SC(G). Word Count-18,559. 10/10/2020.
Before promoting his own concerts, B. J. was a featured artist with many Boston groups. Soon after returning from his three years of European study, he appeared in the fourth and last orchestral concert conducted by Carl Zerrahn at the Music Hall. Dwight felt that the orchestra of only thirty players was too small to realize the “grand conceptions” of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5. Lang was the soloist in Mendelssohn’s Concerto in D Minor –Dwight’s review was not overly complimentary. (Dwight (March 6, 1858): 390) Lang also was part of the vocalist Mrs. Long’s Annual Concert where he, with the brothers Fries, “renewed the delightful impression of a part of Beethoven’s early Trio in C Minor, namely the Theme with variations and Scherzo. The same young pianist also proved his skill and tact in the nice matter of accompanying some of the vocal pieces” (Ibid)-Lang’s Boston premier had been with the Beethoven.
On Saturday evening, February 11, 1860 B. J. was the soloist at the Third Philharmonic Concert at the Music Hall led by Carl Zerrahn in W. S. Bennett’s Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra [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 being the Handel and Haydn Society. A year before, March 12, postponed to March 14. Lang had performed this piece with only the accompaniment of the Mendelssohn Quintette Club at a “Grand Complimentary Concert” for the sing Elisa Biscaccianti-in the second half of this concert he performed as a solo, Fantasie from “Il Puritani” arranged by Prudent.[?]. (HMA Program Collection) Late in February 1860, Lang was part of a Mendelssohn Quintette Club 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. As a solo, 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.” This concert was the sixth in the series for the Club. (Dwight (March 3, 1860): 390) A month later, in March 1860, he arranged a “Compliment Concert” to raise funds for his European stay the following summer. “The new Hall in Bumstead Place was fuller than it has ever been.” Assisting artists were the Mendelssohn Quintette Club, vocalists Mrs. Long and Mr. Wetherbee, and pianists Dresel, Parker, and Leonard. Highlights of the concert included the “Adagio and Scherzo” from Mendelssohn’s Sonata in D for Piano and Violoncello with Wulf Fries and two eight-hand arrangements for the four pianists. “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.” (Dwight (March 31, 1860): 6) Dwight mentioned in this review a mannerism which he had observed in Lang-“With all the excellencies of this rapidly rising young pianist, it is but friendly justice to him to make him aware of this one little unartistic habit which he has of running his fingers unmeaningly over the instrument when he sits down to play something. It is not preluding: it does not express a mind full of the music and the meaning coming; it is just an idle or a nervous physical outbreak of the fingers; and often, we have noticed, even fails to modulate into the key in which the piece commences. Mr. Lang will not find such things done in Germany. is such crudities which make it desirable for a young native musician, be he ever so facile and brilliant an executant, to pass some time in a musical atmosphere like Germany, and get imbued with the artistic tone.” (Dwight (March 31, 1860): 7) Dwight also mentioned that Lang was to receive another “Complimentary Concert” in his hometown of Salem.
On November 30, 1861, at a “Private Concert” held at Old South Church, 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?] (BPL Lang Prog., Vol. 1) Three days before Lang had been an assisting artist for the opening concert of the Mendelssohn Quintette Club’s Thirteenth Season when, on Wednesday, November 27, 1861 he played the Mendelssohn Second Piano Trio with Schultze and Fries at Chickering Hall. (BPL, Lang Prog., Vol. 1)
Lang appeared in the closing concert, the eighth of their thirteenth season, in March of 1862 with two movements from the same Mendelssohn work again, and Chickering Hall “had scarcely standing room for all who came on Wednesday night.”He also was part of the American premiere of the Graedener Piano Quintet in G Minor, Op. 7-the composer lived then in Hamburg and was seen as a follower of Schumann. (Dwight (March 22, 1862): 407) Lang 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 Fantasie on Norma for two pianos. (BPL Lang Prog., Vol. 1)
“Mr. B. J. Lang gave recently a concert in Salem, his old home, with so excellent a programme, that, even at this late hour, we wish to record it.
Grand Sonata, Op. 22 Beethoven
“Jerusalem” from St. Paul Mendelssohn
Scherzo, Op. 31 Chopin
Andante for two Pianos Schumann
Song of Spring Mendelssohn
Rondo Capp. Op. 14 Mendelssohn
Prelude in E Minor Mendelssohn
The Mother’s Song Kucken
Concerto, acc’p’t by 2nd. Piano Hummel
Mazurka, F Sharp Minor Chopin
Mr. G. W. Steele played the second piano, and Miss J. E. Houston was the vocalist. The Salem people do not often have so fine a treat.” (Dwight (May 16, 1863): 32)
At the February 4, 1864 concert by the Mendelssohn Quintette Club Lang played two solos, Agitato in A minor, Op. 15 by Schulhoff and Slumber Song in D flat, Op. 81 by Heller, and Dwight noted that “Mr. Lang’s brace of piano-forte pieces were nicely rendered and very acceptable, especially the charming Slumber Song by Heller, which had to be repeated.”Lang also was part of the Mendelssohn Quartet in B minor for Piano and Strings that Dwight noted was Opus Three by the composer, written two years before the Midsummer Night’s Dream Overture. “Truly a wonderful work for a boy; as full of charming and surprising thoughts, and skillful, genial mastery of means, as it is of difficulties of execution. These were admirably surmounted by Mr. Lang and his associates, and the whole work produced a fine impression.” (Dwight (February 20, 1864): 190) Within days Lang was also appearing with the Orchestral Union in their Fifth Concert of the season where 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.
Within the same week, Sunday evening, February 7, 1864 at 7:30 PM, Lang 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 (cellist), 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. The tickets were 50 cents. (BPL Lang Prog.) The same 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. Parker and Lang played the “Overture” to Mendelssohn’s Hymn of Praise, Eichberg’s Religious Meditation was repeated and Mr. Bancroft was featured in one organ solo, the Grande Offertoire in F Major by Lefebure-Wely. Miss Houston sang three different selections spread throughout the program and Lang again opened and closed the concert. (BPL Lang Prog.)
The next month, March 1863, Lang was an assisting artist at the inaugural concert given on the “New Organ at the Church of the Immaculate Conception” where J. H. Willcox was the organist. The builders of the instrument, Messrs. Hook described the organ as “the most complete and effective Organ ever built in America…As a well balanced. full and admirably constructed organ it is without an equal among our largest and very best instruments.” Lang and Willcox played solos and the church choir and soloists completed the program. Bach’s Concerto No. 1 in G: Allegro, Grave, and Presto and Bird Song by Willmers, arranged for organ were B. J.’s contributions. (BMT (March 5, 1863): 38)
On March 12, 1864, Lang was the soloist in Mendelssohn’s Concerto for Piano in D minor at the second and last of “Mr. Julius Eichberg’s Orchestral Soirees” which took place at Chickerings’Hall. “The audience was large and discriminating” for a program that began with Mozart”s “Overture” to Cosi fan tutte, continued with two movements from Mozart’s Symphony No. 4 (Jupiter), then the piano concerto, and ended with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8.” There was no critical comment about the concert, only a final sentence: “Mr. Eichberg has commenced a good work, which we hope he may continue in future seasons.” (BMT (April 2, 1864): 3) As Eichberg left Boston for New York City two years later, things must not have continued successfully, but my appearing in concerts put on by other musicians, Lang was getting a good education in concert management.
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: Miss Houston, Mrs. J. S. Cary, Miss Annie L. Cary, probably Mr. Wm. Schraubstaedter (just returned from California) for tenor, Schraubstaedter frere, baritone, and Mr. Ryder, basso. 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 worldwide 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.)
