CHAPTER 06. (PART 2)  WC-10,260.  SC(G)

  • SUMMER of 1904.
  • THE CECILIA: 1904-1905.
  • THE CECILIA: 1905-1906.
  • THE CECILIA: 1906-1907
  • DEATH.


(Boston)              Bruckner: Te Deum. December 11 and 12, 1905.

(Boston)              Charpentier: A Poet’s Life. April 4 and 5, 1905.

(Boston and       D’Indy: St. Mary Magdalene. February 5 and 6, 1906. probably America)

(Boston)               Mozart: Te Deum. December 10 and 11, 1906. First-time in Boston mentioned in the Journal ad of December 1, 1906.


Lang had done many performances of Strauss’ Enoch Arden during 1902 which showed that he was familiar with the works of Richard Strauss. At the Symphony Hall recital that the composer gave with his wife and Mr. David Bispham late in March 1904, both B. J. and Rosamond were in attendance. It was a very “social” affair with all the major families being present. The social reporter wrote: “Mme. Strauss de Abna was looking finely in her Cleopatra robe of white satin, with a tunic of white lace. The unlined lace yoke was spangled with gold and outlined with dark embroidery.” (Herald (April 3, 1904): 34, GB) Later in the month “His friends, countrymen and symphony orchestra members gave him a pleasant evening.” (Herald (April 20, 1904): 2, GB) A reception and dinner were given at the Hotel Lenox for about 80. “Among the most noted persons present were prominent officers of the German societies around Boston, members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, B. J. Lang…and many others.” (Herald (April 20, 1904): 2, GB)

SUMMER of 1904.

B. J. (teacher-aged 65) and Rosamond (teacher-aged 24) returned from Europe (Liverpool) on the REPUBLIC arriving September 2, 1904. (Boston Passenger and Crew Lists, 1820-1943) Also listed just above B. J. was John H. Gutterson, age 39, teacher, and after Margaret was Mr. F. H. B. Byrne and Miss Alice S. Larkin. Bryne had traveled with B. J. during the summer of 1897.

THE CECILIA: 1904-1905.

The opening concert of the season was on Tuesday evening December 13, 1904. The work, La Damnation de Faust by Berlioz, was to have been conducted by the French conductor, Edouard Colonne (1838-1910). Many sources say that he did conduct-they are only half correct. He was known for his interest in Berlioz when that composer was better known in Germany and England than in France. He also supported Wagner and Saint-Saens, two composers also championed by Lang. As the choir had sung this work less than a year and one-half before, the notes were probably well in place. The performance was dedicated to Franz Liszt in commemoration of the one-hundredth anniversary of the composer’s birth. The program book of 24 pages included the complete text in English and an unsigned program note of two pages. On the program’s back page was an announcement of the next concert-the Requiem by Dvorak to be given February 6, 1905. (Program, Johnston Collection)

“Was to have been” because Colonne had gone to New York right after the Wage Earners’ concert on Monday night to prepare for a concert there and, then as Arthur Foote was forced to announce from the stage, the amount “of snow which troubled the railroads to the south of us, made it useless for Colonne to attempt to get here in time.” (Journal (December 14, 1904): 6, GB) Much publicity had been released about his visit; the papers noted the date of his sailing from France. His name was highlighted when the Society released the repertoire for the 1904/05 Season, a particularly ambitious one including Dvorak’s Requiem, Charpentier’s Life of a Poet and Debussy’s Blessed Damazel. (Herald (October 9, 1904): 32, GB) Also on October 9th. in the Herald, the Society Columnist wrote: “Among the good things that Mr. Lang brought home from Europe for the Cecilia, is a contract with Colonne to conduct this season a performance of La Damnation of Faust.” The next month she wrote that his concerts were “the most fashionable events of the musical season…for those of us who know our Paris,” and that “debutants look [to his concerts] for introduction to the very best audiences of Paris…As a conductor he stands beyond any French musician.” (Ibid)

Colonne’s Monday night performance was “one of engrossing interest,” (Herald (December 14, 1904): 7, GB) and the Herald felt that the “chorus and orchestra were still under Mr. Colonne’s enthusiasm, and their work was often of a very high order.” (Ibid) Previously some had felt that Lang’s performances of this had been unemotional, but on Tuesday, the concert was one of “fire and flexibility…So far as the chorus and orchestra are concerned, the work has had no better performance in Boston. It was brilliant, accurate, elegantly balanced in tone, and altogether an artistic success.” (Journal (December 14, 1904): 6, GB)

The next concerts were Monday, February 6-Wage Earners’ and Tuesday, February 7, 1905-Subscription and the work was the Requiem of Dvorak. The Journal reviewer started by saying: “It needs a big and fiery performance, a sure and certain technical proficiency, and a conductor of much magnetism and emotional force to make it worthwhile.” (Journal (February 8, 1905): 6, GB) He earlier wrote that the work “is not of sustained interest throughout.” (Ibid) With such an attitude comments such as: “the chorus was less spontaneous than usual…there were slips…the orchestra seemed to be traveling unfamiliar ground sometimes” began the review. However, “the occasional defects were not enough to mar the enjoyment given by much of the singing” (Ibid) of both the chorus and the soloists. He brought special note to Miss Hussey, who “sang admirably” who had formerly been a member of the chorus herself, and “her advance in her art is so marked” from when she formerly “used to step out rather shyly from the ranks of Cecilia contraltos.” (Ibid)

The final concerts were given on April 4 and 5 and included the American premiere of Gustave Charpentier’s symphony-drama, A Poet’s Life, and the Boston first performance (with orchestra) of Debussy’s Blessed Damozel. Philip Hale wrote: “The event will be one of more than ordinary importance.” (Herald (March 26, 1905): 30, GB) The two Sundays before the concert he had written extensive articles about first the Charpentier (March 26), and then the Debussy (April 2). In these articles, all aspects of the pieces were covered-the composers’ lives, the circumstances of the pieces’ creation, for the Charpentier, a detailed description of all the action in great a detail, for the Debussy performance, even the photos of the three soloists were included! Hale ended the Charpentier article with: “It is hoped that the Cecilia will be encouraged substantially in the production of these works.” (Herald (March 26, 1905): 30, GB) Did Lang’s recent performances of Massenet pieces lead him to the Charpentier? It was dedicated to Massenet. Another connection was that Colonne had conducted the premiere at the Paris Conservatory on May 18, 1892. (Ibid)

Gustav Charpentier. Wikipedia, accessed June 14, 2020.

Hale’s review noted the “much-interested audience of good size,” and took the position that since these two compositions were by “members of the ultra-modern French school,” that instead of a detailed review of the actual performance, a review of the details of “the brave and honest attempt to introduce these works” would be more appropriate. (Herald (April 5, 1905): 5, GB) He then recalled many of the details of his previous two articles making critical comments as he went along. He found that the balance in the Debussy favored the chorus which should have been “a few hand-picked voices,” and that the orchestra part was not a cantata accompaniment but something that needed to be “rehearsed as carefully as for a symphony concert.” The choir’s actual performance was praised-excellent in intonation and attack and even better than usual in dynamic expression, but what was missing was “atmosphere…Everything was too frank, unveiled” In the Charpentier the choir was also too large for the orchestra, partly because of the extra instruments required and the back-stage band and ???? The chorus also struggled with voice -parts with no instrumental accompaniment, and these were not without errors. Even with these obstacles, “the vocal performances were generally excellent. It was appropriately spirited and poetic. Mr. Lang had evidently drilled the chorus with care and intelligence, and he conducted with gusto in the face of difficulties that would have disheartened many experienced conductors. [And then a remark not often heard from Hale] The orchestra played as though it were interested in the task.” (Ibid) The Debussy was sung in a clumsy English translation by Frank Damrosch, but the Charpentier was done in French; a translation was printed in the program book.

As to the Charpentier performance, it was wasn’t French enough. Hale’s final year of European study was in Paris, and in addition to studying the organ at Trinty Church through his lessons with Guilmant, he seems to have studied much else that Paris has to offer. He thought that the “drunken and frenzied utterances of the poet on Montmartre” sounded like they were being sung by an English Cathedral singer. The Boston musicians “were not men and women of Gallic blood” to whom Montmartre was very present. It seemed “necessary to comb Charpentier’s hair a little before presenting him to a Boston audience.” (Ibid) But, because “on the whole, a good idea of the strength and the weaknesses of the composition” had been presented, and (most) all was forgiven. The two pieces were great opposites, but, “the mansion of art has many chambers, and the goddess smiles and welcomes all that have found out beauty and revealed it in any form to a material world.” (Ibid)



It was the custom to print the financial data of each family in Boston-both the worth of the real estate and also the personal worth were included. The figures for the Lang family were:

Real Estate                          Personal Estate

1890                                     $21,500                                                 $65,000

1900                                    $21,300                                                 $90,000

1901                                    $23,100                                                 $95,000

1902                                   $21,300                                                 $100,000

1904                                    $21,200                                                 $110,000

1905                                    $21,200                                                 $115,000   Figures from the Herald of each year.


In 1905 Lang faced eviction from his studio at 153 Tremont Street as the building was “to be torn down in 10 days.” He listed his studio instrument for sale: “New splendid church organ, built by Hastings for B. J. Lang’s studio. Is for sale at $950; unprecedented opportunity for a church; 2 banks of keys, 2 1/2 octave pedals, 18 registers; warranted in perfect condition.” (Herald (April 15, 1905): 14, GB). Lang then bought 6 Newbury Street, which became his teaching studios and also the studios of many of his pupils after he made extensive improvements. The property, which adjoined the St. Botolph Club, had been a private home. “It is  one of the very few Back Bay estates on Newbury Street that has an extensive frontage, being a four-story octagon brown-stone front brick house.” (Globe (April 30, 1905) 46)

Probably taken at 6 Newbury Street. Provided by Charles Spencer.


In 1905 came the announcement that the Ruth Burrage Room was now located in the Steinert Hall building with the pianos and the use of the room being a gift from Messrs. M. Steinert & Sons. With its library of “four-hand and eight-hand music for two pianos intended for the use of persons who play such music tolerably well at first sight…Information about the rules for the use of the room may be obtained from Mr. B. J. Lang, 6 Newbury Street.” Since the library had first opened, there were frequent additions that came from the Miss Ruth Burrage bequest. (Herald (September 24, 1905) 37, GB) An earlier article in April 1905 has mentioned that the scores would be available “as a free circulating library at Mr. Lang’s new studio, 6 Newbury Street.”  (Herald (April 23, 1905): 38, GB) Certainly having Steinert host the library and provide the pianos was a much better solution.

THE CECILIA: 1905-1906.

The 165th. Concert of the choir was on Monday evening, December 11, 1905 where Bruckner’s Te Deum was given its first Boston performance. Also on the program was a repeat of The Blessed Damozel by Debussy from last April and The Departure of Hiawatha by Coleridge-Taylor. This last work had been premiered in London in 1900 and later that year was first sung in Boston by the Cecilia. The Journal’s second level headline was: “Excellent Variety in Program and Work of Six Soloists Was of Most Brilliant Order.” (Journal (December 13, 1905): 9, GB) Journal: The Te Deum “has all the massive solemnity characteristic of the composer in his symphonies, and it has also feeling, which much of his purely instrumental work lacks.” (Ibid) The Journal did find a “Handelian touch that was highly effective.” The Debussy made a “much deeper impression…Its exquisite and ethereal beauty acknowledged before, is all the more fascinating now…The chorus singing was finely shaded and expressive.” (Ibid) Of the Coleridge-Taylor, “repeated hearings but increase admiration for the spontaneous, melodious, peculiarly expressive and altogether fine music of the English negro genius who wrote it.” (Ibid) Choir-no mention.

For the third concert of the 1905-1906 season, the group presented a mixed program which featured the cantata St. Mary Magdalene by Vincent d’Indy who had recently visited Boston. Miss Rose O’Brien was the mezzo soloist with the piano and organ accompaniment provided by “Miss Ingraham and Mr. Whelpley respectively, and [which] added much to the effectiveness of the whole.” (Globe (February 7, 1906): 4) The reviewer called the concert “another artistic success” which could be “placed to the credit of Mr. Lang’s well-drilled organization.” (Ibid) Philip Hale found the “soloists unsatisfactory,” but he did note that “Some are inclined to sniff at a concert of part songs, and many do not realize the fact that the diligent practice of such music is necessary to the health if a chorus…The fine qualities of the Cecilia chorus were shown in full last evening in the part songs…for the music of these pieces called for delicate gradations of tone and rhetorical and poetic effects as well as for euphony, sonority and scrupulous accuracy in attack and intonation.” Hale did not care for the d’Indy: “it has little or no importance.” (Herald (February 7, 1906): 7, GB) The Journal found the D’Indy to be a simple piece told in a straightforward manner. It mentioned a Bach double-chorus motet and smaller pieces by Franck, Taneieff, and Elgar together with solo songs by the two female soloists. (Journal (February 7, 1906): 12, GB) Dvorak, Parker, McCunn and Franck. The Waters of Babylon by Loeffler t(Program: Johnston Collection)

On Monday evening April 2, 1906 The Cecilia Society repeated from the previous season The Life of a Poet by Gustave Charpentier scored for chorus solo, voices, three orchestras and organ-Mr. B. L. Whelpley was the organist. Also on the program was Taillefer, a Ballade by Richard Strauss which used chorus, solo voices and orchestra. The Strauss had first been performed at Heidelberg in 1903 as a thank-you gift to the University of Heidelberg making him a Doctor of Music. The first American performance being given by the New York Oratorio Society on March 14, 1905 conducted by Frank Damrosch. This was its Boston premiere according to the Globe. (Globe (February 7, 1906): 4). Hale provided an extensive background article on the Strauss as he had done for the Charpentier the year before. He gave the history of the term “jougleur; how the main character “Taillefer” was one; how he led the Normans at the Battle of Hastings; all in over 15 long paragraphs. Strauss called for an orchestra of 100; “the orchestra at the Cecilia performance will not be so large” Hale mused. (Herald (April 1, 1906): 40, GB) He then quoted a New York performance review: “Huge and intricate instrumentation: trombones labor in stertorous gaspings and piccolos shriek wildly. Bells are hammered in a way that suggests that William’s forces stopped in the heat of battle to shoe their horses. Violins indulge in whirring figures suggestive of whizzing arrows. Drums bang and thump incessantly. While it is going on the veterans of the Oratorio Chorus stared in shocked amazement at the indecent antics of the orchestra.” (Ibid)

Hale’s review does mention the reaction of the chorus. They were noted for singing the choruses in the Strauss “lustily” and then in the Charpentier they “sang well.” However, much of the review lamented the inadequate size of the orchestra which made the Strauss “battle scene” a “sham affair, as the Knights wore pasteboard helmets and their swords were of lath. Their arrows were for drawing-room use…[The horses] had the speed of rocking-horses.” (Herald (April 4, 1906): 8, GB) The final insult was: “There was neither the orchestra nor the conductor to make them wildly effective.”  But, “The audience, a comparatively large one, was generous with applause.” (Ibid)

THE CECILIA: 1906-1907.

After the major works of the previous season, the 31st. Season began on December 11, 1906 with a small orchestra used in Mozart’s Coronation Mass and Te Deum (first time in Boston-mentioned in Journal ad, Dec 1st.), a Michael Haydn motet and an instrumental Te Deum for Organ and Strings by Sgambati. Verdi’s unaccompanied Hymn to the Virgin and Mozart’s Ave Verum with strings were the highlights of an “otherwise insufferably dull and tiresome” concert which was reflected in the singing of the usually “excellent chorus.” (Herald (December 12, 1906): 16, GB) The Sgambati “was not effective, partly because the music itself has not much character, partly because the strings were numerically weak.” (Ibid) The second level headline had been: “Programme for the Most Part Dull, and Performance Phlegmatic.” (Ibid) Most of the pieces had been part of the Mozart 150th. Birthday Concert in Salzburg the previous August, but the Journal found them “monotonous…the concert lacked much of being either artistically or popularly successful.” It was probably because the ‘dim religious light’ was not present to create the mood. On the other hand, Michael Haydn’s unaccompanied motet was “a delight to hear” itself, and “was expressively and richly sung.” The Coronation Mass was the “most important part of the evening’s music. (Journal (December 12, 1906): 3, GB) The second level headline had been: “Mozart’s Work’s Given Prominent Place on the Program-Haydn’s Tenebrae Well Sung.” (Ibid)

On Sunday, February 14, 1907 Hale wrote a detailed story about all aspects of Pierne’s The Children’s Crusade. It was six columns wide and 1/2 page deep. He ended by pointing out that the world premier had only been just over two years ago, January 1905 in Paris, and the American premier had been in New York less than 2 1/2 months ago. Another instance of Lang keeping very much with the times. All performances featured children’s’ choirs of about 200 voices, and for the Boston premiere a chorus from Somerville prepared by Mr. S. Henry Hadley who had “drilled them carefully and skilfully” so that they were “alert and ready,” and they produced a “fresh and thrilling” sound. (Herald (February 27, 1907): 4, GB) “Excellent also was the choral work of the Cecilia in quality of tone, in grades of dynamic force, in the details of technical proficiency.” (Ibid) The music written for the solo voices was generally “thankless,” and the soloists were not memorable. There was the usual problem of the slipshod, indifferent orchestra, but “due tribute should be paid some of the solo players for pleasing displays of artistry.”  There was also the usual:  “Mr. Lang is more successful with a chorus than with an orchestra…There was a large audience, which seemed to be much interested,” (Ibid) and in the end, isn’t that the most important thing. And, that audience had been there year after year after year.


