CHAPTER 02. (PART 2) B J L: EARLY CAREER: 1858-1871. SC.(G) WC- 14,354. TOPICS: CARRENO-NEW ENGLAND CONSERVATORY.
- Teresa Carreno. Gottschalk and Lang. II. Salem Concert. B. J. as Pianist. 1863. Teacher and Pupil. Music Hall Organ Dedication.
- “The Monster Organ.”
- More Solo Appearances. Shakespeare Birthday Concert. South Congregational Church Organist. First Child. Alice Dutton-Early Lang Piano Pupil.
- Hannah Lang Letter-1864.
- Christmas Season-1864.
- Artistic Growth-1860’s.
- Other Concert Groups. Lang’s Home: 1864. With Burrages. Lincoln’s Funeral. Handel and Haydn 50th. Anniversary. Harvard Musical Association Orchestral Concerts. Haydn’s-The Seasons.
- Music Hall Organ: 1866-65 Season. Rival Pianists of Lang-Perabo and Petersilia. Summer 1866-Europe. Mr. Richard C. Dixey. New England Conservatory.
Throughout his career, Lang was involved in the development of young talent. Early in 1863 Teresa Carreno, aged nine and originally from Venezuela, had made her Boston debut both as a solo recitalist and also as an orchestra soloist. Carl Zerrahn invited her to play at the second Philharmonic Concert of the season-but the piece requested, Mendelssohn’s Capriccio Brillante was not in her repertoire, and there were only ten days before the concert. Four days before the concert a copy of the music finally arrived from New York-the first rehearsal was set for Friday and the concert for Saturday. She was able to memorize the piece and her performance was well-received. Carl Zerrahn hailed her as “the greatest prodigy which the world has known since the days of Mozart,” and he invited her to appear with the Philharmonic again on January 24, 1863. Gottschalk heard her in 1862 in New York. He called her a genius, gave her some lessons, and promoted her career. “Carreno had overpowering personality, overpowering talent, overpowering physical strength, overpowering technique. And on top of that, she was one of the most beautiful women of her time, in an Amazonian sort of way. They called her the Walkure of the Piano, and there was something wild about her from the moment she emerged from Venezuela, a child of nine looking very much like Adelina Patti. People fell all over themselves trying to help the talented girl…Liszt offered to teach her, an opportunity any pianist would have grovelled for. But Teresa showed her independence by refusing to follow him to Rome. She was thirteen at the time, and perhaps she did not know any better…Anton Rubinstein heard her in London and gave her lessons whenever their paths converged. von Bulow called her ‘the most interesting pianist of the present age’ when she made her Berlin debut in 1889…’ She sweeps the floor clean of all piano paraders who, after her arrival, must take themselves elsewhere.’ Not many are alive who heard her. Claudio Arrau did, and he called her a goddess. ‘She had this unbelievable drive, this power. I don’t think I ever heard anyone fill the Berlin Philharmonic, the old hall, with such sound. And her octaves were fantastic. I don’t think there’s anyone alive today who can play such octaves. The speed and power.'” (Schonberg, 347 and 349) On December 22, 1863 she celebrated her 10th. birthday with a concert at the Music Hall, which she shared with B. J. at the organ. Another aspect of her talent was shown when she included two of her own compositions, Impromptu and La Emilia Danza. (Ammer, 45) She had spent the previous
Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society.
months in Cuba practicing and giving concerts, “the result being that she has gained in physical strength, in musical skill and understanding, and has added largely to her repertoire both classical and of the virtuoso kind.” However, in performing a solo piano recital in such a large hall, and alternating with pieces played on the new, large organ, she was putting herself at a great disadvantage. “If therefore under all those drawbacks the young maiden made a fine impression and won plentiful applause, as indeed she did, it was so much the more to her own credit…Mr. Lang’s organ pieces were played in his usual masterly manner, the Pastoral Symphony [Handel] and Freyschutz Overture being loudly and persistently encored, to which he responded in kind, that is by playing again a part of the same, and not something else.” (BMT (January 2, 1864): 6 and 7)
Lahee, Famous Pianists, 303
GOTTSCHALK AND LANG. II
Baker, Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, 226.
Six months after Gottschalk’s “Farewell to Boston Concerts,” he returned! in order to stimulate excitement, he advertised a bigger and better program. For his “Grand Sacred Concert” on Sunday, May 10, 1863 held at the Boston Theater the Bretto Brothers were the featured performers. Bernard, a violinist aged eleven and his brother, Richard, a cornetist aged seven were given top billing with Lang having second billing. In fact, the playbill looked like a circus announcement listing all the various acts in many different typefaces and sizes! “Mr. Gottschalk himself comes to us flushed with recent fresh triumphs in New York, where at Irving Hall, he has given concert after concert, to large and critical audiences. It is delightful to know that he will introduce some of his new compositions never before performed in Boston.” (BMT (May 2, 1863): 37) The grand finale of this “Grand Concert” was the newly composed Grand March from Tannhauser in Gottschalk’s arrangement for FOUR pianos-the players were: Gottschalk, Lang, G. W. Steele and S. Behrens. An interesting anecdote about this piece was given by the composer himself who related that at a San Francisco performance featuring local amateur pianists: “The most complaisant ear would have hardly been able to distinguish any shreds of Wagner’s theme floating here and there like waifs in the midst of an ocean of false notes, in a deafening storm of continuous pedal (the storm cannot be described), and of the complete wreck of the measure and spirit of the author; it was no longer to be thought of.” (Doyle, 326) However, even greater effects were heard in a Rio de Janeiro performance where thirty-one pianists and two orchestras were used. All that exists of these various scores is only a single piano part, marked Piano C, which is a five-page autograph (Ibid). A notice in the Boston Musical Times stated that the piece “was better fitted for a grand jubilee entertainment than for a sacred concert on a sacred evening…The pianist [Gottschalk] played in his usual showy manner, exciting the admiration of very young ladies and the criticism of connoisseurs.” (BMT (June 6, 1863) The same notice mentioned that three different halls had been used for this cycle of concerts-Tremont Temple, the Boston Theatre, and Chickering’s Hall. Lang received a separate paragraph that equaled one-third of the length of the review: “Mr. B. J. Lang has supported Gottschalk in all his concerts, and though there are less dash and gymnastic exercise, in his fingering and in his manner, his performance on the piano was quite as good. He is a fine artist, conscientious, industrious. A musician who believes in all that is intrinsically most valuable to his art, and does what he can to make it apparent; but he is as modest as he is skillful, and is therefore regarded by the unsophisticated, as a supporter rather than as a star himself. His pianism added much to the excellence of Gottschalk’s entertainments.” (Ibid)
The only sacred aspect of this concert was that it was held on a Sunday. On Friday at 2 PM of this same week at Chickering’s Music Hall, a “One Matinee Musicale… Previous to his positive departure for New York” was advertised-tickets were 75 cents. At this May 15th. concert Gottschalk and S. Behrens did Gottschalk’s arrangement of the Overture to William Tell and Gottschalk’s own Reponds Moi (Danse Cubaine, Opus 50), and the concert ended with Lang appearing again for the Duett di Bravura from Trovatore. Gottschalk was certainly affected by Dwight’s attacks on his own compositions. “At one concert, Gottschalk took a delicious revenge on Dwight on behalf of American composers everywhere. He played a work of his own and attributed it to Beethoven in the program, also playing a Beethoven work identified as his own; Dwight, predictably, praised the ”Beethoven” composition and lambasted Gottschalk’s music for its ”amateurish inanities.” Afterward, Gottschalk wrote to Dwight to apologize for the unfortunate error.” (Gann, Internet article, accessed November 3, 2011)
To his audience, Gottschalk “became romance personified. His love affairs were pleasant scandal over the teacups, the envy of the most fastidious debutantes. New York delighted in his mannerisms and applauded wildly when he seated himself at the piano, lazily drawing off his glove and running his fingers over the keyboard in prelude, as if dusting it. He had a melancholy air a little at odds with the trimly pointed mustache and an impeccably tailored suit, and he was apt to play with his head thrown back-and often with a cigar in his mouth-nonchalantly pretending to be alone with himself, to the hysterical joy of the listeners he treated so highhandedly.” (Milinowski, 28 and 29)
Eight months later on Monday, February 29, 1864 Gottschalk announced “His Second and Last Farewell Concert Prior to his Positive Departure for Europe.” B. J. was again part of the program with the Duett di Bravura. Based on the programs in the Lang Scrapbooks, this concert seems to be the last Boston appearance that Gottschalk gave that included Lang. Dwight noted in his March 19 edition that “Gottschalk, aided by Mme. D’Angri, the contralto, has given two ‘farewell’ concerts, and has come back and clinched them with two more.” (Dwight (March 19, 1864): 207) In June 1864 Gottschalk wrote a letter to the Home Journal that was reprinted by the Boston Musical Times: “In the month of June I gave thirty-three concerts in twenty-six days. In fourteen months, during which I was off duty only fifty days, I gave more than four hundred, and traveled by railroad and steam nearly eighty thousand miles; while, in a few weeks, I shall have reached my thousandth concert in the United States.” (BMT (June 1864): 82)
SALEM CONCERT. B. J. AS PIANIST. 1863.
Lang continued to return to his roots in Salem. The local paper wrote before his Salem concert: “Mr. Lang has taken high rank in the most cultivated musical circles of Boston and the people of his native city should testify their pride in his abilities, industry and accomplishments, by a grand welcome” (Salem Register (April 13, 1863): 2, GB). After the concert, the paper wrote: “Mr. L. completely satisfied the audience by the extraordinary skill, taste, and varied power and delicacy of his performance, and fully sustained his reputation as a first-class pianist.” (Salem Register (April 16, 1863): 2, GB)
TEACHER AND PUPIL. THE EARLY 1860s.
Just after returning from his European studies.
Historic New England. c. 1862, making Lang about 25 years old. Fee paid.
In October of 1862 Lang placed an ad in the Traveler: “B. J. LANG, Organist of the Old South Church and the Handel and Haydn Society, Teacher of Piano Forte and Organ. Terms $36 per quarter. Those residing in or near the city will be instructed at their residences without extra charge. Residence No. 36 Edinboro’ Street, or address Chickering & Sons.” (Traveler (October 27, 1862): 2, GB-some words missing from the photocopy) “Edinboro’ Street is only one block long-it is in the northern part of today’s Chinatown and the Rt. 93 Tunnel passes right under it. In 1862 this was the location of the Burrage family home; B. J. began the first few years of his married life living with his inlaws.