On December 10, 1864, Lang was an assisting artist at the “Third Piano-Forte Concert” given by Otto Dresel at Chickerings’ 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. Dressel would give the Boston premiere 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)
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 Worchester for a Friday evening concert on March 10, 1865, where he opened the Worchester 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)
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 crowed 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.” The musicians presented the conductor, Mr. Zerrahn in appreciation for his work in the concert.(Dwight (March 18, 1865): 414 and 415)
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 crowed, 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)
Lang appeared in two concerts in May 1866-a handwritten notation records that his solos were encored. At the May 21, 1866 Concert at Chickering Hall given by Mrs. H. F. Dupree vocalist, Lang played the “Andante” from Rondo Capriccio in E Minor by Mendelssohn and Liszt’s transcription of Weber’s Polonaise in E major-both were encored, but nothing else in the program was encored. Earlier in the month at the Saturday evening May 5, 1866 Benefit Concert for Miss Annie Cary his Liszt/Weber performance was doubly encored!. (BPL Lang Prog., Vol 1)
Lang continued to appear with the Mendelssohn Quintette Club. At a concert presented in Providence during November 1866, the Providence Journal went “into ecstasies over Mr. Lang’s pianism, thusly: ”We have heretofore expressed our admiration of Mr. Lang’s piano-forte playing. There is something not only in his taste in selecting and his style of rendering music, but in his very looks and manner, as it seems to us, that indicates the presence of the truly conscientious and high-minded musician, who has a perfect sense of the dignity and worth of his art. Last evening he gave us some superb specimens of genuine piano-forte music and playing. The polonaise by Liszt was exceedingly rich, 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) Lang had appeared with the Club in Boston earlier in the year: “The last of the series of Chamber Concerts by the Mendelssohn Quintette Club, will be given at Chickerings’ Hall on Tuesday evening next, March 8th., when Mr. Lang will be the pianist. The programme is one of great merit, and we shall anticipate a large attendance.” (BMT (March 3, 1866): 37) The Times didn’t later print a review-during this period, 1865-66, the Boston Musical Times carried few detailed reviews.
The Mendelssohn Piano Trio No. 1 was again played at the Club’s concert at Chickering’s’ Hall on Tuesday, January 8, 1867-it was the second concert in the series. “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) By 1867 the Boston Musical Times was back to including full reviews of a number of concerts in each issue-however, only one piece of music was included per issue whereas in earlier years there had sometimes been three pieces in each musical supplement.
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 which 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)
While Perabo was featuring Schubert, Carlyle Petersilia was presenting Schumann. The “Second Schumann Soiree” was performed “on Saturday evening, January 26, [1867 at] Chickerings’ 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’ 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 Petersilia completely electrified the audience.” (BMT (February 2, 1867): 15 and 16)
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)
Lang returned to his hometown of Salem and 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, Miss Dutton was 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 SwallowsJ. Strauss
Brindisi Galathes Masse *
Wedding March Mendelssohn
(Dwight, May 25, 1867, p. 39)
* = solos by Miss Phillipps (BPL Lang Prog.)
On Saturday afternoon, October 26, 1867 Lang presented a lecture on the piano at Chickerings’ 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 state 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, that “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. 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.” (BMT (November 2, 1867): 87)
On February 5, 1868 Lang took part in a “Complimentary Concert, Given in Honor of the Members of the Commercial Convention” and sponsored by the “Boston Board of Trade.” Lang appeared three times in the first half of the concert. First, he played two organ solos, Fantasia in G by Bach and a “Chorus” from Elijah displaying the “Vox Humana stop,” and then he joined with the Julius Eichberg in Eichberg’s Religious Meditation for Violin and Organ, and the first half ended with the Bach/Gounod Ave Maria sung by Mrs. Smith with Eichberg on violin, Lang probably on piano, and Dr. J. H. Willcox on organ(HMA Program Collection). An interesting mix of classic and popular for this convention of tradesmen. Part two of the concert was presented by Gilmore’s Band!
In March 1868 “Mr. B. J. Lang had ‘the pleasure’ he so courteously craved ‘of introducing to the musical public of Boston’ the Eight 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.” (Dwight (March 28, 1868): 215) In Langs 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.)
John S. Dwight-“He had found in Dwight’s Journal of Music an ideal medium through which to propagate his vision of music. The extent of Dwight’s influence, however, is unclear. The precise circulation of the journal has never been ascertained. And Dwight himself was becoming isolated. His purist, Germanic view of music never really reflected the tastes of the Boston public. As his views hardened, he became increasingly distanced from the reality of Boston concert life.
Dwight nevertheless remained a powerful figure in Boston’s musical circles. His power base came from his connection to elite society, which was centered in two organizations: the Saturday Club and the Harvard Musical Association. As a member of the Saturday Club Dwight was admitted into the inner sanctum of the elite. The club joined literature and power; its membership included some of the richest, most prominent men in Boston, such as Thomas G. Appleton, Charles Francis Adams, and James Elliot Cabot, as well as some of the age’s, most important literary figures, such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry W. Longfellow, and Nathaniel Hawthorne…
His (Dwight’s) friendship with Emerson and Parker, his principal entrée into intellectual society, had been forged when his work in German literature far outweighed his musical accomplishments. No other musician was a member of the Saturday Club, although by the 1880s there were other potential candidates in Boston, such as William Mason and B. J. Lang. No painter, sculptor, or other visual artist was a member.” (Broyles, 306 and 307)
Dwight’s support of Lang as a new member of the Boston musical community is shown through his printing of Lang’s program for a solo piano concert given at the Town Hall in Milton even though “other engagements, we are sorry to say, prevented us from hearing it.
Benediction de Dieu Dans la Solitude: Liszt
Rondo Cappriccioso [sic] in E minor. Op. 12: Mendelssohn
Etude in D flat major-Cradle Song: Heller
Caprice in C major: Lang
Caprice in A flat major: Lang
Fantasie in A minor: Mendelssohn
Fantasie in E minor: Mendelssohn
Scherzo in B flat minor, Op. 31: Chopin
Transcription of Themes from a Polonaise by Weber: Liszt.”
(Dwight (October 10, 1868): 326)
The programs for the 1869 “Mr. B. J. Lang’s Symphony Concerts at Mercantile Hall” were:
Tuesday, April 6, 1869 3:30 PM
Overture to Prometheus: Beethoven
Symphony # 3 in E Flat: Mozart
Serenade and Allegro in B Minor: Mendelssohn
Miss Alice Dutton
Symphony # 4 (Italian): Mendelssohn
Tuesday, April 13
Symphony # 8: Beethoven
Overture: Calm Sea…: Mendelssohn
Piano Concerto # 4: Beethoven
Mr. Hugo Leonard
Overture: The Naiads Sterndale Bennett
Tuesday, April 20
Symphony # 6: Beethoven
Overture: The Hebrides: Mendelssohn
Violin Concerto: Beethoven
Symphony # 7 in G Major: Haydn (BPL Lang Prog.)
The brochure announcing the series had a slightly different order of pieces, and the location was listed as Chickering Hall. A second brochure reflects the program as listed above and the location to be the Mercantile Hall (both in the HMA Program Collection). Dwight referred to them 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)
The fall of 1869 and winter/spring of 1869-70 saw Lang in Europe where he gave a number of solo piano recitals. At the Hotel de Rome in Berlin on December 28, 1869 he played 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.) On Friday, March 11, 1870 Lang played at the “Saale des Herrn Hof-Pianofortefabrikant Ronisch in Dresden.” 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) and two pieces, Phantasien in A dur and in C dur of his own composition. (BPL Lang Prog.) A 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.)
Lang continued to appear at the 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 art “a second Piano Forte by Mr. H. G. Tucker [his pupil]” (HMA Program Collection).
