LIST OF WORKS-ANNOTATED
Word Count-20,076. 01/01/2020.
OPUS 1 Quintette for Piano and Violins (1879). B.J. told the story of its composition. “It was nothing less ambitious than a quintette for piano and violins, and the little composer wanted to have it performed for some charity that appealed to her youthful heart. Consulting her father as to the probability of its financial success, he told her that if she should charge twenty-five cents for going in and five dollars for coming out before the performance ended, the question of finance would be settled, as every quarter would be supplemented.” In an article written when she was 101 years old she mentioned that this piece was composed when she was 13 or 14 to play with three friends on violins. “That was just fun in the summer,” and she had taken up the violin “because her friends were studying it and [she] learned by watching them play. Later she studied it in Munich, but not seriously, and she gave up the instrument when she left Munich.” (Article by John J. Mullins entitled –“Composer Margaret Lang, 101, just ‘wants to live forever.’”) An article from 1895 describes the work as “a quintet for piano and four strings, that was played privately at her father’s summer residence.” (Musical Courier, January 1895)
OPUS 2 Love Plumes His Wings to Fly Away. SSAA. The Cecilia premiered this work on Wednesday, January 25, 1893 at the Boston Music Hall. Francis H. Jenks of the Musical Herald said “very delicate and bright.” The Musical Courier said: “Her music is melodious and effective; her use of the lower tones of the alto voice is skillful and the composition shows not only musical feeling, but dramatic instincts well.” The Herald said that “the ladies never did better work than in Lang’s tuneful and pleasant” work. The 17th. Annual report of the President of the Cecilia (no Society in their title then) dated May 25, 1893 said “and Miss Lang’s delightful bit of four-part writing for female chorus.” Philip Hale said in his January 26, 1893 review: “Miss Lang”s graceful setting of Mrs. Moulton”s Love Plumes His Wings stood out in delightfull relief [to the greyness of the other pieces], and it was heartily applauded.” (BPL Hale Crit., Vol. 1) The piece was repeated in the 1894-95 season on January 16 and 17, 1895, on February 4, 1902, and again on March 31, 1908.The Globe review of the 1902 performance said that “His daughter’s song, Love Plumes His Wings, with its singularly soaring soprano solo, was beautifully rendered by female voices; and it is high praise to say that the Cecilia singers have never given a female as well unless it be in The Lord Is My Shepherd of familiar memory.” (Globe. February 5, 1902, p. 3) Another review noted: “It began well, but the short interjectional phrases seemed artificial, and gave only thinness to parts of the work without attaining the archness and coquetry of the poem.The end was especially weak in this respect.But the young composer proved that she does not often lapse into an inconsequential vein.” (Scrapbook 1887-1906)
OPUS 3 The Maiden and the Butterfly. TTBB. This work was written for the Apollo Club and sung at their April 1889 concert. Called a “Quaint and ingenious part song in waltz for, written for the club.” At the Jamuary 11, 1916 concert of the Apollo Club then conducted by Emil Mollenhauer at Jordan Hall (full house) with Dr. Archibald T. Davidson at the organ, this piece was sung again. The Musical Courier of January 29, 1916 said: “This composition Miss Lang has written expressly for the Apollo Club. It is well constructed and interesting throughout, and was sung by the club and remanded.” Hughes “Con. Am. Com.” says p. 434 “and is as fragile and rich as a butterfly”s wing.” Published as “Men”s Voices No. 89″ by Schmidt.
OPUS 4(?) In a Meadow for mixed chorus. Sung by a quartet at the January 31, 1889 Cecilia concert-many reviews. The Courier said: “Much commendation must be given to a quartet by our young composer Margaret Ruthven Lang.It is entitled In a Meadow and, although some of the solos phrases sound thin, it has moments of great power.It is melodious in an unwonted degree, and its grace and daintiness (admirably suited to the words) together with the excellence of its execution…made it one of the best appreciated numbers of a programme which, as will be seen, was rich in good things.”The American Musician of February 16, 1889 said: “It proved to be one of the most earnestly listened to of the evening”s selections.”The Globe review of February 1, 1889 described the work as having three verses “differently set, two being led off by the soprano, while the intermediate one is divided between the bass and tenor voices: there is also a diversified and sparkling pianoforte accompaniment which Mr. Lang played with paternal artistic grace.” (Scrapbook) The singers were-Mrs. Galvin, Miss Mary H. How, Mr. G. W. Want and Mr. Wellington [probably all from the choir-How and Wellington are listed as members in 1884-85]. (MYB 1888-89, p. 16)
OPUS 5 The Jumblies words by Edward Lear for male chorus, baritone solo, and two pianos published by Schmidt in 1890: “Men’s Voices No. 116.” For the Apollo Club. First performance at the First and Second Concerts of the 20th. Season on Wednesday, December 3 and Monday December 8, 1890 with Mr. E Cutter Jr. and Mr. Ethelbert Nevin pianists, and Mr. Otto Roth as the baritone soloist[but Roth was the violin soloist for this concert: Program-Johnston Collection]; the work opened the second half of the concert. The review in the Musical Herald for January 1891, page 10 said: “It is impossible to deny Miss Lang’s facility in composition or the grace with which she states her ideas, and while she has constructed a rather formidable work upon Lear’s innocent text, she has shown an original bent in her harmonies, and a sympathetic study of the voices.”(Quoted by Ammer in Unsung, 87) Another performance by the Mendelssohn Glee Club in NYC February 10, 1891 was favorably received. However, Philip Hale in the Post of December 4, 1890 said: “Miss Lang treated it far too seriously…The text calls for simple, jolly music; but from the first measure to the last the singers passionately content with the pianofortes for a hearing…The composition lacks clearness, directness, and humor; its frenzy is out of place.” He also found fault with her vocal writing. Hughes wrote in 1898 that “the touch of the fantastic that makes her song Ghosts a thing so delicately eerie makes a success also of her setting of Edward Lear’s curious nonsense, The Jumblies.” (Hughes article. “Women Composers,” 778) Two years later Hughes’ wrote that “The Jumblies is a setting of Edward Lear’s elusive nonsense, as full of the flavor of subtle humor as its original. It is for male chorus, with an accompaniment for two pianos, well individualized and erudite.”(Hughes-Con Am Com, 433)Writing in 1994, Osborne described the work as “apiece of almost symphonic dimensions in the context of the partsong tradition.The mesh of its lavish web of sound is created by two pianos and choral voices, its balanced sectional structure is truly imposing and there is a cameo accompanied recitative for solo baritone.Lest we think that only her father’s Apollonians could entice from her such an impressive work, both her Boatman’s Hymn, opus 13, and The Lonely Rose, opus 43, possess the same breadth.” (Osborne, 63 and 64)
Eighteen years later Arthur Foote also composed a setting of this poem. Published in 1908 by Arthur P. Schmidt, Foote”s setting was for mixed voices, but without accompaniment. Whereas Lang’s setting fills 22 pages, Foote’s takes only 8 pages. It is the fourth of his Opus 68 and was dedicated to Ralph L. Baldwin and premiered by the Cecilia Society on February 2, 1909, conducted by Wallace Goodrich (Cipolla, 44). Lang sets the opening, “They went to sea in a sieve. they did” to a rolling nautical 6/8 meter where Foote uses a solid 4/4. Lang contiunes in 6/8 and at the same speed for the second section, “Far and few are the lands where the Jumblies live” where Foote has a slower tempo, but still in 4/4. A third section, “And all night long they sailed away” is set as a baritone solo by Lang, but Foote uses his opening melody for this section. Lang sets the next section, “O Timbaloo! How happy we are” still in 6/8, “con espressione” while Foote treats it as an extension of his opening. The next section, “And all night long in the moonlight pale” is set to new material by Lang while Foote uses the second section of his opening. For a repeat of “Far and few” Lang uses a modified repeat of it”s first appearance while Foote copies his exactly. Foote ends his setting with this first verse of the poem while Lang continues and sets the sixth verse ending with the refrain, “Far and few.”
OPUS 6 Three Songs. Pub. 1891 by Schmidt
1. Chinese Song, E min. (c#-e). Words translated by J. Gautier from origianl by Li Tai Pe who also wrote the poems that Mahler set in Songs of the Earth.
2. A Bedtime Song, E (d-d#). Words by Eugene Fiel
3. Lament, D (d-d). Words by S. Galler, 1535. Hughes-p. 434 Con Am Com says: “Her Lament I consider one of the greatest of songs, and proof positive of women’s high capabilities for composition.”Downes said: “Op. 6 includes an interesting Chinese Song, with a very characteristic accompaniment, and a Bedtime Song, after Eugene Field’s poetry.There is in this last a subtle intimacy of sentiment and an exquisite shimmering effect in the accompaniment of the text: ‘Where the firelogs glow and spark, glitter the lights of the Shadowland.’” (Downes article)
OPUS 7 Three Songs of the Night. Pub. 1891 by Schmidt
1. Night, B (d-g#). Words by Louise Chandler Moulton.
2. Slumber Song, G (d#-f). Words by Anon.
3. The Harbor of Dreams, E (d-f#). Words by Frank Dempster Sherman. Receipt dated December 17, 1921 for $4 (100 copies @ .04).
OPUS 8 Three Songs of the East. Pub. By Schmidt
1. Oriental Serenade, E min. (c-f#). No poet indicated. Hughes p. 435, Con Am Com“ is an example of weird and original intervals.” Receipt dated 3/20/36 for $6.50(260 copies @ .025)
2. Christmas Lullaby, F min. (f-e). Words by John Addington Symonds.
3. A Poet Gazes on the Moon. C min. (c-e flat) Words after Tang-Yo-Su, translated by Stuart Merrill.
Downes commented: “Op. 8 contains three songs, two of them of an Oriental character.The first is an piquant serenade; the last a setting of a Japanese poet’s words, translated by Stuart Morrill, ‘The Poet Gazes on the Moon.’This is a shining example of what Miss Lang can do with very simple means.By the use of two or three elementary chords in the key of C minor and a transition to the sub-mediant major, with a voice part of limited compass and the utmost simplicity, she has succeeded in producing a wonderfully atmospheric, Oriental, suggestive impression.” (Downes article)
OPUS 9 Four Songs. Pub. 1892 by Schmidt
1. Heliotrope, F (e-g), Words by F. D. Sherman.
2. Spinning Song, D (d-f#). Words by F. D. Sherman. Hughes Con Am Com p. 434 “is inexpressibly sad, and such music as women best understand, and therefore ought to make best.” Downes felt that this song was “a dramatic picture; and another of the same character belonging to Opus 15. ‘Whether We Love or Hate’ has a pervading melancholy of mood and quietness of key color which must make a strong impression when it is sung.” (Downes article)
3. The Sky Ship, A flat (e-a). Words by Frank Demster Sherman.
4. Betrayed, A min. (E-a). Words by Lizette Woodward Reese. Hughes “fiery passion…highly dramatic until its rather trite ending.” However Downes opinion was that “An intensely dramatic page is the last of op. 9, Betrayed. The stormy, agitated accompaniment and fiery impetus with which the music rushes along, give it, in the writer’s estimation, almost the rank among songs that Chopin’s Revolutionary Etude holds in the realm of piano music.” (Downes article) Blunsom gives a page and one-half to a description of this song citing the influence of Wagner “both in the chromaticism and in the harmonic movement, including the use of diminished chords and ‘Tristan’ chords,” and she notes the similarity of measure 41 with “Wagner’s ‘Traume’ from Wesendonck Lieder. (Blunsom, p. 197) “Lang’s two spinning songs, however, reveal the depth of the female perspective expressed musicopoetically.” (Blunsom, 239)
OPUS 10 Orchestral overture, Witichis.
Performed on Saturday July 29, 1893 at the Popular Orchestra Concert #45 at the Festival Hall, conducted by Theodore Thomas with the Exposition Orchestra of
It was repeated as the opening work of Concert No. 36 of the “Music Hall Series” the on Friday, August 4, at three o’clock; the other works were the Suite Creole by John A. Broekhoven, the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto with Maud Powell as the soloist, and the Concert Overture by Hermann Wetzler. The third performance was given on Wednesday, August 30 at the noontime Popular Orchestral Concert given by the Exposition Orchestra of 100 at Exposition Hall conducted by Max Bendix [Max Bendix had been recruited by Theodore Thomas to be the Concertmaster of the new Chicago Orchestra which had completed two seasons before it became the nucleus for the orchestra at the 1893 World’s Fair] “Mr. Bendix, hearing that Mr. B. J. Lang was in Chicago with his family, sent to ask if they would like to hear the Wichitis overture played, and arranged for it to be the first piece on the program of August 30, at 12 noon, Mr. Lang having an organ recital a little later on the afternoon, and it was to be the last day at the fair.” (Musical Courier, January 1895) “The general character of the work is passionate, with a warmth that seems wholly genuine and unsought; and now and then with more idyllic moments of much beauty; and the orchestration is brilliant”(unatributed quote from “Ancestry.com”) A local Chicago paper wrote: “A work in which is displayed excellent management of themes well and carefully woven and sustained in result, while the instrumentation is thoughtful, yielding an effective climax toward the close by discriminating use od the brass.” (Chicago Tribune, August 5, 1893). Margaret’s piece was chosen from only 21 pieces that were submitted.
“10 Miscellaneous orchestra works; 6 Overtures; 7 Chamber music compositions; 3 Cantatas (vocal scores only); 2 Works for voices and orchestra; 1 Piano concerto; 1 Oratorio (vocal score only)” (Musical Year Book 1892-93, XXXI)
BJ’s recital at Festival Hall included three original Bach pieces including the Fantasie in G Major, Andante in C Major, and Pastorale in F Major, Schumann’s Fugue on BACH, his own transcription of Mendelssohn’s Overture to a Midsummer Night’s Dream, an improvisation, and ended with his own transcription of Beethoven’s Overture to Egmont. It was the 62nd. given during the Exposition. (Yearbook, Vol. 10, p. xxvi) The Chicago Tribune described the Bach performances as “sterling and musical” but saw the arrangements as “the same old endeavor to make the organ masquerade as an orchestra, which calls always to mind the fable of the jackdaw with the one peacock feather in its tail.” However the review ended with: “Mr. Lang”s improvisation was interesting.” (Chicago Tribune, August 31, 1893) The following day Alexander Guilmant was the performer at the 3PM Festival Hall organ. (Ibid)
Theodore Thomas from Elson, plate one, frontispiece.