A year later, on the same page in the Evening Transcript both Lang and his pupil, R. C. Dixey were advertising their availability as piano teachers. Dixey’s ad appeared ten slots higher than did Lang’s, and both offered piano and organ lessons. Dixey charged $20 per term; Lang listed no specific fee. Dixey listed Lang as one of his four references. Lang’s ad directed students to call at “Chickering & Sons” Pianoforte Rooms, on Mondays or Thursdays, between the hours of eight and five.” (Evening Transcript (November 7, 1863): 1, GB) Thus Lang’s schedule of teaching eight full hours was begun early in his career.
MUSIC HALL ORGAN DEDICATION.
A Trade card for Parker Brothers, Importers and retailers of Fancy Goods and Jewelry, Silver Plated Ware, Russia Leather Goods, Toys, etc., etc., etc.” 13 and 15 Winter Street. Music Hall Entrance to the left. The street to the Music Hall was called “Music Hall Place,” and it was located between 15 and 17 Winter Street. The card is 2 inches wide by 2 and 1/2 inches high. Johnston Collection.
The other entrance was from Winter Street, which connected with Tremont Street just in front of Park Street Church. Johnston Collection.
New York Public Library Digital Library.
A Card 2 and 1/4 wide and 4 inches high, published by M. Ormsbee, # 11 Broadway, New York. The grand piano on the platform to the right shows how shallow the stage was. It helps show why Higginson would want the instrument removed so that his Symphony would have enough room to play their instruments. This photo also shows the placement of the two balconies. Johnston Collection.
Music Hall when first opened.
Music Hall-1855. Pre-Organ.
Facing title page of The Great Organ in the Boston Organ Hall, no author, published in 1866 by Ticknor and Fields.
Lang’s quick rise within the Boston musical establishment is shown by the fact that on November 2, 1863, within just five years of his returning to Boston, he was one of the organists who played at the inauguration of the E. F. Walcker organ at the Boston Music Hall. “It took the Walckers five years to build an instrument containing 89 registers and 5,474 pipes. When finished in 1862, the $60,000 organ had to be transported to this side of the Atlantic. Successfully evading Confederate vessels, it arrived safely in Boston and, after seven months of installation work was fully ensconced in the Music Hall. It was a handsome instrument, with a casing splendidly carved by the New York firm of Herter Bros. [The case design was by Hammatt Billings (1818-1874) who had been trained by Boston architects. He also designed the case for Lang’s E. & G. G. Hook 1864 instrument at South Congregational Church.” (Owen, 37)] “With a glorious sound, it was then the largest specimen of its kind in the United States and fourth-largest around the world. As with the Music Hall itself, the [Harvard Musical] Association had quietly but effectively made a valuable contribution to music in Boston” by raising the money for the organ. (Hepner, 40) Back in 1850 Dr. Jabez Baxter Upham had urged the Boston Musical Fund Society to build a concert hall worthy of the city, but nothing came of their efforts. Dr. Upham then turned to the Harvard Musical Association, of which he was a member, who received the idea enthusiastically. “A committee examined four possible sites and chose Bumstead Place, now Hamilton Place to purchase this estate and to warrant beginning the erection of a hall $100,000 was necessary. It was raised in the astonishing period of sixty days. The building rose quickly, watched by an interested and excited populace.” (Nutter, 10 and 11)
The “Private Test” was performed on Saturday evening, October 31 “in the presence of the subscribers and the stockholders of the Music Hall Association, members of the city government and other invited guests, numbering about a thousand gentlemen.” When the guests entered they saw only a huge green curtain that covered the entire organ, “All eyes are wandering with pleasure over the renovated walls and ceilings of the hall, for years so dingy and discolored.” The gaslighting system had been updated, the seats newly upholstered, and the hall now held 2654 seats with orchestra seating and two balconies. The concert began with soft sounds from the organ for fifteen minutes that then grew into a crescendo. The curtain descended, “revealing first the full length of the cherubs with their gilded instruments surmounting the domes of the two central towers; then the chaste beauty of the ribbed and rounded domes; then the triple columns of huge silvery pipes, with St. Cecilia throned in beauty on the summit of the arch between; and so little by little the whole breadth and grandeur of the superb facade, with its grand caryatides, its figures, heads, and wealth of carvings. From the work to the author; three cheers were called for, rousing ones, and given with a will, for Dr. J. B. Upham, to whose first suggestion, enthusiasm, wise and persistent energy, in the face of one may imagine how much incredulity and worse, for seven long years, the whole enterprise, now crowned with such complete success, is mainly due.” The music opened with Mr. Morgan of Grace Church, NYC playing the William Tell Overture. Then came a speech by Dr. Upham thanking all who should be thanked, including the builder, Mr. Walcker, and his son and shop foreman. Then, B. J. played “a sweet Andante by Mendelssohn, and part of Rink’s [sic] flute concerto, tickling the ear of the curious.” (Dwight (November 14, 1863): 133) The official inauguration was on Monday, November 2 with tickets at ”three dollars (it might safely have been five ) performed to a full house. Reminiscent of Handel’s Messiah premier in Dublin, ladies were requested to appear in demi-toilette- “presumably to avoid taking up too much space with oversized hoop shirts, bustles, and hats.” (Owen, 51) Organists and music lovers from almost every State were present.” After an ode recited by Miss Charlotte Cushman, and a speech by Friedrich Walcher, son of the builder, the concert began with the sounds of Bach’s Toccata in F. Lang, who was listed as organist of Old South Church and the Handel and Haydn Society, played Mendelssohn’s Sonata in A-No. 3. Dwight commented that “Mr. Lang’s choice of stops in the Mendelssohn Sonata was most appropriate, and revealed rare beauties in the organ as well as in the composition; it was richly enjoyed.” (Dwight (November 14, 1863): 132-135) Also performing at the dedication were John H. Wilcox (born in Savannah, Georgia in 1827: his chief work was done in Boston), John K. Paine (Music Professor at Harvard: 1839-1906), Eugene Thayer (1838-1889), Dr. S. P. Tuckerman (born in Boston, studied in England, returned to Boston, organist at St, Paul’s Church, later the Cathedral), and G. W. Morgan (born and trained in England, his main work was in New York City after 1853).”This was probably the most famous gathering of organists that had ever assembled in America. (Elson, 262) Dwight reported that: “This Great Instrument complete now in its majesty and beauty, and flooding the Music Hall with harmony, has swept into its strong, sonorous current nearly all the musical interest of the past week or two. The subject is so much more interesting than any other that can just now come up to us, and is at the same time so large, as necessarily to almost monopolize our columns. In spite of ourselves, therefore, and at risk of being called the organ of the Organ, we make this an Organ number of our paper.” (Dwight (November 14, 1863), 32 and 133)
The second public concert was on Thursday by Thayer, Paine and Morgan; each played four or five pieces as a group. On Saturday evening Lang, Wilcox, Morgan and Whiting performed, but each player only played one piece at a time. Lang opened the program with Prelude and Fugue in C by Bach and ended the first half with a transcription of Beethoven’s “Overture” to Egmont. In the second half, he played the “Pastoral Symphony” from Handel’s Messiah and the “Allegro” from the Flute Concerto in F by Rink [sic]. On Saturday afternoon Lang shared the fourth concert with Willcox playing “Bach, Handel, Beethoven, Batiste, Rink, Gounod and improvisations by Mr. Willcox.” (Dwight (November 14, 1865): 135)
Lang was also involved in the Handel and Haydn Society’s “Grand Choral Inauguration of the Great Organ at the Boston Music Hall” concert on Saturday, Nov. 28, 1863. The Society donated its services with the purpose that the proceeds of the evening be devoted toward extinguishment of the Organ Debt. The program included Mendelssohn’s Hymn of Praise with orchestra (again, probably a Lang suggestion), and in the first half Handel’s Ode to St. Cecilia’s Day (first American performance) was performed with Lang playing his own transcription of the orchestral parts on the new organ “and Lang’s registrations were praised.” (Owen, 64) If Lang played with the orchestra in the Mendelssohn he would have had his first introduction to the problem of playing with Boston orchestras of this time who regularly tuned to the old English pitch of around A-449 while the organ had been built in the new French pitch of A-435. Probably the remedy Lang used was to transpose his part a half step higher, which “was surely a tribute to his fabled musicianship.” (Owen, 74) This concert was repeated by request on Sunday Dec. 6. From the very first days of the instrument’s installation there had been comments about its slowness of speech that was a problem for a soloist, but even more of a problem for an accompanist. A review in 1876 had been critical of Prof. Paine’s performance as continuo player in a Bach Magnificat performance-“The chorus and orchestra were not together.” However, Lang was never criticized for this problem. “Whether Lang routinely played ahead of the beat…is something that can now only be conjectured, for no complaints about his accompaniments have been recorded. (Owen, 14)
On February 7, 1864 at 7:30 PM, Lang himself presented at the Music Hall a “Grand Sacred Concert” to be given with “The Great Organ” and with the assisting artists, Miss J. E. Houston (vocalist), Mr. Julius Eichberg (violinist), and Mr. J. H. Willcox (Pianist). Lang opened and closed the concert with major organ solos, Miss Houston sang twice, the second being the aria “In Praise of the Organ” from Handel’s Ode to St. Cecilia, and Eichberg and Lang performed Eichberg’s Religious Meditation for organ and violin. Tickets were 50 cents. (BPL Lang Prog.) For his February 20th. concert he played his usual Bach and Mendelssohn, but also transcriptions and an Improvisation displaying the Vox Humana Stop.” Earlier in the month he had planned to use the Vox Humana in a Mendelssohn movement but changed his mind at the last moment. (Owen, Great Organ, 83 and 85) This stop was included in the organ that Lang designed for his own use soon after he was appointed to the South Congregational Church. (Ibid, 93) The February 7th. format was used for “Mr. B. J. Lang’s Grand Sacred Concert” at the Music Hall on Sunday evening March 6, 1864. The three soloists used before returned with the addition of Mr. J. C. D. Parker and Mr. S. A. Bancroft.
BPL, Lang Program Collection.
This concert must have been a success as Lang arranged another a month later. Two additional musicians were added, but the program followed the format of the February concert.
BPL, Lang Program Collection.
The Music Hall had a standard ad prepared that could be placed in any publication, at any time. These no doubt appeared in newspapers throughout New England The ad was placed in two Vermont papers in the fall of 1864; in the Green-Mountain Freeman of Montpelier Vermont it ran on October 11, 1864 on page 3, while in the St. Johnsbury Vermont Caledonian it ran on page 4 on October 14, 1864.