Dwight announced that “Mr. B. J. Lang has made arrangements to give four concerts at the Globe Theatre on Thursday afternoons, beginning Jan. 19 , 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 [see next page] 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 also participated in Mozart’s Quintett 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.” The end of the review listed the works for the second concert: Beethoven-String Quartet in A, Beethoven-Piano Concerto No. 1, Chopin-Ballade in A flat, and Mendelssohn- Trio in C minor. Dwight’s final comment was that “These concerts come in pleasant alternation with the Harvard Symphony Concerts.” (Dwight, January 28, 1871)
In fact, this second concert on Thursday afternoon February 1, 1872 at 3:30 PM opened with Schubert’s String Quintet in C, Opus 163 in place of the advertised Beethoven Quartett in A Major Opus 18. Again using the Mendelssohn Quintette Club as the accompaniment for the Beethoven First Piano Concerto Opus 15, 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 Opus 66.
This third concert of the series on Thursday afternoon February 16, 1872 again using the Mendelssohn Quintette Club as assisting artists presented the repertoire as previously advertised. It 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) Dwight’s 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.” (Dwight (February 25, 1871): 406 and 407)
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:
Quintet in B Flat major, Op. 87 Mendelssohn
Concerto in C Major for Three Pianofortes Bach
Pianoforte Pieces Lang
Pianoforte Concerto in D Minor, Op. 40 Mendelssohn
Messrs. Lang, Leonhard, and Parker played the Bach with an accompaniment of string quartet plus double bass. Dwight 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)
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 Polonaise in E Major. Among the other guest artists were Mrs. Frohock who opened the concert with an organ solo (un-named) and Miss Phillipps. General Admission was 25 cents with reserved tickets at 50 cents. (BPL Lang Prog., 6272) 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., 6273)
“Mr. B. J. Lang began his second series of four Concerts, at the Globe Theatre again, on Thursday, February 14,  at 3 P.M.The attendance was flattering both in character and numbers; the social and artistic atmosphere and the surroundings very pleasant.” The Mendelssohn Quintette Club shared the program, and opened with Mozart’s String Quartet No. 8 in F major. Then Lang played two Chopin pieces-the Nocturne in C Minor, Opus 48, and then, “to eke out its brevity he also played one of the most admired of Chopin’s Ballades with rare grace and finesse.” The final piece was the Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 1 in B Flat, Opus 19 with the accompaniment played by a second piano (Mr. Sumner), string quintet and flute. The work had only been played in Boston once before: January 16, 1868 by the Harvard Musical Association with Lang as soloist. Dwight’s review of the first performance mentioned that “There is abundant opportunity for the player to show his good taste, ease, and reserve power, the subjection of deft, thoroughly practiced hands to expression, all of which Mr. Lang eminently did show. It was a most elegant and happy rendering of a charming composition with which all were glad to have made acquaintance.” (Johnson, 46) In an evaluation of this second performance, Dwight wrote: “It was an admirable rendering throughout.”The review ended with the program for the second concert to be held on Thursday, February 29-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.”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.” 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)
Lang presented a series of four concerts on Monday afternoons at 3:30 PM beginning with April 10, 1871. These 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, No.1 – Bach (Adams)
Fugue in E Minor, Fourth Suite – Handel (Adams)
Three Diversions, Piano Four hands, Opus 17 – Sterndale Bennett
Concerto in F Minor Opus 21 – Chopin (Sumner)
“Festspiel und Brautlied” from Wagner’s Lohengrin – 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 (6275) (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 thee pianosBach (6276)(Adams, Sumner,and Tucker with Apthorp playing the orchestral part)(Citations from BPL LangProg., 6293-4)
Lang gave another series of four Globe Theatre Concerts on Thursday afternoons at 3 PM in 1872. The program for the fourth concert included:
String Quintette in B Flat – Mendelssohn
Piano Concerto No. 3 – Beethoven
Grand Trio in B Flat major – Rubinstein
Concerto for Three Pianofortes – Bach
The 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.) 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 pianists, Mr. B. J. Lang proposes to give a second series of Symphony Concerts, at Mechanic’s 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 was one of the soloists, and the announcement for the series reminded patrons of the Bumstead Hall Pianoforte Concerts held last spring. 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.) 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 Prog.) These concerts at Mechanics Hall were seen to be “supplementing in some sense, in a smaller hall, the larger Symphony Season.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 Great Boston Fire began on 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)
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)
Even in these difficult times, Lang was able to continue his career. Early in 1873 he conducted a performance of the “Boston Choral Union.” Held at Wait’s Hall on January 9, 1873, there were five assisting vocalists and Mr. G. W. Sumner as the accompanist. Tickets were 50 cents. Strangely the composers’ names were not listed after the choral selections-they only sang six pieces. (BPL Lang Prog.)
In 1873 B. J. gave a series of four concerts at Mechanics’ Hall: March 6 and 20 and April 3 and 17 at three o’clock. No orchestra was mentioned. Season tickets were $4. (BPL Lang Prog. (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), three songs by Mendelssohn sung by Mr. Charles R. Hayden, the Cello Sonata, Opus 69 by Beethoven, played by Mr. Wulf Fries who “sustained his usual good reputation,” (Ibid) Six Pieces for piano Opus 72 by Mendelssohn, and the Mozart Sonata 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)(BPL Lang Prog.) The third concert had the following program:
HMA Program Collection
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 by Chopin, op. 48, 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.”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.(Dwight (May 3, 1873): 14)
Lang conducted another concert by the “Boston Choral Union” on Thursday evening April 17, 1873 at Phillips Church, South Boston. The work was Mendelssohn’s Elijah and the accompaniment was by Mr. H. G. Tucker at the piano and Mr. G. W. Sumner at the organ. Among the soloists were Mrs. Julia Houston West, Mr. W. J. Winch and Mr. John F. Winch. The tickets were 50 cents. (BPL Lang Prog.)
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.
From c. 1874 until 1884 Lang gave “a series of pianoforte concerts, the present season (1884) forming the only exception. He has given five different sets of symphony concerts, and in these has always followed the good German idea of a large orchestra in a small hall, so that no possible effect should be lost.” (Mus. Ob., 1884)
The 1874 series of Thursday afternoon 3:30 to 5 PM Chamber Music Concerts at Mechanics’ Hall began on February 19, 1874 with a program opening with Beethoven’s Sonata in C minor, Op. 30 for Violin and Piano and closing 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)A review by Dwight did not always guarantee a positive evaluation of Lang. The second concert “offered to a crowded 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.” Songs by Schubert and Beethoven were sung by Mr. George L. Osgood, 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, Mendelssohn’s Trio in C Minor was played by Lang and the brothers August and Wulf Fries.” 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.”A tenor, Mr. Charles R. Hayden also took part. (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 vocalist Clara Doria also took part. 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.
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).
“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)
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 Mr. Lang was commissioned by the Harvard Musical Association to procure, for its Library and its Concerts, some of the principal compositions of Saint-Saens.” For the March 23 concert, Lang and Arthur Foote opened with the American premier [Foote, Auto., 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.” (Ibid) 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 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, piano! 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) This was 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 possess intelligence beyond her years.” 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 contrast for its full effect…Mr. Lang had mastered its immense technical difficulties surprisingly well; but it did seem as if, in putting off the gala dress, the soul had also faded from the features. 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). 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)
Lang presented two concerts at Mechanics Hall late in March 1876. Dwight noted that the “distinctive feature” was the preponderance of music by Saint-Saens, “organist at the Madeline in Paris, a musician thoroughly trained in the best classical school, at home in Bach [important to Dwight], and with a streak of genius in him…On his visit to Europe last summer Mr. Lang was commissioned by the Harvard Musical Association to procure, for its Library and its Concerts, some of the principal compositions of Saint-Saens.” HMA performed the Second Piano Concerto with Lang as the soloist, the Concerto for Cello with Mr. Wulf Fries and the symphonic poem, Phaeton. For Lang’s first concert on March 23rd. he and Arthur Foote opened with the Variations for Two Pianos on a Theme by Beethoven, Op 35 and the concert ended with Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 22 by Saint-Saens with Lang as soloist and Foote providing the orchestral reduction. Lang also included four Bach transcriptions for solo piano as arranged by Saint-Saens. The second concert on March 30 opened with Trio in F Major, Op. 18 by Saint-Saens, included four more Saint-Saens solo piano transcriptions from Bach, then the Andante from the First Piano Concerto, Op. 17 by Saint-Saens, and ended with the Tschaikowsky First Piano Concerto in B Flat Minor, Op. 23. “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 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 (April 15, 1876): 213 and 214)
On Friday evening, April 7, 1876 Lang was one of the assisting artists at a concert given by Miss Lillian Bailey at the Revere House. 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). Foote described Bailey as having “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 Hotel Pelham (where the Little Building noiw stands).” (Foote, Auto., 44)
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)
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-these last two pieces being the same repertoire as he had presented on April 7, 1876 (HMA Program Collection).