Lang’s final concert with The Cecilia was on April 9, 1907 when he led John Paine’s opera, Azara. In spite of “extraordinary unpleasantness of the weather,” the concert had “the aspect of a gala event.” (Globe (April 10, 1907): 9) The work was composed during Paine’s leisure time during the decade 1890-1900, but “it has never been found practicable, for one reason or another, to stage it as yet.” (Ibid) How appropriate that Lang should make a “World Premier” the content of his last concert! One of the headlines for the Globe review said: “Presentation Fitting Climax for Director Lang’s Work.”(Ibid) Wagnerian in style, “the work contains much of recitative and yet frequent passages of exquisite melody that deeply stirred the auditors.”(Ibid) The  “American Grove Works List” gives the date of May 7, 1903 for a concert performance of this work; it also gives the composition dates as 1883-98 with a publication date of 1901 by a firm in Leipzig. (AM Grove, Vol. III, 461) Paine did not live to hear Lang’s performance-he had died on April 26, 1906. (Ibid) Philip Hale’s review mentioned that 60 players from the Boston Symphony accompanied the work. (Herald (April 10, 1907): 7, GB) He also mentioned that Paine had seen the work published and had hoped to see the work “performed either in the Metropolitan Opera House or in some theatre of Germany,” but this was not to be. “The composer died having heard only performances of the ballet music and other excerpts.” (Ibid) This would seem to contradict the May 7, 1903 performance mentioned above. “Mr. Lang was welcomed when he came upon the stage by warm and long-continued applause. There were other demonstrations of the goodwill entertained toward him by the Cecilia audiences and of the appreciation of his services in the cause of music during his long and honorable career as conductor of the society.” (Ibid)


In the spring of 1907, Lang retired as conductor of The Cecilia Society. He was then 69. “On May 9, 1907, upon his retirement after 33 years service, he was presented a hall clock from the chorus and bound volumes of Cecilia programs from the directors.” (Hill, History, 10) The Globe article called the gift “a magnificent mahogany hall clock standing about eight feet high and furnished with all the fashionable attachments such as moon and tide indicators.” (Globe (May 3, 1907): 9) Dr. Henry C. Baldwin credited Lang “with having placed the Cecilia at the head of the list of singing societies of its kind.” (Ibid) An article in Herald dated January 25, 1907 entitled “Lang Will Give Up Baton of Cecilia” mentioned that his leadership had spanned 31 years [or 33, see above] and was ending with B. J. helping to raise $40,000 as an endowment fund (The same as raising c. $1,070,000 in 2018)- $5,000 of this was contributed by Lang himself (c. $133,500 in 2018)(Transcript article January 25, 1907), and he added another $1,000 to this fund in his will. “The result of his work in raising the endowment fund which he has just completed will be his leave-taking of the society whose concerts he has conducted since its organization.” (Herald, Friday, January 25, 1907) “On 25 January, the day after Benjamin Johnson Lang’s retirement from the Cecilia conductorship, the Transcript ran an article titled ”Two Musical Generations.” Lang, it acknowledged, was the last link between the current musical generation in Boston and that of thirty or forty years before. ”Boston is a larger, more diversified formal life now. The change was inevitable. It is part of the broadening, richer, and more aesthetically hungry life of a democratic new America.” Bostonians continued to struggle with the transition. By 1923 Loeffler was disgusted: ”Boston is getting stuffier and stuffier and will soon graduate to the astounding grade of ‘the largest village on earth'” (Fox, Rebellious Tradition, 230)

Elson, writing in the Advertiser, gave his view of Lang’s leadership of the Cecilia Society: “The history of the Cecilia Society will show that no other choral society in America has been so active in producing new works. If the Handel and Haydn Society made musical history in the first half of the nineteenth century, the Cecilia Society certainly did this in the last half.” (Elson quoted in Musical America (April 27, 1907): 4)

Many eminent guest-conductors had led the group including “Bruch in 1882, Parker in 1889, Dvorak in 1892, Henschel in 1902 and Colonne in 1904.” (Pratt, 156) To mark the end of his conductorship, the chorus asked B. J. if they could present a concert in his honor. As President of the group Arthur Foote wrote on March 16, 1907:

Dear Mr. Lang,

Thirty-one years ago, the Cecilia Society began its concerts under your direction. The Society desires to express to you in some way its appreciation of what you have been, and what you are to it and to the cause of music in Boston. The directors, therefore, ask you to allow them to give a concert in your honor, at such time and in such circumstances as may be agreeable to you.

Lang’s answer of March 18 was:

Dear Mr. Foote,

I thank the Cecilia most heartily for its kind proposal of a concert in my honor. If the Society will sing at a performance of the Children’s Crusade, it will give Pierne’s beautiful work in a peculiarly fitting way, and give great pleasure to… Yours sincerely, B. J. Lang.

An article in the Globe wrote of the upcoming concert: “Rarely has a combination of pleasant events, creditable enthusiasms and worthy objects come together for hard work more happily than in the plan for a concert next Wednesday night in Symphony Hall in honor of B. J. Lang, on his retirement from the conductorship of the Cecilia Society…No musician in Boston is better known or more loved than he.” (Globe (April 14, 1907): ?) The concert was given on Wednesday night, April 17, 1907 to benefit the Industrial School for Crippled and Deformed Children by the Cecilia Society, nine soloists, a chorus of 100 children, and sixty players from the Boston Symphony. Tickets were $2, $1.50, and $1, and could be ordered from the fifteen members of the Auxiliary Board of Managers that included Mrs. John L. Gardner of Fenway Court. The “audience and chorus arose to welcome Mr. Lang as he came to the conductor’s stand. He was forced to bow repeatedly, and it was only after prolonged applause that the performance could begin. After the second movement of the work, the moment’s intermission was much protracted by the presentation of flowers and wreaths, and the enthusiasm was repeated at the close of the performance.” (Herald (April 18. 1907): 9, GB) The Herald’s Social Life page described Lang “standing before a sympathetic, distinguished and deeply interested audience…There was no speechmaking, only graceful bending of the head in acknowledgment. Everyone seemed to feel the deep significance of the occasion, and Mr. Lang must certainly have been gratified by such a tribute, evidently so heartfelt. ” (Herald (April 21, 1907): 27, GB) Then followed a long list (66 lines!) of socially important people and what the women wore, with it noting that “Mrs. B. J. Lang, in black voile with white lace, and Miss Rosamond Lang, in gray with lace of the same tone” were in the audience. (Ibid) Margaret was not mentioned-was she singing in the choir?

Photo 1907 by Odin Fritz. (Herald (April 18, 1907): 9,GB)

The success of the Children’s Crusade is reflected by other later performances of the work. Four years later: “Thursday evening, February 16 [1911] is the date set for the second concert of the Cecilia Society and the Boston Symphony under the leadership of Max Fiedler. The work to be given then will be Gabriel Pierne’s musical legend The Children’s Crusade that the Cecilia has given twice in recent years with much success. In addition to the chorus of the Cecilia Society, there will be a chorus of 100 children and the entire Symphony orchestra will be employed. Edmond Clement, the distinguished French tenor, will make his first appearance in concert in Boston on that occasion. (Globe (January 29, 1911): 49)

Lang continued to support the Cecilia through attending its concerts. In March 1909, under a social column headline of “Cecilia Concert Attracts Usual Brilliant Company” included “Mr. and Mrs. Richard C. Dixey, Mrs. Dixey in black liberty with white lace…Mr. Arthur Foote and his daughter, Miss Katharine Foote…Miss Frances Horton, whose niece, Miss Phyllis Robbins (one of the best singers in the Vincent Club),[owner of the farm in New Boston that Malcolm eventually bought] is a member of the Cecilia chorus…Mr. B. J. Lang and his daughter, Miss Margaret Ruthven Lang…Benjamin Whelpley and George W. Chadwick.” (Herald (March 28, 1909): 31, GB)


Several writers mentioned the beautiful, moving services that Lang prepared for the Sunday afternoon Vespers during his time at King’s Chapel. The Herald gave specifics of one such service. “The vespers at King’s Chapel last Sunday drew a large and fashionable audience. Mr. Lang gave parts of the [Bach] Passion music, including a bass aria sung by Mr. Cartwright, with a violin obbligato by Miss Bessie Collier, and the beautiful soprano air sung by Mrs. Rice with a flute accompanying.” (Herald (March 24, 1907): 34, GB)


In 1907 Lang was interviewed in an article entitled “The Advance of Musical Education in America” written by H. J. Storer. Lang recalled the musical situation in Boston c. 1860. “On my return to America, I began teaching and playing in Boston, and for fifty years I have been active. There was absolutely nothing in the way of a musical atmosphere here in those early days. I was successful from the start, perhaps owing to enthusiasm, with a natural aptitude for doing pioneer work at a time when things were ripe for musical development. My enthusiasm led me to carry through projects to which I had set myself to carry through and felt they must succeed. In this way, I gave the first performance of Berlioz’s Damnation of Faust and the Requiem, several concert performances of Wagner’s Parsifal, Brahms” Requiem, and other works, most of which were, I believe, played for the first time in America as well as Boston. I have also played for the first times at least two score or more concertos for piano and orchestra, besides introducing a large number of other piano works.” (Storer, article) Lang further recalled that “When I was young, perhaps I was the only one in Boston who could play certain of the larger works for piano and orchestra; now you may find many, even among those living on the back streets, who can play such works fairly well. Here, at least, is an evidence of the advance that has been made during my years of teaching. In these days the student need not go to Europe for technical training of any sort; he can get it here, – all he needs.” (Ibid)


To honor Lang’s 70th. Birthday the Globe ran an extensive article that covered aspects of his whole career beginning with his early teachers, his various organ positions: “I’ve been paid for going to church ever since I was 12 years old.” (Globe (December 22, 1907): 33) Also covered were his major conducting responsibilities, his extensive piano-teaching career, and his musical wife and children. “When a mere boy Salem, his father being taken suddenly ill, young Lang was at a moment’s notice obliged to take so many pupils that every day and every hour were devoted to teaching.” The interviewer probably asked him to state the reasons for his success.” He has been long accustomed to making each moment count. With constant industry and a marked business ability, he has prospered in a material way and no doubt his life-long abstemious habits have enabled him to carry his endless list of pupils. Few artists live to the age of 70 without the use of spirits, tobacco, tea or coffee, as Mr. Lang has done.” (Ibid) A year later, under a headline of “B. J. LANG 71 YEARS OLD” the article was much shorter, but it did mention that “Mr. Lang is in excellent health and full of vigor and energy.” The next paragraph noted the many pupils, both “past and present” who had called at Lang’s studio at 6 Newbury Street or sent good wishes “by mail and telegraph…A profusion of flowers bore evidence of the widespread regard in which he is held by those nearer home.” (Globe, December 29, 1908, p. 3) The Herald headline was “Benjamin Johnson Lang Felicitated on his 70th. Birthday…Aside from a family celebration at his home on Brimmer Street the night before, Mr. Lang observed the event very quietly…”There is nothing to say except that I am very grateful to my friends for remembering what an old man I am”…On Sunday evening he was one of the chief speakers at the memorial service for Mr. Daniels, [Mabel Daniels” father] late president of the Handel and Haydn Society, which organization Mr. Lang has served for more than 30 years as organist, conductor and now as honorary member.” (Herald (December 29, 1908): 14, GB)


B. J. was one of two Master of Arts Degree recipients at the 1908 Harvard graduation ceremonies. President Eliot read the degree citation: “Benjamin Johnson Lang, musician and composer, church organist at 15; as teacher, organist and conductor for many years the servant and guide of the best singing societies in Boston.” (Herald (June 25, 1908): 14, GB)  The Journal had a one-line comment: “Harvard did well to honor Benjamin Johnson Lang, the greatest single power for good that music has had in Boston for many and many a year.” (Journal (June 25, 1908) 6, GB)


“His last appearance as a conductor was on Feb. 12, 1909, when he conducted the BSO and a chorus at a Lincoln Memorial Service at Symphony Hall.” (Pratt,  268) The chorus numbered 200. Lang conducted the same music from Mendelssohn’s Hymn of Praise that he had conducted almost fifty years before at the celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation. “It was fitting that in it should have been the scene: ”Watchman, will the night soon pass?” ”The night is departing, the day is approaching.”” (Transcript article May 1, 1909) Lang was presented with a bronze bas-relief of Abraham Lincoln mounted on a base of green marble by the chorus which took part in the Lincoln exercises sponsored by the city at Symphony Hall on Feb. 12, 1909. This was a copy of the well-known head of Lincoln by V. D. Brenner done in 1907. The inscription said: “B.J. Lang, from the Chorus at the 100th. Lincoln Anniversary, 1909.”       


That bright future and the emphasis on new works was continued during the conductorship of Arthur Fiedler who prepared the chorus for the world premiere of Igor Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms which had been commissioned by Koussevitzky and the BSO and presented on December 19 and 20, 1930. “The Boston Symphony introduced new works before 1930, but it rarely-if ever-commissioned them. Even before the turn of the century, the orchestra gave the world premiers of many American works, mostly by Boston composers, and, of course, American premiers of the newest compositions from Europe. Serge Koussevitzky’s decision to commission a group of new pieces from the leading composers of the day to celebrate the orchestra’s first half-century began a tradition that continues to the present.” (Ledbetter. Program Note, Symphony of Psalms) Koussevitzky believed in the work so much that he repeated it in the same season on February 20 and 21, 1931, and also at the New York concerts of March 5 and 7, 1931. Further performances, all with the Cecilia Society Chorus were performed in 1932, 1936, 1939 and 1942. (Ibid)


During the time that Lang was at King’s Chapel, he played a Hook and Hastings, Opus 1205 of 41 stops on three manuals that has been installed in 1884. It had been installed in the old 1756 Richard Bridge case. Almost

Photo was taken between 1910 and 1920. therefore, this is the new Skinner organ that B. J. had designed and which Malcolm played during his ten-year tenure at the Chapel. Skinner added additional pipe sets to each side. Johnston Collection.

immediately he requested changes, and this situation went on for years. Just before his death, Lang had been able to design a new, larger, four-manual organ for King’s Chapel. It was developed with Ernest M. Skinner, “a friend of B. J. Lang,” and “the two had several consultations about the new instrument, and Mr. Skinner will carry out the wishes and suggestions by the former organist as faithfully as if Mr. Lang had been spared to supervise the work.” Skinner said that this instrument would be the only one in Boston to have an “orchestral oboe and English horn.” (Herald (July 24, 1909): 2, GB) Barbara Owen noted that in order to get all the pipes in, Skinner had to have “pedal pipes sticking up into a hole in the ceiling and needed to have the casework widened.” (Owen, e-mail August 19, 2015) The instrument was a gift to the church from one of its Vestrymen, Frank E. Peabody who was a supporter of the music program and of Lang. He had a Skinner organ in his own home, and it is said that he told Lang that he “could have everything he wanted, and in any way he wanted it.” (Owen, Organs and Music-Kings, 19). He got three separate Diapason stops on the Great keyboard, two separate Bourdon 16 foot stops in the Pedal plus additional pipes to make a third Bourdon at 32 feet, and Brass stops galore including Ophicleide, Tuba and Clarion, all in the Pedal. (Ibid, 72) The Hook organ was electrified and relocated to the Baptist Church in Brockton by Skinner. It no longer exists. (OHS Pipe Organ Database, accessed August 24, 2015)

  Thompson, Life of Ethelbert Nevin, 27.


B. J. died at his home on April 4, 1909 at 8 Brimmer Street (his home for the last twenty-five years-he also had a summer home on 600 acres in New Boston, New Hampshire, “passing away just as the bell in a nearby church was striking the hour of 9″ after suffering from a heavy cold for three weeks that turned into four days of pneumonia; his three children were at his bedside, but his wife was confined to her bed due to a fractured leg that had happened three weeks before while returning from church. He was 71 years old.” [71 Years, 3 Months, 7 Days-Death Certificate] The Death Certificate listed the Primary Causes of Death as Lobar Pneumonia for 4 days and Pericarditis (Sack around the heart) for 2 days. A Contributory Cause was Osteitis Deformans (Paget’s Disease-enlarged bones-a form of arthritis) which he had been suffering for an unspecified number of years.

On Wednesday night he had attended the opera. Though he wasn’t feeling well, he wished to accompany his daughter to the performance and the next morning he was unable to rise from his bed.” (Herald, Obituary, April 5, 1909) “It is told the Listener that on Palm Sunday evening, while B. J. Lang was dying, the quartet at the Old South were singing the Hymn of Praise, which he (probably for the first time) did at the original Old South thirty or forty years ago.” (Gould clippings) Less than a week later, at the BSO concerts of Apr. 8 and 10, Mozart’s Masonic Funeral Music was played in his memory. The Mozart opened the program and was followed by the world premiere of Chadwick’s Theme, Variations, and Fugue for organ and orchestra. Also on the program was another Boston premier, “Spring” from Musical Picture for Orchestra Opus 34 by Glazounoff. How appropriate that the concert should include two premiers-this was probably more a tribute to the work of bringing new music to Boston done by B. J. than was the playing of the Mozart.

The various obituaries contained a variety of misinformation. The Journal article of April 5 listed the three children, “Malcom, Rosmond and Mary Ruthven,” each spelled wrong. (Journal (April 5, 1909): 1 and 3, GB) It also had the dates of B. J.’s organ positions incorrect with him being “at the Old South Church for twenty years, and following this, he played for a short time at Dr. Everett Hale’s South Congregational Church.” (Ibid) The article in the Herald of the same date was longer than that in the Journal, and much more detailed, however it did list Margaret as Mary. (Herald (April 5, 1909):  1, GB)


       The funeral at King’s Chapel included music sung from the galleries by the groups with which B. J. had been associated; the Cecilia Society, the Handel and Haydn Society, and the Apollo Club with Wallace Goodrich (who succeeded Lang as conductor of the Cecilia Society) from Trinity Church as the organist. The “volume of sound produced by so many trained voices probably never before was heard in King’s Chapel… Void of all display, save for quantities of beautiful flowers, and with as simple a service as possible, the funeral of Benjamin J. Lang, musician, teacher and conductor, was held this forenoon. The service took place at eleven o’clock from King’s Chapel, and long before the time for opening the doors, a crowd awaited an opportunity to pay reverence.”

       Rev. Howard N. Brown, minister of the church where Mr. Lang had so long been in charge of music, met the body at the porch. Over the black broadcloth casket was thrown a purple pall, on which rested several fronds of sago palm, this final preparation having been made by Mrs. John L. Gardner, who, with a few assistants, had previously arranged the mass of floral tributes around the casket.” (Funeral notice-Transcript, Apr. 9, 1909) The Journal added: Mrs. Gardner placed a large floral harp of roses and ferns sent by the Boston Symphony in a central position and then arranged other “choice pieces” from the Handel and Haydn Society, the Cecilia Society, the Apollo Club, and the Baermann Club around it. She also placed a purple pall over the coffin while it was in the vestibule “before the body was borne into the sanctuary.” (Journal (April 8, 1909):. 7, GB) The three children sat in the front row, but Frances could not attend because of her recent fall. Except for accompanying the hymns, the organ was silent, “as though its very silence were a mute tribute to him whose fingers were so familiar with every detail of its keyboard.” (Transcript, Op. cit.) The hymns were the choruses O’er The Strife and Ten Thousand Times Ten Thousand accompanied by Wallace Goodrich.

       Various newspaper reports mention those in attendance who included the crème de la crème of Boston musical, literary and artistic life: A. Lawrence Lowell, President-elect of Harvard; the Manager and Assistant Manager of the Boston Symphony and its founder, Maj. Higginson; organists George Whiting, Benjamin J. Whelpley, Arthur Foote, E Cutter, Jr., H. G. Tucker and S. B. Whitney; Mrs. John L. Gardner (Isabella Stuart Gardner); Miss Elizabeth Porter, Courtney Guild and Clayton Johns. (Herald (April 8, 1909): 3, GB) A further article in the Herald gave the names of additional attendees: Mr. and Mrs. Richard C. Dixey, Mr. and Mrs. Henry M Rogers (Clara Doria), A. Wadsworth Longfellow, Timothee Adamowski, Ralph Adams Cram, and H. L. Burrage. (Herald (April 11, 1909): 28, GBB)


Many articles appeared soon afterward. The Herald wrote a wonderful summation of Lang’s life and work:

Obit. Herald IObit Herald IIspirit were heroic.

