previous year and played as a solo the “Andante Con Moto and Presto” from Three Caprices for Piano, Op. 16 by Mendelssohn. (Dowell, 419) At a concert presented in Providence during November 1866, the Providence Journal went “into ecstasies” over Mr. Lang’s pianism: ”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 pianoforte music and playing. The polonaise by Liszt was exceedingly rich, but what shall we say of the Mendelssohn trio?…To Mr. Lang must surely be accorded the honor of playing here the greatest and best piano-forte compositions to which our citizens have ever listened.” (BMT (December 1, 1866), 5 and 6)

1866-67.

The Mendelssohn Piano Trio No. 1 was again played at the Mendelssohn Quintette Club’s concert at Chickering’s Hall on Tuesday, January 8, 1867. “The Piano Trio, in D minor was wonderfully well played; each performer exerting himself to the utmost to do justice to his part in this most beautiful creation of the tone-poet, Mendelssohn. Mr. Lang’s interpretation of the piano part, in particular, was as chaste and finished a performance as we have ever had of this portion of the composition; we do not remember, ever, to have heard it better played than on this occasion.” Lang also played the first Boston performance of Dussek’s Sonata for Piano and Violin in B flat. The reviewer didn’t think this piece was at the same level as the rest of the program, but “the manner in which it was played” made amends “for whatever there was found wanting in the music.” (BMT (February 2, 1867): 14)

1867-68.

In addition to his own appearances with the Club, he also arranged to have his pupils appear with the group. Dwight described the second of four monthly concerts given on February 4, 1868 by the Club as “one of the very best classical Chamber concerts ever enjoyed in the Chickering Hall, whose walls have been seasoned by so many.” Lang’s part in this concert included solos—Mendelssohn’s Two Caprices Op. 16: Andante con moto and Presto, and accompanying Wulf Fries in Mendelssohn’s Sonata for Piano and Cello Op. 58. “Mr. Lang of course played the Mendelssohn Caprices with all grace and delicacy, and they were much enjoyed, as they always are when well played. But the Sonata-Duo was an event of the season… Admirable it was on the part of both artists.” (Dwight (February 15, 1868):191) The next month on Tuesday, March 3, 1868 Lang’s pupil Alice Dutton appeared again with the Club as pianist in the Beethoven Archduke Trio that Lang had played with the Club in February 1865. (Dowell, 426)

1868-69.

At the Tuesday, March 2, 1869 concert given by the Club, Lang, substituting for his pupil Alice Dutton, gave the Boston premiere of Three Ecologues by Jan Vaclav Tomasek, (Dowell, 430) Otto Dresel had found these pieces in Leipzig and had sent them to the library of the Harvard Musical Association where they were eventually discovered by Lang. Tomasek dates (1774-1850) show him to be a contemporary of Beethoven, and Dwight gleefully noted that the reviewers the day after the concert called him “a new composer, rising into fame” while another felt that these pieces had an “affectation of Chopin” (1810-1849) while a third thought them “imitations of Mendelssohn’s Songs Without Words.” (Eight Books: 1829-1845) (Dwight (March 13, 1869): 415) Throughout his career Tomasek published seven collections of Ecologues, six in each collection. The Opus numbers were Op. 35, Op. 39, Op. 47, Op. 51, Op. 63, Op. 66 and Op. 83. (Wikipedia article, accessed November 21, 2017) No mention of Opus numbers is made in any of the written material. Dwight noted that the three chosen by Lang were all fast. (Ibid)

At the end of the month, on March 30, 1869 Alice Dutton played in Mendelssohn’s Piano Quartet in B minor, Op. 3 that Lang had played with the Club just over ten years before on December 6, 1859. (Dowell, 431) On Saturday, March 1, 1873 at the Meionaon at Tremont Temple Lang played the piano part of Schumann’s Piano Trio in G minor, Op. 110 with Schultze and Hennig, and then soloed with Jan Dussek’s Piano Sonata in E-flat Op. 75. (Dowell, 434) The next week the Club used another Lang pupil, George W. Sumner who accompanied Hennig in Mendelssohn’s Sonata in D for Piano and Cello, Op. 58 that Lang had played on February 4, 1868. (Dowell, 435) Sumner was again employed by the Club on February 28, 1874 as accompanist for Ryan in Schumann’s Romances for Piano and Clarinet, Op. 94, and as pianist in Graedener’s Piano Quintet in G minor, Op. 7 which was described on the program as a Boston first performance, but Lang had done the first performance with the Club twelve years before on March 19, 1862! (Dowell, 441) Sumner appeared again with the Club on Saturday, October 13, 1877 at Union Hall, Boylston Street when he played the accompaniment to Dannreuther in Beethoven’s Sonata in F for Violin and Piano, Op. 24 and served as accompanist for the vocalist, Ella C. Lewis. (Dowell, 459). This was the last appearance listed by Dowell for Lang or his pupils. The group’s last season was 1889-90. (Dowell, 469)

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CHAPTER 02. (Part 2) B J L: EARLY CAREER: 1858-1871. SC.(G) WC. TERESA CARRENO-NEW ENGLAND CONSERVATORY

CHAPTER 02. (PART 2) B J L: EARLY CAREER: 1858-1871. SC.(G) WC- 14,354.  TOPICS: CARRENO-NEW ENGLAND CONSERVATORY.

  • Teresa Carreno.                                                                                                                         Gottschalk and Lang.  II.                                                                                                  Salem Concert. B. J. as Pianist. 1863.                                                                              Teacher and Pupil.                                                                                                                Music Hall Organ Dedication.
  • “The Monster Organ.”
  • More Solo Appearances.                                                                                      Shakespeare Birthday Concert.                                                                                     South Congregational Church Organist.                                                                    First Child.                                                                                                                             Alice Dutton-Early Lang Piano Pupil.
  • Hannah Lang Letter-1864.
  • Christmas Season-1864.
  • Artistic Growth-1860’s.
  • Other Concert Groups.                                                                                                       Lang’s Home: 1864. With Burrages.                                                                                     Lincoln’s Funeral.                                                                                                              Handel and Haydn 50th. Anniversary.                                                                      Harvard Musical Association Orchestral Concerts.                                           Haydn’s-The Seasons.
  • Music Hall Organ: 1866-65 Season.                                                                                 Rival Pianists of Lang-Perabo and Petersilia.                                                        Summer 1866-Europe.                                                                                                            Mr. Richard C. Dixey.                                                                                                              New England Conservatory.

TERESA CARRENO.

Fisher, 45.

Throughout his career, Lang was involved in the development of young talent. Early in 1863 Teresa Carreno, aged nine and originally from Venezuela, had made her Boston debut both as a solo recitalist and also as an orchestra soloist. Carl Zerrahn invited her to play at the second Philharmonic Concert of the season-but the piece requested, Mendelssohn’s Capriccio Brillante was not in her repertoire, and there were only ten days before the concert. Four days before the concert a copy of the music finally arrived from New York-the first rehearsal was set for Friday and the concert for Saturday. She was able to memorize the piece and her performance was well-received. Carl Zerrahn hailed her as “the greatest prodigy which the world has known since the days of Mozart,” and he invited her to appear with the Philharmonic again on January 24, 1863.  Gottschalk heard her in 1862 in New York. He called her a genius, gave her some lessons, and promoted her career. “Carreno had overpowering personality, overpowering talent, overpowering physical strength, overpowering technique. And on top of that, she was one of the most beautiful women of her time, in an Amazonian sort of way. They called her the Walkure of the Piano, and there was something wild about her from the moment she emerged from Venezuela, a child of nine looking very much like Adelina Patti. People fell all over themselves trying to help the talented girl…Liszt offered to teach her, an opportunity any pianist would have grovelled for. But Teresa showed her independence by refusing to follow him to Rome. She was thirteen at the time, and perhaps she did not know any better…Anton Rubinstein heard her in London and gave her lessons whenever their paths converged. von Bulow called her ‘the most interesting pianist of the present age’ when she made her Berlin debut in 1889…’ She sweeps the floor clean of all piano paraders who, after her arrival, must take themselves elsewhere.’ Not many are alive who heard her. Claudio Arrau did, and he called her a goddess. ‘She had this unbelievable drive, this power. I don’t think I ever heard anyone fill the Berlin Philharmonic, the old hall, with such sound. And her octaves were fantastic. I don’t think there’s anyone alive today who can play such octaves. The speed and power.'” (Schonberg, 347 and 349)                                                                                                   On December 22, 1863 she had celebrated her 10th. birthday with a concert at the Music Hall, which she shared with B. J. at the organ. She had spent the previous months in Cuba practicing and giving concerts, “the result being that she has gained in physical strength, in musical skill and understanding, and has added largely to her repertoire both classical and of the virtuoso kind.” However, in performing a solo piano recital in such a large hall, and alternating with pieces played on the new, large organ, she was putting herself at a great disadvantage. “If therefore under all those drawbacks the young maiden made a fine impression and won plentiful applause, as indeed she did, it was so much the more to her own credit…Mr. Lang’s organ pieces were played in his usual masterly manner, the Pastoral Symphony [Handel] and Freyschutz Overture being loudly and persistently encored, to which he responded in kind, that is by playing again a part of the same, and not something else.” (BMT (January 2, 1864): 6 and 7)

Lahee, Famous Pianists, 303

GOTTSCHALK AND LANG. II

 

Baker, Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, 226.

Six months after Gottschalk’s “Farewell to Boston Concerts,” he returned! in order to stimulate excitement, he advertised a bigger and better program. For his “Grand Sacred Concert” on Sunday, May 10, 1863 held at the Boston Theater the Bretto Brothers were the featured performers. Bernard, a violinist aged eleven and his brother, Richard, a cornetist aged seven were given top billing with Lang having second billing. In fact, the playbill looked like a circus announcement listing all the various acts in many different typefaces and sizes! “Mr. Gottschalk himself comes to us flushed with recent fresh triumphs in New York, where at Irving Hall, he has given concert after concert, to large and critical audiences. It is delightful to know that he will introduce some of his new compositions never before performed in Boston.” (BMT (May 2, 1863): 37) The grand finale of this “Grand Concert” was the newly composed Grand March from Tannhauser in Gottschalk’s arrangement for FOUR pianos-the players were: Gottschalk, Lang, G. W. Steele and S. Behrens. An interesting anecdote about this piece was given by the composer himself who related that at a San Francisco performance featuring local amateur pianists: “The most complaisant ear would have hardly been able to distinguish any shreds of Wagner’s theme floating here and there like waifs in the midst of an ocean of false notes, in a deafening storm of continuous pedal (the storm cannot be described), and of the complete wreck of the measure and spirit of the author; it was no longer to be thought of.” (Doyle, 326) However, even greater effects were heard in a Rio de Janeiro performance where thirty-one pianists and two orchestras were used. All that exists of these various scores is only a single piano part, marked Piano C, which is a five-page autograph (Ibid). A notice in the Boston Musical Times stated that the piece “was better fitted for a grand jubilee entertainment than for a sacred concert on a sacred evening…The pianist [Gottschalk] played in his usual showy manner, exciting the admiration of very young ladies and the criticism of connoisseurs.” (BMT (June 6, 1863) The same notice mentioned that three different halls had been used for this cycle of concerts-Tremont Temple, the Boston Theatre, and Chickering’s Hall. Lang received a separate paragraph that equaled one-third of the length of the review: “Mr. B. J. Lang has supported Gottschalk in all his concerts, and though there are less dash and gymnastic exercise, in his fingering and in his manner, his performance on the piano was quite as good. He is a fine artist, conscientious, industrious. A musician who believes in all that is intrinsically most valuable to his art, and does what he can to make it apparent; but he is as modest as he is skillful, and is therefore regarded by the unsophisticated, as a supporter rather than as a star himself. His pianism added much to the excellence of Gottschalk’s entertainments.” (Ibid)

The only sacred aspect of this concert was that it was held on a Sunday. On Friday at 2 PM of this same week at Chickering’s Music Hall, a “One Matinee Musicale… Previous to his positive departure for New York” was advertised-tickets were 75 cents. At this May 15th. concert Gottschalk and S. Behrens did Gottschalk’s arrangement of the Overture to William Tell and Gottschalk’s own Reponds Moi (Danse Cubaine, Opus 50), and the concert ended with Lang appearing again for the Duett di Bravura from Trovatore. Gottschalk was certainly affected by Dwight’s attacks on his own compositions. “At one concert, Gottschalk took a delicious revenge on Dwight on behalf of American composers everywhere. He played a work of his own and attributed it to Beethoven in the program, also playing a Beethoven work identified as his own; Dwight, predictably, praised the ”Beethoven” composition and lambasted Gottschalk’s music for its ”amateurish inanities.” Afterward, Gottschalk wrote to Dwight to apologize for the unfortunate error.” (Gann, Internet article, accessed November 3, 2011)

To his audience, Gottschalk “became romance personified. His love affairs were pleasant scandal over the teacups, the envy of the most fastidious debutantes. New York delighted in his mannerisms and applauded wildly when he seated himself at the piano, lazily drawing off his glove and running his fingers over the keyboard in prelude, as if dusting it. He had a melancholy air a little at odds with the trimly pointed mustache and an impeccably tailored suit, and he was apt to play with his head thrown back-and often with a cigar in his mouth-nonchalantly pretending to be alone with himself, to the hysterical joy of the listeners he treated so highhandedly.” (Milinowski, 28 and 29)

Eight months later on Monday, February 29, 1864 Gottschalk announced “His Second and Last Farewell Concert Prior to his Positive Departure for Europe.” B. J. was again part of the program with the Duett di  Bravura. Based on the programs in the Lang Scrapbooks, this concert seems to be the last Boston appearance that Gottschalk gave that included Lang. Dwight noted in his March 19 edition that “Gottschalk, aided by Mme. D’Angri, the contralto, has given two ‘farewell’ concerts, and has come back and clinched them with two more.” (Dwight (March 19, 1864): 207) In June 1864 Gottschalk wrote a letter to the Home Journal that was reprinted by the Boston Musical Times: “In the month of June I gave thirty-three concerts in twenty-six days. In fourteen months, during which I was off duty only fifty days, I gave more than four hundred, and traveled by railroad and steam nearly eighty thousand miles; while, in a few weeks, I shall have reached my thousandth concert in the United States.” (BMT (June 1864): 82)

SALEM CONCERT. B. J. AS PIANIST. 1863.

Lang continued to return to his roots in Salem. The local paper wrote before his Salem concert: “Mr. Lang has taken high rank in the most cultivated musical circles of Boston and the people of his native city should testify their pride in his abilities, industry and accomplishments, by a grand welcome” (Salem Register (April 13, 1863): 2, GB). After the concert, the paper wrote: “Mr. L. completely satisfied the audience by the extraordinary skill, taste, and varied power and delicacy of his performance, and fully sustained his reputation as a first-class pianist.” (Salem Register (April 16, 1863): 2, GB)

TEACHER AND PUPIL. THE EARLY 1860s.

Just after returning from his European studies.

Historic New England. c. 1862, making Lang about 25 years old. Fee paid.

In October of 1862 Lang placed an ad in the Traveler: “B. J. LANG, Organist of the Old South Church and the Handel and Haydn Society, Teacher of Piano Forte and Organ. Terms $36 per quarter. Those residing in or near the city will be instructed at their residences without extra charge. Residence No. 36 Edinboro’ Street, or address Chickering & Sons.” (Traveler (October 27, 1862): 2, GB-some words missing from the photocopy) “Edinboro’ Street is only one block long-it is in the northern part of today’s Chinatown and the Rt. 93 Tunnel passes right under it. In 1862 this was the location of the Burrage family home; B. J. began the first few years of his married life living with his inlaws.

A year later, on the same page in the Evening Transcript both Lang and his pupil, R. C. Dixey were advertising their availability as piano teachers. Dixey’s ad appeared ten slots higher than did Lang’s, and both offered piano and organ lessons. Dixey charged $20 per term; Lang listed no specific fee. Dixey listed Lang as one of his four references. Lang’s ad directed students to call at “Chickering & Sons” Pianoforte Rooms, on Mondays or Thursdays, between the hours of eight and five.” (Evening Transcript (November 7, 1863): 1, GB) Thus Lang’s schedule of teaching eight full hours was begun early in his career.

 

MUSIC HALL ORGAN DEDICATION.

 

A Trade card for Parker Brothers, Importers and retailers of Fancy Goods and Jewelry, Silver Plated Ware, Russia Leather Goods, Toys, etc., etc., etc.” 13 and 15 Winter Street. Music Hall Entrance to the left. The street to the Music Hall was called “Music Hall Place,” and it was located between 15 and 17 Winter Street. The card is 2 inches wide by 2 and 1/2 inches high. Johnston Collection.

 

The other entrance was from Winter Street, which connected with Tremont Street just in front of Park Street Church. Johnston Collection.

 

 

New York Public Library Digital Library.

A Card 2 and 1/4 wide and 4 inches high, published by M. Ormsbee, # 11 Broadway, New York. The grand piano on the platform to the right shows how shallow the stage was. It helps show why Higginson would want the instrument removed so that his Symphony would have enough room to play their instruments. This photo also shows the placement of the two balconies. Johnston Collection.

Music Hall when first opened.

Music Hall-1855. Pre-Organ.

Facing title page of The Great Organ in the Boston Organ Hall, no author, published in 1866 by Ticknor and Fields.

Lang’s quick rise within the Boston musical establishment is shown by the fact that on November 2, 1863, within just five years of his returning to Boston, he was one of the organists who played at the inauguration of the E. F. Walcker organ at the Boston Music Hall. “It took the Walckers five years to build an instrument containing 89 registers and 5,474 pipes. When finished in 1862, the $60,000 organ had to be transported to this side of the Atlantic. Successfully evading Confederate vessels, it arrived safely in Boston and, after seven months of installation work was fully ensconced in the Music Hall. It was a handsome instrument, with a casing splendidly carved by the New York firm of Herter Bros. [The case design was by Hammatt Billings (1818-1874) who had been trained by Boston architects. He also designed the case for Lang’s E. & G. G. Hook 1864 instrument at South Congregational Church.” (Owen, 37)] “With a glorious sound, it was then the largest specimen of its kind in the United States and fourth-largest around the world. As with the Music Hall itself, the [Harvard Musical] Association had quietly but effectively made a valuable contribution to music in Boston” by raising the money for the organ. (Hepner, 40) Back in 1850 Dr. Jabez Baxter Upham had urged the Boston Musical Fund Society to build a concert hall worthy of the city, but nothing came of their efforts. Dr. Upham then turned to the Harvard Musical Association, of which he was a member, who received the idea enthusiastically. “A committee examined four possible sites and chose Bumstead Place, now Hamilton Place to purchase this estate and to warrant beginning the erection of a hall $100,000 was necessary. It was raised in the astonishing period of sixty days. The building rose quickly, watched by an interested and excited populace.” (Nutter, 10 and 11)

The “Private Test” was performed on Saturday evening, October 31 “in the presence of the subscribers and the stockholders of the Music Hall Association, members of the city government and other invited guests, numbering about a thousand gentlemen.” When the guests entered they saw only a huge green curtain that covered the entire organ, “All eyes are wandering with pleasure over the renovated walls and ceilings of the hall, for years so dingy and discolored.” The gaslighting system had been updated, the seats newly upholstered, and the hall now held 2654 seats with orchestra seating and two balconies. The concert began with soft sounds from the organ for fifteen minutes that then grew into a crescendo. The curtain descended, “revealing first the full length of the cherubs with their gilded instruments surmounting the domes of the two central towers; then the chaste beauty of the ribbed and rounded domes; then the triple columns of huge silvery pipes, with St. Cecilia throned in beauty on the summit of the arch between; and so little by little the whole breadth and grandeur of the superb facade, with its grand caryatides, its figures, heads, and wealth of carvings. From the work to the author; three cheers were called for, rousing ones, and given with a will, for Dr. J. B. Upham, to whose first suggestion, enthusiasm, wise and persistent energy, in the face of one may imagine how much incredulity and worse, for seven long years, the whole enterprise, now crowned with such complete success, is mainly due.” The music opened with Mr. Morgan of Grace Church, NYC playing the William Tell Overture. Then came a speech by Dr. Upham thanking all who should be thanked, including the builder, Mr. Walcker and his son and shop foreman. Then, B. J. played “a sweet Andante by Mendelssohn, and part of Rink’s [sic] flute concerto, tickling the ear of the curious.” (Dwight (November 14, 1863): 133)

The official inauguration was on Monday, November 2 with tickets at ”three dollars (it might safely have been five ) performed to a full house. Reminiscent of Handel’s Messiah premier in Dublin, ladies were requested to appear in demi-toilette- “presumably to avoid taking up too much space with oversized hoop shirts, bustles, and hats.” (Owen, 51) Organists and music-lovers from almost every State were present.” After an ode recited by Miss Charlotte Cushman, and a speech by Friedrich Walcher, son of the builder, the concert began with the sounds of Bach’s Toccata in F. Lang, who was listed as organist of Old South Church and the Handel and Haydn Society, played Mendelssohn’s Sonata in A-No. 3. Dwight commented that “Mr. Lang’s choice of stops in the Mendelssohn Sonata was most appropriate, and revealed rare beauties in the organ as well as in the composition; it was richly enjoyed.” (Dwight (November 14, 1863): 132-135) Also performing at the dedication were John H. Wilcox (born in Savannah, Georgia in 1827: his chief work was done in Boston), John K. Paine (Music Professor at Harvard: 1839-1906), Eugene Thayer (1838-1889), Dr. S. P. Tuckerman (born in Boston, studied in England, returned to Boston, organist at St, Paul’s Church, later the Cathedral), and G. W. Morgan (born and trained in England, his main work was in New York City after 1853).”This was probably the most famous gathering of organists that had ever assembled in America. (Elson, 262) Dwight reported that: “This Great Instrument complete now in its majesty and beauty, and flooding the Music Hall with harmony, has swept into its strong, sonorous current nearly all the musical interest of the past week or two. The subject is so much more interesting than any other that can just now come up to us, and is at the same time so large, as necessarily to almost monopolize our columns. In spite of ourselves, therefore, and at risk of being called the organ of the Organ, we make this an Organ number of our paper.” (Dwight (November 14, 1863), 32 and 133)

The second public concert was on Thursday by Thayer, Paine and Morgan; each played four or five pieces as a group. On Saturday evening Lang, Wilcox, Morgan and Whiting performed, but each player only playing one piece at a time. Lang opened the program with Prelude and Fugue in C by Bach and ended the first half with a transcription of Beethoven’s “Overture” to Egmont. In the second half he played the “Pastoral Symphony” from Handel’s Messiah and the “Allegro” from the Flute Concerto in F by Rink [sic]. On Saturday afternoon Lang shared the fourth concert with Willcox playing “Bach, Handel, Beethoven, Batiste, Rink, Gounod and improvisations by Mr. Willcox.” (Dwight (November 14, 1865): 135)

Lang was also involved in the Handel and Haydn Society’s “Grand Choral Inauguration of the Great Organ at the Boston Music Hall” concert on Saturday, Nov. 28, 1863. The Society donated its services with the purpose that the proceeds of the evening be devoted toward extinguishments of the Organ Debt. The program included Mendelssohn’s Hymn of Praise with orchestra (again, probably a Lang suggestion), and in the first half Handel’s Ode to St. Cecilia’s Day (first American performance) was performed with Lang playing his own transcription of the orchestral parts on the new organ “and Lang’s registrations were praised.” (Owen, 64) If Lang played with the orchestra in the Mendelssohn he would had had his first introduction to the problem of playing with Boston orchestras of this time who regularly tuned to the old English pitch of around A-449 while the organ had been built in the new French pitch of A-435. Probably the remedy Lang used was to transpose his part a half step higher, which “was surely a tribute to his fabled musicianship.” (Owen, 74) This concert was repeated by request on Sunday Dec. 6. From the very first days of the instrument’s installation there had been comments about its slowness of speech that was a problem for a soloist, but even more of a problem for an accompanist. A review in 1876 had been critical of Prof. Paine’s performance as continuo player in a Bach Magnificat performance-“The chorus and orchestra were not together.” However, Lang was never criticized for this problem. “Whether Lang routinely played ahead of the beat…is something that can now only be conjectured, for no complaints about his accompaniments have been recorded. (Owen, 14)

On February 7, 1864 at 7:30 PM, Lang himself presented at the Music Hall a “Grand Sacred Concert” to be given with “The Great Organ” and with the assisting artists, Miss J. E. Houston (vocalist), Mr. Julius Eichberg (violinist), and Mr. J. H. Willcox (Pianist). Lang opened and closed the concert with major organ solos, Miss Houston sang twice, the second being the aria “In Praise of the Organ” from Handel’s Ode to St. Cecilia, and Eichberg and Lang performed Eichberg’s Religious Meditation for organ and violin. Tickets were 50 cents. (BPL Lang Prog.) For his February 20th. concert he played his usual Bach and Mendelssohn, but also transcriptions and an  Improvisation displaying the Vox Humana Stop.” Earlier in the month he had planned to use the Vox Humana in a Mendelssohn movement but changed his mind at the last moment. (Owen, Great Organ, 83 and 85) This stop was included in the organ that Lang designed for his own use soon after he was appointed to the South Congregational Church. (Ibid, 93) The February 7th. format was used for “Mr. B. J. Lang’s Grand Sacred Concert” at the Music Hall on Sunday evening March 6, 1864. The three soloists used before returned with the addition of Mr. J. C. D. Parker and Mr. S. A. Bancroft.

BPL, Lang Program Collection.

This concert must have been a success as Lang arranged another a month later. Two additional musicians were added, but the program followed the format of the February concert.

BPL, Lang Program Collection.

The Music Hall had a standard ad prepared that could be placed in any publication, at any time. These no doubt appeared in newspapers throughout New England The ad was placed in two Vermont papers in the fall of 1864; in the Green-Mountain Freeman of Montpelier Vermont it ran on October 11, 1864 on page 3, while in the St. Johnsbury Vermont Caledonian it ran on page 4 on October 14, 1864.

Lang continued among the solo recitalists. For his January 24, 1866 program he included the usuals-Bach, Mendelssohn, an improvisation and Wagner. Lang often repeated repertoire as it was thought that the audience was different for each performance. Dwight noted that all “things he has played repeatedly before, but he always offers some new shade of refinement in the treatment, more especially the coloring.” (Owen, Great Organ, 103)

Massachusetts Historical Society, used by permission.

In June 1866 Dwight published as part of his review of the repertoire played at for all concerts of the 1865/66 Season, a section on organ recitals, primarily those at the Music Hall. At this time the schedule was for these events to be on Wednesday and Saturday and noon and Sunday evening. Audiences ranged from 50 t0 300 with an average of over 100 giving the hall an income of nearly $7,000. (Dwight, June 23, 1866) During the year there were at least 130 Organ Recitals with the majority given by the Resident Organists B. J. Lang, G. E. Whiting (each 19 times), Mrs. Frohock, (17 times), J. K. Paine of Harvard (9 times), and Dr. Tuckerman at St. Paul’s and J. H. Willcox at the Church of the Immaculate Conception (each 5 times). There were others with only one or two concerts. (Ibid) Lang’s repertoire was heavily Bach, with Mendelssohn, Schumann and Rinck appearing often, but there were also a number of “Adaptations” both by Lang and others from orchestral and keyboard literature-“Overture” to Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night and Chopin’s Funeral March. (Ibid) Another feature of Lang’s recitals were “frequent improvisations in freestyle,” an element not found as often in the recitals of other players. (Ibid) The Treasurer of the HAll reported that for the year ending May 31, 1866, organ recitals had earned $6,890.70, second to the major income-producing “Lectures, Fairs, festival, etc.” at $13,296.37. (Owen, Great Organ, 106)

On July 18, 1868 again the usuals-Bach, Mendelssohn, an improvisation, and then a Beethoven arrangement and an arrangement by the English organist, William Best.