“Mr. B. J. Lang’s two concerts at Mechanics’ Hall, on Thursday afternoons, March 6 and 20, were choice and somewhat unique in character. Both were very fully attended, especially the last, and by the most refined, appreciative sort of audience.” (Dwight (March 29, 1879): 54) The first concert opened with Beethoven’s Piano Sonata, Opus 81 played by Miss Jessie Cochrane, continued with eight songs sung by Mr. W. J. Winch including B. J.’s The Two Roses, and finished with Rubinstein’s Concerto No. 3, Opus 45 with B. J. as the soloist. Miss Cochrane was a pupil of Lang’s and she had also studied in Europe with von Bulow. Lang had played the Rubinstein with orchestra seven years ago-this time the accompaniment was at a second piano played by Mr. W. S. Fenollosa. “It gave full scope for all the vigor, fire, and finished, brilliant virtuosity of Mr. Lang, who, we are sure, brought out all the soul and all the interesting detail of it…Mr. Lang’s mastery of its exacting difficulties was supreme.” (Ibid) Lang’s own song was “a graceful, dainty fancy, [and] was heartily appreciated.” (Ibid) The second concert opened with the first Boston performance of a Trio in G Minor with piano by Hans von Bronsart, then active in Leipzig. “Mr. Lang was at his best in it.” (Ibid) Mr. Winch offered another set of songs including Lang’s Absence and Her I Love, but neither was mentioned in Dwight’s review. Beethoven’s Grand Trio, Opus 97 completed the concert.
Early in 1879, Lang was involved in the founding of a new performing group-Euterpe. For each concert, a different four-person committee chose the music. For the first concert held on Wednesday evening January 15, 1879 the committee included Charles C. Perkins, J. C. D. Parker, George L. Osgood and Jules Eichberg. The committee for the Second Concert included B/ J. Lang, John Orth, J. K. Paine and W. S. Fenollosa while the third group included W. F. Apthorp and H. G. Tucker (both Lang pupils), and Lang was again part of the fourth committee. The season was one concert per month; January through April 1879. For the Second Season, five concerts were schedules running December 1879 through April 1880. Committees were not named, but instead, F. H. Jenks was listed as the Secretary on the Season Announcement. The Third season 1880-81 also included five concerts on Wednesday nights at 7:45 PM performed at the Meionaon (part of Tremont Temple), and the repertoire was mainly string quartets. The Fourth Season of four concerts, November 9, 1881 through February 1, 1882 were all performed by the Beethoven Quartet, and the first two concerts used Camilla Urso as the First Violin player. In June 1882 the officers were: President, Charles C. Perkins; Vice-President, B. J. Lang; Secretay, F. H. Jenks; Treasurer, Wm. F. Apthorp; Directors, Julius Eichberg, A. A. Brown, John Orth, W. Burr Jr., Hamilton Osgood, S. B. Whitney, J. C. D. Parker, and H. G. Tucker. “It is an understood thing that all of the money collected shall be expended on concerts-or as nearly as practical-allowing for outside expenses.” (Elson, Musical Boston, p. 4) For the Sixth Season of four concerts, December 12, 1883 until March 12, 1884 performed at Apollo Hall, 151 Tremont Street, two were played by the Campanari Quartet and the other two by the Beethoven Club. The Seventh Season of four concerts was also performed at the Apollo Hall and ran from January 7, 1885 until March 25, 1885. For the Eight Season 1885-86, a subscription was sold for $7 which gave you three tickets for each concert. For this season B. J. Lang was listed as Vice-President, W. F. Apthorp as Treasurer, and F. H. Jenks continued as Secretary. (HMA Program Collection)
In April 1880 Lang presented another group of two performances at Mechanics’ Hall at 3 PM. On Thursday, April 1, 1880, at the first of two concerts. Lang included the premier of Saint-Saens Sonata Opus 32 for cello and piano played by lang and Mr. Wulf Fries. Dwight didn’t find the Saint-Saens exciting.”But what woke us all up to new life, dispelling all possibility of doubt about its genial excellence and beauty, was the Concerto for Four Pianofortes [by Bach] with string accompaniment,[eight additional players were listed on the program] given for the first time in America. It consists of three short movements: Moderato, Largo, and Allegro. The four pianos were played by Mr. And Mrs. Sherwood, Mr. J. C. D. Parker, and Mr. Lang; and they did it con amore. Dwight enthused: “It is wonderfully interesting, not merely for its contrapuntal skill and learning, but for its fresh ideal beauty.” (Dwight (May 8, 1880): 79) The concert opened with “a repetition of the Trio in G minor by Hans von Bronsart, which excited so much interest last year…The interpretation lacked nothing of spirit or discrimination, and the impression which the work before made of nerve, originality and power was confirmed.” (Ibid) George L. Osgood performed ten songs as part of this program. The second programme, on Thursday afternoon April 29 at 3 PM, opened with a Quartet by Raff, followed by ten songs sung by Mr. William J. Winch who was “in excellent voice and sang with fervor, with artistic finish, and with fine expression.” (Ibid) The concert ended with the Boston premiere of Goldmark’s Pianoforte and String Quintet in B Flat, Opus 30. (Ibid)(BPL Lang Prog., Vol. 3) Lang discovered this work very quickly as it had only been published in Europe the year before, 1879. (Program notes, CPO recording) Dwight wanted to hear this piece again before recording his impressions. Tickets for the season were three dollars available from Chickering”s Pianoforte Warerooms. (BPL Lang Prog.)
Fox writes, “Support for French music did come from other corners, however [in addition to that supplied by Loeffler]. Benjamin Johnson Lang, for example, gave the American premieres of the Saint-Saens Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Harvard Musical Association on 3 February 1876, the Saint-Saens Rhapsodie d’Auverge, op. 13 (1 January 1886), and Massenet’s Eve (27 March 1890), as well as the Boston premiere of the Berlioz Requiem (12 February 1882).” (Fox, Rebellious Tradition, 240) She does not mention the next, very important work.