A Boston Transcript story of October 10, 1896 related that when Margaret had finished this work in 1893, the BSO conductor, Nikisch said to her, “Would you not like to hear how it will sound? If so, send me the sheets, and I will have the men look it over, and you shall come and hear it.” This experience obviously led to the BSO premier of Opus 12 on April 7 and 8, 1893.
OPUS 11 Love Plumes His Wings. SATB chorus. First performance January 25, 1893. (Cline thesis) Repeated January 17, 1895. The Cecilia Society also sang it at their 154th. concert on February 3, 1902. The program note said, “Miss Margaret Ruthven Lang, born in Boston, is the daughter of the Cecilia’s honored leader. Her musicianship is sincere and strong. Her work has rare individuality and charm, and her songs are sung throughout the country.” The “Globe” review said: “His daughter’s song, Love Plumes His Wings with its singularly soaring soprano solo, was beautifully rendered by female voices; and it is high praise to say that the Cecilia singers have never given a female chorus as well unless it be in The Lord Is My Shepherd of familiar memory.” (Globe, February 5, 1902, p. 3)
OPUS 12 Orchestra overture, Dramatic Overture. Maestoso in E minor. Elson in “Amer Music” 1925 said- “it has some strong contrasts, especially between the chief theme and the subordinate. The first is grim and medieval, the second tender and human. To place these two in juxtaposition in itself gives something of dramatic power and the development of both is singularly unconventional.” p. 306
The premier of this piece in 1893 was conducted by Arthur Nikisch and opened the Boston Symphony 23rd. Rehearsal (Friday afternoon, April 7 at 2:30 PM) and Concert (Saturday, April 8at 8PM) of its 12th. Season. Also on the program were a
Recitative and Aria from FaustSpohr
Symphony in C Minor #9Haydn
Suite #1 in F Major, Opus 39Moszkowski
Scherzo Capriccioso, Opus 66Dvorak
William F. Apthorp’s program note began with a short biographical note, and then continued:
“The dramatic overture, in so far as its form is concerned, shows the same general tendency to adhere to the spirit of the sonata-form, with a very free interpretation of the letter of the law, that we find in many of Schumann’s symphonic movements. It begins, without preliminary introduction, with the gist of the first theme announced in the trumpets and trombones, with syncopated thuds on the kettledrums. This syncopated accent – the effect of which is purely rhythmical – is characteristic, and comes in again and again, as the development of the theme progresses. The first announcement of the theme is followed by a sinister cadence in the strings, after which a roll on the drums leads to the second phrase of the theme on the wind instruments, followed by another forbidding cadence in the strings, and another roll on the drums. Then the work of developing the theme – which almost has the character of working-out begins in earnest; this is carried out at some length, a new phrase, first appearing in the violins in octaves, seeming at first like a “first subsidiary,” but soon showing itself to be of far greater importance than a subsidiary theme can claim in compositions which hold fast by the classic form. It is really a natural melodic outgrowth of the first theme itself, and, for the development of the work, must be considered as really part and parcel of it. its passionate character well fits it for a ‘dramatic’ companion to the stern parent theme. The relationship of these two phrases is somewhat interesting technically. The first one, given out by the brass, has something of the vague tonality of the old modal writing of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, -a character which is made all the more prominent by the grim cadences on the strings that come after it. The second phrase belongs wholly to our modern tonality, and has that expression of personal, individual emotion that came into music with the discovery of our modern tonal system. Here is a juxtaposition that is in itself dramatic! These two phrases-the one stern, forbidding, and impersonal, the other full of passionate human feeling-are played off against each other, in coherent musical development, for some time, a more cantabile second theme gradually growing into being (its relationship with the second phrase just mentioned is not to be overlooked), and more and more asserting its supremacy.
Exactly where the ‘working-out’ begins was hard to say: the sheer development of the first and second themes has had much of sonata-form (which is also that of the overture) have been to a great extent obliterated. Still, the spirit of the form is unmistakably there. One finds it in the return of the first theme at what should normally be the beginning of the ‘third part.’ Indeed, the working-out proper is rather concise, and the return of the first part of the overture singularly regular for a composition so freely planned out. One feels, as has already been said, a sympathy with the sonata-form, without any predetermined intention of following its dictates to the letter. The overture is scored for the classical ‘grand orchestra,’ with trombones, big drum, and cymbals, but without bass-tuba, bass-clarinet, English horn, or any of the unusual instruments that go to make up the modern ‘Wagnerian’ orchestra. It is especially noticeable, too, that the stronger brass instruments (trumpets and trombones) have been reserved for special effects, and often do not figure at all in fortissimo passages. In this the composer has followed both Beethoven and Wagner in one of their most characteristic veins in instrumentation.”
On April 2, 1893 Apthorp typed a letter to Margaret at 12.43 A.M. [working late?]
If you find in the programme-books that I have made a botch of your overture, it is really not my fault. I am a poor score-reader, at best-although I can get at the inwardness of anything you please, if I only have time-and manuscript is just the point where the worm in my brain turns! A MS. score is to me like a MS. Story; I have to read it three times, where I should have to read it once in print. The Expiring Phoenix (Chadwick) always laughed at me for my helplessness in this matter, saying that a good MS. was just as good as engraving. But his laughing did not help me. There is something in hand-writing that seems to kill all consecutive perception in me; it is just as bad in words as in music. But I must say that I really and thoroughly enjoyed reading your score-in an incoherent sort of way, letting each measure tell for the moment, just as any idiot listens to music at a concert-and look forward to finding my impression strengthened at the hearing. Where did you get the idea of reinforcing the effect of those jumps from C major to E minor, and E major to A minor, by that Scharfrichter’s rhythm? I don’t know when I have heard that ‘Meyerbeer’ snap of the two short notes and a long one sound so new, and so little as if Meyerbeer had written it. I have also great hopes for the place where the third horn comes in against the twiddle-twiddle in the violins. And how stunning of you to have kept your trombones and trumpets for the preaching, and made your big crashes without them! I hope Nikisch will follow his native bent, and give the final ‘pa-pa-pum——-PUM!’ as it looks in the score. Ever so many thanks, yrs., &c., &c., &c.” (Scrapbook)
One review began: “This is, we believe, the first time that an orchestral composition by a woman has been played at one of our symphony concerts. it is rather odd how exceedingly little women have done in music-save in the way as singing and playing.” The review continues in the same vain, finishing the idea with, “Upon the whole the record is not brilliant.” But then the attitude changed, and the author wrote that “Miss Lang now comes forward with a work which must certainly stand very high indeed among compositions by women; indeed there is no special need of bringing her sex into the question at all, for this overture of hers does not need to be ranked in a special class in order to have good said about it. The beginning is particularly impressive-a grim phrase is given out by the trumpets and trombones in octaves, interrupted by syncopated thuds on the kettledrums, and is followed by a most effective piece of harmony in the strings-a chord of C-major is struck, and then merges into a passing harmony, which you expect to lead, by a half cadence, directly to the dominant chord of B-major; but no! instead of leading to the dominant, it leads to the tonic chord of E-minor. The effect of this sudden appearance of the chord of E-minor is startling, the chord seems to come from a hundred miles away, the effect is as unearthly as on ”et lux” in Verdi”s ”Manzoni” Requiem. If there is perhaps no other stroke in the overture that equals this in originality and force, what follows it has none the less conspicuous merit of its own. The thematic material is natural and unforced, the treatment coherent,often strikingly ingenious. Only once towards the latter part of the overture does the composer seem to lose her way for a moment in the maze of working-out; but she soon finds it again and pushes on to the end with very sure step. the general character of the work is passionate, with a warmth that seems wholly genuine and unsought-for, and now and then with more idyllic moments of much beauty. The instrumentation is brilliant, always skillfully managed, if not precisely what one would call masterly…Miss Lang”s varied play of color seems at moments more fitful and fantastic than her musical form and thematic development. Yet, in one respect, her scoring shows a very fine instinct; unlike most young composers, she is singularly thrifty in her use of orchestral material and does not waste her heavy artillery on effects of sheer dynamic force where it can be more wisely spent on effects of contrast.Upon the whole, she in no wise lays herself open to the criticism once passed on Augusta Holmes by a Paris musician: that, ”like most women, she tries to prove her own virility by making a tremendous noise,” The overture was admirably played and most enthusiastically received. Mr. Nikisch being called out three times after it.” (Anonymous, undated review, courtesy Boston Symphony Orchestra Archives)
The Courier review of April 9, 1893 said: “The overture while evidently the work of a skillful and refined musician is nevertheless a very characteristic sample of ‘kapelmeistermusik.’ There is a certain benign composure and nobility of intent in the writing of it, that is all too conspicuous, but the work appears to contain but a single well defined theme which is very reminiscent of the oriental music in Verdi’s Aida. The theme is so tautologically treated and so frequently repeated that the prevailing impression created by it is one on monotony and languor. Perhaps the most praiseworthy feature of the overture is in the orchestral coloring of its harmonic development which is altogether excellent.”
Another review devoted 75 per cent of its content to the new piece: “Of the composition itself there is not much be said that is pleasant in the saying. It is creditable as the result of a laudable ambition to essay an important work, and it may be pronounced a promising first attempt; but it is scarcely of a worth to warrant its performance, unless, indeed, to afford the composer an opportunity to hear it, and to profit by the experience. In the first place, it is hardly an overture, as the term is generally understood, and it is not dramatic in any sense. It has more the character of an orchestral fantasie. Nothing is clearly defined, nothing is completed. it is one long effort to say something, without any very clear idea of what is to be said. the general effect is spasmodic and fragmentary; and the work does not hang well together. the orchestration is vigorous, but is without richness or character. It has strong color here and there, but is never closely knit, and is often foggy. the pervading fault of the work, however, is that its meaning is not made apparent….As an evidence of its composer”s serious study and its application, it is very commendable; but it is immature, and should not have been submitted to public criticisms. It is not gratifying to be compelled to write thus discouragingly of the work of a young composer, but no good is to be accomplished by glossing over the truth, and we are sure that it is wiser and kinder to point out the shortcomings of the composition than to indulge in insincerity and to damn it with faint praise. The audience received it in a very kind spirit, and applauded heartily. An effort was made to call the composer forward, but it was unsuccessful.” (Unsigned review, courtesy of the Boston Symphony Orchestra Archives)
A review of April 9, 1893 credited to the Courier began with a 19 paragraph about Margaret”s background and education, and then followed that with a second paragraph of 14 lines concerning the work performed. This formed less than one-fourth of the complete review-quite a contrast to the review cited above. The reviewer wrote: “The overture while evidently the work of a skillful, and refined musician is nevertheless a very characteristic sample of kapelmeistermusik. There is a certain benign composure and nobility of intant in the writing of it, that is all too conspicuous, but the work appears to contain but a single well defined theme which is very reminiscent of the oriental music in Verdi”s Aida. This theme is so tautologically treated and so frequently repeated that the prevailing impression created by it is one of monotony and lanquor. Perhaps the most praiseworthy feature of the overture is in the orchestral coloring of its harmonic development which is altogether excellent.” (Unsigned review, courtesy of the Boston Symphony Orchestra Archives)
Philip Hale in the April 12, 1893 Musical Courier wrote: “Miss Lang’s overture is perhaps a creditable work for a young student. Whether it deserved a place in a Symphony concert is another question. Although Miss Lang in certain songs has shown in the past a pretty melody, the themes of the overture are not of marked originality or striking effect. There are ingenious passages in the detail, but there is a general lack of definite purpose in the conception and in the carrying out. The composer seems to be pricked by the desire of extracting ideas from the orchestral instruments in turn. As a result there is occasional piquancy, and there are pleasing measures, but this dramatic overture is a promise rather than a fulfillment. It is as though the composer deliberately set about to see what she could do in this line, there was nothing musical within that forces its was irresistibly and assumed orchestral shape and color.”
Hale also wrote in the Journal: “The phrase Place aux dames should be without meaning on the concert stage.The conductor of an orchestra should judge the fitness of a composition proposed for performance without consideration of the sex of the composer.Sex is here an accident.” (Fox, Sexual, p. 10) Hale spent two-thirds for his review damning the work in every way that he could: “Her themes are neither of marked originality nor of musical importance…there is not one dramatic stroke in the whole work, nor id there a climax. As a fantastic tone poem, it is vague. Miss Lang finds at her disposal the orchestral paint box, and she colors her themes with this instrumental tablet and with that one; thus she gains, occasionally, a piquant effect, a pleasing passage, but the whole lacks coherency and, is diffuse. In a word, this composition might well please the eye of a prudent and skilled teacher. he might look kindly at the pupil.” (Unsigned review attributed to the Journal, courtesy Boston Symphony Orchestra Archives)
Louis C. Elson wrote in the Advertiser wrote that: “It is the reviewer”s task to state that this work was not up to the level of these concerts. Miss Lang has won some deserved successes at the Apollo Club concerts in the field of chorus composition, and has written some graceful bits of instrumental music which have achieved the dignity of publication, but it is a long stride from this to orchestral work in a large form, and to make the first public attempt in a concert course which is supposed to present the finest music that the world affords, to enter a programme which presented selections by Haydn, Dvorak and Moszkowski, was little less than rash.. One may pay tribute to an evident tact in the matter of orchestral coloring that holds forth good promise for the future, but it may be at once added that these concerts are not supposed to be devoted to the presentation of incipient greatness. As the work was entitled a ”dramatic overture,” one need not quarrel with the fact that its form was not powerful enough to sustain interest, nothing was carried to a logical conclusion, much was spasmodic, and at times the whole case could only be diagnosed as orchestral hysteria.” This represented one-fourth of the total review. (Courtesy of the Boston Symphony Orchestra Archives)
Warren Davenport in the Globe wrote that: “It would be a pleasant task to speak in praise of Miss Lang”s orchestral piece but the results gained would not warrant such a course. Miss Lang has written many pretty songs and has shown talent in the pieces written for male voices and sung by the Apollo Club, but the step from this grade of material to the writing of a dramatic overture of sufficient worth to claim a place upon a symphonic concert programme is quite a long one. The effort of this ”dramatic overture” was a purposeless one, and it could as well be called the ”Babes in the Wood,” as far as any dramatic significance is concerned. Any capable student can make such music as this who has a little invention at hand, and to write similarly for the orchestra is not so difficult either, with the hundreds of stereotyped formulas that are available in the works of modern composers and student-writers. The first thing to be considered is what is the musical value of a composition? has it form; has it a defined purpose? Miss Lang should not be discouraged because of this failure to compose a dramatic overture. Through the ill advice of her friends and the lack of discrimination upon the part of the person who arranges the programmes for the Symphony concerts, this youthful composer has had her inability to reach certain heights made plain, and the lesson should be a profitable one. It should not dampen her ambition, however. Her case is not an isolated one. The audience applauded the playing loudly.” These comments took up about one-third of the review. (Courtesy of the Boston Symphony Orchestra Archive)
Another review devoted one-half of its space to Margaret”s work, all of which was complimentary. “Miss Margaret Ruthven Lang”s new dramatic overture was given for the first time at the Symphony last week, the composition by our talented townswoman proving to be of great merit. In the beginning two themes are developed, one sombre and of an antique character,the other passionate and modern treatment, each played against the other and producing a dramatic effect original but melodic. The working out is concise and beautifully harmonizes, and the return to the first part is gradual and regular, without harsh cadences or Wagnerian style of orchestration. The young composer has treated the stronger instruments of the orchestra very effectively, utilizing them for special themes in several instances, which gives a marked tonal color and contrast to the gentler fortissimo passages. The work received a most flattering reception, and Mr. Nikisch”s orchestra gave a delightful interpretation of the number.” (Courtesy of the Boston SYmphony Orchestra Archive)
THE AMERICAN BIOGRAPHICAL LIBRARY entry quotes an unnamed critic as saying: “The general character of the work is passionate, with a warmth that seems wholly genuine and unsought; and now and then with more idyllic moments of much beauty; and the orchestration is brilliant.”
