BENJAMIN JOHNSON LANG: EARLY CAREER: 1858-1871. Sc.
(Boston) Bach: Concerto in G minor, No. 7 [BWV 1058] with the Mendelssohn Quintette Club quartet of strings, February 14, 1865. (Dowell, 414)
(Boston) Beethoven: C minor Trio, Opus 1, No. 3 with Mendelssohn Quintette Club (August Fries-violin and Wulf Fries-cello, February 2, 1858. (Dowell, 363). Chickering Saloon, Masonic Temple.
(Boston) Beethoven: Concerto No. 1 with HMA January 16, 1868 (Johnson, First, 46)
(Boston) Beethoven: Concerto No. 2 with HMA, February 1, 1867 (Johnson, First, 46)
(Boston) Beethoven: Triple Concerto with HMA February 27, 1868 with HMA, Zerrahn conducting, Eichberg-violin and Fries-cello (Johnson, First, 50)
(Probably American) Bennett: Capriccio for Piano and Strings, Friday February 25, 1859 (Dowell, 373) with Mendelssohn Quintette Club, and then with full orchestra at the February 11, 1860 concert of the Philharmonic. (Dwight (February 18, 1860): 374) Somehow Johnson missed this 1860 performance, and lists the “first time in Boston with orchestra” as the January 29, 1874 Music Hall performance with the HMA conducted by Zerrahn and also with Lang as soloist. (Johnson, First, 59) This was not Johnson’s fault as he was only quoting from Dwight’s review of February 7, 1874 on page 174.
(American?) Bennett: Piano Sonata in A Flat, Op. 46-The Maid of Orleans. Mentioned in one Obit-do not know when.
(Boston) Dussek: Sonata for Piano and Violin in B flat with Edward Schultze, first violinist of the Mendelssohn Quintette Club, January 8, 1867. Chickering Hall, Washington Street. (Dowell, 421)
(Boston) Dussek: Quartette for Piano and Strings in F minor, Op. 41 with the Mendelssohn Quintette Club, February 12, 1861. Chickering Hall, Washington Street. (Dowell, 390)
(American) Graedener, Karl Georg Peter: Quintette in G minor, Op. 7 with the Mendelssohn Quintette Club, March 19, 1862, Chickering Hall, Washington Street. (Dowell, 399)
(Boston) Haydn: The Seasons, March 24, 1866 at Music Hall, unnamed chorus. “In part only” (Johnson, First, 190)- H and H sang it complete in 1875 under Zerrahn, (Ibid) but he had conducted it with the Salem Oratorio Society in 1869. (Johnson, First, 189)
(Boston) Hummel: Concerto in A-minor [No. 2, Opus 85] with HMA February 15, 1867 (Johnson, First, 196) Lang had played the work in Salem at “Mr. Lang’s Piano Forte Soiree” on April 13, 1863 with the orchestra part played by Mr. Steele. (Salem Register, (April 13, 1863): 2, GB)
(Boston) Mendelssohn: First Walpurgis Night. May 3, 1862. Combined choirs; unnamed choir; soloists – Mrs. Kempton, Dr. Langmaid, Messrs. Wadleigh and Weterbee. Boston Music Hall. (Johnson, First, 255)
(Boston) Mendelssohn: Hymn of Praise, Opus 52 at Old South Church; combined church choirs; used only an organ four-hand accompaniment for the overture, and J.S.D. Parker as the organist for the rest of the work, January 30, 1862. (Johnson, First, 250)
(Boston) Mendelssohn: complete music for a Midsummer Night’s Dream, April 23, 1864, on the Tercentennial of Shakespeare’s birth.
(Boston and or American) Mendelssohn: Eighth Book-Songs Without Words. March 18, 1868. (Dwight (March 28, 1868): 215)
(American) Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 22 in E-flat, K. 482 (1785) with Philharmonic Society, Carl Zerrahn, cadenza by Lang, February 26, 1859. (Johnson, First, 268)
(Boston) Mozart: Concerto for Two Pianos in E-flat, K. 365 (1779) with Harvard Musical Association Orchestra, Carl Zerrahn, November 21, 1867. The second pianist was J.C.D. Parker. (Johnson, First, 269)
(Boston) Schubert/Liszt orchestration: Wanderer Fantasia with HMA February 1, 1867. (Dwight (February 16, 1867): 398)
(Boston) Schumann Piano Concerto. Played by Lang and Otto Dresel on two pianos at a concert in the Music Hall on December 10, 1864. Lang then played part of the concerto at a concert by Mme. Parepa on one evening, and the rest of the work the next evening. Dresel gave the orchestral premier with the HMA orchestra on November 23, 1866. (Johnson, First, 328).
(Boston) Tomasek: Three Ecologues with the Mendelssohn Quintette Club on Tuesday, March 2, 1869. (Dowell, 430)
(Boston) Weber/Liszt orchestration: E-flat Polonaise with HMA February 8, 1866. (Dwight, February 17, 1866, 191) He played this work again at the HMA “Symphony Concert Extra” given in April 1867. The regular season of nine concerts had been so successful that this tenth concert was added in celebration. (Dwight (April 27, 1867): 22)
(Boston) Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37. According to Dwight, Alice Dutton was the first to play the entire work. With HMA in February 1870.[xii] Johnson credits J. L. Hatton, pianist with the Musical Fund Society led by George J. Webb on December 8, 1842.[xiii]
(Boston) Mendelssohn: Serenade and Allegro Giocoso for Piano, Opus 43. Alice Dutton on March 21, 1866 at the Music Hall, Carl Zerrahn was the conductor. J. C. D. Parker played the same work ONE day later with the Harvard Musical Association Orchestra, also with Carl Zerrahn conducting.[xiv]
(Boston) Mozart: Piano Concerto in A (No. 23, K. 488), HMA December 19, 1879. Tucker “came in at a day’s warning” as a substitute for a singer. (Dwight (January, 18, 1879): 15)
(Boston) Wagner/Tansig: Ride of the Walkuren. December 19, 1879, solo at HMA concert (see above).
Gustav Satter. Wikipedia article, January 26, 2013.
A 1886 entry listed B. J.’s teachers. Among them was Gustav Satter who was touring in America in 1858. (Jones) The Boston critic William Foster Apthorp wrote shortly after Lang’s return from Europe: “Gustav Satter was astonishing American audiences with his wonderful playing and daring transcriptions. When he visited Boston, Lang temporarily gave up almost all else to be constantly in his company. Satter had taken a strong fancy to the young pianist, and, after being with him all day, and playing at his own concert in the evening, would take him up to his room in the Tremont House, and there play to him night after night, far into the small hours of the morning. To a close and keen observer like Lang these nocturnal sittings were of inestimable value.” (Apthorp article, Music, August 1893) Lang may have first heard Satter play before his three period of European study. On April 2, 1855 Satter appeared in Boston playing the Schubert Trio, Op. 100 with the Mendelssohn Quintette Club. He also played the Boston premier of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata, Op. 57 “Appassionata.” (Johnson, Satter, 63) Dwight described Satter: “He is a fresh, youthful-looking- person, with an air of decision and at the same time a good-humored Austrian bon-hommie about him…Mr. Satter is yet a very young man, exuberant in power and enterprising, ready of talent, ambitious too to take a high and really artistic stand.” (Op. cit., 64) In other words, Dwight really approved of the man. Lang may have also shared this opinion, as Satter was probably the best pianist to have visited Boston up until that time. The fact that Lang and Satter were close in age, only five years apart, also contributed to the bond between the two men. Satter stayed in Boston for two years playing and teaching.
LANG’S BOSTON DEBUT AS A PIANIST.
After Lang’s return to Boston in 1858 he immediately began to develop contacts that would frame the early years of his professional career in Boston. One of his first contacts was with the Mendelssohn Quintette Club. This Club had given its first public concert in December of 1849, and played throughout New England for over fifty years. (Ryan, 92) Baker’s entry in 1905 went so far as to say that, “This little band of excellent musicians has visited every town on any size in the United States.” (Baker, 504).