Obit Herald IIIObit Herald IVProbably by Hale. (Herald (April 6, 1909): 6, GB)

The Globe ran an extensive article just one day after Lang’s death. “He loved all music that was good, making no arbitrary distinctions against any school or composer, and in the last half-century probably introduced more new music into this country than did any other one man. In his devotion to music, and trained appreciation of what is best, his many-sided ability, he held a place that will not be easy to fill.” This same article also mentioned that Lang was a member of the “Thursday Club, the St. Boltoph Club and several New York social organizations…He had had the personal acquaintance of Wagner and Liszt, Sir Sterndale Bennett and Michael Costa, Rubinstein, Widor and Saint-Saens. And on his more than 30 trips to Europe, he made the acquaintance of nearly every present-day musician of prominence abroad. (Globe (April 5, 1909): 1)

The Transcript article, entitled “The Distinction of Mr. Lang,” centered on the fact that “From the beginning to the end his working world was the little world of Boston and no other.” The article began with: “It was the paradox and the distinction of Mr. Lang’s career that while he did all his work in a single city and was little known elsewhere, the range of was wider than that of any other choral conductor of his time in America, and perhaps in all Europe.” The two groups that he led were mentioned and the Cecilia was highly praised. “By years of training, he brought the Cecilia in particular to the accuracy, the finesse, the elegance of choral singing that have made it unusual among such choirs.” Of his work as a pianist: “As a concert pianist of the sixties and seventies, he had been quick to add new pieces to his repertory.” This emphasis on new works also applied to the choral groups that he conducted. “To Mr. Lang, our public owes a long line of choral pieces that it might not otherwise have heard and that traverses the whole course of modern and ultra-modern choral from Berlioz and Schumann through Strauss and Debussy. To him no less it owes its first adequate performances of such great masterpieces as the two great masses of Bach and Beethoven. From him came its first knowledge of Wagner’s Parsifal, albeit in concert form, and, at the ”production concerts” of the nineties, its first acquaintance with the orchestral music of Debussy, and of other daring composers who were battling for a hearing…Few, if any, in Europe in our time have matched his record in the number and the interest of these compositions.” (Transcript)

The day that Lang died, George Whitefield Chadwick, at that time the head of the New England Conservatory, wrote in his Diary: “April 4th. B. J. Lang died this evening of pneumonia after an illness of four days. He had been losing his grip for two or three months and his time had come. He died peacefully and without suffering, seventy-one years old. Probably there never was a more ambitious man than B. J. Lang. He had excellent talent, especially for the technical side of piano playing, great perceptive powers and good brains for study. There was not a lazy bone in him, and he accomplished more by his energy and indomitable will-power than many people can do with genius. His playing was interesting musically and at times, when he forgot his mannerisms, powerful and effective. He was ambitious as a composer and is credited in Scribner’s Encyclopedia with having composed oratorios, symphonies and other large works, although I never have met anyone who ever has seen or heard any of them. He was a loyal friend to anyone who needed him, even to those who had no claims to his friendship, and his personal life was that of a true-hearted, cultured, decent gentleman, a type of musician none too common in this day and generation. He had some bitter pills to swallow in his life, and one of them was to be succeeded by me as organist of the South Congregational Church where he had been organist for a very great number of years. He had his revenge however for they ”fired” me out subsequently! On March 21st. he wrote to me ‘You ought to thank God for your sense of humor, and it is always good-humor too.’ We were always good friends in spite of a few spats, in which I think that he always got the worst of it, but liked me all the better for it.” (Chadwick, Unpublished Memoirs) Chadwick had known Lang professionally and personally for over thirty years. A second entry dated Wednesday, April 7th. noted: “Funeral of Mr. Lang at King’s Chapel; very simple and dignified; no music except the congregational hymns. Wallace Goodrich played the organ.” (Op. cit.)

Reginald C. Robbins writing on November 5, 1909 very effusively sees B. J.’s role as a local and national one. “Primarily and professionally a musician, Mr. Lang was throughout his long and wonderful career, as genuinely, as effectually musical as any man of his generation. In every department of musical technique an expert, in every side of musical life an active, organizing and leading force, he has impressed upon the culture of this city and his nation an insight and power which demonstrate beyond the possibility of cavil the presence in this person of musical talent, of musical genius, of musical inspiration as the dominating spiritual meaning of every moment of his life. And with this mighty contribution to the sum of our civilization only addition and extra praise to Mr. Lang can accrue, when we consider in him a conduct and character equally admirable… Musician wholly, he was also a kindness counselor and most discerning friend.” (undated, no newspaper noted)

A short newspaper article entitled “Here in Boston” told that “A little bunch of lilies of the valley was sent to Symphony Hall, on Saturday, with a note unsigned and requesting that they be laid in the seat-in the second row of the first balcony on the right near the stage-that the late Mr. Lang had occupied for many years at the evening concerts. The request was fulfilled, the flowers remained on the seat through the evening, and they were then sent with a word of explanation to Mr. Lang’s family.” (Undated article)

An article by Frances E. F. Cornish in the April 22, 1909 Christian Register entitled “Mr. Lang as Church Organist” said: “During the last week in Boston words of just praise for the wonderful life and character of Mr. B. J. Lang have been spoken, -words which while they show love and appreciation can but faintly express, after all, the deep sorrow and the lasting gratitude of countless people. Mr. Lang’s personality was in truth so rich, so original, so many-sided, that when we think of him we, in turn, touch the inspiring teacher, the forceful leader, the generous friend, and these qualities blend into the whole character which we have loved and honored. Yet to many of us it was as organist at King’s Chapel that he was particularly close. Here he was not the interpreter of the music of others, but expressed himself: here his powers were especially and intimately revealed. Those who have worshipped in the churches where he played have realized how truly music may be the handmaiden of the Lord. To very many souls, seeking after spiritual comfort, his playing brought uplift and peace. Who that has heard his aspiring improvisations-a form of expression in which his genius was peculiarly happy-can ever forget the moments of solemn beauty, the exquisite harmony that seemed like the breath of a living creature, the triumphant rush of glorious sound, which swept the worshipper with it, as it seemed, into the very presence of the King of Kings. We shall never hear the like again, and in our sorrow for the loss of a friend we also deeply mourn the loss to the world, in that this creative power of radiant beauty is gone. For us, all life has been enriched because of this great gift, and is the poorer for its loss.”

The music programmed at King’s Chapel after Lang’s death was reported in the papers: “Kings Chapel-At 10:30 A. M. Easter Psalm (chant), the Te Deum in F major, Tours; Jubilate in F major, Arthur Foote, and the choir will also sing a musical setting by Woodward of Tennyson’s Crossing the Bar in memory of Benjamin Johnson Lang, who died on Sunday, April 4, and who for so many years was organist at this place of worship. The organ numbers will include a portion of the first part of Resurrection music from Gounod’s oratorio, The Redemption, and for a postludium the chorale Unfold, ye Portals from this same work. Choir-Mrs. Alice Bates Rice, soprano; Mrs. Bertha Cushing Child, contralto; George Deane, tenor; Earl Cartwright, baritone.” (Newspaper notice)

B. J.’s career and standing in the musical community was probably best summed up by the remarks of Margaret who at the age of 95 wrote to Barbara Owen that “He was an example in all ways: honor, uprightness, and principle… he has left with me a standard of cultivated beauty.”(Owen, 59) But, Foote had already written over 65 years earlier that “Lang was a musician of great gifts and very versatile; a composer of originality, who would have been considered one of our leading men had he published.” (Foote, Auto., 45) In a 1911 article Margaret “said that the last work with which he [B. J.] was interesting himself [just before his death] was the translation from the Italian of a book on Gregorian music.” (Christian Science Monitor, March 25, 1911) She also noted that the last work he conducted with the Cecilia Society was by a contemporary French composer.

B. J.’s concern extended beyond his own pupils. “”B. J.” as we liked to call him, was never weary of doing kind things, quietly. He was President of the Oliver Ditson Fund For Needy Musicians, and it was astonishing to see the amount of time and trouble that he would take in investigating cases of destitution; he insisted on first knowing that an applicant for aid was deserving, and when that was the case no amount of pains was too great for him to take. In matters of that sort a good heart is not enough, there must be a good head, too. In that charity, his keen intelligence as well as sympathy will be sorely missed.”(Transcript, May 1, 1909)

An obituary article in the Springfield Massachusetts newspaper had a couple of negative comments: “His gift was not for the piano, where his touch was faulty and lacking in delicacy. He was much more at home at the organ, and his church work was quite as important as his directing of choruses. As a drillmaster of singers, he had much success, and was a great favorite with his choruses; with the orchestral instruments, he was never on such easy terms. As a teacher, he was popular and successful, and he was a social favorite. In all these ways he exerted a great influence on the musical life of Boston, surviving from the old simple days which John Sullivan Dwight has depicted in his critiques into the most complicated and sophisticated musical Boston of the 20th. century.” (Springfield Republican (April 5, 1909): 5, GB) Certainly, this last comment was a very important one, for throughout his career Lang kept up with the changes in the musical world universal. His interest in French music in his later years was reflected in his conducting of Debussy for the Chickering Concerts.

The Journal obituary mentioned that among “Mr. Lang’s personal friends were Wagner, Liszt, Rubinstein and Saint-Saens.” It also mentioned: “For twenty-five years [from c. 1884] he has lived in Brimmer Street, Boston, having also a summer home with 600 acres in New Hampshire.” (Journal (April 5, 1909): 3, GB)

One of the senior Boston critics was Louis C. Elson who had written for the Daily Advertiser and reviewed Lang’s performances for almost 25 years. In Musical America, he is quoted: “He was conductor of the Apollo Club for thirty years. That club, under his leadership, became the very best male chorus in the United States.” The Cecilia Society became known for its adventurous programming. “No choral society in America has so active in producing new works.” Then, in closing: “Altogether our city owes Mr. Lang a debt of gratitude which will not be fully recognized until time shall have given it a greater perspective. But in the history of American music, no name will deserve more honor than that of Benjamin Johnson Lang.” (Musical America, April 1907)


The Apollo Club was the first to honor Lang as they had a concert scheduled the day after Lang’s funeral. “Each program was provided with a memorial insert, giving the facts in Mr. Lang’s musical career…It is worthy of note that at this 203rd. concert the only original member of the club present at its formation by Mr. Lang in 1871, George C. Wiswell still sings among the basses.” The final number in the concert was Gounod’s Gloria, and after that their conductor Mr. Mollenhauer led the group in Sullivan’s Long Day Closes. “The great audience stood reverently and departed silently without applause.” (Globe (April 8, 1909): 6)

The Cecilia Society gave its first concert of the 34th. Season on Thursday, December 2, 1909 as a tribute to Lang. The new conductor, Walter Goodrich chose Mozart’s Requiem and the “Grail Scene” from the first act of Parsifal. Among the soloists in the Mozart were soprano Mrs. Edith Chapman Gould and bass Leverett B. Merrill. Gould made a collection of articles about Lang which is now are part of the HMA collection, and Merrill had been Lang’s bass soloist at King’s Chapel. (Globe (December 3, 1909): 6) “The chorus of the society will be augmented on this occasion by many singers who were at one time or another [were] associated with Mr. Lang.” (Herald (November 14, 1909): 4, GB) The Herald noted: “He was happy conducting the Apollo Club; he enjoyed his seasons with the Handel and Haydn, but his heart and soul were in the Cecilia…The city owed much to Mr. Lang. He worked for musical righteousness when music was not fashionable. He knew not the word discouragement. His tact and shrewdness enabled him to enlist in his cause not only the sympathy but the substantial backing of those who were acquainted with his perseverance, industry and courage. Thus was he often enabled to bring about praiseworthy results when others might have failed.” (Herald (December 3, 1909): 8, GB)

The next night, Friday, December 3, 1909,  the Harvard Musical Association remembered Lang with an “In Memoriam” Concert played by the Hoffmann Quartet: Jacques Hoffmann, First Violin; Adolf Bak, Second Violin; Karl Rissland, Viola; Carl Barth, Violincello. The concert opened with “Andante funebre e doloroso ma con moto” from Quartet Op. 30  by Tchaikovsky, and continued with Quartet in E Flat major by Dittersdorf, Quartet Op. 14 by Alexandre Winkler (first Boston performance), and finally the “First Movement-Allegro” from Beethoven’s Quartet Op. 59, No. 1. It was certainly appropriate that a first performance should be part of a program in honor of Lang.


Late in August the Herald ran a story, “TWO ESTATES APPRAISED.” It listed stocks and bonds valued at $575,037 and real estate of $59,500 which included $40,000 for studio building at 6 Newbury Street, $11,500 for the 8 Brimmer Street home, and $8,000 for his father’s house at 93 Waltham Street. There were also securities of the American Telephone and Telegraph Co. worth $32,226 and of the Boston Elevated Co. worth $33,250. (Herald (August 28, 1909): 11, GB)

The Cecilia Society, the Apollo Club, and the Handel and Haydn Society each received $1,000 in his will, and after other bequests, a trust fund of $150,000 was established for the benefit of his widow while each of the children also had trusts created for their benefit. The total estate valued over $600,000 (equivalent to over $12,000,000 today), a rather incredible amount for the time, especially considering his profession. An article entitled “Benjamin J. Lang Left Big Estate – Inventory Places Late Organist’s Property at Total of $634,587-About $375,000 Worth of the Property Is in Stocks and Bonds” goes on to state that “According to the inventory filed at the Suffolk Registry of Probate, the property left by B. J. Lang is estimated at $634,587.The personal property, consisting of gilt-edge stocks and bonds, is rated at $575,087, and the real estate at &59,500. The real estate includes the property at 6 Newbury Street, $40,000; property at 8 Brimmer Street $11,500, and the house at 93 Waltham Street [which had been his father and stepmother’s home]  $8,000. Two of the largest items in the personal estate are holdings in the stock of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company and the Boston Elevated, valued at $33,226 and $33250, respectively. The appraisers are  A. Palmer Browne, John L. Saltonstall and Alfred J. Rowan.” (Journal (August 28, 1909): 6, GB) Elson described him as “a perfect organizer. He was a man of enterprise beyond any European comprehension.”

In B.J.’s will (1909-#145059) he gave Margaret “my autographs of eminent people, framed and unframed and my Parsifal cup” while to Malcolm he gave “music and books, my body of programs and notes, and the Handel and Haydn Society watch.” A watch chain had been given to B. J. at a reunion of the Handel and Haydn chorus members held on June 14, 1865. Speeches were made, Gilmore’s full band performed, various gifts were presented, and F. G. Underwood “then presented to Mr. B. J. Lang, organist of the Society, a handsome gold watch chain, prefacing it with an admirable speech, to which Mr. Lang responded…The reunion was the happiest social gathering that has ever been held under the auspices of the Society.” (BMT (July 1, 1865): 100 and 101) To Rosamond, he gave “Music and books remaining, my silver box of Liszt’s hair, my Cecilia silver cup… and my music watch.” $5,000 each was given to Harvard and Yale to benefit their Music departments. He further gave $10,000 each to the Handel and Haydn Society and the Cecilia Society and $5,000 to the Apollo Club.

Among the properties that were disposed of was: “In South Boston, the frame building and 3750 feet of land, all rated at $5,600, of which $3,200 is on the land at 764 East Fourth, corner of M. Street, has been purchased by Annie L. Ray, who took the title from Frances M. Lang.
(Herald (December 30, 1910): 5, GB) If this is OUR Frances, it would be interesting to know why the family owned this property in the center of South Boston.



The programming of the Boston Singing Club’s 1909-10 Season reflected the model established by Lang. The first concert included Bach’s  Thou Guide of Israel and the first performance of Chadwick’s Noel. The second concert was a miscellaneous selection while the final concert was Bach’s St John Passion “with Mr. Arnold Dolmetsch and others assisting with old-time instruments.” (Globe (November 28, 1909): 51) The conductor was Lang’s longtime pupil, H. G. Tucker. Mrs. Isabella Stuart Gardner donated money to the Boston Public Library to set up the “Gardner Fund in Memory of Benjamin Johnson Lang.” A special bookplate was created. (Un. of Delaware William Augustus Brewer Bookplate Collection)


In the fall of 1909 the Globe ran an article asking for nominations of 50 New Englanders for “Boston’s Hall of Fame.” Among the first to be nominated were Nathan Hale, Oliver Wendell Holmes and Lang. “His devotion to all that is best in music, his pioneer work for the last 50 years in bringing new music to Boston, the influence of a truly great soul ex—ted at all times for the uplifting of musical ideals of not only Boston, but the whole country, entitle him to a lasting place in the hall of fame. Permit one of his pupils to suggest his name. Worcester, Sept. 17, R. C. R.” (Globe (September 20, 1909)

>>>Part: 1  2



CHAPTER 05. Part 4.   WC-9393.  SC(G).
  • Apollo Club Twenty-eighth Season: 1898-1899.                                   Murder.                                                                                                                                          Cecilia Twenty-fourth Season: 1899-1900.                                                              Apollo Club Twenty-ninth Season: 1899-1900.                                                        Missa Solemnis-Beethoven. Cecilia Sings at Symphony Hall Dedication.   Popular Taste in Music: Can It be Cultivated and Refined?                       Summer 1900.                                                                                                                Musicians’ Aid Concert.                                                                                                 Student Apes the Master.                                                                                                   Ex-Governor Wolcott’s funeral.                                                                                Cecilia Twenty-fifth Season: 1900-1901.                                                                  Hiram G. Tucker Concert.                                                                                                 Farm: Summer Seasons 1897-1901.                                                                             Ruth Burrage Library of Orchestral Scores.                                                             Miss Helen Henschel’s Boston Debut Recital.                                                           King’s Chapel: Elijah.
  • Apollo Club Thirtieth Season: 1900-1901.
  • B. J. Resigns from the Apollo Club.                                                                                      Concerto Performances Through 1900.