Levy quotes from a letter from Edward MacDowell to his wife: “Wasn”t Apthorpe [sic] shameless about Miss Lang”s overture?And he didn”t say a word about Chadwick.He ought to be kicked.” Another letter said: “Apthorpe, after his slobber act over Miss Lang’s overture (had to) even it up by doing at least likewise with his friend Arthur Foote”s work. I ain”t patient.” (Levy, 90) However, MacDowell’s judgment may be questioned as the critic of the Boston Beacon, Howard Ticknor wrote that MacDowell “so hates Apthorpe that Apthorpe”s good criticism would be sufficient to make him take the opposite side.” (Levy, 91)
Apthorp had also made in error in Margaret’s biography saying that she had studied with MacDowell. She wrote a stiff note to him correcting this, and also asked her father to write a note to Chadwick on this same subject: “Maidie is toubled by an error in Apthorp’s programme today.” B. J. continued that should the work be a failure, Chadwick would not mind being left out as Margaret’s teacher, but if it were a success, “it will take but a few hours to” correct the matter. B. J. ended by saying that “A misstatement corrected is usually more fully noted than if it were correct from the start.” (Chadwick Archive, NEC) The Monday before the performance Margaret had written to Chadwick telling him of her “good news,” and saying: “I have wanted to tell you about it because I feel so grateful to you for the lessons that helped me so far as even this point.” The rest of the letter mentions that she wrote it during November of the previous year, sent it to Nikisch, but then did not hear anything for a long time. “I dared not tell you of it lest you should jeer at my temerity.” It would seem that her lessons were not concerned with this specific work. She ended with: “I want your good wishes, and I want above all to thank you.” She then asked for his comments after the concert. (Chadwick Archive, NEC) Chadwick seems to have replied in a positive manner. In another letter to him she began: “Your very kind and most charitable letter was an inexpresible relief and pleasure to me, for I had imagined all kinds of horrible things going on in your mind until it came.” She then invited Mr. and Mrs. Chadwick to an evening of billiards, “and then you will talk to me about it. Indeed I have so much to say to you that I shall not know how to begin or when to finish.” (Chadwick Archive, NEC)
OPUS 13 Boatman’s Hymn for Male Chorus and Piano. Cop. 1892 by Margaret. Text is anon., as translated from the Irish by Sir Samuel Ferguson. Was written for the Apollo Club, and they gave its first performance on Wednesday, January 18, 1893 with Mr. T. E. Clifford as baritone soloist and Mr. E. Cutter Jr. as accompanist. (BPL Lang Prog., 6237) It was sung just before intermission to end the first half. The January 18, 1893 review in the “Transcript” said: “Miss Lang’s song with its quaint Irish words was given with a rollicking dash, but the pianoforte and the voices disagreed in the matter of pitch, and the effect was somewhat marred.” The Advertiser felt that “Miss Lang setting of the Boatman’s Hymn (and an odd “hymn” the dashing lines make) was not altogether up to the wild spirit of the poem.Yet it had points of great excellence. The beginning was rich and original in its harmonies, flung to and fro in the vocal parts, were thoroughly in keeping with the subject,” but the effect of the refrain, “tide top, on the tide top, ho!” was inspiring and inspired, and the young composer has again shown good promise in her work.” Warren Davenport review stated: “Miss Lang’s piece is one of the best of her efforts in male composition, for it is fresh and melodious, admirable in its construction and well placed and effective in the voices.The club sang it splendidly.” (Scrapbook)
OPUS 14 Not used
OPUS 15 Five Songs for Soprano or Tenor
King Olaf’s Lilies. Words by L. W. Reese
The Dead Ship. Words by L. W. Reese.
April Weather. Words by L. W. Reese.
The Garden of Roses. Words from “Paul Patoff” by F. M. Crawford.
Spinning Song. Words from “Whether we love or hate…” by H. P. Kimball.
Lib. Of Congress: receipt Dec. 17, 1921 for 148 copies at royalty rate of .075 cents per, totaled $11.10.
OPUS 16 Dear Land of Mine (Mein Theures Land) tr. A. M. K.E (b-f)
OPUS 17 Not used.
NO OPUS Twilight. In (see above), pp. 473-477.
Here is a video of this piece. http://youtu.be/WuMmnt9riqk
From Half Hours with the Best Composers vol. 2, pub: JB Millet Co, 1894, Boston
OPUS 18 Petit Roman en six chapitres (for piano) 1894, pub. Schmidt at a cost of $1.00 per copy with the third section, “Bal chez mme. La Princesse” being available separately for 65 cents.B. J. played the complete work at a “Concert for Young People” given by Miss Orvis (five per season) on Saturday, December 1, 1894 at 11AM. It was followed by six of the Nonsense Songs.The world premier had been less than a month before in Rochester, N.Y. on November 6, 1894: Margaret “composed not only the music, but the accompanying story.” (Musical Courier, January 1895) The same story mentioned that “Miss Lang is also very clever with her pencil and designs the covers for all her music. In justice to her it must be said that the printer and engraver do not always carry them out with the delicacy of the original sketches.” (Ibid)
No. 3 Bal chez Mme. La Princesse. From The Great in Music: “This piece is the third number in a little pianoforte romance, called Petit Roman pour le Piano, en Six Chapitres. Opus 18. The romance has to do with the adventures of the Chevalier and the Prince, the affair terminated by a duel and a neat funeral march and epitaph upon the defunct. The duel, no doubt, grew out of the little waltz with which we are just hear dealing. It seems to have been a pleasant ball, that of the Princess, and when the couple has at last gotten their places and the dance begins, they appear to have a charming time. It is a light, airy and agreeable waltz. After the first figures are finished there is a moment of repose, and here the Chevalier begins to ‘exalt himself,’ as the French explanations gracefully have it. Miss Lang expresses this exaltation by means of the syncopations and the long running arpeggios in the bass. It is a pity that the English language could not have been used for the explanations, for while French may be understood in Boston, and therefore to have been preferred, there are school children even in Boston who know nothing of this language, and outside Boston the United States contains some millions of folk who understand English better than any kind of foreign tongue whatever. The music, however, is cosmopolitan. ”A report of a Tennessee performance on October 27, 1897 by Mrs. Randall (of Chicago) stated: “Mrs. Randall then rendered the Petit Romance by Margaret Ruthven Lang, which is a love story ending tragically, the tale being told in six chapters. Mrs. Randall would tell of each chapter before playing it.Nothing more delightful has been heard here.” (Scrapbook)
A new edition was published in 2000 by Hildegard Publishing edited by Sylvia Glickman and Furman Schleifer.
OPUS 19 Five Norman Songs. All five songs have completion dates of between July 3rd. and 6th. 1894.
1. My Turtle Dove, E flat (c-d). Words by J. A. Symonds. Hughes pp. 434-5 in Con Am Com says, “…In fearlessness and harmonic exploration shows two of the strongest of Miss Lang’s traits.”
2. In the Greenwood. Words by J. A. Symonds. D flat (d flat-e flat)
3. The Grief of Love, F (a-a). Words by J. A. Symonds. Hughes p. 434 Con Am Com says “But womanliness equally marks ‘The Grief of Love’ which is in every sense big in quality.”
4. Before My Lady’s Window, E flat (b flat-e flat). Words by J. A. Symonds.
5. desire, A flat (b flat-e flat). Words by J. A. Symonds.
OPUS 20 Six Scotch Songs
1. Bonnie Bessie Lee, E flat (e flat-g). Words by R. Nicoll.
Lib. of Congress has a hand-lettered design for the front page of these six songs-has also additional notes in German. Prices (in red) are 40 cents, 25 cents, 25 cents, 25 cents and 25 cents respectively.
2. My ain dear Somebody, F (f-f). Words by R. Tanahill. Price per copy: 30 cents.
3. Maggie Away, E flat (d flat-g). Words by J. Hogg.
4. Love’s Fear, G (e-f#). Words by R. Tanahill.
5. Menie, D (d-f#). Words by R. Nicoll.
6. Jock o’Hazeldean, G (d-f#). Words by Scott.
OPUS 21 Rhapsody in E Minor for piano. Pub. 1895 by Schmidt. Receipt dated Nov. 21, 1932 for $6.69 (103 copies @ .065 cents).
“In spite of its good details, it is curiously unsatisfying, -it seems all prelude, interlude, and postlude, with the actual rhapsody accidentally overlooked.”(Hughes-Amer. Com., p. 433) Performed at the “Rooms of the Transportation Club” by Mrs. Stella Hadden on Wednesday, January 4, 1899. Also part of a recital performed by Marion Arletta Mitchell on Jan. 28, 1903 when she opened with this piece and ended with the Weber Concert-Stuck Opus 79 with B. J. playing the orchestral part on a second piano. New edition in American Women Composers: Piano Music from 1865-1915 edited by Sylvia Glickman and published by Hildegard Publishing Company, Bryn Mawr, PA in1990.
OPUS 22 Irish Love Song. Words unknown. Two keys. F major and D major. Pub. 1895 by Schmidt. Copyright renewal in 1928 by Margaret Ruthven Lang. Price per copy: 40 cents for the original copyright but raised to 50 cents in 1928!Arr. For Women’s Trio (SSA), #516.Orchestration available from Luck’s for Strings, Flute, and Clarinet. The “total press run…both high and low voice, was 121,100 copies.” (Cipolla, 3/5/09 e-mail) The next most popular song was Day is Gone at 14,660 with An Irish Mother”s Lullaby third at 13,591 copies printed. (Ibid)
This song was sung (premiered?) at a Cecilia Society concert on February 12, 1896 by Mrs. Jeannie Crocker Follett. The review said, “Mrs. Follett was utterly unlike the soprano soloists we have heard in recent years, for she sang with no affected airs. Hers is the ideal ballad voice, simple, sympathetic and appealing. Her three songs were admirably chosen, and with Mr. Lang’s skilful accompaniments, gave genuine delight.”The review went on to compare Lang’s “delicate and subdued touch” verses the choir’s accompanist Harry Fry, whose tone was “harsh and noisy.”“Mr. Lang’s pianoforte work was a treat in itself.”Obviously care had been taken to find a soloist with a vocal style that would match the folk-like character of the music.
The Musical America review of October 30, 1909 said that at the Schumann-Heink Chicago recital “The enormous hit of the day was Marvourneen.”(Scrapbook)
The “Sousa Archives for Band” at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has band parts that Sousa made for this song.
The Library of Congress Recorded Sound Division listed two recordings from the Dragonette Collection: (1) a broadcast on May 31, 1935 sung by Jessica Dragonette, soprano with the Cities Service Orchestra conducted by Rosario Bourdon, and (2) a Victor test pressing # 05690813 also sung by Jessica Dragonette with piano accompaniment, pianist not identified.
Included in the 2000 collection The First Solos: Songs By Women Composers-Vol. I: High Voice edited by Randi Marrazzo. He states that the word “Mavorneen” means “My darling.”
Pendle notes that this song “is among a number of her works written in a folk idiom. It also exemplifies the widespread interest in folk song among contemporary American composers of art music” (Pendle, p. 218)
An April 22, 1940 letter from her publisher Schmidt included a permission form from the American Printing House for the Blind asking that they be allowed to set this song in Braille. “When such permissions are given it is without remuneration.” (Library of Congress-Schmidt Collection-Lang Folder)
Other composers also were inspired by “venacular idioms…Foote”s most famous piece, An irish Folk Song”(1894) sounds like a folk song, but has art song features as well. His I”m Waerin” Awa” to the Land of the Leal, which has a simple choral accompaniment, draws on Scottish folk elements such as modality and a lilting 6/8 rhythm. Foote also arranged two Scottish songs (1900) and composed three more original songs in Scottish folk style, Old Scotish Song (1911), There is a Ship of Dunregan (1912), and The Lake Isle of Innesfree (1920).” (Block, p. 262) The question is whether Dvorak”s May 21, 1893 pronouncement that “I am now satisfied…that the future music of this country [America] must be founded upon what are called negro melodies,” (Block, p. 257) created a resultant reaction of American composers who refuted Dvorak”s position or looked for other ethnic sources for inspiration. Edward MacDowell wrote “that he was vehemently opposed to borrowing from African-American sources, that he much preferred the ”manly and free rudeness of the North American Indian,” and that any attempt to create an American music out of vernacular elements was ”tailoring.”” (Block p. 259) Amy Beach, then only twenty-five, wrote that negro melodies “are not fully typical of our country. The African population of the United States is far too small for its songs to be considered ”American.” It represents only one factor in the composition of our nation…The Africans are no more native than the Italians, Swedes or Russians,” (Block, p. 260) and then she wrote pieces based on her own Celtic background and melodies of the “Indians and Esquimaux.” (Ibid) Beach”s Gaelic Symphony was written between January 1894 and March 1898. B. J. Lang was one who responded to Dvorak”s remarks-he “thought Dvorak should provide an example of how black melodies could be used in concert music.” (Block, p. 279) Dvorak”s position had changed within six months when he wrote that the themes for his New World Symphony had been suggested by both Indian and Negro melodies, and that they in turn resembled both “Scottish and Irish music” which also shared elements with “the folk music of Bohemia-[they] have in commonthe use of the pentatonic scale and the flatted seventh degree.” (Block, p. 261) Finally in 1895 Dvorka”s final comment on the subject was that “It matters little whether the inspiration for the coming folk songs of America is derived from the negro melodies, the songs of the creoles, the red man”s cjant, or the plaintive ditties of the homesick German or Norwegian. Undoubtedly the germs for the best of music lie hidden among all the races that are commingled in this great country.” (Block p. 261 quoting Dvorak, 1895, p. 433) “Thus Dvorak changed in three years from encouraging the use of black folk music to that of any folk music.” (Ibid)
OPUS 23 Orchestra Overture Totila. Completed in c. 1895 but never performed. (Baer, “Honoring Lost Work”).