William Foster Apthorp wrote of Lang’s debut: “On his return from abroad Lang made his first public appearance in Boston as a pianist [on Tuesday, February 2, 1858] at a concert of the Mendelssohn Quintette Club, taking part in Beethoven’s C Minor Trio, Opus 1, No. 3 (its first performance in the city). Thus, at his first appearance before a Boston audience, he already gave evidence of a tendency that has since become characteristic of him-a constant desire to introduce new works to the public.” (Apthorp Article in Music, August 1893) Another writer commented in the same manner: “Ever afterwards it was his unique and far-famed characteristic to acquaint the public for the first time with the choicest novelties in music, yet he did not neglect the classics.” (Herald (April 5, 1909): 8, GB) Dwight reviewed this concert: “The piano part was played by Mr. B. J. Lang, with a precision, cleanness, and expression that would have done honor to far more experienced artists. We do not remember a more promising debut in this kind.” (Dwight (February 6, 1858):359)
Apthorp was incorrect in saying the above was Lang’s “first public appearance in Boston as a pianist,” for this took place a month earlier on January 8, 1858 when he was the pianist for a presentation of selections from an opera by Lucian H. Southard (1827-1881). Southard’s Omano was performed at Chickering’s Saloon-among the soloists were Mrs. J. H. Long and Mr. C. R. Adams “assisted by several amateurs.” (Program, GB) Southard was ten years older than Lang, and was among the first Americans to publish art songs, his first, David’s Lament for Absalom having been published in 1848. (Upton, Art-Song, 55)
A second, long-ranging musical contact was established with Lang’s first orchestral appearance on February 27 1858 when he played the Mendelssohn Concerto No. 2 in D Minor at the Music Hall with Carl Zerrahn as the conductor as part of Carl Zerrahn’s “Last Grand Concert.” (Program, GB) Zerrahn was the major conductor in Boston at this time. He conducted choral groups, the most important being the Handel and Haydn Society, and also symphonic groups. The Boston Journal wrote: “Mr. Lang’s performance of Mendelssohn’s Concerto in D-minor betrayed the presence of tact and ability. For one so short a time a student of this character of music, it was a rare performance. Mr. Lang is fast attaining to eminence, and a few years more of such application as that of the two years past will entitle him to rank among the first pianists of the age.” (Quoted in “Musical Matters,” NEC Foote Clippings)
These two early 1858 appearances suggest that the “three years” that Lang studied in Europe would really be more like just over 1 and 1/2 years at the most, as Lang left Boston sometime after December 24, 1855. This was the date of a concert organized by Geo. Hill under the title of “City Crier’s Concert.” Lang was the accompanist for the five soloists-Gustave Satter, “The Celebrated Pianist” was the solo artist. (Program, GB) Thus he would have had all of 1856 and into the fall of 1857 in Europe. He would have had to return to Boston sometime in the fall of 1857 in order to make contact with the Mendelssohn Quintette Club, Mr. Southard and Carl Zerrahn and arrange the two concert appearances noted above. Possibly Lang’s youthful reputation had been known to both before he left Boston.
One of the featured soloists at Zerrahn “Last Grand Concert” in addition to B. J. was Mrs. J. H. Long. She hired Lang as one of the assisting artists for her “Second Annual Concert” which was at the Mercantile Hall, 16, Summer Street on March 1, 1858. The other assisting artists were Mr. C. R. Adams and the Mendelssohn Quintette Club. (Program, GB) However Long and Lang had worked together the previous year. “Mr. B. J. Lang of Salem, with Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Long of Boston, took passage in the streamer Europa, yesterday, for Halifax, where they have professional engagements for the coming week.” (Salem Register (November 5, 1857): 2, GB) This reinforces the comment in the paragraph above of Lang having to return in the fall of 1857 in order to make the contacts for the concerts that began at that time.
Another 1858 appearance with the Mendelssohn Quintette Club was on Thursday, November 18 where his solo by Liszt, “Benediction de Dieu dans la Solitude” from Harmonies Poetiques et Religieuses ended the first half of the concert. (Dowell, 368) At the end of that same year, 1858, Dwight wrote: “Mr. B. J. Lang, who assists the Club this season, is one of the most promising of our young pianists, already at home in a pretty large repertoire of difficult classical and modern music, and evincing a facility of technical acquisition in which perhaps there lies some danger.” Dwight then went on to disparage Lang’s choice of Liszt’s “Benediction de Dieu, Dans las Solitude” ending with the comment that “if there is any charm in such things, it must lie in Liszt’s own playing of them.” (Dwight (November 27, 1858): 279) This comment did not keep Lang from playing this piece throughout his career.
Lang continued to appear with the Mendelssohn Quintette Club. On Friday, January 28, 1859 he assisted as accompanist for the soprano Mrs. J. H. Long who sang The Violet by Mozart and the first performance of one of Lang’s own songs, Breath of Spring. On February 25, 1859 (Dowell, 373) Lang contributed the piano part to the first Boston performance of Sterndale Bennett’s Capriccio at a “Grand Complimentary Concert” for the singer Elisa Biscaccianti. (HMA Program Collection) “This Capriccio is very brilliant and sparkling in the piano, forte part, full of arpeggio, and taxing execution, to which Mr. Lang proved fully equal.” (Dwight (March 5, 1859) 390) Eleven months later Lang played the Capriccio with full orchestra at the Third Philharmonic Concert on Saturday evening, February 11, 1860, [recording available on Hyperion CDA67595 “The Romantic Piano Concerto No. 43″ with Howard Shelley and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra] and Beethoven’s Choral Fantasia with the choir from the Handel and Haydn Society.
Just a day after the first Capriccio performance, Lang was the soloist at Carl Zerrahn Philharmonic concert at the Music Hall playing the American premier of Mozart’s Concerto in E Flat, “a delicious piece, played with fluency and spirit, (so we judge from a rehearsal) by young Mr. Lang, with the addition of a nicely made elaborate cadenza, in the place usually left for such things, of his own.” (Dwight (March 5, 1859): 390) This was Concerto No. 22 in E-flat, K. 482 (1785) (Johnson, First, 268) Two years after his debut with the Mendelssohn Quintette Club, Lang had been part of six of their concerts and performed at least four premiers which included one of his own compositions.
On Saturday evening February 19, 1859 Lang was part of a “Complimentary Concert” at the Music Hall given by “His brother Artists” for the pianist Joseph Trenkle. Among those taking part were Zerrahn’s Philharmonic Orchestra, Kreissmann’s Orpheus Glee Club, the vocalist Mrs. Harwood and pianists J. C. D. Parker, H. Leonhard and Otto Dresel. The four pianists played Les Contrastes, Op. 115 by Moscheles and L’Invitation a la Valse by Weber. The reason for the concert was to raise funds as “the esteemed young artist, who has been compelled, by the critical state of his health, to leave us for a more genial climate.” (Traveler (February 11, 1859): 3, GB). Mathews (100 Years) says that Trenkle immigrated to the USA in 1859, and so it would seem that Boston was his first stop. Possibly Lang had become acquainted with Trenkle in Germany and was responsible for the organization of the concert.
On the same day that the concert above was advertised, another ad appeared for a “Testimonial Benefit to James Pilgrim” to be held at the Boston Theatre on Saturday February 12th. Scenes from plays were offered and also various dances among which was a PAS SEUL (solo dance) by Henrietta Lang! This was the name on the birth certificate of B. J.’s younger sister, although she was called Harriet at home. Surely the dancer and Henrietta were the same person? Henrietta would have been 13 years old at this time. (Ibid)
JOHN S. DWIGHT.
Cooke, John S. Dwight, page opposite frontispiece.
The early favorable reviews by John S. Dwight were very helpful to Lang’s early and middle career. Lang and Dwight’s Journal of Music intersected at a fortunate time. The first issue had appeared on April 10, 1852 and ended 1,051 issues later on September 3, 1881 at which point Lang was entering his “Middle Years.” (Sablosky, 1) There were probably “never more than a thousand subscribers” for Dwight’s Journal (Op. cit., 6) Dwight was responsible during that period for over eight thousand “densely set pages.” (Op. cit., 2) Before he began the Journal, he had graduated from Harvard Divinity School in 1836 and then tried parish ministry for five years. When this was not satisfactory, he joined the experiment in communal living at Brook Farm where he gave piano lessons, helped farm the land and wrote about music. “Music, more than anything else embodied for him the possibility of harmony for mankind.” Great music was to elevate and refine “out [our] crude and swaggering democratic culture.” (Op. cit., 3) After his wife’s death in 1860, he took up residence in the Harvard Musical Association building-this group had been the main backer for his publication, and he served as the group’s President and Librarian for many years. He died there in 1893, just four months after his eightieth birthday.
B. AND B. J. MUSIC ROOMS IN SALEM.
A notice in the Salem Register in April 1859 would seem to indicate that father Benjamin, and son B, J, had gone into business together. “Messrs. Lang’s New Music Rooms, in the Downing Block, are worth a visit. They are spacious, pleasant, handsomely furnished, convenient in every respect, and admirably adapted for musical purposes. The lofty ceiling and general construction of the rooms, when thrown into one, are highly favorable for good acoustic qualities, and must give a charming effect to a properly arranged Chamber Concert, as well as aid greatly in developing the qualities of Chickering’s celebrated pianos, of which there are several in the apartment.-See advertisement of Messrs. B. & B. J. Lang, for the purposes to which their elegant quarters are devoted.” (Salem Register (April 7, 1859): 2, GB)
OLD SOUTH ORGANIST 1859.