Lang continued among the solo recitalists. For his January 24, 1866 program he included the usuals-Bach, Mendelssohn, an improvisation and Wagner. Lang often repeated repertoire as it was thought that the audience was different for each performance. Dwight noted that all “things he has played repeatedly before, but he always offers some new shade of refinement in the treatment, more especially the coloring.” (Owen, Great Organ, 103)
Massachusetts Historical Society, used by permission.
In June 1866 Dwight published as part of his review of the repertoire played at for all concerts of the 1865/66 Season, a section on organ recitals, primarily those at the Music Hall. At this time the schedule was for these events to be on Wednesday and Saturday and noon and Sunday evening. Audiences ranged from 50 t0 300 with an average of over 100 giving the hall an income of nearly $7,000. (Dwight, June 23, 1866) During the year there were at least 130 Organ Recitals with the majority given by the Resident Organists B. J. Lang, G. E. Whiting (each 19 times), Mrs. Frohock, (17 times), J. K. Paine of Harvard (9 times), and Dr. Tuckerman at St. Paul’s and J. H. Willcox at the Church of the Immaculate Conception (each 5 times). There were others with only one or two concerts. (Ibid) Lang’s repertoire was heavily Bach, with Mendelssohn, Schumann and Rinck appearing often, but there were also a number of “Adaptations” both by Lang and others from orchestral and keyboard literature-“Overture” to Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night and Chopin’s Funeral March. (Ibid) Another feature of Lang’s recitals was “frequent improvisations in freestyle,” an element not found as often in the recitals of other players. (Ibid) The Treasurer of the HAll reported that for the year ending May 31, 1866, organ recitals had earned $6,890.70, second to the major income-producing “Lectures, Fairs, festivals, etc.” at $13,296.37. (Owen, Great Organ, 106)
On July 18, 1868 again the usuals-Bach, Mendelssohn, an improvisation, and then a Beethoven arrangement and an arrangement by the English organist, William Best.
Harvard Musical Association Library, used by permission.
In 1896, William Apthorp wrote an “Entr’acte” article for the February 14th. and 15th. BSO concert program book referred back to the dedication of the organ thirty-three years before: “Speaking of the Great Organ reminds me of a bogus story that went the rounds soon after it was set up in the Music Hall, to the effect that a mouse had been blown through one of the huge thirty-two-foot pipes, and came to a violent death by being hurled against the ceiling.” (Apthorp, BSO Program Book for February 14th. and 15th., 1896, 527)
”THE MONSTER ORGAN.”
Within a year of the organ’s dedication, a satirical piece had been written about the instrument and its place among the citizens of “The Hub” of the world, as Boston liked to think of itself. The story was based on Boston papers and magazines, “taking the precaution, of course, to prune down their partial and doubtless high-colored statements to the bounds of credibility.” The instrument was “equal in power to a choir of 6,00 throats. Its longest windpipes are 235 feet in length, (requiring the erection of a tower for their special accommodation), and a full-sized man can crawl readily through its finest tubes. 895 stops produce the various changes and combinations of which its immense orchestra is capable…It requires six able-bodied organists to manipulate this immense musical machine; and those engaged at the inauguration” weighed a total of 1,245 pounds. “When in grand crescendo passages these six organists rose simultaneously from their seats, and receding a couple of paces, rushed forward in line, throwing their collective weight upon the pedals. the musical explosion-for by no other name can it be designated-was terribly grand.” The sound lifted the roof 15 feet into the air; the walls of houses throughout the city shook; furniture moved; many thought that this was an earthquake! Towns nearby hear the noise. Newburyport thought that there was a naval attack in Boston harbor; Jamaica Plains thought it was a violent thunderstorm; the water in Boston harbor receded, and when it returned, “swamped, stranded and keeled over several vessels; goldfish died in their bowls; “dead bodies of drowned persons were brought to the surface in the harbor and in the Charles River.” Dr. Oliver Wendal Holmes, together with Boston’s mayor, council members and Harvard representatives “made an interesting pedestrian tour through some eight or ten miles of the main pipes of the monster organ…walking quite erect…and got through the smaller Eolian tubes quite comfortable on their hands and knees.” Dr. Holmes wrote a book about it. (Pacific Commercial Advertiser-Honolulu, (February 27, 1864): GB-reprinted from the Washington Star) Barbara Owen suggests that this was probably written by Holmes for the Atlantic magazine. (e-mail 9/5/2020)
MORE SOLO APPEARANCES.
In March Lang was the soloist in the last of two Soirees produced by Eichberg at Chickering’s Hall. “We do not remember to have heard the D Minor Concerto of Mendelssohn, his second, played here since Mr. Lang made his mark with it two years ago in the Music Hall… Mr. Lang has vastly gained as an executive and interpretative pianist since the time alluded to, and did his work most admirably, with no lack of fire in the Allegro, of delicate poetic feeling in the Adagio, of crisp, sparkling precision in the Finale… Mr. Eichberg had drilled his orchestra into quite a delicate and more than mechanical rendering of the accompaniments.” However, the orchestra only numbered “twenty-four; the chief want being that of the bassoon, (strange that Boston lacks bassoons!), which of course is only constructively made good by the violoncello.” (Dwight (March 19, 1864): 206) Lang had also been part of the First Soiree held the previous month where he played the Mendelssohn Piano Trio in D Minor and three solo pieces. (Dwight (February 14, 1863): 367)
At the Boston Music Hall, on Wednesday afternoon March 30, 1864, “B. J. Lang, The Distinguished Organist Will make his Second Appearance in these concerts.” After an opening overture by Mendelssohn (Der Heimkehe aus der Fremde), B. J. played an organ solo “Let their celestial concerts all unite” from Samson. Then Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony was followed by B. J.’s transcription of selections from Hymn of Praise, and the orchestra ended with Invitation to the Waltz by Weber and Wagner’s “Finale” from Tannhauser. B. J.’s advocacy of Mendelssohn would continue throughout his career as would his devotion to Wagner: “For the next three decades [from the 1860s] Wagner remained a fundamental part of his career.”(Briggs, 53)
Lang also appeared with the Orchestral Union at their 3 PM Wednesday afternoon concerts at the Music Hall. On January 20, 1864 he played a Fugue on Bach by Schumann and the “Andante” from Mendelssohn’s Third Sonata early in the concert, and then after Mendelssohn’s Fourth Symphony (Italian) he played Rink’s [as spelled at this time] Flute Concerto in F. (Transcript (January 19, 1864): 2, GB) At their Fifth Concert he “played a good sterling Prelude and Fugue in C, by Bach, one which we have not had before, and played it well and won applause…The rest of the programme consisted of the “Adagio and Allegretto” from Rink’s Organ Concerto in F (with flute solo); the “Turkish March” from a Sonata by Mozart, arranged for orchestra by Thomas Ryan; and the Faust potpourri as usual.” This was a program that resembled those of the Boston Pops one hundred years later under Arthur Fiedler. A month later Lang again appeared with the Orchestral Union in a concert that “was about the best programme and the best concert of the season.” He played as organ solos two excerpts from Handel’s Samson, and selections from Mendelssohn’s Hymn of Praise. Dwight wrote: “The great instrument has never been made more expressive for such subjects. His choice of stops in the Mendelssohn selections came closer to the idea than ever. He prefaced the grand chorus of Samson with the “Minuet” from the overture, charmingly rendered with soft stops.” (Dwight (April 2, 1864): 215)
Adelaide Phillips gave her first concert in four years on April 30, 1864, at the Music Hall. A Grand Orchestra conducted by Zerrahn took part and Lang played the Mendelssohn D minor Concerto. There were two other assisting artists including Adelaide’s sister, “Miss M. Phillips,” who made her “second appearance in public.”(Transcript (April 28, 1864): 3, GB)
On Sunday evening, May 1, 1864 Lang was an assisting artist in an Eichberg “Sacred Concert.” He played two solos, and also played Eichberg’s Religious Meditation for Violin and Organ, and in two pieces composed for this concert, Ave Maria and Reverie, both written for Violin, Cello, Piano and Organ. (Transcript (April 27, 1864): 3, GB)
Lang was one of 10 assisting artists in “Mr. Alfred P. Peck’s Sacred Concert” on Sunday, May 15, 1864. He, Julius Eichberg (Violin), Wulf Fries (Cello) and John H. Willcox (Organ) played the Ave Maria written by Eichberg in the concert’s first half. To end that section Lang played “Organ Improvisation and Selections.” In the second half Lang, Eichberg and Wilcox played Eichberg’s Trio for Violin, Piano and Organ. (Program, GB)
On December 16, 1865 Lang was the soloist with orchestra in the “Andante and Rondo” from Mendelssohn’s Concerto in G Minor. In the second half, he played as a solo Caprice in E Minor, Op. 33 by Mendelssohn and Wanderstundem, Op. 60, No. 2 by S. Heller. These were just two items among 14 items in a “Bateman concert.” The orchestra conductor was Herr Carl Anschutz. At the end of the program was a notice for a Sunday night “Sacred Concert” at which the Gounod Ave Maria would be played by Willcox, Lang and Herr Carl Rosa. (Program, GB)
SHAKESPEARE BIRTHDAY CONCERT.
Massachusetts Historical Society, used by permission.
On the tercentennial of Shakespeare’s birthday, April 23, 1864 Lang conducted the first Boston performance of Mendelssohn’s complete music to A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Dwight announced the event as follows: “Next Saturday, the 23rd. of April, is the great Tricentennial, or Ter-centenary (as they call it in London-either name is awkward enough and well enough) anniversary of the birth of SHAKESPEARE (great type of all that there is genial in human life); and Mr. B. J. Lang announces a musical celebration thereof, to consist of the music to the Mid-Summer Night’s Dream, to be followed by The First Walpurgis Night, both by Mendelssohn. It will be given in the Music Hall, with the combined force of the best quartet choirs hereabouts, and four principal singers… Mr. Lang is bestowing careful pains on the rehearsals, and all musical lovers of Shakespeare and of Mendelssohn will look out in season to secure the privilege of listening.” (Dwight (April 16, 1864): 223). Dwight then reported: “It was fit that music should bear a part in the honor paid to Shakespeare in the world-wide observance of the three-hundredth anniversary of his birthday.” He then noted because of the effects of the Civil War, the observance was rather unorganized, but Lang’s concert was called “notable… Mr. Lang made the best choice possible in his selection of music. First the Midsummer Night’s Dream Music entire…the choruses were sung by a large choir of the freshest and best voices in the city, and the Orchestra, under Carl Zerrahn, played with more than usual delicacy and spirit, to the credit of themselves and of Mr. Lang’s conductorship.”