OPUS 24 Three Arias for Voice and orchestra.
(1) Sappho’s Prayer to Aphrodite for contralto. The New York performance by the Manuscript Society at Chickering Hall on October 24, 1895 with Miss Zora G. Horlocker as soloist and Adolph Neuendorff as conductor received the following notice from the Herald; “The orchestra overpowered the singer. The composition was uninteresting.” A review by Reginald de Koven said “ It was a pity that Miss Lang wrote her song ‘Sappho’ for a contralto voice and scored it for a soprano, for on this account it was ineffective.” The review continued that the soloist was “submerged in the orchestra wave. And yet the song is written in a musicianly way, and has color and both poetic and dramatic feelings.” The New York Times review of October 25, 1895 commended her, and suggested that she fell short as she used Sir Edwin Arnold’s translation rather than John Addington Symonds, “and even that falls far short of the original, which’s simply majestic.”The review ended by saying that the piece was badly sung! This aria was performed at 265 Beacon St. on Wednesday, January 29, 1896 by Mrs. H. E. Sawyer with Arthur Foote at the piano-it would seem that the piano reduction was destroyed along with the orchestral parts! (Scrapbook) A Musical Courier article of January 1895 said that this piece had been written for Lena Little who had done earlier songs by Margaret [i.e. Norman Songs] (Scrapbook).
(2) Armida for soprano and orchestra. Premier at the BSO Friday afternoon (2.30) January 10, 1896 and Saturday night (8.00) January 11, 1896.Conducted by Emil Paur, soloist Miss Gertrude Franklin. Orchestration: 2222 4200 timp, strings. Notes by William F. Apthorp. Also on the program were:
Bruch-Fantasia on Scotch folk-melodies, for Violin, Opus 46
Berlioz-Corsair Overture, Opus 21 (to end the concert)
The order of the concert was: Tchaikovsky, Bruch, Lang, and Berlioz. This was the first time for Lang and Berlioz. Listed as Opus 24 and called a Concert Aria. Miss Franklin had an ad in the program book as soprano soloist and vocal instructor at 149A Tremont Street. Miss Franklin seems to have been a favorite BSO soloist, appearing eight times during the first fifteen seasons – she sang under Henschel, Gericke, Nikisch and Paur.
The BSO Program Note began: “The text of this dramatic aria was from Torquato Tasso’s “Gerusalemme liberata” Canto IV, Stanzas 70-73” and then the text was printed in the original Italian.“Miss Lang has not, however, taken the original Italian as the text of her composition; she has written her music to Whiffen’s rhymed and exceedingly free English translation, expunging passages here and there, and substituting her own prose for others in which Whiffen’s diction becomes too anti-musical.” (BSO Program Book, 390) Then the English text was printed, and the note ended with a list of the instrumentation: 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 1 pair of kettle-drums, and the usual strings. Elson felt that the piece “… is made from a version that deals rather too freely with Tasso. The setting is by no means as dramatic as its poetic subject, and the composer seems to have missed the majestic power of the great death-scene.” (Amer. Music, 306) The previous December Frances had written in her Diary: “Maidie has shortened her Armida aria, which Miss Franklin will sing in January.” (Diary 2, Fall 1895)
The review in the Gazette said: “Miss Lang’s concert aria is, in a sense, creditable to the young composer; it is scored with taste and knowledge. There is no trace of the old masters in the work, which is modern in idea and treatment, and hints that Miss Lang is an earnest and enthusiastic student of Wagner. Unfortunately in her desire to be modern Miss Lang has forgotten the ideas are as important as form, and so she has taken infinite pains to write an elaborate setting for nothing. She has entirely misunderstood the portion of the poem she set to music, and no skill in orchestration will hide the paucity of ideas, or cause the hearer to confound noisy affectation with the depth of feeling. The cleverness is misplaced, and it is a pity that so much good work should be wasted on a subject in which there is not a trace of imagination, or any of the qualities that go to the making of an enduring work of art. Miss Lang is clever, but it is impossible for even genius to say anything when it has nothing to say.” (Courtesy of the Boston Symphony Orchestra Archives)
The Journal review by Philip Hale said: “The chief trouble with Miss Lang’s concert aria is that while it deals with a dramatic subject, the thing itself is undramatic. Even in the orchestral accompaniment, which recalls the remark of Saint-Saens that when women write for orchestra they wish to prove their masculine mind by being noisier then men, there is no genuine dramatic feeling or accentuation of the text. There is neither pivotal point nor climax. When a woman shrieks or laments there is either a constant recurrence to the cause of woe, or one great spasm to which Nature gives way and finds relief, or at least silence. Miss Lang took her verses from Tasso, who has been reckoned a pretty poet; but it seems, according to the program-book, that poor Whiffen’s English translation was at times too ‘anti-musical.’Miss Lang substituted then her own prose, and the singer was obliged last evening to declaim such intensely musical phrases as ‘persecution’s thrall’ and ‘great Chieftain.’Inasmuch as this aria is without point, without climax, without dramatic declamation, without appealing melody, I wonder at the causes that led Mr. Paur to welcome it to a Symphony concert in Music hall. Miss Franklin displayed the purity of her voice and art; in other words she made as much out of the aria as was in all possible. The audience appreciated her earnestness and her art and she was loudly applauded.” (Courtesy of the Boston Symphony Orchestra Archives)
The review in the Standard said: “Miss Franklin gave Miss Lang’s concert aria, and did the best she could with it. She was in excellent voice, but the orchestration was so vigorous that it at times destroyed the effect of what would otherwise have been a very enjoyable number. It cannot be said that the aria was musically strong. Miss Lang had high ideals, but in their attainment has not reached the objective point with this work. Miss Franklin’s efforts were rewarded with liberal applause, and she was twice recalled. She did not respond with another selection, however, much to the regret of her many admirers who were present.” (Courtesy of the Boston Symphony Orchestra Archives)
Another review took a more positive view: “Miss Lang’s new aria is a work to be considered very seriously. Without being in the least French in feeling, it is very much in the contemporary French dramatic style-a style in which, if the truth be told, we personally are just beginning to find our bearings. It seemed to us that, in her setting of this excerpt from Tasso’s ‘Gerusalemme liberata,’ Miss Lang had struck a very true note of dramatic musical expression; more so perhaps in the arioso portions than in the passages of recitative. Much of the melodic writing is very broad and noble, and the whole treatment of the orchestra admirable; it shows that Miss Lang appreciates well what the true gist of “modern orchestration” is, and that it means something far finer and more subtle than the mere massing together of numerous instruments. Miss Franklin sang the aria with devotion and sincerity; it seemed to us that the composition was conceived for a heavier voice and a larger, more heroic style of singing. But it is ill quarrelling with an artist’s physique; let it be enough to say that Miss Franklin sang like an artist.” (Courtesy of the Boston Symphony Orchestra Archives)
Louis C. Elson in the Advertiser said: “Miss Lang’s new concert aria is by no means great enough for its subject; spite of an easy leading of the parts, a fluency of orchestration. There is a lack of dramatic power in the work, certainly an absence of what sustained breadth which one might demand in a great aria. There were impressive moments but not an impressive whole. The beginning was striking enough and the monotony of sorrow which followed was at least permissible; there was a degree of melody at “Ask me no more” which was enhanced by the skill displayed in the imitations of the vocal part upon the violoncello, and there was enough of dissonance to satisfy the musical radicals; but sustained dramatic power there was not, and the great scene from Torquato Tasso’s ‘Jerusalem Delivered’ demands as mighty treatment as the abandonment of Dido (which it in some degree resembles) and the burning of the palace and the rushing to death in combat cannot be portrayed even by the most respectable music, for true dramatic instinct is here imperative. Of the queer alterations in the words, the contrast of earnest poetry and prose sentimentality we prefer not to speak. It must be added that Miss Lang’s work was placed in a position that would try any composer; it came after the most expressive and dramatic symphony of the modern repertoire, and a most warlike and heroic Fantasie, and it was followed by a very fiery overture. It is quite possible that, heard with less trying surroundings, the work would make a more favorable impression.” (Courtesy of the Boston Symphony Orchestra Archives)
Louis C. Elson added to his earlier review the following: “In the review of Miss Lang’s aria, sung at the Symphony concert on Saturday I inadvertently omitted to speak of the artist who carried it to such success as it won. Miss Gertrude Franklin had a heavy task in the singing of this work, a task that would have crushed almost any artist, for the work began in vehemence and continued in the same vein, with one slight exception which Miss Franklin made the most of; it had no real climaxes, and the orchestration was piled on regardless of the needs of the singer. That, under such circumstances, Miss Franklin was recalled twice at the end of the work, is a fact that speaks for itself.” (Courtesy of the Boston Symphony Orchestra Archives)
The Herald reviewer wrote: “The concert aria by Miss Lang is the most ambitious effort that the composer has placed before the public. The text was found in Tasso’s ‘Jerusalem Delivered,’ and deals with the despair of Armida in her grief at the loss of all that she has loved and lived for. While the composition is not without force and vigor, it is musically uninteresting and unimpressive by reason of the absence of any discoverable central point on which the whole should pivot. It is mainly florid recitative, interrupted once or twice by a brief moment of forced melody, but it all leads to nowhere in particular, and wanders about wildly and vaguely. It is wholly in the extreme modern vein, and gravitates between Wagner and Mascagni without any distinct individual character or any suggestion of originality. It is carefully made, and the instrumentation is clever and effective in its way, but, as a rule, it is overheavy for the voice and frequently obliterates it by solid masses of tone that it piles up against it, especially, and, curiously enough, when the vocal part is written in the weaker of the middle register. The effort is soaring and creditable to the composer in her present stage of development, but it is immature and ineffective, and the preponderance of orchestration which forces the singer into a secondary and almost unimportant position makes it a failure as a vocal concert aria. Miss Lang will do better when she has outgrown the familiar propensity of the young musician to give way to the temptation of overloading a score. Miss Franklin performed her share in the work in the thoroughly artistic spirit and conscience she brings to bear on all that she does. She was called upon for little else than lyric declamation, and this she gave in a broad dramatic style and with impressive emphasis, making all that it was possible for singer to make of a task that must have been equally thankless and discouraging. She was applauded with enthusiasm and twice recalled.” (Courtesy of the Boston Symphony Orchestra Archives) This was possibly written by Benjamin Woolf.
Another reviewer took the position that “The Armida aria, by Margaret Ruthven Lang, is not likely to become very popular. The text is taken from Torquato Tasso’s ‘Gerusalemme Liberata,’ Canto IV, and, as may be imagined, is sufficiently tragic and gloom-inspiring. The scoring is rather elaborate, and in certain portions is dramatically effective, but there is much monotonous repetition on heavy, colorless themes. Miss Gertrude Franklin sang the music with splendid expression and gave as much dramatic effect to the composition as was possible. She is a thoroughly well equipped singer whose work is always artistic and satisfying. She was deservedly applauded with great enthusiasm.”
The reviewer of the Globe said: “The ‘eterna femina’ is so rare in her incursions upon the realms of music that a warm welcome was all in readiness for Margaret Ruthven Lang, whose new Armida aria was sung by Miss Gertrude Franklin. For the honorable intent, for the good musicianship displayed that welcome should be given, but it must be modified. This aria is singularly devoid of color, of ‘style’ and of any central musical thought. It flows along monotonously, never offending, but never winning. The orchestration is clean-cut, and once or twice rises to real dramatic force. To paraphrase Dr. Johnson’s words, it may be said that the wonder is not Miss Lang has not done better, but that she has done it at all. Such ability as she certainly has will some day bear fruit of rarer sort. Miss Franklin did all that was possible with the aria, and almost raised its dry recitative to the point of interest.” (Courtesy of the Boston Symphony Orchestra Archives)
However, Thomas Ryan in a letter to the Transcript printed January 13, 1896 wrote: “I think that every good musician who heard the concert aria entitled ‘Armida’ by Miss Lang, at the last Symphony Concert, will agree with me that she has by that composition done the extraordinary. I can find no other word but that to fit the act. It expresses all my surprise at the full evidence of musical ability which is shown in the ‘Armida’ aria. In Boston we have a large number of very skilful musicians in all general routine of playing, and some even of composition. How many from that little army of musicians can we name who could produce a work so remarkable as the ‘Armida’ aria? When listening to it last Friday afternoon, I had no programme. I did not know the words. I simply listened to the music, and it was my first hearing of any composition by the young lady, though I had often heard of her ability. I was delighted with the music from beginning to the end.its noble introduction and recitative was so elevated in style and character-and the cantabile part, from about the middle of the piece to the end, so perfectly beautiful and melodious-that I must confess to being deeply affected by it. I could not help saying to myself:‘Just listen to that lovely, warm melody-that perfect-sounding orchestration-it is quite astonishing,’ Who can say, judging by musical sound and form alone, this work is not just as noble as any other composition we hear from the fine orchestra, no matter by whom composed, provided its content is modern. And to know that it is written by a young girl. It is extraordinary. And when an old musician like myself, who has passed through countless emotional moments given him by the joys of music, is affected by a work like that of Miss Lang’s, I deem it a pleasure as well as a duty to encourage the composer by public praise. And certainly, gallantry will help me to do homage to the ‘coming woman’ of genuine musical talent, our Boston girl, Miss Margaret Ruthven Lang.” (Scrapbook)
Phoebus’ Denunciation of the Furies at His Delphian Shrine for baritone.