Lang was to be part of two organ projects for Boston churches within five years. At Old South, a three-manual instrument of 22 stops by the English builder Thomas Eliot installed in 1822 seemed not to please Lang. “Benjamin Johnson Lang, a strong-minded individual with a penchant for enlarging or replacing organs, had become organist, and in 1859 the noted Boston firm of E. & G. G. Hook was engaged to rebuild the organ at a cost of about $2,000. The rebuilt organ [of 35 stops] was ”opened” on April 30 with a concert of organ and vocal music, and the event duly reported in Boston’s leading musical journal.” (Owen, Eliot, 126) On November 30, 1861 at a “Private Concert” held at Old South the musicians included a vocal quartet of Miss Houston, Mrs. Macfarland, Mr. Downs and Mr. Weterbee with Mr. Bancroft as pianist [Bancroft-organist of Emmanuel Church] (BPL Lang Prog., Vol. 1) Three days before, Lang had been an assisting artist for the opening concert of the Mendelssohn Quintette Club’s Thirteenth Season when, on Wednesday November 27, 1861 he played the Mendelssohn Second Piano Trio with Schultze and Fries at Chickering Hall. (BPL, Lang Prog., Vol. 1)
Old South Church. Short history of the church on the back. Message at the top, left: “From the McPhail Piano Co. Boston.” Johnston Collection.
HANDEL AND HAYDN ACCOMPANIST. OCTOBER 1859.
Carl Zerrahn, Photo Card by WARREN of Cambridgeport. On the back someone has written that Zerrahn was “among many artist who emigrated to U. S. after Revolution of 1848 in Germany.” Johnston Collection.
Working with Carl Zerrahn probably led to Lang’s next major professional appointment, organist for the Handel and Haydn Society which Zerrahn conducted. B. J. began his long association with this choir (as organist from October 1859 until June 1895: as conductor from June 1895 until May 1897) on October 1, 1859 with rehearsals for Handel’s Samson. An entry in the Society’s History dated October 1, 1859 notes: “Mr. J. C. D. Parker being obligated by pressure of manifold professional duties to resign the place of organist… Mr. B. J. Lang was chosen his successor.” He seems to have gotten off to a positive start as in was noted that later in that first season “The organ voluntaries of the young new incumbent Mr. Lang, were well chosen and effective.” (Perkins/Dwight, History, 194) Dwight had made this same comment originally: “The organ voluntaries during the assembling of the singers, by Mr. B. J. Lang, were well chosen and effective. But is it not rather a questionable custom, this of preluding to an overture with a whole long oratorio at its heals. Is it not a cloying superfluity? (Dwight (December 31, 1859): 319) In February 1860 the Society was part of “Mr. Zerrahn third Symphony Concert, singing in Beethoven’s Choral Fantasia, of which Mr. Lang plays the pianoforte part.” (Op. cit., 195) “His rapport with Zerrahn was complete and among the countless references to Lang in the annals of the Society and in the press there is not one that fails to express confidence, approval, and gratitude for the presence of so sterling a musician. He played the Great Organ in Music Hall throughout its being there and made do with the inadequate instrument that came after.” (Johnson, Hallelujah, 167) When the Society moved to the newly opened Music Hall in 1853, it brought along its own pipe organ-a three manual and pedal instrument built by Thomas Appleton in 1832. “Originally installed in Boylston Hall, the society and its organ moved in 1839 to Melodean Hall. As relocated a second time to the Boston Music Hall, the organ stood in the niche behind the screen of the stage. The Boston Music Hall Association rented this organ for $240 a year, and eventually purchased it.” (Methuen Memorial Music Hall website, accessed November 26, 2010, 1)
The “inadequate instrument that came after” the Walker was removed was “a very large one-manual Geo. S. Hutchings” instrument. “While having only one manual, the organ provided the widest possible range of accompanimental nuance from a delicate whisper to a thundering tutti. To distinguish this from its noble predecessor, it was opined that it would be known as the ”little” organ (28 stops, 38 ranks.)” The full list of stops was given in an unknown newspaper article dated December 16, 1884 which stated that its first use was in the December 1884 Handel and Haydn Messiah performance. The instrument did have a Contra Bourdon at 32 feet, and six of the stops were enclosed within a swell box. (Huntington, 32 and 33)
“Ladies Fair for the Poor at [the] Music Hall March 8, 1858” Front of the Hall to the left. This view shows the sides of the room and the side and rear balconies.
CARL ZERRAHN. (July 28, 1826, Malchow, Germany: Dec. 29, 1909, Milton, Mass.)
Carl Zerrahn, Grove’s 1921 Vol. T – Z, 594.
The careers of Lang and Zerrahn ran parallel and intersected for thirty-five years. “In 1855-63 he conducted one of the several orchestras in Boston known by the name Philharmonia, and was practically the only leader of the concerts of the Harvard Musical Association in 1865-82. In addition to his work as conductor of the Handel and Haydn Society (elected conductor in August 1854) and of the Worcester Festivals, he was for many years in charge of the Salem Oratorio Society and other smaller organizations. At the second Peace Jubilee (1872) he led the chorus of 20,000. He was also a teacher of singing, harmony and composition at the New England Conservatory. In all these ways he left a significant impress upon the development of American choral music.” (Pratt, 410-11) Sablosky adds that he taught at the New England Conservatory until 1898, and that his tenure with the Worcester Festival was from 1866-1897. (Sablosky 306)
At the height of Zerrahn’s career, in the early 1880s when he was fifty-five years old, his rehearsal schedule included seven evenings of choral groups: Handel and Haydn, Boston; Festival Association Chorus, Worcester; Oratorio Society, Salem; Choral Union, Lynn; Choral Union, Lowell; Beethoven Society, Tauton; and Choral Union, Exeter, N. H. During the day he did the rehearsals and concerts for the Harvard Musical Association; taught conducting, harmony, counterpoint, etc. at the New England Conservatory; and taught private pupils. This was his regular schedule-he often was off conducting a special festival! “It might be supposed that such a multiplicity of care, too much for an ordinary man, would leave no leisure for study…He thoroughly enjoys hard work, and thrives on an amount that would break down any common man.” (Musical Herald (December 1881): 264)
“But nothing could fluster Mr. Zerrahn; I never saw him lose his head, nor any performance come to grief under his baton. And, with the orchestral material and few rehearsals of those days, things were on the verge of coming to grief pretty often.” (Swan-Apthorp, 73) Apthorp continued with examples. “At one of the Handel and Haydn festivals (I think the first one, the demi-centennial), the then famous boy soprano, Richard Coker, sang [a Meyerbeer aria] at an afternoon concert. His father accompanied him on the pianoforte. When the air was about half through, Coker Sr. discovered to his dismay that the remaining sheets of the music were missing; Mr. Zerrahn immediately sprang to the conductor’s desk, waved his baton, and the rest of the air was accompanied from memory by the orchestra.” (Ibid)
“I remember another instance of Mr. Zerrahn presence of mind. It was at a performance of Mendelssohn’s Hymn of Praise by the Handel and Haydn. The tenor had just finished that air with the incomprehensible words, ending with the oft-repeated question: ‘Watchman, will the night soon pass?’ In reply to this, the soprano should strike in unaccompanied in D major, with ‘The night is departing,’ twice repeated, the woodwind coming in piano on the second ‘departing,’ and the whole orchestra fortissimo on the last syllable. On this occasion, the soprano was standing a little farther forward on the stage than Mr. Zerrahn; so she could not see his beat without turning her head. She struck in bravely with her ‘The night is departing,’ but unfortunately not in D major—it was fairly and squarely in C major, a whole tone flat. A shutter ran through the orchestra and a good part of the audience; what was Mr. Zerrahn to do with the ensuing D major? His mind was made up in a second; he motioned to the wood-wind not to come in with their chords, and patiently waited for the hapless soprano to finish her phrase, and then let the orchestra come in with its D major fortissimo afterwards, instead of on the last syllable. But now came one of the most comical tugs of war I have ever witnessed between singer and conductor. Of course the soprano was entirely unconscious of having made a mistake; so, not hearing the usual 6-4 chord on her second ‘departing,’ she evidently thought the wind-players had counted their rests wrong, and held her high G (which ought to have been an A) with a persistency worthy of a better cause, to give them a chance to catch up with her. She held that G on and on, looking as if she would burst; but still no 6-4 chord. Mr. Zerrahn waited imperturbably with his baton expectantly raised. At last-it seemed like hours-human lungs could hold out no longer, and the breathless soprano landed panting with her final ‘ting’ on C-natural, amid a deathlike silence of orchestra and chorus. You could have heard a pin drop. Just as she was turning round to see why she had been thus left in the lurch by the accompaniment, Mr. Zerrahn baton came down with a swish, and the orchestra thundered out its D major.” (Apthorp (BSO Program-March 6 and 7, 1896): 595-598)
The Boston Musical Times reported in its issue dated February 25, 1860 that a “Complimentary Concert” was to be given: “Mr. B.J. Lang will be complimented and benefited by the concert to be given this evening, in the new Bumstead Hall (the room under the Music Hall), for which the Mendelssohn Quintette Club, Mrs. J. H. Long, Mr. Wetherbee and Messrs. Dresel, Parker and Leonhard, have volunteered their assistance as a farewell testimonial, prior to his departure for Europe, of the esteem in which he is held by them. Such an array of talent, introduced in a highly judicious programme, induces us to anticipate one of the most gratifying musical entertainments of the season.