The second half of the concert was Mendelssohn’s First Walpurgis Night, “so admirably brought out by Mr. Lang two years ago… The audience was immense, and the enthusiasm great, and Mr. Lang’s good services will be remembered.” (Dwight (April 30, 1864):23) The Boston Musical Times review began: “The Music Hall was filled on Saturday evening, April 23rd. by one of the most intelligent and appreciative audiences that Boston can assemble to listen to music…Mr. Lang deserves and certainly receives, the applause of everybody for the artistic and well-arranged entertainment which he conducted…Altogether the entertainment was a delightful one; one that is eminently in Mr. Lang’s sphere of musical thought and ability. No one understands or more thoroughly loves Mendelssohn than he, or is better to bring out his beauties.” (BMT (May 7, 1863): 68) Between the two Mendelssohn choral works, the orchestra played Beethoven’s Overture to Coriolanus. (BPL Lang Prog.) A short note in Lang’s hometown Salem newspaper suggested: “Salem ought to furnish a large delegation to this fine entertainment. There will be a late train for the occasion.” (Salem Register (April 21, 1864): 2, GB) Imagine, special trains for concerts-those were the days!
SOUTH CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH ORGANIST.
Red arrow shows the South Congregational Church, 15 Union Park St., located between the Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Cross on Washington Street and the fashionable Union Park.
Holy Cross Cathedral. Postcards. Johnston Collection.
South Congregational Church. Photo by J. J. Hawes, sometime between 1862 and 1889. BPL, digitalcommonwealth.
In August 1864, at the age of 26, Lang left Old South Church after five years and began a 20-year tenure at Rev. Edward Everett Hale’s D. D. (Unitarian) South Congregational Church, Union Park Street. (Hale: b. 1822- d. 1909, served South Congregational Church from 1856 until 1901) In 1857 the location of this new church on Union Park Street was described as being at “the centre of Boston bourgeois society.” (Chamberlin, 119) Here he was able to design the second organ of his career. Dwight’s Journal of July 23, 1864 reported: “The Rev. Edward Hale’s church at the south end, is to have a new organ, built by Messrs. Hook at a cost of $12,000, and Mr. B. J. Lang is to be the organist. This will probably surpass any church organ in the city. The organ of the Music Hall is creating a demand for really noble organs all around us.” (Dwight (July 23, 1864): 279) In July 1864 the Boston Musical Times announced: “Mr. B. J. Lang has been engaged to become the organist of the South Congregational Church, (Rev. E. E. Hale’s). The necessary money has been subscribed to build a new organ, under Mr. Lang’s special direction, and he also has carte blanche to secure the best quartette choir that he can find. The society is certainly to be congratulated upon these negotiations for their advantage, which go into operation on the first of August.” (BMT (July 2, 1864): 101) In December 1864, after four months in his new position, it was reported: “Mr. Lang’s new organ at Rev. E. E. Hale’s church is a fine instrument, and gives great satisfaction to those whose subscriptions secured its purchase. Mr. Lang gives masterly performances each week. His quartette choir is a good one.” (BMT (December 3, 1864) 182) Probably among the singers was the tenor William Johnson Winch who served in a Lang-led church choir for thirty years. (1864-c.1894). At one one point his wife was the alto and his brother, JohnF. was the bass. Indeed a “good quartette choir.
A year later it was noted: “A prominent feature in the religious services at the South Congregational Church, both morning and afternoon, is the organ concert by Mr. B. J. Lang, in which he takes pleasure in exhibiting the capacity of the new instrument. The choir at this church is now well selected, so that all the musical exercises there are worth listening to.” (BMT (December 2, 1865) 177) A Vesper Service bulletin of July 1, 1865 lists a Te Deum Laudamus in A by Lang. (Scrapbooks) It was reported that “the best audience which attend any place of amusement, fill Rev. E. E. Hale’s church twice a month, on the occasions of Vesper service.” (BMT (December 1, 1866): 3) During the summer of 1866 while Lang was in Europe, Mr. W. Eugene Thayer presided “at the organ, and conduct[ed] the fortnightly concerts at the South Congregational Church.” (BMT (June 2, 1866). 83) Thayer had just returned from a period of European study. (Ibid)
This new instrument was built in 1864 by E. & G. G. Hook and Hastings # 349 “according to specifications of the organist B. J. Lang. It was the largest in any Protestant Church [in the United States], and had Great, Swell, and Choir manuals and Pedal, 38 speaking stops, 7 pedal stops, one a Bourdon with 32-foot tone, and 2260 pipes.” (Ayars, 69 quoting from Dwight’s (Journal of Music):, Nov. 12, 1864, Vol. 24, 339-40 and November 26, Vol. 24, 351-2) In a “Description of the Large Organ built by E. & G. G. Hook, of Boston for the SOUTH CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH of Boston, Mass” the organ is described as “the last of three immense Organs” built by the firm in the last year. It was further described as “In size over any to be found in Protestant Churches in the United States; and in quality and style of finish, is in no way surpassed if equaled. Though so large, only four months were occupied in its construction.” (BPL Lang Prog. 6241-43) Dwight gave further information about this “thirty-two feet [sic] Bourdon Stop, giving tones low and deep, beyond the power of the ear to discriminate which are felt rather than heard. It forms a foundation for the grand harmony of the whole, wonderfully pervading and sublime.” (Ibid) The case, built by J. F. Paul, Esq., is of Black Walnut, beautiful and elaborate, with emblematical decorations, elegantly carved, and enriched with gold. The front pipes are of a new composition, surpassing in richness and color anything before used. They are highly polished, giving a brilliant silvery appearance, in beautiful contrast with the dark woodwork…many improvements in scales, voicing, and ”action” appliances are here used for the first time. This installation is located in the gallery and fills a space twenty-three feet high, eighteen and a half feet deep, with a total breadth of over thirty feet.” (Dwight (Nov. 12, 1864): 348) [Dwight was quoting from the dedication program] This “beautiful and elaborate” design of the case had been by Hammatt Billings, who had designed the case for the Walcker organ at the Music Hall. (Owen, 93)
The instrument’s public dedication was Monday, November 2, 1864 and it was described in the program as “one of the largest and most complete instruments of the kind in the state.” In the second part Lang played the Mendelssohn Sonata No. 3 which Dwight praised his stop selection which “revealed rare beauties in the organ as well as in the composition.” (Owen, Great Organ, 61). Six other organists also took part. On Saturday evening, November 12, 1864 Lang was part of a concert on the new instrument playing two selections: “Allegro Vivace” from Organ Sonata No. 1 by Mendelssohn and “Selections” from Hymn of Praise “displaying the Vox Humana Stop.” Two other organists appeared-Mr. G. B. Brown and Mr. J. H. Willcox who ended the program, together with vocalists Miss J. E. Houston and Mr. Barry. (BPL Lang Prog.) Another concert of similar design was performed on Saturday evening, November 19, 1864, but using only Lang and Mr. Willcox. (BPL Lang Prog.) Dwight noted the 32 foot pedal stop, the “Grand Bourdon,” and he mentioned that the Music Hall organ had no such stop. “The front pipes are of a new composition, surpassing in richness and color anything before used. They are highly polished, giving a brilliant silverey appearance, in beautiful contrast with the dark woodwork.” (Dwight (November 28, 1884): 348) Lang opened another concert with Bach’s Fantasia in G Major (displaying the full power of the Organ), performed an Improvisation in the middle, later performed Rink’s [sic] Concerto in F Major-three movements, and ended the concert with another Improvisation. “The Organists and Choirs of the South and Unitarian Churches” assisted. (BPL Lang Prog.) Although this instrument was highly regarded by many, eight years after it was dedicated, Rev. Hale had a different view: “Rev. E. E. Hale does not believe that an organ should be placed in a church only to be used for a part of three hours of one day of the week, and left to warp and shrink and get itself out of tune in the enforced loneliness of the six other days.” (Evening Transcript (April 22, 1872): 4, Transcript Archive)
Harry, aged two. Photo on porcelain. Held by the Galacar family.
The Lang’s first child, Harry Allston Lang, was born on October 4, 1864 in Boston. Frances entered in her Dairy: “June 1st. . Harry’s first tooth. Went for a short drive with the horses and new carriage. July 7. We all went to Hingham for the summer. Aug. 12. Lel bought Hogarth’s complete works at an Auction. Paid $4.19. Oct. 4 Harry’s first birthday. He was baptized this noon at 12 o’clock by Rev. Dr. Robbins, here at home in the parlor. He behaved beautifully, and looked the same. We asked a few of our intimate friends.” (Diary-Rosamond) He died the following year, August 1866, in Hingham while his parents were in Europe. (New Boston Town History Questionnaire, February 11, 1914)
ALICE DUTTON—EARLY LANG PIANO PUPIL.