OPUS 25 The Hawthorn Tree. A Cappella partsong for SATB and S and T solos. Words by Nathan Haskell Dole. Pub. 1896 by Lang printed by Miles and Thompson, Boston. Harvard Musical Association has a copy with her signed dedication to the poet. Reprinted in 1996 by Walton Music as part of their “Library of Congress Series WLC-1008”-their edition is a photo reprint of the 1896 edition. The Library of Congress also has the printed version available for download. Their note on the piece states: “In 1900 Margaret Lang wrote about her compositional goals: ”My intentions have been poetic and never purely (i. e. merely) musical, often dramatic and sometimes story-telling. I disapprove of painoforte or vocal music which has no definite meaning to convey. I believe that pianoforte music would either paint a picture, tell a story or speak to the heart. The musical setting of a song should be subserviant to its text, according with the poetical color of the text.” (1) Her unaccompanied setting of The Hawthorn Tree (1896) captures two lovers beneath the hawthorn tree. Tenor and soprano soloists are accompanied by a wordless SATB chorus singing ”ah,” depicting the breezes blowing in constant eigth notes. Lang used frequent tempo, meter, and key changes in a highly chromatic style. Her expressive markings are painstakingly detailed. In one measure, four successive eight notes are marked ”ten., mf, mp, dim.” In this part-song, she captues the affect of the poetry and achives her musical goals of painting a picture, telling a story and speaking to the heart. (1) W. S. B. Matthews, ed., The Great in Music (Chicago: Music magazine Publishing Co., 1900), 277-79.” (L. C. Website)
OPUS 25 (also) Bonnie Ran the Burnie Down. Partsong for SATB.7 pp. Lib. of Congress has autograph. Pub. Schmidt 1897: “Mixed Voices No. 66.”
OPUS 26 Meditation for piano, 1899, 5 pp. Lib. Of Congress has autograph. Pub by Schmidt. “A Meditation is bleak, with a strong, free use of dissonance.”(Hughes-Amer. Com., p. 433) In a 1990 edition of this work, Glickman described the piece as “a solemn work, slowly building to a great climax through a series of unusual modulations (E, D-flat, C, E) while varying the accompaniments to the steady rhythm of the chordal theme.” (Glickman, p. xxix)
OPUS 27 The King is Dead. D (a-d or e). Lib. of Congress autograph. Sung by Mr. J. Melville Horner at the January 26, 1899 concert of the Cecilia.
OPUS 28 Three Songs.
1. A Song for Candelmas. A flat (e-f). Words by Lizette Woodworth Reese. The Great in Music-“A pleasant hearty song. … At the end of this song the long holding tones, of which Miss Lang speaks, while the accompaniment continues to recall the main motives of the music. A pleasant idyllic sort of song.”
2. Arcadie, G (d-e). Words by L. W. Reese.
3. My Garden, A flat (e-g). Words by P. B. Marston.
OPUS 29 Evening Chimes for violin, and piano. Performed in 1898. (As listed in Lang article by Adrienne Fried Block in The Norton/Grove Dictionary of Woman Composers, p. 266) This piece opened the March 3, 1898 concert of the Manuscript Society of Chicago played by Alice L. Doty and Rudolph Berliner. (Scrapbook)
Opus 29 (ALSO) Oh, Love, he went a-straying. A song published in 1898 by Breithopf and Hartel, Leipzig. The text is by Lizette Woodworth Reese. This seems to be the only piece by Margaret published by this German company. It was part of a collection of thirteen songs published in 1898 entitled “Album of new Songs by American Composers.” Other composers included were Henry K. Hadley, Louis Adolphe Coerne, Percy Goetschuis, and Victor Harris-Margaret was the only woman included. (Information from Donald George, July 26, 2011 as provided by Dr. Andreas Sopart of Breitkopf and Hartel)
(OPUS 29 After the Storm. A program of c. 1898 recital by students of Lena Little listed Miss Elizabeth Winsor singing The Dead Ship and Miss Jessie Downer singing After the Storm, Opus 29 (manuscript), a song that seems not to have been published.
OPUS 30 Springtime for piano. In “The World’s Best Composers,” ed. By Victor Herbert (1899) New York University Society, IV, 967-970.
OPUS 31 Revery for piano (1899). Pub. John Church Co. in “The World’s Best Composers.” Hughes Con Am Com p. 438 “…of which the exquisiteness of sleep is the theme. The music is delicious, and the ending is a rare proof of the beautiful possibilities of dissonance.” The Great In Music– “More like a study than an improvisation. In the right hand a persistent figure in double notes, while the melody comes in the left, slightly after the manner of Rubinstein’s ‘Kamennoi Ostrow,’ Opus 22.The main idea is relieved by a pleasing passage of wide chords, in the manner of a harp. Capable of producing a good effect when well played.”A “salon piece of the first water.” (Downes, article)
OPUS 32 Two Songs
1. A Song of May. Pub John Church, Cincinnati, 1899.Poem by Lizette Woodworth Reese. Hughes Con Am Com p. 435 “Her opus 32 is made up of two songs, both full of fire and originality.”
2. Lydia. Pub. John Church, 1899. Poem by above.
Opus 33 Spring Idyll for piano (1899). Pub. by John Church Co. Hughes in Con Am Com says, “captivating.” In The Great In Music, “A pleasant half meditative piece, in a measure not unlike that of a mazurka. The vague impression which the music produces was probably intended as a fit form for voicing the many undefinable emotions which spring awakens in the susceptible breast.”
OPUS 34 An Irish Mother’s Lullaby. Words by M. E. Blake. Two keys: High in A flat and Low in E flat. Pub. 1900 by Schmidt. Price per copy: 40 cents each. Arr. For Women’s Trio (SSA) #517. Lib. of Congress has autograph of the solo with a new violin obbligato written above it. This additional part was added “at Schmidt’s behest in 1910.” The total press run for this piece was 13,591 copies-whereas the Irish Love Song had a press run of 121,100 copies (Cipolla, 3/5/09 e-mail)
Art songs of this period often had obbligato parts: “While the use of obbligato in art songs could be seen as a way to create a more chamber-like piece, its use in the popular song was most likely befitting of the parlor, a way to involve more household members in musical production.” (Blunsom, p. 231) This piece was one of the musical supplements in the August 1903 issue of the magazine “The Musical World” published by Schmidt.
OPUS 35 (Cline lists Te Deum as Opus 35).
“There is ample reason to say that no modern writer has given us a Te Deum which so thoroughly holds to the churchly situation as does the Te Deum by Miss Lang. It never once relaxes from the mood of the church, never a moment of lassitude, of a lapsing from being the voice of the church into the customary inserts of saccharine beauty. It is one of the greatest church Te Deums in existence.”(Syford-article, p. 23) This work was performed in England in the early 1990s at a joint meeting of the American Sonneck Society and the English 19th. Century Society. “Some people from both conferences elected to form an ad hoc choir for the Victorian 19th-century Matins on Sunday morning, complete with a Te Deum by the American composer Margaret Ruthven Lang.” (Conferences page, Musical Times, no date, c. 1990)
OPUS 36 Ballade in D Minor for orchestra. “Won much success in Baltimore in 1901.”(Women’s Work, 202). Opened a “Women in Music-Grand Vocal and Instrumental Concert” at the Music Hall, Baltimore on Thursday, March 14, 1901 played by the Baltimore Symphony (70 performers) conducted by Ross Jungnickel. In the concert were four vocal soloists and a pianist-the Ballade opened the concert.This concert was “given for the benefit of The United Women of Maryland Showing the Wonderful Progress in the Creative Power of Women in Music during the last decade of the closed century” (Scrapbook) Other composers on the program included Mrs. Beach (“Graduale” from her Mass in E Flat), Liza Lehmann (Song Cycle), Cecile Chaminade (two major works-the Concert-Stuck in E minor for Piano and Orchestra and the Suite de Ballet, Callirhoe, Opus 37), and individual songs by Adele Lewing, Helen Hood, Marya Blazejewics, and Frances Allistsen.The program note began: “Among the most prominent American women, whose position in the front rank of the best modern composers is no longer a question, stands Miss Margaret Ruthven Lang of Boston. Before she had reached her teens Miss Lang was already an artist. That is to say, she was born with the gifts and dispositions which must be born, and with the emotion and temperament conducive to artistic creations and interpretations…Her songs, some fifty in number, are all more or less known, some having become [by 1901] prime favorites; she has also written some excellent piano music.” (Scrapbook)
There was an eleven paragraph review of the concert in The Sun, but with nine composers, various vocal and instrumental soloists to mention, Margaret’s piece had no critical mention. The whole review was really just description without criticism. The reviewer’s attititude is reflected by this comment: “After excloding all the men composers of the last decade there is really but little music left of superlative interest.” (The Baltimore Sun (March 15, 1901): 12)
Amy Fay notes in a letter of 1902 (?) that “Jungnickel has come back to live in New York again, …He is completely tired of Baltimore and says he has ‘wasted too many years of his life there.’” (Fay, 23) Dwight reported that Jungnickel was often involved in the Peabody Students” Concerts during the 1879-1880 season.(Dwight (May 22, 1880): 88)
OPUS 37 Six Songs. Pub. 1902 by Schmidt.
1. A Thought. D flat (d-f) Words by John Vance Cheney.
2. Out of the Past. D flat (d-f).
3. The Hills o’ Skye. D (b-f) Words by William McLennan. This song was one of the musical supplements in the May 1902 issue of the magazine “The Musical World” published by Schmidt. It was also sung at the August 1903 Convention of the “New Hampshire Music Teachers” Association” by Mr. Willard Flint.
4. Summer Noon. A flat (e-e) Words by John Vance Cheney. Receipt for 5/24/38 for $10.50 (210 @ .05) and another dated 1/20/49 for $7.50 (150 of the medium version @ .05). Hughes described this song as “a quiet but effective picture.” (Hughes-Con. Am. Com., p.520)
5. Tryste Noel. High in F (f-f) and Medium in E flat (e-e) and Low in C (c-c). Words by Louise Imogen Guiney. Lib. of Congress collection letter dated Dec. 7, 1905.“Dear Mr. Schmidt, I shall willingly make the transpositions of Tryste Noel into a higher and lower key as you suggest, and will do so at once…” It took her only one day to make the transpositions, for she then writes: Lib. of Congress collection letter dated Friday, Dec. 8, 1905.“Dear Mr. Schmidt, Here are the two copies of Tryste Noel: in F-for Soprano and in C-for Contralto. I have, as yet, no reply from Little, Brown and Co. who must have received my letter, (with stamped envelope for reply,) on Monday! In haste; very truly, M. R. Lang” On November 27, 1940 the fellow Boston music publisher Charles W. Homeyer wrote to Margaret saying that he hoped Schmidt would never let this song go out of print. “It is one of the finest Christmas songs that I am familiar with.” (Letters-FDB)
Lib. of Congress collection letter dated Jan. 31, 1906 “Dear Mr. Schmidt, Here is the soprano version of Tryste Noël. It does not seem possible that it should go higher. Thank you for the Lovely Rose copies; it was extremely well done, and I am much pleased with the clearness of the type.”
Lib. of Congress collection letter dated Feb. 9. 1906 “Dear Mr. Schmidt, Your letter is just received, and I hasten to say that both my father and I agree with you that Tryste Noel would best be printed in F and C as at first arranged. My father says that it would be a simple matter to play the song in F#, if it is printed in F; but if published in F# – would be at a disadvantage. So I hope you will keep to the keys we decided upon.”
A Lib. of Congress piece of envelope has the following:
High 7133 Feb. 1907 200 2 from Leip1/4/24
Med 5567 Mar. 1912 100 4 from Leip 1921 + 22
Low 7134 Sept 1906 3001st. ed.”
Lib. of Congress collection letter dated May 25, 1926 “Gentlemen, Would you be so good as to tell me what steps can be taken toward making a re-print of my Tryste Noel-for which I have had several requests.” Schmidt’s answer of May 28, 1926 was not to re-print, but to do a “revised edition…in a key that would suit the average voice.” Two months later Margaret replied in a letter dated July 29, 1926, “Gentlemen, Here is the copy of Tryste Noel, long delayed because of illness and death in the family.”
In a letter from Schmidt to Margaret dated June 22, 1931 an arrangement of the song for women’s voices by Roy Stoughton was sent for her approval-the letter said “We occasionally have calls for the solo version, and so long as the melody and accompaniment are the same in the present version, in addition to its use as a chorus the octavo edition might be of value to those wishing to secure the song.” Her answer dated June 25, 1931 said that she had made a few alterations; she then gives permission to publish “with the understanding, of course, that I receive my share of the profit on sales. This, however, does not satisfy my request to you of long ago, to reprint that song, which could have had a good sale, -for there has been much demand for it, and it is a song which has, as it has had, many uses: -not only at Christmas.” She then reminds the company of their request, 2 years ago, to make a “simplified version” which she did, but the man. (uscript) was neither acknowledged nor returned.
Five days later the company reply dated June 30, 1931 stated “We will proceed with the chorus arrangement of T. N. and you will receive royalties on this number after deducting the cost of the arrangement which we have bought from Mr. Stoughton for $10.”They said they had the simplified man. (uscript) and could engrave it if she wished. “We find from our records that since the piece has been out of stock very few orders have reached us,” and suggest using the octavo as it is also in F. Her reply dated July 1, 1931 said: “Gentlemen,…regarding new plates which you are willing to engrave…I would suggest that the one key for the (solo) song be D.” The company reply dated July 10, 1931 said that the man. (uscript) is in D, but they suggested Eb as “more generally useful, as the original medium key (in Eb) was the one mostly in demand.” Margaret’s reply dated July 11, 1931 said that she had sent a man.[uscript] in Eb.