APOLLO TWENTY-EIGHTH SEASON: 1898-1899. Henry Basford, the club’s secretary sent out a notice to Associate Members dated October 3, 1898 saying that “the system of reserved seats adopted for our concerts three years since will be continued the present season. There will be no assessment.”  The cost of a season ticket for four concerts was $6 for seats on the floor of Music Hall in front of the balcony and for seats in the front row of the first balcony. For all other seats, the price was $4.
The November 30, 1898 concert opening its 28th. Season was performed “before a large and cultured audience. The (active) club membership is full, and among the 75 voices were never a better array of talent. Mr. Lang’s 28 years’ leadership of this organization bears richer and finer fruit every season.” Clarence Ashenden, a baritone, sang the solo in Lachner’s Abendlied-“never has the solo been given so superbly.” MacDowell’s Midsummer Clouds was given its Boston premiere, and “Mr. Lang graciously repeated it. The theme is of weird beauty.” (Advertiser (December 1, 1898): 4, GB) “Mr. E. Cutter, Jr. accompanied on a piano of too muffled a tone.” (Courier, unsigned review of December 4, 1898) Two pieces were by Boston composers. The concert opener, Mr. H. W. Parker’s Blow, thou Winter Wind-words by Shakespeare had “much of the wintry glitter and crackle into his pianoforte score, but caught felicitously the urgent pressure of the opening words of each strophe and gave a lively touch, quite in a good old English manner, to the refrain, the club bringing out clearly his changes of fancy.” (Ibid) After speaking of Arthur Foote’s success more as an instrumental composer rather than as a choral composer, the Courier continued: “But we cannot recall nothing which so touched us with a true and tender pathos and a poetry accordant with that of the words, as this chorus, rising and falling as the pulse of the ages poet swelled and sank through the stanzas, as the great yet gentle thought of death and its mighty outgoing tide grew in his soul.” (Ibid) He was writing about Foote’s setting of Tennyson’s Crossing the Bar. The former Boston composer, Mr. E. A. MacDowell wrote both the words and music for Midsummer Clouds-it was described as “a not particularly interesting study in four and five-part harmony, quite ungracious for singers.” (Ibid) This was a first Boston performance and Lang “graciously repeated it.” (Record, December 1, 1898, unsigned review) The Transcript had a short notice that described the choir as “improving from year to year…it could not improve. Certainly, it is now at its best. The singing last night was, almost throughout, of a very high order of excellence.” (Transcript, undated and unsigned review)  Short notices begin to be written for the Society Columns. In the Herald Miss Sara Anderson, who had been so successful at the recent Worcester Festival, was described as a “very handsome woman, and her stage presence is charming. She is a tall blonde, with an erect figure and a perfect neck, which her low-cut gown, without ornamentation, showed to perfection.” (Herald, undated and unsigned society notice.) The full particulars of her dress were then described and the final half of the column listed the names of many in attendance.
Many headed to the Music Hall (main entrance opposite the church steeple on Hamilton Place). The Subway (entrance the white inverted U just to the right of the church) was finished the year before, but no cars, just horse-drawn vehicles. Johnston Collection.
For the January 18, 1899 concert with E. Cutter, Jr. as accompanist, the main work was Damon and Pythias by the English composer Prout. The soloists were from the choir-all did well-“Mr. Lang conducted inspiringly and Mr. E. Cutter, Jr. accompanied finely at the piano.” (Courier, January 22, 1899, unsigned review) The Courier said no more about the Prout and make sparing comments about the rest of the program. The BSO conductor, Mr. Gericke provided a part-song, O World, thou art so fair a sight called “smooth and pleasant and well laid down for the voices” and the final chorus was from Brambach’s Alcestis “which was as flat as a flounder,” (Ibid)
The March 22, 1899 concert had E. Cutter, Jr. as accompanist and the tenor, Mr. Whitney Mockridge as the assisting artist. This was the third concert of the season and it attracted the usual large crowd. “Mr. Mockridge soon attached to him his audience by reason of a great sweetness of tone and some display of intelligence in phrasing.” (Advertiser, undated)  The reviewer thought that he might have had a cold as his sound was thin, the lower notes lacked color while the “higher notes range from thinly metallic to piercingly sweet…It is but fair to say that he improved steadily during threw evening.” (Ibid) His greatest triumph of the evening came in the aria “Onoway! Awake Beloved” by the English/African composer Coleridge Taylor “which secured a recall and an encore.” (Ibid) The two club soloists, Mr. Ashenden and Mr. Townsend were in excellent voice. The choral highlights included two first performances; Fair Toro, a Norwegian folk-song arrangement by Grieg, and Bonnie Ann by MacDowell. The first “is a beautiful piece, weirdly mystical, Scandinavian in fact,” while MacDowell’s piece was “spritely and tuneful.” (Ibid)  Orlando di Lasso’s Villanelia or Echo Song also secured the choir a recall. The final concert of the season was sung on May 3, 1899 with Miss Marie Brema, soprano as the assisting artist; her special accompanist was Mr. Isidora Luckstone who had accompanied the Apollo for one concert, January 28, 1896. The choir accompanists were Mr. E. Cutter, Jr., piano, and Mr. B. L. Whelpley, organist. Miss Brema chose to do the Schumann cycle of eight songs, Frauenliebe und Leben, Opus 42, a work of some twenty-five minutes that some thought did not belong in such a large hall as the Music Hall. However, her performance proved the critics wrong. “The audience listened in rapt, unbroken silence to the end, and then applauded and recalled the singer with unmistakable heartiness,” (Transcript, May 4, 1899 unsigned review) Two of the choral pieces were repeats from other concerts; the opening piece was Chadwick’s Song of the Viking (sung February 15, 1886 and April 29 and May 4, 1891) and the final piece was Damrosch’s Danny Deever  (sung May 4, 1898) which the Courier said they sang with “snap and go.” (Courier, undated) Mr. Edward A. Osgood was the baritone soloist in the Damrosch. (Program, Johnston Collection). The Chadwick was described as an “old-fashioned rattler.” (Ibid)
========================================================= Frances Lang Diary Excerpt. “June 25th. We went up to Boston because of a nose operation that Malcolm had to under go, the next day. June 26th. Went with Malcolm to the Doctor’s. He was given Cocaine after a long preparation. The bone had to be  sawed through. At the end of the an hour all was over and we returned to the house. “[in Boston. This put Malcolm in Boston for the event of the next day] =========================================================
MURDER. Sometime between 4 AM and 6 AM on Tuesday, June 27, 1899 B. J.’s father killed his second wife [Clara Elena Wardwell, b. April 14, 1844, Andover, MA., Find a Grave] with an ax at their home. As none of the five boarders heard anything, she must have been struck while asleep. She had been planning a  week’s visit “to some friends. The thought that his wife was to be away from the house this length of time, it is now believed, preyed upon the mind of the old man, which of late years has been noticeably weak.” Once he was in his cell he kept repeating the words: “She was going away, was she?” and then would laugh in  “an utterly childish manner.” As B. J. was at the New Boston farm, Malcolm, then aged twenty was sent to the prison. Upon seeing his grandfather his question was, “Why grampa!” A telegram was sent to B. J., and the family met at the prison that night together with their family doctor, Dr. Frank E. Bundy (who had been Lang’s physician for 25 years).” (Herald, (June 29, 1899): 10, GB) When the police had arrived at the scene, Lang Senior had been preparing to kill himself. “Mr. Lang was straddling the window sill, forty feet below was the bricked rear yard. A leap would have meant instant death…The case is looked upon by police as one of the saddest they have ever been called upon to investigate.” (Ibid) Benjamin lang Sr-crop

Mr. Benjamin Lang.

Mrs. Clara E. Lang-cropMrs. Clara E. Lang.

