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

PART 3.      WC-12,415 (02/15/2020)

LANG AND CARLYLE PETERSILEA.

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

PREMIERS OF BEETHOVEN AND LISZT/SCHUBERT.

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

Below: Ryan, facing 186.

GILMORE CONCERT.

Two days after the HMA concert Lang was the guest conductor of a Gilmore Grand Sacred Concert. On February 3, 1867 B. J. conducted his pupil, Miss Alice Dutton as soloist in Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 25. The next month he played the orchestral part for this work when one of his pupils soloed at a concert at Chelsea City Hall on March 7, 1867.

CONCERT TO HELP THE PATRIOTS OF CRETE.

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

SALEM CONCERTS.

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

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

LANG PUPIL- MISS CLARA F. JOY.

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

SUMMER 1867.

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

PIANO TECHNIQUE LECTURE.

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

MARGARET RUTHVEN LANG.

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

BEETHOVEN PIANO CONCERTO NO. 1-BOSTON PREMIER.

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

MENDELSSOHN EIGHTH BOOK OF SONGS WITHOUT WORDS.

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

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

FIRST LECTURES.

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

MERCANTILE HALL.

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

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

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

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

FIRST SYMPHONY SERIES.

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

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

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

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

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

ORGAN HALL CONCERTS.

Dwight printed an overview of the repertoire for the organ recitals presented at the Music Hall during the previous two years. He reviewed FORTY concerts and noted that Lang and J.  H. Willcox had each played nine times, Eugene Thayer seven times, Mrs. Frohock and G. E. Whiting each five times, and John K. Paine, among others had only played once. He also noted a concert that Lang gave at his own church, “South Congregational “which was crowded with invited listeners.” (Dwight (July 17, 186): 71) Dwight finished his review with this evaluation: “On the whole, there has been a great deal of perversion of the noble instrument to very trivial uses, and though doubtless the Organ has been played on many ”popular” occasions of which our memoranda have no note, the sound, religious, real Organ music seems to have maintained its ascendancy, and Bach and Mendelssohn make the best show.” (Ibid)

YEAR IN EUROPE—1869-70.

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

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

HMA Program Collection.

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

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

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

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

  1.  B. J. was considered such a good friend to Liszt, that he was part of Liszt’s funeral cortege. Clara Doria the singer (wife of Henry Rogers, the Boston lawyer) wrote of her trip in 1889 to the Bayreuth Festival. “Next day, from our windows, we watched a long and impressive funeral procession, in which we recognized many distinguished musicians-each one having a lighted torch though it was broad daylight. One of the first in the procession to be recognized by us was our fellow Bostonian, B. J. Lang, who was one of the pall bearers, and who, like the rest, was bearing his torch with due solemnity.” She then continues with an observation that reflects Lang’s high standing in at least her musical world of Boston. “How natural it seemed to us that, when any unusual or exciting event was taking place, B. J. Lang should be there. It was the funeral procession bearing the remains of that great artist, Franz Liszt, who had but a few days ago passed on to the beyond.” (Rogers, Two Lives, 166)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FALL OF 1870.

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

HIRAM G. TUCKER. (1851-1932).

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

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

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

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

PIANO TEACHER.

During the ten years, 1860-70, Lang built a piano and organ teaching career of great success; he was considered a very thorough teacher. He had first begun teaching in 1852 when a sudden illness “of his father’s compelled Mr. Lang to take over the former’s pupils…He has continued to give instruction with uninterrupted activity ever since.” (Groves-1921, 631) An article in the January 26, 1884 issue of the Musical Observer credited him with over sixty pupils who had become concert artists. Arthur Foote studied organ with Lang and characterized his teaching as being concerned with basic musical values; one was not allowed to break a phrase or disturb the rhythm in order to change stops. Improvisation was also a Lang strong point, and in teaching this skill he insisted upon his pupils taking a specific theme or motive and sticking to it.

OTHER CONCERTS.

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

GLOBE THEATRE CONCERTS.

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

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

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

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

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

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

FRANCES’ SINGING LESSONS.

In January 1871 Frances, her mother, and her sisters were still in Dresden. In January Frances took the opportunity to take German lessons and also singing lessons from Herr Sharfe. At the first lesson he said “that I must learn to breathe more easily. He is to come twice a week” (Diary 2, January 1870). By the end of February she could write: “Today I sang Schubert’s Hark Hark the Lark, to Herr Sharfe’s entire satisfaction.”

WILLIAM FOSTER APTHORP.

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

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

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

Baker, A Biographical Dictionary of Music, 19

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

Ms. Apthorp

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SALEM ORATORIO SOCIETY.

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

MR. R. C. DIXEY.

Lang’s pupil, Mr. Dixey organized a concert 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 given on April 27, 8PM 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.

A year later Dixey 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)  Dwight’s 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)

STUDENT CONCERTO CONCERTS.

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

The first concert included:

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

The second concert on Monday, April 17 included:

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

The third concert on Monday, April 24 included:

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

The fourth and final concert on May 1 included:

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

ANOTHER EUROPEAN SUMMER-1871.

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

An entry in Cosima Wagner’s Diaries dated July 1, 1871 makes mention of receiving a letter from B. J. offering support for Bayreuth — she notes that they had first met in Berlin 14 years ago (c. 1857). Cosima might also be the link with Hans von Bulow (whom she married in 1857- in 1870 she married Wagner) who hired B. J. as his conductor for concerts in 1875 that included the world premier of the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1.

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

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

MENDELSSOHN QUINTETTE CLUB PERFORMANCES.

Below: Ryan, MQC in 1849, 94

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1861-62.

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

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

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

1862-63. 

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

1863-64.

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

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

1865-66

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

1866-67.

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

1867-68.

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

1868-69.

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

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

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