In early October 1864, the Boston Musical Times reported: “Little Alice Dutton, the child pianist, who is to make her appearance this evening at the Music Hall, is a musical prodigy. We have heard some of her private performances with wonderment, so remarkable a power does she possess for reading music and execution on the piano. We have seen difficult pieces of music, which she had never seen nor heard of, placed before her for the first time, and heard her play them with a facility and skill such as few practiced amateurs could accomplish after careful study of those same pieces. Since she came here she has lived in retirement, and taken finishing lessons in style from Mr. B. J. Lang. We look forward to her performance to-night with confident anticipation of success.” (BMT (October 1, 1864): 48) However, Dwight reported that Miss Dutton made her “maiden concert” in October 1865 at Chickering’s rooms. She was then thirteen, and had come “from the West two years ago with a musical talent that had been growing up wild, with no sure direction, and who has been studying with Mr. Lang, and eagerly listening to the best music, is now really an accomplished pianist, in technical facility quite remarkable… Mr. Lang turned over the leaves with anxious and we dare say proud interest in his pupil. The audience was not so large as we could have wished; but it contained some of the most musical persons, and the impression made on critical artists, as well as on friends and willing public, was highly favorable to the young player.” (Dwight (October 28, 1865): 127) However, both reports were wrong. In fact, Dwight, himself, had written in April 1864 that Lang “and his pupil Alice Dutton, a child of 12 years” would play the Grand Duo Concertante for two pianos on the Gypsey March in Preciosa arranged by Mendelssohn and Moscheles, and that this would be “her first public appearance.” (Dwight (April 16, 1864): 223) The Saturday Evening Gazette had also announced this concert on April 9th. writing that the next Orchestral Union concert “will embrace the debut of a child pianist of twelve years of age, a pupil of Mr. B. J. Lang, who will perform a four-hand piece with her, accompanied by the orchestra…Doubtless, there will be a general desire to see and hear the performances of this wonderful prodigy.” (Saturday Evening Gazette (April 9, 1864): 2. GB)
On December 17th. she returned to her home state of Iowa and gave a recital in Burlington, a program that she shared with “Mr. Strasser, an able violinist, who is well known in the West. But few had ever heard of this girl, and many doubted when they saw the programme, that she would be able to sustain her share in it. But they were soon undeceived.” The article went on to tell of her early training which began when she was nine years old with a teacher in Davenport who “instructed her in a course of Clements’, Moscheles’s and Czerny’s Studies. She then came to Prof. Lange [sic] in Boston, whose tuition she enjoyed for two years. Now she is giving concerts in order to raise the funds which will enable her to go to one of the conservatories of Europe.” Unfortunately, her programs were too heavy for Iowans at that time, and “up to the present, not successful.” (BMT (January 6, 1866): 2 and 3)
Returning to Boston, in March of 1866 she soloed with the Orchestral Union playing Mendelssohn’s Serenade and Allegro Giojoso [sic], “and played it wonderfully well for one almost a child. [She was then fourteen] Her hand spans hardly an octave… The girl has talent and the air of being sincerely absorbed in her art.” (Dwight (March 31, 1866): 215) On Sunday evening February 3, 1867 Dutton, listed as a pupil of B. J. Lang, appeared as one of eight assisting artists at one of “Gilmore’s Grand Sacred Concerts” at the Music Hall. She played Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto in G Minor, Opus 25, and a hand-written notation on the program records that B. J. Lang conducted this piece. (BPL Lang Prog.,) (Also BPL Prog., Vol. 1) On Monday evening March 4, 1867 Lang arranged a concert at Salem’s Lyceum Hall at which he played the solo part of the Mendelssohn Concerto No. 2 Op. 40 with Alice playing the orchestral reduction. Then she was the soloist in Mendelssohn’s Concerto No. 1 Op. 25 with Lang playing the orchestral part, and the concert ended with Grand Duo on Themes from Norma by Thalberg played by Alice and Lang. (BPL Prog., Vol. 1) Her career progressed well with a Spring 1867 concert featuring the Weber’s Concertstuck for Piano and Orchestra and a February 1868 Mendelssohn Piano Concerto in G Minor with the Orchestral Union. Zerrahn was the concert’s conductor, but also here a handwritten note on the program states that Lang conducted this concerto. (BPL Prog., Vol. 1)
Probably Lang introduced her to the Mendelssohn Quintette Club, for in March 1868 Dwight mentioned that “So successful a reading of the pianoforte part [Beethoven Trio, Op. 97] by so young a maiden [She was now sixteen] as Miss Alice Dutton was clear proof both of rare native faculty and rare development in so few years in a sound direction. It is clear that she loves the best music, feels it, and conceives it vividly… she has acquired such technical facility and certainty that she now has all the treasures of this fine world open to her.” (Dwight (March 14, 1868): 206) In January 1869 she repeated the Weber Concert-Stuck, this time with the Harvard Musical Association Orchestra, and Dwight noted: “Miss Alice Dutton, though yet very young and hardly past the stage of pupilage, has so distinguished herself not only by her talent, but by what with talent is too rare, a true musical spirit.” In the Weber “the swift passages of the Rondo giojoso were beautifully bright and liquid.” (Dwight (January 30, 1869): 390) Lang used Miss Dutton as one of the soloists in his series of three Mercantile Hall concerts in April 1869. At the first concert she played the Mendelssohn Serenade and Allegro in B Minor with orchestra, and Dwight commented: “Miss Dutton, as a classical pianist, gains in favor by each effort.” (Dwight (April 24, 1869): 23) In the same month she appeared again with the Mendelssohn Quintette Club playing Mendelssohn’s Quartet in B Minor, Op. 3. “The early Piano Quartet of Mendelssohn was a fortunate revival showing Miss Alice Dutton’s powers to good advantage.” (Dwight (April 27, 1869):15) She soloed with the HMA Orchestra in February 1870 in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37. “The entire C-Minor Concerto of Beethoven had never been played here before. Mr. Lang, in the second season of the Concerts, played the first movement only, which is certainly the most significant, with the Cadenza by Moscheles. This time his fair pupil, Miss Dutton, allowed us to hear the whole…Miss Dutton won much praise by the performance, showing marked improvement, though the strength flagged a little near the end.” (Dwight (February 12, 1870): 191) Now in her early twenties, she advertised to give a “Complimentary Concert” assisted by Miss Adelaide Phillipps, Mr. W. H. Fessenden, Mr. Wulf Fries, Mr. B. J. Lang, and Mr. G. W. Sumner at Mechanic’s Hall on Saturday evening, February 14, 1874. Lang’s only part was to provide the “Orchestral accompaniment on a second grand piano” for the opening Concerto [G Minor] by Mendelssohn (HMA Program Collection) Dwight attended this concert which had “a goodly audience, who listened with much interest to the young lady’s clean, forcible, and brilliant execution.” Dwight felt that in the forte passages her “sound was hard and cutting, -too much hammer, so to speak,” but he did suggest that this might have been the fault of the piano used (no brand named). (Dwight (February 21, 1874): 183) Dutton and Mr. C. R. Hayden shared the New England Conservatory 376th Concert. This might imply that she was now a faculty member. “The lady plays very much as formerly, with neat and brilliant execution,” and of Hayden, Dwight wrote: “His tenor voice has certainly improved in power and quality, and in his management of it he has grown less stiff and spasmodic.” (Dwight (October 31, 1874): 327)
Certainly, having such a talented pupil early in his teaching career was a great boost to Lang’s reputation.
HANNAH LANG LETTER-1864.
Provided by the Galacar family.
CHRISTMAS SEASON- 1864.
Dwight reviewed the “Christmas Music” of December 1864 and mentioned the two Messiah performances of Saturday evening, December 24 and the repeat on Christmas Day presented by the Handel and Haydn Society saying that ” The choruses went remarkably well that night [the second night], the Great Organ accompaniment by Mr. Lang replenishing them with great waves of harmony.” Lang had also acted as the organ accompanist (no orchestra) for a Messiah performance given by the “Mozart Society” of Worcester conducted by Mr. B. D. Allen using the “great Worcester organ.”(Dwight (January 7, 1865): 374 and 375)
In 1907 The Boston Evening Transcript printed an extensive article: “The Career of B. J. Lang. A Remarkable Record of Fifty Years as an Executive Musician.” The first section was a reprint of an older magazine article from 1893 by William Apthorp. Then there were a number of sections that covered various aspects of his career. In the section on “Mr. Lang as a Concert Pianist,” the writer spends much time on Lang’s artistic growth in the decade of the 1860s. “Before 1865 he had generally excited considerable momentary enthusiasm whenever he played in public, he certainly could complain of no lack of applause at his own concerts, at those of the Mendelssohn Quintet Club, nor on other occasions when he appeared as a pianist. But the enthusiasm he called forth was not of the lasting kind, people seemed surprised at the brilliancy and solidity of his playing when they heard him, and then would straightaway forget all about it, and go to hear him the next time without particularly high expectations or any ready-made enthusiasm. He had succeeded in making himself admired, but not in making himself remembered by the public; as a pianist, he was not yet popular. Gottschalk, to be sure, had shown no slight appreciation of his playing. On one of his visits to Boston the great virtuoso, having some things with accompaniment for a second pianoforte, engaged Lang to accompany him at his concerts, but Gottschalk soon recognized that such work was far beneath the young artist, and ended by urging Lang to play a real two-pianoforte piece with him, one in which both parts should be on an equality, saying that he never should forgive himself for putting a pianist like Lang in the position of a mere accompanist. But, much as Gottschalk’s opinion might be worth, it had little or no weight with the more serious part of the Boston public just then…He [Lang] was then a young man, tremendously busy and very much absorbed in his work; he was inordinately shy, not sociable in his instincts, and his address was rather brusque and repelling. He entirely lacked the faculty of personal propagandism, of winning people over by charm of manner; his brusqueness often made him enemies where it was particularly important for him to make friends. He was too proud to blow his own trumpet. and others did not feel encouraged to blow it for him. In a word he lacked backing. Those who have known him only during the last twenty years or so wil find all this hard to believe, for he is personally a very different man from what he was at the time I am now speaking of, but it is, nevertheless, quite true that he then stood considerably in his own light-in the most unconscious way in the world-and the tardiness of his recognition in Boston as an exceptionally fine pianist was largely due to it.” (Evening Transcript (April 13, 1907): no page numbers)
OTHER CONCERT GROUPS.