(Herald, (June 28, 1899): 12, GB). The Herald also had drawings of the house, the bedroom, and the servant who found the body. The house that they shared was a five-story rooming house at 93 Waltham Street.  The first
The real estate specs. for this building say that it was built in 1890. However, a photo from the Boston Athenaeum Collection of # 98 Waltham Street in 1865 shows exactly the same design; front door to the left, bowed front, window in the attic for the servant’s room.
floor had three rooms-a parlor, a sitting room and a bedroom. “The house was owned by Mrs. Lang, [see next] who was somewhat of a businesswoman, and made a good income by letting the remaining rooms on the upper floors to lodgers.” (Ibid) A servant, Delia Hannan had a room on the top floor. She is the one who first found Mrs. Lang dead. The Journal wrote: “They have lived happily together for years, the property being owned by B. J. Lang. It is a three-story brick building with basement kitchen. The Langs occupied the first floor and the servant girl had a room upstairs two flights. The balance of the house was rented to lodgers.” (Journal (June 28, 1899): 1, GB)] This same article also mentioned that early in “his life he was a shoemaker…Mr. Lang has been in feeble health for a long time, but had made arrangements to visit his sister, Mrs. Sarah A. James of this city, within a few days. She is 85 years old and very feeble.” (Ibid) In fact, the house did belong to B. J. On January 6, 1882 he had bought the mortgage, which covered the buildings and the land, for $10,000. (Journal (January 14, 1882): 6, GB) Two days after the murder the Journal reported that Chief Inspector Watts felt that “after hearing the statement of the accused man, [he] was not satisfied with the theory advances that he is insane.” Supposedly certain information had come into his knowledge that made him think that the case “should be thoroughly looked into.” (Journal (June 29, 1899): 10, GB) It was never revealed what this special knowledge was. An article about Lang’s arraignment noted: “The old man is short so that he had some discomfort in leaning his arms upon the rail….’Poor old man’ said an old friend of the family, who had a seat inside the lawyers’ enclosure. That was probably the feeling of most of those who caught a glimpse of him.” (Advertiser (June 29, 1899): 8, GB) Some of the Boston papers had published lengthy and lurid stories concerning the event which led The Musical Courier to recount the story in one paragraph of eight lines. “It seems that these details should be sufficient for all purposes, and it was anything but kind in the daily press to have made such sensational articles and scare heads as it did, for a man who has stood as B. J. Lang stands ought to have been shown some consideration in a community where he has lived the length of time that he has. The sympathy of The Musical Courier is herewith extended.”(The Musical Courier (July 5, 1899): 10) Father Lang was arraigned, committed to the common jail, “there to be held without bail to await the disposition of the Grand Jury in July…Mr. Lang, it is said, is 84 years of age, but is so well preserved that he could readily pass for 70, or even 60.” (All quotes from postings on the Family Tree Maker’s Genealogy Site: Descendants of William Wardwell. 8/9/2011) Just over a month after his arrest, he was judged insane and thus no trial was needed. (Herald (July 9, 1899): 17, GB) He was sent to the Worcester State Hospital where he spent the remaining ten years of his life, dying on December 11, 1909, aged 93, (Death Certificate) eight months after the death of his son B. J. on April 4, 1909. For many years “the elder Lang was the organist at St. James’ Church, Salem. [The parish, a Catholic one, only began in 1850, and B. J.’s Diary of this period make no mention of this church] At one time he kept a music store in Salem. He moved to Boston previous to the civil war. The news of the murder was a great shock to the older people of Salem, who knew Mr. Lang very well and who held him in great esteem.” (Herald (June 28, 1899): 12, GB)
Tremont Street, towards Park Street Church where they will turn left for the Music Hall. Johnston Collection.
A renewal announcement dated October 1, 1899, sent by the group’s Treasurer, Edward C. Burrage (B. J.’s brother-in-law) to Associate members noted that this season would be the last “in the present Music Hall.” All concerts were to be on Wednesday nights, and the “assessment for the season” was to be $15. The Executive Committee of nine members for this coming season included Arthur Foote as President, and among the at-large members, two choir former presidents, Arthur Astor Carey and George O. G. Coale. (814)  Wednesday, December 6, 1899 saw the Boston premiere of Parker’s oratorio Legend of St. Christopher, Opus 43-the world premiere had been just the year before.“This work was performed at virtually every festival in America in the decade following its premiere.The unaccompanied chorus ‘Jam sol recedit’ is considered Parker’s finest achievement.” (Johnson, First, 285) The orchestra was members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and B. L. Whelpley was the organist with the composer conducting. The fact that Mr. and Mrs. Lang were in the audience was noted in a society column which also recorded that “to look over the audience one would scarcely imagine than anything else musical of special import was going on.” The piece “met with the triumph it deserved.” Also in the audience were Mr. and Mrs. John F. Winch, Mr. Gericke conductor of the BSO, Prof. Carl Faelten of the New England Conservatory and Mr. and Mrs. Henry M. Rogers (she the former singer Clara Doria). “Mrs. Caroline Shepherd, the soprano, was handsome in white silk, with lace, which was incrusted with crystals, and pale blue velvet on the bodice.” (Anon., undated) Elson in the Advertiser wrote: “A considerable audience listened to the orchestral rehearsal of The Legend of St. Christopher on yesterday afternoon. It is pronounced one of the most remarkable pieces of work yet produced by Mr. Parker, and in his warmest and most melodious vein.” Referring back to the recent Cecilia Perosi performance, Elson gave his opinion that “we need not go to Italy to look for new masters of oratorio.” Of the performance: “The orchestra was kept well in hand by the composer, who conducted the performance, and was enthusiastically greeted by the audience. The chorus sang the difficult work wonderfully well.” Elson then went on to say that he preferred Chadwick, Strong or MacDowell for purely instrumental works,” but he felt that this work by Parker should “make a high place, and at once, in our native repertoire and in the scant list of good contrapuntal works of the modern world.” (Advertiser, undated) Apthorp in the Transcript felt that Parker composed too easily: “He is too often satisfied with saying a thing, without considering whether it might not be said better. His very ease often seems like carelessness…The performance last evening was generally very good, indeed, solo singers and chorus sang capitally, and the orchestra seemed, for once, to have forgotten its determination to play no better than necessary.” (Transcript, undated)
The second concerts were on Monday evening January 22 and Wednesday evening January 24, 1900 at the Music Hall with Mr. Whelpley as organist and Miss Laura Watkins as pianist. On the program was a Bach cantata which the Courier reviewer found boring-“a trying work.” The three soloists were choir members, and the bass of Mr. Weldon Hunt was described as a “fine voice.” Also on the program was the Vision of the Queen by the contemporary French woman composer Augusta Holmes which the reviewer found “contains much graceful writing, the fresh, female voices blending with the harp, violoncello and piano, [to] form a most delightful body of sound.” The accompanist was praised: “Miss Hawkins is to be congratulated on her fine rendering of the sonatina in the Bach cantata, as well as on her able accompaniments.” (Anon., undated)
Major Boston premiers by the Cecilia continued in 1900 with Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast, Op. 30 by Coleridge-Taylor (composed only two years before when the composer was only 23 years old) being sung with orchestra at the Music Hall on March 12 and March 14, 1900. An autograph full score of this work is in the Boston Public Library collection (Johnson, First, 115). The concert opened with the first American performance of the Overture to the Song of Hiawatha, Opus 30 (1899) by Coleridge-Taylor. (Globe (March 15, 1900): 8) The concert also included the Ballad-Cantata Phaudrig Crohoore by Charles Villiers Stanford with the Irish tenor Evan Williams. (Cecilia program) The Globe described the piece as “a rollicking Irish ballad-cantata” set “most melodiously…It is good dialect, good comedy and good music all in one.” The sopranos were singled out for praise, and all in all, “audience, singers and symphony orchestra players alike” shared “in the enthusiasm evoked by Mr. B. J. Lang’s spirited conducting.” (Globe (March 15, 1900): 8) Apthorp in the Transcript didn’t like either of the choral works, “but the performance is another matter; it seemed to me that I had never heard the Cecilia sing so utterly superbly at every point before, great and beautiful things though it has done in the past. There was everything there that completely fine choral singing should do, and nothing that it should avoid. The orchestra, too, played far better than usual. In fine, no composer could ask for anything better.” (Transcript, undated) The Courier was mildly positive concerning the choral works, but also praised the performance. “The club sang wonderfully well in every way, attaining often more vigor and determination than they usually show.” (Courier, undated) The season ended with Monday, April 23 and Wednesday, April 25, 1900 performances at the Music Hall with Miss Laura Hawkins and Miss Alice Coleman again acting as piano accompanists. On April 30, 1900 the choir was officially incorporated in the state of Massachusetts, and the word “Society” was added to its name. (Hill, 8)
APOLLO TWENTY-NINTH SEASON: 1899-1900.  The November 22, 1899 concert included five Boston premiers: The Autumn Sea by Wilhelm Gericke, Horatio W. Parker’s Three Words, Secret Love arranged by Gustav Wahlgemuth, Jules Massenet’s The Monks and the Pirates and the Song of the Pedlar by C. Lee Williams. Parker’s piece is a setting of two verses; below is the first verse. Even a quick once-over will reveal the extent of technical problems in voice ranges, balance among parts, etc. Certainly, the Apollo Club had come very far from its beginnings thirty years before, and all of that time guide by B. J. Lang.
  The second verse uses the same musical setting. Library of Congress, American Choral Music Project. Opus 33, published by G. Schimer in 1893. The Song of the Pedlar “proved a favorite by reason of richness, variety of color and humor…[while The Monks and the Pirates] proved far more melodramatic than brazen and the ‘war and pillage’ was not of even the Penzance order…[and] Secret Love [was] a charming romantic bit from the 18th. century.” (Advertiser-Elson (November 23, 1899): no page number) Mrs. Wilson, the guest artist sang Margaret’s An Irish Love Song. “WFA” [William Foster Apthorp] ended his review with praise both for the Club and Lang. “If there be any constant here in Boston, the Apollo is the quantity…Sureness of attack, a well-formed habit of giving the final notes of phrases their full value, pure intonation, exquisite beauty and flexibility of tone – these are qualities for which the club’s chorus has long been noted; it has had a standard set for it, and seldom lapses therefrom.” (Undated review) In mid-January, the club sang at the Music Hall and the Herald “Social Life” page wrote: “There was a great audience, and an exceptionally interesting and well-rendered programme. The club had the valuable assistance of Mr. David Bishop. His singing aroused real enthusiasm.” A list of “some of those” who attended included: “Mrs. B. J. Lang, Miss Margaret Lang [but no Malcolm or Rosamond], Mr. and Mrs. Tucker, Mrs. Clarence E. Hay and her daughter [wife of the soloist often used by Lang] and twenty-one others. (Herald (January 21, 1900): 31, GB)
On Wednesday, March 7, 1900 the club gave its third concert of the season with E. Cutter, Jr., pianist and B. L. Whelpley, organist. “From the moment when the large audience greeted Mr. Lang until the close of the last song, the usual genial Apollo Club atmosphere prevailed, and almost every number on the programme was enthusiastically received.” The reviewer thought that the lighter numbers fared the best. “In contrast to these more serious numbers [by Schumann, Brahms and Wagner], the second group consisted of” pieces by Foote, MacDowell and Van der Stucken. The guest soloist was Miss Gertrude Stein who brought along her own accompanist.  (Advertiser (March 8, 1900): 8 GB) The fourth and final concert was “in accordance with the time-honored custom, a miscellaneous one.” It was also the group’s farewell to the Music Hall. Three pieces from the club’s early days opened the program; Schubert’s The Lord Is My Shepherd, Schumann’s Gipsy Life and Handel’s Crown With Festal Pomp. Elson felt that the highlight was “Jam sol recedit” from Hora Novissima by Horatio Parker, “a number of which any composer in the world might be proud, and one of the very best achievements of the American muse.” (Advertiser April 26, 1900: 8)
Postmark not readable. This example has both an early auto on the left and a horse-drawn carriage to the right. Johnston Collection.
CECILIA SINGS AT SYMPHONY HALL DEDICATION. BEETHOVEN MISSA SOLEMNIS. The exterior of the hall some thought severe: “Some wit has suggested that the architecture might be called Puritan in instead of North Italian Renaissance.” (Advertiser (September 22, 1900): 8) In size, “the dimensions are almost the same as the old hall, the variation being only a foot each way.” (Ibid) The interior of the hall was also one foot longer than the Music Hall which allowed an increase of over 172 seats [2569 instead of 2397]. The acoustics were perfect: “A person in the second balcony, far back, can hear conversation carried on in ordinary tones on the stage.” (Ibid) The seats for this first season were auctioned off, and two tickets in the first balcony, “on the right-hand side, near the front of the house,” had been bought for a premium of $560 each.” (Herald (September 21, 1900): 9) The normal price was $12 for the series of 24 concerts. These seats were well located for hearing by the occupants and for seeing by everyone in the hall. The owner of these tickets had been kept secret, and so everyone, 3,000 sets of eyes, were most interested to see who would sit in them. At the first regular concert of the season, Mrs. “Jack” Gardner appeared escorted by the pianist Mr. George Proctor. She had paid just over $47 ($1,343 in 2018’s money) for each of the tickets, and this compared to other concert-goers, some of whom were able to pay 25 cents for the “rush” seats available on the day. Mrs. Gardner’s seats were not too far from those bought by the Lang family. Postmarked 1906. It looks like the ladies of the Friday afternoon performance arriving. Johnston Collection. Postmarked 1935-cars look older. All men in the scene-no women. The two men standing in the street on the right don’t seem to be worried about the traffic. Johnston Collection. “No more brilliant or important event has ever figured in the musical history of Boston, it is quite safe to say, than that which occurred in so eminently successful a manner last evening-the formal inauguration of Symphony Hall.” (Herald (October 16, 1900): 1) After the opening Bach chorale, Mr. Higginson gave a “report.” He noted that the land had been bought back in 1893, and the Directors pondered long over
The “Greek Theatre” model made by McKim.
what might be the best design. The “Greek Theatre” design by their architect, Mr. McKim was eventually put aside for the rectangular box design much like the Music Hall, and also like the concert hall in Leipzig. They tried to include a smaller hall for chamber music, but this was not possible. The original cost was to be $500,000 of which when $410,700 was subscribed, construction began. In the end, the total cost was $750,000 which required the Directors to take out a mortgage for $350,000. (Op. cit., 7) For the first ten years, the hall was leased to Mr. Higginson who would “meet [the] costs of administration, taxes and all charges, and to pay to the stockholders the rest of the receipts.” (Ibid) Between the Cecilia’s 24th. and 25th. Seasons the Missa Solemnis was repeated for the opening of Symphony Hall. One story, written before the concert which was on October 15, 1900, pointed out the honor that was being shown to the choir in being part of this concert, and that “it is also a fully deserved recognition of the society’s rank in the musicianship of Boston. Mr. Lang put it to a vote whether they would undertake the great Mass or a less exacting work. The Mass was chosen unanimously…One hears reminiscences of how Mr. Lang met his singers four and five times a week when the Mass was sung so successfully several years ago, but all that hard study tells now…Mr. Gericke is much pleased with the work of the club, and in speaking to them of their singing in the Ninth Symphony, said that ”nothing had given him more pleasure.” (Anon., undated) For the choir the work was very difficult, “and its difficulties throw even the trials of the Ninth Symphony into the shade.” (Advertiser (October 16, 1900): 1) “The Cecilia has invited guests, all personal friends, to assist in the dedication, and a large representation from the Apollo Club responded to Mr. Lang’s invitation. Every singer is pledged to attend all rehearsals, which are arranged for May and late September…Mr. Lang is to be congratulated on such a consummation of the work to which he has given himself so steadfastly, so generously for so many years.” (Anon., undated) Another newspaper reported many of the same facts, and ended with: “Mr. Lang receives some of the honor he deserves, not always accorded to prophets, in the honoring of his club.” (Anon., undated) The performers were the BSO, Mr. Kneisl, solo violin; Mr. Goodrich, organ; the Cecilia Society [275 voices]; and Mme. De Vere, Miss Stein, Mr. Williams and Mr. Bornstein. (Advertiser (October 8, 1900): 7) A non-musical writer asked that “Perhaps a more cheerful work than the Mass might have been chosen for such an occasion…There are long sketches of elaborate effort…The technical difficulties of the whole work are huge; so exacting that it is seldom presented at its possible best, as it was very nearly last evening. It really seems as if the results hardly repaid the trouble…Mr. Gericke achieved a splendid success with the chorus.” (Herald, Op. cit, 7) Then words of praise for Lang; “It was a genuine triumph of chorus drilling…The occasion was a brilliant one, musically and socially, and a new and interesting page has been turned in the musical history of Boston.” (Ibid)
HOW CAN POPULAR TASTE IN MUSIC BE CULTIVATED AND REFINED? This was the title of an article in the Globe early in 1900. Lang, at the age of 63 was among the Boston “experts” who were called upon to answer this question. His answer began: “So far as Boston and vicinity is concerned, in view of what Mr. Higginson is doing with his orchestra, the Cecilia Society with its wage-earner concerts, and the public schools in their preliminary way, I am surprised that it is thought necessary to ask the question.” (Globe (February 25, 1900) 28) Lang did have one suggestion: “I will say, however, that improvement in general musical taste might in a measure be reached if the standard of musical material used in the large majority of our Protestant churches were to be greatly praised.” (Ibid) He ended with a rather surprising observation: “The coster, coon and ragtime songs now in vogue are not to be despised. Some of them have merit than an immense amount of more orderly music entirely lacks.” (Ibid)
SUMMER 1900. The summer trip to Europe for 1900 was enjoyed by B. J. and Malcolm. One bit of excitement was that the ship that they took to Europe, the Cunard liner the Campania, was almost blown up when it struck a bark carrying explosives in the Irish Sea. In a Dispatch printed on page one of the July 23rd. edition, the writer noted: “If the steamer had struck the smaller craft fore or aft, [where the dynamite was stored], the great ocean greyhound would have been destroyed. As it was, 11 of the crew of 18 on the bark were drowned. The sunken vessel was the ironbark Embleton, bound for New Zealand…Within 30 minutes after that horrible catastrophe, the passengers of the first and second cabins and the steerage had collected 700 Pounds aid for the wrecked survivors and for those dependent on the dead” (Herald (July 23, 1900): 1, GB) A week later the story seemed less exciting. “Luckily the ocean liner struck the ill-fated bark amidships, so that the damage was slight and a bad fright was the only result of the accident.” (Herald (July 29, 1900): 31, GB) The rest of the family spent the summer at the Lang farm in New Boston. (Herald, Social Life (July 22, 1900): 31, GB)
MUSICIANS’ AID CONCERT. On Sunday night, December 16, 1900 Lang led “a concert given by and for the Musicians’ Aid Society” at the recently opened Symphony Hall. The featured soloist was the 22-year-old Russian pianist, Ossip Gabrilowitsch who played the Tschaikowsky First Piano Concerto. The article pointed out that Lang had led the world premiere of this piece 25 years before. In 1875, “when the concerto was submitted to Bergman [the conductor from New York who had been conducting the other concertos in Von Bulow’s series], he pronounced it to be impossible in the limited time. In this emergency Von Bulow consulted Mr. Lang, and, with less than 24 hours intervening, Mr. Lang directed the performance of the then-new work with such success that Von Bulow cabled the first message from Boston to Moscow telling Tschaikowsky of the hearty greeting which the composition had received from the Boston public.” (Herald (December 16, 1900): 17, GB)
STUDENT APES THE MASTER. A day after the above concert, Lang’s student, Hiram G. Tucker conducted “the third in a series of concerts” at the People’s Temple, on Columbus Avenue. “Able soloists, a large chorus and full orchestra” presented Horatio Parker’s new piece, A Wanderer’s Psalm, “which was composed for the Hereford festival [Three Choirs Festival] in England, and performed there in September of this year. It was heartily praised by the leading English critics, and the announcement of its presentation here has aroused much interest.” (Herald (December 16, 1900): 17, GB) Here we have Tucker mounting a program that was in direct competition with the programming of the Lang’s Cecilia. Coming just four months after its premiere in England, Tucker could probably claim a first Boston performance, if not a first American performance. One wonders what B. J. thought. Tucker’s selection of this work turned out to be unfortunate. While the reviews of the provincial English press were positive, those in the London papers “were considerably more discerning.” Philip Hale’s review of Tucker’s performance was also unfavorable: “This Psalm was written to order, and I regret to add that it makes the impression of perfunctory labor.” Many saw it as a watered-down Hora Novissima which had been performed to great applause at the Worcester Three Choirs Festival the year before. However, The Wanderer’s Psalm “disappeared from the concert stage after the Boston concert of 1900.” (Kearns, Parker, 130)
EX GOVERNOR WOLCOTT’S FUNERAL. Among Lang’s duties at King’s Chapel was that of playing for funerals. At the end of December 1900 Lang played this service which included the March from Handel’s Saul as processional music and the first hymn, With Silence as Their Only Benediction had words by Whittier and music by B. J. This would seem to be Lang’s last composition. For this service, Lang used “the regular singers from King’s Chapel, with 12 or 14 from other churches.” (Herald (December 23, 1900): 9, GB) Lang was also involved in the Memorial Service held at Symphony Hall the following April. The BSO played Wagner and the Cecilia Society sang two sections from the Brahms Requiem. “The Hon. Henry Cabot Lodge delivered an address,” (Herald (April 19, 1901): 16, GB) which began with Wolcott’s boyhood and covered his full career in public service. There was “a distinguished Massachusetts audience” (Ibid) including Frances who was listed as having a seat in the gallery [second balcony?]
CECILIA TWENTY-FIFTH SEASON:  1900-1901. Probably hoping to build on the success of the two Coleridge-Taylor works already presented, next the choir sang the American premiere of his Hiawatha’s Departure, Opus 30 No. 4 (1900). This was sung with Boston Symphony Orchestra accompaniment at Symphony Hall on Monday, December 3 and Wednesday, December 5, 1900, B. L. Whelpley was the organist. (Cecilia program) The world premiere had been given by the Royal Choral Society at Royal Albert Hall in London less than a year before. Also on the program was Phoenix Expirans by Chadwick with the composer conducting. A note in the program described the Chadwick work: “So fresh and lovely is it in melody, so dignified and consistent in conception, so delicate yet rich in its orchestral coloring, and so churchly yet warm in its harmony.” (824) Chadwick had been appointed conductor of the Worcester Festival and Director of the New England Conservatory three years before, in 1897. The Herald review thought the Coleridge-Taylor to be “the feature of the evening. It is a thoroughly charming work, with a delightful freshness of inspiration…The instrumentation is of great beauty, and the full resources of the modern orchestra are used with skill and knowledge…Mr. Coleridge-Taylor is yet in the early twenties.” Of the Chadwick: “Mr. Chadwick’s strongly effective cantata was heard again with pleasure and interest. The audience was large and very applausive.[?] Both Mr. Lang and Mr. Chadwick were cordially received and the soloists were generously appreciated.” (Herald (December 6, 1900): 3, GB) Hale in The Journal found that after one hearing of the Coleridge-Taylor work showed the composer to be “a man of pronounced individuality, true and deep emotion, and native instinct for rhythm and gorgeous instrumentation. No doubt his sense of rhythm and color is a birthright…for his father was a mulatto physician from Sierra Leone, and his mother was an English woman.” The Herald wrote that the “chorus writing is admirable, and some of the most lovely moments in the cantata are found in this element of the score. The music is never dull, is in perfect sympathy with the spirit of the poem, and the composer sustains his long flight with spirited ease, and ends with it with a large and splendid burst of triumph.” The review continued in this vein for a fulsome six paragraphs-possibly the writer was B. E. Woolf. (Herald (December 6, 1900): 3 or 8, GB) Of the Chadwick, which had been first given by the Handel and Haydn Society with Nordica as one of the soloists: “The cantata is one of great beauty; it is in some respects unique, with exotic flavor permeating sound workmanship…There was a good-sized and applausive [?] audience. ” (828-829) Apthorp in the Transcript wrote: “The performance was one of the best the Cecilia has ever given; chorus, solo singers and orchestra seemed animated with one spirit.” The Chadwick “struck me as still very beautiful, very vital, strong and brilliant. Even coming after Coleridge-Taylor’s more modern and resonant orchestration, it lost nothing by the comparison. Mr. Chadwick’s orchestra fits his idea as nicely as Coleridge-Taylor’s does his. Of the other things on the programme I will say nothing.” (Transcript, undated) The concert had opened with Beethoven’s “Hallelujah Chorus” from the Mount of Olives: “The Hallelujah would not be sung by any chorus today if Beethoven had not signed his name to it. Let us record one more instance of fetish-worship.” (Ibid)
On Sunday evening March 31, 1901 the Cecilia was part of an all-Henschel concert which included three works by the composer; Morning Hymn for chorus and orchestra, Serbisches Liederspiel, a Cycle of [10] Romances for Four Solo Voices and Piano, Op. 32, and the first Boston performance of Stabat Mater for Soli, Chorus and Orchestra, Op. 53. Mr. B. L. Whelpley was the organist and the orchestra of sixty was from the BSO. Mrs. Henschel was the soprano soloist. (Anon., undated) georg and lillian henschelMrs. Henschel (Lillian Bailey) and Georg Henschel. BSO Archive.
In mid-April, the choir sang Samson and Delilah “with a fine cast in which Mr. Arthur Beresford as the high priest made the marked success of the evening. The role eminently fitted his wonderful voice, and the audience showed its appreciation by a tremendous demonstration in his favor.” (“Social Life,” Herald (April 14, 1901): 31, GB) Cecilia had sung the Boston premiere of this work by St.-Saens on November 28, 1894. This “Social Life” notice also included the names of “a few of those” who attended. These included Mrs. Lang and the “Misses Lang,” but no Malcolm Lang, Arthur Foote and his daughter, the BSO conductor Herr Gericke and his wife, the wife of the President of Cecilia-Mrs. S. Lothrop Thorndike, Mr. and Mrs. George W. Chadwick and Mrs. Charles Marsh. In all 33 names were listed. (Ibid)
The Transcript ran two stories about the choir’s Annual Meeting at the Hotel Vendome in May 1901 which would celebrate the choir’s twenty-five years of existence, “during which B. J. Lang has been the sole conductor.” After the business meeting, there was to be music “by several members of the organization and supper will be served, and it is probable that in a purely informal way short congratulatory addresses will follow. (Transcript, undated) The second story noted that Lang had been presented “a handsome silver bowl on which was inscribed the recipient’s name, also that of the society and the dates 1876-1901…The gift emphasizes the general feeling prevalent on the part of the members that in no small measure is the past success of the organization due to Mr. Lang’s faithful service and interest.” (Transcript, undated) The Herald also did a story after the event. It recorded that long-time former President, Mr. Thorndike was present; that Miss Laura Hawkins, accompanist of the choir played; and that Mr. B. L. Whelpley played two of his own compositions. In replying to the presentation of the loving cup, Lang “said that no words could express what the Cecilia’s 25 years have meant to him. He said, however, that it is not to be considered that he has preferred them over the Apollo Club, though he has resigned the latter work while keeping his conductorship of the Cecilia, and he asked a cheer for the Cecilia’s ”elder brother.” which was given with a will. He spoke of future plans for the Cecilia. Mr. Lang was cheered to the echo. As a memento of a memorable occasion, the company was photographed in the supper-room by flashlight.” (Herald, undated) Arthur Foote gave the President’s Report at the 1901 meeting-this was the third year that he had held the post. He cited the Wage Earners’ Concerts which Cecilia had begun in 1891. “It is a good thing that no change has been made as regards the “Wage Earners’ concerts. These have continued to be as much desired as ever by the audience for which they were intended. The listeners have been highly appreciative and would have been greater if the hall could have been made elastic. No one can doubt that in these concerts the Cecilia is doing a good work, one in which it helps itself by helping others.” (quoted by Tawa, Foote, 279)
Handel and Haydn History, Vol. 2, 135.
HIRAM G. TUCKER CONCERT. Lang continued to support his pupils. Tucker emulated his teacher in presenting a series of orchestral concerts. “At the second of the series of Mr. Tucker’s concerts-which are proving so brilliant-on Monday night, the admirers of Mr. Paur [the BSO conductor] had a love feast. The demonstration of the personal enthusiasm and affection when the former conductor of the Symphony orchestra first appeared to take up the baton was remarkable in its intensity. One does not often hear such genuine applause.” Among those listed as attending the concert were Mr. and Mrs. B. J. Lang and Miss Lang, Mrs. Apthorp, Mrs. H. M. Rogers, Mrs. John L. Gardiner, Mr. George Proctor, Mr. Clayton Johns, Mr. and Mrs. H. M. Ticknor, Mr. and Mrs. George Chadwick, Mr. Perabo, and “indeed, all musical Boston. Mr. Tucker received many congratulations upon the evening’s success.” (Herald (December 2, 1900): 31, GB)
FARM: SUMMER SEASONS 1897-1901. Emeline Burrage returned in June 1898 together with Emma Burrage as did Charles S. Homer and his wife Martha. B. L. Whelpley, a Lang piano pupil left a cartoon figure labeled “M. B. L.” and a note: “I never in my life did dream of having twice a day ice-cream until I visited Lang Farm. (It’s done me anything but harm).” Edward [?] Burrage and his wife Julia Severance Burrage visited July 10, 1898 for the day. Another Burrage, Elsie Aldrich Burrage stayed August 8-10, 1899.  One guest left a four-page, typed story with pen and ink illustrations about his visit dated September 4, 1899 – the initials seem to be J. H. B. The title was “An Idle (Idyl) (Uncommon Particular Metre).” The story mentions that “your train leaves shortly, just after noon.” Arthur Foote’s daughter, Katharine was a guest in 1899. Isabella S. Gardner was an early visitor, June 28, 1900, and she was followed in July by Emma Burrage and then Emeline Burrage. Mrs. Apthorp came on August 17, 1900. The visit on July 27, 1901 by Frederic Ruthven Galacar, Rosamond Lang’s eventual husband, produced a four stanza poem, “A Soliloquy” in German.
RUTH BURRAGE LIBRARY OF ORCHESTRAL SCORES. In January 1901 Lang opened this library of c. 500 scores at 153 Tremont Street. “It contains all the orchestral scores that are usually played at Symphony concerts.” The Boston Public Library had a fine collection of such scores, but “these cannot be taken out of the building.” Lang raised the money to buy these scores through two concerts given at Association Hall “about a year ago. Among those who assisted at these concerts were Mme. Hopekirk, Mme. Szumowska and Messrs. Baermann, Foote, Gericke and Proctor.” Ruth Burrage had been a piano pupil of Lang (and his wife’s cousin) who had died at a young age and left money “to be used for musical purposes.” Lang had used the original bequest to establish, 27 years before, a library of music for two pianos, and the instruments on which to play this music. Included among the keyboard scores were those by “Bach, Beethoven, Liszt, Brahms, Godard, Gluck, Mendelssohn and Grieg.” (Musical America, 1912) This was before the success of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and early in the 1900’s, he felt a need to provide different material to help young music students. “The orchestral scores all of the Rubinstein Symphonies, Mendelssohn’s Overtures and Mozart Symphonies; the Liszt Symphonic poems, Beethoven’s Symphonies, the works of Brahms, Dvorak, Saint-Saens, Schubert and Schumann; the score of Pelleas et Melisande, all of Goldmark’s overtures, and all of the Haydn Symphonies, and many other works.” (Ibid) In 1912 the arrangement was that the pianos and the keyboard collection were housed in the M. Steinert & Sons building while the instrumental scores were available on loan from Malcolm’s teaching studio. “It is Mr. Lang’s idea to eventually turn over the library for orchestral scores to the Boston Public Library.” (Herald (January 8, 1901): 3, GB)
MISS HELEN HENSCHEL’S BOSTON DEBUT RECITAL On March 30, 1901 the daughter of Georg Henschel and his wife, the former Miss Bailey, presented their daughter for her Boston debut. It was a friends and family affair. Miss Henschel was assisted by her mother with whom she sang duets accompanied by her father. “Mr. Henschel played in the duets, as he always does, like a master.” (Herald (March 31, 1901): 8, GB) Old family friends, Arthur Foote and B. J. Lang played the Variations for Two Pianos on a Theme by Beethoven by Saint-Saens. “It was very pleasant to see some of our familiar native artists once again on the concert stage as pianists, and Mr. Lang and Mr. Foote met with a hearty welcome…It is hardly necessary to speak of the well-known ability of the two pianists who are so highly appreciated by our public.” (Ibid)
ELIJAH AT KING’S CHAPEL. Among the special Sunday afternoon services that Lang presented at King’s Chapel was Mendelssohn’s Elijah sung by a choir of 30 voices from “various churches.” The soloists were Mrs. Rice, soprano, Miss Little, alto, Mr. Merrill, bass, “all of the King’s Chapel quartet,” and Mr. Walter Hawkins of the Shawmut Congregational Church. “Mr. Lang presided at the organ and had charge of the singing.” The service was so successful, “the chapel being filled 10 minutes before the hour of beginning,” that an additional service was announced for the following Sunday which would present Mendelssohn’s Hymn of Praise. (Herald (April 1, 1901): 7, GB)
Johnston Collection.
APOLLO CLUB THIRTIETH SEASON: 1900-1901. Due to the sale of the Music Hall and its redevelopment, a new site for the concerts needed to be found. “For many years the Club has believed that Music Hall was too large for the production of its best musical effect, and, as Symphony Hall is considerably larger than Music Hall, the Club has voted unanimously to give its concerts the coming season in Copley Hall, on Clarendon Street, near Copley Square…Reserved seats for the season of four concerts are offered at $6.00 each. Tickets for single concerts will not be sold. Applications for reserved seats will be filled in the order received.” (Letter to Associate Members dated September 24, 1900 from the Secretary, Mr. Henry Basford.) The first concert of Lang’s last year as conductor was given at Copley Hall on November 14, 1900.  Mr. E. Cutter Jr. continued to be the choir’s accompanist and Miss Shannah Cumming was a soloist.  The Boston pieces were Valentine by Horatio W. Parker, O World, Thou art so fair a sight by Gericke, The Rose Leans Over the Pool by Chadwick, My Boy Tammy, an old Scottish song arranged by Arthur Foote, and The Lark now leaves his watery nest by Horatio W. Parker. The concert opened with Mendelssohn’s Rhine Wine Song and ended with Schubert’s The Almighty with Mr. Shirley as the soloist.  Often a major Mendelssohn chorus would close the concert, but in this case, the double chorus from Antigone, “Fair Semele’s High Born Son” was in the middle-the solo quartet was sung by chorus members, Messrs. Shirley, Faunce, Osgood and Hay. The Transcript review found the new room to be very much like being “locked up inside a Saratoga trunk; then, though small, the hall is rather dead, voices have little brilliancy there.” (Transcript, November 15, 1900 review by W(Iliam) F(oster) A(thorp))  The soloist, Miss Cumming “showed herself as a very intelligent and pleasing singer, she has a good voice and a technique which, if not masterly, is still above the average, but she has an instinct to get at the musical meaning of things, and to show forth the meaning clearly.” (Ibid)  Elson noted that the seats in the new hall might fit the average Bostonian but if “a German of usual size attends, he had better take two seats!” (Advertiser, November 15, 1900 review by Louis C. Elson) Elson described the Gericke part song; “It was of a direct melody and dainty harmony that made it one of the most pleasing numbers on the programme.” (Ibid) This was the third time that the club had sung this piece-January 18, 1899 and November 14, 1900.  He also cited Parker’s Valentine for “special mention.”
The January 23, 1901 review for the second concert mentioned no accompanist for the choir; the guest soloist was the contralto Madam Josephine Jacoby. “Miss Jacoby has a remarkable contralto voice, excellently trained, and she sang her numbers with that broad depth of feeling that characterizes the artist that she is.” (Advertiser, undated)  Some choir favorites reappeared; Mendelssohn To the sons of Art, the Gounod-Buck The Grasshopper and the Ant, together with the new Saint-Saens A Song of Ancestry.  “The chorus sang with excellent taste and precision, Mr. Lang’s efficient leadership again showing its supreme effectiveness, and he himself accompanying a few numbers at the pianoforte in masterly style. The concert was a delightful one in every respect, and the club was greeted by a large and fashionable audience of friends.” (Ibid) After only two concerts at the Copley location, the club decided to move to the new Chickering Hall at 239 Huntington Avenue, just a block away from the new Symphony Hall. This involved reissuing all new tickets, hopefully, close to the corresponding sections of the Copley Hall. “Copley Hall tickets will not be good in Chickering Hall.” (Announcement to Associate Members dated March 11, 1801)
Chickering Hall, Huntington Avenue. Two buildings away on the left is Symphony Hall. Johnston Collection.
The first concert held at Chickering Hall, the third of the season, was given on March 20, 1901 with Mr. C. P. Scott as the accompanist and the violinist, Maud Scott as the guest soloist. New works included The Sailors of Kermor by Saint-Saens translated by J. C. D. Parker and Hush! Hush! by MacDowell. The Transcript review mentioned that finally, the choir had found a proper home. “The old Music Hall was ridiculously large, so much so as to be excusable only on the ground of an enormous associate membership-which had somehow to be housed….Copley Hall, its interim lodging place, has been called as much too small as the other was too large…There could have been no thought of an orchestra there…Chickering Hall seems to solve the problem to perfection. It is not too large for the best musical effect, and the acoustics seem wholly favorable; moreover, there will be ample room for an orchestra, whenever the club wishes one. It can seat all the audience needed. Never before has the Apollo Club been so well situated.” (Transcript, undated) Miss Powell’s performance was briefly noticed; “her pieces were “excellently played…and much appreciated by the audience.” (Ibid) No specifics were given.
B. J. RESIGNS FROM THE APOLLO CLUB.  In the spring of 1901 an insert in the Wednesday evening May 1, 1901 concert program at Chickering Hall (their 171st. concert) noted that Mr. Lang “positively declines a renomination” as conductor. “Mr. Arthur Brown of the Apollo Club has asked me to give him a suggestion as to what the Club might give to Lel, as the latter has decided not to continue as its conductor (It was a Tiffany lamp).  (Diary 2, Spring 1901) This final program appropriately opened with Sullivan’s The Long Day Closes followed by two choral pieces by Margaret Ruthven Lang, Alastair MacAllistair (Old Scotch Song) and Here’s a Health to One I lo’e Dear (Old Scotch Song). In the second half, Mr. Clarence E. Hay sang two of Lang’s own solo songs, The Lass of Carlisle and The Chase. (BPL Lang Prog., Vol. 7) An article in 1907 updating Apthorp’s article of 1893 included “A Partial List of the Important New Music First Performed in Boston Under Mr. Lang by the…Apollo Club” listed the following: Berlioz: Arrangement of “La Marseillaise” for double chorus and orchestra. Brahms: Rinaldo. Bruch: Frithjof: Roman Song of Triumph; Salamis. Chadwick: The Viking’s Last Voyage. Foote: The Farewell of Hiawatha. Goldmark: The Flower Net. Grieg: Discovery. Hiller: Easter Morning; Hope. Lachner: Evening; Warrior’s Prayer. Mendelssohn: Sons of Art; Antigone; Oedipus. J. C. D. Parker: The Blind King. Raff: Warder Song. Rubinstein: Morning. Schubert: The Almighty; Song of the Spirits Over the Water. Schumann: Forester’s Chorus. Templeton Strong: The Trumpeter; The Haunted Mill; The Knights and the Naiads; A.W. Thayer: Sea Greeting. G.E. Whiting: March of the Monks of Bangor; Free Lances; Henry of Navarre (Gould Collection) In 1909 Arthur Foote’s evaluation of Lang was that “As a conductor, his influence was great in raising the standard of singing here. One of the first things he obtained with the Apollo Club was the clear enunciation which still distinguishes it; musically he believed (as Theodore Thomas did) that the way to educate the public was to coax and not to bully it; so that the Apollo Club pleased its audiences and was trained itself at first with German and other part songs, being thereby later able to give the great compositions for men’s voices and orchestra; in this, as often, his tact prevailed.” (Transcript, May 1, 1909) Ethel Syford in the “New England Magazine” in April 1910 wrote: “Perhaps no other club has been so constant in its attainment of refined excellence. If I were going to speak sweepingly, I should say without fear that the three essences of American artistic refinement are the Apollo Club of Boston, the Kneisel Quartet and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The latter two by right of the quintessence of masterly achievement; the Apollo Club of Boston by virtue of its achievement and a distinctively Bostonian esprit de corps as well. The spirit of the organization is unmatched. One is conscious instantly that its audience is entirely en rapport with itself. It is a most unusual atmosphere of absolute sympathy, and a distinctive salon-like éclat which marks the Apollo Club of Boston as unique.” This quote was used in 1947 by John O’Connor in an article announcing the appointment of Nicolas Sloninsky as the new conductor of the choir. After the quote, he wrote: “The same thing could be written about the club today.” (Herald (September 21, 1947): 27. GB) The Osborne article on the Apollo Club ends with “Perhaps the spirit of the whole enterprise can be grasped in this quatrain from Oliver Wendell Holmes that concluded the 1884-85 season:                                                            
So, with the merry tale and jovial song,                                                                      The jocund evening whirls itself along,                                                                       Till the last chorus shrieks its loud encore,                                                              And the white neckcloths vanish through the door.” (Osborne, 40)
The Apollo Club continues even today under the leadership Florence Dunn who had become the accompanist in 1955 and then the conductor in 1969. Rehearsals are still (2006) held on Tuesday nights in the Harvard Musical Association building concert room, with a repertoire of show tunes and lighter material that is performed for various service groups in the Boston area. (Telephone call with Ms. Dunn, January 2006) The club has established a very interesting site at which also has aural and video examples of their work.
CONCERTO PERFORMANCES OF B. J. LANG THROUGH 1900: List compiled by James Methuen-Campbell; additional information by Johnston shown in [  ]                                                                                                                                         Bach            D Minor  BWV 1052 (harpsichord)                                                       Bach            G minor  BWV 1058                                                                                        Bach            A major  BWV 1055 (harpsichord)                                                        Bach            F major   BWV 1057                                                                                          Bach            Two keyboard  BWV 1061  (twice)                                                            Bach            Two keyboard  C minor   BWV 1060 (twice)                                            Bach            Three keyboards  C major  BWV 1064 (ten times)                          Bach             Three keyboards  D minor 1063 (twice)                                               Bach              Four keyboards   A minor  BWV 1065 (twice)                           Beethoven     Concerto in C major # 1 (four times)                                             Beethoven     Concerto in B flat major # 2 (three times)                                   Beethoven     Concerto in C minor  # 3 (three times)                                          Beethoven     Choral Fantasia (two times)                                                         Beethoven     Triple Concerto (two times)                                                         Sterndale Bennett  Allegro Giojoso or Caprice in E (three times)             Brahms            Second Piano Concerto (once)                                                   Bronsart           Concerto (once)                                                                                   Hiller                  Piano Concerto  (two times)                                                        Hummel            Piano Concerto (in Salem c. April 1863)                                    Hummel            Introduction and Rondo on a Russian Theme, Op. 98 (two times)                                                                                                                           Mendelssohn  Concerto in G minor (three times?)                                 Mendelssohn  Concerto in D minor (five times)                                     Mendelssohn  Capriccio Brillant (three times)                                                   Mozart               Concerto in D minor (once)                                                           Mozart               Concerto in E flat major (once)                                                     Mozart               Concerto for Two Pianos (twice)                                            Napravnik        Concerto Symphonique (once)                                              Rubinstein       Third Piano Concerto (four times)                                                 Saint-Saens     First Piano Concerto (once)                                                             Saint-Saens     Second Piano Concerto (four times)                                            Saint-Saens     Third Piano Concerto (once)                                                           Saint-Saens      Rhapsodie D’Avergne (once)                                          Schubert/Liszt  Wanderer (twice)                                                                       Schumann          Piano Concerto (once)                                                                Schumann          Introduction and Allegro Appass. Op. 92 (two times) Tchaikovsky      First Piano Concerto (twice)                                             Weber/Liszt       Polonaise Brillant (three times and sometimes in the solo version) 1891-1901.
Thus ended a decade of major importance in Lang’s life-many triumphs and a few bumps, the major one being his two years as conductor of the Handel and Haydn Society. By giving up his conductorship of the Apollo Club, he now had time to explore new musical experiences.  
The following lists were complied by Herb Zeller, former President, current Historian and primary force behind the display at the Rare Book Exhibit Room for the Apollo Club’s Anniversary.
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>>> Part: 1   2   3 