Tryste was sung on Christmas Eve of 1957 at the church of St. John the Evangelist on the backside of Beacon Hill.Everett Titcomb, the organist there, had written to Margaret in October telling her of this coming event.”It is the finest Christmas Song I have ever heard.”The soloist was John Horner, bass soloist of Trinity Church, Copley Square-it seems that Titcomb was able to use Horner and other Trinity Church Choir members for his service as its time of late afternoon did not interfere with their other responsibilities.According to a note on the service bulletin, Margaret was able to attend-she would have been 90 years old.
Charles Homeyer (of the music store at 498 Boyston Street) had said the same thing in a November 27, 1940 letter. “Incidently, I just hope that your good publishers here will never let Tryste Noel run out of print, as it is one of the finest Christmas songs that I am familiar with.”
6. Northward. In F (b-f) Words by Henry Copley Greene. Described by Hughes as “strong.” (Hughes-Con.Am. Com., p. 520)
OPUS 38 Four Songs. Pub. 1902 by Schmidt
1. Orpheus. E flat (e-g) Words from Orpheus by Mrs. Fields.
2. Sleepy-Man.G (d-f). Words by Charles George Douglas Roberts. This song was
sung by Mrs. Onthank on Mar. 11, 1903 as part of a “Program…given at Mr.
Lang’s Music Rooms at 153 Tremont Street.”
3. The Span o’ Life. E flat (e-g) Words by William McLennan.This song “has a dialect text and Scottish features such as the rhythmic snap, but the complex harmonic language and pianistic accompaniment of the song is clearly German.its structure is also more complicated.Instead of a simple strophic setting, the verses are separated by both key and time changes in mm. 29, 42, 77, and 90. (Blunsom, p. 202)
4. Song in the Songless. F (e-g) Words by George Meridith. “One of the most beautiful and poetic songs which we have.”(Syford-article, p. 23). Hughes wrote, “Of the four in Op. 38, the effective Orpheus and the unusual Song in the Songless seem the most striking.” (Hughes-Con. Am. Com., pp. 520-52
“One of the delightful vocal recitals of the week was given Wednesday afternoon before a large audience at the Lang Studios by Mrs. Cora Cutter Wellman. She rendered with great success a varied program which gave her fine opportunity to show her skill as a vocalist,” in a program that included Orpheus and The Span o’ Life. (Globe, January 29, 1911, p. 49)
OPUS 38 (ALSO) This opus number was also assigned to the part song True Freedom which was included in the “Laurel Song Book” published in 1908 by C. C. Birchard of Boston, edited by W. L. Tomlins. The original dates for the materials for this book were 1900 and 1901, the same period as the songs written above.
OPUS 39 Songs for Lovers of Children.
Merry Christmas. E flat 3pp.
Just Because. E flat 4pp.
In the Night. E major 4pp.
Morning. C major 2pp.
Evening. A flat major2pp.
The Sandman. A major 4pp.
To-Morrow. D major 4pp.
Three Ships. F major 5pp. Lib. of Congress has autographs.
OPUS 40 Four Songs
1. Somewhere. G (f-g).
2. Day Is Gone. A (e-g) Lib. Of Congress autograph in B flat (b-d). Letter dated Oct. 27, 1903 she asks for the title to be changed to “the single word Evening.” Another letter dated Nov. 5, 1903 says she has permission from Birchard to change to Day Is Gone. Letter dated Nov. 26, 1906 (written from the Hotel Brighton, Atlantic City where she was indefinitely with her ill mother) responding to Schmidt’s suggestion of publishing a low key version in B flat, said “I cannot imagine Day is Gone sung with any effect by a low voice, as its climax is high and light; but I have not the slightest objection to its publication in the two keys. If you desire it.”(As she was nursing her mother, she asked Schmidt to find someone to do the transposition, but to send the proof to her father for checking.) John McCormack included this song at his Carnegie Hall recital of February??, 1917 and also sang it at Boston’s Symphony Hall on February 20, 1917. The Arthur P. Schmidt ad “Songs From the Concert programmes of Boston Singers” in the Boston Symphony program of May 2 and 3, 1919 lists this song as being sung by Laura Comstock Littlefield. After the first edition in E Major published in 1904 came the B Flat edition-eventually there was also a D Flat edition. When Bossey published this song in London, also in 1904, their edition was in E Flat.
Lib. Of Congress receipts:
2/20/34 305-high.05 $15.25
5/20/37 305-mezzo .05 $15.25
2/24/43 301-high .05 $15.05
12/14/51 150-B flat .05 $7.50 [Note, still producing income in 1951!]
The total press run for this song was 14,660 copies. (Cipolla, 3/5/09 e-mail)
3. The Bird. F#(f-g#)
4. Love is Everywhere. F (e-g) Hughes felt that this song “carries one along in its grateful enthusiasm.” (Hughes-Contem A. Com., p. 521)
OPUS 41 A Song of the Lilac.
OPUS 42 Nonsense Rhymes and Pictures. Pub. 1905 by Schmidt, but first sung from manuscript at the August 1903 14th. Annual Convention and Festival at the Opera House Hampton Beach of the “New Hampshire Music Teachers” Association” by Miss Adah Campbell Hussey. The order and titles of that performance were:
The Person of Filey
The Dolorous Man of Cape Horn
The Old Person of Skye
The Man and the Kettle
Will Nobody Answere this Bell
The Bird in the Bush
The Lady and the Tiger
An undated (probably 1906) Lib. of Congress Collection letter from “8 Brimmer, Friday” said: “Dear Mr. Schmidt, Could you let me have my design for the cover of the Nonsense Songs, for a day or two, to compare the size of lettering with my plan for the inner title-page.” Another letter dated Jan. 28, 1905 said: “Dear Mr. Schmidt, Here is the design for the inside title page; (also the cover design). I hope it’s all right.” On March 11, 1905 she wrote: “Dear Mr. Schmidt, I think the enclosed sample of yellow for the cover of the Nonsense Songs will do very well, and I hope it pleases you-as to shade.”Two and one-half months later she was concerned with the paper: a letter dated June 1, 1905 said”…I could wish that the paper was not the same blue-white which was used in Songs for Lovers of Children. But the type is splendidly clear and I hope you are pleased. In haste-and with thanks for the delightful reproduction of the pictures, and title pages.”The “Table Gossip” column of February 3, 1907 issue of the Boston Globe reported that “One of the society events of the week in Winchester was a progressive luncheon given on Tuesday at the residence of Mrs. Louis Parkhurst to meet Mrs. Tillotson Wheeler Gilson of Chicago.Mrs. Howe of Boston, accompanied by Miss Grebe, sang a group of songs most acceptably.Among other things, she sang four nonsense songs by Margaret Ruthven Lang.” (Globe, February 3, 1907, p. 50)
An ad in the Boston Symphony programme book for May 2 and 3, 1919 placed by Arthur P. Schmidt Co. listing “Songs From the Concerts Programmes of Boston Singers” shows Alice Bates Rice” as performing these pieces.In 1919 she advertised as “Soprano Soloist and Teacher of Singing” with her teaching studio at the Lang Studios, 6 Newbury Street.
Arr. for WOMEN”S voices:#446-The Old Lady of France
#447-The Old Person of Skye
#448-The Person of Filey
#449-The Old Person of Jodd
#450-The Old Man of Dumbree
#637-The Old Man In a Tree
Arr. for MEN”S voices:#351-The Old Man Who Said “well”
#352-The Old Man In a Tree
Arr. for Mixed Voices:#131-The Old Person of Cassel
Osborne comments: “Her Lear miniatures offer considerable delight, each reflecting the fun and nonsensical good cheer of their language…The Old Man in a Tree, a languorous waltz that begins and concludes with extended choral ”Bzz”ing cleverly simulating the ominous darting in and out of ”a regular brute of a Bee.”Another slow waltz introduces us to An Old Person of Skye who ”waltz”d with a Bluebottle Fly.”Constant tremulandos in the pianist”s left hand and two ascending bursts of chromaticism during the final measures reinforce our sense of that odd pair as ”they buzzed a tune to the moon, And entranced all the people of Skye.”” (Osborne, p. 63) Also concerning The Old Man in a Tree: “One of Miss Lang’s souveniers of ‘Mrs. Gardner’s Japs’ (they were then actually employed on the building of the Museum of Fine Arts) was a small brass tray on which they engraved a line of her ‘Nonsense Songs.’Where two of the notes should be there are substituted buzzing bees.” (Miller article, 1967) Two views of the tray-Photo by Justin Reinking. Collection of Fletcher DuBois.
The Library of Congress had both printed and manuscript copies of The Old person of Cassel available for download.Their comment on the piece states: “In her SATB setting with piano accompaniment of Lear”s The Old Person of Cassell (1905), she humorously interjects numerous ”ha, ha” responcses to each line of text. The nose of the old person of Cassell was ”finished off in a tassel,” which Lang paints with a stuttering musical figure that sounds like a stifled sneeze.” (L. C. Website)
OPUS 43 More Nonsense Rhymes and Pictures. Pub. Schmidt 1907.A Lib. of Congress Collection dated Sat. Oct. 12, 1907 said: “Dear Mr. Schmidt, I send you very many thanks for a most charming surprise. The new, bound volume of the two Nonsense books-is very ___ to me, and I am delighted. It greeted me yesterday on my return here in the first time in nine months, and added greatly to my joy. Thank you so much for doing it. I’ve always loved surprises, and this is such a nice one!” A year and one-half later Schmidt wrote on March 1, 1909 to suggest that she arrange from Vol. I #1, 3, 7, and 10, and from Vol. II #2 and 7 for women’s chorus-she agreed and said that she was thinking of doing one or two for mixed chorus.
The Young Lady of Parma. Here is a video performance of this song. http://youtu.be/c8Kgkriqcuk
Arr. for MEN”S voices:#353-The Young Lady of Parma
#354-The Old Person of Ware
#355-The Old Man With a Gong
Arr. for MIXED Voices:#130-The Old Man With a Beard. This was performed at the 2009 National Convention of the ACDA by the “High School Honor Choir” conducted by Tim Sharp using the Library of Congress American Music project.
Lib. of Congress Collection receipt dated 4/21/31
320 Lady Parma @ .01 $3.20
518 Old Man Tree @ .011/510/20/? $6.22
215 More Nonsense at .10 $21.50
Osborne comments: “Lear”s Old Man With a Beard is cursed with ”two owls and a Hen. Four Larks and a Wren, [who] have all built their nests in my beard.”Not only does Miss Lang present us with charming pictorial representations of their calls of lark and/or wren [without, however, the scientific specificity of an Olivier Messiaen], but apparently has conceived her old man as expressing himself with all the passion and anguish of an Italian opera singer, a most pleasant incongruity.” (Osborne, p. 63) The Library of Congress has both the printed and manuscript scores available for download. Their comment on the work states: “Margaret Ruthven Lang”s father often conducted his daughter”s works at his choral concerts. In 1890, his Apollo Club premiered her Jumblies, op. 5, an ambitious part-song on a humorous text by Edward Lear (1812-88) scored for men”s voices, baritone solo, and two pianos. She set at least eight of Lear”s nonsense rhymes to music. In Lang”s setting of Lear”s The Old man with a Beard (1907), the piano part is filled with twittering figures to represent the two owls, one hen, four larks, and a wren who built their nests in the man”s beard. He relates the problem. according to Lang”s musical direction, ”with anguish.””: (L. C. Website)
The critic William F. Apthorp had published a song setting of “The Owl and the Pussy-Cat” in 1878.
A January 9, 1917 ad for a recital by Katharine Dayton, “Diseuse,” listed the repertoire as folksongs from around the world and Thumb-nail Studies in Temper and Temperament, which were the Nonsense Songs, renamed. The “Advertiser” review said, “These songs of M. R. Lang’s (daughter of our former great conductor) have of late lost in popularity; probably because they have not been brought before the public in a way which then could be enjoyed.” Philip Hale’s review said, “Nothing could have been better, for example, than her interpretation of Miss Lang’s music for Lear’s Young Lady in Blue…The comic is Miss Dayton’s forte.”
In 1980 the dancer/choreographer John Wilson created a ballet using “about 20 of the limericks…in a score that ranges in influence from Gottschalk to Amy Beach, with a little hornpipe thrown in for good measure. Marcy Jellison sang and recited the limericks…with Mr. Wilson, looking remarkablely late-Victorian with his canny, slightly world-weary face and his formal evening attire, joining in from the piano…Mr. Wilson set himself a difficult task in attempting to render in movement such lovely conceits as The Man From Putney and his diet of roast spider and chutney, ”which he took with his tea in sight of the sea.”” (New York Times, February 28, 1980, p. C21)
OPUS 43(also) The Lonely Rose. Pub. Schmidt 1906 for SSAA chorus, 19 pp. Listed as a cantata for women’s voices. Lib. of Congress autograph. Letter dated Mar. 13, 1904 says was performed in Jordan Hall last week by the Thursday Morning Musical Club. Another performance was by the Impromptu Club on March 2, 1921. The Library of Congress has both the printed and manuscript scores for this work available for download. Their description of the piece states: “In 1906, Lang wrote The Lonely Rose, op. 43, for Boston”s Thursday Morning Musical Club, the women”s organization that had commissioned Amy Beach”s cantata The Sea-Fairies, op. 59, two years earlier. It is a lengthy setting for women”s voices and piano with a wide-ranging soprano solo. The voice parts are marked meticulously with frequent crescendo and diminuendo marks, often two per bar in several successive measures. The piano part also contains highly detailed pedal markings and even fingerings for some difficult passages. Lang”s father was a student of Franz Liszt, so her piano accompaniments may contain her father”s editorial suggestions that reflect Liszt”s style.” (LC Website: American Choral Music, 1870-1923) In 1911 an Oklahoma newspaper recorded: “A special meeting of the choral class of the Ladies” Music Club has been called for 2 o”clock this afternoon in St. Paul”s parish house. The club is rehearsing the cantata The Lonely Rose, by Margaret Ruthven Lang, which it will present at the March meeting of the club.” (March 3, 1911, Daily Oklahoman, Page 7, GenealogyBank)
OPUS 44 Grandmama’s Song Book for the Children. The words were taken from “The Daisy” (1807) and “The Cowslip” (1811). These are cautionary stories in verse adapted to the ideas of children from four to eight years old with texts by “Elizabeth Turner (Mrs. Turner), an English writer of children’s poetry.These two collections were published in the United States by mid-century and went through upwards of 25 editions by the turn of the century. Lang’s settings of these verses were not published until 1909, some 100 years after their appearance as poems.Her use of these verses exposes the continued attraction of domestic sentiments. Indeed, Lang had little real-life experience with children, certainly no children of her own…Each song in Lang’s collection is an instructive verse on behavior directed at children. As in the poetry collection, each song is accompanied by an illustration related to the theme of the work. In keeping with the sentiments of the text, Lang’s settings are the most unassuming songs she ever wrote.The chromaticism and rich harmonies in Lang’s art songs are completely removed from these settings.Instead they are in the style of parlor songs. They are quite small, all under 24 measures in length…They have uncomplicated diatonic harmonic structures. Melodically, the vocal lines lie within a small range. The piano accompaniment is sparse and generally doubles the melody.” (Blunsom, pp. 205 and 206)
OPUS 45 Not used (?)