On Saturday, March 12, 1864 Lang was particularly busy as he appeared in two concerts that evening. At the Music Hall “Grand Concert” given by “The World-Renowned Contralto,” Madame Anna Bishop, Lang was one of three assisting artists-he played the “Great Organ.” (Advertiser (March 11, 1864): 1, GB) Later, or earlier in the evening he played one of the Mendelssohn Piano Concertos in Julius Eichberg’s “second and last Orchestral Soiree.” This concert was at Chickering’s Rooms. The concert began at 7:30, and in addition to the concerto included an overture and symphony by Mozart and Beethoven’s Eighth Symphony. (Ibid)
On Sunday evening, April 3, 1864 Lang was one of five assisting artists at a Music Hall “Grand Concert with the Great Organ” presented by the Choir of the Church of Immaculate Conception, conducted by John H. Willcox. The large ad listed the complete program and the performers for each piece. Lang appeared three times. First, the Religious Meditation for violin and organ by his friend Julius Eichberg, then an organ duet arrangement of a Gade symphony movement played with Willcox, and he closed the First Part with two movements from Mendelssohn’s Trio in D Minor. (Transcript (April 2, 1864): 3, GB)
The last weekend in April 1864 was a busy one for Lang. On Saturday night, April 30, 1864 at the Music Hall he played the Mendelssohn Piano Concerto in D Minor with a “Grand Orchestra” conducted by Carl Zerrahn as part of a “Grand Vocal and Instrumental Concert-The First in Four Years,” given by Miss Adelaide Phillipps. Then, the next evening was part of a “Sacred Concert,” also at the Music Hall, given by Julius Eichberg “in connection with the GREAT ORGAN.” Lang’s part was to play two organ solos and accompany Eichberg in his Religious Meditation for Violin and Organ. Eichberg also composed two pieces “expressly for this concert”-an Ave Maria and a Reverie, both for Violin, Cello, Piano and Organ. In December Lang had another busy weekend. On Friday evening, December 2 at the Melodeon, he was part of “Gottschalk’s (positively) Farewell Grand Concert” before “his departure for Havana and Mexico,” and on Saturday noon Lang was part of a “Grand Matinee in connection with the GREAT ORGAN CONCERT,” which included most of the performers from the previous night, including Gottschalk! Both concerts included an orchestra conducted by Signor Muzio. (Advertiser (December 1, 1864): 1, GB) On December 10, 1864 Lang was an assisting artist at the “Third Piano-Forte Concert” given by Otto Dresel at Chickering’s Rooms. In addition to Lang, Hugo Leonhard and J. C. D. Parker were assisting artists. The opening piece was Bach’s Concerto for Three Pianos in C Major in three movements with “The stringed Quartette Accompaniment arranged for a Fourth.” The program does not state who played the solo parts and who played the orchestral reduction. It also does not show who played the other pieces for multiple pianos. Tickets were $1.50, and at the bottom of the program was the notice: “To prevent annoyance to the listener, Mr. Dresel respectfully desires that persons will refrain, as far as possible, from entering or leaving the hall, during the performance of a piece” (HMA Program Collection). Johnson records that the Schumann Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54 was also part of this concert-Dresel played the solo part and Lang played the orchestral reduction. Dresel would give the Boston orchestral premier of the work two years later on November 23, 1866 with the Harvard Musical Association Orchestra conducted by Carl Zerrahn. But, between the 1864 and 1866 performances, Lang played “part of the work at a concert by Mme. Parepa on one evening and the other half the next evening in 1865.” (Johnson, First, 328)
The Mercantile Library sponsored lectures at the Music Hall which enabled Lang to give “a grand organ concert” before a lecture given by John B. Gough. “The simple announcement that Gough, the inimitable, is to speak, never fails to draw a large audience.” (Boston Recorder (March 24, 1865): 47, GB) John Bartholomew Gough (1817-1886) was a famous temperance speaker who himself had been “a confirmed drunkard.” At first, he was glad to receive 75 cents for a lecture, but his skills developed so that in one year he spoke 386 times, and for 17 years he lectured only on the subject of temperance and addressed over 5,000 audiences. Later he expanded his topics to include “Eloquence and Orators” and “Peculiar People,” but he always included a reference to temperance. (Wikipedia, accessed March 17, 2020) As Lang was also a temperance man, he was probably very happy to be part of this event. Later in the year, on October 1st. Lang gave an organ recital as part of a Mercantile Library Association lecture given by Dr. Isaac I. Hayes, “The Arctic Explorer,” (Journal (September 30, 1867): 3, GB) and two years later Lang was still performing these pre-lecture concerts, this time for the Hon. James W. Patterson whose subject was “Revolutions-the Steps of Progress.” For this event the concert only lasted 15 minutes. (Post (October 21, 1867): 2, GB)
Lang also was active as an accompanist. Early in 1865 Dwight reported on various performances of the Messiah “in smaller cities…In Worcester, it was given on Tuesday evening by the ”Mozart Society” without orchestra, Mr. Lang accompanying on the great Worcester Organ, and Mr. B. D. Allen conducting.” (Dwight (January 7, 1865) 373) Two months later Lang was again in Worcester for a Friday evening concert on March 10, 1865 where he opened the Worcester Mozart Society concert with an “Organ Improvisation.” The rest of the program was the choral work The Transient and the Eternal by Romberg. Only a pianist and Lang were listed-probably they shared the accompaniment of the choral work. The tickets were 25 cents. (BPL Lang Prog., Vol. 1)
The cause of the abolition of slavery was one that Lang supported. He was part of the “31st. National Antislavery Subscription Anniversary” event at which there were two speakers and Lang furnished “appropriate and various music during the evening.” This was held at the Music Hall, and the sponsoring committee listed 33 members, all women. (Transcript (January 25, 1865): 3, GB)
In March of 1865 Lang was part of a “Boston Musicians’ Union” Concert played “by the united forces of the orchestras and bands…of from 90 to 95 musicians, many of them accomplished…The Boston Theatre was crowded to excess the first time, making the repetition on last Sunday evening imperative. The charitable, or, what is better, the fraternal object of the concerts must have been largely furthered, and a substantial nucleus formed for a mutual Benefit Fund for sick and needy musicians…Mr. Lang played the Andante and Capriccio Op. 22 of Mendelssohn very beautifully on a Chickering Grand Piano of remarkable power, as well as pure, sweet, musical quality, or the performance would have been lost in that place.” (Dwight (March 18, 1865): 414 and 415) Two singers were also part of the program, and the Advertiser, in its pre-concert announcement said that the “Nucleus of the concert” would be a “grand symphony” played “by the power of almost two score violins and nearly a score of basses…The plan is an entirely popular one, but the programme and its management have more than merely popular elements, and it will be well worth one’s while to attend.” (Daily Advertiser (March 11, 1865): 1, GB)
Lang performed another two-concert weekend in December 1865. On Saturday night, December 16 he was part of the “Farewell of M’lle Parepa, Mr. J. Levy and Herr Carl Rosa” and the Traveler ad said that “on this occasion, Mr. B. J. Lang, the eminent pianist will appear” together with the three departing musicians. “A full and efficient orchestra conducted by Herr Carl Anschutz” would take part and Lang would play the “Andante” and “Rondo” from Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto in G Minor, the Caprice in E Minor [Bennett?} and S. Heller’s Wandersinnden. (Traveler (December 15, 1865): 3, GB) The next evening the same artists would make their “Positively only appearance” in a Sacred Concert with “the most brilliant and beautiful entertainment of the kind ever given in Boston.” Lang played piano solos and was the accompanist for M’lle Parepa signature piece, Gounod’s Ave Maria. (Ibid) These programs must have been well received as two days later ads appeared for the “Positively Last Concert but Two” to be held on Wednesday December 20. Lang played Hummel’s Piano Concerto in B Minor, a Mendelssohn prelude and Heller’s piece, now called Slumbering Song. This program was then taken to Springfield Massachusetts on Thursday night and Portland Maine on Friday night. “No other of the New England cities can by any possibility be visited…Only one final farewell concert can possibly be given in Boston next week.” (Transcript (December 19, 1865): 3, GB)
LANG’S HOME-1864. WITH BURRAGE’S.
At this time “Mr. and Mrs. Lang were living with the Frances’ mother and father at 112 Boylston Street.” (Diary-Rosamond) Both families had moved there in 1864 from 36 Edinboro Street. This had been the Burrage
112 Boylston Street is just visible on the right-hand side of the photo; it is obviously one floor higher than it’s neighbor. Courtesy of The Bostonian Society.
family home in 1861 when B. J. married Frances and moved into the Burrage family residence under the no doubt watchful eye of his father-in-law, Johnson Carter Burrage. Mr. Burrage was a Harvard graduate and a successful dealer in woolen goods, and the family moved in the upper social circles. B. J. and Frances did not have their own home until November 1, 1872 when they moved into 8 Otis Place. This was at the corner of Otis and Brimmer (location of their second and final home), at the foot of Beacon Hill.
Johnson Carter Burrage. Family Tree: Lynn MacDonald.
PRESIDENT LINCOLN’S MEMORIAL CONCERT.
The Civil War ended on April 9, 1865, but all concerts in celebration of this event were canceled when President Lincoln was assassinated on Good Friday, April 14. Early in May concerts began again but “Boston’s formal memorial for Lincoln did not occur until Thursday, June 1.” Held at the Music Hall, Lang played an “Introductory on the Organ” of a Mendelssohn sonata movement and Chopin’s Funeral March and also acted as accompanist for the Handel and Haydn selections. “Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote a hymn for the occasion, and Senator Charles Sumner, one of Lincoln’s friends and supporters, gave the eulogy.” (Owen, Great Organ, 100) Ironically Lang’s “last notable public performance [before his own death] was as conductor of part of the programme at Symphony Hall, on the night of [the] Lincoln Memorial service, Feb. 12,  when he led the Boston Symphony Orchestra and a chorus.” (Unidentified obit, BPL Rare Books Collection)
Frances noted in her Diary: “Today [April 19] our beloved President was buried, and appropriate services were held in all churches in the U. S. A. Edward, Julia [brother and sister of Frances] and I went to Dr. Hale’s church. It was draped with black, also American flags. Lel (Lang) played as if inspired and Dr. Hale was wonderful. Afterward we saw many houses draped in black.” (Diary-Rosamond)
HANDEL AND HAYDN 50TH. ANNIVERSARY.
At the Tuesday morning, May 23, 1865, 50th. Anniversary Concert of the H and H, a chorus of 600 with an orchestra of 100 performed Mendelssohn’s Hymn of Praise with Lang as organist. He must have been pleased that the major choral group of Boston had now taken up this work which he had given the Boston premiere in January 1862. Other concerts that week included Haydn’s Creation on Tuesday night, orchestral and vocal concerts on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons, Handel’s Israel in Egypt on Thursday night, orchestral and vocal concerts on Friday and Saturday afternoons, Elijah on Saturday night and Messiah on Sunday night. Lang also gave a solo organ recital Saturday, May 27 at noon as part of the Festival. His program was:
Prelude and Fugue in C Bach Transcription of the Overture to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” Mendelssohn Pastorale in F Bach Flute Concerto: Allegro Rink(Yes) Quartette from “Fidelio” (Played upon the Vox Humana Stop) Beethoven Improvisation
Elijah was then performed again in December as part of the 1865-1866 Season.
From the Handel and Haydn website (downloaded December 2014)-researched by Herb Zeller.
HARVARD MUSICAL ASSOCIATION ORCHESTRAL CONCERTS.