CHAPTER 05. (Part 3)   SC(G).   WC-10,855    10/01/2020

  • Lang- Musical Dictator of Boston.                                                                             Cecilia Twenty-first Season: 1896-1897.                                                                 Apollo Club Twenty-sixth Season: 1896-1897.                                                         Etude Interview with Lang About his Teaching.                                                        The Ditson Fund.                                                                                                                   Farm: Third Summer Season: 1897.                                                                             Summer- 1897.  Europe.
  • Cecilia Twenty-second Season: 1897-1898                                                            Apollo Club Twenty-seventh Season: 1897-1898.
  • Family Portraits.
  • Apthorp Lecture.                                                                                                           Bayreuth.                                                                                                                                   Bach Concerts.                                                                                                                       Cecilia Twenty-third Season: 1898-1899.
  • Personality.


Lang occupied a major place in the musical world of Boston, and various other musicians were envious of the power that they thought Lang wielded. George W. Chadwick’s comments have been noted earlier. Another Boston organist, Henry M. Dunham, thought enough of his own career that he wrote an autobiography. In a Chapter entitled “Centers of Musical Activity” he wrote: “Further up on Tremont Street, and still opposite the Common, musical activity centers in the Chickering pianoforte warerooms and the studio of Mr. B. J. Lang. These places were the centers of activity for the musically inclined aristocracy of Boston, the headquarters, one might say, for the Cecilia Singing Society and the Apollo Club, both of which organizations owed their creation and fame to Mr. Lang, their conductor.” (Dunham, 77) Dunham then continued that he played the organ part for Haydn’s Creation during the period that Lang conducted Handel and Haydn Society. This would seem to be a generous offer on Lang’s part as Dunham was certainly not one of his pupils, and Lang had many pupils who could have done the job. Lang’s good deed did not soften Durham’s views. “Mr. Lang was neither a great pianist nor organist, and yet he was in considerable demand as a soloist on both these instruments…For many years we dubbed him ”The Musical Dictator of Boston,” which in a large degree was true.” (Dunham, Ibid)

W. J. Henderson in the New York Times wrote of another who thought that Lang exercised too much power. “There is something curious about Boston. At any rate, many artists who please New York find the atmosphere over there altogether too cool for them. Lillian Carlismith, for instance, spent some six years in the hub of the universe in a desperate struggle against those three fates, Gertrude Franklin, Gertrude Edmands, and B. J. Lang, and finally she gave it up and came to New York…This year she has sung in concert two or three times, and her voice and style have evoked hearty praise. But she will find New York a hard field to plow, too. It is not quite as full of cliques as Boston, but one must pull wires here to get started in music. This is unfortunate-wrong, indeed-but it is true.” (New York Times (January 24, 1897): Sunday Supplement, SM 14).

If Lang were a Dictator or not may be an open question, but his reputation was such that a certain Fraulein Mathilde Rudiger hired him to conduct an orchestra for her performance of the Liszt E Flat Piano Concerto. This was part of a recital in Bumstead Hall [the space under the Music Hall often used for rehearsals] where she introduced to Boston the “von Janko keyboard.” This was a piano developed in 1882 by the Hungarian pianist and engineer, Paul von Janko. Beginning in 1891 pianos with this type of keyboard were built by an American firm, and there was also a von Janko Conservatory in New York City.

Wikipedia, accessed May 9, 2020.


The opening concert was on Friday evening December 4, 1896 with full orchestra at the Music Hall. This was the choir’s 121st. concert and the featured work was Dvorak’s The Spectre’s Bride with George J. Parker singing the role of the Spectre-it was the third time that he had performed this part. The Herald [Woolf] didn’t care for the work but noted that “The chorus singing was excellent throughout in admirable quality of the tone and the clearness and steadiness of its work generally,” but then found fault with the choir’s “persistence with which it emphasized the first beat in a bar…The orchestra acquitted itself with strongly manifest attention to its task, but it was not always together, owing to causes which are too familiar to dwell upon again.” All orchestra shortcomings were Lang’s responsibility and they were due to “the apparently irremediable eccentricities of Mr. Lang’s use of the baton. The audience, a large one, applauded often and warmly.” (Herald, undated) Hale in the Journal wrote that this was the fourth time that Mr. Parker had sung the work-the Boston premiere on May 13, 1886, the second time on March 17, 1887, the third time on December 2, 1889 and now this performance. Hale also did not like the work: “I confess that the more I hear the cantata the less truly dramatic does it seem to me. Dvorak often shows on Olympian indifference to the sentiment of the text, which is presumably the same in Bohemian as in English. There is no true blending of music and drama.” Of the performance: “The chorus singing was most excellent last night in these respects: body and quality and balance of tone, pure intonation, and precision of attack. If in phrasing, and such included matters as accentuation and punctuation, they fell short occasionally of reasonable expectation, it was because they followed the conductor’s instruction; for the chorus of the Cecilia is made up of singers of more than ordinary intelligence, nor do I know a chorus anywhere that is capable of finer and more effective work under wholly satisfactory and favoring conditions.” Hale then cited a couple of places where the choir sang forte rather than the marked pianissimo, and blamed Lang “who does not insist rigidly at rehearsals on a proper following of the dynamic indications” probably because he was busy training the choir in all the positive aspects that Hale had listed earlier. Hale seems to not allow for any conductor decision that does not follow exactly what he sees on the page, whether or not that marking is effective or chorally appropriate. Hale spent a long paragraph listing the faults of the soloist Mr. Max Heinrich [who had also sung at the Boston premiere]: “Last night Mr. Heinrich was guilty of offenses for which there is no pardon.” (Journal, undated)

A review for their Wednesday evening [Wage Earner] February 3, 1897 Music Hall concert began: “Listening to the Cecilia is such a restful musical pleasure; there is never a moment of insecurity or suggestion of a possible flaw in their performance.” (BPL Lang Prog., Vol. 8)

The second concert, February 4, 1897 at the Music Hall included Phippen and Lewis as pianists and Mrs. H. H. Beach as soloist. She was the accompanist for the first Boston performance of her own The Rose of Avontown for women’s voices, and she also played a group of solos by Beethoven and Chopin in place of “Mr. Proctor” who was “ill and unable to play.” (700) Hale in the Journal said of the Beach work: “This composition is indeed a pleasing one, written with skill that is not ostentatious. The emotion is gentle and becomingly womanly…The performance was all that could be desired so far as the chorus was concerned; and I know of no female chorus that for purity and beauty of tone, courage and intelligence under a difficult task, and general musical sense can equal the women of the Cecilia.” (Journal (February 5, 1897): 3, GB). There must have been much applause when this was read at the next Cecilia rehearsal. Of Beach’s piano selection: “She appeared to her best advantage in the waltz [Chopin in E Minor]. In the Chopin prelude and in the variations by Beethoven there was little or no tonal color, and there was frequently metallic attack, as well as rigidity in phrasing.” (Ibid) Elson (?-the review is marked “Adv,” but this does not sound like Elson) in the Advertiser began negatively: “The chorus is poorly balanced, the male section being far more ready and dynamically stronger than that of the ladies. The sopranos have sweet voices, but only half enough of them; the altos are colorless and slow. Mr. Lang is not magnetic or inspiring as a conductor, but his taste in programme-making and shading is unquestionable.” The Beach piece was a positive: “Nothing but praise can be said regarding the composition or its performance-both interesting and artistic…Her [Mrs. Beach’s] accompaniment to her own composition was quite a part of its success. Conductor, chorus and pianist seemed in sympathetic, friendly accord, resulting in a beautiful ensemble in every sense of the word…Mr. Phippen’s accompanying of Madam Wyman’s songs were noticeably excellent.” (Advertiser, undated) Pieces by two other Boston composers were included-George L. Osgood’s Christmas carol, Listen, Lordlings, Unto Me, and a solo song by Mrs. Clara Rogers, River Floweth Strong, My Love.