On Friday evening, May 14, 1880 at the Music Hall, Lang presented, as his own private undertaking, the first Boston performance of La Damnation de Faust by Berlioz. (BPL Lang Prog., Vol. 6) Early in May, Dwight reported that this first performance had been postponed from a previous date, “and after fresh rehearsal, it cannot fail to be a success.” (Dwight (May 8, 1880): 79) Dwight praised Lang’s “great zeal and energy in bringing out” this work, and reported that the evening was “crowned with success.The means employed were adequate: an excellent orchestra of sixty (Mr. Listemann at their head), a select, well-trained, efficient chorus, of two hundred and twenty mixed voices, and four good solo singers. The rehearsals had been through, the reports from New York had excited eager interest in advance, and the Music Hall was crowded with the best kind of an audience. The result was in the main most satisfactory. Hundreds came away convinced of the inventive genius and originality, the many-sided power, the rare musicianship and learning, the consummate savoir-faire of Berlioz…Mr. Lang had orchestra and chorus well in hand, and all was complete except that the two harps were replaced by two pianos. The only drawback of importance was, that the orchestra too frequently covered up the voices.” [well that is a change] (Dwight (May 22, 1880): 87 and 88) The importance that Lang attached to this event is reflected in the chorus announcement of March 4th. which stressed that every singer “must have attended every rehearsal of his or her part. This condition will be secured by the distribution at each rehearsal of a new entrance ticket, good only for the following rehearsal.” There were four male sectional rehearsals and three female women’s rehearsals followed by three combined rehearsals. The choral announcement ended with” N.B.-Persons who are not quite sure of being able to attend every rehearsal, will do Mr. Lang a favor by declining this invitation.” (BPL Lang Prog.) The sectional rehearsals were held in March at the “Apollo Rooms,” and the combined rehearsals were scheduled for April 5, 7, and 13 at Bumstead Hall for a performance date originally advertised as Thursday, April 15. Apthorp gave further details: “Since his performance of Haydn’s Seasons in 1864, he had mounted no large choral work on his own account, his conducting having been confined to his own occasional courses of orchestral concerts and to those of the Cecilia and the Apollo Club. The time was singularly propitious: he was at the height of his popularity with the Boston public and still continually before the public. But the task was an arduous one. None of the singers available for choral productions in Boston had ever grappled with an important work of the advanced French school; they had never sung anything bristling with such trying rhythmic complications as this work of Berlioz’s, and were moreover unaccustomed to the peculiar distribution of the voices in his choruses. Instead of the familiar soprano, alto, tenor and bass of the German choral writers, the choruses in Berlioz’s Faust are for the most part written, for male chorus with first and second soprani ripieni, the female voice seldom having independent parts to sing…But in spite of the unusual difficulties of the music, the Damnation of Faust was triumphantly brought out with Mrs. E. Humphrey-Allen, Mr. William J. Winch, Mr. Clarence E. Hay, and Mr. Sebastian B. Schlesinger in the solo parts. The performance was one of the most brilliant successes Lang had ever had, and the work was repeated several times, later with the Henschels and others, and afterward by the Cecilia.” (Apthorp, 358 and 359)
concerning the second performance of the Berlioz on Friday, November 12, 1880 at the Music Hall, Dwight recorded that “we can only say, at present, that it was a great improvement on the first presentation here last spring, both as regards choruses, male and female, orchestra, and solo singers, and that the interest and fascination of the strange, weird, in parts extremely beautiful music grow upon one as he becomes more familiar with it…The chorus of 200 male and 100 female voices had the charm of careful, critical selection, beautiful ensemble of tone quality, as well as of precise, well-shaded, and finely effective execution.”(Dwight (November 20, 1880): 191) An additional attraction in this performance was the appearance of George Henschel as Mephistopheles, “in which he has made [a] very great success in Europe.” (BPL Lang Prog.) The other soloists were Lillian Bailey, William J. Winch and Mr. C. E. Hay. (BPL Lang Prog.)
On November 30, 1880 “Lang gave his third presentation of the Damnation of Faust, this time at the Tremont Temple; and it must be admitted that all the details of the music, all its greatest and its least effects, came out with a remarkable distinctness, and with satisfactory intensity of sound. It was an even better rendering, under, in some sense, better acoustical conditions, than the two before…The orchestra was remarkably complete and satisfactory, from violins, oboes and bassoons, to cymbals, gong, and all the kitchen utensils. The Racockzky March created a furore.” (Dwight (December 18, 1880): 207) The soloists were the same except that Mr. Jules Jordan replaced William J. Winch. Margaret lists other performances of this piece on May 14, 1885, May 25, 1887, March 15, 1899, December 2, 1903, July of 1903 for a Teachers’ convention, and finally on December 13, 1904. (“Facts In the Life of B. J. Lang” by Margaret-Scrapbooks) Obviously this was a work that B. J. believed in deeply. He also presented the work with the Cecilia in 1894. The singer Clara Kathleen Rogers (Clara Doria) also mentioned the Cecila performance, but gave the date as 1885 “on which occasion Mrs. Humphrey Allen was the Margherite.” She then mentions further performances by Lang “in 1887, 1888, and 1889, when Melba sang the Margherite music.” (Rogers, Two Lives, 147)
These performances may have inspired Theodore Thomas to do the same!. Just two months after Lang’s third performance, “Theodore Thomas” Unrivalled Orchestra” and “The Thomas Choral Society,” J. B. Sharland Chorus-Master presented two performances at the Music Hall on Friday evening, January 28 and Saturday afternoon, January 29, 1881 using a “Complete and Newly Revised Translation.” Thomas used some of Lang’s soloists: Georg Henschel sang Mephistopheles and Clarence E. Hay sang Brander. The other soloists were Miss Fanny Kellogg as Marguerite and W. C. Tower as Faust. (Program advertised on E-Bay, November 2010)
Lang was one of thirty-five Boston musicians who volunteered their talents for a “Complimentary Concert for Mr. John S. Dwight” held on Thursday afternoon, December 9, 1880 at 2:30 PM. “The Boston Music Hall Association has given the use of the Music Hall for this occasion, without charge, and Mr. Peck, the Superintendent, his assistant, the ticket sellers, doorkeepers and ushers also contribute their services.” The orchestra was “of the Harvard Symphony Concerts,” Mr. Berhard Listermann, leader and Mr. Carl Zerrahn, conductor. (BPL Lang Prog.)