Their first concert was given late in November 1865. An article in 1884 credited Lang with the creation of these concerts: “It was he who first suggested the great series of Harvard Symphony Concerts; it was he who more than any other held the programmes up to their first high level; he has also been one of the leading subscribers since the beginning of the series.” (Observer, January 26, 1884) “In 1865, when the Harvard Orchestra opened the first season of symphony concerts, to be followed by sixteen seasons, Gen. Lee had surrendered at Appomattox on April 9, Lincoln had been assassinated on April 14, and on the 15th. Andrew Johnson had taken the oath of office as President of the United States.” (HMA Bulletin No. 16) “But, little imagination was needed to foresee the difficulties: scarcity of professional musicians, professional bickerings, jealousy, captious critics, an uncertain and grumbling public, financial problems. None was escaped.” (Ibid) Arthur Foote recorded that “The audience was mainly composed of people of the kind found in our own membership, and they were not there to be in the fashion; there were always a number of music students also, but there was no thought then of appealing to the public at large. As I remember, there were no cheap seats (twenty-five cents) as was later the case with our present orchestra. I should say that, by subscription price, tickets were a dollar, but I am not sure.” (HMA Bulletin No. 4, 2)
“The first concert of the series of eight to be given under the auspices of the Harvard Musical Association took place at the Music Hall on Friday afternoon [the series had been announced for Thursday afternoons], Nov. 23. The weather was unpropitious enough, the day being dark and stormy, and the streets in the least favorable condition for pedestrians. Notwithstanding these untoward circumstances, the hall was filled with an audience of earnest lovers of music, eager to enjoy the feast of good things which the programme promised…The orchestra engaged for these concerts is large and very effective, numbering in all fifty performers, each member having been selected on the strength of his individual merits and ability as a musician, thus ensuring perfect concord and precision in the execution of the music. One noticeable feature is the great number of stringed instruments, the lack of which in many former orchestral combinations has been the cause of much complaint…In the present instance there is a grand foundation of seven contra-basses, with a corresponding number of ”cellos and tenors, ten first and ten second violins, with the reed and brass instruments admirably proportioned to the rest of the orchestra; surely a band so carefully organized, and skillfully directed by Conductor Zerrahn, could not fail to give complete satisfaction even to those disposed to be most critical.” (BMT (December 1, 1866): 5)
At the second concert of the season on Thursday, January 25, 1866 at 4 PM in the Music Hall, Zerrahn conducted the first half, but Lang conducted the second section that was the “Double Chorus” [opening choral section] from Antigone for male voices by Mendelssohn. (Note handwritten in the program) Lang probably also conducted the three choruses for male voices that opened the third section of the concert. The Antigone was repeated at the fourth concert on March 1, 1866.
For the third concert in the series on February 8, 1866, Lang was the soloist in Polonaise in E Flat by Weber with orchestral parts created by Liszt.
HAYDN’S THE SEASONS.
Massachusetts Historical Society, with permission.
On Saturday, March 24, 1866 Lang presented for the first time in Boston Haydn’s The Seasons at the Music Hall with Miss J. E. Houston, George Simpson (from New York), and J. Rudolphsen as the soloists and “a full orchestra.” (BPL Lang Prog., Vol. 1) Johnson describes this concert as “in part only. The Handel and Haydn Society did not sing this work entire until 28 March 1875.” (Johnson, First, 190) A full orchestra accompanied the “Select Chorus.” All tickets were $1 with all seats reserved. Dwight reported: “Mr. B. J. Lang deserves well of the republic for having given us, for the first time in Boston, a hearing of all four parts of Father Haydn’s genial and delightful Cantata, Pastoral, or whatever it may be called. He had gathered together a crowd of heartily interested singers, some 250 voices, fresh and telling, and drilled them well; a full orchestra for the rich and graphic instrumentation; and secured competent vocal artists for the three characters that individualize a large part of the poetry, which follows mainly in the beaten track of Thomson. The performance last Saturday evening was extremely interesting; the Music Hall almost crowded, in spite of the east Wind…On the whole, the work was very fairly rendered for a first time, considering too that the fear of its great length must have made the conductor somewhat nervous…Mr. Lang should feel rewarded for this brave effort, and we trust the Seasons will come round again.” (Dwight (March 31, 1866): 215)
MUSIC HALL ORGAN: 1866-65 SEASON.
Dwight produced lists of the repertoire performed by various groups and soloists each year in Boston. This included everyone who performed at the Music Hall Organ. For the 1865-66 Season, Lang played the most often with nineteen recitals followed by G. E. Whiting. In total there were 130 organ recitals given with audiences ranging from 50 to 300 people. The schedule remained as first set up- Wednesday and Saturday at noon and Sunday evenings. For some of the performers Dwight also listed the specific repertoire, Lang’s being the most “classical.”
Even though there are a fair number of transcriptions, none were from the “lighter” literature. Note also the “Frequent Improvisation in free style”-where did he learn that? (Dwight (June 23, 1866): 263, GB)
RIVAL PIANISTS OF LANG-PERBO AND PETERSILEA.
When Lang returned to Boston from Europe in 1858, he was the talented local boy who had just spent a period of time in Europe. His timing was fortunate as some of the older Boston pianists such as Dresel and Parker were nearing the end of their performing careers. Lang was quickly made a regular pianist with the Mendelssohn Quintette Club, and he began his career as a concerto soloist. His status as the up and coming artist continued until the fall of 1865 when Ernst Perabo returned from Leipzig. “This gifted young pianist and musician, who left this country some six years ago, a boy of extraordinary promise, to seek both his general and his musical education in Germany, is now probably on his way home, if he has not already arrived. We have read what honors he has borne off at the Conservatory in Leipzig, both as performer and composer. (Dwight (November 25, 1865): 143) Originally born in Germany of humble parents, he came with his family to America when he was five. “About eight years ago some musical gentlemen in New York and Boston, with Mr. Scharfenberg and Mr. Dresel at their head, were struck with the importance of rescuing such a talent from an aimless wild growth…and by a subscription for a term of years the boy was sent to Germany.” (Dwight (April 28, 1866): 231) First there were four years of general schooling with the piano taking second place. This was followed by three years at the Leipzig Conservatory. Perabo was only twenty when he returned to Boston “a musician of rare and many-sided accomplishment…His musical memory is extraordinary; perhaps it would take Hans von Bulow to go beyond it.” (Ibid) His memorized repertoire was enormous, ranging from “entire Suites and Partitas of Bach” to the Sonatas of Beethoven, “even the last movement and greater part of Op. 106!” (Ibid)
A year later a second local boy returned from his European studies. Carlyle Petersilea “has returned from his three years” studies in Leipzig and with von Bulow at Munich, crowned with concert triumphs in both cities. Another Boston boy! He has already been heard in private and must take rank among our most finished, brilliant, tasteful pianists. He and Perabo are warm friends, and it is refreshing to see two who might be rivals so warmly interested in each other’s success.” (Ibid)
It would seem that Lang befriended both Perabo and Petersilea. At Perabo’s Third Matinee on February 2, 1872 Lang joined him in a four-hand arrangement of the Tragic Symphony in C Minor of Schubert. At the Fourth Matinee, Perabo played the “Serenata” movement from Bennett’s Sonata in C Minor, Op. 13, a work that Lang possibly had introduced to Perabo, Lang having premiered a number of Bennett’s pieces in Boston. (Dwight (February 24, 1872): 190) He may have also introduced Bennett’s Fourth Piano Concerto to Perabo who then played the Boston premiere with the HMA Orchestra. (Dwight (May 15, 1875): 22) With Perabo musical education having been exclusively in Germany, he might not have known of the Englishman, William Sterndale Bennett.[1816-1875]
Lang and the vocalist Miss Clara M Loring were the assisting artists at the “Fourth Schubert Matinee” presented by the pianist Mr. Perabo on January 31, 1867. The repertoire was all by Schubert. “The Rondo (in E minor) in which Mr. Lang played the Primo, and Mr. Perabo the Seconda part, was most brilliantly executed, and in exact time, there being no apparent unevenness in the tempi of the two performers. It is a charming composition and at once found favor with the audience. The Fantasia (in F minor) created a profound impression; it is one of those compositions of Schubert that the musician must ever delight to study. Greater interest seems to be attached to it than to many of the other works by the same composer. This time Mr. Perabo played the Primo and Mr. Lang the Seconda parts; the sight of two such artists, working together with but one object in view, and that was to do honor to the music of one of Germany’s greatest composers, was indeed gratifying…It certainly was one of the finest instances of piano duet playing that we have ever had…On the whole it was as fine a concert as Mr. Perabo has yet offered. The hall was full and the audience of the most appreciative kind.” (BMT (March 2, 1867): 19)
S. S. CHINA. 268 first-class and 771 second-class or steerage passengers. Launched October 8, 1861. Maiden voyage Liverpool to NYC on March 15, 1862. Two engines with an aggregate of 560-horse power. The sleeping berths were on the main deck, below the saloons. (Norway Heritage site)
The summer of 1866 saw the Lang’s in Europe. B. J. and Frances left Boston on the Cunard S.S. CHINA for Liverpool on May 26, accompanied by his pupils Miss Annie Keep and Mr. Richard Dixey. The day that they arrived, they went directly to hear the organist W. T. Best at St. George’s Hall [where he was appointed in 1855-his repertoire was said to include some five thousand pieces (Levien, Best, 17)] as B. J. had met him previously on prior voyages. “Later that same day [we] arrived in London and went to her Majesty’s Theatre to hear Dinorah Santley a singer. On June 6th. we heard Alfred Jaell and big orchestra in Queen’s Hall [Queen’s Hall did not open until 1893]. On June 12 [in] London [heard] Dickens’ last reading Dr. Marigold and Trial in Pickwick.” Next, they went to Switzerland. “Interlaken. Rose at 4:30 A.M. and saw sunrise on the Jungfrau…Lel has written a very lovely song to the words ‘A little child dwelt by the flowing sea.’…(They went to Paris and Vienna among other cities). England. York.” (Diary 2, 1866) By August they were in Paris, and on August 16th, took part in the great celebration of the Emperor’s Fete.” When they later returned to London they also heard “the great concert in which Jenny Lind sang and Moscheles played.” They returned at the end of September on the CUBA. (BMT (October 6, 1866): 3) Their first-born, a son, “little Harry” had died on August 7 while they were away. (Excerpts from Frances M. Lang’s Note Book, 1)
MR. RICHARD C. DIXEY.
Lang was fortunate to have many well-off pupils who lived on Beacon Hill. Among them was Richard C. Dixey (b. 1844—d. 1915), a “Capitalist,” who owned a home at 44 Beacon Street, four floors, 9,752 square-feet, that needed five servants to support it. (1900 Census) The house had been built in 1806 for the third mayor of Boston, Harrison Gray Otis for his daughter. [Sold for $7 million-plus in 2010. currently divided into four apartments] Dixey accompanied the Lang’s on their May to late August 1866 European trip (Excerpts from Frances’ NoteBook, 1), and also again in the fall of 1869 when he was then aged 24. He seems to have been a gifted amateur rather than a professional pianist. He was the accompanist for the vocalists at a New Bedford Lyceum concert January 12, 1864 where B. J. Lang was the featured artist. (BPL Prog., Vol. 1) Dixie also opened the program at a Lang organized concert at Salem’s Mechanic Hall on Monday evening March 10, 1865. (Ibid)
Dixey was in two benefit concerts in 1871. The first was to raise funds for a “Museum of Fine Arts.” Dwight gave advanced notice of the event and wrote: “The Editor of this Journal will be happy to receive orders for tickets.” (Dwight (April 22, 1871): 15) The concert was to be given on April 27, 8 PM at “the beautiful Mechanics” Hall on Bedford Street with tickets priced at two dollars each.” Certainly this price was above the going rate for that time, but the purpose of the concert dictated this. The program included “a Trio by Rubinstein,” probably the one just programmed by Lang, and two movements of the Schumann Piano Concerto with Dixey as soloist and Lang providing the orchestral accompaniment. In the second concert he was an assisting artist in a “Soiree Musicale” in Aid of the Fair “For Dumb Animals,” organized under the patronage of Mrs. W. M. Appleton, Mrs. R. E. Apthorp (William Foster Apthorp’s mother), and Mrs. G. J. F. Bryant held at Mechanic’s Hall on Wednesday evening, November 29, 1871. Among the soloists was Miss Alice Lang, a vocalist [a distant Lang relation?]. (HMA Program Collection).