Friday, March 12, 1897 saw the first performance in Boston of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis in D. Op. 123 which had not even been mentioned in the previous Annual Report of repertoire for the following year! In fact, what had been planned was a repeat of Massenet’s Eve, but “it occurred to the Musical Council to do something for the third concert a good deal better…It had been mentioned hesitatingly in the Musical Council for a number of years. Mr. Lang had taken care that it should not be lost sight of. It had always been passed over with the feeling that by-and-by we should be stronger. But at last, the Council was convinced that the time had come.” (1897 Annual Report) Sung at the Music Hall accompanied by members of the BSO, the soloists were Helen B. Wright, Lena Little, Frederick Smith, Arthur Beresford with Franz Kneisel, violin and Arthur Foote, organ. With so many other premiers having been offered by the Cecilia, it is strange that it took this long for this work to be sung in Boston. Wright and Smith were members of the choir! The New York first performance had been in 1872, and it was sung in Cincinnati at the May Festival with a chorus of 600 in May 1880 (Johnson, First, 55). The Cecilia sang this same work at the dedication of Symphony Hall on October 15, 1900 conducted by Gericke. One review said: “The performance was one of the finest the Cecilia has given; finer than its recent one of Berlioz’s Danremont-Requiem. And, considering the character of the work, such a performance is a triumph like few for any choral society. We have listened carefully to two performances, score in hand; we could not detect a single false entry in any of the parts, we heard only a very few timid and ineffectual ones. the quality of tone was in general fine, smooth and musical, at times brilliant; expression marks were regarded and implicitly obeyed. And just here let us thank Mr. Lang for two things: for his never exaggerating Beethoven’s pianissimo, not hushing it to that double and treble pianissimo which belongs solely to more modern works…Mr. Lang had the artistic feeling to allow Beethoven to speak as he speaks in the score, underscoring nothing, putting nothing in job type…The Cecilia may well be proud of being able to take a soprano and a tenor from its own ranks for the quartet in the Missa Solemnis; few even of the great singers of the world care to attack these terrible parts. The whole solo quartet did wonderfully well…Finer even than the individual performances of the four singers was their excellent ensemble; they sang together, as if they had long known the music and one another…In a word Mr. Lang and the Cecilia may be fairly proud of each other. Together, they have given one of the greatest works in existence, not impeccably, but solidly and intelligently well. They have made a date in the musical history of Boston.” (Anon., undated) Hale basically said that the work was not worth all the trouble taken to present it. He found the soloists inadequate and of the choir: “The chorus, too, was brave and its performance was often surprisingly good; yet in the terrible fugues in the Gloria and Credo the singers were so tired, especially the sopranos, that the result was unmusical in that there was no clear walk of the parts, no pronounced attack of the subject. I know of no chorus in this country that would have made a more courageous attempt or accomplished as much.” Hale then raised the question of whether doing such a difficult work was worth it. “For the sake of the record, let us then rejoice that the Missa Solemnis has been attempted in Boston. I do not believe that repeated hearings or even incredible performances would turn the vocal score into a marvel of strength and beauty, or convert the dry, thick, at times brutal orchestration into a glory for all time.” (Journal, undated) The Gazette recorded that: “Many extra rehearsals had been devoted to the preparation of the mess [!], and the performance was most honorable to the Cecilia.” The solo quartet “undertook the great tasks of the solo quartette and acquitted themselves excellently. There was a good-sized orchestra from the Symphony, which took much pains. Mr. Kneisel assumed the violin obbligati and Mr. Lang directed with intelligent and correct command.” (Gazette, undated) The Courier said of the work: “It is not a loveable work,” and not how difficult the work was. “The singers are to be congratulated for attempting to do what they were incapable of doing well. The work is most trying and most difficult…He knows what he wants and if singers are unequal to the demands, so much the worse for them…We have now heard the Missa Solemnis; let us now be grateful that the hiatus in our education has been filled in and the work done.” (Courier, undated)

The fourth concert was given on May 6, 1897 at the Music Hall with Phippen as accompanist and Adele aus der Ohe as piano soloist. Part of the program was Margaret’s Bonnie Ran the Burnie Down of which Hale in the N.Y. Musical Courier wrote: “Mr. Lang is not a good understudy for the Roman Father. If he were he would not have allowed his daughter’s amorphous, colorless, rhythmless piece to go into rehearsal.” He also complained: “Miss Aus der Ohe, I entreat you, extend your repertory! For heaven’s sake leave the exasperatingly familiar rut!” (N.Y. Musical Courier, undated) In another review, Hale wrote: “Miss Lang’s part-song, Bonnie Ran the Burnie Down is without rhythm or color; a dull thing, clumsily written, amorphous.” Of Miss Aus der Ohe, after disparaging her Bach and Mendelssohn, he wrote: “She played her own superb Etude, in which she displayed amazing brilliancy, and a Rhapsodie of Liszt, which called forth thunderous applause.” (717-719) Under the title “Last of the Cecilias” the Transcript wrote: “The Cecilia Society is always heard at its best in these short selections, and last evening’s performance was no exception to the rule. The programme included nine choral numbers, mostly from the modern school…Miss Margaret Lang contributed a musical setting of Bonnie Ran the Burnie Down which was well received. The musical scenery along the brook was very pretty, if not diversified…The work of the chorus was excellent throughout…Of Miss der Ohe’s piano numbers it need only be said that they were of her usual standard.” The Liszt “gave abundant opportunity for a brilliant display of marvelous technique…Altogether the concert was one of the most successful of the season.” (Transcript, undated) Another review said of Margaret’s piece: “Miss Lang’s song appeared to please, perhaps because of the spirit and dash with which it was sung.” Of the pianist: “Everything she does is backed by an honest sincerity which makes her performances wholly enjoyable. She was much applauded, and after her first appearance responded graciously to an encore. After her second appearance, she received many recalls. There was a large audience present, but it was not especially demonstrative, except over the playing of the soloists. ” (Anon., undated) President Thorndike wrote: “Miss Lang’s Bonnie Ran the Burnie Down, written with the scholarship and musical feeling which always mark her compositions, was sung with spirit and received great applause.” (1897 Annual Report) Of the accompanist Joshua Phippen, the President wrote that the choir was “indebted for such valuable service.” (Ibid)

President Thorndike began his Annual Report of May 27, 1897: “The Club has not only maintained but has added to the distinction of its record. It has in its third concert, to use the language of one of our friendly critics, ‘made a date in the musical history of Boston.'” [with the Missa Solemnis performance] He continued: “There are today few, perhaps no choirs of two hundred voices on either side of the water capable of finer and better work.” Again, as in the report of the previous year, he gave credit to Lang: “Mr. Lang may well be proud of what he has made the Cecilia, as the Cecilia has always been proud of Mr. Lang.” Of the Wage Earner Concert tickets we wrote: “It is manifest that the plan is a failure and entails a distinct loss.” He then announced that he was retiring as President after sixteen years as he felt that the choir would be “made stronger by the infusion of fresh blood, and the time always comes when the elder should give place to the younger.” He called his time with the choir “the pleasantest years of my musical life and [these musical] friendships [are] not easily forgotten.” (1897 Annual Report)


Part of the “large” audience that would attend that night. The entrance street to the Music Hall was opposite the church tower.

“The opening concert [November 24, 1896] enjoyed the attendance being large and a [performance] of excellent quality…The singing was eminent for beauty of tone, fine projection in the parts, sensitiveness and even poetry of expression, and smooth, steady command of the material elements of song.” (Courier, unsinged, undated) There were two soloists, a soprano and the violinist. “Mr. Carl Halir, who comes to this country with a reputation of one of the great violinists of Europe…His debut was thoroughly successful.” (Ibid) The Advertiser commented that “his double-stopping was very pure, and his use of harmonics commendable.” (Advertiser (November 25, 1896): 8, GB) Very little was said about the individual pieces on the program. Philip Hale’s three-paragraph review spent the first paragraph on Halir’s background and career to date; the second, longer paragraph, praising his musical qualities; the third, shortest paragraph gave one sentence to the vocalist and a second sentence listed the names of the composers of the choir’s pieces with no critical comment. The third, and final sentence was the typical snide Hale comment: “there was a very applausive audience.” (Journal (November 25, 1896): GB) The Herald review also concentrated on the violinist. It began: “The choral part of the program was about the same as usual in selections and effect,” and then went on to mention that Mr. Halir would be the soloist with the BSO the following week and gave 21 lines about his pieces and technique. The soprano soloist was mentioned at all. (Herald (November 25, 1896): 10, GB) Louis C. Elson wrote a well-balanced piece noting that the vocalist, Miss Stein, “made an excellent impression, being recalled many times,” but,” her enunciation is not very clear, and she was almost unintelligible in three different languages.” (Advertiser (November 25, 1896, 8, GB) He also made some sly comments about three of the choir’s pieces. In one he wrote: of the Brahms’ Lullaby-“Where 70 sturdy men sing one little infant to sleep.” (Ibid) In another, “a wicked young lady seems to have betrayed the entire Apollo Club (except the conductor),  and they all hhave to give her a parting kiss, and then die.” (Ibid) However, he had to record that these three pieces “won the heartiest of encores!” (Ibid)

In mid-May the Club performed at Steinert Hall and the Herald noted that Lang’s Hi-fe-lin-ke-le was included. “It is not often that Mr. Lang comes before the concert-going public with an example of his powers as a composer, and when he breaks through the rule, the event calls for special recognition. In reply to an inquiry from a correspondent who was not present on the occasion, it may be stated confidently that Hi-fe-lin-ke-le is not a musical setting of one of Sir Edwin Arnold’s eastern poems, nor did its inspiration take root in Omar Khayam’s famous work. The oriental aspect of the title is misleading. the piece is merely a bit of musical humor, and its name has no more significance than has ”tooral-looral-loo” or ”tra-la-la-la,” and was doubtless thrown off in a moment of mirthful leisure, showing the composer, as it were, ”en pantoufles.”” In truth, these nonsense syllables were part of the original Swedish text and had nothing to do with Lang’s inspiration. The correspondent asking the original question then went on to ask if the work was published. “Mr. Lang has published few of his compositions: in fact, as far as can be ascertained, none of them except some of the earlier inspirations of this genius, which are now difficult to obtain a sight of except in the cabinets of collectors.” This piece is itself from an earlier period having been premiered by the Apollo Club in 1884 and then published by Charles Homeyer sometime after. Did the author of this article actually know of other Lang pieces that were published?

The Herald Social Page called the concert “a love feast…The place was crowded with every musician, music publisher, singer and player, past and present, we should think, in Boston. It was really a great occasion for them socially, as well as artistically. Mr. Lang seemed particularly happy in his part of the work, and there was an enthusiasm and a good fellowship in the air which were delightful. Mr. George H. Chickering was a prominent figure in one of the boxes, and Mrs. Gardner was in another with Mr. Proctor and a fellow-musician. The lady wore a hat which was loaded with roses, and a black and white silk blouse.” (Herald (May 16, 1897, 26, GB) The previous Sunday the Herald Society page had noted that his concert had “aroused especial enthusiasm, as the programme was made up of requests so that everyone enjoyed over again an old favorite. Mr. Myron Whitney had a perfect ovation after his noble rendering of the Two Grenadiers, and Mr. George Parker, another past member of the club, had a most gratifying reception.” (Herald (May 9, 1897): 27, GB)

The concert was repeated on Wednesday, May 12th. The Herald noted that Joshua Phippen was the piano accompanist and played a solo by Paderewski. “The programme was received with much appreciation, and the hall was well filled…with guests of the conductor and the active members.” (Herald (May 13, 1897): 6, GB)


The interviewer began with this introduction: “Among the many conversations and discussions about things musical The Listener indulges in, few have proved as interesting and instructive as the little talk he arranged especially for The Etude with Mr. B. J. Lang from Boston.” (Etude, May, 1897, online, 8/9/2011) Next Lang’s weekly schedule was mentioned. “Mr. Lang’s entire week-day is filled with piano and organ teaching; his Sunday with two church services at historical King’s Chapel, where he is the organist and director of the quartet choir. His evenings during the winter are given to rehearsals with the three singing societies he directs,-the Handel and Haydn Oratorio Society, the Apollo Club (a male chorus), and the Cecilia (a chorus of mixed voices),-the three constituting as well-trained and thoroughly enjoyable ensemble singing as is to be found in America. Each society gives four or five concerts every season.. Imagine such an amount of rehearsal work on top of teaching and playing. Mr. Lang’s endurance is an object of wonder and admiration, spiced with envy in some quarters…Mr. Lang’s studio where he teaches is a large sunny apartment, fitted up with a pipe organ at one end, a grand piano not far distant, a great cheery open fire-place, and some interesting pieces of furniture. On the walls hang pictures signed by celebrated artists who presented their children of paint to ”friend Lang,” also framed autograph letters and poems from authors now famous. There we sat, while the afternoon sun streamed in across our flow of talk, Mr. Lang looking unworn and vigorous as though ready for anything, his kindly Scotch-blue eyes showing now and then a twinkle of bon camaraderie, suiting well his fresh, clear skin and friendly-looking grey beard, set off by a dark velvet smoking-jacket which he wears for comfort while teaching.” (Ibid)

The first question asked of Lang was “Who should Take Lessons.” “well, if I could have my own way I would enforce legislation that would debar all people who were not musical from studying the piano.” Lang then decried the “pounding, pounding, pounding” that was not only a curse but lowered “the general tone of art as well.” In order that his time and the time of the pupil was not wasted, “I frequently take pupils on a three month’s probation so that we may both be certain before we go ahead,” and if musicality was not present, the pupils were told this. “Perseverance and industry without native talent many mean brilliant success in some kinds of work, but to my mind, they do mean anything of the sort in the world of art.”

Lang then showed The Listener a unique aspect of his teaching. “I have two grand pianos, side by side, one the regulation height, the other built lower just so the end of the keyboard will fit under the end of the pupil’s…In this way, I make illustrations of phrasing. The pupil plays a phrase unmusically-I say, ”Listen, this is how the way the composer meant it to go.” Then I repeat the phrase on my piano, showing where her fault lay, giving my idea of the best way to play it. This arrangement was my own idea, and I save an infinite amount of time and strength by it.”

The next question concerned the use of a silent practice clavier, a practice that was popular at the time-some pupils spend a whole year using them. Lang noted that the ear of the pupil would not be developed by such a machine, and if used at all, it should be for a limited amount of time.

“How do you advise pupils to memorize music,” asked The Listener. The answer: “Memory is not a talent, it is a habit…As soon as children can play pieces they ought to be made to memorize them.” His method was to learn the notes as an actor learns his words, by “indelibly impressing every note on the brain.” Lang then told of one pupil who had no success memorizing a piece after three weeks of effort. “I had her sit down at the piano with a piece she had never seen before; then I told her to commit the notes as she would words. We worked together until, at the end of fifteen minutes, she knew four pages, and understood for the rest of her life what memorizing meant.”


Among Lang’s other responsibilities was being President of the Ditson Fund which provided financial help to musicians in need. The Annual Meeting for 1897 was held late in May at the home of Mrs. Oliver Ditson. Lang was reelected, President and Trustee. The other Trustees were Arthur Foote and A. P. Browne. Not all the money available had been distributed, but “in the near future more deserving cases will be brought to the notice of the officers.” (Advertiser (May 28, 1897): 9, GB) Other donors had been inspired by Ditson’s bequest and had added donations of their own putting the Fund in a very positive position.


Top: front of the house in 2011. Bottom: the ell, built in 1740, which was the original building. Photos by Quent and Carolyn Peacock.

In the summer of 1897 former pupil and now family friend Richard C. Dixey and his wife Rosamond were guests. Helen Hood’s visit during July 1897 was remembered by an original song, Reminiscence. Apthorp and his wife Octavie both signed with verses on July 10, 1897, followed by the third visit of Edward Burlingame Hill who left an eight-measure piece for piano, A Hedge Log[?] Danca. Severance Burrage returned for a third time, July 31-August 4, 1897 and drew two flowers found on the farm. The following week saw three more Burrages-Ruby M. Burrage, Alice Burrage and Eleanor? Burrage. The conductor Georg Henschel’s visit on September 16, 1897 was remembered with a verse and a three-measure musical quote. Arthur Foote, on September 24, 1897 also left a four-measure theme.


RMS (Royal Mail Steamer) CAMPANIA.

B. J. did not spend the whole summer with the family at the farm. On July 23, 1897 he arrived in Liverpool, having sailed from New York on the CAMPANIA. The passenger list puts his profession as musician and he seems to have been traveling alone. However, B. J. and Francis H. B. Byrne shared a room on the LUCANIA which sailed from Liverpool back to New York on August 21, 1897. According to the Boston Directory Byrne was a neighbor of Lang as he lived at the foot of Brimmer Street, 5 Otis Place, and his work address was given as 791 Tremont Street. This was the Chickering Piano Factory. The Herald reported in August that “Mr. B. J. Lang and Mr. Arthur Foote are both enjoying themselves hugely at Baireuth [sic]. Mr. Lang expects to be home about the 1st of September, and Mr. and Mrs. Foote and their daughter will come back the last of that month.” (Herald (August 22, 1897): 27, GB)                                                                                                                  The Herald had a short paragraph in the Social Section: “Mr. B. J. Lang, who has returned from Europe, where he attended the Bayreuth festival, succeeded in securing the American rights for the production of Berlioz’s Troyen and a new and beautiful work by Humperdinck, the author of Hansel and Gretel.” (Herald (September 26, 1897): 27, GB) The Humperdinck was the Pilgrimage to Kevlaar which the Cecilia performed on January 13, 1898.