OPUS 46 Three Songs pub. Schmidt in 1909.
1. An Even Psalm. M. R. Hall
2. Sometimes. T. S. Jones
3. Out of the Night. Anon. Lib of Congress autograph.
OPUS 47 Spring. Poet unknown. Pub. Schmidt 1909. 7 pp. Lib. of Congress autograph.
OPUS 48 (?) Opus not assigned by Cline. Song of the Three Sisters for SSAA chorus. Pub. Schmidt 1909, 12 pp., “Women’s Voices No. 451.” Copy at Harvard M. A. A 6-page holograph score with no date at Washington Sate Un. at Pullman, WA lists this as the opus for The Wild Brier for women’s voices.
OPUS 49 Not used (?)
OPUS 50 Four Songs
1. A Garden is a Lovesome Thing. T. E. Brown. 5 pp.
2. A Song of the Spanish Gypsies (Solea). Tr. A. Strettell.3 pp. Hughes saw this as “another interesting and original bit.” (Hughes-Con. Am. Com., p. 521)
3. Snowflakes. J. V. Cheney. 7 pp.
4. There Would I Be. J. V. Cheney.5 pp.
OPUS 51 Grant, We Beseech Thee, Merciful Lord. Anthem for SATB and solo quartet. Pub. 1912 by Schmidt: ” Mixed Voices Sacred No. 1063.” Text is the collect for the 21st. Sunday after Trinity.
Done at St. Paul’s Cathedral as Introit March 2, 1913.
As anthem, Church of the Advent January 26, 1913, October 12, 1913, October 24, 1915, and November 12, 1916
Done as the offertory at Boston’s Old North Church on August 16, 1931.
Done at the Church of the Incarnation, NYC on February 21, 1932.
Lib. of Congress Collection receipt dated 5/20/37312@ .011/5 $3.74.
OPUS 52 The Night of the Star: A Christmas Cycle. Words by Denis A. McCarthy. Soli, SATB Chorus, and organ. Pub. 1913 Ditson. “Christmas Virgil” published separately. This solo was published in the December 1940 “Etude Magazine” among the musical supplement numbers. Mrs. Hooper recalled that this song was played at a family gathering and she didn’t recognize it. Malcolm thought she was joking, but she wasn’t.
The work was done at the Manchester, N.H. Unitarian Church during December of 1920. On December 25 and 27, 1931 at the Church of the Incarnation in NYC, this was the offertory anthem (all three sections) at Morning Prayer.
Christmas of 1913, the year that it was published, the following Boston area churches performed the work:
St Paul’s Cathedral, Dec, 24, 12:10PM
First Church, Unitarian Dec. 24, 4:30PM
Harvard Musical Club Dec. 24, 9:30PM
King”s Chapel Dec. 25, 11AM
A note in the Scrapbook said that Margaret attended all four of these performances!
The following churches had performed the work the previous Sunday:
South Congregational-Dr. Hale Dec. 21, 10:30AM
First Parish, Dorchester Dec. 21, 11AM
Newton Universalist Dec. 21, 10:45AM
Eliot Church, Newton Dec. 21, 10:30AM
Church of the Savior, Chestnut Hill Dec. 21, 10:30AM
Harvard Church, Brookline Dec. 21, 10:30AM
This certainly represents a broad range of support for Margaret.
The Harvard Musical Association included the work in its Christmas Eve “House Warming of the Julia M. Marsh Rooms” on December 24, 1913, which was the 75th. year of the group. It was repeated again by HMA on Friday December 5, 2003. [CD available]
Later performances include:
First Methodist Church, Riverside, CA, Dec. 24, 1915 (Riversdie Daily Press, p. 7, GenealogyBank)
Old South, Copley Square Dec. 24, 1916 Evening
Old South, Copley Square Dec. 24, 1921
Emmanuel Church (Lynwood Farnam) December 25 and Dec. 31, 1922
Emmanuel Church Nov. 4, 1923
First Parish, Meeting House Hill, Dorchester, MA, December 24, 1942 (Boston Herald, December 24, 1942, p. 25, GenealogyBank)
OPUS 53 Wind. SSAASSAA. Done as part of the 72nd. Season of the Philharmonic Society of New York, Josef Stransky, conductor. Performed on Thursday night, February 26, 1914 and Friday afternoon, February 27. The program was:
Schumann Overture, Scherzo and Finale
Chadwick Three A Capella Choruses-Stabat Mater Speciosa
Pierne Le Marriage de Marion
Performed by the St. Cecilia Club conducted by Victor Harris
Hughes, editor, “Songs By Thirty Americans,” for High Voice, p. xxii.
Wind, for eight-part unaccompanied chorus was composed for the St. Cecilia Club. The poem was by John Galsworthy. In commissioning the work Harris “asked that she write something of a ”bright, stirring, and rousing character,” lamenting that ”so much is written for women”s voices that is tender and sweet and quiet in effect” that he found it difficult to program compositions which were good and at the same time faster than Andante.” (Fox, Sexual, p. 10)“Miss Lang has written for orchestra, as well as in smaller forms, piano pieces and songs, and the present work is quite in an unusual vein. It is not only excessively difficult, but what is more unusual, its effectiveness is in direct proportion to its difficulty. The color effects secured by limited means-the orchestration, so to speak, for eight parts, all women’s voices, is unique.” Notes by W. H. Hermiston, no page numbers. Lib of Congress autograph. Pub. by Schmidt: “Women’s Voices No. 585.”
The “Musical America” review of the work”s premier on January 20, 1914 at the Waldorf-Astoria Ballroom stated: “Miss Lang”s The Wind, dedicated to the club, is written for double chorus in eight parts; harmonically it is individual, as Miss Lang always is; moreover, it is unusually complex.Few women”s choruses will be able to sing it.Yet the St. Cecilians handled it with comparative ease, so carefully had it been prepared.” (Scrapbook)
The “Musical Courier” review of January 28, 1914 said: “The Wind, by Margaret Ruthven Lang, a double chorus, eight parts composed especially for the St. Cecilia Club, to a beautiful poem by one of the most talented of living English poets, John Galsworthy, Miss Lang did en excellent piece of work in this composition.She has captured the spirit of the wind in a remarkable way and has done this without using any of the tricks which composers from time immemorial, almost, have used to represent the sighing and sobbing of the wind.She has, in fact, made no attempt to imitate the sound of the wind, and the consequence is that she has composed a beautiful piece of music.” (Scrapbook)
The review in the “Musical Courier” /Feb.? 1914) said: “the beautiful chorus, Wind, by Margaret Rutherford (sic) Lang, again made an excellent impression, as it did on its first performance here, and one cannot but be impressed not only with the beauty of the contrapuntal work of the composer, but with the exceptionally fine interpretation by the chorus of this unusually difficult composition>” Scrapbook This review was of a benefit concert held on January 28, 1914, also at the Waldorf-Astoria Ballroom.
Other groups did take up this work.The October 14, 1916 issue of the “Musical Courier” reported a performance by the Women”s Lyric Club of Los Angeles.This was a choir of about 100 voices that regularly sang at the Trinity Auditorium to full houses.The choir had sung Wild-brier the previous spring (March 10, 1916)
Arthur Foote describes seeing Victor Harris in Paris during the summer of 1897:
“Victor Harris was also in Paris for some weeks, and used to appear on his wheel. We had known him in Boston, on his visits as accompanist for singers, and a singularly sympathetic one he was; a handsome, attractive, talented man, a charming companion and good friend, a successful teacher of singing in New York, and later a distinguished conductor of the St. Cecilia Women’s Chorus there. He is the composer of some lovely songs.” (Foote-Autobio., p. 87)
Pendle notes that “Some of her (MRL) late works show French influence too, especially Wind, her beautiful and atmospheric double chorus for women’s voices.” (Pendle, p. 218)
OPUS 54 No. 1-Into My Heart. A. Meynell. Lib. Of Congress has autograph signed “M.R.L. Sept. 1914” with the note “given by the composer July 28, 1917.”Note on the back loans this manuscript copy to Mrs. Rice for her use only-not to be copied. Signed and dated March 12, 1915.
2. –Chimes. A. Meynell. Lib. Of Congress has autograph signed and dated as above and given as above.
Cline: “Characteristics: Pleasant, successful song utilizing an ostinato figure in the piano in imitation of bells. An unusual chord cluster and deceptive cadence in final measures. The vocal line has a distinctly whole tone quality.”(P. 153). The Lib. of Congress autograph is signed and dated: “M.R.L. Sept. 1914, given by the composer July 28, 1917.”
OPUS 55 Cradle Song of the War. Words by N. S. D. Lib. of Congress has autograph “M.R.L. Sept. 1915” and note “Given July 28, 1917 by composer.” Musical America for June 24, 1916 said: “We have seen nothing from Miss Lang’s pen in a long time as worthy as A Cradle Song of War. It is strongly repressed and delivers its message calmly, without show of emotion; yet this may be felt all the more deeply through its seeming reticence. The measures in the piano, over which the voice breathes the word ‘Hush,’ very softly, are masterly in conception. The song is published in two keys, for medium voice in D Minor and for low voice a third lower.” Pub. by Oliver Ditson. At the Impromptu Club concert of March 1, 1916, it was sung by Mrs. Foote and accompanied by the composer.
Cline: “Characteristics: A stunning, dramatic song, worthy of the final statement from Lang in the art song genre. use of repeated word, “hush,” has a disturbing effect. Interesting harmonic interplay between keys of B minor and D major.
Subject of Poem. A mother tries to quiet her baby in a war-torn land, promising that help is coming from over the sea.”(p. 154)
OPUS 56 In Praesepio (In the Manger) for SATB Choir. R. L. Gates. Pub. by Schmidt for SATB-“Mixed Voices Sacred No. 1196.” Lib. Of Congress autograph originally subtitles “A Christmas Chorale.” Lib. of Congress has autograph of SSAA arrangement 4 pp. published by Schmidt:” Women’s Voices No. 691.”
Performances: Church of the Advent Dec. 24, & Dec. 31, 1916 (4PM)Probable premier as this was her church
Church of the Advent Dec. 31, 1916 (4PM)
King’s Chapel (Malcolm Lang) Dec. 25, 1916
First Universalist, Medford Dec. 24, 1916
St. Paul’s Cathedral Dec. 24 (Evening)
Wellesley College Vespers Dec. 17, 1916
Church of the Advent Dec. 24, and Dec. 30, 1917
Church of the Advent Dec. 30, 1928
OPUS 57 Heavenly Noel for Women’s Choir and instruments by Schmidt: “Women’s Voices No. 692.”NEC has score and eight parts-also an arrangement of the accompaniment for harp and piano. A review in Musical America for Apr. 13, 1918 said: “One of the most important compositions for chorus of women’s voices written by an American in many moons is this work of Miss Lang’s. The dignity of her inspiration, which has won her a place on eminence far above many of her more widely sung sister-composers, permeates this composition, which is a setting of a portion of R. L. Gale’s volume, ‘David in Heaven and Other Poems.’ It was produced last year in New York by Victor Harris with his St. Cecilia Club and made a profound impression. The four-part women’s chorus hums all through the work, while the solo mezzo-soprano sings the words of the poem, until at the close the chorus has a very impressive ‘Sanctus.’ The final chord is an ‘Ah!’ for the chorus. Miss Lang has gone far from traditional lines in this composition and in doing so has achieved one of the most significant compositions of her career. It is a work that will be appreciated by those who admire serious music. It is not for amateur choral societies by any means; they will be able neither to sing it nor understand it.” (the initials written after the review seem to be “U. W. K.”) At the age of 100 Margaret remembered the writing of this piece. “I hadn’t worked over it at all, it just came, it had to be done.”It was about “what the saints do in Heaven on Christmas morning. The chorus makes sounds, they don’t sing words. I had the organ on a single note and it did sound other-worldly. Middle-aged men told me it made them cry. The St. Cecilia Society in New York wanted to do it, and to have me play it for them. I never played the piano in public. And so I went on to New York for that.”(Miller-Globe article)
There was a review in the Boston Transcript of January 11, 1917 about the January 10, 1917 concert by the Choral Music Society of Boston conducted by Stephen S. Townsend (with Lynnwood Farnam as one of the two accompanists). Presented in Jordan Hall January 10th. included many new pieces; “while the least pretentious among them proved the most distinctive and meritorious-to wit a Heavenly Noel set for a choir of women with an occasional solo voice and with accompaniment of harp, string quartet, piano and organ by Miss Margaret Lang. The verses signed R. L. Gales, are a picture of the stir in heaven on the night in which Jesus was born at Nazareth, fancied and worded in the native and homely manner of old German folksong. St Peter lights up his gate-house cabin of oyster-shells; St. Catherine puts on her best gown; the angels sing mechanically-too curious about what is happening on earth to heed their own voices. Miss Lang has clothed these verses in music that follows plastically the flow and beat of the rhymes and that keeps substance and savor with them; while in itself it is freshly imagined, dexterously conducted and abundant in unobtrusively ingenious and prettily fanciful play with the timbres of the women’s voices and the heightening strings. The setting, indeed, does what such music-making should do-heighten the pleasure of the verse and coordinate with it a pleasure from itself.”The accompaniment of organ, piano, harp, and quartet of strings had been arranged by the composer for this performance by the Choral Music Society of Boston.