In common with all who know him, we entertain for Mr. Lang, personally, a cordial regard; while his ability and success as a pianist-marvelous in one so young-achieved by unremitting industry impelled by inherent genius-entitle him to the respectful consideration of most cultivated connoisseurs.
Mr. Lang intends to pursue his studies in Europe during the coming summer, and we indulge no shadow of doubt that an appreciating public will present him to-night such a manifestation of their confidence in his future as will fill many an hour with cheering and happy memories of his distant home.”(BMT (February 25, 1860): 37)
Dwight’s review stated: “The Compliment to this young artist, on Saturday evening, previous to his departure for Europe, was general, hearty, and substantial. The new Hall in Bumstead Place was fuller than it has ever been… Mr. Lang was rich in audience and in programme, rich in the friendly aid of other artists, in his own strength, and particularly rich in pianos; since there were two of those superb Erard-like Grands, just manufactured by the Messrs. Chickering… In his own person Mr. Lang, besides taking the upper part at one of the two pianos in the eight-hand pieces, gave us in the first place an excellent rendering of the two movements from Mendelssohn’s piano and violoncello Sonata, admirably supported by Wulf Fries…We hear that Mr. Lang is also to receive a Complimentary Concert in his native place, Salem. With all these expressions of interest, and good wishes, which we certainly share, he will go abroad with hope and high artistic purpose strengthened.” (Dwight (March 31, 1860) 6 and 7) This reflects the high esteem shown by Lang’s fellow Boston musicians-he had certainly achieved much in the two years since his arrival back in Boston from his European studies.
Courtesy of the Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA.
Here we have an early Lang composition, Polka de Salon, “Alice.” Who was Alice?
SUMMER IN EUROPE—1860.
On April 11, 1860 Lang applied for a passport that described him as:
Age – 22; Stature – 5’7″; Forehead – high; Eyes – blue; Nose – large; Mouth – medium; Chin – short; Hair – light brown; Complexion – light, and Face – oval. His signature is quite legible with a flowing style. (Passport Application from Ancestry.com)
Lang left during the first week of May on the steamer CANADA (side-wheeler) with Mr. Silas A. Bancroft (1823-1886) (BMT (May 19, 1860): 103). The officer in charge was Capt. Lang! (Transcript (May 16, 1860): 2, GB) Mr. Bancroft, born in Boston on April 14, 1823 was the son of a merchant and his mother traced her lineage back to one of the Mayflower passengers. “As his father was comfortably well off, Silas did not have the incentive to work very hard…still he was for over thirty years one of the prominent organists of the new England metropolis.” (Metcalf, 294-295) In 1860 he was just finishing as organist for the Mount Vernon Congregational Church, and soon after this European trip he became organist for Emmanuel Church where he served for over twenty years. He died on November 18, 1886. (Ibid) Frances noted in her diary that it was a dangerous voyage with great storms. She also noted that she had her head shaved while B. J. was away and wore caps. (Diary Excerpts, 1)
The following was transcribed from B. J.’s Diary (which is not in the BPL Rare Book collection) and covers the summer of 1860.
Copy provided by Fletcher DuBois.
In September Lang returned from Europe. (Dwight (Oct. 6, 1860): 221) A “Mr. B. J. Lang, Professor, aged 30” arrived in Boston from Liverpool on the AMERICA, a ship of 984 tons, September 10, 1860. (Boston Passenger and Crew Lists, 1823-1943 and America Manifest) The Boston Musical Times of September 20, 1860 reported that: “The many friends of Mr. B.J. Lang, the young pianist will be glad to learn that he has returned from his European tour, in excellent health; and that he is prepared to resume the duties of his profession with renewed vigor. Mr. Lang has, during his absence, listened to some of the finest pianism of the first masters of our time, and we doubt not that his eager mind will infuse into his own teachings, some of those sweet influences, which none can appreciate so fully as a pianist like himself.” (BMT (Sept. 20, 1860): 249) Dwight printed that “Mr. B. J. Lang has returned from a tour in Europe, which we doubt not has passed both agreeably and profitably to himself. His many friends are glad to welcome him home again.” (Dwight (October 6, 1860): 221) Not bad for one whose career was only two years old.
The Boston Athenaeum has a number of autographs that Lang collected beginning in 1859.
(1) The earliest dated autograph is a four-measure musical excerpt dated March 7, 1859. There is no signature, but instead the phrase “Amitie pour Amitie.” (2) There is one dated Berlin, 20 Juli 1860 from Hans von Bulow which also has a four-measure musical excerpt in ¾ time marked Vivace. (3) The date of another is 16th. October 1860 with the signature of Robert Leitch (?) with a note “Commander of the ‘Connaught’ ship ——–.” (4) The English singer Simms Reeves signed London June 25, 1860 and added the first three measures of Handel’s “Sound an alarm.” (5) Edward Everett signed Marlboro 9 March 1860 and included a four-line poem. (6) Alexander Wheelock Thayer signed on May 13, 1880 and included a six-line poem. (7) J. Massenet signed with a four-line inscription-undated. (8) Anton Seidl sent a note dated New York March 13, 1893 saying that the date that Lang had proposed for his rehearsal would not interfere with any rehearsal of his. (9) There are two long letters from Templeton Strong. (a.) the first dated September 15, 18—asks if Lang would be willing to look at a new piece for men’s choir and orchestra. He also asks Lang to show the manuscript to Mr. Schmidt with the idea that it might be published before the premier. (b) The second is a P. S. to the first lesson where he gives detailed instructions concerning the more difficult sections. Since he was sending the only score to Lang, he felt that he should include this P. S. as he might forget important details if he tried to write this at a later date. (10) A note signed by Booker T. Washington saying that he was also sending a copy of the latest Annual Report to the Board of Trustees of the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute which he hoped “will interest you.” (11) A one-phrase from B. J. to his daughter Margaret: “I (hope?) God will bless and (keep you?) every possible good Margaret Ruthven Lang, is the fervent prayer of her proud and loving father B. J. Lang.” Dated Boston, ???. 2(?) 86. (11) A one-phrase from B. J. to his daughter Margaret: “I (hope?) God will bless and (keep you?) every possible good Margaret Ruthven Lang, is the fervent prayer of her proud and loving father B. J. Lang.” Dated Boston, ???. 2(?) 86. (12) A note from George Chadwick dated February 22, 1888 where he invites her to his house for a lesson. Based on the wording, it would seem that this was her first lesson with him. (13) A short note from Arthur Nikisch just dated Tuesday saying that there is a rule not allowing people into the rehearsals of the BSO. But, he adds, what is a rule if exceptions can’t be made? “Therefore if you wish to come to our rehearsals tomorrow and Thursday, you will be admitted with the greatest pleasure. The piece will be played on both mornings at about 10 o’clock.” These would have been the rehearsals for her Dramatic Overture which premiered on April 8, 1893. This was important because it was the first orchestral piece by a woman composer played by an American orchestra.
Lang’s first conductorship of a male voice choir was with a group he organized in Salem in 1860. Known “under the name of the Amphions, rehearsals were held weekly at Mr. Lang’s room [his father’s music shop]. The first and only concert was given at Mechanic Hall, April 18, 1861. There were twenty singing members and a roll of honorary members. Much of the music used by the club by Mr. Lang selected while in Europe. The Amphions assisted the Mendelssohn Quintette Club at a concert in Salem and were invited to take part in a series of classical concerts in Boston.” (Whipple, 121) The Salem Register late in January 1861 announced “the Salem public is to be regaled by a first-class concert by the very best talent. Mr. B. J. Lang, our townsman, deservedly eminent as a Pianist-everybody knows that-announces” a concert with the Mendelssohn Quintette Club and the “Amphions of this city-a new musical association, not yet known to fame, but soon to become so-consisting of twelve gentlemen of Salem, who, under the instruction of Mr. Lang, have been practicing Mendelssohn’s celebrated Four-Part Songs.” (Salem Register (January 28, 1861): 2, GB) No date for the concert was given, but as twelve singers were mentioned for this concert and as Whipple mentioned twenty singers, there may have been two concerts. Another Salem paper announced this concert as being the Thursday evening next. Not only were the Mendelssohn Quintette Club and the Amphions to perform, but also Miss Lang. (Salem Observer (January 26, 1861): 2, GB) The Civil War “thinned the ranks of the organization and it was dissolved in 1862.” (Whipple, Op. cit.)
Courtesy of the Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA.
Almost the same program was repeated just over a week later on Wednesday, May 1st. at a “Grand Concert In Aid of the Families of Our Volunteer Soldiers.” The same performers appeared, but Miss Adams sang Viva la America by Millard instead of an English Ballard, and Lang’s Grand Piano Fantaisie was on America rather than themes from an opera. Neither program identified the theme for Lang’s Grand Transcription for [the] Left Hand Alone. (Programs from the Phillips Library)
The Civil War “thinned the ranks of the organization and it was dissolved in 1862.” (Whipple, Op. cit.)