Not all criticism was positive.”A letter printed in the Philharmonic Journal sometime during the winter of 1880-1881 identifies ”the powers” controlling music in Boston. Named were Dwight, the ”educated music critic,” Otto Dresel, B. J. Lang, J. C. D. Parker, Chickering, and institutions like the Handel and Haydn Society, the Apollo Club, and the Cecilia Club.It declares Lang to be the head of ”this clique.”Benjamin Edward Woolf, an English-born and exceedingly right-wing musician who wrote mainly for the Saturday Evening Gazette, launched constant attacks on Lang. Woolf found Lang’s musical tastes too radical and his dominance too insidious.” (Tara, 42)
Lang promoted two chamber music concerts on Thursday afternoons at 3 PM, February 24 and March 10, 1881 at the Tremont Temple; it was announced that only the floor and first balcony of the hall would be used. Dwight’s announcement also mentioned that “Mr. Lang will have the assistance of the Philharmonic and Beethoven clubs, and of Messrs. G. W. Sumner, A. W. Foote and J. A. Preston, pianists; as well as of Mrs. Humphrey Allen and Mr. F. Korbay of New York, vocalists.” (Dwight (February 12, 1881): 28) The February 24th. concert featured woodwinds, opening with Rubinstein’s Quintet in F major, Opus 55 for piano and four winds, and concluding with Raff’s Sinfonietta, Opus 188 for ten winds. “The Rubinstein Quintet alone brought Mr. Lang’s excellent pianoforte-playing into requisition, but all the instruments seemed to be equal in importance.” (Dwight (March 26, 1881): 52) Between these works, five songs were sung by Mr. Korbay who performed his own accompaniments. The March 10th. concert included vocal solos and an Octet in D Minor, Opus 60 by Rubinstein for piano, strings, and winds-“It can hardly be called an octet in the strictest sense of the word, as it partakes more of the character of a pianoforte concerto with a septet accompaniment.” (Dwight (March 26, 1881): 52) The announcement had originally listed Rubinstein’s Quintette, Opus 53 for piano and four winds instead of his Octet (BPL Lang Prog.) Also performed were Mendelssohn’s Octet and Bach’s Concerto for Four Pianos with G. W. Summer, Arthur Foote, J. A. Preston, and B. J. as the soloists with an accompaniment of an octet of strings. “The eight strings were from the Philharmonic Club-B. Listermann, F. Listermann, J. C. Mullaly and H. Heindl and from the Beethoven Club- C. N. Allen, G. Dannreuther, J. Ackroyd and Wulf Fries. (Ibid) Mr. Lang is to be thanked for these two instructive concerts, and for the opportunities he afforded for hearing new works of such importance as the quintet and octet of Rubinstein, and the sinfonietta of Raff.” (Dwight (March 26, 1881): 52)
For 1881 Lang moved concert locations for his orchestral concerts and presented them on the two Sunday evenings after Easter-April 24 and May 1. One unannotated report mentioned that “An orchestra that has been formed on a basis of fifteen first violins-nearly double our usual number of strings…The acoustic properties of the church are particularly favorable for music,” and the church was chosen “For the purpose of reproducing, so far as possible, the effect of a very large orchestra in a small place, as in the Gewandhaus at Leipzig and at the Conservatoire in Paris…As the expenses must [not] exceed the receipts, there can be no complimentary tickets.” The series of two concerts cost $4. (BPL Lang Prog.) Dwight, in his April 23, 1881 issue gave good advance publicity for this new series. “Mr. Lang’s first concert at the new Brattle Square Church, which seats about six hundred, with a grand orchestra of seventy-five, will take place tomorrow Sunday (evening). He will give the Overture to St. Paul, the Pastoral Symphony of Beethoven, and the first movement of Rubinstein’s Ocean Symphony. Mrs. Allen will sing ”Angels ever bright and fair,” and Mendelssohn’s ”Jerusalem.” The occasion is one of novel and especial interest. —On Sunday evening, May 1, Mr. Lang’s orchestra will play the great Schubert Symphony, Mendelssohn’s Overture: Becalmed at Sea, and Prosperous Voyage, and Beethoven’s Coriolanus Overture. Mr. Henschel and Mr. John F. Winch will sing.” (Dwight (April 23, 1881): 69) Dwight also in the same issue reprinted a notice about the concerts that had appeared in the Advertiser which included additional information that he had not mentioned. “Mr. Lang will give two remarkable orchestral concerts in the church formerly occupied by Dr. Lothrop’s parish on the evenings of the first and second Sundays after Easter. The orchestra will number about seventy-five performers, including fifteen first violins, as many second violins, eight violoncellos, and eight double basses. The programmes will be of the noblest character, that of the first concert opening with the overture to Mendelssohn”s St. Paul, including selections of sacred vocal music, sung by Mr. Henschel, and ending with Schubert’ ‘s great symphony in C. The programme of the second concert will be of the same sort and will include one of the great Beethoven symphonies, probably the fifth. There will be thorough and numerous rehearsals in advance. Two-thirds of the tickets have already been taken; the remainder may be subscribed for at Chickering’s, the price being $4 for both concerts. –Advertiser.” (Dwight (April 23, 1881): 62) Dwight further supported these concerts by reviewing them two weeks later. “Mr. B. J. Lang’s concerts of orchestral music in the new ”Brattle Square” Church (Commonwealth Avenue) on the last two Sunday evenings, were of exceptional interest, not only as good renderings of good programmes, but also as illustrations of his special object, which was to show the superior sonority, intensity of tone, and more effective ensemble of music given by a large orchestra in a comparatively small hall. For this end he prepared two capital selections, good intrinsically, well contrasted, and almost more than reasonably short, neither concert lasting over one hour and a half.” The church sat about six hundred people and had a Gothic ceiling like the Music Hall. “It was found a bad place for the speaking voice, and hence abandoned as a church. For music, at all events for an orchestra, it seems very good.” Dwight noted that the ensemble consisted of a total of seventy-five instrumentalists-fifty-four strings to the usual twenty winds; “and it is not yet proved that such an orchestra would not sound as well or better in the great Music Hall.” (Dwight (May 7, 1881): 77)
Another special event during the spring of 1881 was Lang’s conducting of Mendelssohn’s youthful operetta, The Son and Stranger (Heimkehr aus der Fremde) at the Boston Museum. This performance was to benefit the proposed “Hospital for Convalescents” [as part of the Mass. General Hospital-Boston Herald] and it attracted a full house. “A notable company of soloists, a large chorus and an orchestra of from 30 to 40 musicians” performed. (Herald, (May 13, 1881): 4)
In 1882 an article written by Louis Elson summed up B. J.’s position in Musical Boston. “B. J. Lang has been mentioned before in this short [short!-six pages, three columns per page, very fine print] chronicle, in connection with the Handel and Haydn Society. His influence at their concerts for the last twenty-two years has been an important and influential one. His power in Boston’s music has always been exerted for good, and even in the days of Dresel, Kreissmann and Leonhard was felt in the counsels which preceded every important movement. It was he who first suggested the great series of Harvard Symphony Concerts, which we have alluded to above; it was he who more than any other held the programs up to their first high level; he has also been one of the leading subscribers since the beginning of the series. it was his influence which brought out in Boston for the first time the great pianoforte concertos of Bach, and most of those of Schumann, Mendelssohn, and Beethoven, as well as the works of the newer school, the concertos of Rubinstein, St. Saens, Bronsart, etc. For the past ten years, he has been in the habit of giving a series of pianoforte concerts, the present season forming the only exception. He has given five different sets of symphony concerts, and in these has always followed the good German idea of a large orchestra in a small hall, so that no possible effect should be lost. he is one of the very few American musicians who have given concerts abroad with success. he has appeared as a pianist in Berlin, Dresden and Vienna. His interest in the Bayreuth Festival, the Franz benefit concert. the Dwight testimonial, the Liszt celebration, in short, in every memorable musical occasion has been earnest, thorough, and, above all, practical. he has been honored with the personal friendship of the greatest composers of Europe, and his studies of the works of Wagner have been made with the assistance of the great composer himself. He has, like every earnest, original and competent worker, formed for himself a set of followers. pupils and disciples. It is impossible to enumerate these since the number of his pupils who have become concert soloists is over sixty. The work of the Cecilia Club is wholly due to Mr. Lang; that of the Apollo and Euterpe societies largely so. therefore, in the articles on these subjects, the reader will find a continuation of his too-brief personal sketch. Mr. Lang, although he has composed some very fine works, has, as yet, published nothing. As a musician he is armed at all points; he is one of the very surest of ensemble players and never loses his head. We can personally recall many instances where his calmness has saved careless or nervous players from disaster. He is a good organizer and a very efficient leader. At a time when no one else dared undertake playing with or directing for, the belligerent Von Bulow or the meteoric Joseffy, he did both-and well. He is one of the surest of score-readers and, though not a virtuoso, is one of the best types of true musician. He has long been the organist of a leading Unitarian church. Of his Boston pupils, we may mention Mr. Arthur Foote…Mr. W. F. Apthorp is another of Mr. Lang’s eminent pupils.” (Elson, Musical Boston, 3)
On Wednesday evening, March 28, 1882 at 7:45 PM Lang presented a concert performance of Beethoven’s Fidelio with full chorus and orchestra. Among the six soloists, the most notable was Georg Henschel although Miss Dora Henninger was brought from Cincinnati to make her first Boston appearance. (Concert ad, Herald (March 25, 1882): 3) There was also a “Public Rehearsal” the afternoon before at 2:30 with admission for 50 cents; Lang, the businessman was making as much money from this event as he could! (Ibid) The Herald reviewer felt that Miss Henninger should continue her vocal studies, but change teachers, as she had abilities but not learned to breathe properly, phrase correctly, “and her execution is amateurish in every way.” (Ibid) She had been strongly endorsed by the officials of the Cincinnati College of Music as one of their most successful pupils. Mr. Henschel had the greatest success of the evening with the Pizarro aria. “The rarely beautiful instrumental work of of the orchestral score was admirably well played throughout, especially the overture, No. 1, and the “Leonore, ” No. 2. A very large audience attended, and much enthusiasm was manifested over the more successful numbers of the performance.” (Ibid)(BPL Lang Prog.)