Harvard Musical Association Library, used by permission.

In 1896, William Apthorp writing an “Entr’acte” article for the February 14th. and 15th. BSO concert program book referred back to the dedication of the organ thirty-three years before: “Speaking of the Great Organ reminds me of a bogus story that went the rounds soon after it was set up in the Music Hall, to the effect that a mouse had been blown through one of the huge thirty-two-foot pipes, and came to a violent death by being hurled against the ceiling.” (Apthorp, BSO Program Book for February 14th. and 15th., 1896, 527)

”THE MONSTER ORGAN.”

Within a year of the organ’s dedication, a satirical piece had been written about the instrument and its place among the citizens of “The Hub” of the world, as Boston liked to think of itself. The story was based on Boston papers and magazines, “taking the precaution, of course, to prune down their partial and doubtless high-colored statements to the bounds of credibility.” The instrument was “equal in power to a choir of 6,00 throats. Its longest windpipes are 235 feet in length, (requiring the erection of a tower for their special accommodation), and a full-sized man can crawl readily through its finest tubes. 895 stops produce the various changes and combinations of which its immense orchestra is capable…It requires six able-bodied organists to manipulate this immense musical machine; and those engaged at the inauguration” weighted a total of 1,245 pounds. “When in grand crescendo passages these six organists rose simultaneously from their setas, and receding a couple of paces, rushed forward in line, throwing their collective weight upon the pedals. the musical explosion-for by no other name can it be designated-was terribly grand.” The sound lifted the roof 15 feet into the air; the walls of houses throughout the city shook; furniture moved; many thought that this was an earthquake! Towns nearby hear the noise. Newburyport thought that there was a naval attack in Boston harbor; Jamaica Plains thought it was a violent thunderstorm; the water in Boston harbor receded, and when it returned, “swamped, stranded and keeled over several vessels; goldfish died in their bowls; “dead bodies of drowned persons were brought to the surface in the harbor and in the Charles River.” Dr. Oliver Wendal Holmes, together with Boston’s mayor, council members and Harvard representatives “made an interesting pedestrian tour through some eight or ten miles of the main pipes of the monster organ…walking quite erect…and got through the smaller Eolian tubes quite comfortable on their hands and knees.” Dr. Holmes wrote a book about it. (Pacific Commercial Advertiser-Honolulu, (February 27, 1864): GB-reprinted from the Washington Star) Barbara Owen suggests that this was probably written by Holmes for the Atlantic magazine. (e-mail 9/5/2020)

MORE SOLO APPEARANCES.

In March Lang was the soloist in the last of two Soirees produced by Eichberg at Chickering’s Hall. “We do not remember to have heard the D Minor Concerto of Mendelssohn, his second, played here since Mr. Lang made his mark with it two years ago in the Music Hall… Mr. Lang has vastly gained as an executive and interpretative pianist since the time alluded to, and did his work most admirably, with no lack of fire in the Allegro, of delicate poetic feeling in the Adagio, of crisp, sparkling precision in the Finale… Mr. Eichberg had drilled his orchestra into quite a delicate and more than mechanical rendering of the accompaniments.” However, the orchestra only numbered “twenty-four; the chief want being that of the bassoon, (strange that Boston lacks bassoons!), which of course is only constructively made good by the violoncello.” (Dwight (March 19, 1864): 206) Lang had also been part of the First Soiree held the previous month where he played the Mendelssohn Piano Trio in D Minor, and three solo pieces. (Dwight (February 14, 1863): 367)

At the Boston Music Hall, on Wednesday afternoon March 30, 1864, “B. J. Lang, The Distinguished Organist Will make his Second Appearance in these concerts.” After an opening overture by Mendelssohn (Der Heimkehe aus der Fremde), B. J. played an organ solo “Let their celestial concerts all unite” from Samson. Then Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony was followed by B. J.’s transcription of selections from Hymn of Praise, and the orchestra ended with Invitation to the Waltz by Weber and Wagner’s “Finale” from Tannhauser. B. J.’s advocacy of Mendelssohn would continue throughout his career as would his devotion to Wagner: “For the next three decades [from the 1860s] Wagner remained a fundamental part of his career.”(Briggs, 53)

Lang also appeared with the Orchestral Union at their 3 PM Wednesday afternoon concerts at the Music Hall. On January 20, 1864 he played a Fugue on Bach by Schumann and the “Andante” from Mendelssohn’s Third Sonata early in the concert, and then after Mendelssohn’s Fourth Symphony (Italian) he played Rink’s [as spelled at this time] Flute Concerto in F. (Transcript (January 19, 1864): 2, GB) At their Fifth Concert he “played a good sterling Prelude and Fugue in C, by Bach, one which we have not had before, and played it well and won applause…The rest of the programme consisted of the “Adagio and Allegretto” from Rink’s Organ Concerto in F (with flute solo); the “Turkish March” from a Sonata by Mozart, arranged for orchestra by Thomas Ryan; and the Faust potpourri as usual.” This was a program that resembled those of the Boston Pops one hundred years later under Arthur Fiedler. A month later Lang again appeared with the Orchestral Union in a concert that “was about the best programme and the best concert of the season.” He played as organ solos two excerpts from Handel’s Samson, and selections from Mendelssohn’s Hymn of Praise. Dwight wrote: “The great instrument has never been made more expressive for such subjects. His choice of stops in the Mendelssohn selections came closer to the idea than ever. He prefaced the grand chorus of Samson with the “Minuet” from the overture, charmingly rendered with soft stops.” (Dwight (April 2, 1864): 215)

Adelaide Phillips gave her first concert in four years on April 30, 1864, at the Music Hall. A Grand Orchestra conducted by Zerrahn took part and Lang played the Mendelssohn D minor Concerto. There were two other assisting artists including Adelaide’s sister, “Miss M. Phillips,” who made her “second appearance in public.”(Transcript (April 28, 1864): 3, GB)

On Sunday evening, May 1, 1864 Lang was an assisting artist in an Eichberg “Sacred Concert.” He played two solos, and also played Eichberg’s Religious Meditation for Violin and Organ, and in two pieces composed for this concert, Ave Maria and Reverie, both written for Violin, Cello, Piano and Organ.  (Transcript (April 27, 1864): 3, GB)

Lang was one of 10 assisting artists in “Mr. Alfred P. Peck’s Sacred Concert” on Sunday, May 15, 1864. He, Julius Eichberg (Violin), Wulf Fries (Cello) and John H. Willcox (Organ) played the Ave Maria written by Eichberg in the concert’s first half. To end that section Lang played “Organ Improvisation and Selections.” In the second half Lang, Eichberg and Wilcox played Eichberg’s Trio for Violin, Piano and Organ. (Program, GB)

On December 16, 1865 Lang was the soloist with orchestra in the “Andante and Rondo” from Mendelssohn’s Concerto in G Minor. In the second half, he played as a solo Caprice in E Minor, Op. 33 by Mendelssohn and Wanderstundem, Op. 60, No. 2 by S. Heller. These were just two items among 14 items in a “Bateman concert.” The orchestra conductor was Herr Carl Anschutz. At the end of the program was a notice for a Sunday night “Sacred Concert” at which the Gounod Ave Maria would be played by Willcox, Lang and Herr Carl Rosa. (Program, GB)

SHAKESPEARE BIRTHDAY CONCERT.

Massachusetts Historical Society, used by permission.

On the tercentennial of Shakespeare’s birthday, April 23, 1864 Lang conducted the first Boston performance of Mendelssohn’s complete music to A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Dwight announced the event as follows: “Next Saturday, the 23rd. of April, is the great Tricentennial, or Ter-centenary (as they call it in London-either name is awkward enough and well enough) anniversary of the birth of SHAKESPEARE (great type of all that there is genial in human life); and Mr. B. J. Lang announces a musical celebration thereof, to consist of the music to the Mid-Summer Night’s Dream, to be followed by The First Walpurgis Night, both by Mendelssohn. It will be given in the Music Hall, with the combined force of the best quartet choirs hereabouts, and four principal singers… Mr. Lang is bestowing careful pains on the rehearsals, and all musical lovers of Shakespeare and of Mendelssohn will look out in season to secure the privilege of listening.” (Dwight (April 16, 1864):  223). Dwight then reported: “It was fit that music should bear a part in the honor paid to Shakespeare in the world-wide observance of the three-hundredth anniversary of his birthday.” He then noted because of the effects of the Civil War, the observance was rather unorganized, but Lang’s concert was called “notable… Mr. Lang made the best choice possible in his selection of music. First the Midsummer Night’s Dream Music entire…the choruses were sung by a large choir of the freshest and best voices in the city, and the Orchestra, under Carl Zerrahn, played with more than usual delicacy and spirit, to the credit of themselves and of Mr. Lang’s conductorship.”

The second half of the concert was Mendelssohn’s First Walpurgis Night, “so admirably brought out by Mr. Lang two years ago… The audience was immense, and the enthusiasm great, and Mr. Lang’s good services will be remembered.” (Dwight (April 30, 1864):23) The Boston Musical Times review began: “The Music Hall was filled on Saturday evening, April 23rd. by one of the most intelligent and appreciative audiences that Boston can assemble to listen to music…Mr. Lang deserves and certainly receives, the applause of everybody for the artistic and well-arranged entertainment which he conducted…Altogether the entertainment was a delightful one; one that is eminently in Mr. Lang’s sphere of musical thought and ability. No one understands or more thoroughly loves Mendelssohn than he, or is better to bring out his beauties.” (BMT (May 7, 1863):  68) Between the two Mendelssohn choral works, the orchestra played Beethoven’s Overture to Coriolanus. (BPL Lang Prog.) A short note in Lang’s hometown Salem newspaper suggested: “Salem ought to furnish a large delegation to this fine entertainment. There will be a late train for the occasion.” (Salem Register (April 21, 1864): 2, GB) Imagine, special trains for concerts-those were the days!

SOUTH CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH ORGANIST.

Red arrow shows the South Congregational Church, 15 Union Park St., located between the catholic Cathedral of the Holy Cross on Washington Street and the fashionable Union Park.

Holy Cross Cathedral. Postcards. Johnston Collection.

South  Congregational Church. Photo by J. J. Hawes, sometime between 1862 and 1889. BPL, digitalcommonwealth.

In August 1864, at the age of 26, Lang left Old South Church after five years and began a 20-year tenure at Rev. Edward Everett Hale’s D. D. (Unitarian) South Congregational Church, Union Park Street. (Hale: b. 1822- d. 1909, served South Congregational Church from 1856 until 1901) In 1857 the location of this new church on Union Park Street was described as being at “the centre of Boston bourgeois society.” (Chamberlin, 119) Here he was able to design the second organ of his career. Dwight’s Journal of July 23, 1864 reported: “The Rev. Edward Hale’s church at the south end, is to have a new organ, built by Messrs. Hook at a cost of $12,000, and Mr. B. J. Lang is to be the organist. This will probably surpass any church organ in the city. The organ of the Music Hall is creating a demand for really noble organs all around us.” (Dwight (July 23, 1864): 279) In July 1864 the Boston Musical Times announced: “Mr. B. J. Lang has been engaged to become the organist of the South Congregational Church, (Rev. E. E. Hale’s). The necessary money has been subscribed to build a new organ, under Mr. Lang’s special direction, and he also has carte blanche to secure the best quartette choir that he can find. The society is certainly to be congratulated upon these negotiations for their advantage, which go into operation on the first of August.” (BMT (July 2, 1864): 101) In December 1864, after four months in his new position, it was reported: “Mr. Lang’s new organ at Rev. E. E. Hale’s church is a fine instrument, and gives great satisfaction to those whose subscriptions secured its purchase. Mr. Lang gives masterly performances each week. His quartette choir is a good one.” (BMT (December 3, 1864) 182)

A year later it was noted: “A prominent feature in the religious services at the South Congregational Church, both morning and afternoon, is the organ concert by Mr. B. J. Lang, in which he takes pleasure in exhibiting the capacity of the new instrument. The choir at this church is now well selected, so that all the musical exercises there are worth listening to.” (BMT (December 2, 1865) 177) A Vesper Service bulletin of July 1, 1865 lists a Te Deum Laudamus in A by Lang. (Scrapbooks) It was reported that “the best audience which attend any place of amusement, fill Rev. E. E. Hale’s church twice a month, on the occasions of Vesper service.” (BMT (December 1, 1866): 3) During the summer of 1866 while Lang was in Europe, Mr. W. Eugene Thayer presided “at the organ, and conduct[ed] the fortnightly concerts at the South Congregational Church.” (BMT (June 2, 1866). 83) Thayer had just returned from a period of European study. (Ibid)

This new instrument was built in 1864 by E. & G. G. Hook and Hastings # 349 “according to specifications of the organist B. J. Lang. It was the largest in any Protestant Church [in the United States], and had Great, Swell, and Choir manuals and Pedal, 38 speaking stops, 7 pedal stops, one a Bourdon with 32-foot tone, and 2260 pipes.” (Ayars, 69 quoting from Dwight’s (Journal of Music):, Nov. 12, 1864, Vol. 24, 339-40 and November 26, Vol. 24,  351-2) In a “Description of the Large Organ built by E. & G. G. Hook, of Boston for the SOUTH CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH of Boston, Mass” the organ is described as “the last of three immense Organs” built by the firm in the last year. It was further described as “In size over any to be found in Protestant Churches in the United States; and in quality and style of finish, is in no way surpassed if equaled. Though so large, only four months were occupied in its construction.” (BPL Lang Prog. 6241-43) Dwight gave further information about this “thirty-two feet [sic] Bourdon Stop, giving tones low and deep, beyond the power of the ear to discriminate which are felt rather than heard. It forms a foundation for the grand harmony of the whole, wonderfully pervading and sublime.” (Ibid) The case, built by J. F. Paul, Esq., is of Black Walnut, beautiful and elaborate, with emblematical decorations, elegantly carved, and enriched with gold. The front pipes are of a new composition, surpassing in richness and color anything before used. They are highly polished, giving a brilliant silvery appearance, in beautiful contrast with the dark woodwork…many improvements in scales, voicing, and ”action” appliances are here used for the first time. This installation is located in the gallery and fills a space twenty-three feet high, eighteen and a half feet deep, with a total breadth of over thirty feet.” (Dwight (Nov. 12, 1864): 348) [Dwight was quoting from the dedication program] This “beautiful and elaborate” design of the case had been by Hammatt Billings, who had designed the case for the Walcker organ at the Music Hall. (Owen, 93)

The instrument’s public dedication was Monday, November 2, 1864 and it was described in the program as “one of the largest and most complete instruments of the kind in the state.” In the second part Lang played the Mendelssohn Sonata No. 3 which Dwight praised  his stop selection which “revealed rare beauties in the organ as well as in the composition.” (Owen, Great Organ, 61). Six other organists also took part.  On Saturday evening, November 12, 1864 Lang was part of a concert on the new instrument  playing two selections: “Allegro Vivace” from Organ Sonata No. 1 by Mendelssohn and “Selections” from Hymn of Praise “displaying the Vox Humana Stop.” Two other organists appeared-Mr. G. B. Brown and Mr. J. H. Willcox who ended the program, together with vocalists Miss J. E. Houston and Mr. Barry. (BPL Lang Prog.) Another concert of similar design was performed on Saturday evening, November 19, 1864, but using only Lang and Mr. Willcox. (BPL Lang Prog.) Dwight noted the 32 foot pedal stop, the “Grand Bourdon,” and he mentioned that the Music Hall organ had no such stop. “The front pipes are of a new composition, surpassing in richness and color anything before used. They are highly polished, giving a brilliant silverey appearance, in beautiful contrast with the dark woodwork.” (Dwight (November 28, 1884): 348) Lang opened another concert with Bach’s Fantasia in G Major (displaying the full power of the Organ), performed an Improvisation in the middle, later performed Rink’s [sic] Concerto in F Major-three movements, and ended the concert with another Improvisation. “The Organists and Choirs of the South and Unitarian Churches” assisted. (BPL Lang Prog.)Although this instrument was highly regarded by many, eight years after it was dedicated, Rev. Hale had a different view: “Rev. E. E. Hale does not believe that an organ should be placed in a church only to be used for a part of three hours of one day of the week, and left to warp and shrink and get itself out of tune in the enforced loneliness of the six other days.” (Evening Transcript (April 22, 1872): 4, Transcript Archive)

 

FIRST CHILD.

The Lang’s first child, Harry Allston Lang, was born on October 4, 1864 in Boston. Frances entered in her Dairy: “June 1st. [1865]. Harry’s first tooth. Went for a short drive with the horses and new carriage. July 7. We all went to Hingham for the summer. Aug. 12. Lel bought Hogarth’s complete works at an Auction. Paid $4.19. Oct. 4 Harry’s first birthday. He was baptized this noon at 12 o’clock by Rev. Dr. Robbins, here at home in the parlor. He behaved beautifully, and looked the same. We asked a few of our intimate friends.” (Diary-Rosamond) He died the following year, August 1866, in Hingham while his parents were in Europe. (New Boston Town History Questionnaire, February 11, 1914)

ALICE DUTTON—EARLY LANG PIANO PUPIL.

In early October 1864, the Boston Musical Times reported: “Little Alice Dutton, the child pianist, who is to make her appearance this evening at the Music Hall, is a musical prodigy. We have heard some of her private performances with wonderment, so remarkable a power does she possess for reading music and execution on the piano. We have seen difficult pieces of music, which she had never seen nor heard of, placed before her for the first time, and heard her play them with a facility and skill such as few practiced amateurs could accomplish after careful study of those same pieces. Since she came here she has lived in retirement, and taken finishing lessons in style from Mr. B. J. Lang. We look forward to her performance to-night with confident anticipation of success.” (BMT (October 1, 1864): 48) However, Dwight reported that Miss Dutton made her “maiden concert” in October 1865 at Chickering’s rooms. She was then thirteen, and had come “from the West two years ago with a musical talent that had been growing up wild, with no sure direction, and who has been studying with Mr. Lang, and eagerly listening to the best music, is now really an accomplished pianist, in technical facility quite remarkable… Mr. Lang turned over the leaves with anxious and we dare say proud interest in his pupil. The audience was not so large as we could have wished; but it contained some of the most musical persons, and the impression made on critical artists, as well as on friends and willing public, was highly favorable to the young player.” (Dwight (October 28, 1865): 127) However, both reports were wrong. In fact, Dwight, himself, had written in April 1864 that Lang “and his pupil Alice Dutton, a child of 12 years” would play the Grand Duo Concertante for two pianos on the Gypsey March in Preciosa arranged by Mendelssohn and Moscheles, and that this would be “her first public appearance.” (Dwight (April 16, 1864): 223) The Saturday Evening Gazette had also announced this concert on April 9th. writing that the next Orchestral Union concert “will embrace the debut of a child pianist of twelve years of age, a pupil of Mr. B. J. Lang, who will perform a four-hand piece with her, accompanied by the orchestra…Doubtless there will be a general desire to see and hear the performances of this wonderful prodigy.” (Saturday Evening Gazette (April 9, 1864): 2. GB)

On December 17th. she returned to her home state of Iowa and gave a recital in Burlington, a program that she shared with “Mr. Strasser, an able violinist, who is well known in the West. But few had ever heard of this girl, and many doubted when they saw the programme, that she would be able to sustain her share in it. But they were soon undeceived.” The article went on to tell of her early training which began when she was nine years old with a teacher in Davenport who “instructed her in a course of Clements’, Moscheles’s and Czerny’s Studies. She then came to Prof. Lange [sic] in Boston, whose tuition she enjoyed for two years. Now she is giving concerts in order to raise the funds which will enable her to go to one of the conservatories of Europe.” Unfortunately, her programs were too heavy for Iowans at that time, and “up to the present, not successful.” (BMT (January 6, 1866): 2 and 3)

Returning to Boston, in March of 1866 she soloed with the Orchestral Union playing Mendelssohn’s Serenade and Allegro Giojoso [sic], “and played it wonderfully well for one almost a child. [She was then fourteen] Her hand spans hardly an octave… The girl has talent and the air of being sincerely absorbed in her art.” (Dwight (March 31, 1866): 215) On Sunday evening February 3, 1867 Dutton, listed as a pupil of B. J. Lang, appeared as one of eight assisting artists at one of “Gilmore’s Grand Sacred Concerts” at the Music Hall. She played Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto in G Minor, Opus 25, and a hand-written notation on the program records that B. J. Lang conducted this piece. (BPL Lang Prog.,) (Also BPL Prog., Vol. 1) On Monday evening March 4, 1867 Lang arranged a concert at Salem’s Lyceum Hall at which he played the solo part of the Mendelssohn Concerto No. 2 Op. 40 with Alice playing the orchestral reduction. Then she was the soloist in Mendelssohn’s Concerto No. 1 Op. 25 with Lang playing the orchestral part, and the concert ended with Grand Duo on Themes from Norma by Thalberg played by Alice and Lang. (BPL Prog., Vol. 1) Her career progressed well with a Spring 1867 concert featuring the Weber’s Concertstuck for Piano and Orchestra and a February 1868 Mendelssohn Piano Concerto in G Minor with the Orchestral Union. Zerrahn was the concert’s conductor, but also here a handwritten note on the program states that Lang conducted this concerto. (BPL Prog., Vol. 1)

Probably Lang introduced her to the Mendelssohn Quintette Club, for in March 1868 Dwight mentioned that “So successful a reading of the pianoforte part [Beethoven Trio, Op. 97] by so young a maiden [She was now sixteen] as Miss Alice Dutton was clear proof both of rare native faculty and rare development in so few years in a sound direction. It is clear that she loves the best music, feels it, and conceives it vividly… she has acquired such technical facility and certainty that she now has all the treasures of this fine world open to her.” (Dwight (March 14, 1868): 206) In January 1869 she repeated the Weber Concert-Stuck, this time with the Harvard Musical Association Orchestra, and Dwight noted: “Miss Alice Dutton, though yet very young and hardly past the stage of pupilage, has so distinguished herself not only by her talent, but by what with talent is too rare, a true musical spirit.” In the Weber “the swift passages of the Rondo giojoso were beautifully bright and liquid.” (Dwight (January 30, 1869): 390) Lang used Miss Dutton as one of the soloists in his series of three Mercantile Hall concerts in April 1869. At the first concert she played the Mendelssohn Serenade and Allegro in B Minor with orchestra, and Dwight commented: “Miss Dutton, as a classical pianist, gains in favor by each effort.” (Dwight (April 24, 1869): 23) In the same month she appeared again with the Mendelssohn Quintette Club playing Mendelssohn’s Quartet in B Minor, Op. 3. “The early Piano Quartet of Mendelssohn was a fortunate revival showing Miss Alice Dutton’s powers to good advantage.” (Dwight (April 27, 1869):15) She soloed with the HMA Orchestra in February 1870 in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37. “The entire C-Minor Concerto of Beethoven had never been played here before. Mr. Lang, in the second season of the Concerts, played the first movement only, which is certainly the most significant, with the Cadenza by Moscheles. This time his fair pupil, Miss Dutton, allowed us to hear the whole…Miss Dutton won much praise by the performance, showing marked improvement, though the strength flagged a little near the end.” (Dwight (February 12, 1870): 191) Now in her early twenties, she advertised to give a “Complimentary Concert” assisted by Miss Adelaide Phillipps, Mr. W. H. Fessenden, Mr. Wulf Fries, Mr. B. J. Lang, and Mr. G. W. Sumner at Mechanic’s Hall on Saturday evening, February 14, 1874. Lang’s only part was to provide the “Orchestral accompaniment on a second grand piano” for the opening Concerto [G Minor] by Mendelssohn (HMA Program Collection) Dwight attended this concert which had “a goodly audience, who listened with much interest to the young lady’s clean, forcible, and brilliant execution.” Dwight felt that in the forte passages her “sound was hard and cutting, -too much hammer, so to speak,” but he did suggest that this might have been the fault of the piano used (no brand named). (Dwight (February 21, 1874): 183) Dutton and Mr. C. R. Hayden shared the New England Conservatory 376th Concert. This might imply that she was now a faculty member. “The lady plays very much as formerly, with neat and brilliant execution,” and of Hayden, Dwight wrote: “His tenor voice has certainly improved in power and quality, and in his management of it he has grown less stiff and spasmodic.” (Dwight (October 31, 1874): 327)

Certainly, having such a talented pupil early in his teaching career was a great boost to Lang’s reputation.

HANNAH LANG LETTER-1864.

Provided by the Galacar family.

 

CHRISTMAS SEASON- 1864.

Dwight reviewed the “Christmas Music” of December 1864 and mentioned the two Messiah performances of Saturday evening, December 24 and the repeat on Christmas Day presented by the Handel and Haydn Society saying that ” The choruses went remarkably well that night [the second night], the Great Organ accompaniment by Mr. Lang replenishing them with great waves of harmony.” Lang had also acted as the organ accompanist (no orchestra) for a Messiah performance given by the “Mozart Society” of Worcester conducted by Mr. B. D. Allen using the “great Worcester organ.”(Dwight (January 7, 1865): 374 and 375)

ARTISTIC GROWTH-1860’s.

In 1907 The Boston Evening Transcript printed an extensive article: “The Career of B. J. Lang. A Remarkable Record of Fifty Years as an Executive Musician.” The first section was a reprint of an older magazine article from 1893 by William Apthorp. Then there were a number of sections that covered various apects of his career. In the section on “Mr. Lang as a Concert Pianist” the writer spends much time on Lang’s artistic growth in the decade of the 1860s. “Before 1865 he had generally excited considerable momentary enthusiasm whenever he played in public, he certainly could complain of no lack of applause at his own concerts, at those of the Mendelssohn Quintet Club, nor on other occasions when he appeared as a pianist. But the enthusiasm he called forth was not of the lasting kind, people seemed surprised at the brilliancy and solidity of his playing when they heard him, and then would straightaway forget all about it, and go to hear him the next time without particularly high expectations or any ready-made enthusiasm. He had succeeded in making himself admired, but not in making himself remembered by the public; as a pianist, he was not yet popular. Gottschalk, to be sure, had shown no slight appreciation of his playing. On one of his visits to Boston the great virtuoso, having some things with accompaniment for a second pianoforte, engaged Lang to accompany him at his concerts, but Gottschalk soon recognized that such work was far beneath the young artist, and ended by urging Lang to play a real two-pianoforte piece with him, one in which both parts should be on an equality, saying that he never should forgive himself for putting a pianist like Lang in the position of a mere accompanist. But, much as Gottschalk’s opinion might be worth, it had little or no weight with the more serious part of the Boston public just then…He [Lang] was then a young man, tremendously busy and very much absorbed in his work; he was inordinately shy, not sociable in his instincts, and his address was rather brusque and repelling. He entirely lacked the faculty of personal propagandism, of winning people over by charm of manner; his brusqueness often made him enemies where it was particularly important for him to make friends. He was too proud to blow his own trumpet. and others did not feel encouraged to blow it for him. In a word he lacked backing. Those who have known him only during the last twenty years or so wil find all this hard to believe, for he is personally a very different man from what he was at the time I am now speaking of, but it is, nevertheless, quite true that he then stood considerably in his own light-in the most unconscious way in the world-and the tardiness of his recognition in Boston as an exceptionally fine pianist was largely due to it.”  (Evening Transcript (April 13, 1907): no page numbers)

OTHER CONCERT GROUPS.