B. J. AS A PIANO SALESMAN.
On October 1, 1860 Chickering & Sons “transferred the Agency for the sale of our PIANO FORTES from Mr. Benjamin Lang to Mr. B. J. Lang, who will hereafter represent us and attend to our interests, at his Warerooms in the Downing Block. It affords us a more than common pleasure to recommend Mr. Lang to our numerous friends and the citizens of Salem, as a gentleman possessing unusually fine qualifications for the purchasing and selection of Pianos, and we can assure them that Sales made through can be depended upon, and will be guaranteed as strongly as though obtained directly from the Establishment in Boston.” (Salem Register (October 29, 1860): 2, GB)
MARRIAGE TO FRANCES MORSE BURRAGE.
On October 10, 1861, when he was 23, B. J. married Frances Morse Burrage (Dec. 18, 1839-Oct. 15, 1934) who was two years younger than he. “Benjamin Johnson Lang did, in fact, marry into the upper class. His wife, Frances Burrage, came from an upper-class family,” (Blunsom, 28) and they were listed in the Social Register of Boston. Blunsom, using material from Frances Lang’s Diaries, describes her: “Frances Lang was not merely a housewife. Like most upper class women, she was involved in a variety of cultural and charitable endeavors: the Browning Society, Mrs. Fields’ Dante Club, a literary club called Uncut Leaves, and visiting the incurables. Moreover, she was steeped in Boston’s musical life: hosting receptions for visiting musicians, attending rehearsals of her husband and daughter, going to concerts almost every night. Indeed, Frances Lang was an accomplished musician in her own right, having studied with B. J. Lang before their marriage and at times being asked to critique young singers.” (Blunsom, 55)
B.J. had known Frances for ten years before their marriage as he had taught her piano beginning in August 1851-there is a letter dated Aug. 16, 1851 to Mrs. Burrage stating that he will contact her soon about lessons (Ms. Lang, Vol. 24, 2c). If this dating were correct, he would have been 14. However, an entry in his Diary mentions that he began teaching Frances in January of 1855. (Diary, January 4, 1855) A signed receipt from B. J. dated Oct. 7, 1855 lists six pieces “Miss Fanny Burrage” he was buying for her lessons, and this may reflect his teaching style. There were Mazurkas by Chopin and Henselt, a polka by Dodworth, and three other pieces with no composer named which added up to $2.63. This would probably be the repertoire for one-quarter of study as it matches another bill dated Oct. 20, 1858 that charged $20 for instruction and $2 for etudes and music. (Ms. Lang, Box 27, Folder 24, No. 4) Margaret wrote the following about her mother’s first piano lesson. “At the first lesson she said: ‘Mr. Lang I want to say two things. First-I will not practice, second, I shall never play anything which has more than four sharps!’ Mr. Lang was 20 at this time and well-known as a teacher.” (Ms. Lang, Vol 24, No. 2) These two receipts bookend Lang’s study time in Europe that is always listed as 1855 to 1858. The Oct. 7, 1855 receipt implies that B. J. planned to teach Frances for the Fall Quarter of October/November/December while the Oct. 20, 1858 receipt shows that he immediately resumed lessons with Frances upon his return from Europe. What made B. J. leave for Europe so impetuously, and more important, how was this time in Europe financed?
Frances’s parents were Johnson Carter Burrage and Emeline Brigham Burrage. In the 1850 Census, the Burrage family was listed as Johnson Burrage, aged 34, Emeline Burrage, aged 35, Frances, aged 9, Edward, aged 8, Hubert, aged 4, and Helen, aged 2 with two servants. Mr. Burrage was listed as a merchant with a value of real estate owned of $40,000. In comparison, in the same year B. J.’s father was listed as a music teacher with a value of real estate owned of $3,000.(Ancestry.com 1850 Census) Frances was well-regarded as a singer though she never became a professional. Their three surviving children inherited their musical aptitudes: the first child, Harry, “died in infancy while B. J. and Frances were in Europe.”(DuBois e-mail, May 21, 2006) The child’s full name was Harry Allston Lang, and he had been born in Boston on October 4, 1864 and he died in August 1866 in Hingham, Massachusetts.(New Boston Town History no. 199, February 11, 1914) The first surviving child was Margaret Ruthven Lang, born in Boston (Nov. 27, 1867 – May 30, 1972) and known primarily as a composer; next was Rosamond Lang Galacar also born in Boston (Feb. 6, 1878 – Aug. 11, 1971) who was regarded as a brilliant sight-reader at the piano; and finally, Malcolm Burrage Lang born in Lynn, MA. (June 14, 1881 – Mar. 7, 1972), known as a pianist and organist. Mrs. Lang
passed her musical and longevity genes on to her children: she died at age 94, and Margaret at 104, Rosamond at 93, and Malcolm at 90: all three children died within ten months of each other.
Brimmer Street, just above the “Public Garden” and to the right of “Union Boat Club.” The Lang home at No. 8, was just above the word “St.” and on the right. Walker’s 1883 Map of Boston, BPL Collection, Wikepedia, August 8, 2013.
B. J.’S HOUSEHOLD.
Life in the B. J.’s household as described by his daughter Margaret was very regimented. “My father’s breakfast was the same every morning. We couldn’t keep cooks very long. Breakfast, and it had to be prepared to father’s specifications, was cold cracked wheat in a mold and a corn bread. Then he would walk across the Public garden to his studio on Newbury St.” (Miller, Globe article). Another aspect of B. J’s character is shown by the story related by the singer and composer, Clara Kathleen Rogers: “It was well-known to all his friends, and set down to his credit, that Lang had never taken a stimulant of any kind-that his one and only dissipation was ice-cream, which brings to mind a certain evening at our house when Anton Seidl, the Conductor of the Metropolitan Opera, and Krebhiel, the famous critic, had been dining with us after an afternoon lecture on Wagner, delivered by Krebhiel, with musical illustrations by Seidl. We had invited a score or so of musical friends to meet them after dinner, when we improvised a little music, consisting largely of Wagner’s songs, in which Seidl accompanied me. I had arranged on this particular occasion to have light refreshments served upstairs instead of descending to the dining room for supper, and orders were given to serve them punctually at half past ten. At this not very opportune moment some unaccountable impulse seized on Seidl to seat himself at the piano, — under the spell of Wagner — and play excerpts from Parsifal, which proved to be quite lengthy! A halt was called to the handing around of the ices, and there sat Mr. Lang, at that particular moment more interested in ice cream than Parsifal, with his eyes tragically fixed on those frozen works of art gradually melting into a rainbow-tinted liquid! Poor Lang! Like unto the ices my heart melted to him.” (Rogers (Two Lives ): 147-148)
HYMN OF PRAISE PREMIER.
On January 30, 1862 Lang conducted the First Boston performance of Mendelssohn’s Hymn of Praise at Old South Church using only an organ four-hand accompaniment. He had organized a choir of quartet singers totaling sixteen singers from various (unnamed) churches; the soloist was the bass J. Q. Wetherbee. Dwight reported “The Hymn of Praise without an orchestra loses much; especially the introductory Symphony, a long instrumental work of several movements, which was represented by a four-hand arrangement for the organ, in playing which Mr. Lang was assisted by Mr. J. C. D. Parker. It was played well, but for want of other instruments, violins especially, proved tame and tedious. The choruses were all remarkably well sung by the small but effective choir of four voices on a part, and the accompaniments were very skillfully suggested —to say the least—by Mr. Lang’s combinations of the organ stops, and such treatment in whole and in detail as showed thorough study of the music. There was some excellent solo singing too… Before the Hymn a short miscellaneous First Part was given. (Dwight (February 8, 1862): 358) This First Part included Fest Fantasy on a theme of Haydn (for organ) by Koehler, a bass song by Mr. Wetherbee, and Andante from the Fifth Symphony by Beethoven. Probably the performance of the Mendelssohn given a month later, March 1, 1862, by the Handel and Haydn Society “with the entire Philharmonic Orchestra” in “Commemoration of the recent NATIONAL VICTORIES” was at Lang’s suggestion.
In 1862 Walker, Wise and Co. published Youthful Voices: A Collection of Hymns and Tunes For the use of Sunday Schools for the Committee of the Boston Sunday School Teachers Institute. It contained 102 different tunes and the “Music [was] edited by Benjamin J. Lang.” The Preface said that this book “contains little that is new, but has not been prepared without much pains-taking labor. The depositories of Sunday School books and papers have been carefully researched, as well as every attainable collection of Sacred Music. A large body of secular music has also been explored and brought into service, when it could be used without introducing disturbing associations; and it is believed that all of the hymns and tunes finally chosen, possess some fitness for the purpose for which they were taken.” There were indexes of tune names and first lines, but no listings of composers or authors. However, it is possible that Frances contributed four tunes. Frances was not named in full, but one citation was “F. M. L.,” her married name- Frances Morse Lang. (Copy in Johnston Collection) This collection was a second collection that Lang and Sullivan had together worked on. In 1856, Bible Songs, by Marion Dix Sullivan, harmonized by Mr. J. B. [sic] Lang, organist, Salem, Mass. was published by a firm in Boston. It is a smaller collection, and it seems that none of these first songs were used in the 1862 collection. (Phillips Library)
FIRST WALPURGIS NIGHT.