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)
1883 saw yet another presentation of Berlioz’s Damnation of Faust, this time “for the benefit of the Associated Charities of Boston.” Held on Monday evening March 24th at the Music Hall, the soloists were “Mrs. Henschel, Mr. Charles R. Adams, Mr. Henschel and Mr. Sebastian Schlesinger” and “an orchestral of unusual size.” There were fewer sectional rehearsals for the chorus this time: only one for the ladies (March 19th.) and three for the men (Monday the 17th., Tuesday the 18th., and Wednesday the 19th.) with two full orchestral/choir/soloists rehearsals. “It is thought that with the rehearsals so near together, an exceptionally good performance could be given by singers who already know the music.” (BPL Lang Prog. )
In 1883 B. J. presented a series of five recitals playing the complete piano works of Robert Schumann. Presented on March 1, 8, 15, 22, and 29 on Thursday afternoons at 2:30 PM at the Bijou Theater, each recital was advertised to be about two hours in length. “For these recitals, Mr. Lang has chosen the Bijou Theatre on account of its fine acoustics, which must be conspicuous on these occasions when audiences of but three or four hundred are assembled.” (BPL Lang Prog.) Mr. Lang begs his audience to assemble promptly at half-past two o’clock”. Each piece had a short explanation printed in the program. Other pianists and vocalists also took part: Madame Schiller, H. G. Tucker, George L. Osgood, John A. Preston, W. F. Fenollosa, Joshua Phippen, Arthur Foote and G. W. Sumner were the assisting keyboards artists-“The names of the singers will be announced later.” Single tickets were $1.50 and season tickets, $5 from A. P. Schmidt’s Music Store. (BPL Lang Prog.) For the first program Mrs. J. E. Tippett was the vocalist; for the third, Mr. George L. Osgood; and for the fourth, Mrs. Georg Henschel.
“The 1885 concert mounted by B. J. Lang for the celebration of J. S. Bach’s 200th. birthday was ‘almost certainly the first time in sixty years or more that a harpsichord had been heard in public concert in Boston.’” (Fox, Rebellious Tradition, 244 quoting from Larry Palmer, The Harpsichord In America. 172, n. 5) “It appears, from research by the writer,[William Lyman Johnson] that there was only one harpsichord in Boston in 1885 in playable condition. It was the property of Mr. Morris Steinert, founder of the house of M. Steinert and Sons. Mr. B. J. Lang, who did much for enlarging the horizon of music in Boston, organized a festival for the celebration of the two hundredth anniversary of the birth of Bach, born March 21, 1685. In Bach’s Coffee Cantata there is the need for a harpsichord, and Mr. Steinert’s instrument was played by Mr. Lang. This was probably the first time for a period of sixty years that a harpsichord had been used in a public concert in Boston.” (HMA Bulletin No. 14) Other reports mention that the harpsichord used was built by Chickering, but as Arthur Dolmetsch did not come to America until 1899, this is probably incorrect. (Ibid) The concert on Saturday afternoon, March 21, 1885 at 2:30 PM was held at Chickering Hall. The first piece was the Concerto in C Minor for Two Pianofortes with Arthur Foote and Lang as soloists; next was the Concerto in A Major for One Harpsichord “played upon a harpsichord like those of Bach”s time;” then the Concerto in C Major for Three Pianofortes with Arthur Foote, H. G. Tucker and Lang as soloists; then the Coffee Cantata with Miss Louise Gage, Mr. W. J. Winch and Mr. J. F. Winch as the soloists; and finally the Concerto in A Minor for Four Pianofortes with W. S. Fenollosa, G. W. Sumner, H. G. Tucker and Lang as soloists. One part of the announcement noted:”the original instrumental accompaniments will be played throughout this programme.” (BPL Lang Prog.)
In addition to producing his own concerts, Lang continued to be an assisting artist with other groups. On Monday, February 1, 1886 Lang and Mr. Fritz Giese, cellist were presented as the 7th. Monday Afternoon Chamber Concert at Bumstead Hall. Lang played the solo part in Edward Napravnik’s Pianoforte Concerto Symphonique with the orchestral part played by G. W.Sumner. Then came three piano solos including Lang’s own Spinning Song in A Major, and the concert ended with Mendelssohn’s Sonata for Pianoforte and Violoncello in D Major, Opus 58. The Kneisel Quartette was advertised for the next concert in the series, two weeks later. In the 1886-87 season of six concerts given at Chickering Hall by the Kneisel Quartet, he played the first Boston performance of the Brahms Trio Opus 40. (Lang had given the Boston premiere of the Brahms cantata for male voices Rinaldo with the Apollo Club on December 15, 1883; then been a soloist in the Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Boston Symphony under George Henschel on March 15, 1884. He also was to give the Boston premiers of the Brahms German Requiem with the Cecilia Society in December 1888 and Nanie on May 22, 1890).
On March 1, 1887 Lang presented the first of four “Pianoforte-Concerto Concerts” at Chickering Hall. For these 2:30 PM afternoon concerts B. J. conducted and featured a variety of vocal and instrumental soloists. For the first concert, four soloists were used; at the second concert on March 8 Ethelbert Nevin was the soloist in Liszt’s Piano Concerto no. 1, and the final two concerts on March 22 and 29 both used four soloists each.
George Whitefield Chadwick noted in his Diary that during the 1887-88 season “B. J. Lang gave four concerts of concertos which his pupils played. He made them sell (and buy) the tickets too!”
Chadwick made an interesting observation about the 1888-89 musical scene in Boston. After listing the great variety of concerts presented, he noted: “Does not this show that Boston was a more musical place in 1889 than at the present time? Most of these concerts were homemade and as a rule, well supported. Nowadays we depend almost entirely, with the exception of a few young pianists and singers, on artists and companies from N. Y. or Europe and they take the money away with them. Choral societies cannot pay their way. We have no chamber music + no opera,. But a star even of the 2nd. or 3rd. magnitude can fill Symphony Hall on Sunday afternoon, especially if he or she is a Jew.”
In March 1890 Lang presented his advanced pupils in two “Concerto Concerts” which used orchestral accompaniment. Early in the month, Mr. Tucker played the Concerto in G Minor Opus 15 by Sgambati; Mrs. March played Mendelssohn’s Capriccio Brilliant Opus 22; Mr. Phippen played Chopin”s Concerto No. 2 in F Minor. For the second concert late in the month Mr. Whelply played Dvorak’s Concerto No. 2 in B Minor; Mr. Foote p[layed Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor, and Miss Louise May played Beethoven’s Concerto No. 3 in G Minor Opus 37. (Hale Crit., Vol. 1)
On Monday evening March 16, 1891 8 PM at the Music Hall was given a “Concert under the Direction of Mr. B. J. Lang, for the benefit of the AURAL DEPARTMENT OF THE MASSACHUSETTS CHARITABLE EYE AND EAR INFIRMARY.” Members of the BSO generously gave their services, and Arthur Nikisch conducted the opening Overture to Leonore No. 3 by Beethoven, Mrs. Nikisch sang three songs in German, and the major work was Massenet’s Eve with the Cecilia Society and orchestra conducted by Lang. The full English text of this work was printed in the program book. (BPL Lang Prog., Vol. 6)
On December 1, 1898 and January 12, 1899 Lang arranged two Bach Concerto Concerts performing on an Erard harpsichord imported from Paris (Grove-American-Ledbetter-p.10) This was done “by the kindness of Messrs. Chickering and Sons,’ who had brought the instrument “from Paris for these occasions.” (BPL Lang Prog.) The purpose of these concerts which were held at the Association Hall at three o’clock was the “enlarging of the Ruth Burrage Library by the addition of full orchestral scores for the home use of Musicians.” (Ibid) At the first concert Lang and Madame Hopekirk played the Concerto in C Major for two keyboards, Lang played the Concerto in D Minor on the harpsichord, and Lang, Mr. Foote, and Mr. Proctor played the Concerto in C major for three keyboards. At the second concert Lang and Madame Szumowska played the Concerto in C Minor for two keyboards, Lang played the Concerto in F Major on the harpsichord, and the concert ended with Lang, Mr. Baermann, and the BSO conductor, Mr. Gericke performing the Concerto in D Minor for three keyboards. The accompaniment for all the concerti was provided by an orchestra under Mr. Kneisel. (Ibid)
These early music performances were not the first for B. J. At a concert at Bumstead Hall on Sunday April 12, 1896 he included the Bach Concerto in C Major for Three Pianos which he followed with the Prelude in C Major by Bach and the Allegro in C Major by Handel which were performed on a harpsichord built by the Boston keyboard maker, Chickering. The concert finished with Bach’s Coffee Cantata using members of the Handel and Haydn Society. A note at the end of the program stated “except in some portions of the cantata, for which Mr. Lang will play accompaniments from Bach’s figured bass, the original instruments will be used.”