On Saturday, March 12, 1864 Lang was particularly busy as he appeared in two concerts that evening. At the Music Hall “Grand Concert” given by “The World-Renowned Contralto,” Madame Anna Bishop, Lang was one of three assisting artists-he played the “Great Organ.” (Advertiser (March 11, 1864): 1, GB) Later, or earlier in the evening he played one of the Mendelssohn Piano Concertos in Julius Eichberg’s “second and last Orchestral Soiree.” This concert was at Chickering’s Rooms. The concert began at 7:30, and in addition to the concerto included an overture and symphony by Mozart and Beethoven’s Eighth Symphony. (Ibid)

On Sunday evening, April 3, 1864 Lang was one of five assisting artists at a Music Hall “Grand Concert with the Great Organ” presented by the Choir of the Church of Immaculate Conception, conducted by John H. Willcox. The large ad listed the complete program and the performers for each piece. Lang appeared three times. First, the Religious Meditation for violin and organ by his friend Julius Eichberg, then an organ duet arrangement of a Gade symphony movement played with Willcox, and he closed the First Part with two movements from Mendelssohn’s Trio in D Minor. (Transcript (April 2, 1864): 3, GB)

The last weekend in April 1864 was a busy one for Lang. On Saturday night, April 30, 1864 at the Music Hall he played the Mendelssohn Piano Concerto in D Minor with a “Grand Orchestra” conducted by Carl Zerrahn as part of a “Grand Vocal and Instrumental Concert-The First in Four Years,” given by Miss Adelaide Phillipps. Then, the next evening was part of a “Sacred Concert,” also at the Music Hall, given by Julius Eichberg “in connection with the GREAT ORGAN.”  Lang’s part was to play two organ solos and accompany Eichberg in his Religious Meditation for Violin and Organ. Eichberg also composed two pieces “expressly for this concert”-an Ave Maria and a Reverie, both for Violin, Cello, Piano and Organ. In December Lang had another busy weekend. On Friday evening, December 2 at the Melodeon, he was part of “Gottschalk’s (positively) Farewell Grand Concert” before “his departure for Havana and Mexico,” and on Saturday noon Lang was part of a “Grand Matinee in connection with the GREAT ORGAN CONCERT,” which included most of the performers from the previous night, including Gottschalk! Both concerts included an orchestra conducted by Signor Muzio. (Advertiser (December 1, 1864): 1, GB) On December 10, 1864 Lang was an assisting artist at the “Third Piano-Forte Concert” given by Otto Dresel at Chickering’s Rooms. In addition to Lang, Hugo Leonhard and J. C. D. Parker were assisting artists. The opening piece was Bach’s Concerto for Three Pianos in C Major in three movements with “The stringed Quartette Accompaniment arranged for a Fourth.” The program does not state who played the solo parts and who played the orchestral reduction. It also does not show who played the other pieces for multiple pianos. Tickets were $1.50, and at the bottom of the program was the notice: “To prevent annoyance to the listener, Mr. Dresel respectfully desires that persons will refrain, as far as possible, from entering or leaving the hall, during the performance of a piece” (HMA Program Collection). Johnson records that the Schumann Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54 was also part of this concert-Dresel played the solo part and Lang played the orchestral reduction. Dresel would give the Boston orchestral premier of the work two years later on November 23, 1866 with the Harvard Musical Association Orchestra conducted by Carl Zerrahn. But, between the 1864 and 1866 performances, Lang played “part of the work at a concert by Mme. Parepa on one evening and the other half the next evening in 1865.” (Johnson, First, 328)

The Mercantile Library sponsored lectures at the Music Hall which enabled Lang to give “a grand organ concert” before a lecture given by John B. Gough. “The simple announcement that Gough, the inimitable, is to speak, never fails to draw a large audience.” (Boston Recorder (March 24, 1865): 47, GB) John Bartholomew Gough (1817-1886) was a famous temperance speaker who himself had been “a confirmed drunkard.” At first, he was glad to receive 75 cents for a lecture, but his skills developed so that in one year he spoke 386 times, and for 17 years he lectured only on the subject of temperance and addressed over 5,000 audiences. Later he expanded his topics to include “Eloquence and Orators” and “Peculiar People,” but he always included a reference to temperance. (Wikipedia, accessed March 17, 2020) As Lang was also a temperance man, he was probably very happy to be part of this event. Later in the year, on October 1st. Lang gave an organ recital as part of a Mercantile Library Association lecture given by Dr. Isaac I. Hayes, “The Arctic Explorer,” (Journal (September 30, 1867): 3, GB) and two years later Lang was still performing these pre-lecture concerts, this time for the Hon. James W. Patterson whose subject was “Revolutions-the Steps of Progress.” For this event the concert only lasted 15 minutes. (Post (October 21, 1867): 2, GB)

Lang also was active as an accompanist. Early in 1865 Dwight reported on various performances of the Messiah “in smaller cities…In Worcester, it was given on Tuesday evening by the ”Mozart Society” without orchestra, Mr. Lang accompanying on the great Worcester Organ, and Mr. B. D. Allen conducting.” (Dwight (January 7, 1865) 373) Two months later Lang was again in Worcester for a Friday evening concert on March 10, 1865 where he opened the Worcester Mozart Society concert with an “Organ Improvisation.” The rest of the program was the choral work The Transient and the Eternal by Romberg. Only a pianist and Lang were listed-probably they shared the accompaniment of the choral work. The tickets were 25 cents. (BPL Lang Prog., Vol. 1)

The cause of the abolition of slavery was one that Lang supported. He was part of the “31st. National Antislavery Subscription Anniversary” event at which there were two speakers and Lang furnished “appropriate and various music during the evening.” This was held at the Music Hall, and the sponsoring committee listed 33 members, all women. (Transcript (January 25, 1865): 3, GB)

In March of 1865 Lang was part of a “Boston Musicians’ Union” Concert played “by the united forces of the orchestras and bands…of from 90 to 95 musicians, many of them accomplished…The Boston Theatre was crowded to excess the first time, making the repetition on last Sunday evening imperative. The charitable, or, what is better, the fraternal object of the concerts must have been largely furthered, and a substantial nucleus formed for a mutual Benefit Fund for sick and needy musicians…Mr. Lang played the Andante and Capriccio Op. 22 of Mendelssohn very beautifully on a Chickering Grand Piano of remarkable power, as well as pure, sweet, musical quality, or the performance would have been lost in that place.” (Dwight (March 18, 1865): 414 and 415) Two singers were also part of the program, and the Advertiser, in its pre-concert announcement said that the “Nucleus of the concert” would be a “grand symphony” played “by the power of almost two score violins and nearly a score of basses…The plan is an entirely popular one, but the programme and its management have more than merely popular elements, and it will be well worth one’s while to attend.” (Daily Advertiser (March 11, 1865): 1, GB)

Lang performed another two-concert weekend in December 1865. On Saturday night, December 16 he was part of the “Farewell of M’lle Parepa, Mr. J. Levy and Herr Carl Rosa” and the Traveler ad said that “on this occasion, Mr. B. J. Lang, the eminent pianist will appear” together with the three departing musicians. “A full and efficient orchestra conducted by Herr Carl Anschutz” would take part and Lang would play the “Andante” and “Rondo” from Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto in G Minor, the Caprice in E Minor [Bennett?} and S. Heller’s  Wandersinnden. (Traveler (December 15, 1865): 3, GB) The next evening the same artists would make their “Positively only appearance” in a Sacred Concert with “the most brilliant and beautiful entertainment of the kind ever given in Boston.” Lang played piano solos and was the accompanist for M’lle Parepa signature piece, Gounod’s Ave Maria. (Ibid) These programs must have been well received as two days later ads appeared for the “Positively Last Concert but Two” to be held on Wednesday December 20. Lang played Hummel’s Piano Concerto in B Minor, a Mendelssohn prelude and Heller’s piece, now called Slumbering Song. This program was then taken to Springfield Massachusetts on Thursday night and Portland Maine on Friday night. “No other of the New England cities can by any possibility be visited…Only one final farewell concert can possibly be given in Boston next week.” (Transcript (December 19, 1865): 3, GB)

LANG’S HOME-1864. WITH BURRAGE’S.

At this time “Mr. and Mrs. Lang were living with the Frances’ mother and father at 112 Boylston Street.” (Diary-Rosamond) Both families had moved there in 1864 from 36 Edinboro Street. This had been the Burrage

112 Boylston Street is just visible on the right-hand side of the photo; it is obviously one floor higher than it’s neighbor. Courtesy of The Bostonian Society.

family home in 1861 when B. J. married Frances and moved into the Burrage family residence under the no doubt watchful eye of his father-in-law, Johnson Carter Burrage. Mr. Burrage was a Harvard graduate and a successful dealer in woolen goods, and the family moved in the upper social circles. B. J. and Frances did not have their own home until November 1, 1872 when they moved into 8 Otis Place. This was at the corner of Otis and Brimmer (location of their second and final home), at the foot of Beacon Hill.

Johnson Carter Burrage. Family Tree: Lynn MacDonald.

PRESIDENT LINCOLN’S MEMORIAL CONCERT.

The Civil War ended on April 9, 1865, but all concerts in celebration of this event were canceled when President Lincoln was assassinated on Good Friday, April 14. Early in May concerts began again but “Boston’s formal memorial for Lincoln did not occur until Thursday, June 1.” Held at the Music Hall, Lang played an “Introductory on the Organ” of a Mendelssohn sonata movement and Chopin’s Funeral March and also acted as accompanist for the Handel and Haydn selections. “Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote a hymn for the occasion, and Senator Charles Sumner, one of Lincoln’s friends and supporters, gave the eulogy.” (Owen, Great Organ, 100) Ironically Lang’s “last notable public performance [before his own death] was as conductor of part of the programme at Symphony Hall, on the night of [the] Lincoln Memorial service, Feb. 12, [1909] when he led the Boston Symphony Orchestra and a chorus.” (Unidentified obit, BPL Rare Books Collection)

Frances noted in her Diary: “Today [April 19] our beloved President was buried, and appropriate services were held in all churches in the U. S. A. Edward, Julia [brother and sister of Frances] and I went to Dr. Hale’s church. It was draped with black, also American flags. Lel (Lang) played as if inspired and Dr. Hale was wonderful. Afterward we saw many houses draped in black.” (Diary-Rosamond)

HANDEL AND HAYDN 50TH. ANNIVERSARY.

At the Tuesday morning, May 23, 1865 50th. Anniversary Concert of the H and H, a chorus of 600 with an orchestra of 100 performed Mendelssohn’s Hymn of Praise with Lang as organist. He must have been pleased that the major choral group of Boston had now taken up this work which he had given the Boston premiere in January 1862. Other concerts that week included Haydn’s Creation on Tuesday night, orchestral and vocal concerts on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons, Handel’s Israel in Egypt on Thursday night, orchestral and vocal concerts on Friday and Saturday afternoons, Elijah on Saturday night and Messiah on Sunday night. Lang also gave a solo organ recital Saturday, May 27 at noon as part of the Festival.

       Elijah was then performed again in December as part of the 1865-1866 Season.

From the Handel and Haydn website (downloaded December 2014)-researched by Herb Zeller.

HARVARD MUSICAL ASSOCIATION ORCHESTRAL CONCERTS.

Their first concert was given late in November 1865. An article in 1884 credited Lang with the creation of these concerts: “It was he who first suggested the great series of Harvard Symphony Concerts; it was he who more than any other held the programmes up to their first high level; he has also been one of the leading subscribers since the beginning of the series.” (Observer, January 26, 1884) “In 1865, when the Harvard Orchestra opened the first season of symphony concerts, to be followed by sixteen seasons, Gen. Lee had surrendered at Appomattox on April 9, Lincoln had been assassinated on April 14, and on the 15th. Andrew Johnson had taken the oath of office as President of the United States.” (HMA Bulletin No. 16) “But, little imagination was needed to foresee the difficulties: scarcity of professional musicians, professional bickerings, jealousy, captious critics, an uncertain and grumbling public, financial problems. None was escaped.” (Ibid) Arthur Foote recorded that “The audience was mainly composed of people of the kind found in our own membership, and they were not there to be in the fashion; there were always a number of music students also, but there was no thought then of appealing to the public at large. As I remember, there were no cheap seats (twenty-five cents) as was later the case with our present orchestra. I should say that, by subscription price, tickets were a dollar, but I am not sure.” (HMA Bulletin No. 4, 2)

“The first concert of the series of eight to be given under the auspices of the Harvard Musical Association took place at the Music Hall on Friday afternoon [the series had been announced for Thursday afternoons], Nov. 23. The weather was unpropitious enough, the day being dark and stormy, and the streets in the least favorable condition for pedestrians. Notwithstanding these untoward circumstances, the hall was filled with an audience of earnest lovers of music, eager to enjoy the feast of good things which the programme promised…The orchestra engaged for these concerts is large and very effective, numbering in all fifty performers, each member having been selected on the strength of his individual merits and ability as a musician, thus ensuring perfect concord and precision in the execution of the music. One noticeable feature is the great number of stringed instruments, the lack of which in many former orchestral combinations has been the cause of much complaint…In the present instance there is a grand foundation of seven contra-basses, with a corresponding number of ”cellos and tenors, ten first and ten second violins, with the reed and brass instruments admirably proportioned to the rest of the orchestra; surely a band so carefully organized, and skillfully directed by Conductor Zerrahn, could not fail to give complete satisfaction even to those disposed to be most critical.” (BMT (December 1, 1866): 5)

At the second concert of the season on Thursday, January 25, 1866 at 4 PM in the Music Hall, Zerrahn conducted the first half, but Lang conducted the second section that was the “Double Chorus” [opening choral section] from Antigone for male voices by Mendelssohn. (Note handwritten in the program) Lang probably also conducted the three choruses for male voices that opened the third section of the concert. The Antigone was repeated at the fourth concert on March 1, 1866.

For the third concert in the series on February 8, 1866, Lang was the soloist in Polonaise in E Flat by Weber with orchestral parts created by Liszt.

HAYDN’S THE SEASONS.

Massachusetts Historical Society, with permission.

On Saturday, March 24, 1866 Lang presented for the first time in Boston Haydn’s The Seasons at the Music Hall with Miss J. E. Houston, George Simpson (from New York), and J. Rudolphsen as the soloists and “a full orchestra.” (BPL Lang Prog., Vol. 1) Johnson describes this concert as “in part only. The Handel and Haydn Society did not sing this work entire until 28 March 1875.” (Johnson, First, 190) A full orchestra accompanied the “Select Chorus.” All tickets were $1 with all seats reserved. Dwight reported: “Mr. B. J. Lang deserves well of the republic for having given us, for the first time in Boston, a hearing of all four parts of Father Haydn’s genial and delightful Cantata, Pastoral, or whatever it may be called. He had gathered together a crowd of heartily interested singers, some 250 voices, fresh and telling, and drilled them well; a full orchestra for the rich and graphic instrumentation; and secured competent vocal artists for the three characters that individualize a large part of the poetry, which follows mainly in the beaten track of Thomson. The performance last Saturday evening was extremely interesting; the Music Hall almost crowded, in spite of the east Wind…On the whole, the work was very fairly rendered for a first time, considering too that the fear of its great length must have made the conductor somewhat nervous…Mr. Lang should feel rewarded for this brave effort, and we trust the Seasons will come round again.” (Dwight (March 31, 1866): 215)

MUSIC HALL ORGAN: 1866-65 SEASON.

Dwight produced lists of the repertoire performed by various groups and soloists each year in Boston. This included everyone who performed at the Music Hall Organ. For the 1865-66 Season, Lang played the most often with nineteen recitals followed by G. E. Whiting. In total there were 130 organ recitals given with audiences ranging from 50 to 300 people. The schedule remained as first set up- Wednesday and Saturday at noon and Sunday evenings. For some of the performers Dwight also listed the specific repertoire, Lang’s being the most “classical.”

Even though there are a fair number of transcriptions, none were from the “lighter” literature. Note also the “Frequent Improvisation in free style”-where did he learn that? (Dwight (June 23, 1866): 263, GB)

RIVAL PIANISTS OF LANG-PERBO AND PETERSILEA.

Mathews, 157.

When Lang returned to Boston from Europe in 1858, he was the talented local boy who had just spent a period of time in Europe. His timing was fortunate as some of the older Boston pianists such as Dresel and Parker were nearing the end of their performing careers. Lang was quickly made a regular pianist with the Mendelssohn Quintette Club, and he began his career as a concerto soloist. His status as the up and coming artist continued until the fall of 1865 when Ernst Perabo returned from Leipzig. “This gifted young pianist and musician, who left this country some six years ago, a boy of extraordinary promise, to seek both his general and his musical education in Germany, is now probably on his way home, if he has not already arrived. We have read what honors he has borne off at the Conservatory in Leipzig, both as performer and composer. (Dwight (November 25, 1865): 143) Originally born in Germany of humble parents, he came with his family to America when he was five. “About eight years ago some musical gentlemen in New York and Boston, with Mr. Scharfenberg and Mr. Dresel at their head, were struck with the importance of rescuing such a talent from an aimless wild growth…and by a subscription for a term of years the boy was sent to Germany.” (Dwight (April 28, 1866): 231) First there were four years of general schooling with the piano taking second place. This was followed by three years at the Leipzig Conservatory. Perabo was only twenty when he returned to Boston “a musician of rare and many-sided accomplishment…His musical memory is extraordinary; perhaps it would take Hans von Bulow to go beyond it.” (Ibid) His memorized repertoire was enormous, ranging from “entire Suites and Partitas of Bach” to the Sonatas of Beethoven, “even the last movement and greater part of Op. 106!” (Ibid)

 

Mathews, 135

A year later a second local boy returned from his European studies. Carlyle Petersilea “has returned from his three years” studies in Leipzig and with von Bulow at Munich, crowned with concert triumphs in both cities. Another Boston boy! He has already been heard in private and must take rank among our most finished, brilliant, tasteful pianists. He and Perabo are warm friends, and it is refreshing to see two who might be rivals so warmly interested in each other’s success.” (Ibid)

It would seem that Lang befriended both Perabo and Petersilea. At Perabo’s Third Matinee on February 2, 1872 Lang joined him in a four-hand arrangement of the Tragic Symphony in C Minor of Schubert. At the Fourth Matinee, Perabo played the “Serenata” movement from Bennett’s Sonata in C Minor, Op. 13, a work that Lang possibly had introduced to Perabo, Lang having premiered a number of Bennett’s pieces in Boston. (Dwight (February 24, 1872): 190) He may have also introduced Bennett’s Fourth Piano Concerto to Perabo who then played the Boston premiere with the HMA Orchestra. (Dwight (May 15, 1875): 22) With Perabo musical education having been exclusively in Germany, he might not have known of the Englishman, William Sterndale Bennett.[1816-1875]

Lang and the vocalist Miss Clara M Loring were the assisting artists at the “Fourth Schubert Matinee” presented by the pianist Mr. Perabo on January 31, 1867. The repertoire was all by Schubert. “The Rondo (in E minor) in which Mr. Lang played the Primo, and Mr. Perabo the Seconda part, was most brilliantly executed, and in exact time, there being no apparent unevenness in the tempi of the two performers. It is a charming composition and at once found favor with the audience. The Fantasia (in F minor) created a profound impression; it is one of those compositions of Schubert that the musician must ever delight to study. Greater interest seems to be attached to it than to many of the other works by the same composer. This time Mr. Perabo played the Primo and Mr. Lang the Seconda parts; the sight of two such artists, working together with but one object in view, and that was to do honor to the music of one of Germany’s greatest composers, was indeed gratifying…It certainly was one of the finest instances of piano duet playing that we have ever had…On the whole it was as fine a concert as Mr. Perabo has yet offered. The hall was full and the audience of the most appreciative kind.” (BMT (March 2, 1867):  19)

SUMMER 1866—EUROPE.

S. S. CHINA. 268 first-class and 771 second-class or steerage passengers. Launched October 8, 1861. Maiden voyage Liverpool to NYC on March 15, 1862. Two engines with an aggregate of 560-horse power. The sleeping berths were on the main deck, below the saloons. (Norway Heritage site)

The summer of 1866 saw the Lang’s in Europe. B. J. and Frances left Boston on the Cunard S.S. CHINA for Liverpool on May 26, accompanied by his pupils Miss Annie Keep and Mr. Richard Dixey. The day that they arrived, they went directly to hear the organist W. T. Best at St. George’s Hall [where he was appointed in 1855-his repertoire was said to include some five thousand pieces (Levien, Best, 17)] as B. J. had met him previously on prior voyages. “Later that same day [we] arrived in London and went to her Majesty’s Theatre to hear Dinorah Santley a singer. On June 6th. we heard Alfred Jaell and big orchestra in Queen’s Hall [Queen’s Hall did not open until 1893]. On June 12 [in] London [heard] Dickens’ last reading Dr. Marigold and Trial in Pickwick.” Next, they went to Switzerland. “Interlaken. Rose at 4:30 A.M. and saw sunrise on the Jungfrau…Lel has written a very lovely song to the words ‘A little child dwelt by the flowing sea.’…(They went to Paris and Vienna among other cities). England. York.” (Diary 2, 1866) By August they were in Paris, and on August 16th, took part in the great celebration of the Emperor’s Fete.” When they later returned to London they also heard “the great concert in which Jenny Lind sang and Moscheles played.” They returned at the end of September on the CUBA. (BMT (October 6, 1866): 3) Their first-born, a son, “little Harry” had died on August 7 while they were away. (Excerpts from Frances M. Lang’s Note Book, 1)

MR. RICHARD C. DIXEY.

Lang was fortunate to have many well-off pupils who lived on Beacon Hill. Among them was Richard C. Dixey (b. 1844—d. 1915), a “Capitalist,” who owned a home at 44 Beacon Street, four floors, 9,752 square-feet, that needed five servants to support it. (1900 Census) The house had been built in 1806 for the third mayor of Boston, Harrison Gray Otis for his daughter. [Sold for $7 million-plus in 2010. currently divided into four apartments] Dixey accompanied the Lang’s on their May to late August 1866 European trip (Excerpts from Frances’ NoteBook, 1), and also again in the fall of 1869 when he was then aged 24. He seems to have been a gifted amateur rather than a professional pianist. He was the accompanist for the vocalists at a New Bedford Lyceum concert January 12, 1864 where B. J. Lang was the featured artist. (BPL Prog., Vol. 1) Dixie also opened the program at a Lang organized concert at Salem’s Mechanic Hall on Monday evening March 10, 1865. (Ibid)

Dixey was in two benefit concerts in 1871. The first was to raise funds for a “Museum of Fine Arts.” Dwight gave advanced notice of the event and wrote: “The Editor of this Journal will be happy to receive orders for tickets.” (Dwight (April 22, 1871): 15) The concert was to be given on April 27, 8 PM at “the beautiful Mechanics” Hall on Bedford Street with tickets priced at two dollars each.” Certainly this price was above the going rate for that time, but the purpose of the concert dictated this. The program included “a Trio by Rubinstein,” probably the one just programmed by Lang, and two movements of the Schumann Piano Concerto with Dixey as soloist and Lang providing the orchestral accompaniment. In the second concert he was an assisting artist in a “Soiree Musicale” in Aid of the Fair “For Dumb Animals,” organized under the patronage of Mrs. W. M. Appleton, Mrs. R. E. Apthorp (William Foster Apthorp’s mother), and Mrs. G. J. F. Bryant held at Mechanic’s Hall on Wednesday evening, November 29, 1871. Among the soloists was Miss Alice Lang, a vocalist [a distant Lang relation?]. (HMA Program Collection).

In the spring of 1872 Dixey’s career progressed to the point that in April 1872 he presented selections from Wagner’s Lohengrin at Mechanic’s Hall. “We noticed eminent musicians, artists, and littérateurs.” Dixey was “assisted by able talent, and [the performance] was one of the most enjoyable [events] of the season.” (Folio, June 1872) A month later he organized a “semi-public” performance of excerpts from Lohengrin. He played the instrumental parts on the piano with the aid of another Lang pupil, Mr. Tucker, and the three principal roles “were sung quite admirably by amateurs with excellent voices…And for the choruses, some of which were charming, and all finely sung, in German, there was a select choir of four ladies and eight gentlemen. The evening will be remembered with much passion.” (Dwight (May 4, 1872): 231)  That certainly sounds like a “rave review” for Dwight, as his position on Wagner can be summed up with a phrase he used earlier in the review: “The long stretches of recitative, with bits if instrumentation during and between them, give it all a certain slow and drowsy character, despite the splendor…There is a lack of ‘go’ to it.” (Ibid)

The Dixey family became close family friends of the Lang’s. Arthur Sturgis Dixey (son of above, b. November 1880) left a colored drawing in the Lang Farm Guest Book dated August 3, 1896. (New Boston Farm Guestbook) Ellen Sturgis Dixey, Arthur’s mother, Richard’s wife, did the same dated June 27, 1897, and under the drawing are also the signatures of Richard C. Dixey and Rosamond Dixey (daughter, b. June 10, 1887 at Boston) (1900 Census). Possibly their daughter, Rosamond, may have been named for the Lang’s second daughter.

The son, Arthur S. Dixey died in Seoul, Korea on July 26, 1905. The cause was “heart failure, following an illness of a week, during which he received every attention.” (Herald, (July 28, 1905): 7, GB) He had graduated from Harvard in 1902, then entered Harvard Law School and had passed the bar examination. He spoke and wrote in both French and German, and his posting to Korea was as the secretary to Ambassador Edwin D. Morgan seemed to indicate a career in the Foreign Service. He had been in Korea for less than a year before his illness. Arthur had been responsible for the costumes and scenery for the Hasty Pudding Club musical of 1902 for which Malcolm Lang composed the music.

In January 1915 Richard “threw himself from a third-story window of his home at 44 Beacon Street yesterday and was dead when discovered. Dixey had been suffering from a nervous disorder for some time…Richard C. Dixey was retired. He had lived in the Beacon Street house for nearly 40 years. He was born in Marblehead and was recognized at one time as a most accomplished pianist…Mr. Dixey had a summer place in Lenox he called ”Tanglewood.”” (Herald  (January 20, 1915): 2, GB) This house had been inherited by his wife and her sister, Miss Mary Tappen. It eventually became the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. While at Tanglewood the previous summer Dixey had been “under the treatment of Dr. Bruce Paddock, and he returned to Boston in November in better health and spirits than on his arrival at his country house. Over 40 years Mr. Dixey had been going to Lenox for resort and recreation.” (Springfield Republican (January 20, 1915): 11, GB) He was described as “an accomplished musician, dilettante of fine arts, linguist, highly accomplished and well-read,” and he “drew about him and to Lenox musicians and scholars who made up his group of friends. Several of these guests, including Timothee Adamoski, gave concerts at Tanglewood.” (Ibid) His wife had been one of his piano pupils. (Ibid)

NEW ENGLAND CONSERVATORY.

In February 1867, Boston and New England Conservatories opened within a week of each other. “Boston Conservatory of Music is the name of a new music school on a large-scale, which went into operation last Monday, after short notice, in the new white marble building [fourth floor] upon [154] Tremont Street, partly occupied by Messrs. Mason and Hamlin. its founder and director is Mr. Julius Eichberg, which is in itself a good guaranty of thorough, scientific tone and influence.”

BPL Digital Commonwealth.

Dwight then listed the teachers associated with the school followed by a five-point listing of the “advantages of the Conservatory system.” Immediately 130 pupils enrolled. “Scarcely was the above announced, when by a sudden coup d’état a ‘New England Conservatory’ dropped from the clouds, captured the Music Hall, flooded Boston with grandiloquent Circulars, created ‘Professors,’ by the score, and gathering up pupils fast, is ready to open next Monday…We must pause, observe and think.” (Dwight (February 16, 1867): 399) A year and five months later the New England Conservatory had an enrollment of 1,500 students. (Dwight (July 4, 1868):  270)

On Monday, February 18, 1867, the New England Conservatory of Music opened its first classes in the Music Hall building, Boston. [Wiki article of 11/3/11 says the school “consisted of seven rooms rented above Music Hall off Tremont Street in downtown Boston]. One of the first students recalled that “The rooms were were bare and unattractive, even to dinginess, seven chairs and a piano constituted the furniture and the evidences of the lack of money were on every side.” Director Tourjee’s office was no more than a “cubbyhole …over the stairway.” Two people filled the total space in this office. (McPherson, 22) In less than a year expansion was needed and in January 1868, less than a year since the school’s opening, Tourjee added extra rooms. By the following December 1868, the school had 1,414 students in  25 classrooms which used most of the rentable rooms in the Music Hall building. (Ibid) Henry Dunham described the Conservatory as occupying “the three upper floors of the western side of the Music Hall building. The entrance to the Music Hall and the Conservatory were side by side at the end of an alleyway extending for some little distance off Winter Street.” (Dunham, 49) This map of 1874 shows the location of the Conservatory building to the upper right of the Music Hall:

 

1874 Fire Insurance Map. Courtesy of the BPL Norman B. Leventhal Map Center.

This would have been about 1878 when the Conservatory had 2,040 students; by 1885 it had grown to 4,570 students. (McPherson, Op. cit.)