B. J. Lang made his first real appearance as a conductor with the first Boston performance of Mendelssohn’s First Walpurgis Night with chorus, soloists, and orchestra on Saturday evening, May 3, 1862 at Boston’s Music Hall; he was now 24. As the work was not known in the city, he presented it twice at the same concert. Pre-concert publicity was good. In early April under “Musical Gossip,” the Boston Musical Times printed this notice: “Mr. B. J. Lang, our excellent young pianist, has undertaken a ‘labor of love,’ for which he is deserving the highest commendation. It is the public performance of Mendelssohn’s splendid composition, Walpurgis Nacht. Mr. Lang has gathered together a carefully selected choir of 100 voices, and a full orchestra, and we may confidently expect the first performance in Boston of this work will be most excellent.” (BMT (April 5, 1862): 19) Lang wrote in the program book: “The enthusiasm which a performance of The First Walpurgis Night has invariably created among musicians, the interest it awakens among the most careless concert goers, and the fact that this beautiful composition has never been heard in Boston before form the only apology Mr. Lang can offer for giving two entire performance of it on the same evening. He ventures on this unprecedented step confident that it is amply justified by the novelty and beauty of the music.” (Fox, Lang Papers, 6) The program listed “A Grand Orchestra, a Select Chorus of 150 voices.” The soloists were “Mrs. Kempton, Mr. S. W. Langmaid, Mr. W. H. Wadleigh, Mr. J. Q. Wetherbee, and Mr. Ryder.” The program began with the new work, then a Grand Duo on Themes from Norma by Thalberg for two pianofortes played by Lang and his pupil, Miss Mary Fay. Then there was the Overture to Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream Music and the concert ended with the repeat of First Walpurgis Night.
Dwight’s review reported: “The Music Hall appeared filled, and with such an audience as only the expectation of something really fresh and good could have called out-those who respond only to best appeals… The second performance naturally was the best, the singers having become more at home in it. The solo singers, especially, improved upon their first trial of their voices in the large hall and in a position rather new to several of them. The chorus of 150 voices, all young, fresh, telling, (with no dummies), and finely balanced, sounded remarkably well throughout, and was always up to the mark. We have seldom heard so fine a body of soprani and contralti in any of our Oratorio or choral performances. It shows that counting up voices by hundreds is not much use unless they are effective; 150 effective ones are more to the purpose than twice their number as we sometimes hear them. The orchestra did its work well in the exceedingly ingenious, descriptive, difficult accompaniments; and Mr. Lang himself, the youthful conductor, appeared very well at ease and master of his position, new to him as the position was. There was unity of design, rightly conceived, and carried through with energy, in this somewhat bold enterprise of his; and the result was in the highest degree creditable to him… His conductorship, however, was remarkable for a beginning. Practice will bring more self-possession, and more liberty to pay regard to light and shade. Everybody came away thanking Mr. Lang, for a rich evening and a fresh experience.” (Dwight (May 10, 1862) 46) Twelve years later Lang used the same work for the debut concert on November 19, 1874 of the newly formed Cecilia choir in its inaugural season as the choral adjunct to the Harvard Musical Association.
HANDEL AND HAYDN SOCIETY.
The early 1860s saw a low point in the finances of the Handel and Haydn Society. The debt of the 1861-62 season was so great that both Zerrahn and Lang “readily agreed to retain office without fixed salary and be content with whatever small balance might remain in the treasury after the expenses were paid. (At the end of the year, July 1, 1862, they got $41.68 each!).” (Perkins/Dwight, History, 199) One positive note was the election of a new President of the Society. “After the unanimous nomination of Dr. J. Baxter Upham for the office of president, the meeting was adjourned to June 4, when Dr. Upham – a gentleman of culture and large public spirit, a graduate of Dartmouth College in 1842, and of the Harvard Medical School in 1847, a gentleman to whom Boston was indebted more than to any other for the enterprise which built the Music Hall, and secured the noble organ which was soon to adorn it and complete it, and from whose enthusiasm the cause of music in our public schools was still receiving such an impulse – was elected president, with no change of other officers.” (Ibid)
GOTTSCHALK AND LANG.
Mathews. A Hundred Years of Music in America, 639.
In the fall of 1862 Louis Moreau Gottschalk hired Lang to perform with him. Gottschalk was so impressed with Lang’s playing that he included him as a “collaborator for a series of twenty concerts, in which compositions for two pianos were the features.” (Transcript, May 9, 1909) The connection between Gottschalk and Lang was possibly made by Lang’s early piano teacher, Francis G. Hill, who was a friend of Gottschalk (see letters from Gottschalk to Hill in Notes of a Pianist). These concerts were part of an incredible tour for Gottschalk beginning in New York City in February 1862 and ending in California in September 1865 during which he “estimated that he had given some 1,100 American recitals and traveled some 95,000 miles. During this time he did more than any other American musician to obliterate the line between high and popular art. (New Grove article by Irving Lowens and S. Frederick Starr, 200).
The Boston Musical Times announced the coming concerts in this manner: “Gottschalk is coming at last. His concerts will commence on the 17th. How he has been prevailed upon to break his self-imposed barrier of hate of Boston, we do not know nor care; but can only congratulate him on his good sense in doing so. We doubt not that he will be received in the most friendly manner, and add a large ‘Boston quota’ to his already immense list of admirers-particularly among the gentler sex.” (BMT (October 4, 1862): 118) This hatred of Boston was probably based on his appearances nine years before where “he imagined he was received with unaccountable coldness.” (BMT (November 1, 1862): 134) In October 1862 Dwight wrote an extensive article about “Gottschalk’s Concerts” in the middle of the five concerts that the pianist had announced. The article did acknowledge that Gottschalk was a fine pianist: his “touch is the most remarkable we ever heard; in power, in fineness, in free vibratory singing quality it leaves nothing to be desired.” (Dwight (October 18, 1862): 231) Then Dwight reviewed Gottschalk’s compositions using phrases such as “fine finger tricks…a freak…jack o’lantern freaks in it.” Dwight wrote of the William Tell Overture arranged for two pianos with Lang at the one piano playing the original parts and Gottschalk at the other piano “now trilling and twiddlidg, with senseless, painful repetition, in those piccolo octaves, now startling by a tremendous rush upon the lowest bass-and this was the arrangement! …Our excellent pianist, Mr. Lang, we pitied him.”(Ibid)
However, not all agreed with Dwight. After a tepid response to the first concert, Gottschalk’s success was so great during this October series of concerts that “Chickering’s Hall was found to be too small for the increasing numbers, and the Melodean was secured, and this spacious [Music] Hall could not accommodate the audience at the last concert. (Ibid) The announcement for the Boston “Second Grand Concert” on Monday Oct. 11, 1862 included the phrases, “Mr. B. J. Lang, The Distinguished Pianist, has consented to assist Mr. Gottschalk in this Concert.” They ended the concert with Gottschalk’s four-hand version of Ojos Criollos; earlier they had played his Marche Funebre. During the first part of the concert they played Grand Duet from William Tell as arranged by Gottschalk. Miss Caliste Huntley and Mr. J. Eichberg, violinist, were also assisting artists. Tickets were $1. The announcement for Gottschalk’s ‘Most Positively Last Concert in Boston’ on Saturday, Oct. 18, 1862 (which had to be moved to the Melodean Theater in order to accommodate the expected crowds with reserved seats at 75 cents and unreserved seats at 50 cents), also said “Mr. B. J. Lang, The Distinguished Pianist, has consented to assist Mr. Gottschalk in his Last Concert.” They performed the Duette di Bravura on Themes from Trovatore for two pianos that had been originally composed for performance with Mr. Sigismond Thalberg, and which was “performed with immense success, for the first time in New York on the 25th. of December, 1856. Mr. Lang will perform that which was played by Mr. Thalberg.” (HMA Program Collection) Doyle quotes the New York Times critic describing the piece: “The fourth piece on the programme was the great attraction of the evening… a grand duet on themes from Il Trovatore, composed expressly for this occasion (Dec. 26, 1856) by Mr. Gottschalk and performed by that gentleman and Mr. Thalberg. Bravura pieces of this kind do not invite criticism. They are written for a certain purpose, and the test of their excellence is the success they achieve. Judged by that standard Mr. Gottschalk’s duet is an extraordinary production. The Audience was electrified with it, and, notwithstanding its length and difficulty, demanded an encore.” (Doyle, 302 and 303)
The Chicago critic George P. Upton described Gottschalk as having “an extremely delicate touch, and a singing quality which I have never heard excelled. And yet he had great power when it was needed, for he was a very strong man, notwithstanding his delicate appearance. Personally he was very fascinating. He had beautiful hands, and was as vain of them as Artemus Ward used to be of his. He had a fastidious way of encasing them in the most immaculate of gloves, which it took him some time to remove before he began to play. This was not an affectation, as many thought. He said it gave him time to compose himself and get at ease. As he was very shy, he did not make many intimate friends.”(Upton, 77 and 78) When Upton asked him about his repertoire choices, Gottschalk reply was that “the dear public don’t want to hear me play it [classical repertoire]. People would rather hear” my own pieces. “Besides, there are plenty of pianists who can play that music as well or better than I can, but none of them can play my music half so well as I can. And what difference will it make a thousand years hence, anyway?” (Ibid)
The success of these first Boston concerts led to a repeat set the next month, and we find an announcement for Saturday, Nov. 15, 1862 saying that “In consequence of the crowded state of the Hall at the Concert on Wednesday Evening, and the large number of persons who were unable to gain admittance,” Mr. Gottschalk will give “One More concert.” The soprano Miss Carlotta Patti and B. J. were the assisting artists with Mr. S. Behrens listed as Musical Director and Conductor; the Duett di Bravura was included again. Gottschalk’s Notes of a Pianist mentions further concerts in Boston. “November 30-Concert at Boston. Very great success… December 2-Concert at Boston. Great success… December 3-Matinee in the “Music Hall” with the grand organ. L___ plays remarkably.” (Gottschalk, 309) One presumes that L___ refers to Lang. Gottschalk appreciated not only the Boston organ, “That glorious monument,” but also its concert halls. “Boston possesses what New York has not yet contained, two concert halls, which are in no wise inferior to any of the largest concert halls in the world, and which, as to acoustics, I consider superior to the best of this continent and of the old world (Tremont Temple and Music Hall).” (Gottschalk, 311) In a letter dated February 26, 1864 he raves that “Boston… is par excellence the aristocratic city. It pretends to be the most intellectual in the United States. It is not to be denied that it has made enormous progress in the sciences and arts. The university at Cambridge is the most celebrated in the United States. Her poets are known the world over. She has for eight years possessed the largest organ in America… Boston has six theaters and three concert halls, two of which can seat thirty-five hundred persons. It is in one of these, the Tremont, that I gave my concerts. It is in my opinion the best for hearing and the most magnificent concert hall in the world. (Tara, From Psalm to Symphony, 112)
LINCOLN EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION CONCERT.