In the spring of 1872 Dixey’s career progressed to the point that in April 1872 he presented selections from Wagner’s Lohengrin at Mechanic’s Hall. “We noticed eminent musicians, artists, and littérateurs.” Dixey was “assisted by able talent, and [the performance] was one of the most enjoyable [events] of the season.” (Folio, June 1872) A month later he organized a “semi-public” performance of excerpts from Lohengrin. He played the instrumental parts on the piano with the aid of another Lang pupil, Mr. Tucker, and the three principal roles “were sung quite admirably by amateurs with excellent voices…And for the choruses, some of which were charming, and all finely sung, in German, there was a select choir of four ladies and eight gentlemen. The evening will be remembered with much passion.” (Dwight (May 4, 1872): 231) That certainly sounds like a “rave review” for Dwight, as his position on Wagner can be summed up with a phrase he used earlier in the review: “The long stretches of recitative, with bits if instrumentation during and between them, give it all a certain slow and drowsy character, despite the splendor…There is a lack of ‘go’ to it.” (Ibid)
The Dixey family became close family friends of the Lang’s. Arthur Sturgis Dixey (son of above, b. November 1880) left a colored drawing in the Lang Farm Guest Book dated August 3, 1896. (New Boston Farm Guestbook) Ellen Sturgis Dixey, Arthur’s mother, Richard’s wife, did the same dated June 27, 1897, and under the drawing are also the signatures of Richard C. Dixey and Rosamond Dixey (daughter, b. June 10, 1887 at Boston) (1900 Census). Possibly their daughter, Rosamond, may have been named for the Lang’s second daughter.
The son, Arthur S. Dixey died in Seoul, Korea on July 26, 1905. The cause was “heart failure, following an illness of a week, during which he received every attention.” (Herald, (July 28, 1905): 7, GB) He had graduated from Harvard in 1902, then entered Harvard Law School and had passed the bar examination. He spoke and wrote in both French and German, and his posting to Korea was as the secretary to Ambassador Edwin D. Morgan seemed to indicate a career in the Foreign Service. He had been in Korea for less than a year before his illness. Arthur had been responsible for the costumes and scenery for the Hasty Pudding Club musical of 1902 for which Malcolm Lang composed the music.
In January 1915 Richard “threw himself from a third-story window of his home at 44 Beacon Street yesterday and was dead when discovered. Dixey had been suffering from a nervous disorder for some time…Richard C. Dixey was retired. He had lived in the Beacon Street house for nearly 40 years. He was born in Marblehead and was recognized at one time as a most accomplished pianist…Mr. Dixey had a summer place in Lenox he called Tanglewood.” (Herald (January 20, 1915): 2, GB) This house had been inherited by his wife and her sister, Miss Mary Tappen. It eventually became the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. While at Tanglewood the previous summer Dixey had been “under the treatment of Dr. Bruce Paddock, and he returned to Boston in November in better health and spirits than on his arrival at his country house. Over 40 years Mr. Dixey had been going to Lenox for resort and recreation.” (Springfield Republican (January 20, 1915): 11, GB) He was described as “an accomplished musician, dilettante of fine arts, linguist, highly accomplished and well-read,” and he “drew about him and to Lenox musicians and scholars who made up his group of friends. Several of these guests, including Timothee Adamoski, gave concerts at Tanglewood.” (Ibid) His wife had been one of his piano pupils. (Ibid)
NEW ENGLAND CONSERVATORY.
In February 1867, Boston and New England Conservatories opened within a week of each other. “Boston Conservatory of Music is the name of a new music school on a large-scale, which went into operation last Monday, after short notice, in the new white marble building [fourth floor] upon  Tremont Street, partly occupied by Messrs. Mason and Hamlin. its founder and director is Mr. Julius Eichberg, which is in itself a good guaranty of thorough, scientific tone and influence.”
BPL Digital Commonwealth.
Dwight then listed the teachers associated with the school followed by a five-point listing of the “advantages of the Conservatory system.” Immediately 130 pupils enrolled. “Scarcely was the above announced, when by a sudden coup d’état a ‘New England Conservatory’ dropped from the clouds, captured the Music Hall, flooded Boston with grandiloquent Circulars, created ‘Professors,’ by the score, and gathering up pupils fast, is ready to open next Monday…We must pause, observe and think.” (Dwight (February 16, 1867): 399) A year and five months later the New England Conservatory had an enrollment of 1,500 students. (Dwight (July 4, 1868): 270)
On Monday, February 18, 1867, the New England Conservatory of Music opened its first classes in the Music Hall building, Boston. [Wiki article of 11/3/11 says the school “consisted of seven rooms rented above Music Hall off Tremont Street in downtown Boston]. One of the first students recalled that “The rooms were were bare and unattractive, even to dinginess, seven chairs and a piano constituted the furniture and the evidences of the lack of money were on every side.” Director Tourjee’s office was no more than a “cubbyhole …over the stairway.” Two people filled the total space in this office. (McPherson, 22) In less than a year expansion was needed and in January 1868, less than a year since the school’s opening, Tourjee added extra rooms. By the following December 1868, the school had 1,414 students in 25 classrooms which used most of the rentable rooms in the Music Hall building. (Ibid) Henry Dunham described the Conservatory as occupying “the three upper floors of the western side of the Music Hall building. The entrance to the Music Hall and the Conservatory were side by side at the end of an alleyway extending for some little distance off Winter Street.” (Dunham, 49) This map of 1874 shows the location of the Conservatory building to the upper right of the Music Hall:
1874 Fire Insurance Map. Courtesy of the BPL Norman B. Leventhal Map Center.
This would have been about 1878 when the Conservatory had 2,040 students; by 1885 it had grown to 4,570 students. (McPherson, Op. cit.)
The original directors were Eben Tourjee, who had previously used the class system of instruction in music at the East Greenwich Musical Institute, and at the Musical Institute in Providence, R. I., and Robert Goldbeck, a New York pianist and composer. A year later Mr. Goldbeck went to Chicago, and Dr. Tourjee assumed the directorship alone. The piano instructors were announced as follows: Pianoforte, Otto Dresel, B. J. Lang, Ernst Perabo, S. A. Emery, and Robert Goldbeck. Opening with a faculty composed of foremost musicians of the day, and offering advantages that the directors intended to be equal in rank with those of the renowned conservatories of Leipsic, Paris, Stuttgart, Prague, and others, the new institution at once secured a large enrollment of pupils. In 1870 it was duly incorporated under the laws of Massachusetts. In that year the first class was graduated… In 1882, the Conservatory having outgrown its quarters in Music Hall, the St. James Hotel in Franklin Square was purchased and converted to the uses of a music school. Dr. Tourjee died in 1891, and was succeeded in the directorship by Carl Faelten.” (Goodrich, 89) The February 1868 Catalog listed eleven piano instructors-two from the previous year had left and eight new instructors had joined the department. Within six weeks of opening, on March 30, 1867 the school presented its first concert-naturally they used the Music Hall. Dwight’s review was underwhelming, possibly because he was a backer of Eichberg’s Boston Conservatory. An orchestra had already been formed and it accompanied the Piano Concerto of Robert Goldbeck. Dwight called Goldbeck “Among the best pianists of this now piano-famous city” but found little to enjoy in the Concerto. (Owen, Great Organ, 110)
St. James Hotel, Franklin Square.
Built as the “St. James Hotel” in 1868, the Conservatory took over the building in 1882 using it both for instruction and also as a dormitory. In 1902 it became the “Franklin Square House, a hotel for young women,” and today it serves as 193 units of affordable senior housing. (Wikipedia, accessed December 16, 2017). Johnston Collection.
The February 1869 catalog listed all of the current pupils among whom were Jeanie Burrage (the sister of Frances) and Ruth Burrage (her cousin)-their instructors were not listed, but Lang probably taught both. The school flourished the total attendance for the first two years was 3,241. (NEC Catalogs, BPL) By 1877 Lang pupils William F. Apthorp, Arthur W. Foote, Hiram G. Tucker (and possible pupil Fred. H. Lewis) had joined as piano instructors in a department which now numbered twenty-one teachers.
By 1901 neither Lang nor his pupils were connected with NEC.
A one-page ad in a program from the Music Hall of 1872 called the Conservatory “THE LARGEST MUSIC SCHOOL IN THE WORLD.” The ad went on to say that it was “Established upon identical principles with the celebrated Conservatories of Europe, and in many respects offering even greater advantages than they, receives beginners and pupils in every stage of proficiency, and affords the instructions of the most eminent masters at less rates of tuition than any similar institution in this country…A beautiful three-manual Pipe Organ has been constructed with special reference to the requirements of its classes, by Messrs. E. & G. G. Hook and Hastings. Organ practice free. (HMA Program Collection). Among the concerts were faculty recitals. “Perhaps [one of] the most attractive features of the conservatory here, as well as among the most improving to the pupils, are the private concerts given by the teachers. Yesterday was given what was numbered as the thirty-first concert of the New England Conservatory, at Chickering’s Hall. The performers were Messrs. Lang and Fries, and Miss Annie M. Granger; the entertainment, short as it was, was peculiarly interesting and artistic. The gentlemen played Mendelssohn’s Sonata in D for piano and violoncello, with great spirit and delicacy of rendering. Mr. Lang gave with the same finish a scherzo of Chopin; and, instead of three as the programme indicated, one caprice of his own composition. If the suppressed two are as attractive as the one performed, it was a pity the audience should have been deprived of them.” (Daily Advertiser, (January 30, 1869): 1) In the fall of 1878, the Conservatory was still advertising that it was the “Largest Music School in the World” having taught 18,000 pupils since its beginning eleven years ago in 1867.