The original directors were Eben Tourjee, who had previously used the class system of instruction in music at the East Greenwich Musical Institute, and at the Musical Institute in Providence, R. I., and Robert Goldbeck, a New York pianist and composer. A year later Mr. Goldbeck went to Chicago, and Dr. Tourjee assumed the directorship alone. The piano instructors were announced as follows: Pianoforte, Otto Dresel, B. J. Lang, Ernst Perabo, S. A. Emery, and Robert Goldbeck. Opening with a faculty composed of foremost musicians of the day, and offering advantages that the directors intended to be equal in rank with those of the renowned conservatories of Leipsic, Paris, Stuttgart, Prague, and others, the new institution at once secured a large enrollment of pupils. In 1870 it was duly incorporated under the laws of Massachusetts. In that year the first class was graduated… In 1882, the Conservatory having outgrown its quarters in Music Hall, the St. James Hotel in Franklin Square was purchased and converted to the uses of a music school. Dr. Tourjee died in 1891, and was succeeded in the directorship by Carl Faelten.” (Goodrich, 89) The February 1868 Catalog listed eleven piano instructors-two from the previous year had left and eight new instructors had joined the department.                                           Within six weeks of opening, on March 30, 1867 the school presented its first concert-naturally they used the Music Hall. Dwight’s review was underwhelming, possibly because he was a backer of Eichberg’s Boston Conservatory. An orchestra had already been formed and it accompanied the Piano Concerto of Robert Goldbeck. Dwight called Goldbeck “Among the best pianists of this now piano-famous city” but found little to enjoy in the Concerto. (Owen, Great Organ, 110)

 

St. James Hotel, Franklin Square.

Built as the “St. James Hotel” in 1868, the Conservatory took over the building in 1882 using it both for instruction and also as a dormitory. In 1902 it became the “Franklin Square House, a hotel for young women,” and today it serves as 193 units of affordable senior housing. (Wikipedia, accessed December 16, 2017). Johnston Collection.

The February 1869 catalog listed all of the current pupils among whom were Jeanie Burrage (the sister of Frances) and Ruth Burrage (her cousin)-their instructors were not listed, but Lang probably taught both. The school flourished the total attendance for the first two years was 3,241. (NEC Catalogs, BPL) By 1877 Lang pupils William F. Apthorp, Arthur W. Foote, Hiram G. Tucker (and possible pupil Fred. H. Lewis) had joined as piano instructors in a department which now numbered twenty-one teachers.

By 1901 neither Lang nor his pupils were connected with NEC.

A one-page ad in a program from the Music Hall of 1872 called the Conservatory “THE LARGEST MUSIC SCHOOL IN THE WORLD.” The ad went on to say that it was “Established upon identical principles with the celebrated Conservatories of Europe, and in many respects offering even greater advantages than they, receives beginners and pupils in every stage of proficiency, and affords the instructions of the most eminent masters at less rates of tuition than any similar institution in this country…A beautiful three-manual Pipe Organ has been constructed with special reference to the requirements of its classes, by Messrs. E. & G. G. Hook and Hastings. Organ practice free. (HMA Program Collection). Among the concerts were faculty recitals. “Perhaps [one of] the most attractive features of the conservatory here, as well as among the most improving to the pupils, are the private concerts given by the teachers. Yesterday was given what was numbered as the thirty-first concert of the New England Conservatory, at Chickering’s Hall. The performers were Messrs. Lang and Fries, and Miss Annie M. Granger; the entertainment, short as it was, was peculiarly interesting and artistic. The gentlemen played Mendelssohn’s Sonata in D for piano and violoncello, with great spirit and delicacy of rendering. Mr. Lang gave with the same finish a scherzo of Chopin; and, instead of three as the programme indicated, one caprice of his own composition. If the suppressed two are as attractive as the one performed, it was a pity the audience should have been deprived of them.” (Daily Advertiser, (January 30, 1869): 1) In the fall of 1878, the Conservatory was still advertising that it was the “Largest Music School in the World” having taught 18,000 pupils since its beginning eleven years ago in 1867.

>>> Part: 1   2   3 

CHAPTER 02. (Part 1) B. J. L: EARLY CAREER: 1858-1871. WC.(2) SC (G).TOPICS, PREMIERS, LANG PUPILS-LINCOLN EMANCIPATION CONCERT.

CHAPTER 2

BENJAMIN JOHNSON LANG: EARLY CAREER: 1858-1871.

Word Count,  Part 1: 10,285.    09/16/2020.  Spell Check – G.

Topics:

Part 1.                                                                                                                                     

  • Satter and Lang.
  • Boston Debut as Pianist.
  • John S. Dwight.
  • B. and B. J. Music Rooms in Salem.
  • Old South Organist-1859.
  • Handel and Haydn Accompanist-October 1859.
  • Carl Zerrahn.
  • Complimentary Concert for B. J. March 1860.
  • Summer in Europe-1860.
  • B. J. as a Piano Salesman.
  • Salem-Amphions.
  • Marriage to Frances Morse Burrage.
  • Hymn of Praise Premier.
  • Youthful Voices.
  • First Walpurgis Night.
  • Handel and Haydn Society.
  • Gottschalk and Lang.
  • Lincoln Emancipation Proclamation Concert.
  • Part 2  
  • Teresa Carreno.
  • Gottschalk and Lang.  II.
  • Salem Concert.
  • Teacher and Pupil. The Early 1860s.
  • Music Hall Organ Dedication.
  • “The Monster Organ.”
  • More Solo Appearances.
  • Shakespeare Birthday Concert.
  • South Congregational Church Organist.
  • First Child.
  • Alice Dutton-Early Lang Piano Pupil.
  • Hannah Lang Letter-1864.
  • Busy Christmas Season-1864.
  • Artistic Growth-1860’s.
  • Other Concert Groups.
  • Lang’s Home: 1864. With Burrages.
  • Lincoln’s Funeral.
  • Handel and Haydn 50th. Anniversary.
  • Harvard Musical Association Orchestral Concerts.
  • Haydn’s-The Seasons.
  • Music Hall Organ: 1865-66 Season.
  • Rival Pianists of Lang-Perabo and Petersilia.
  • Summer 1866-Europe.
  • Mr. Richard C. Dixey.
  • New England Conservatory.
  • Part 3. 
  • Carlyle Petersilia and Lang.
  • Premiers of Beethoven and Liszt/Schubert.
  • Gilmore Concert.
  • Concert to Help the Patriots of Crete.
  • Salem Concerts.
  • Clara F. Joy- Early Lang Pupil
  • Summer-1867.
  • Piano Technique Lectures-1867 and 1883.
  • Margaret Ruthven Lang.
  • Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 1-Boston Premier.
  • Mendelssohn-Eighth Book of Songs Without Words.
  • Handel and Haydn-First Triennial Festival.
  • First lecture.
  • Mercantile Hall Concerts.
  • First Symphony Series.
  • Music Hall Organ Concerts.
  • Peace Jubilee: 1869.
  • Year In Europe-1869 to 70: Berlin Concert. Rome and Liszt. April. Vienna    Concert. June. July. August 12th.
  • 1870 Census.
  • Fall of 1871.
  • Hiram G. Tucker.
  • Teacher of Piano.
  • Other Concerts.
  • Globe Theatre Concerts.
  • Frances’ Singing Lessons.
  • William Foster Apthorp.
  • Benjamin Edward Woolf.
  • Salem Oratorio Society.
  • Student Concerto Concerts.
  • European Summer.
  • Mendelssohn Quintette Club Performances-1860 to 1869.

Premiers:

(Boston) Bach: Concerto for Clavier No. 7 in g [BWV 1058] with the Mendelssohn Quintette Club quartet of strings, February 14, 1865.

(Boston) Beethoven: C Minor Trio, Opus 1, No. 3 with Mendelssohn Quintette Club, February 2, 1858.

(Boston) Beethoven: Concerto No. 1 with HMA January 16, 1868[i]

(Boston) Beethoven: Concerto No. 2 with HMA, February 1, 1867 [ii] check (6248)

(Boston) Beethoven: Triple Concerto with HMA February 27, 1868 with HMA, Zerrahn conducting, Eichberg-violin and Fries-cello[iii]

(Boston?) Bennett: Capriccio for Piano and Strings, Friday, February 25, 1859[iv] with Mendelssohn Quintette Club, and then with full orchestra at the February 11, 1860 concert of the Philharmonic. Johnson lists “first time in Boston with orchestra” at the January 29, 1874, Music Hall performance with the HMA conducted by Zerrahn with Lang as soloist.[v]

(American?) Bennett: Piano Sonata in A-Flat, Op. 46-The Maid of Orleans. Mentioned in one Obit-do not know when.

(Boston) Dussek: Sonata for Piano and Violin in B flat with the Mendelssohn Quintette Club, January 8, 1867.

(Boston) Dussek: Quartette for Piano and Strings in F minor, Op. 41 with the Mendelssohn Quintette Club, February 12, 1861.

(American) Graedener, Karl Georg Peter. Quintette in G minor, Op. 7 with the Mendelssohn Quintette Club, March 19, 1862, Chickering Hall, Washington Street[vi]

(Boston) Haydn: The Seasons, March 24, 1866 at Music Hall, unnamed chorus. “In part only”[vii]- H and H sang it complete in 1875 under Zerrahn, (Ibid) but he had conducted it with the Salem Oratorio Society in 1869.[viii]

(Boston) Hummel: Concerto in A-minor [No. 2, Opus 85] with HMA February 15, 1867[ix] He had played the work in Salem at “Mr. Lang’s Piano Forte Soiree” on April 13, 1863 with the orchestra part played by Mr. Steele. (Salem Register, April 13, 1863, p. 2. GB)

(Boston) Hummel: Concerto in B minor at a “Bateman Concert” at the Music Hall, December 20, 1865. Three other well-known musicians also were included. Carl Anschutz conducted the orchestra. Lang also played two solos: Mendelssohn’s Prelude in E minor and Heller’s Slumbering Song. In the same ad, concerts the following Thursday in Springfield and two concerts in Portland on Thursday and Friday were announced-it is implied that the same artists would appear in these concerts. (Evening Transcript (December 19, 1865): 3, GB) In Johnson First Performances, the only Boston Hummel first was the A minor listed above, performed two years later.

(Boston) Mendelssohn: First Walpurgis Night. May 3, 1862. Combined choirs; unnamed choir; soloists – Mrs. Kempton, Dr. Langmaid, Messrs. Wadleigh and Wetherbee. Boston Music Hall.

(Boston) Mendelssohn: Hymn of Praise, Opus 52 at Old South Church; combined church choirs; used only an organ four-hand accompaniment for the overture, and J.S. D. Parker as the organist for the rest of the work, January 30, 1862.

(Boston) Mendelssohn: complete music for a Midsummer Night’s Dream, April 23, 1864, on the Tercentennial of Shakespeare”s birth.

(Boston and or American) Mendelssohn: Eighth Book-Songs Without Words. March 18, 1868.

(American) Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 22 in E-flat, K. 482 (1785) with Philharmonic Society, Carl Zerrahn, cadenza by Lang, February 26, 1859.[x]

(Boston) Mozart: Concerto for Two Pianos in E-flat, K. 365 (1779) with Harvard Musical Association Orchestra, Carl Zerrahn, November 21, 1867.[xi]

(Boston) Schubert/Liszt: Wanderer Fantasia with HMA February 1, 1867.

(Boston) Schumann: Piano Concerto. Played by Lang and Otto Dresel on two pianos at a concert in the Music Hall on December 10, 1864. Lang then played part of the concerto at a concert by Mme. Parepa on one evening, and the rest of the work the next evening. Dresel gave the orchestral premiere with the HMA Orchestra on November 23, 1866. (Johnson, First, 328).

(Boston) Tomasek: Three Ecologues with the Mendelssohn Quintette Club on Tuesday, March 2, 1869.

(Boston) Weber/Liszt: E-flat Polonaise with HMA February 8, 1866.

LANG PUPILS:

(Boston) Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37. According to Dwight, Alice Dutton was the first to play the entire work. With HMA in February 1870. Johnson credits J. L. Hatton, pianist with the Musical Fund Society led by George J. Webb on December 8, 1842. (Johnson, First, 47)

(Boston) Mendelssohn: Serenade and Allegro Giocoso for Piano, Opus 43. Alice Dutton on March 21, 1866 at the Music Hall, Carl Zerrahn was the conductor. J. C. D. Parker played the same work ONE day later with the Harvard Musical Association Orchestra, also with Carl Zerrahn conducting. [xiv]

(Boston) Mozart: Piano Concerto in A (No. 23, K. 488), HMA December 19, 1879. Tucker “came in at a day’s warning” as a substitute for a singer. (Dwight, (January 18, 1879):  15)

(Boston) Wager/Tansig: Ride of the Walkuren. December 19, 1979, solo at HMA concert (see above).

LANG AND SATTER. 

Gustav Satter. Wikipedia article, January 26, 2013.

An 1886 entry listed B. J.’s teachers. Among them was Gustav Satter, who was touring in America in 1858. The Boston critic William Foster Apthorp wrote: shortly after Lang’s return from Europe, “Gustav Satter was astonishing American audiences with his wonderful playing and daring transcriptions. When he visited Boston, Lang temporarily gave up almost all else to be constantly in his company. Satter had taken a strong fancy to the young pianist [aged 21], and, after being with him all day, and playing at his own concert in the evening, would take him up to his room in the Tremont House, and there play to him night after night, far into the small hours of the morning. To a close and keen observer like Lang these nocturnal sittings ”a quattr’ occhi” were of inestimable value.”(Apthorp, Music, August 1893) Lang may have first heard Satter play even before his period of European study. On April 2, 1855, Satter appeared in Boston playing the Schubert Trio, Op. 100 with the Mendelssohn Quintette Club. He also played the Boston premiere of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata, Op. 57 ‘Appassionata.’ (Johnson, Satter, 63) Dwight described Satter: “He is a fresh, youthful-looking- person, with an air of decision and at the same time a good-humored Austrian bon-homie about him… Mr. Satter is yet a very young man, exuberant in power and enterprising, ready of talent, ambitious too to take a high and really artistic stand.” (Op. cit., 64) In other words, Dwight really approved of the man. Lang may have also shared this opinion, as Satter was probably the best pianist to have visited Boston up until that time. The fact that Lang and Satter were close in age, only five years apart, also contributed to the bond between the two men. Satter stayed in Boston for two years playing and teaching.

BOSTON DEBUT AS PIANIST.

After Lang’s return to Boston in 1858, he immediately began to develop contacts that would frame the early years of his professional career in Boston. One of his first contacts was with the Mendelssohn Quintette Club. This Club had given its first public concert in December of 1849, and played throughout New England for over fifty years. (Ryan, 92) Baker’s entry in 1905 went so far as to say that “This little band of excellent musicians has visited every town on any size in the United States.” (Baker, 504).

William Foster Apthorp wrote of Lang’s debut. “On his return from abroad Lang made his first public appearance in Boston as a pianist [on Tuesday, February 2, 1858] at a concert of the Mendelssohn Quintette Club, taking part in Beethoven’s C Minor Trio, Opus 1, No. 3 (its first performance in the city). Thus at his first appearance before a Boston audience, he already gave evidence of a tendency that has since become characteristic of him-a constant desire to introduce new works to the public.” (Apthorp, Op. cit.) Dwight reviewed this concert: “The piano part was played by Mr. B. J. Lang, with a precision, cleanness, and expression that would have done honor to far more experienced artists. We do not remember a more promising debut in this kind.” (Dwight (February 6, 1858): 359, GB)

Apthorp was incorrect in saying the above was Lang’s “first public appearance in Boston as a pianist,” for this had taken place a month earlier on January 8, 1858, when he was the pianist for a presentation of selections from an opera by Lucian H. Southard (1827-1881). His Omano was performed at Chickering’s Saloon – among the soloists were Mrs. J. H. Long and Mr. C. R. Adams “assisted by several amateurs.” (Program, GB) “Southard was ten years older than Lang, and was among the first Americans to publish art-songs, his first, David’s Lament for Absalom having been published in 1848.” (Upton, Art-Song, 55)

A second, long-ranging musical contact was established with Lang’s first orchestral appearance on February 27, 1858, when he played the Mendelssohn Concerto No. 2 in D Minor at the Music Hall with Carl Zerrahn as the conductor as part of Carl Zerrahn’s “Last Grand Concert.” (Program, GB) Zerrahn was the major conductor in Boston at this time. He conducted choral groups, the most important being the Handel and Haydn Society, and also symphonic groups.

These two early 1858 appearances suggest that the “three years” that Lang studied in Europe would really be just over 1 and 1/2 years at the most, as Lang left Boston sometime after December 24, 1855. This was the date of a concert organized by Geo. Hill under the title of “City Crier’s Concert.” Lang was the accompanist for the five soloists-Gustave Satter, “The Celebrated Pianist” was the solo artist. (Program, GB) Thus, he would have had all of 1856 and into the fall of 1857 in Europe. He would have had to return to Boston sometime in the fall of 1857 to make contact with the Mendelssohn Quintette Club, Mr. Southard, and Carl Zerrahn to arrange the two concert appearances noted above. Probably Lang’s youthful reputation had been known to both before he left Boston.

One of the featured soloists at Zerrahn’s “Last Grand Concert” in addition to B. J. was Mrs. J. H. Long. She hired him as one of the assisting artists for her “Second Annual Concert” which was at the Mercantile Hall, 16 Summer Street on March 1, 1858. The other assisting artists were Mr. C. R. Adams and the Mendelssohn Quintette Club. (Program, GB) However Long and Lang had worked together the previous year. “Mr. B. J. Lang of Salem, with Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Long of Boston, took passage in the steamer Europa, yesterday, For Halifax, where they have professional engagements for the coming week.”(Salem Register (November 5, 1857): 2, GB) This reinforces the comment in the paragraph above of Lang having to return in the fall of 1857 to make the contacts for the concerts that began at that time.

Another 1858 appearance with the Mendelssohn Quintette Club was on Thursday, November 18, where his solo by Liszt, “Benediction de Dieu dans la Solitude” from Harmonies poetiques et religieuses ended the first half of the concert. (Dowell, 368) At the end of that same year (1858), Dwight wrote: “Mr. B. J. Lang, who assists the Club this season, is one of the most promising of our young pianists, already at home in a pretty large repertoire of difficult classical and modern music, and evincing a facility of technical acquisition in which perhaps there lies some danger. ” Dwight then went on to disparage Lang’s choice of Liszt’s “Benediction de Dieu dans las Solitude” ending with the comment that “if there is any charm in such things, it must lie in Liszt’s own playing of them.” (Dwight (November 27, 1858): 279) This comment did not keep Lang from playing this piece throughout his career.

Lang continued to appear with the Mendelssohn Quintette Club. On Friday, January 28, 1859, he assisted as accompanist for the soprano Mrs. J. H. Long who sang The Violet by Mozart and the first performance of one of Lang’s own songs, Breath of Spring. On February 25, 1859, Lang contributed the piano part to the first Boston performance of Sterndale Bennett’s Capriccio at a Mendelssohn Quintette Concert; for this performance, only a string quartet was used for the accompaniment. (Dowell, 373) “This Capriccio is very brilliant and sparkling in the pianoforte part, full of arpeggio, and taxing execution, to which Mr. Lang proved fully equal.” (Dwight (March 5, 1859): 390) Eleven months later, Lang played the Capriccio with a full orchestra at the Third Philharmonic Concert on Saturday evening, February 11, 1860, [recording available on Hyperion CDA67595 “The Romantic Piano Concerto No. 43” with Howard Shelley and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra] and Beethoven’s Choral Fantasia with the choir from the Handel and Haydn Society.

Just a day after the first Capriccio performance, Lang was the soloist at Carl Zerrahn’s Philharmonic concert at the Music Hall playing the American premiere of Mozart’s Concerto in E Flat, “a delicious piece, played with fluency and spirit, (so we judge from a rehearsal) by young Mr. Lang, with the addition of a nicely made elaborate cadenza, in the place usually left for such things, of his own.”(Ibid) This was Concerto No. 22 in E-flat, K. 482 (1785).(Johnson, First, 268) Two years after his debut with the Mendelssohn Quintette Club, Lang had been part of six of their concerts and performed at least four premiers which included one of his own compositions.

On Saturday evening, February 19, 1859, Lang was part of a “Complimentary Concert” at the Music Hall given by “His brother Artists” for the pianist Joseph Trenkle. Among those taking part were Zerrahn’s Philharmonic Orchestra, Kreissmann’s Orpheus Glee Club, the vocalist Mrs. Harwood and pianists J, C. D. Parker, H. Leonhard and Otto Dresel. The four pianists played Les Contrastes, Op. 115 by Moscheles and L’Invitation a la Valse by Weber. The reason for the concert was to raise funds as “the esteemed young artist, who has been compelled, by the critical state of his health, to leave us for a more genial climate.” (Traveler, (February 11, 1859): 3, GB) Mathews (100 Years) says that Trenkle emigrated to the USA in 1859, and so it would seem that Boston was his first stop. Possibly Lang had become acquainted with Trenkle in Germany and was responsible for the organization of the concert.

On the same day that the concert above was advertised, another ad appeared for a “Testimonial Benefit to James Pilgrim” to be held at the Boston Theatre on Saturday February 12th.” Scenes from plays were offered and also various dances among which was a PAS SEUL (solo dance) by Henrietta Lang! This was the name on the birth certificate of B. J.’s younger sister, although she was called Harriet at home. Could the dancer and Henrietta be the same person? Henrietta would have been 13 years old at this time. (Ibid)

JOHN S. DWIGHT.

John S. Dwight, Cooke, page opposite frontispiece.

The early favorable reviews by John S. Dwight were very helpful to Lang’s early and middle career. Lang and Dwight’s Journal of Music intersected at a fortunate time. The first issue had appeared on April 10, 1852 and ended 1,051 issues later on September 3, 1881 at which point Lang was entering his “Middle Years.” (Sablosky, 1) There were probably “never more than a thousand subscribers” for Dwight’s Journal (Op. cit., 6) Dwight was responsible during that period for over eight thousand “densely set pages.” (Op. cit., 2) Before he began the Journal, he had graduated from Harvard Divinity School in 1836 and then tried parish ministry for five years. When this was not satisfactory, he joined the experiment in communal living at Brook Farm, near Boston, where he gave piano lessons, helped farm the land and wrote about music. “Music, more than anything else embodied for him the possibility of harmony for mankind.” Great music was to elevate and refine “out [our] crude and swaggering democratic culture.” (Op. cit., 3) After his wife’s death in 1860, he took up residence in the Harvard Musical Association building-this group had been the main backer for his publication, and he served as the group’s President and Librarian for many years. He died there in 1893, just four months after his eightieth birthday.

FATHER B. AND B. J. MUSIC ROOMS IN SALEM. 

A notice in the Salem Register in April 1859 would seem to indicate that father Benjamin, and son B, J, had gone into business together. “Messrs. Lang’s New Music Rooms, in the Downing Block, are worth a visit. They are spacious, pleasant, handsomely furnished, convenient in every respect, and admirably adapted for musical purposes. The lofty ceiling and general construction of the rooms, when thrown into one, are highly favorable for good acoustic qualities and must give a charming effect to a properly arranged Chamber Concert, as well as aid greatly in developing the qualities of Chickering’s celebrated pianos, of which there are several in the apartment. See advertisement of Messrs. B. & B. J. Lang, for the purposes to which their elegant quarters are devoted.” (Salem Register (April 7, 1859): 2, GB)

OLD SOUTH ORGANIST-1859.

As seen in 1877.

Drawing-Postcard. Johnston Collection.

Postcard. Johnston Collection.

In 1859, soon after he was appointed organist at Old South Church, Lang began a campaign for a new organ. The church had a three-manual instrument of 22 stops by the English builder Thomas Eliot and installed in 1822 seemed not to please Lang. “Benjamin Johnson Lang, a strong-minded individual with a penchant for enlarging or replacing organs, had become organist, and in 1859 the noted Boston firm of E. & G. G. Hook was engaged to rebuild the organ at a cost of about $2,000. The rebuilt organ [of 35 stops] was ”opened” on April 30 with a concert of organ and vocal music, and the event duly reported in Boston’s leading musical journal.”[xliv] On November 30, 1861 at a “Private Concert” held at Old South, the musicians included a vocal quartet of Miss Houston, Mrs. Macfarland, Mr. Downs and Mr. Weterbee with Mr. Bancroft as pianist [Bancroft – organist of Emmanuel Church].[xlv]

HANDEL AND HAYDN ACCOMPANIST. OCTOBER 1859.

Carl Zerrahn, Photo Card by WARREN of Cambridgeport. On the back someone has written that Zerrahn was “among many artists who emigrated to the U. S. after the Revolution of 1848 in Germany.”

Working with Carl Zerrahn probably led to Lang’s next major professional appointment, organist for the Handel and Haydn Society that Zerrahn conducted. B. J. began his long association with this choir (as organist from October 1859 until June 1895: as conductor from June 1895 until May 1897) on October 1, 1859, with rehearsals for Handel’s Samson. An entry in the Society’s History dated October 1, 1859 notes: “Mr. J. C. D. Parker being obligated by the pressure of manifold professional duties to resign the place of organist… Mr. B. J. Lang was chosen his successor.” He seems to have gotten off to a positive start as in was noted that later in that first season “The organ voluntaries of the young new incumbent Mr. Lang, were well chosen and effective.” (Perkins/Dwight, History, 194) Dwight had made this same comment originally: “The organ voluntaries during the assembling of the singers, by Mr. B. J. Lang, were well chosen and effective. But is it not rather a questionable custom, this of preluding to an overture with a whole long oratorio at its heels. Is it not a cloying superfluity?” (Dwight (December 31, 1859): 319) In February 1860, the Society was part of “Mr. Zerrahn’s third Symphony Concert, singing in Beethoven’s Choral Fantasia, of which Mr. Lang plays the pianoforte part.”(Op. cit., 195) “His rapport with Zerrahn was complete and among the countless references to Lang in the annals of the Society and in the Press, there is not one that fails to express confidence, approval, and gratitude for the presence of so sterling a musician. He played the Great Organ in Music Hall throughout its being there and ”made do” with the inadequate instrument that came after.”(Johnson, Hallelujah, 167) When the Society moved to the newly opened Music Hall in 1853, it brought along its own pipe organ – a three-manual and pedal instrument built by Thomas Appleton in 1832. “Originally installed in Boylston Hall, the society and its organ moved in 1839 to Melodean Hall. As relocated a second time to the Boston Music Hall, the organ stood in the niche behind the screen of the stage. The Boston Music Hall Association rented this organ for $240 a year, and eventually purchased it.”(Methuen Memorial Music Hall Website, 11/26/10, 1)

The “inadequate instrument that came after” the Walker was removed was “a very large one-manual Geo. S. Hutchings” instrument. “While having only one manual, the organ provided the widest possible range of accompanimental nuance from a delicate whisper to a thundering tutti. To distinguish this from its noble predecessor, it was opined that it would be known as the ”little” organ (28 stops, 38 ranks.)” its first use was in the December 1884 Handel and Haydn Messiah performance. The instrument did have a Contra Bourdon at 32 feet, and six of the stops were enclosed within a swell box. (Huntington, 32 and 33)

There are many stories of Lang and the Handel and Haydn performances. George W. Chadwick recorded that when he was singing in that chorus he was in a position to see the organist, which presumably would be Lang, and that Lang could be seen “reading his newspaper between the choruses.” (Owen, 133) Actually Lang’s job during performances was not too intense, as he had to play mainly during the choruses so that the organ “came in at the right moments to supply great depths of bass and background in the massive choruses.” (Dwight as quoted by Owen, 111)                                However, “there were two major problems in playing the Music Hall Walcker organ. The first was its pipes were built based on the pitch of A=435, the “New French Pitch” which was popular in Europe at the time. In Boston, orchestras were used to playing the “Old High English Pitch” of A=449, which represents almost a half step higher. To make the instruments retune a half-step down was not possible! Lang to the rescue-he “routinely transposed the accompaniments a half step up,” which was “surely a tribute to his fabled musicianship.” (Owen, 74). The second major problem was the period of delay between playing a note and hearing the sound; this problem continues today with the instrument in its home in Methuen. Within the Boston organ community, this was a standing joke. One wag said that the organ “spoke the day after tomorrow,” another said that “by the time the tone arrives the organist has forgotten that he ever played it,” and another said that “you have to begin playing a quarter of an hour before the recital commences, in order to be on time.” (Owen, 75) Certainly this delay is very bothersome for a solo recitalist, but for someone who is accompanying, it means that you have to be playing ahead of the conductor’s beat and ahead of what you hear. Henry Dunham said that the sound reached the player “nearly a whole beat late,” and when playing loudly he had to “count aloud to keep things in hand.” (Dunham in Owen, 75) But, Lang “played ahead” so perfectly that nothing was ever mentioned about the problem when he was at the console.                                                       His organ accompaniments as part of the orchestra at concerts were very important. Dwight reviewed the Handel and Haydn December 1865 performance of Messiah and noted that “The choruses went remarkably well that night, the Great organ accompaniment by Mr. Lang replenishing them with great waves of harmony. (Owen, Great Organ, 95) Dwight’s comment for the 1868 Messiah was that a highlight of the evening was Lang at the organ which “came in at the right moments to supply great depths of bass and background in the massive choruses.” (Owen, Great Organ, 111)

 

CARL ZERRAHN.