On January 1, 1863 Lang (now aged 25) shared with Carl Zerrahn the honor of conducting a concert in celebration of Lincoln’s “Emancipation Proclamation.” The original proclamation had been issued on September 22, 1862, and it declared the freedom of all slaves in any state of the Confederacy that did not return to Union control by January 1, 1863 while the second part of the document listed the specific states which were effected-this second part was issued on January 1, 1863. The “Grand Jubilee Concert” at the Music Hall with “tickets at $1.00, or 50 cents, according to location,” was advertised for 3PM [Dwight says noon], and was in “Honor of the Day! The Proclamation! The Emancipation of the Slave! The Spirit of the Fathers and the Constitution,” with “the proceeds of the sale of tickets to be appropriated to the benefit of the freed slaves, under the auspices of the Educational Commission” among whom were H. W. Longfellow, Edward E. Hale, R. W. Emerson, and O. W. Holmes (Program from the HMA Program Collection). Ralph Waldo Emerson read from one of his own poems which included the line, “God said: I am tired of kings!” (Herald (April 5, 1909): 8, GB)
Dwight recorded more details: “Emerson first read his famous Boston Hymn for prologue; and the music consisted of the Egmont Overture; the solo and chorus from the Hymn of Praise ,”Watchman, will the Night soon pass?” (Mr. Kreissmann, vocal soloist) and the response, ”The Night is Departing,” in which the clear clarion tones of Miss Houston (Mrs. West) made a thrilling impression; Beethoven’s E-flat Concerto, played by Otto Dresel; Dr. Holmes’s Army Hymn, composed for solo [again Mr. Kreissmann] and chorus by Dresel; Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus,” and the overture to William Tell, all music up to the true pitch and sense of the occasion.” (Dwight, History of Boston) Also listed in the program was the chorus “He, watching over Israel” from Elijah and Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Lang rehearsed and conducted the choral pieces. “Mr. B. J. Lang threw himself into it [the rehearsals] with fervor, raising, drilling, and leading the choral forces.” (Perkins/Dwight, 207) Obviously the Emancipation Proclamation meant a lot to B. J., as a Lang family story relates that when he heard about the “Proclamation,” he grabbed a boy to pump the organ and rushed into Old South Church where he began to play the Te Deum in celebration. At the same time the minister of the church was ascending the pulpit to recite the Jubilate, his own expression of celebration. (Amy DuBois Interview)
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. On December 22, 1863 she had celebrated her 10th. birthday with a concert at the Music Hall, which she shared with B. J. at the organ. She had spent the previous months in Cuba practicing and giving concerts, “the result being that she has gained in physical strength, in musical skill and understanding, and has added largely to her repertoire both classical and of the virtuoso kind.” However, in performing a solo piano recital in such a large hall, and alternating with pieces played on the new, large organ, she was putting herself at a great disadvantage. “If therefore under all those drawbacks the young maiden made a fine impression and won plentiful applause, as indeed she did, it was so much the more to her own credit…Mr. Lang’s organ pieces were played in his usual masterly manner, the Pastoral Symphony [Handel] and Freyschutz Overture being loudly and persistently encored, to which he responded in kind, that is by playing again a part of the same, and not something else.” (BMT (January 2, 1864): 6 and 7)
Lahee, Famous Pianists, 303
MORE GOTTSCHALK AND LANG.
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 is 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 2PM 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.” Afterwards, 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)
Lang continued to return to his roots in Salem. The local paper wrote before his Salem concert: “Mr. Lang has taken a 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.
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.
In October of 1862 Lang had 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.
ORGAN DEDICATION AT THE MUSIC HALL.
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. Card is 2 inches wide by 2 and 1/2 inches high. Johnston Collection.
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.
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)
At the Monday, November 2, 1863 Dedicatory Concert Lang played the Sonata #3 by Mendelssohn and was listed as organist of Old South Church and the Handel and Haydn Society. 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 “Private Test” had been 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 guest 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 gas lighting 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 breath 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 played Mendelssohn’s Sonata in A-No. 3 upon which 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)
Lang was also involved in the Handel and Haydn Society’s “Grand Choral Inauguration of the Great Organ at the Boston Music Hall” concert on Saturday, Nov. 28, 1863. The Society donated its services with the purpose that the proceeds of the evening be devoted toward extinguishments of the Organ Debt. The program included Mendelssohn’s Hymn of Praise with orchestra (again, probably a Lang suggestion), and in the first half Handel’s Ode to St. Cecilia’s Day (first American performance) was performed with Lang playing his own transcription of the orchestral parts on the new organ “and Lang’s registrations were praised.” (Owen, 64) If Lang played with the orchestra in the Mendelssohn he would had had his first introduction to the problem of playing with Boston orchestras of this time who regularly tuned to the old English pitch of around A-449 while the organ had been built in the new French pitch of A-435. Probably the remedy Lang used was to transpose his part a half step higher, which “was surely a tribute to his fabled musicianship.” (Owen, 74) This concert was repeated by request on Sunday Dec. 6. From the very first days of the instrument’s installation there had been comments about its slowness of speech that was a problem for a soloist, but even more of a problem for an accompanist. A review in 1876 had been critical of Prof. Paine’s performance as continuo player in a Bach Magnificat performance-“The chorus and orchestra were not together.” However, Lang was never criticized for this problem. “Whether Lang routinely played ahead of the beat…is something that can now only be conjectured, for no complaints about his accompaniments have been recorded. (Owen, 14)
On February 7, 1864 at 7:30PM, 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.) The same format was used for “Mr. B. J. Lang’s Grand Sacred Concert” at the Music Hall on Sunday evening March 6, 1864. The three soloists used before returned with the addition of Mr. J. C. D. Parker and Mr. S. A. Bancroft.
Lang continued among the recitalists.For his january 24, 1866 program he included the usuals-Bach, Mendelssohn, an improvisation and Wagner.
Massachusetts Historical Society, used by permission.
On July 18, 1868 again the usuals-Bach, Mendelssohn, an improvisation, and then a Beethoven arrangement and an arrangement by the English organist, William Best.
Harvard Musical Association Library, used by permission.