The Boston Globe review of January 11, 1917 said “Miss Lang’s Heavenly Noel sung recently also by the Impromptu Club, is a composition of true beauty, the text reminding of the quaint frankness without loss of reverence of a French Christmas carol, and the use of solo voice effective against the chorus, particularly in the responses of the latter.”
1917 also saw a performance in New York by the St. Cecilia Club.The “Musical America” review of April 28, 1917 said: “Miss Lang”s The Heavenly Noel was the leading novelty.Set for chorus, mezzo-soprano solo, piano, harp, organ, and strings, it was much admired for its individual quality.Miss Lang presided at the piano, having come from Boston for the occasion, and at the close was brought forward by Mr. Harris.” (Scrapbook)
The Boston Herald review of January 11, 1917 by Philip Hale said: “Some of the lines (of the poem) are pleasingly naïve. The music, published last year, is not too deliberately quaint, nor is it affectedly modern. It reflects the spirit of the text. The treatment of the added ‘Sanctus’ is simple and effective.”
The Lib. of Congress has a15p. autograph signed “M. R. L. Sept. 1916”-given by the composer July 28, 1917, and it is an autograph of the piano accompaniment.
The Glee Club of the Impromptu Club performed this work on November 29, 1922 “conducted by the composer.”
This work was included in “Book Two-the Singing Bienniel Collection-Massed Chorus Concert” for the National Federation of Music Clubs Fifteenth Biennial Convention April 18-23, 1927. The copy in the Westminster Choir College/Rider University Talbot Library Collection is from the library of John Finley Williamson, and it is inscribed to Gertrude F. Seiberling.
The MacDowell Club Chorus conducted by Charles Manney did the work at Boston’s St. Botolph Club March 29, 1929.
Set of orchestral parts: Harp, First Violin, Second Violin, Third Violin, Cello, and Double Bass. (Set from Donald George)
Lib. of Congress receipt: orch. Rental 1/20/24 $5
Lib. of Congress receipt: orch. Rental1/3/39 $3
Lib. of Congress receipt: 1000 at .021/2 12/19/41 $25
OPUS 58 The Spirit of the Old House: Elegy for piano (1917). Pub. Schmidt. Lib. of Congress autograph-3 pp. At the very top of the first page is written: “To E. and M.” The entry for this piece in the Boston Public Library Catalog identifies “E. and M.” as Malcolm Lang, Margaret’s brother, and his wife Ethel Ranney Lang.
Opus 59 One Summer Day for piano. Pub. 1919 by Theodore Presser.
Hide and Seek in the Barn
Picnic in the Woods
Knitting for the Soldiers
Driving to the Blacksmith
Opus 60 Three Pieces for Young Players for piano. Pub. 1919 by Theodore Presser.
WORKS WITHOUT OPUS NUMBERS
Incidental music to The Princess Far Away (1906)(Tara, from Psalm, p. 207) La Princes Lointaine (The Princess Far-away) by Edmond Rostand was published in an English translation of 110 pages by Charles Renauld in 1899 by F. A. Stokes in New York.
Deserted. E (e-f#) Words by Richard Kendall Munkittrick. Pub. Schmidt 1890.
Eros. G (d-g) Words by Louise Chandler Moulton. Pub. by Schmidt 1889. Lib. of Congress autograph. Hughes: Con Am Com, 434 says, “…is frail, rare, ecstatic.”
Fern Song. Words by John B. Tabb. The manuscript was printed in the Indianapolis Sentinal Thursday November 28, 1895 to accompany an article about Margaret. Marked “Allegro grazioso,” it is a short poem set within twenty measures, and was composed for this purpose: “Miss Lang conferred an honor upon the Woman’s edition of the Sentinal when she wrote for this publication” the song. (Scrapbook 1887-1906)
Ghosts. A flat (f-f) Words by Richard Kendall Munkittrick. Pub. 1889 by Schmidt. This song was published in Godey’s Magazine of January 1896 (Cook, p. 175). Hughes: Con Am Com, 434 “is elfin and dainty as snowflakes.” A newspaper review dated May 4, 1889 remarked that this piece, among the group of six under review, “is the simplest in form and harmonies, [and] seems from a single reading the cleverest in invention.It is a remarkably neat, Mendelssohn-like scherzo.” (Scrapbook 1889-1906) Schmidt published a SSA arr. in 1947 by Hugo Gordon (pseud. for Hugo Norden) Lib. of Congress letter-her handwritten reply April 12, 1947 to Schmidt”s letter of April 11, 1947 requesting permission for trio version by “our Mr. Norden” includes as the final line “Why should anybody want to sing this song???” Earlier in the letter she had said: “This is a resurrection of the very dead!” Her further concern about this arrangement is shown in an April 19, 1947 letter which asks to see the proofs “although I feel no responsibility about the arrangement. Are you willing to say ‘arranged by So & So, or his initials? So that it does not look as if the song had been composed as a Part Song?? I should prefer it thus.”(Letters-FDB)
“Ghosts is a simple song that lends itself to the parlor. Ghosts was also a popular and critical success despite its uncomplicated nature. On a poem by Richard Munkittrick, it consists of only two verse of text…The text is set completely syllabically and the form is a modified strophic: the second verse begins in m. 16 as a repetition but changes in m. 20 to reflect the text at ‘We are the ghosts of the flowers.’ Nonetheless, its melody is quite simple, rhythmically uncomplicated, with mostly stepwise in motion, and in a narrow range, lying mostly in the 6th from f1 to f2…There are no unexpected dissonances such as those found in many of Lang’s art songs. The vocal line, accompaniment and harmony, all mirror the simplicity of the text which is a typical simple nature poem of this period in which [it] is not invested with any subjective emotion.” (Blunsom, 217)
Hajarlis. Song for baritone premiered at the New York Manuscript second concert of the 1893-4 season. This was a Tuesday evening, it was held at Chickering Hall and Grant Odell was the singer. Undated review published under “Notes of Music.” The manuscript for this song is parft of the collection of the New York Public Library, Music Division.
I Knew the Flowers Had Dreamed of You. A flat (e flat-g flat) Words by John B. Tabb. PUBLISHED by Oliver Ditson.
In a Garden. F (d-f) Words by Algernon Charles Swinburne. Sung by Gertrude Franklin at Cecilia concert May 14, 1891 together with My Lady Jaqueminot and Night. Repeated at Cecilia concert Tuesday January 26, 1892 by Mrs. Arthur Nikisch, wife of the BSO conductor. Also sung by Mrs. Alice Bates Rice at a Cecilia Society concert on April 30, 1896 (in 1906 she was listed as B. J. Lang’s soprano soloist at King’s Chapel-Boston Church and Musical Directory, 1906-1907).
In the Twilight. E (g-g) Words by H. Bowman. Pub. Schmidt 1889. Lib. of Congress receipt 12/17/21 for 205 copies @ .03= $6.15.”…one of the most beautiful lyrical songs we have heard.” “Chronicle” of May 11, 1888. (Scrapbook) The first word of the title had been Songs, but this seems to have been dropped on publication of the work. This was sung on January 13, 2012 Harvard Musical Association concert as part of their “Florestan Recital Project” by Sarah Pelletier, soprano accompanied by Alison d’Amato, piano. They also did Nameless Pain. See further note under this title.
Meg Merriles. 1890 G Minor (d-f)
My Lady Jaqueminot. 1889 B flat (f-g). See: In a Garden. Hughes: Con Am Com, 434 “ is exquisitely, delicately passionate.”A “Jacqueminot” is a deep-red hybrid perpetual rose-from General Jacquement of Paris. (Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary)
My True Love Lies Asleep. Words by Lizette Woodworth Reese. Pub. Schmidt 1893. At the Apr. 14, 1903 Chickering Hall concert to commemorate the 80th. Anniversary of the founding of the House of Chickering and Sons in 1823, My True Love Lies Asleep was sung by Miss Mary Ogilvie, and B. J. played some pieces on the first piano made by Jonas Chickering in 1823.
Nameless Pain. G (e-g). 1889 Hughes: Con Am Com, 434 “Superb.” This song was performed on January 13, 2012 at the Harvard Musical Association by Sarah Pelletier, soprano and Alison d’Amato, piano. They also performed In the Twilight. The program noted that Margaret had performed for the group in 1891 and that “5 of her songs were performed 5 times between 1901 and 1913; her Christmas Star was featured at the opening of the Marsh Room in 1913.” (HMA Program)
On an April Apple Bough. 1895. E flat. (E flat-g). Words by Sylvia. Listed in the 1913 by Oliver Ditson Catalog. “A vocally gratifying song; effective use of a melismatic figure; an expansive ending. The accompaniment consists of mainly repeated chords in an iambic rhythmic pattern. A hopeful poem about the rebirth of love in the spring.” (Cline, 80)
Oh What Comes Over the Sea? 1889 A min. (e-f) Words by Christina Rossetti. Pub. Schmidt.
Ojala. F#(f#-f#) Words from the Spanish Gypsy by George Eliot. Pub. 1889 by Schmidt.
Song of the Rival Maid. D (f#-g) Words by Joseph Victor von Scheffel. Pub. Schmidt 1889.
Spring Song, A. E Minor (e-f#) Words by Charlotte Pendleton. Pub. 1890 by Schmidt. Hughes in Con Am Com, 435said “…a proof of her taste in choosing words.”
Alastair MacAlastair: arranged for male voices by Margaret Ruthven Lang. Pub. Schmidt 1901: “Men’s Voices No. 278.” Lib. of Congress autograph says “Music taken from an arrangement of the original Scottish air by H. E. Dibdin and published by Wood and Co., Edinburgh…Author unknown.” This arrangement was also included in the last concert that B. J. Lang conducted of the Apollo Club.
Here’s a Health to One I Lo’e Dear. Text by Robert Burns. Autograph in the Lib. of Congress has a note: “From a song arranged by? T. Surence (?) in “The Songs of Scotland” published by Wood and Co. Edinburgh. Pub. by Schmidt: “Men’s Voices No. 279.” B. J. Lang included this piece in the last concert that he conducted with the Apollo Club, May 1, 1909. Donald George made a performing edition from the L. of C. manuscript.
Provided by Herb Zeller, Historian of the Apollo Club, August 2020.
Maiden and the Butterfly, The. Premiered by the Apollo Club on May 1 and 6, 1889. No opus number. I don’t believe it was published. The May 2, 1889 review in the Globe said: “The new things were a quaint and ingenious part song in waltz form, written for the club by Miss Margaret Ruthven Lang, entitled The Maiden and the Butterfly… [this piece] is delicately wrought up from parts which have much independence and even some apparent contradictions, but which, when sung to the composer’s injunctions, blend into a flowing and graceful tissue.” However the Advertiser felt: “I did not like Miss Lang’s The Maiden and the Butterfly as well as some other things she has written. It began well, but the short interjectional phrases seemed artificial, and gave only thinness to parts of the work without attaining the archness and coquetry of the poem. The end is especially weak in this respect. But the young composer has proved that she does not often lapse into an inconsequential vein.” (Advertiser (May 2, 1889): 4) Provided by Herb Zeller, Apollo Club Historian, August 2020.
The Wild-Brier for SSAA and piano. Words by John Vance Cheney from “The Time of Roses.” Pub. Schmidt 1909: Women’s Voices No. 452.
White Butterflies for SSA and piano. Words by Swinburne. Pub. C. C. Birchard: 1904.
Love Plumes His Wings, by Margaret Ruthven Lang was premiered at the Wednesday evening, January 16 and Thursday evening, January 17, 1895 concerts at the Music Hall. The secondary headline of one review was: “A Not Particularly Interesting Programme Presented” (Anon., undated) while another review began: “The programme was most excellent and varied…The song for female voices by Miss Lang is charming in melody, and it is most skilfully and effectively arranged. It was sung with intelligence and sympathetic feeling, and was fully deserving of the applause that it won.” (Anon., undated) Hale listed the title of Miss Lang’s piece, but made no mention of the work saying: the concert “was not of special interest.” (Journal, undated) However, another review ended with the comment: “The whole concert was one of the most enjoyable of the smaller ones ever given by the Cecilia,” and described Miss Lang’s piece as “charming through and through.” (651-653) The Herald review wrote that Love Plumes His Wings was “Cleverly set for the voices, and is dainty, pretty and would be wholly admirable if it were more emphatic in its climax. It was tastefully and smoothly sung.” (Herald (January 18, 1895): 7, GB)
Te Deum in E flat. Autograph in Lib. of Congress. Published by Schmidt as Te Deum in C: Mixed Voices Sacred No. 80. Church of the Advent did the Te Deum in E flat on Easter at the 8PM [?] service, April 7, 1901.
Margaret “completed a Mass, which was performed at least once at King’s Chapel under the direction of B. J. Lang in November 1898.” (Baer, 28 and 29)
SONGS NEVER PUBLISHED
CECILA CONCERT-May 22, 1890.William J. Winch sang Aladdin’s Lamp, Sing Maiden Sing, and Cradle Song (could these be Grandma Songs?) Blunsom states that “I have discovered references to 31 unpublished works.” (Blunsom, p. 36) Blunsom counts 149 published works with 130 of these being songs. “(Ibid)
“Compositions for violin and piano” and a “string quartet” mentioned in the Downes article in the “Boston Post” of August 25, 1907. The “string quartette” was also mentioned in her May 22, 1893 autobiographical reply to Mr. Krehbiel.
Violin Obbligatos to three Preludes of Bach (mentioned in her May 22, 1893 autobiographical reply to Mr. Krehbiel).
Also mentioned was “an arrangement for orchestra of the acc’t to Estudianfina” by Paul Lacome. She mentions that this accompaniment “has been performed twice by the Apollo Club in Boston and under Mr. A. W. Thayer’s direction in Cambridge.” In fact the first arrangement was premiered by the Apollo Club on December 6 and 9, 1889. A second arrangement, or a repeat of the first was performed on March 5, 1893.
“A cantata for chorus, soloists and orchestra” also mentioned in the Downes article (see above)-this is probably the work entitled The Wild Huntsman with words by Scott that B. J. was trying to get Theodore Thomas to look over for possible performance at the Chicago Columbian Exposition in 1893. She also mentions “A Cantata for chorus, solos and orchestra” in her May 22, 1893 autobiographical reply to Mr. Krehbiel. In the November 23, 1891 Advertiser it was announced: “Miss Margaret Ruthven Lang has just completed a cantata for mixed voices and orchestra.” It was probably this work.