Carl Zerrahn. (July 28, 1826, Malchow, Germany: Dec. 29, 1909, Milton, Mass.) Grove’s 1921 Vol. T – Z, 594.

The careers of Lang and Zerrahn ran parallel and intersected for thirty-five years. “In 1855-63 he [Zerrahn] conducted one of the several orchestras in Boston known by the name Philharmonia, and was practically the only leader of the concerts of the Harvard Musical Association in 1865-82. In addition to his work as conductor of the Handel and Haydn Society (elected conductor in August 1854) and of the Worcester Festivals, he was for many years in charge of the Salem Oratorio Society and other smaller organizations. At the second Peace Jubilee (1872) he led the chorus of 20,000. He was also a teacher of singing, harmony and composition at the New England Conservatory. In all these ways he left a significant impress upon the development of American choral music.” (Pratt, 410-11) Sablosky adds that he taught at the New England Conservatory until 1898, and that his tenure with the Worcester Festival was from 1866-1897. (Sablosky, 306)

At the height of his career, in the early 1880s when he was fifty-five years old, his rehearsal schedule included seven evenings of choral groups: Handel and Haydn, Boston; Festival Association Chorus, Worcester; Oratorio Society, Salem; Choral Union, Lynn; Choral Union, Lowell; Beethoven Society, Taunton; and Choral Union, Exeter, N. H. During the day he did the rehearsals and concerts for the Harvard Musical Association; taught conducting, harmony, counterpoint, etc. at the New England Conservatory; and taught private pupils. This was his regular schedule – he often was off conducting a special festival! “It might be supposed that such a multiplicity of care, too much for an ordinary man, would leave no leisure for study…He thoroughly enjoys hard work, and thrives on an amount that would break down any common man.” (Musical Herald, December 1881, 264)

“But nothing could fluster Mr. Zerrahn; I never saw him lose his head, nor any performance come to grief under his baton. And, with the orchestral material and few rehearsals of those days, things were on the verge of coming to grief pretty often.” (Swan-Apthorp, 73) Apthorp continued with examples. “At one of the Handel and Haydn festivals (I think the first one, the demi-centennial), the then famous boy soprano, Richard Coker, sang Meyerbeer’s ”Robert, toi que j’aime” at an afternoon concert. He was accompanied on the pianoforte by his father. When the air was about half through, Coker Sr. discovered to his dismay that the remaining sheets of the music were missing; Mr. Zerrahn immediately sprang to the conductor’s desk, waved his baton, and the rest of the air was accompanied from memory by the orchestra.

I remember another instance of Mr. Zerrahn’s presence of mind. It was at a performance of Mendelssohn’s Hymn of Praise by the Handel and Haydn. The tenor had just finished that air with the incomprehensible words, ending with the oft-repeated question: ”Watchman, will the night soon pass?” In reply to this, the soprano should strike in unaccompanied in D major, with ”The night is departing,” twice repeated, the wood-wind coming in piano on the second ”departing,” and the whole orchestra fortissimo on the last syllable. On this occasion, the soprano was standing a little farther forward on the stage than Mr. Zerrahn; so she could not see his beat without turning her head. She struck in bravely with her ”The night is departing,” but unfortunately, not in D major—it was fairly and squarely in C major, a whole tone flat. A shudder ran through the orchestra and a good part of the audience; what was Mr. Zerrahn to do with the ensuing D major? His mind was made up in a second; he motioned to the wood-wind not to come in with their chords, and patiently waited for the hapless soprano to finish her phrase, and then let the orchestra come in with its D major fortissimo afterward, instead of on the last syllable. But now came one of the most comical tugs of war I have ever witnessed between singer and conductor. Of course the soprano was entirely unconscious of having made a mistake; so, not hearing the usual 6-4 chord on her second ”departing,” she evidently thought the wind-players had counted their rests wrong, and held her high G (which ought to have been an A) with a persistency worthy of a better cause, to give them a chance to catch up with her. She held that G on and on, looking as if she would burst; but still no 6-4 chord. Mr. Zerrahn waited imperturbably with his baton expectantly raised. At last-it seemed like hours-human lungs could hold out no longer, and the breathless soprano landed panting with her final ”ting” on C-natural, amid a deathlike silence of orchestra and chorus. You could have heard a pin drop. Just as she was turning round to see why she had been thus left in the lurch by the accompaniment, Mr. Zerrahn’s baton came down with a swish, and the orchestra thundered out its D major.” (Apthorp, BSO Program March 6 and 7, 1896, 595-598)

COMPLIMENTARY CONCERT FOR B. J. MARCH 1860.

The Boston Musical Times reported in its issue dated February 25, 1860 that a “Complimentary Concert” was to be given: “Mr. B.J. Lang will be complimented and benefited by the concert to be given this evening, in the new Bumstead Hall, for which the Mendelssohn Quintette Club, Mrs. J. H. Long, Mr. Wetherbee and Messrs. Dresel, Parker and Leonhard, have volunteered their assistance as a farewell testimonial, prior to his departure for Europe, of the esteem in which he is held by them. Such an array of talent, introduced in a highly judicious programme, induces us to anticipate one of the most gratifying musical entertainments of the season.

In common with all who know him, we entertain for Mr. Lang, personally, a cordial regard; while his ability and success as a pianist-marvelous in one so young-achieved by unremitting industry impelled by inherent genius-entitle him to the respectful consideration of most cultivated connoisseurs.

Mr. Lang intends to pursue his studies in Europe during the coming summer, and we indulge no shadow of a doubt that an appreciating public will present him to-night such a manifestation of their confidence in his future as will fill many an hour with cheering and happy memories of his distant home.” (BMT (February 25, 1860: 37)

An ad in the March 24, 1860 issue of the Boston Musical Times said that “the programme, one of the most attractive ever offered to the Boston public, will include the famous Eight-hand Piano pieces given at Mr. Trenkle’s Concert last season-one of which, L’Invitation a la Dance, created unwonted enthusiasm.” (BMT, March 24, 1860)

Dwight’s review stated: “The Compliment to this young artist, on Saturday evening, previous to his departure for Europe, was general, hearty, and substantial. The new Hall in Bumstead Place was fuller than it has ever been… Mr. Lang was rich in audience and in programme, rich in the friendly aid of other artists, in his own strength, and particularly rich in pianos; since there were two of those superb Erard-like Grands, just manufactured by the Messrs. Chickering… In his own person Mr. Lang, besides taking the upper part at one of the two pianos in the eight-hand pieces, gave us in the first place an excellent rendering of the two movements from Mendelssohn’s piano and violoncello Sonata, admirably supported by Wulf Fries…We hear that Mr. Lang is also to receive a Complimentary Concert in his native place, Salem. With all these expressions of interest, and good wishes, which we certainly share, he will go abroad with hope and high artistic purpose strengthened.” (Dwight (March 31, 1860): 6 and 7) This reflects the high esteem shown by Lang’s fellow Boston musicians-he had certainly achieved much in the two years since his arrival back in Boston from his European studies.

SUMMER IN EUROPE—1860.

On April 11, 1860 Lang applied for a passport that described him as:

Age – 22; Stature – 5″ 7″; Forehead – high; Eyes – blue; Nose – large; Mouth – medium; Chin – short; Hair – light brown; Complexion – light, and Face – oval. His signature is quite legible with a flowing style. (Passport Application from Ancestry.com)

Lang left during the first week of May on the steamer CANADA (side-wheeler) with Mr. Silas A. Bancroft (1823-1886). (BMT (May 19, 1860): 103) Coincidentally the officer in charge was Capt. Lang! (Evening Transcript (May 16, 1860): 2, GB) Mr. Bancroft, born in Boston on April 14, 1823 was the son of a merchant and his mother traced her lineage back to one of the Mayflower passengers. “As his father was comfortably well off, Silas did not have the incentive to work very hard…still he was for over thirty years one of the prominent organists of the New England metropolis.” (Metcalf, 294-95) In 1860, he was just finishing as organist for the Mount Vernon Congregational Church, and soon after this European trip, he became the organist for Emmanuel Church where he served for over twenty years. He died on November 18, 1886. (Ibid) Frances noted in her diary that it was a dangerous voyage with great storms. She also noted that she had her head shaved while B. J. was away and wore caps. (Diary Excerpts, 1) In September, he returned from Europe. (Dwight (October 6, 1860: 221) A “Mr. B. J. Lang, Professor, aged 30” [this incorrect age is just one of many errors made on official documents of the time] arrived in Boston from Liverpool on the AMERICA, a ship of 984 tons, September 10, 1860. (Boston Passenger and Crew Lists, 1823-1943 and America Manifest) Dwight printed that “Mr. B. J. Lang has returned from a tour in Europe, which we doubt not has passed both agreeably and profitably to himself. His many friends are glad to welcome him home again.”(Dwight, (October 6, 1860): 221) Not bad for one whose career was only two years old.

The following was transcribed from B. J.’s Diary (which is not in the BPL Rare Book collection, but provided by Fletcher DuBois) and covers the summer of 1860.

Copy provided by Fletcher DuBois.

In September Lang returned from Europe. (Ibid) A “Mr. B. J. Lang, Professor, aged 30” arrived in Boston from Liverpool on the AMERICA, a ship of 984 tons, September 10, 1860. (Boston Lists, Op. cit.) The Boston Musical Times of September 20, 1860 reported that: “The many friends of Mr. B.J. Lang, the young pianist will be glad to learn that he has returned from his European tour, in excellent health; and that he is prepared to resume the duties of his profession with renewed vigor. Mr. Lang has, during his absence, listened to some of the finest pianism of the first masters of our time, and we doubt not that his eager mind will infuse into his own teachings, some of those sweet influences, which none can appreciate so fully as a pianist like himself.” (Boston Musical Times (September 20, 1860): 249)

B. J. AS A PIANO SALESMAN.

Within a month from returning from Europe, B. J. took over his father’s piano sales business. On October 1, 1860 Chickering & Sons “transferred the Agency for the sale of our PIANO FORTES from Mr. Benjamin Lang to Mr. B. J. Lang, who will hereafter represent us and attend to our interests, at his Warerooms in the Downing Block. It affords us a more than common pleasure to recommend Mr. Lang to our numerous friends and the citizens of Salem, as a gentleman possessing unusually fine qualifications for the purchasing and selection of Pianos, and we can assure them that Sales made through can be depended upon, and will be guaranteed as strongly as though obtained directly from the Establishment in Boston.” (Salem Register (October 29, 1860): 2, GB)

SALEM-AMPHIONS.

Lang’s first conductorship of a male voice choir was with a group he organized in Salem in 1860. Known “under the name of the Amphions, rehearsals were held weekly at Mr. Lang’s room [his father’s music shop]. The first and only concert was given at Mechanic Hall, April 18, 1861. There were twenty singing members and a roll of honorary members. Much of the music used by the club was selected by Mr. Lang while in Europe. The Amphions assisted the Mendelssohn Quintette Club at a concert in Salem and were invited to take part in a series of classical concerts in Boston.”(Whipple, 21) The Salem Register late in January 1861 wrote: “The Salem public is to be regaled by a first-class concert by the very best talent. Mr. B. J. Lang, our townsman, deservedly eminent as a Pianist-everybody knows that-announces” a concert with the Mendelssohn Quintette Club and the “Amphions of this city-a new musical association, not yet known to fame, but soon to become so-consisting of twelve gentlemen of Salem, who, under the instruction of Mr. Lang, have been practicing Mendelssohn’s celebrated Four-Part Songs.” (Salem Register (January 28, 1861): 2, GB) No date for the concert was given, but as twelve singers were mentioned for this concert and as Whipple mentioned twenty singers, there may have been two concerts. Another Salem paper announced this concert as being the Thursday evening next. Not only were the Mendelssohn Quintette Club and the Amphions to perform, but also Miss Lang. (Salem Observer (January 26, 1861): 2, GB) The Civil War “thinned the ranks of the organization and it was dissolved in 1862.” (Whipple, Op. cit.)

MARRIAGE TO FRANCES MORSE BURRAGE.

On October 10, 1861, when he was 23, B. J. married Frances Morse Burrage (Dec. 18, 1839-Oct. 15, 1934) who was two years younger than he. “Benjamin Johnson Lang did, in fact, marry into the upper class. His wife, Frances Burrage, came from an upper-class family,” and they were listed in the Social Register of Boston. (Blunsom, 28) Blunsom, using material from Frances Lang’s Diaries, describes her as: “Frances Lang was not merely a housewife. Like most upper-class women, she was involved in a variety of cultural and charitable endeavors: the Browning Society, Mrs. Fields’ Dante Club, a literary club called Uncut Leaves, and visiting the ”incurables.” Moreover, she was steeped in Boston’s musical life: hosting receptions for visiting musicians, attending rehearsals of her husband and daughter, going to concerts almost every night. Indeed, Frances Lang was an accomplished musician in her own right, having studied with B. J. Lang before their marriage and at times being asked to critique young singers.”(Blunsom, 55) B. J. had known Frances for ten years before their marriage as he had taught her piano beginning in August 1851-there is a letter dated Aug. 16, 1851 to Mrs. Burrage stating that he will contact her soon about lessons. (BPL Ms. Lang, Vol. 24, 2c) If this dating is correct, he would have been 14. A signed receipt from B. J. dated Oct. 7, 1855 lists six pieces “Miss Fanny Burrage” was buying for her lessons, and this may reflect his teaching style. There were Mazurkas by Chopin and Henselt, a Polka by Dodworth, and three other pieces with no composer named which added up to $2.63. This would probably be the repertoire for one-quarter of study as it matches another bill dated Oct. 20, 1858 that charged $20 for instruction and $2 for etudes and music. (BPL MS. Lang, Box 27, Folder 24, No. 4) Margaret wrote the following about her mother’s first piano lesson. “At the first lesson she said-‘Mr. Lang, I want to say two things. First-I will not practice, second, I shall never play anything which has more than four sharps!’ Mr. Lang was 20 at this time and well known as a teacher.” (BPL Ms. Lang, Vol. 24, No. 2) These two receipts bookend Lang’s study time in Europe that is always listed as 1855 to 1858. The Oct. 7, 1855 receipt implies that B. J. planned to teach Frances for the Fall Quarter of October/November/December while the Oct. 20, 1858 receipt shows that he immediately resumed lessons with Frances upon his return from Europe. What made B. J. leave for Europe so impetuously, and more importantly, how was this time in Europe financed?

“Wedding Ambrotype of Benjamin Johnson Lang and Margaret Burrage, c. 1859.” The actual date was: October 10, 1861. Where Margaret came from is a mystery as her middle name was Morse. The image was darkened but his high forehead and style of beard (see his c. 1862 photo under Topic “Teacher and Pupil” in Chapter 2, Part 2 for the same image), and the relative heights (B. J. at 5′ 7″ listed on his 1860 Passport Application) seem to reinforce the names cited. BPL-Digital Commonwealth.

Frances’ parents were Johnson Carter Burrage and Emeline Brigham Burrage. In the 1850 Census, the Burrage family was listed as Johnson Burrage, aged 34, Emeline Burrage, aged 35, Frances, aged 9, Edward, aged 8, Hubert, aged 4, and Helen, aged 2 with two servants. Mr. Burrage was listed as a merchant with a value of real estate owned of $40,000. In comparison, in the same year, B. J.’s father was listed as a music teacher with a value of real estate owned of $3,000. (Ancestry.com) Frances was well regarded as a singer though she never became a professional. Their three surviving children inherited their musical aptitudes: the first child, Harry, “died in infancy while B. J. and Frances were in Europe.” (DuBois e-mail, May 21, 2006) The child’s full name was Harry Allston Lang, and he had been born in Boston on October 4, 1864 and he died in August 1866 in Hingham, Massachusetts. (New Boston Town History No. 199, February 11, 1914) The first surviving child was Margaret Ruthven Lang, born in Boston (Nov. 27, 1867 – May 30, 1972) and known primarily as a composer; next was Rosamond Lang Galacar also born in Boston (Feb. 6, 1878 – Aug. 11, 1971) who was regarded as a brilliant sight-reader at the piano; and finally, Malcolm Burrage Lang born in Lynn, MA. (June 14, 1881 – Mar. 7, 1972), known as a pianist and organist. Mrs. Lang’s genes were passed on to her children: she died at age 94, and Margaret at 104, Rosamond at 93, and Malcolm at 90: all three children died within ten months of each other.

8 Brimmer Street, owned by Abby Davis when the Langs were living in Otis Place. Walker’s 1883 Map of Boston, BPL Collection, Wikepedia, August 8, 2013.

Life in B. J.’s household was described by his daughter Margaret as very regimented. “My father’s breakfast was the same every morning. We couldn’t keep cooks very long. Breakfast, and it had to be prepared to father’s specifications, was cold cracked wheat in a mold and a cornbread. Then he would walk across the Public garden to his studio on Newbury St.” (Miller, Globe article) Another aspect of B. J’s character is shown by the story related by the singer and composer, Clara Kathleen Rogers: “It was well known to all his friends, and set down to his credit, that Lang had never taken a stimulant of any kind-that his one and only dissipation was ice-cream, which brings to mind a certain evening at our house when Anton Seidl, the Conductor of the Metropolitan Opera, and Krebhiel, the famous critic, had been dining with us after an afternoon lecture on Wagner, delivered by Krebhiel, with musical illustrations by Seidl. We had invited a score or so of musical friends to meet them after dinner, when we improvised a little music, consisting largely of Wagner’s songs, in which Seidl accompanied me. I had arranged on this particular occasion to have light refreshments served upstairs instead of descending to the dining room for supper, and orders were given to serve them punctually at half-past ten. At this not very opportune moment some unaccountable impulse seized on Seidl to seat himself at the piano, — under the spell of Wagner — and play excerpts from Parsifal , which proved to be quite lengthy! A halt was called to the handing around of the ices, and there sat Mr. Lang, at that particular moment more interested in ice cream than Parsifal, with his eyes tragically fixed on those frozen works of art gradually melting into a rainbow-tinted liquid! Poor Lang! Like unto the ices my heart melted to Him.” (Rogers, Two Lives, 147-48)

HYMN OF PRAISE PREMIER.

On January 30, 1862 Lang conducted the First Boston performance of Mendelssohn’s Hymn of Praise at Old South Church using only an organ four-hand accompaniment. He had organized a choir of quartet singers totaling sixteen singers from various (unnamed) churches, and the soloist was the bass J. Q. Wetherbee. Dwight reported “The Hymn of Praise without an orchestra loses much; especially the introductory Symphony, a long instrumental work of several movements, which was represented by a four-hand arrangement for the organ, in playing which Mr. Lang was assisted by Mr. J. C. D. Parker. It was played well, but for want of other instruments, violins especially proved tame and tedious. The choruses were all remarkably well sung by the small but effective choir of four voices on a part, and the accompaniments were very skillfully suggested —to say the least—by Mr. Lang’s combinations of the organ stops, and such treatment in whole and in detail as showed a thorough study of the music. There was some excellent solo singing too… Before the Hymn, a short miscellaneous First Part was given. (Dwight (February 8, 1862): 358) This First Part included Fest Fantasy on a Theme of Haydn (for organ) by Koehler, a bass song by Mr. Wetherbee, and Andante from the Fifth Symphony by Beethoven. Probably the performance of the Mendelssohn given a month later, March 1, 1862, by the Handel and Haydn Society “with the entire Philharmonic Orchestra” in “Commemoration of the recent NATIONAL VICTORIES” was at Lang’s suggestion.

Photo from: Historic New England. Dated c. 1862.

YOUTHFUL VOICES.

In 1862 Youthful Voices: A Collection of Hymns and Tunes For the use of Sunday Schools was published by Walker, Wise and Co. for the Committee of the Boston Sunday School Teachers Institute. It contained 102 different tunes and the “Music [was] edited by Benjamin J. Lang.” In the Preface, it said that this book “contains little that is new, but has not been prepared without much pains-taking labor. The depositories of Sunday School books and papers have been carefully researched, as well as every attainable collection of Sacred Music. A large body of secular music has also been explored and brought into service, when it could be used without introducing disturbing associations; and it is believed that all of the hymns and tunes finally chosen, possess some fitness for the purpose for which they were taken.” There were indexes of tune names and first lines, but no listings of composers or authors. However, it is possible that Frances contributed four tunes. Frances was not named in full, but the citations were “F. M. L.,” her married name- Frances Morse Lang. (Copy, Johnston collection) This collection seems to have been a second edition as there is also an edition with the copyright date of 1856. (WorldCat)

FIRST WALPURGIS NIGHT.

B. J. Lang made his first real appearance as a conductor with the first Boston performance of Mendelssohn’s First Walpurgis Night with chorus, soloists, and orchestra on Saturday evening, May 3, 1862 at Boston’s Music Hall; he was now 24. As the work was not known in the city, he presented it twice at the same concert. Pre-concert publicity was good. In early April under “Musical Gossip,” the Boston Musical Times printed this notice: “Mr. B. J. Lang, our excellent young pianist, has undertaken a ”labor of love,” for which he is deserving the highest commendation. It is the public performance of Mendelssohn’s splendid composition, Walpurgis Nacht. Mr. Lang has gathered together a carefully selected choir of 100 voices, and a full orchestra, and we may confidently expect the first performance in Boston of this work will be most excellent.” (BMT (April 5, 1862): 19) Lang wrote in the program book: “The enthusiasm which a performance of The First Walpurgis Night has invariably created among musicians, the interest it awakens among the most careless concert goers, and the fact that this beautiful composition has never been heard in Boston before form the only apology Mr. Lang can offer for giving two entire performance of it on the same evening. He ventures on this unprecedented step confident that it is amply justified by the novelty and beauty of the music.” (Fox, Lang Papers, 6) The program listed “A Grand Orchestra, a Select Chorus of 150 voices” and the soloists were “Mrs. Kempton, Mr. S. W. Langmaid, Mr. W. H. Wadleigh, Mr. J. Q. Wetherbee, and Mr. Ryder.” The program was arranged beginning with the new work, then a Grand Duo on Themes from Norma by Thalberg for two pianofortes played by Lang and Miss Mary Fay, then the Overture to Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream Music and ending with the repeat of First Walpurgis Night. Dwight’s article about the coming performance began: “We are to have the privilege tonight (thanks to the enterprise of Mr. B. J. Lang) of listening to an important work by a great master, which is new to us.” Dwight acknowledges that that work “is not equal in importance to his own greatest works… but it is a thoroughly genial, original, delightful composition, full of charming, of startling and of grand effects; a most successful musical translation of Goethe’s curious poem.” (Dwight (May 3, 1862): 38 and 9)

Dwight’s review of a week later reported: “The Music Hall appeared filled, and with such an audience as only the expectation of something really fresh and good could have called out-those who respond only to best appeals… The second performance naturally was the best, the singers having become more at home in it. The solo singers, especially, improved upon their first trial of their voices in the large hall and in a position rather new to several of them. The chorus of 150 voices, all young, fresh, telling, (with no dummies), and finely balanced, sounded remarkably well throughout and was always up to the mark. We have seldom heard so fine a body of soprani and contralti in any of our Oratorio or choral performances. It shows that counting up voices by hundreds is not much use unless they are effective; 150 effective ones are more to the purpose than twice their number as we sometimes hear them. The orchestra did its work well in the exceedingly ingenious, descriptive, difficult accompaniments; and Mr. Lang himself, the youthful conductor, appeared very well at ease and master of his position, new to him as the position was. There was unity of design, rightly conceived, and carried through with energy, in this somewhat bold enterprise of his; and the result was in the highest degree creditable to him… His conductorship, however, was remarkable for a beginning. Practice will bring more self-possession, and more liberty to pay regard to light and shade. Everybody came away thanking Mr. Lang, for a rich evening and a fresh experience.” (Dwight (May 10, 1862): 46) Twelve years later the same work was programmed for the debut concert on November 19, 1874 of the newly formed Cecilia choir in its inaugural season as the choral adjunct to the Harvard Musical Association.

HANDEL AND HAYDN SOCIETY.

The early 1860s saw a low point in the finances of the Handel and Haydn Society. The debt of the 1861-62 season was so great that both Zerrahn and Lang “readily agreed to retain office without fixed salary and be content with whatever small balance might remain in the treasury after the expenses were paid. (At the end of the year, July 1, 1862, they got $41.68 each!).” (Perkins/Dwight, History, 199) One positive note was the election of a new President of the Society. “After the unanimous nomination of Dr. J. Baxter Upham for the office of president, the meeting was adjourned to June 4, when Dr. Upham – a gentleman of culture and large public spirit, a graduate of Dartmouth College in 1842, and of the Harvard Medical School in 1847, a gentleman to whom Boston was indebted more than to any other for the enterprise which built the Music Hall, and secured the noble organ which was soon to adorn it and complete it, and from whose enthusiasm the cause of music in our public schools was still receiving such an impulse – was elected president, with no change of other officers.” (Ibid)

GOTTSCHALK AND LANG.