Parsifal was again presented by Lang in a “Private Performance” on Tuesday, January 6, 1903, this time at the new Symphony Hall on Huntington Avenue. The principal soloists were:
Mme. Kirkby Lunn- Kundry
Herr Gerhauser- Parsifal
Herr Van Rooy -Amfortas
Herr Blass -Gurnemanz
Herr Muhlmann- Klingsor and Titurel
Mr. Wilhelm Heinrich- Esquire
“The best possible soloists have been engaged for the six flower-maidens, knights, and unseen chorus; there will also be male and female choruses and an orchestra of seventy players. Owing to the restrictions on the production of Parsifal, there can be neither public sale nor an advertisement for the tickets. Those who wish to hear this performance should fill out and send the enclosed blank to Mr. Byrne, 100 Chestnut Street, receiving, in return, directions for the selection and payments of seats…The tickets are five dollars each.” (Lang Prog.) Mr. and Mrs. J. Montgomery Sears held a lavish reception after the performance for which “Society Turn[ed] Out in Force.” This took the place of their regular Tuesday musicales.
Lang’s continued prominent place within the Boston musical community is reflected in his role as a featured performer in the Tuesday evening, April 14, 1903 Concert commemorating the founding of the House of Chickering & Sons eighty years before in 1823.“On opposite sides of the stage…were placed the first piano made by Jonas Chickering and a modern Concert Grand.” (Commemoration, 14). The concert consisted of five songs sung by Miss Mary Ogilvie accompanied by Mrs. S. B. Field which included Margaret’s My True Love Lies Asleep followed by an address by Dr. Edward Everett Hale with a conclusion of two pieces played by B. J.First he played The Battle of Prague by Kotzwara that was “a piece of music greatly in favor about 1823,” and then a portion of La benediction de Dieu dans la Solitude by Liszt, “a composition in vogue at the present time.” (Commemoration, 14 and 15)
Lang produced La Damnation de Faust by Berlioz again on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, July 7 and 9, 1903 at Symphony Hall for the “National Educational Association Convention at Boston.” the soloists were:
Madame Louise Homer-Marguerite
Mr. Joseph Sheehan-Faust
Mr. Gwilym Miles-Mephistopheles
Mr. Leverett B. Merrill-Brander
Mrs/ Bertha Cushing Child-Heavenly Voice.
About 2/3rds of the chorus was from the Cecilia Society, with another 42 members, mainly men from the Handel and Haydn Society, an additional 24 male voices from the Apollo Club, ten more male voices from the Amphion Club, and a final 61 voices “From other organizations of Boston and Vicinity.” (Lang Prog.) Lang was the Chairman of the “Music Committee” for the event which included among its 12 other members – Allen A. Brown, G. W. Chadwick, Carl Faelten, Arthur Foote, Wilhelm Gericke, Henry L. Higginson and John K. Paine. Certainly a very impressive group! (Ibid)
B. J.’s interests of orchestral conducting and introducing new music continued even late in life. The Chickering Piano Company asked Frederick S. Converse, Arthur Foote, Charles M. Loeffler and B. J. as Chairman to form a committee to “arrange a series of concerts in Chickering Hall…February 10, 24 and March 9 and 22, 1904…The purpose of these concerts is to give the public an opportunity to hear new and interesting compositions in a hall of moderate size…the orchestra will number between fifty and sixty.” B. J. was to be the conductor. G. W. Chadwick’s name was also listed as a committee member on the “Chickering Orchestral Concerts” stationary, but his name was crossed off on letters sent from Lang to Chadwick. At the first concert the American premiere of Debussy’s Three Nocturnes (with female choir) was given as the second item of the concert and also repeated as the final number-the same procedure that he had followed forty years earlier in introducing new works. The concert opened with the Overture to La vie pour le Czar by Glinka and also included a scene from L’Enfante du Christ (Le Repos de la Saint Familie) by Berlioz.
The program of the second concert included:
Overture to Iphigenia in Aulis – Gluck (arr. Wagner)
Concerto in D Minor for Three Pianos – Bach with George Proctor, Heinrich Gebhardt and Felix Fox as soloists
L”Apres d un Faune – Debussey
Les Djinns for Piano and Orchestra – Franck (Boston premier)
Four Songs – Faure sung by Mrs. Jessie Downey Eaton
Overture-Joyeuse – David Stanley Smith (conducted by the composer)
The Third Concert on March 9, 1904 included:
Prelude from the Birds of Aristophanes – John K. Paine (world premiere, conducted by the composer)
Concerto for Piano – Ernest Hutcheson (world premiere, the composer as soloist)
Two Fragments: The Saracens and The Beautiful Alda – E. A. MacDowell
Rhapsody for Baritone and Orchestra: Cahal Mor of the Wine Red Hand – Horatio Parker with Stephen Townsend as the soloist
Suite Algerienne – St. Saens
The Fourth Concert on March 23, 1904 included:
Suite from Castor and Pollux – Rameau (arr. Gevaert)
Symphonic Sketches – Chadwick (conducted by the composer) (In a letter dated ??? 16th to Chadwick asking him to conduct these pieces, Lang referred to them as “three pieces of yours that Mollenhauer once played on a tour.” (NEC Collection)
Aria for Mezzo-Soprano – Strube with Miss Josephine Knight
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra Op. 26 – Bruch with Miss Nina Fletcher
Poem Symphonique Op. 13 – Glasounow
The Second Season (1905-06) was very different; there were at least twelve concerts, but they were all of chamber groups, and the Artistic Director was H. G. Tucker (who was one of Lang’s piano pupils). Mr. A. de Voto was the pianist in the seventh concert – December 17, 1905.
During the Third Season (1906-07) two songs by Margaret were performed – The Sea Sobs Low [never published ?]and Spring sung by Bertha Cushing Child, contralto accompanied by Arthur Colburn. During the next season Summer Noon was sung on January 6, 1907 by Miss Mary Desmond, “the English Contralto” with Mr. A. de Voto as accompanist. At the January 10, 1909 concert Arnold Dolmetsch used a harpsichord and Clavichord built by Chickering
Mathews, One Hundred, 427 (Probably about 1889)
at the time of this photo (circa 1889), Lang was described as “hale and hearty, a young man, (though he was then in his early fifties) albeit somewhat thinly thatched with white and gray upon the top of his well-rounded skull…He is happily married and lives in elegance.”(Howe-One Hundred, 429)