In 1896, William Apthorp writing an “Entr’acte” article for the February 14th. and 15th. BSO concert program book referred back to the dedication of the organ thirty-three years before: “Speaking of the Great Organ reminds me of a bogus story that went the rounds soon after it was set up in the Music Hall, to the effect that a mouse had been blown through one of the huge thirty-two-foot pipes, and came to a violent death by being hurled against the ceiling.” (Apthorp, BSO Program Book for February 14th. and 15th., 1896, 527))
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 1860’s] Wagner remained a fundamental part of his career.”(Briggs, 53)
Lang also appeared with the Orchestral Union at their 3PM 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.
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.
In August 1864, at the age of 26, Lang left Old South Church after five years and began a 20-year tenure at Rev. Edward Everett Hale’s D. D. (Unitarian) South Congregational Church, Union Park Street. (Hale: b. 1822- d. 1909, served South Congregational Church from 1856 until 1901) In 1857 the location of this new church on Union Park Street was described as being at “the centre of Boston bourgeois society.” (Chamberlin, 119) Here he was able to design the second organ of his career. Dwight’s Journal of July 23, 1864 reported: “The Rev. Edward Hale’s church at the south end, is to have a new organ, built by Messrs. Hook at a cost of $12,000, and Mr. B. J. Lang is to be the organist. This will probably surpass any church organ in the city. The organ of the Music Hall is creating a demand for really noble organs all around us.” (Dwight (July 23, 1864): 279) In July 1864 the Boston Musical Times announced: “Mr. B. J. Lang has been engaged to become the organist of the South Congregational Church, (Rev. E. E. Hale’s). The necessary money has been subscribed to build a new organ, under Mr. Lang’s special direction, and he also has carte blanche to secure the best quartette choir that he can find. The society is certainly to be congratulated upon these negotiations for their advantage, which go into operation on the first of August.” (BMT (July 2, 1864): 101) In December 1864, after four months in his new position, it was reported: “Mr. Lang’s new organ at Rev. E. E. Hale’s church is a fine instrument, and gives great satisfaction to those whose subscriptions secured its purchase. Mr. Lang gives masterly performances each week. His quartette choir is a good one.” (BMT (December 3, 1864) 182)
A year later it was noted: “A prominent feature in the religious services at the South Congregational Church, both morning and afternoon, is the organ concert by Mr. B. J. Lang, in which he takes pleasure in exhibiting the capacity of the new instrument. The choir at this church is now well selected, so that all the musical exercises there are worth listening to.” (BMT (December 2, 1865) 177) A Vesper Service bulletin of July 1, 1865 lists a Te Deum Laudamus in A by Lang. (Scrapbooks) It was reported that “the best audience which attend any place of amusement, fill Rev. E. E. Hale’s church twice a month, on the occasions of Vesper service.” (BMT (December 1, 1866): 3) During the summer of 1866 while Lang was in Europe, Mr. W. Eugene Thayer presided “at the organ, and conduct[ed] the fortnightly concerts at the South Congregational Church.” (BMT (June 2, 1866). 83) Thayer had just returned from a period of European study. (Ibid)
This new instrument was built in 1864 by E. & G. G. Hook and Hastings # 349 “according to specifications of the organist B. J. Lang. It was the largest in any Protestant Church [in the United States], and had Great, Swell, and Choir manuals and Pedal, 38 speaking stops, 7 pedal stops, one a Bourdon with 32 foot tone, and 2260 pipes.” (Ayars, 69 quoting from Dwight’s (Journal of Music):, Nov. 12, 1864 Vol. 24, 339-40 and November 26, Vol. 24, 351-2) In a “Description of the Large Organ built by E. & G. G. Hook, of Boston for the SOUTH CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH of Boston, Mass” the organ is described as “the last of three immense Organs” built by the firm in the last year. It was further described as “In size over any to be found in Protestant Churches in the United States; and in quality and style of finish, is in no way surpassed if equaled. Though so large, only four months were occupied in its construction.” (BPL Lang Prog. 6241-43) Dwight gave further information about this “thirty-two feet [sic] Bourdon Stop, giving tones low and deep, beyond the power of the ear to discriminate which are felt rather than heard. It forms a foundation for the grand harmony of the whole, wonderfully pervading and sublime.” (Ibid) The case, built by J. F. Paul, Esq., is of Black Walnut, beautiful and elaborate, with emblematical decorations, elegantly carved, and enriched with gold. The front pipes are of a new composition, surpassing in richness and color anything before used. They are highly polished, giving a brilliant silvery appearance, in beautiful contrast with the dark woodwork…many improvements in scales, voicing, and ”action” appliances are here used for the first time. This installation is located in the gallery and fills a space twenty-three feet high, eighteen and a half feet deep, with a total breadth of over thirty feet.” (Dwight (Nov. 12, 1864): 348) [Dwight was quoting from the dedication program]
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.)
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)
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.
BUSY 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)
OTHER CONCERT GROUPS.
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)
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. Tickets were 25 cents. (BPL Lang Prog., Vol. 1)
The cause of 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)
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 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 cancelled 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, 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. Afterwards 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 premier in January 1862. Other concerts that week included Haydn’s Creation on Tuesday night, orchestral and vocal concerts on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons, Handel’s Israel in Egypt on Thursday night, orchestral and vocal concerts on Friday and Saturday afternoons, Elijah on Saturday night and Messiah on Sunday night. Lang also gave a solo organ recital Saturday, May 27 at noon as part of the Festival.
Elijah was then performed again in December as part of the 1865-1866 Season.
From the Handel and Haydn website (downloaded December 2014)-researched by Herb Zeller.
HARVARD MUSICAL ASSOCIATION ORCHESTRAL CONCERTS.
Their first concert was given late in November 1865. An article in 1884 credited Lang with the creation of these concerts: “It was he who first suggested the great series of Harvard Symphony Concerts; it was he who more than any other held the programmes up to their first high level; he has also been one of the leading subscribers since the beginning of the series.” (Observer, January 26, 1884) “In 1865, when the Harvard Orchestra opened the first season of symphony concerts, to be followed by sixteen seasons, Gen. Lee had surrendered at Appomattox on April 9, Lincoln had been assassinated on April 14, and on the 15th. Andrew Johnson had taken the oath of office as President of the United States.” (HMA Bulletin No. 16) “But, little imagination was needed to foresee the difficulties: scarcity of professional musicians, professional bickerings, jealousy, captious critics, an uncertain and grumbling public, financial problems. None was escaped.” (Ibid) Arthur Foote recorded that “The audience was mainly composed of people of the kind found in our own membership, and they were not there to be in the fashion; there were always a number of music students also, but there was no thought then of appealing to the public at large. As I remember, there were no cheap seats (twenty-five cents) as was later the case with our present orchestra. I should say that, by subscription price, tickets were a dollar, but I am not sure.” (HMA Bulletin No. 4, 2)
“The first concert of the series of eight to be given under the auspices of the Harvard Musical Association took place at the Music Hall on Friday afternoon [the series had been announced for Thursday afternoons], Nov. 23. The weather was unpropitious enough, the day being dark and stormy, and the streets in the least favorable condition for pedestrians. Notwithstanding these untoward circumstances, the hall was filled with an audience of earnest lovers of music, eager to enjoy the feast of good things which the programme promised…The orchestra engaged for these concerts is large and very effective, numbering in all fifty performers, each member having been selected on the strength of his individual merits and ability as a musician, thus ensuring perfect concord and precision in the execution of the music. One noticeable feature is the great number of stringed instruments, the lack of which in many former orchestral combinations has been the cause of much complaint…In the present instance there is a grand foundation of seven contra-basses, with a corresponding number of ”cellos and tenors, ten first and ten second violins, with the reed and brass instruments admirably proportioned to the rest of the orchestra; surely a band so carefully organized, and skillfully directed by Conductor Zerrahn, could not fail to give complete satisfaction even to those disposed to be most critical.” (BMT (December 1, 1866): 5)
At the second concert of the season on Thursday January 25, 1866 at 4PM 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.
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)
PIANIST RIVALS-LANG VERSES PERABO AND PETERSILIA.
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 premier 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. Two engines with an aggregate of 560-horse power.
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. On June 12 [in] London [heard] Dickens’ last reading Dr. Marigold and Trial in Pickwick.” Next they went to Switzerland. “Interlaken. Rose at 4:30A.M. and saw sun rise on the Yungfrau…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 pupils who lived on Beacon Hill and were well off. Among them was Richard C. Dixey (b. 1844—d. after 1910), 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. Dixey accompanied the Lang’s on their May to late August 1866 European trip (Excerpts from Frances’ Note Book, 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) 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). His 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)
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 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 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.” 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]. 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) Its directors were Messrs. 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) A year later, the February 1868 Catalog listed eleven piano instructors-two from the previous year had left and eight new instructors had joined the department.
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.
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)
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]
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.
“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)
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 Library, corner of and Hawley Summer Streets. From an issue of Ballou’s Pictorial, 1856. Johnston Collection.
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. “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)
- 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)
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.
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 , 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.
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)
Apthorp “died in Vevey, Switzerland , 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.
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.
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)
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)
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).
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)