 

In the fall of 1862, Lang was hired by Louis Moreau Gottschalk who was so impressed with his playing that he included him as a “collaborator for a series of twenty concerts, in which compositions for two pianos were the features.” (Transcript Obit, May 9, 1909) The connection between Gottschalk and Lang was possibly made by Lang’s early piano teacher, Francis G. Hill, who was a friend of Gottschalk (see letters from Gottschalk to Hill in Notes of a Pianist). These concerts were part of an incredible tour for Gottschalk beginning in New York City in February 1862 and ending in California in September 1865 during which he “estimated that he had given some 1,100 American recitals and traveled some 95,000 miles. During this time he did more than any other American musician to obliterate the line between high and popular art. (New Grove article by Lowens and Starr, 200)

The Boston Musical Times announced the coming concerts in this manner: “Gottschalk is coming at last. His concerts will commence on the 17th. How he has been prevailed upon to break his self-imposed barrier of hate of Boston, we do not know nor care; but can only congratulate him on his good sense in doing so. We doubt not that he will be received in the most friendly manner, and add a large ”Boston quota” to his already immense list of admirers-particularly among the gentler sex.” (BMT (October 4, 1862): 118) This hatred of Boston was probably based on his appearances nine years before where “he imagined he was received with unaccountable coldness.”(BMT (November 1, 1862): 134) In October 1862, Dwight wrote an extensive article about “Gottschalk’s Concerts” in the middle of the five concerts that the pianist had announced. The article did acknowledge that Gottschalk was a fine pianist: his “touch is the most remarkable we ever heard; in power, in fineness, in free vibratory singing quality it leaves nothing to be desired.” Then Dwight reviewed Gottschalk’s compositions using phrases such as “fine finger tricks…a freak…jack o’lantern freaks in it.” Dwight wrote of the William Tell Overture arranged for two pianos with Lang at the one piano playing the original parts and Gottschalk at the other piano “now trilling and twiddlidg, with senseless, painful repetition, in those piccolo octaves, now startling by a tremendous rush upon the lowest bass-and this was the arrangement! …Our excellent pianist, Mr. Lang, we pitied him.” (Dwight (October 18, 1862): 231)

Chickering Hall diagram.

However, not all agreed with Dwight. After a tepid response to the first concert, Gottschalk’s success was so great during this October series of concerts that “Chickering’s Hall was found to be too small for the increasing numbers, and the Melodean was secured, and this spacious [Music] Hall could not accommodate the audience at the last concert. (Ibid) The announcement for the Boston “Second Grand Concert” on Monday, Oct. 11, 1862 included the phrases, “Mr. B. J. Lang, The Distinguished Pianist, has consented to assist Mr. Gottschalk in this Concert.” They ended the concert with the four-hand version of Ojos Criollos; earlier they had played Marche Funebre by Gottschalk. During the first part of the concert they played Grand Duet from William Tell as arranged by Gottschalk. Miss Caliste Huntley and Mr. J. Eichberg, violinist, were also assisting artists. Tickets were $1. The announcement for Gottschalk’s “Most Positively Last Concert in Boston” on Saturday, Oct. 18, 1862 (which had to be moved to the Melodean Theater in order to accommodate the expected crowds with reserved seats at 75 cents and unreserved seats at 50 cents), also said “Mr. B. J. Lang, The Distinguished Pianist, has consented to assist Mr. Gottschalk in his Last Concert.” They performed the Duett di Bravura on Themes from Trovatore for two pianos that had been originally composed for performance with Mr. Sigismond Thalberg, and which was “performed with immense success, for the first time in New York on the 25th. of December 1856. Mr. Lang will perform which was played by Mr. Thalberg.” (HMA Program Collection) Doyle quotes the New York Times critic as saying: The fourth piece on the programme was the great attraction of the evening… a grand duet on themes from Il Trovatore, composed expressly for this occasion (Dec. 26, 1856) by Mr. Gottschalk and performed by that gentleman and Mr. Thalberg. Bravura pieces of this kind do not invite criticism. They are written for a certain purpose, and the test of their excellence is the success they achieve. Judged by that standard Mr. Gottschalk’s duet is an extraordinary production. The Audience was electrified with it, and, notwithstanding its length and difficulty, demanded an encore.” (Doyle, 302 and 03)

As he appeared 1850-59 and when Lang worked with him. This would probably be a publicity photo for Chickering pianos. NYPL Digital, accessed November 18, 2020.

This Boston concert also ended with Gottschalk’s Ojos Criollos for two pianos. (HMA Program Collection) Gottschalk then went on to play in Norwich on October 20 and New York City on October 21. Dwight’s review of these five October concerts included remarks about Gottschalk’s arrangement of the William Tell Overture. “It consisted of an ordinary piano arrangement, played, with certain omissions before agreed upon, &c., by our excellent pianist, Mr. Lang (we pitied him), while the arranger, at his more brilliant instrument, piled upon it such tours de force as served to illustrate his own virtuosity rather than the overture, now trilling and twiddling, with senseless, painful repetition, in those piccolo octaves, now startling by a tremendous rush upon the lower bass,-and this was the ”arrangement”!… This was simply abominable in an artistic view.” However, Dwight did admit that Gottschalk was a fine pianist. “He is first of all and mainly a pianist. All that he does begins with the Piano; if he invent, if he compose, the inspiration seems to come from that instrument…He has certainly a most rare power of bringing out the tone, all the best qualities of that often disparaged, but really noble instrument… His mastery of that instrument, his identification of his own will with it, is the great wonder in him; this is what strikes his audience first and last.” (Dwight (October 18, 1862): 231)

The Chicago critic George P. Upton described Gottschalk as having “an extremely delicate touch, and a singing quality which I have never heard excelled. And yet he had great power when it was needed, for he was a very strong man, notwithstanding his delicate appearance. Personally he was very fascinating. He had beautiful hands, and was as vain of them as Artemus Ward used to be of his. He had a fastidious way of encasing them in the most immaculate of gloves, which it took him some time to remove before he began to play. This was not an affectation, as many thought. He said it gave him time to compose himself and get at ease. As he was very shy, he did not make many intimate friends.” When Upton asked him about his repertoire choices, Gottschalk reply was that “the dear public don’t want to hear me play it [classical repertoire]. People would rather hear” my own pieces. “Besides, there are plenty of pianists who can play that music as well or better than I can, but none of them can play my music half so well as I can. And what difference will it make a thousand years hence, anyway?” (Upton, 77and 78)

The success of these first Boston concerts led to a repeat set the next month, and we find an announcement for Saturday, Nov. 15, 1862, saying that “In consequence of the crowded state of the Hall at the Concert on Wednesday Evening, and the large number of persons who were unable to gain admittance,” Mr. Gottschalk will give “One More concert.” The soprano Miss Carlotta Patti and B. J. were the assisting artists with Mr. S. Behrens listed as Musical Director and Conductor; the Duett di Bravura was included again. Gottschalk’s Notes of a Pianist mentions further concerts in Boston. “November 30-Concert at Boston. Very great success… December 2-Concert at Boston. Great success… December 3-Matinee in the “Music Hall” with the grand organ. L___ plays remarkably.” (Gottschalk, 309) One presumes that L___ refers to B. J. Gottschalk appreciated not only the Boston organ, “That glorious monument,” but also its concert halls. “Boston possesses what New York has not yet contained, two concert halls, which are in no wise inferior to any of the largest concert halls in the world, and which, as to acoustics, I consider superior to the best of this continent and of the old world (Tremont Temple and Music Hall).” (Gottschalk, 311) In a letter dated February 26, 1864, he raves that “Boston… is par excellence the aristocratic city. It pretends to be the most intellectual in the United States. It is not to be denied that it has made enormous progress in the sciences and arts. The university at Cambridge is the most celebrated in the United States. Her poets are known the world over. She has for eight years possessed the largest organ in America… Boston has six theaters and three concert halls, two of which can seat thirty-five hundred persons. It is in one of these, the Tremont, that I gave my concerts. It is in my opinion the best for hearing and the most magnificent concert hall in the world. (Tara, From Psalm to Symphony, 112)[cix]

LINCOLN EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION CONCERT.

On January 1, 1863, Lang (now aged 25) shared with Carl Zerrahn the honor of conducting a concert in celebration of Lincoln’s “Emancipation Proclamation.” The original proclamation had been issued on September 22, 1862, and it declared the freedom of all slaves in any state of the Confederacy that did not return to Union control by January 1, 1863, while the second part of the document listed the specific states which were affected-this second part was issued on January 1, 1863. The “Grand Jubilee Concert” at the Music Hall with “tickets at $1.00, or 50 cents, according to location,” was advertised for 3 PM [Dwight says noon], and was in “Honor of the Day! The Proclamation! The Emancipation of the Slave! The Spirit of the Fathers and the Constitution,” with “the proceeds of the sale of tickets to be appropriated to the benefit of the freed slaves, under the auspices of the Educational Commission” among whom were H. W. Longfellow, Edward E. Hale, R. W. Emerson, and O. W. Holmes. (HMA Program Collection) “Lang rehearsed and conducted the choral pieces. Ralph Waldo Emerson read from one of his own poems which included the line, “God said: I am tired of kings!” “Lang prepared and directed the choral numbers.” (Herald Obit (April 5, 1909): 8, GB) “Lang threw himself into it [rehearsals] with fervor, raising, drilling, and leading the vocal forces…Although the Handel and Haydn Society, owing to political division (or at least lack of unanimity) within its ranks, could not lend its aid officially, by name, yet it will be worth remembering with some satisfaction that, without a Handel and Haydn Society, the important choral features of that concert would have been impractical.” (H & H History, Vol. 1, 207)

Dwight recorded more details: “Emerson first read his famous Boston Hymn for prologue; and the music consisted of the Egmont Overture; the solo and chorus from the Hymn of Praise, ”Watchman, will the Night soon pass?” (Mr. Kreissmann, vocal soloist) and the response, ”The Night is Departing,” in which the clear clarion tones of Miss Houston (Mrs. West) made a thrilling impression; Beethoven’s E-flat Concerto, played by Otto Dresel; Dr. Holmes’s Army Hymn, composed for solo [again Mr. Kreissmann] and chorus by Dresel; Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus, and the overture to William Tell, all music up to the true pitch and sense of the occasion.” (Dwight, History of Boston) Also listed in the program was the chorus “He, watching over Israel” from Elijah and Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Obviously the Emancipation Concert meant a lot to B. J. as a Lang family story relates that when he heard about the “Proclamation,” he grabbed a boy to pump the organ and rushed into Old South Church where he began to play the Te Deum in celebration. At the same time the minister of the church was ascending the pulpit to recite the Jubilate, his expression of celebration. (Amy DuBois Interview)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 01. (Part 1) BL and BJL: BIRTH. ORGAN POSITIONS. SC.(G) WC. TOPICS: B. J. LANG-B. J.’S STUDIO ORGANS.

  • BENJAMIN LANG AND BENJAMIN JOHNSON LANG: BIRTH. ORGAN POSITIONS. SC. (G), W.C.
Word Count-13,058.
        Benjamin Johnson Lang (1837-1909) could be seen as the Leonard Bernstein of his time. Both were conductors,  solo pianists, writers and lecturers, champions for new music, and men well acquainted with all the musical schools of their time; men who influenced the musical growth of their part of the country for over forty years. “In fact, a history of the life and activities of Mr. Lang for three decades or more would to a considerable extent chronicle the musical life of Boston for the same period.” (Hill, 9) Louis Elson expressed the opinion in 1904: “Benjamin Johnson Lang is one of the most typically American figures that we can find in our musical history. He is a man of enterprise beyond European comprehension. Lang is so thoroughly interwoven with musical progress of every kind in the United States that there is scarcely any classification of musicians in which his name would not fitly find a place. It is not an exaggeration to state that no man has done more for the educational advance in America in music than B. J. Lang. The time will come when Americans will recognize him as among the very foremost of those who created musical taste among us.” (Elson, 261) “He was an antidote to the conservatism of Dwight and Dresel, introducing many new works to Bostonians.” (Tara, 41) Amy Beach, writing in 1937 to Arthur Foote remembered: “the time from 1880 to 1900 was a golden time.” (Block, 284)
       Philip Hale. the leading Boston critic of his time, wrote two days after Lang’s death: “Mr. Lang will be sorely missed in Boston…He would have made his mark in any profession…Versatile, busied as a teacher, pianist, organist, conductor, he found time to establish and maintain two choral societies that for years have reflected credit on the city and are still flourishing [written in 1909, the Apollo club-men’s voices, and The Cecilia Society-mixed voices, still are active in Boston today-2015]; he trained many persons directly and indirectly in a love for that which is best in music. He was constantly consulted; his advice was respected and followed…It is not too much to say that Mr. Lang was the leading, the dominating influence in the musical life of this city for many years…It is impossible to think of the present taste for music in this town without also thinking of the man who was largely instrumental in forming and in shaping this taste…Today there is no man that will fill his place.” (Herald (April 6, 1909): 6)
Thirty-four years later, in 1943, Hamilton C. MacDougall who was Professor Emeritus at Wellesley College asked, “Why is there no biography of B. J, Lang.” (The Diapason (July 1, 1943): 13) MacDougall had studied with Lang for two seasons and had been the piano accompanist of the Apollo Club for one season. There was immediate interest in a Lang book with Gordan Belch Nevin ready to order a copy even without the usual “professional discount.” Nevin had studied with J. Warren Andrews who had been a Lang pupil, and Andrews spoke “of Lang many times with profound respect and very evident appreciation of the pioneering that he did.” (Ibid)
  • TOPICS:
  • Benjamin Johnson Lang.
  • Boston: 1850.
  • Father Benjamin’s Businesses.
  • Chickering Agent.
  • Early Piano Teachers.
  • Benjamin and B. J. in a joint concert.
  • Chickering piano for Master Lang.
  • Organ Positions: Early.
  • Salem Academy of Music and Salem Choral Society.
  • Bible Songs and Youthful Voices.
  • European Study. Three Years or Not.
  • Alfred Jaell.
  • Organ Positions: Old South Church. 1859-1864. South Congregational Church. 1864-1888. King’s Chapel. 1888-1909. B. J.’s Studio Organs.
BENJAMIN JOHNSON LANG.
BJLang_ChildhoodLang as a young man. Courtesy of the Trustees of the Boston Public Library/Rare Books. Our Benjamin was the third Lang to have that name.

(1) His grandfather had emigrated from Scotland in the early 1800s settling in Salem Massachusetts (Benjamin Lang Death Certificate)

(2) B. J.’s father, named only Benjamin Lang, was born in Salem on January 14, 1816 (The Death Certificate states that B. J.’s father’s father was born in Scotland-no information was given for the mother). In 1816 Salem was a small town of 15,000. His Death Certificate lists the date of death as December 11, 1909, age 93, eight months after his son B. J. had died. The immediate cause of death was pneumonia, but he had been at Worcester State Hospital suffering from senile dementia for the previous ten years. He had at least one sister, Mrs. Sarah Jaynes [the “yn” being wrongly transcribed for “m”] (Diary 2, March 17, 1878) A news story in 1899 calls her Sarah A. Lang married to a Mr. James, and gives her age which puts her birthday in 1814.                                                                                                                 Father Lang’s first music teacher was the Rev. Jacob Hood, a Congregational minister who was also a hymn writer. His granddaughter, Helen Hood and B. J’s daughter Margaret Ruthven Lang were to become good friends c. 75 years later. Helen dedicated her song, A Disappointment, published in 1883, to B. J. (Johnston Collection) In the 1890s both Helen and Margaret were known for the songs that they had written. (Herald (January 1, 1894): 28, GB)

(3) Our Benjamin Johnson Lang was born in Cambridgeport, MA (Vital Records to 1850-1st. Baptist Society) on December 28, 1837 and died in Boston on April 4, 1909. However, B. J. was not baptized until August 9, 1846. This took place at Crombie Street Church in Salem, and his sister, Henrietta Maria was baptized at the same time. The Harvard Musical Association was also founded in 1837. (Vrabel,135)

       Hannah Breed Learock Lang. Furnished by  Joshua Galacar.

B. J.’s mother was Hannah Breed Learock (New Boston Town History), born in Salem, as had been her father, John, and her mother, Hannah. (Hannah Lang Death Certificate) John Learock of Salem had married Hannah Asenath Breed on March 20, 1816 in Salem. It would seem that Hannah was from Lynn as the “Intention to Marry” had been filed in Lynn two months before on January 14, 1816. B. J.’s father and Hannah Breed Learock were married on August 9, 1837, (MA-Vital records) by Rev. Dr. Brown Emerson, Pastor of the South Church of Salem. (Marriage Cert.) The Marriage Certificate gives no information about either of their parents nor any information about their birthplaces or dates. A handwritten note added to an 1893 article on B. J. added, “His mother was a woman of strong religious faith. Strict, with a vigorous love of absolute truth-the bond of mutual love, respect, and sympathy, which united them, was one of the strongest influences in his life, and the most beautiful. His vigorous habits of abstinence and morality were established in his early youth and retained to the end.” (Article in Music, August 1893) B. J. never used spirits, tobacco, tea or coffee! (Globe (December 22, 1907): 33) However, the marriage date was August 9, 1837, and B. J. was born on December 28, 1837, just four months later!

The children of Benjamin and Hannah were:

(1) Benjamin Johnson Lang – born December 28, 1837 and died April 4, 1909.

(2) Henrietta Maria (Harriet) – born August 9, 1846. Within the family she was called Etta (B. J.’s Diary) There is a photo of B. J. and a younger sister in the October 1909 issue of The Musician published by Oliver Ditson-they do not seem to be nine years apart in age. In 1859 she was listed as a solo dancer 9 (pas seul) in a Benefit Show for an actor, James Pilgrim; she

would have been only 13 years old! (Transcript (February 11, 1859): 3, GB) At a concert that B. J. produced in Salem in January 1861 which included the Mendelssohn Quintette Club and his male voice choir, the Amphions, a “Miss Lang” was a soloist-this was B. J.’s sister as a review gives her name as “Miss H. M. Lang.” (Salem Observer (February 2, 1861): 2, GB) She would have been 15 years old. A report in 1899 mentioned that her married name was Mrs. Millar, and that she was “well known in musical circles.” [Lang Senior’s Murder Story on William Wardwell site] She had married Mr. Leslie Millar on August 10, 1874 in Milton, where the whole family was spending the summer, just a couple of weeks before her mother’s death. (Francis Diary, 1874)

(3) Charles Franklin – born April 23, 1848 to Benj [ami]n, musician, (Salem Births, Deaths  and Marriages, 508), and died just short of a year later on April 2, 1849. He was listed as the son  of “Benja[min] and Hanah B.” and the cause was “brain fever.” (Commonwealth of Massachusetts Death Certificate, D0079)

(4) Girl-unnamed – born June 23 (Salem Register, June 30, 1851) or 24 (Geneology Online, July 19, 2013) 1851. Died June 24, 1851 (Salem Register (June 30, 1851): 3) or June 26, 1851 (Gloucester Telegraph (July 2, 1851): 2)

B. J.’s father was known as a piano maker, music teacher and organist of some prominence in the area, but the 1850 Census lists his occupation only as Music Teacher, and the value of his real estate as $3,000. A  fire on Monday afternoon February 10, 1851 at 2 PM damaged the inside of a house at #49 Lafayette Street “owned by Benjamin Lang, music teacher, and occupied by himself and Samuel Kehew, Jr..” It “was badly damaged in the interior by the fire yesterday forenoon, together with the furniture of the families.” (Boston Transcript from Salem Gazette, (February 11, 1851): 2, GB) The Salem Register added that the exterior of the house was “very little injured by the fire… Two valuable pianos were got out, without much injury. There was insurance for $1,000 on the house and $700 on the furniture.” (Salem Register (February 13, 1851): 2)
BOSTON’S SIZE: 1850.
Boston: population, 136,881, 50% growth in 10 years, 3rd. largest city in the USA (after New York and Baltimore); 46,677 foreign born, 35,287 from Ireland; 77 newspapers=12 dailies, 58 weeklies and 7 semi-weeklies.  (Vrabel, 154 and 156)
FATHER BENJAMIN’S BUSINESSES.

The years 1841 and 1844 were both periods of intense advertising for Benjamin Lang. In 1841 he was running ads in both the Salem Gazette and the Salem Register offering “Instruction in Vocal Music” either in private or in classes of two to four. Lang “guaranteed” that they would learn to read music better in one-quarter with him than they would in a “common singing school” in three-quarters. Lang also offered instruction in Piano and Thorough-Bass. Another part of his business was the sale or rental of pianos from “one of the finest manufactories in Boston.” Finally, he was also a piano tuner. The ad listed that people could contact him at his residence, “No. 12 Liberty Street,” or by leaving word at Mr. F. Putnam’s Bookstore. Lang seems to have run the ad in the Gazette, possibly weekly, from January to October 1841. The same ad ran in the Register.  (Salem Register, (January 21, 1841): 3) A June 1841 ad gave the rates for lessons: for singing, $6 [per quarter]; for piano, $8; for both singing and piano, $10.  (Salem Register (June 21, 1841): 3) The ad also mentioned that he had
taken a room in Mechanic Hall (upstairs)” for his teaching studio.

Lang also ran Singing Schools. In August and September 1841 he advertised that he would “open a School for instruction in Vocal Music, on WEDNESDAY Evening, Sept. 16, in the Tabernacle Vestry in Marlboro Street. Terms: Ladies $1.50 and Gentlemen $2.00. Tickets can be had at Bookstores and at J. S. Harrison’s. For particulars enquire of the subscriber [Lang] at his Music Room, Mechanic Hall.” (Salem Register (September 16, 1841): 3) In the Gazette a Letter to the Editor was published a week after the first class. It was signed “Mechanic,” and it lauded Lang as a teacher and also mentioned how study had improved Lang’s own voice over the last four years. (Salem Gazette (September 17, 1841): 3)

“Old South Church, Salem, Mass. Corner of Cambridge and Chestnut Streets. Built 1804-5. Destroyed by fire Dec. 19, 1903. Based on models of churches by Sir Christopher Wren of London. This card was published by Metropolitan News Co., Boston of a photo c. 1891 taken by Frank Cousins. (Salem, Ma., Vol. II, 11) Johnston Collection.

There were at least two other teachers offering singing lessons at this time. In the Chapel of South Church, Jacob Hood taught a school on Monday evenings at 7 PM with terms of $2.00 for Gentlemen and $1.00 for ladies. Hood offered the first class free so that pupils could see his system of teaching, “and show, by its practical results some of its particular advantages.” (Salem Register (September 16, 1841): 3) Hood also offered a class for children on Wednesday afternoons at 2:30 PM at his house at 15 Lynde Street.  A Mr. E. Valentine offered a Singing School in the Union Hall [possibly in South Danvers] on Wednesday nights beginning September 15th. at 7:30 PM; no rates were mentioned. (Salem Register (September 16, 1841): 3) Fifteen years later (1856) Valentine was offering a Singing School on Wednesday nights in the Lecture Room of the Normal School. Terms for ladies were $1 and for gentlemen $1.50. In 1856 Lang was advertising his Singing Class on Thursday nights. (Salem Register (October 23, 1856): 3)

In 1844 the ads were for his piano tuning services. The rate quoted was: “Pianos tuned by the year for $2.00” As in 1841, orders could be left at Mr. F. Putnam’s Bookshop, 198 Essex Street, or at his house (he had moved), 34 Summer, corner of Chestnut Street. Lang also listed his teaching rates-they were the same as in 1841. The ad ended with the note that “As he keeps on hand Pianos for sale and to let, pupils not having instruments, can be accommodated with daily practice, at his house, for a small additional charge.” (Salem Register, (September 23, 1844): 1) This ad ran in the Register at least from March until October 1844, sometimes on consecutive weeks. There was another piano dealer, Ann R. Bray at #6 Federal Street, but she only had a few instruments at any one time. By 1859 she had moved to 76 Federal Street, and besides musical instruments, she also sold “rich winter coats…ladies’ fall and winter cloaks…a splendid assortment of…brown and bleached cottons, flannels.” (Salem Register (November 14, 1859): 3) In 1857 she was offering Seraphines for sale or let. (Salem Register (April 27, 1857): 1) A Seraphine was a keyboard instrument that was a cross between an accordion and a reed organ.

In 1851 Joseph B. Wheaton, who listed himself as a pupil of Francis G. Hill (who would later become B. J.’s teacher), took ads saying that he intended to establish himself as a teacher of Piano Forte. His teaching studio was on the second floor of Mechanic Hall (entrance on Crombie Street). Also advertising at this time as an organist and pianist was Francis Upton who taught at Room No. (?), 98 Bridge Street, Salem. Among his references was the Boston organist, George F. Hayter for whom the young B. J. played. (Salem Register (May 12, 1851): 3)

In September 1852 Lang advertised that he “had resumed his profession as a teacher of music.” (Salem Register (September 9, 1852): 2) This was to include instruction on the piano and organ, and also singing lessons, both in classes and also privately. Another ad that same day announced that Messrs. Emerson and Harris would also open a Singing School within a week or two. (Ibid)

Around 1852, when B. J. was 15, “he began to give lessons himself, for, his father’s health breaking down, he took upon himself to carry on his” father’s work. (Globe Obit. (April 5, 1909): 1) Or, as it was noted on Lang’s 70th. Birthday, “When a mere boy in Salem, his father being taken suddenly ill, young Lang was at a moment’s notice obliged to take so many pupils that every day and every hour were devoted to teaching.” (Globe, Op. cit.) No reference ever mentions when or if this burden was lifted, but the ad mentioned above with the wording of “resuming his profession” would seem to indicate that the spring of 1852 was when B. J. took over. An entry for December 11 mentions that because Father was ill, “Some pupils” were transferred to B. J. (Diary, December 11. 1852) By March 28th., “Father recovered after 5 weeks of rheumatism kept him in the house,” (Diary, March 28, 1853) and the next month he was well enough to “take charge of the music at St. Peters’s Church.” (Diary, March 14, 1863) This probably was the period when B. J. took over most of his father’s pupils.
There is frequent mention of B. J. playing for his father’s Singing Classes both in Salem and also in Danvers. He would hire horses and a buggy (or sleigh in the winter), go to the railroad station to pick-up Mr. Adams, collect his father, and then take them to their classes out-of-town. In January 1853 Father Lang and Mr. C. A. Adams were offering a “Juvenile Singing School” on Wednesday afternoon’s at 2:30 PM at “Mr. Lang’s Music Room, Lynde Place.” The term was 18 weeks, the cost 50 cents, and “Books for the use of the pupils, will be furnished free of charge.” (Salem Register (January 6, 1853): 3)
In 1853 Lang’s ad had the following information:
The LYNDE BLOCK seems to be the building on Essex Street that was numbered 143 – 147 – 151. (Salem Register (March 14, 1853): 1)
In 1856 Lang had competition from another piano tuner. James R. Phelps advertised that he had just finished a year of tuning and regulation instruction and that he would give “particular attention to REPAIRING OLD PIANO FORTES…The best of references given” (Salem Register (December 22, 1856): 3) Other fires had to be stoked. On December 1, 1856 Father Lang advertised his SINGING CLASS. “All who wish to acquire a thorough knowledge of the rudiments of singing will do well to join Mr. Lang’s Class this evening. The class will meet for the present on Monday evenings only.” (Salem Register (December 1, 1856): 3) Maybe business was slow as he advertised in September 1857 that he would teach organ, piano and thorough-bass. Also in 1857 Charles H. Towne advertised that he had just finished six months’ practice at the Brown and Allen Piano Factory and that he was available both for tuning and also to help “in the choice of Pianos from this, or any other leading establishment.” (Salem Register (April 27, 1857): 1)

In 1857 Father Lang placed an ad saying that “he has not discontinued” his tuning and repair business for pianos, organs, or Melodeons.” (Salem Register (February 23, 1857): 3) In this large ad, twenty lines, he stresses how difficult it is to tune and make adjustments, and he lists as references “the late Jonas Chickering, Esq., and the well-known Sumner Hill, of Boston.” (Ibid) He also thanked those who had used his services for the last 18 years, which would place the beginning of a business career in 1839. In 1857 he had “Music Rooms, rear of Lynde Block.” (Ibid) Almost as an afterthought, the last three lines mention that he was still teaching piano, organ,or singing and that he had pianos for sale or to let.

CHICKERING AGENT.

In February 1859 Father Lang made a major investment in Chickering pianos-he bought twenty of them ranging in price from $160 to $500. He offered to rent, “with the privilege of buying, any time within one year, rent deducted.” (Salem Register): February 10, 1959): 4)

On March 10, 1859 he was appointed Agent for Chickering Pianos. His “warerooms” were now located in the Downing Block. However, Ann Bray was still advertising as selling or renting Chickering Pianos. At the same time, D. B. Brooks and Brother opened a new music room at 6 Central Street offering “PIANO FORTES, ORGAN HARMONEUMS AND MELODEONS of the newest styles and combining the latest improvements, just received from the manufacturers. The most liberal terms to purchasers.” (Salem Register (November 14, 1859): 3) Their second address was 201 Essex Street.

In an ad that appeared in December of 1859, the company is now listed as “B. & B. J. Lang,” and it mentioned that the “Senior Partner” had been selling pianos for twenty years. The ad continued that during the “brief” period of March-December 1859, “the large number of instruments disposed of by us, not one has failed to give satisfaction.” (Salem Register (December 5, 1859): 3) therefore, their warerooms were now replenished with new pianos ranging from $175 to $700, and second-hand instruments were $50 to $150. Pianos and melodeons were rented at $4 to $12 per quarter. “Concerts supplied with either a Grand or Square Piano, at an hour’s notice,” and there are numerous entries in B. J.’s Diary of moving pianos to various halls and then tuning them. (Ibid)

The Salem Register published in November 1860 five ads under “Musical.” (1) Mr. M. D. Randall was giving a course of 12 singing lessons for Ladies, (2) Mr. Manual Emilio was beginning a class on December 1 for Ladies and Gentlemen, (3) Mr. S. M. Downs from Boston was giving vocal lessons at Lang’s Warerooms, (4) Manuel Fenellosa was selling pianos, including Chickering’s new 6 and 1/2 foot model, and (5) Mr. Thomas B. Holden was tuning and repairing pianos at his residence 4 St. Peter Street. These ads are what appeared in just one day’s paper; Ann Bray, Mr. Henry Rooth,  and D. B. Brooks & Brother music store would advertise their available pianos on another day as would the tuners Charles H. Towne and Mr. James R. Phelps and the singing teacher, Mr. E. Valentine  Father Lang certainly had competition in all areas of his profession: piano selling, piano tuning and repair, piano teaching and vocal classes.

The partnership between father and son did not last. On October 1, 1860 Chickering published a notice that the Agency had been transferred to Mr. B. J. Lang. He was described as “a gentleman possessing unusually fine qualifications for purchasing” pianos. (Salem Register (November 1, 1860): 2) No thanks were given to Father Lang, in fact, he is not mentioned at all. The showrooms remained in the Downing Block. B. J. advertised that after Tuesday September 25, he would resume teaching in Salem on Tuesdays and Fridays. (Salem Register (November 1, 1860): 2) Who would be at the piano warerooms when B. J. was teaching?

Whereas the 1860 Census listed B. J.’s father as a Pianoforte Dealer, the 1870 Census said Traveling Agent with an address of Waltham Street in Boston. Thus his family had moved from Salem to Boston at some point between 1860 and 1870.  Also listed at the address were 5 lodgers and two servants, and now his real estate was worth $10,500 and his personal worth was $800. His wife, B. J.’s mother had died on September 25, 1874 (Death Certificate) The 1880 Census also shows Benjamin Lang as a widower, then aged 64, address at 93 Waltham Street (which was one street away from his son’s church, South Congregational). It mentions that he is sick with kidney trouble, and lists his occupation as a Music Teacher. This year there are six boarders living at the same address together with two servants.
TwoScan-1024x784                     Cousins, Colonial Salem, Plate 16, Jeffrey Lang House, 371 Essex Street. Erected 1740.
“Benjamin J. Lang, the noted organist, pianist and conductor, is a descendant of Jeffrey Lang.” (Cousins, Colonial Salem, 32) Lang was a goldsmith who had his shop in an addition to the house at the extreme left. Later, c. 1850, the right corner of the house was made into a variety store which continued until 1889. The building was purchased and demolished by Daniel Low whose property adjoined on the left. All of this was written c. 1919 and so the demolition took place “several years ago.” (Op. cit., 31) This would be in conflict with Father Lang’s Death Certificate that listed Scotland as the birthplace of his father (who was also named Benjamin!)

After the death of B. J.’s mother in 1874, Lang Senior remarried again on June 17, 1880. He was then aged 63 and his new wife, Clara E. Wardwell was aged 36. (Marriage Certificate) Lang’s father was 79 when he signed the ”Guest Book of the House of Lang, New Boston, N. H., begun June 1895.” His entry, dated June 14, 1896: ”well done my boy, I’ve seen the farm, its hill and dale, and every charm. May heaven always bless you all.” (Lang Farm Guestbook)

B.  J.’s father was a published composer. The Library of Congress has a copy of a Harvest Waltz by B. Lang published c. 1850 by Oliver Ditson. In the second section, in the relative minor, he uses the ”Scottish Snap” which may be a reflection of his heritage. Ditson also published in 1852 a song by Benjamin Lang entitled The Merry Sailor Boy, words by E. Jocelyn, Esq. When the song was first published in December 1852 it was described as “pretty and spirited.” The words were by a fellow Salem resident, Edwin Jocelyn, Esq. The review continued: “The accompaniment is very pleasing and the song well calculated to be popular…[the song] may be obtained at the Music Store of D. B. Brooks.” (Salem Register (December 2, 1852): 2)

Copy, Johnston Collection.

 

EARLY PIANO TEACHERS.

Lang senior found his best pupil in his own son. “He was a clever and precocious pianist at the age of 9.” (Herald Obit. (April 5, 1909): 1),  and by the age of twelve, B.J. was already an accomplished enough musician to perform the A flat Ballade of Chopin which “astonished his auditors.” (Globe Obit. (Apr. 5, 1909): 1) The performance took place at a Sunday-school concert, where ten-cents was the exorbitant price of admission.” (Op. cit., Foote Clippings) His instruction at this time “was supplemented by the advice and tuition of Alfred Yale, who took the boy under his patronage, and gave him every encouragement and assistance in the prosecution of the study of the musical art.” (Ibid) Did Yale provide the money for Lang’s study in Europe? His next teacher was Francis G. Hill of Boston (Hubbard, 464). “Mr. Hill was among the first of Boston young men who went to Germany to study music. [He is not mentioned in Bomberger] He returned a really accomplished pianist, but his extreme modesty, ever inclined to underrate his own abilities, kept him from public performance. As a teacher, he was faithful and successful.” (Dwight (June 1, 1872) 247) During the past ten years [1853-63] Mr. Hill has numbered among his pupils a large number of the most accomplished amateurs who have obtained recognition in our city; and his style as well as his thoroughness in whatever pianism he undertakes, commend him to the consideration of all who doubt as to whom they had best employ teach their children.” (BMT (April 4, 1863): 22)

It would seem that Lang studied with Hill just after Hill had returned from his European studies. A short notice in the Folio mentioned that Hill’s death “on May 24th, [1872] resulting from an overdose of chloral, will not only carry sadness to the hearts of many who knew him, but ought to serve a severe lesson to those like addicted.” (Folio, July 1872) Chloral was first discovered in 1832 by Justus von Liebig, and “its sedative properties were first published in 1869…It was widely used recreationally and misprescribed in the late 19th. century.” (Wikipedia “Chloral hydrate,” May 7, 2010) Mixed with alcohol it becomes a “Mickey Finn,” and “it has been speculated that it contributed to” the death of Marilyn Monroe. (Ibid) James Bond was drugged by it, and in Russia With Love, it was used to knock out Tatiana Romanova. (Ibid)

On January 1, 1852, at the age of fourteen,  B. J. began a Diary that he would keep until 1855. He was very faithful in making entries every day. A typical day in 1852 would involve school in the morning, writing school in the afternoon and sometimes also the evening, and a musical/educational event at night. Sometimes he would attend an event at the Lyceum that ranged from musical performances to lectures by notables of the time, such as Harriet Ward Beecher (Diary, January 12, 1855) He also attended temperance lectures at the Tabernacle. (Diary, December 19, 1852, October 30, 1853, November 7, 1863) One evening he attended a Whig rally. (Diary, October 27, 1853) He also attended events in Boston such as the opera, February 7, 1853, a concert by Jullien (Diary, November 1 and 5, 1853)  Jullien appeared in Salem, and B. J. and his father attended. (Diary, April 28, 1854) Once a week he would hire a horse and buggy or sleigh and meet Mr. Adams, who had come from Lynn, at the railroad depot, then pick-up his father and take then both to Danvers were Mr. Adams and Father Benjamin ran singing schools. B. J. would wait and then bring them back to Salem, and Mr. Adams would stay the night with the Lang family. Often B. J. would be the accompanist for his father’s sing class. (Diary, September 20, 23, 29 and 30, 1852) B. J. also accompanied his father to piano tuning jobs, thus learning the trade. On July 10, 1854 they tuned instruments in Essex, Hamilton and Danversport. (Diary, July 10, 1854)

In addition to his keyboard studies, B. J. also studied the flute. (Diary, March 1852) On a borrowed flute he was practicing his scales (Diary, March 6, 1852) When he mentions his church position, he often records that [I] “played all day at church.” (Diary, July 25, 1852) Thus he would use the time after service to practice for a number of hours. An entry in December 1852 mentions that his father was sick and that some of his pupils were transferring to B.J. His father continued in his piano tuning/rental business, but probably as a backup, his father taught B. J. how to tune. The entry for April 6, 1853 was simply “I tuned a piano; no mention of his father. (Diary, April 6, 1853) On April 12, 1853 he went to Boston and bought a Ladd square piano and a Chickering six-octave instrument. It would seem that he already had a buyer lined up for the Chickering piano. On April 18, B. J. wrote that Webber was going to purchase this instrument. Father’s firm was the primary piano rental store in the area-their main instrument was rented to the violinist Ole Bull for a concert on October 8, 1853. (Diary, October 10, 1853) Business was brisk: “sold a diagonal piano to Capt. Nutting for $400 with a trade-in fo $150 for ” his instrument. (Diary, October 27, 1854) The next day his father went into Boston and “bought an $800 grand piano from Chickering.” (Diary, October 30, 1854) The next day he bought a six-octave round piano. (Diary, November 1, 1854) A week later his father went into Boston to pay for the grand piano. “My [piano] seat, a present from J[onas] Chickering, came.” (Diary, November 29, 1854)

By 1854 B. J.’s lesson schedule was very taxing. Even on Christmas Day he gave lessons! (Diary, December 25, 1854) B. J.’s future wife makes her first appearance at this time. He noted that he “told Millard [?]  I would teach Miss Burrage on Tuesday and Friday.” (Diary, December 27, 1854) New Year’s Day was just another regular day of teaching and performing: “Practiced at Mechanic Hall [Salem], gave a lesson, went to Boston at 12:15, gave lesson; Miss Burrage was away; back at 4 after practicing at Richardson’s; played at a concert that night.” (Diary, January 1, 1855) Three days later: in Salem “gave lessons; to Boston 12:15; had the number of the house wrong for Miss Burrage.” (Diary, January 4, 1855) in order to release the tension of such a schedule B. J. started going to a gym as early as January 27, 1853. (Diary, January 27, 1853)

B. J. mentions plans for his study time in Europe. In preparation, he began to study German. (Diary, April 20, 1854) He had put out the word that he was interested in European study, and he “found from Hill at Richardson’s [music store] that Americans were sometimes admitted to the Paris

1860 Boston Directory, 44.

Conservatoire.” (Diary, July 12, 1854) At this same time, he was forced to tell Mr. Hill, his piano teacher that “I must leave off lessons; he asked me as a favor to come the same as ever and there would be no charge.” (Diary. July 12, 1854) At the same time, he began violin lessons with Manuel Fenollosa  “on a violin that father bought for me. ” (Diary July 28, 1854)  Fenollosa was a fellow music instrument seller and instructor in Singing Classes in Salem. (Salem Directory 1869, 276) B. J. was a very serious student. Two days later he recorded: “practiced 7 and 3/4 hours on violin and piano.” (Diary, August 1, 1854) On September 11 he wrote that after teaching lessons in the morning, he “practiced 5 and 1/4 hours on the piano, and 2 [hours] on the violin as usual.” (Diary, September 11, 1854) One could take “as usual” to mean that he practiced this same schedule every week. Later His European plans were undermined by his father: “Yesterday father told me I could not go to Germany next spring and tried to prove that I cannot play the organ or piano, at all, well.” (Diary August 24, 1854)

At this period B. J. mentions his first composition. The first entry said: “wrote more on  a piece I am composing.” (Diary, September 10, 1854) Thirteen days later: “Finished a Fantasia which I shall play at Adam’s concert.” (Diary September 23, 1854) The next day: “Father and I copied some of my Fantasia.” (Diary, September 24, 1854) A week later: [I] “saw Hill at 12 and we went to Lange’s [who would this be?] to show him my first composition; he said it was quite good.” (Diary, October 4, 1854)

BENJAMIN AND B. J. IN A JOINT CONCERT.

Lyceum Hall, 43 Church St.; two entrances; coming attractions board on the right. Courtesy of the Phillips Library, Salem, Ma.

On Thanksgiving Evening in 1852 the Lang’s, father and son presented a concert at Salem’s Lyceum Hall. The father Benjamin was one of two vocalists and Master B. J. was one of two pianists. B. J. played four duets with Mr. J. B. Whelton while his father sang two duets with Miss Lucy A. Robinson. Father Lang sang a solo song in the first half, and his own song, Merry Sailor Boy (see above) in the second half. In the first half, B. J. played a solo, Carnival of Venice by Jaell, and in the second half, he soloed with an Etude de Concert by Goria. B. J. was just shy of his 15th. birthday. (Salem Register. (November 22, 1852): 3, GB) They had stiff competition as the Salem Brass Band performed at Mechanic Hall with the added attraction of “three soloists from Boston.” The price for both concerts was $.25 (Ibid)

The following year the Band announced a Thanksgiving Eve “Vocal and Instrumental Concert” with two “distinguished” vocal soloists from Boston and “Master B. J. Lang, of this city, Pianist.” It seems that B. J. went over to the competition.  Tickets were again $.25 and the concert was “Complimentary to their leader, Mr. J. H. Smith.” (Salem Register (November 21, 1853): 3)

salem mechanic theatre

BPL Rare Book Collection.

Mechanic Hall, 285 Essex St., taken from across the street. Two retail stores on either side of the entrance. Courtesy of the Phillips Library, Salem, Ma.

CHICKERING PIANO FOR MASTER LANG.

       In an undated “Our Boston Letter” addressed to “My Dear Philharmonic Journal” the writer tells an interesting supposed story about B. J.’s youth. “Mr. Lang has always had the most powerful influences at work in his favor, from the time he was a boy, when he first walked into Boston from Salem [Ryan speaks about seeing him at work on harmony exercises on the train from Salem into Boston] eighteen miles, to take his music lessons. He went into Chickering’s one day when he occupied the old Masonic Temple, and after trying several pianos, Mr. Chickering asked him if he wished to purchase? ”No,” he said, ”I have no money, but wish I had one of your nice pianos.” Mr. Chickering asked him who he was, where he lived, etc., and after finding out his true circumstances said to him, ”Mr. Lang, I will send you the piano you may select.” ”But,” said Mr. Lang, ”I  can’t have it, because I can’t either buy nor hire, for I have no money.” “Never mind, Mr. Lang, give me your directions, and I will send the piano to you without money, at my own risk and pleasure.” And the instrument was sent.” (Undated article among the Foote materials) So far the story seems to give credit to Lang and Chickering, but the writer continues with two snide comments. “Whether Mr. Chickering paid for Mr. Lang’s instruction when he was a pupil of Satter, I do not know, but presume he did. The Chickerings have always kept up their interest in him, and are now furnishing one of the best rooms in their building to him for teaching purposes, without cost, though Mr. Lang is rich and abundantly able to pay.” (Ibid)

220px-jonas_chickeringJonas Chickering: From Wikipedia-August 19, 2013. “Said to have been painted about 1853.”

It would seem that this generous act towards Lang was not an isolated example. “Jonas Chickering (1797-1853) would also win admiration for his benevolence to musicians, helping them financially when in need, and for his generous support of whatever enrichment of the Boston music scene was taking place.” (Tawa (Psalm to Symphony): 102) Is it possible that Lang received support from the Chickering family (Jonas had died in 1853) for the three years of study that he spent in Europe? Or, did the money come from Alfred Yale, who had taken B. J. under his wing when the boy was in his early teens?

ORGAN POSITIONS: EARLY.

An unsigned interview [from probably c. 1908 just before his death] with B. J. stated “I received my first musical instruction from my father, and at the age of fifteen secured my first appointment as organist.” (Clippings collected by Gould, HMA) However the Globe article on Lang’s 70th. Birthday had the quote: “I have been paid for going to church since I was 12 years old.” (Globe, (December 22, 1907): 33) The 1909 article in the Globe one day after his death mentioned that “In 1850 he was given his first organ [position] at a little church in Danvers, and less than a year later he became the organist at Dr. Cook’s church in Lynn.” (Globe, (April 5, 1909): 1) A handwritten note on the front of B. J.’s Diary states: “He had [an] organ position in Danvers when he was 13 years old.” (Lang, Diary)  In 1878 B. J. took his wife and daughter, Margaret “to South Danvers, showing us the church where he used to play the organ.” (Diary 2, Spring 1878) The 1921 article in Grove’s said, “By the time he was fifteen old he held a post as organist of a Boston church.”(Grove’s Dic., 1921, 631) This agrees with the 1893 article by William Apthorp, which stated that “Young as Lang was, he already held a regular post as organist at Dr. Neale’s church in Somerset Street (1852-age 15).” (Music (August 1893): 347) Dr. Neale’s church was the First Baptist Church of which Dr. Rollin Heber Neale, DD was pastor from 1837-1877. The church contained the largest organ in the city at that time.” (from an article in the Transcript, May 1, 1909) It was a “Hook and Hastings instrument, built in the mid-1800s. Some of the pipes, however, were part of an instrument built by Samuel Green in England about 1790.” (Internet site for First Baptist Church of Boston) Lang was again to play for this congregation in 1907 when he played for the 10:30 AM and the 7 PM services to celebrate the 275th. Anniversary of the founding of the church.

It would seem that B. J. thought of this Boston job as his first proper organ position, but various writers have made mention of earlier positions. An 1893 article mentioned: “On a flying trip to Boston, when about sixteen, he played Rink’s [the spelling of the time] flute-concerto on the organ of the old Trinity Church in Summer street (the first organ he had ever played on that had a pedal-board running up to F) in the presence of Hayter, the regular organist of the church, and a few invited friends; his performance excited no little astonishment in those who heard it, all present agreeing that ”they did not know that that sort of thing could be done on the organ! Such were the notions of organ playing then current in Boston.” (Music (August 1893): 347)

Thus his early career might look something like this:

AGE         DATE              LOCATION

13               1850.              Little church in Danvers. “He had Organ Position in Danvers when he was 13 years old. ” (Diary, note written on the cover.)

13/14         1851(?)-52.  Dr. Parsons Cooke’s church: First Church of Christ, Lynn. B. J.’s Diary begins on January 1, 1852 and mentions this job immediately. He would go by train at 6:30 PM on Saturday and stay with N. A. Breed (his mother’s family) that night. He would then play on Sunday and probably practice and prepare the music for next Sunday during the afternoon, and then come back to Salem Monday morning on the 7:30 AM train. There is no mention of choir rehearsals at this church. Dr. Cooke would have been a formidable first boss for a beginning church musician. First, he “was not adept in music, and took no part in the choral portion of the service,” and second “he displayed a love of controversy,” and third his “natural wit” took the “form of sarcasm.” (Annals of Lynn, 475)

 

First Church, Lynn, 1850. Church on the second level. Two stores on either side of the front door.

14              1852-1855.  June 20, 1852, first Sunday as organist of Crombie Street  Church (Diary, entry for June 20, 1852) The November 6, 1852 Diary entry said: I resigned “because they have not kept the agreement.” No specifics were given, but later entries show that he continued to play at Crombie Street Church. B. J.’s father took over the organist position at St.

Tolles,  “Crombie Street Church (Congregational) [#7 Crombie Street]”

Peter’s Church in April 1853. (Diary, April 13, 1853) The previous month he had been house-bound with rheumatism for five weeks. (Diary, March 28, 1853) St. Peter’s Episcopal Church had an E. & G. G. Hook of two manuals and 18 registers built in 1844 (their Opus 56). (OHS Pipe Organ Database, accessed July 9, 2017) In September and October 1853 B. J. subbed at St. Peters when his father was on tour [piano tuning tour?]. Someone subbed for B. J. at Crombie Street. While his father was away, B. J. tuned a number of pianos in the Salem area. (Diary, October 19, 1853)

 

Johnston Collection.

 

Rollin Heber Neale (ca. 1850). Wikipedia-Jan. 10, 2019.

February 1855 until mid-summer 1856.  Dr. Rollin Heber Neale’s church: First Baptist Church of Boston on Beacon Hill’s Somerset Street. The church had just been built the year before and was their fourth church building.  It was 94 feet long by 76 feet wide with 158 pews which would hold about 1,000 worshipers. The interior was decorated in the Gothic style and was lighted by gas. As the church was on the top of Beacon Hill, sailors would use its tall steeple to guide their ships into the harbor. However the church, in this location, did not prosper, and in 1877 the building was sold to Boston University. (Wood, 334-338) In 1877  The Globe Obituary says that “at the age of 18, after graduation from Salem High School, he came to Boston to become organist of the First Baptist Church…which contained the largest organ in the city at that time.” (Globe Obit. (April 5, 1909): 1) He was appointed on February 9, 1855. (Diary, February 9, 1855) The new church had just been dedicated on January 11, 1855. The previous organist, Mr. Bradford, had been asked to resign. Lang’s first Sunday, February 11th, had this entry in the Diary: “succeeded very well.” He previously had been part of the opening of the new organ at Dr. Neale’s church on January 20, 1855.

Lang had been looking for a new position. On January 18, 1855 he noted: “Had an application to play at Shawmut Ave. Church [different than the Somerset St. church].” (Diary, January 18, 1855) At First Baptist Lang had a very celebrated quartet under his direction; the tenor Charles R. Adams (who later had a European career which included roles at the Vienna Opera), Mr. and Mrs. Mozart and Mrs. Twichell. (NEC Foote Clippings)

Charles R. Adams. 1834-1900. NYPL Digital, accessed November 18, 2020.

Thomas Ryan in Recollections of an Old Musician gives a glimpse of the man that B. J. would become. “He is a man of marked character, a typical American, ambitious and industrious. I have known him since his boyhood, when he lived with his parents in their quiet home in Salem, Mass. I used to meet him frequently on the train for Boston (from Salem), where he went to take piano or organ lessons, and I noticed that he prepared his harmony lessons while en route. In this way, the youth grew up, systematically laying the foundation for his future usefulness.”(Ryan, 84)

b-and-m-station-1024x607      This is the station in Salem that Lang would have traveled from on his way into Boston. It was built in 1847, and in spite of fire damage in 1882, it served as a “local landmark” until it was demolished in 1954. (Wikipedia article, February 6, 2013)  Johnston Collection.

SALEM ACADEMY OF MUSIC AND SALEM CHORAL SOCIETY.

While still a high school student in Salem, Lang was gaining professional experience that would serve him well later in his career. Dwight reprinted a notice of the group’s Fast-Day Concert which had appeared in the Essex Co. Freeman. After noting that this was only the second public concert by the choir, mention was made of the organist, “Mr. B. J. Lang, a young, talented and growing musician.” (Dwight (April 15, 1854) 15) He had begun as the organist on December 15, 1853. (Diary, December 15, 1853) In May 1854 his success as organist for the Salem Academy of Music was recognized by the presentation of an elegant gold hunting watch and massive chain, and on the back was engraved the inscription, ”Presented to Benjamin J. Lang, Organist of the Salem Academy of Music, by his friends, members of the society, May 1854.” (Whipple, 117)(Salem Register (May 25, 1854): 2) He was then 16 years old. In his Diary he noted that the watch was worth $90, and the chain, which had been given by the ladies of the choir, was worth $20. (Diary, May 20, 1854.) In mid-December 1854 B. J.’s father was “getting names to a paper to eject Newell, the President of the Society” (also the conductor?) (Diary, December 14, 1854) On Sunday, December 17 the Directors of the choir voted to discontinue the group, but three of the officers did not resign, and the choir decided to continue. (Diary, December 17, 1894) On the following Tuesday, the choir met at father Lang’s music room and chose him the second conductor. His first concert was “A Concert of Ancient Music, mostly of psalm tunes,” which was given at Salem’s Mechanic Hall on Sunday evening, January 28, 1855. It was repeated on Sunday evening February 18, 1855, and the soloists were “Miss Bothamly, Miss Jenny Twichell and Mr. Mozart of Boston. Tickets were twenty-five cents.” (Whipple, Op. cit.) B. J. noted that the choir began rehearsals for Creation [Haydn?] on March 12, 1855. (Diary, March 12, 1855)

At the same time, Lang was organizing another vocal group. He proposed to give a series of “Home-Music Concerts” “with some of our best singers, who have placed themselves under the supervision and direction of our young [he was just about to be 17] and accomplished, Mr. B. J. Lang.” Their first concert was to be at Mechanic Hall on Christmas Evening. The paper predicted a full house. (Salem Register (December 14, 1854): 2, GB) This paper ran a detailed ad on December 25th. “Christmas Evening Concert, The ”Home Music Club,” will give a Grand Miscellaneous Concert Christmas Evening, Dec. 25.”  (Salem Register (December 25, 1854): 3, GB)  Lang was Pianist and Director and he was assisted by two soloists from Boston, a second pianist, “making in all twelve performers.”  Lang played as a solo in the first half a Marche Triomphale by L. De Mayer, and in the second half, he improvised a Fantasie on Old Folks at Home. The “splendid Chickering’s Grand Piano” was used for the first time in Mechanic’s Hall. Tickets were only 25 cents and the ad ended with: “The design of the Club is to discourse Music that will PLEASE.” (Ibid)

In addition to conducting choral groups, Lang assisted with other musical organizations. A “Singing School” of 150 young singers organized by C. A. Adams gave a concert on Wednesday, September 27, 1854 at Salem’s Lyceum Hall where B. J. and J. Phelps were the two pianists. “During the evening Mr. Lang will favor the audience with one or more Piano Forte solos.” (Salem Register (September 21, 1854) 4, GB) Part of B. J.’s regular routine was to go to a stable, rent a horse and cart or sleigh, then go to the railroad depot to pick-up Mr. Adams who was coming from Lynn, then collect his father and take them both to the singing school in Danvers. B. J. would bring them back and Adams was a regular over-night guest that evening each week. C. A. Adams was the teacher of “one of the most popular and successful teachers of singing in Boston,” Lyman Warren Wheeler. (Howard, One Hundred, 192) Wheeler studied with Adams for four years, beginning at the age of ten.

In early 1855 B. J. was advertising himself as a teacher of, “Piano Forte, Organ, Thorough Bass, Singing, etc.” and his studio was in the “Music Rooms, in [the] rear of Lynde Block under Ladies High School, where he may be found day and evening.” (Salem Register (February 1, 1855) 3, GB)

During the spring of 1855, while B. J. was conducting the Academy of Music, a second group was begun called the Salem Choral Society. ironically the impetus for this group came from a meeting of “former members of the Philharmonic Society and the Salem Academy of Music at the music room [music shop] of Benjamin Lang [B. J.’S Father]. On February 5, 1855, the Salem Choral Society was organized. The object was declared to be ”To extend the knowledge and cultivate the performance of sacred music. It will be composed of the best available talent, and it is designed to give when prepared, occasional public performances of Oratorio, and compositions of a like character.” (Op. cit., 119) It would seem that this group did not last too long, as a meeting of men was held in November 1868 to organize a different choir that would “study the higher styles of music.” Carl Zerrahn was hired as the conductor of this new group with “entire control of its musical affairs,” and membership was set at $2 for men while women “were to be admitted free.” Within two years the choir had grown to 400 members, soloists were for the most part from Boston and New York, orchestral accompaniment became the norm, and the finances were in good order. When asked why the group had “gained such proficiency in Oratorio singing in so short a time, Mr. Z. answered, ‘Brains and Study.'” (Dwight (July 29, 1871): 66 and 67)

In addition to Salem ensembles, Lang was also involved in other local concerts. On Fast Day, Thursday, April 5, 1855 he was the assisting artist for a “Musical Soiree at Lyceum Hall where the two vocalists were Mrs. E. A. Wentworth, soprano and Mr. S. H. Millard, tenor.” Tickets were 25 cents, and the ad noted that “A Grand Piano of Chickering’s make will be used.” (Programs, GB) B. J. gave two performances on Thanksgiving, November 22, 1855. “He had engaged several favorite vocalists to assist him.” This same ensemble had given a concert the week before at which Lang played “one of Jacob Chickering’s [pianos], of great power and richness of tone, which, under Mr. Lang, appeared ‘as a thing of life.'” The article went on to say that B. J. “has recently performed to highly appreciative audiences in Portsmouth, Manchester, and Concord, N. H., and Newburyport, Fitchburg, Waltham and Lexington in this state, where he has been received with marked favor.” (Salem Register (November 22, 1855) 2, GB) It would seem that he was in no hurry to leave for Europe.

In the 1855 edition of the Boston Directory, under “Additions, Removals, and Corrections” was the entry: “Lang, B. J. music teacher, 20 Somerset,” which is located on Beacon Hill just two blocks from the State House. (Boston Directory, 1855, Preface) From this, it would appear that Lang had intended to establish himself in Boston-the decision to study in Europe may have been a hasty one. This, then, presents the interesting question of where Lang found the funds for his European study. Did his future wife’s family offer this support? Did the Chickering family give the funds as they had provided a piano?

BIBLE SONGS AND YOUTHFUL VOICES.

Bible Songs: courtesy1862 edition published by Oliver Ditson. Reprinted from the Harvard College Library. Johnston Collection.

In 1856 a collection of Sunday School songs entitled Bible Songs appeared with words by Marion Dix Sullivan and music by J. B. [sic] Lang. Sullivan was best known for her song The Blue Juniata, the first commercial hit in America written by a woman, originally for voice and guitar… The Blue Juniata is mentioned in Mark Twain’s Autobiography as well as in Little House on the Prairie.” (Songofamerica website, April 1, 2012) After Lang returned from Europe he completed the accompaniments for a second collection entitled Youthful Voices: A Collection of Hymns and Tunes For the use of Sunday Schools whose melodies were written by Marion Dix Sullivan. The collection was published in 1862, sponsored by the Boston Sunday School Teachers Institute and published by Walker, Wise and Co. There was a second edition in 1862, this time it was published by a music publisher, Oliver Ditson and Co. In the 1862 edition, there are four hymn texts by “F. M. L.” which could have been the initials of B. J.’s wife, Frances Morse Lang. They had married on October 10, 1861.

Taken from the above example.

EUROPEAN STUDY.  THREE YEARS OR NOT?

Being a church organist was not enough for young Lang. “I desired the career of a pianist primarily, and was in Europe for about three years, from 1855 to 1858. There I studied with Jaell, Satter, and afterward with 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. On my return to America, I began teaching and playing in Boston, and for fifty years I have been active. There was absolutely nothing in the way of a musical atmosphere here in those early days. I was successful from the start, perhaps owing to enthusiasm, with a natural aptitude for doing pioneer work at a time when things were ripe for musical development. My enthusiasm led me to carry through projects to which I had set myself to carry through, and felt they must succeed.” (Clippings collected by Gould, HMA)

This time period of “three years, 1855 to 1858” which is mentioned in many sources, including an interview which Lang gave late in his career, gave the impression that this was a continuous period, but as the next paragraphs will show, Lang was playing concerts in Boston and the area in all of these years. In November and December Lang’s name appeared in ads as “WITH MR. B. J. LANG” in large and darker type than any of the other performers. This was for a series of six “Concerts and Lectures” at the Music Hall sponsored for the benefit of the fund of “The Artisan’s Recreative Union.” (Herald (November 6, 1855): 3, GB) The main performing group was the Germania Serenade Band with assisting artists: Miss Adelaide Phillipps, Mr. Arthurson, Mr. Wetherbee and the “Popular Quartette” of Miss Bothamly, Miss Twichell, Mr. Adams and Mr. Mozart. Phillipps and Arthurson appeared at the opening concert on November 7; then the Quartette appeared at four concerts. Wetherbee sang a special concert: “Vocal Illustrations of Operatic Melody.” A single ticket for the course six concerts/lectures was only $1.00. “The lectures, which will be shortly announced, will be six in number, and given by gentlemen of the highest talent.” (Ibid)  This same group, “The Artisan’s Recreative Union” gave concerts “Afternoons and Evenings during [the] CHRISTMAS HOLIDAYS” with the Germania Band, the Popular Quartette and Lang. They charged only 12 and 1/2 cents so that “the younger portion of the community” would have “innocent recreations during the Holidays.” (Herald (December 25, 1855): 3, GB) The American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, MA has a broadside that advertises a concert at the Music Hall on Monday evening, December 24, 1855 organized by George Hill (City Cries) for which Lang acted as the accompanist. Also on the program was the “celebrated pianist” Gustave Satter. Then on Wednesday the 26th., he was the accompanist for one of the “Young Folks’ Concerts” which also featured the “Popular Quartette” of Miss Bothamly, Miss Twichell, Mr. Adams and Mr. Mozart. He had no solo mentioned in the printed program/ad. (Herald (December 26, 1855): 4, GB)

1856: An advertisement in the Traveler of March 21, 1856, 3 showed him as an assisting artist for a performance of “Dramatic Recitations”   given at the Mercantile Library Association on Summer Street by William Hawes of Boston on Friday, March 21, 1856. This was Hawes’ second Mercantile Hall appearance, and he had recently appeared “with success” at Exeter, Newmarket, Portsmouth, Concord, and Dover, N. H. and Andover and Newburyport, Mass. (Traveler (March 20, 1856): 3, GB) Lang played an original piece in the first part, Fantasie Original. In the second half, he was to have another solo together with playing accompaniments for the violinist W. H. Schultze. (Traveler (March 21, 1856): 3, GB) Four days before he played at the Salem Lyceum in a concert organized by Miss Amanda Bailey using “his [own] Grand Piano.” Mr. Schultze was also part of this performance; he was the leader of the Germania Band. (Salem Register (March 17, 1856): 3, GB) Then on April 2nd. B. J. was part of the Third of Gustav Satter’s Philharmonic Soirees where they played two-piano arrangements of two Beethoven overtures. “Mr. Satter and his young friend, Mr. Lang, played them with passion, force and brilliancy, and the effect was quite imposing.” (Dwight (April  5, 1856): 6 ) Then the next week Lang and his quartet choir from the First Baptist Church donated their services for a concert at Tremont Temple to raise money for Dr. Grimes, who was the minister of the “Colored peoples'” church. (Dwight, Op. cit., 7) In June Lang accompanied Mrs. J. H. Long for a concert in Lowell; Mr. S. B. Ball, tenor, and Gustave Satter were the assisting artists. They had done the program the night before in Haverhill “where they had a large and crowded house.” (Lowell Daily Citizen (June 4, 1856): 2, GB) In mid-June 1856 a Salem paper ran the short story: “MUSICAL. Mrs. Wentworth, Mr. Arthurson, Mr. Krebs and Mr. B. J. Lang are regaling our neighbors of the British Provinces with a series of classical concerts. They Commenced at St. John, New Brunswick, and will continue their tour about three weeks. (Salem Register (June 19, 1856): 2, GB) Then, between the end of June and early December there is a break of “newspaper mentions,” but on December 4, 1856 Lang accompanied Miss Adelaide Phillipps at the Mechanic Hall in Salem and “also played several solos with his customary artistic excellence.” (Salem Register (December 8, 1856): 2, GB) Then, a week later, also in Salem, he appeared with Gilmore’s Brass Band acting as accompanist for a vocalist and a violinist and playing a piano solo, Banjo Fantasie by Gottschalk. (Salem Register (December 11, 1856): 2, GB)

1857: For the year 1857 there are Lang performances with the Salem Brass Band on January 19, 1857 (Salem Register (January 19, 1857): 3. GB); March 3, 1857 at the Peabody Institute to exhibit their “New Grand Piano” with four vocalists from Boston (Salem Register (March 2, 1857): 3, GB); March 23, 1857 with Gilmore’s Salem Brass Band at Mechanic Hall where his solo was Variations on America (first time) composed and performed by B. J. Lang (Salem Register (March 19, 1857): 3, GB); April 23rd. “Complimentary Concert” at the School St. Church for Mr. S. B. Ball, a tenor whom he had worked with often (Transcript (April 21, 1857): 3, GB); then on August 31st. he announced in the Salem Register that he would resume teaching on September 1st., but he would only be in Salem three days per week (Salem Register (August 31, 1857): 2, GB); and on December 23rd. he accompanied Mrs. Long at a concert in Jamaica Plains with Mr. C. R. Adams as the assisting artist (Boston Daily Bee (December 22, 1857): 2, GB).

1858: On January 21, 1858 Lang was the accompanist for selections from the opera Omano by the Boston composer Southard. Among the singers were his friends Mrs. Long and Mr. Adams. Then came the often mentioned first appearance with the Mendelssohn Quintette Club on February 2, 1858 where he played the Boston premiere of the Beethoven C Minor Trio. On February 20th. he volunteered his service for the Complimentary Concert for Alfred Hill, “late of the Musical Exchange.” Again his friends Mrs. Long and Mr. Adams also took part and Carl Zerrahn put together “a select and efficient orchestra, composed of the Mendelssohn Quintette Club, Germania Band, and other artists.” (Traveler (February 20, 1858): 3, GB) This may have led to Lang’s part in Zerrahn’s “Last Grand Concert” on February 27th. where he “assisted” along with “Mrs. J. H. Long, Soprano and Mr. W. H. Schultze, Violinist.” (Traveler (February 25, 1858): 3, GB).

Therefore, it would seem that Lang spent separate periods during the years 1855-1858 in Europe, rather than the whole period. He probably began during the summer of 1855, returning by November to play the series of six concerts with the Germania Band. Then, the next summer of 1856, there is a second break during the months of June through November when he might have been in Europe, then returning to play concerts with Adelaide Phillipps and the Gilmore Band in December 1856. Finally, a shorter period of May to August 1857 seems open for a final European trip, with his return demanded by his announcement that he would begin teaching on September 1, 1857. From then on he had concerts including one with Mrs. Long in December  1857 and then as accompanist for the opera Omano by the Boston composer, Southard, on January 21, 1858. This would then have given him plenty of time to reestablish contact with the Mendelssohn Quintette Club and prepare for the Boston premiere of the Beethoven Trio.

liszt_1858                Liszt as Lang would have known him. 1858 Wikipedia photo.

B. J. was among the first of over 500 Americans who studied in Europe between the 1850s and 1900-he was the first to study in Berlin. (Bomberger, 318) “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. (Miller, Globe Margaret’s 100th-year article)

“Liszt took father to many concerts.”(Miller—Globe article) “During these years 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) He probably met Cosima’s husband, Hans von Bulow-if so, it would explain Bulow’s decision to hire Lang to conduct the world premier of the Tchaikovsky First Piano Concerto in 1875.

ALFRED JAELL.

        Alfred Jaell, b. Mar. 5, 1832, d. Feb. 27. 1882. Wikipedia photo.

Among the three European piano teachers that Lang listed was Alfred Jaell. Lang had probably first heard Jaell when he had been the soloist in the Boston premiere of Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in D Minor, Op. 40 with the Germania Musical Society at the Melodeon Theatre on February 19, 1852 conducted by Carl Bergmann. Jaell toured America during the years 1851-1854 and then returned to Germany to become the Court Pianist to the King of Hanover. B. J.’s Diary recorded that he “heard Jaell” on February 23, 1852. On November 22 of 1852 B. J. played for Jaell and Dressel and then on March 24, 1853 he heard Jaell, Dressel and ? (writing unclear) play at Chickering’s. Jaell’s friendship with B. J’s teacher is shown in that his Transcription Brillante on Home Sweet Home (1853) was dedicated to his friend “Mr. Francis G. Hill.” Early in 1853 Dwight wrote: “Alfred Jaell is now, we suppose, generally acknowledged the foremost pianist who has visited this country. Evident to anyone, who once hears him play, in whatever music, is the brilliancy of his touch, the liquid purity and smoothness and consummate finish of his passages, the well-conceived, clear, elegant rendering of the whole piece, with just regard to light and shade and fair proportion, and full bringing out of every point, and above all, the happy certainty and ease with which he does it…He certainly possesses the genius of execution. It is not any possible method or amount of practice that could place another by his side, unless equally gifted… In the two winters he has spent in Boston, he has interpreted to us a pretty long list of compositions of the nobler masters.”  (Dwight (January 22, 1853): 124 and 125) Describing his performance of the Symphony Concerto by Littolf Dwight noted: “It was Jaell’s crowning triumph in the way of execution; octave passages of incredible rapidity, lightning-like leaps from bass to treble, and all sorts of difficulties were achieved, with only a little more air of determined concentration, but with his usual success… Mr. Jaell’s audience, though the Music Hall had the capacity for many more, was very large,-at least fifteen hundred persons,-which proved the high estimation in which he is held, seeing that he can be heard at every Wednesday afternoon rehearsal of the Germanians for an almost nominal price.” (Ibid)

This cartoon may be of the 1853 concert described above. NYPL Digital, accessed November 18, 2020.

“He is described by one who heard him in the sixties [1860s] as a short, rotund man, with a countenance beaming with good humour, and, in spite of his unwieldiness, full of life and energy. A drawback to his playing was the constant staccato of short fat hands, which made legato, such as was common in the playing of Henselt, Thalberg, and Liszt, impossible to him. But his tone was round, full, yet sweet and penetrating, -the very biggest, fullest pianoforte tone to be heard at the time.” (Lahee, 144)


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ORGAN POSITIONS:

OLD SOUTH CHURCH. 1859-1864.


AnotherOldSouth
Trolleys but no cars; possibly c. 1905. Johnston Collection.

New England Magazine, February 1890.

Organ has been removed. Johnston Collection.

Lang began as organist at Old South Church [Old South Meeting House at the corner of Milk and Washington streets] in 1859. While Lang was organist, J. Q. Wetherbee was the ”Conductor of Music in the Old South” and he had begun his service c. 1856. (letter of thanks dated January 3, 1865 printed in the BMT (February 4, 1865): 20) At Old South, the three-manual instrument of 22 stops by the English builder Thomas Eliot and installed in 1822 seemed not to please Lang. “Benjamin Johnson Lang, a strong-minded individual with a penchant for enlarging or replacing organs, had become organist, and in 1859 the noted Boston firm of E. & G. G. Hook was engaged to rebuild the organ at a cost of about $2,000. The rebuilt organ [of 45 stops] was ”opened” on April 30 with a concert of organ and vocal music, and the event duly reported in Boston’s’ leading musical journal.” (Owen, Eliot, 126) This instrument had three manuals. At each of the three churches Lang served from 1859 until his death in 1909, he designed a new organ. Unfortunately the “area in which the old brick meeting-house was located was becoming increasingly commercial, and the church members were moving away, many of them settling in the newly developed Back Bay area.” (Owen, Eliot, p. 127) In fact Old South bought land in this new area in 1869. Then, in 1872 was the Great Boston Fire which created “sufficient smoke and water damage during the fire as to make it unfit for occupancy, but used for troops to guard the burnt district.” (Owen, Eliot, 28) However, before this happened, Lang had moved to South Congregational Church and its new Hook instrument which he was able to design from scratch.

SOUTH CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH. 1864-1888.

Below: Photo by J. J. Hawes, sometime between 1862 and 1889. BPL, digitalcommonwealth.

 

The church is on the middle left, just above the street name, “Union Park St,” and the house the B. J.’s father owned was on the middle, bottom, “93 Waltham St” being the fourth house from the right, of the row under the word “St.” BPL Map Collection.

Lang served a 20-year tenure at Rev. Hale’s (Unitarian) South Congregational Church, Union Park Street. Dwight’s Journal of July 23, 1864 reported: “The Rev. Edward Hale’s church at the south end, is to have a new organ, built by Messrs. Hook at a cost of $12,000, and Mr. B. J. Lang is to be the organist. This will probably surpass any church organ in the city. The organ of the Music Hall is creating a demand for really noble organs all around us.” This instrument was Opus 349 of Hook and Hastings. therefore Lang was part of two major organ projects for Boston churches within five years.

The Nov. 1863 Dedication of the Walker Organ at the Music Hall listed B. J. as still being at Old South, but in July 1864 the Boston Musical Times announced: “Mr. B. J. Lang has been engaged to become the organist of the South Congregational Church, (Rev. E. E. Hale’s). The necessary money has been subscribed to build a new organ, under Mr. Lang’s special direction, and he also has carte blanche to secure the best quartette choir that he can find. The society is certainly to be congratulated upon these negotiations for their advantage, which go into operation on the first of August.” (BMT (July 2, 1864): 101) In December 1864, after four months in his new position, it was reported that ”Mr. Lang’s new organ at Rev. E. E. Hale’s church is a fine instrument, and gives great satisfaction to those whose subscriptions secured its purchase. Mr. Lang gives masterly performances each week. His quartette choir is a good one.” (BMT (December 3, 1864): 182)

This photo was taken around 1975 by Bob Cornell when a group from Fisk’s [including Barbara Owen] crawled all through the organ. They found it still completely intact, except for the amateur electrification job that thankfully even preserved the console. It had been unplayable for many years due to the failed action and the decayed bellows leather. (7) “The South Church organ is so jammed in that it’s hard to get around inside, and the bellows is outside, above the stairway to its left.” (8) Barbara also noted that Lang had a “perchant for [designing] organs bigger than the space available for them…This was [also] followed by his King’s Chapel Skinner, which had Pedal pipes sticking up into a hole in the ceiling and needed to have the casework widened.”

This new instrument was built in 1864 by E. & G. G. Hook and Hastings ”according to specifications of the organist B. J. Lang. It was the largest in any Protestant Church [in the United States] and had Great, Swell, and Choir manuals and Pedale, 38 speaking stops, 7 pedal stops, one a Bourdon with 32-foot tone, and 2260 pipes.” (Ayars, 169 quoting from Dwight’s Journal of Music Nov. 12, 1864 Vol. 24,  339-40 and November 26, Vol. 24, 351-2) Dwight gave further information about this ”thirty-two feet [sic] Bourdon Stop, giving tones low and deep, beyond the power of the ear to discriminate — which are felt rather than heard. It forms a foundation for the grand harmony of the whole, wonderfully pervading and sublime. The case, built by J. F. Paul, esq., is of Black Walnut, beautiful and elaborate, with emblematical decorations, elegantly carved, and enriched with gold. The front pipes are of a new composition, surpassing in richness and color anything before used. They are highly polished, giving a brilliant silvery appearance, in beautiful contrast with the dark woodwork.. many improvements in scales, voicing, and ”action” appliances are here used for the first time. This installation is located in the gallery and fills a space twenty-three feet high, eighteen and a half feet deep, with a total breadth of over thirty feet.” (Dwight (Nov. 12, 186): 348) The actual design of the “Beautiful and elaborate” case had been done by Hammett Billings who had just done the design for the Walcker instrument in the Music Hall. (Owen, 93) In 1857 the location of this new church on Union Park Street was described as being at “the centre of Boston bourgeois society.” (Chamberlin, 119)

Early photo-note the trumpets at the top of each side of the case. Barbara Owen thinks that they may be inside the case.

A year later it was noted: ”A prominent feature in the religious services at the South Congregational Church, both morning and afternoon, is the organ concert by Mr. B. J. Lang, in which he takes pleasure in exhibiting the capacity of the new instrument. The choir at this church is now well selected so that all the musical exercises there are worth listening to.” (BMT (December 2, 1865): 177) It was reported that “the best audience which attend any place of amusement, fill Rev. E. E. Hale’s church twice a month, on the occasions of Vesper service.” (BMT (December 1, 1866): 3) During the summer of 1866, while Lang was in Europe, “Mr. W. Eugene Thayer will preside at the organ, and conduct the fortnightly concerts at the South Congregational Church.” (BMT (June 2, 1866): 83) Thayer had just returned from a period of European study. (Ibid)

Rev. Edward Everett Hale began at South Congregational Church in 1856, and as he was “one of the most untiring workers among the clergymen of Boston, and whose literary work has made his name familiar all over the country;” within four years a larger church was needed. The original church had been built in 1827. The new church was begun on June 8, 1861 “in the midst of war and rumors of war,” and ”with remarkable promptness this beautiful church was finished in seven months and dedicated Jan. 8, 1862.” (King, 177); Lang began c. September 1863.

A typical selection of church music of the time is shown in the music list which Dwight published as being performed at the morning and afternoon services at South Congregational on Easter 1873:

Morning:

 Organ Voluntary — Hallelujah Chorus – Handel                                              Anthem – Easter Morning, Canon trio – Schumann                                        Anthem — The World Itself Keeps Easter Day – Lang                                           Gloria – Lang                                                                                                                          Hymn – Lang

Vespers:

Easter Carol – Lang                                                                                                        Selection from the Messiah –   Handel                                                                             Te Deum in E-flat [the same key that MRL would use for her Te Deum setting] – Lang

Lang is listed as organist and conductor, while the vocalists were: SOPRANO-Mrs. Julia Houston West; ALTO-Mrs. John F. Winch; TENOR-Mr. William J. Winch; and BASS-Mr. John F. Winch. (Dwight (April 19, 1873): 7 and 8) This same quartet had also been noted in 1871 and was still intact in 1876. (Dwight (May 27, 1876): 240) William and John Winch were often soloists with the Handel and Haydn Society. The same quartet performed St. Saens’ short Christmas oratorio Noel [Christmas Oratorio] with “Mr. Lang playing the accompaniment, the pastoral prelude, etc., on the organ. The music proved both edifying and artistically pleasing.”  Arthur Foote speaks of taking organ lessons in 1874 at Dr. Hale’s church on Union Park Street.

Rev. Hale’s son spoke of the attitude that his father had toward worship as practiced at South Congregational Church, Union Park Street: “He liked to read the psalms alternately with the people, or sometimes alternately with the choir. He liked to feel that the choir were not merely strangers who had their Sunday work at his church, but were as much a part of the church as himself. It was partly this that made Mr. Lang, and Mr. and Mrs. Winch, Mr. John Winch, and Mrs. West so admirably representative of the spirit of the church.” (Hale, 216 and 217)

In 1884 the choir membership was: SOPRANO-Miss Elizabeth Hamlin who was newly arrived from Albany; ALTO-Miss Mary How; TENOR-George J. Parker, who was returning after a year abroad, having formerly sung at King’s Chapel; BASS-J. F. Winch.  In about ten year’s time, the quartet had almost completely changed with only Mr. Winch remaining. However, this was a very fine group of singers with Miss How appearing in many Boston concerts as an assisting artist, Mr. Parker often the soloist with Cecilia and Mr. Winch singing for Lang performances and also Zerrahn’s choirs including the Handel and Haydn Society. (Journal (April 7, 1884): 3, GB) The next year there were two changes in membership. For SOPRANO Miss Emma Bockus came from the Harvard Church and William J. Winch returned as the TENOR. (Journal (March 30, 1885): 3, GB)

After twenty years in this position, Lang was offered the position of Organist of the Church of the Immaculate Conception. He refused it. (Diary 2, 1883)

KING’S CHAPEL.

kings chapel                     King’s Chapel c. 1906.  Johnston Collection.

kings 1910Photo taken between 1910 and 1920. therefore, this is the new E. M. Skinner organ that B. J. had designed and which Malcolm played for his ten-year tenure at King’s Chapel. Johnston Collection.

The front of King’s Chapel as seen from the choir loft. Unused postcard, Johnston Collection.

KING’S CHAPEL. 1888-1909.                                                                                              In the fall of 1888 Lang became organist of King’s Chapel and remained there until his death in 1909 (Owen, 17 and 58). During his tenure, the choral music for the morning service was provided by a mixed quartet composed of some of the best professional singers in Boston. In 1887, the year before Lang began, the choir members were: SOPRANO-Miss Gertrude Franklin; CONTRALTO-Miss Harriet A. Whiting; TENOR- Mr. J. C. Bartlett; and BASS-Dr. C. W. Goddard; J. W. Tufts was Lang’s predecessor as Director of music. (Herald (December 26, 1887): 8, GB) At King’s Chapel in 1898-99 Lang initiated a well-received series of afternoon musical services where a mixed choir made up of singers from other city churches presented choral music of a high caliber. Although Lang also occasionally gave evening organ recitals, his best-remembered organ performances seem to have been the improvised postludes to the afternoon services that he always based on the final hymn.” (Owen, 58)

Just before his death, Lang had been able to design a new organ for King’s Chapel. It was developed with Ernest M. Skinner, “a friend of B. J. Lang,” and “the two had several consultations about the new instrument, and Mr. Skinner will carry out the wishes and suggestions by the former organist as faithfully as if Mr. Lang had been spared to supervise the work.” Skinner said that this instrument would be the only one in Boston to have an “orchestral oboe and English horn.” (Herald (July 24, 1909): 2, GB)

Thus the main appointments of his career as an organist were:

1859-1864 Old South Church

1864-1885 South Congregational Church-Dr. E. E. Hale

1888-1909 King’s Chapel

(A 1909 article about B. J.’s son, Malcolm Lang, reinforces this, saying that B. J. had been at Dr. Hale’s church for twenty years and at King’s Chapel for nineteen years.)

B. J.’S STUDIO ORGANS.

B. J. ordered three organs from Hook and Hastings for his teaching studios.

# 1173             1883                 2 manuals and 12 registers.

# 1623            1894                2 manuals and 18 registers.

# 2087           1905                 2 manuals and 14 registers. (VanPelt, 67)

Lang’s first studio organ was Hook and Hastings Opus 1173, 2 manuals built in 1883. The fate of this instrument is unknown.

hh 1894 epiphanyrc dclang organ         Johnston Collection.

This photo is of Lang’s second studio organ, Hook and Hastings Opus 1623, organ built in 1894. It is now at the Epiphany Catholic Church, 2712 Dumbarton Ave. NM, 20007 in Washington (Georgetown), D. C. In 1905 Lang faced eviction from his studio at 153 Tremont Street as the building was “to be torn down in 10 days.” He listed his studio instrument for sale: “New splendid church organ, built by Hastings for B. J. Lang’s studio. Is for sale at $950; unprecedented opportunity for a church; 2 banks of keys, 2 1/2 octave pedals, 18 registers; warranted in perfect condition.” (Herald (April 15, 1905): 14, GB). It was sold to a Catholic Church in Fall River, MA, and then moved to its present location c. 2004 when the MA church was closed. The colors of the pipes are not original.

BJLang_AtOrgan                                            Collection of Amy DuBois.

B. J. at an unknown organ, but probably this is his third studio organ at 6 Newbury Street. A January 9, 1910 article  mentions “its big pipe organ.” This is probably his third studio organ-Hook and Hastings Opus 2087, 2 manuals built in 1905. It resembles “Size No. 5” in the Hook and Hastings brochure c. 1905. (Van Pelt, Hook List, 223) In the 1871 brochure, this instrument is listed as having three stops on the bottom keyboard and four on the upper (Swell) keyboard. There was one pedal stop and the price was $1,200. (Ibid, 126) The difference is that the photo in the brochure has 14 display pipes while this photo has 24 pipes. The fate of this instrument is unknown.

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