RMS LUCANIA. Cunard.  Was the same dimensions and specifications as the CAMPANIA. Was the largest passenger liner afloat when launched in 1893. 2,000 total passengers: 600 in First (Saloon); 400 in Second and 1,000 in 3rd.  1894 to 1898 was the fastest ship crossing the Atlantic. In April 1897 Cunard advertised fares from Boston to Liverpool, via Queenstown, Cork: Cabin-$75 and upward, according to steamer and location; Second Cabin-$42.50 and upward; Steerage-at lowest rates. (Herald (April 19, 1897: 8, GB)   The Warren line, sailing the same route, matched Cunard’s rates for First and Second, and quoted Steerage at $25.50. (Ibid)

Wikipedia, accessed February 17, 2019.

Below: RMS LUCANIA at sea. Wikipedia, accessed February 17, 2019.



1897-1898. Bruch’s Odysseus was again performed, this time on Thursday evening, December 2, 1897 at the Music Hall with an orchestra. The Gazette didn’t like the work: “It is not cheerful; it makes no strong appeal either to the heart or the head; it is without color or inspiration,” but of the performance: “It was well sung throughout, the chorus work being excellent. There was no dragging, no lack of unevenness of attack, and the singing was spirited and very effective.” Many of the soloists were given positive comments. (Gazette, undated) The President’s Report of May 1898 noted that choir members were used for eight of the twelve solo parts. Hale in the Journal also found the work “dull” but praised the choir. “The performance, so far as the chorus is concerned, was excellent in quality of tone, balance of parts, precision of attack.,” while the “orchestra played about as it pleased.” (Journal, undated) Just before this concert, the Transcript had an article giving the “Reasons Why the Cecilia Suspended” the Wage Earners Concert for the 97-98 Season. “The two great causes of the abandonment of the concerts were a lack of interest on the part of the wage-earners themselves and the misuse of the tickets by those to whom they were entrusted for distribution.” It seems that “agents of business houses distributed the tickets among their personal friends instead of to wage-earners.” Thus the Club losing “attendance at their own regular club concerts.” (Transcript, undated)

The Cecilia provided the chorus and solo singers for a performance at Harvard of Athalie by Racine. Mendelssohn’s music was used and the orchestra was composed of members of the BSO. The performances were given under the direction of the Harvard’s French Department and held on the evenings of December 6, 8 and 10, 1897. The cast was a combination of students, graduates, the Department’s Instructor “together with Miss Louise Cushing and Miss Mary Coolidge of Boston, who will play respectively the parts of Athalie and Joas. (NY Times (November 7, 1897): 11)

The second concert was on Thursday evening January 13, 1898 at the Music Hall with orchestra, and the repertoire was Brahms-Song of Destiny, Humperdinck-Pilgrimage to Kevlaar, [first Boston performance-had been done in NYC and Milwaukee in 1896:Johnson-First Performances] and The Swan and Skylark by Goring Thomas [first Boston performance-had been given by Zerrahn and the Worcester County Music Association on September 23, 1897, this Worcester performance was cited as the third time in this country: Johnson-First Performances]. The Herald reviewer praised the concert: “The chorus again distinguished itself by the precision, the steadiness and the admirable color of its singing,” with special praise going to the women’s voices who “can hardly be overpraised…the concert, taken altogether, may be ranked among the best that the organization has ever given. The audience was large and appreciatively bountiful in its applause.” (Herald, undated) T. P. Currier in the Journal found the Goring Thomas to suffer “for want of contrast. It is too much alike.” Two choir members who had solos in this concert were praised: Miss Palmer’s contralto solo “was well sung,” but the size of her voice was “hardly equal to the task of filling Music Hall,” while Mr. Townsend “was no less successful with the bass solos. The orchestra played for the most part admirably. The concert was wholly creditable to the club and its conductor.” (Journal, undated) The Gazette found the Humperdinck “pleasing and gracious” and the Goring Thomas “delightful, full of poetic imagination and artistic charm…The work was interpreted in the most satisfactory manner the chorus calling for particular praise. It sang with unusual spirit and fine intelligence…The concert throughout was most enjoyable, and there was hardly a fault of commission or omission to mar the pleasure. from beginning to end the chorus was admirable. There was full harmony between it and the orchestra, and it is a pleasure to record the Cecilia won a triumph that was well deserved. The art level was the highest yet reached by this society.” (Gazette, undated) It would seem from the tone of this last review in the Gazette that a new reviewer had been hired by that paper.

Schumann’s The Pilgrimage of the Rose was the main work presented on Thursday evening March 3, 1898 at the Music Hall with Foote as the accompanist-the other works were unaccompanied. The Transcript wrote: Foote “did full justice to the most beautiful poetic feature of this composition.” Most of the soloists were praised, but “Mr. Dunham was hardly the right man in the right place. The tenor part is not a particularly grateful task, but it need not be monotonous, tame and stiff.” (Transcript, undated) The Courier review was based “only upon the report of a listener on whose tried judgment we depend.” This person felt that the work was passe, and should only be sung in “a small space as it was meant for and its leading singers should be accomplished not less than well-intentioned. But the Cecilia had to depend mainly upon its own members for soloists, whose performance naturally lacked something of the authority of experienced singers. The chorus acquitted itself honorably as usual, and the male choir showed especial volume and richness.” (Courier, undated)

For the final concert of this season, “an opportunity will be afforded a small non-membership public to attend the final concert on Wednesday evening April 27.” The major work was Arthur Sullivan’s The Golden Legend which had only one previous Boston performance, on May 8, 1887, by the Boston Oratorio Society conducted by Frederick Archer. At that time Hale wrote: “twas a dull night.” (Johnson, First, 350) Zerrahn had also given the work with the Worcester County Musical Association on September 23, 1896. (Ibid)  The Cecilia concert used professional soloists and “a large orchestra from the Boston Symphony players,” and Mr. B. L. Whelpley as the organist. (Anon., undated)

The Courier wrote that the performance “was chiefly meritorious for its fine, equable, rich and noble choir work…The orchestral support was correct enough so far as reading the notes went, but beyond that it cannot be commended…Mr. Whelpley got remarkably fine effects from the organ.” (Courier, undated) The Gazette thought little of the Sullivan work but noted: “The best work of the evening was that done by the chorus that sang with unusual spirit, purity of intonation and intelligence. The soloists were less admirable; they sang in dry and perfunctory manner, and without any particular respect for the work in hand.” Of the orchestra: “The playing was without color or grace, and if any guidance were given to them they were inexcusably careless in not paying heed to it. The audience was good-natured and frequently gave applause where it was not deserved.” (Gazette, undated) Hale wrote that the soloists were inadequate and that one of them, Mr. Heinrich “was indisposed, and fainted while singing Lucifer’s mockery of the pilgrims.” He also noted that the orchestra “played without attention to dynamic indications…It was the fault of Mr. Lang, who, keeping his eyes fixed curiously on the score, gave no cues, gave no signals for dynamic gradations, but beat time mechanically, and often with an injudicious and unmusical choice of tempo. There was a good-sized audience and applausive [!] audience.”(Journal, undated) On the other hand the Globe reported: “The chorus parts, as a rule, deserve commendation. The attacks were prompt and the lights and shades were well defined and smoothly sung….The orchestra performed its duties well and the whole performance was a credit to the club.” (Globe (April 28, 1898): 6) For this concert there was also a social notice which recorded: “Miss Gertrude Edmands, who is always one of the best dressed of our local singers, was in deep yellow and white brocade, opening over a petticoat of white lace.” This notice also recorded that among those in the audience were the choir’s former president, Mr. Lothrop Thorndike, Mr. and Mrs. William Winch, and Mrs. Gardner. (Anon., undated)

The Transcript called the Sullivan “a decidedly weak work…It sounds old as the hills, without the dignity of age…Nowhere in the work does Sullivan strike a distinctly dramatic note…The performance by the chorus last evening was admirable in the extreme, admirable at all points…In rich fulness of tone, precision and vigor of attack, beauty of light and shade, the choral performance left nothing to be desired. The orchestra played with unusual smoothness, for men who had made up their minds to be uninterested in their work, but almost constantly too loud for the solo voices, and exasperatingly monotonously.” (Transcript, undated) The Annual Report of May 26, 1898 presented by the new president Arthur Astor Casey reviewed the Wage Earner Concert cancellation admitting that their cancellation had not added to the ranks of Associate Members in an amount “important enough to be significant,” but he listed the advantages that these concerts did provide to the choir. “They are useful, in the first place as dress rehearsals,” and secondly, “they add to the work of the society a larger motive of public spirit.” For these reasons he had recommended that they be reinstated, which they were. (1898 Annual Report) Among his overall comments was one about the men: “I have heard, and I believe it to be true, that the male chorus never has sung so well as it has this winter, and that the chorus as a whole has never sung better. Upon this result of their labors, we must congratulate both leader and chorus.” (Ibid)

In the fall of 1898, it was announced that the Wage Earners Concerts would resume on Monday nights with the regular member concerts being on Wednesday nights. “As before, the club proposes to give precisely the same concerts in all details to its audiences of wage-earners that it gives to its associate members.” (Anon., undated)




With the Boylston Street intersection behind you. Many cars and pedestrians headed up Tremont toward a restaurant and then the concert at the Music Hall. Johnston Collection.

A miscellaneous program opened the season, but the soloist, not the choir was the “Glory of the Occasion.” (Advertiser (December 12, 1897): 5) The choir’s “shading was generally excellent…and there was splendid robustness in Grieg’s Discovery…there were many encores during the concert,” but the French bass M. Plancon was “a revelation.” (Ibid) He sang six songs in all, one of which included a trill “as pure as Melba’s.” This “astonished the audience into enthusiasm, whereupon our flexible basso ceased trilling and became thrilling, giving Schumann’s Two Grenadiers in a manner that was simply stupendous…The culminating Marseillaise…ended in a blaze of glory…The audience arose, and began cheering.  Such a scene of enthusiasm has never been seen in a club concert, and very seldom anywhere,” and those who attended would remember it for the rest of their lives. (Ibid)

M. Plancon. Wikipedia. Accessed April 27, 2020.

The second concert was on January 26, 1898 and it included pieces by three Boston composers, one of whom was an Apollo member. This member, J. K. Smyth, composed a barcarolle entitled The Canoe Song which was described as “very pretty and expressive,” and after its performance the composer “was obliged to acknowledge the very hearty applause with which it was received.” (Advertiser (January 27, 1898): 2) Another local composer presented a world premiere; Gustav Strube, violinist with the BSO, had an Overture for Brasses played. The work “is perhaps not without merit, but while one highly respects the brasses in their proper place, one declines in their proper place, one declines to say that one is fond of dining on nothing but mustard.” The reviewer really would have rather had a Sousa march-outdoors. (Ibid) H. W. Parker’s My Love was encored and Chadwick’s “little ditty” The Boy and the Owl was called “a dainty little bit of humor,” and was well sung.” Performance standards were stressed; “admirable company of singers…precision of attack…artistic shading…sympathetic shading,” all combined “to produce a most enjoyable performance.” (Ibid) Except for the final piece which was called trivial; “to see and hear a hundred men, the majority of whom are-well, not youthful, sing an ever-recurring refrain of ‘Tra la la’ is not what one can call inspiring.” (Ibid)

The third concert was on March 23, 1898 and had the soprano, Miss Trebelli as the guest soloist. “The program was not one of sustained interest throughout, though much of it gave sincere pleasure.” (Advertiser (March 24, 1898): 8) The most classical piece in the program, di Lasso’s Villanelle, was encored. The comment on Chorus of Spirits and Hours was: “Much of the Dudley Buck music is strong and dramatic, while the remainder seems undeniably dull and heavy.” (Ibid) Almost half of this review was about the soloist which was summed up by this comment: “Miss Trebelli left nothing to be desired, and by those of last night’s audience who appreciate true artistry, it will not soon be forgotten.” (Ibid) The choir ended the program with a Lang favorite, the double chorus from the music to Oedipus by Mendelssohn.

On May 4, 1898 the club gave its 159th. concert. “A very large audience testified its most enthusiastic appreciation of an excellent and well-rendered programme.” (Daily Advertiser (May 5, 1898): 8, GB) The review noted that the club had lost “a dozen or more of its voices, some of the best,” but so good was the performance that “it was scarcely noticeable.” In fact, the “choir reaffirmed its right to be considered one of the best male choruses of its size and character in the country.” It was “a tribute to Mr. Lang, to whose care is due the precision of attack, and brilliancy and vehemence of the ensemble and masterful ease of phrasing.(Ibid) There were three vocal soloists, and E. Cutter Jr. was the pianist and B. L. Whelpley the organist. No mention was made that any of the pieces were premiers. “Every number was received with loud plaudits and several encores were given.” (Ibid)

cutterE. Cutter Jr. Taken from the website of the Springfield, MA Orpheus Club. Cutter conducted this male choir from 1890-1894.

The Herald “Social Life” section had a paragraph concerning the concert. Musically, it mentioned that the solo tenor from New York, Mr. Evan Wiliams “was in superb voice, and carried all before him,” whereas his appearance at the Cecilia concert the week before had been marred by a cold. A list of notables who were in the audience was next, and the final comments centered on Isabella Stewart Gardner. “Mrs. Gardner occupied a prominent balcony seat with Mrs. B. J. Lang. On her head was an odd creation of a bonnet tied under her chin, made of rose tulle and black plumes, the latter standing well up in front of her head.” (Herald (May 8, 1898): 26)


In the “Excerpts taken from Mrs. B. J. Lang’s Diaries” made by Rosamond Lang Galacar in 1954, references are made to a number of portraits being painted of family members during the period 1880 until 1897.  The numbers after the dates are the pages where the painting is mentioned.

1877 (15)   Alice Curtis does her first painting of Maidie (Margaret). Miss Alice Marion Curtis (1847-1911) was active both in Boston and Europe painting portraits and landscapes; her studio was at 154 Tremont Street.

1880.          “Mr. Gould called for a lock of Rosamond’s hair. He wants to paint the color.”  Frances’ remark on seeing the result-“It is horrible.”

1884 (33)  Alice Curtis painted Rosamond (Age 6) and Malcolm. “Dreadful disappointment.” It was redone-“Got better.”

1886 (40) B. J. by Hubert Herkomer. Sir Hubert Herkomer, R.[oyal] A.[cademy] (1849-1914) was a well known German-born, English artist who made two American visits; one in the winter of 1882-83 and the other in 1885-86. His January 1883 visit to Boston produced 12 portrait commissions, and he discovered that he felt much more at home in Boston than New York City. For his second visit, he came directly to Boston and was able to secure 36 commissions. His usual fee was $2,500 [$75,000 in 2020] rather than the $1,500 charged by American portrait painters. During one period of 10 weeks he “received 6,600 pounds [$800,000 in 2020] for 13 portraits making his income higher than any of the rich people he painted.” (, accessed April 12, 2020) Along with the Lang portrait, most of the 1886 portraits are missing, but the one of architect H. H. Richardson, all joyful 390 pounds of him still exists. Herkomer swapped this painting for architectural designs for a house that he was to build in England. Looking at the outside of Trinity Church, Copley Square, Boston, you see many of the features Richardson used in Herkomer’s house design. (Edwards, 48-73, inter alia)

  • 1889 (48) Mrs. Whitman does a second portrait of Maidie.

1894 (59) Alice Curtis “wishes to paint Malcolm.”

1895 (61)  Joe Smith “is to paint my [Frances’] portrait.” Joseph Lindon Smith (1863-1950) was to become the premier painter of Egyptian archaeological subjects of his time which was the Golden Era of the first major tomb excavations. This began in 1898, but before, his first art education was at the Boston MFA School followed by two years in Paris and then a number of years wandering through Europe. During this time he met Isabella Gardner who became a friend and supporter. He returned to Boston and set up as a portrait and landscape painter. However, he did not enjoy portrait painting. “When I painted portraits my sitters were never on time, they invariably wriggled, and always had husbands or wives, mothers and other relatives each of whom had some criticism of the mouth, the nose or the chin.” With Egyptian tomb paintings, the subject “is always on time, never wriggles, and has no relatives.” After his marriage in 1899, he spent winters in Egypt and summers at Loon Point, Dublin, New Hampshire, just south of the Lang’s farm in New Boston. (Allam, 11)

1897 (64) Mrs. Page did a portrait of Rosamond for a fee of $250.


 APTHORP LECTURE.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Below: Baker, A Biographical Dictionary of Music, 19

In the middle of April 1898 William F. Apthorp gave a lecture at Steinert Hall on the subject “Musical Criticism.” The Social Life section of the Herald covered this event noting that there was “prolonged and hearty applause” at the end of the lecture which was attended by “an exceedingly fine and cultivated audience…There was not a dull moment in the talk of nearly an hour, and it abounded in delicious wit and humor.”  Among the fellow critics in attendance were Mr. Louis Elson, Mr. and Mrs. Philip Hale, and Mr. and Mrs. H. M. Ticknor. Among the important members of Boston’s musical circle noticed were Mrs. Apthorp, the Langs and Miss Lang, Mrs. Gardner, Mr. Perabo, Arthur Foote, Miss Lena Little, Mrs. Iasigi (Mrs. Apthorp’s mother) and Miss Iasigi (Mrs. Apthorp’s sister). It would be interesting to know how many audience members were the subject of the “delicious wit and humor.” (Herald (April 17, 1898): 27, GB)


Foote relates a story about Bayreuth in the summer of 1898 [or 1893] when he and Lang snuck into the orchestra pit between acts of Gotterdammerung. ”The day was hot, everyone being in shirt-sleeves, and we could see how differently the majestic Richter behaved (the orchestra being quite out of sight of the audience). He shouted to different players and to the singers, gave them cues, and was quite a different person from the one we were used to seeing in the concert room. It was a remarkable experience. We were observed sitting in our corner, but the liberty we had taken was winked at.” (Foote, Auto., 78) Lang tells the story somewhat differently. In 1893 the word was that Hans Richter was to be the next conductor of the Boston Symphony. That didn’t happen, but various musicians in Boston were asked for an anecdote. Lang stated that he considered Richter a friend. He continues the story: “I took a seat among the players. Later on, unwittingly, I stood up. In a few moments, I became aware that the men about me were all looking at one spot very closely. Then a violin bow tapped my leg, and I, looking with the others, saw Richter glaring at me as if he would kill me. I sat down immediately. Of course, I should not have stood up; besides I was obstructing the view of a violinist. But if ever I thought a friend could kill me with a look it was then.” (Globe (April 15, 1893): 8, News)


Crowds leaving the Bach concert held just down Tremont Street on the left. Johnston Collection. The Subway System had just been opened on September 1, 1897. Johnston Collection.

Spring 1898. Frances wrote in her Diary: “Lel wants to perform, next winter, all the Bach Concertos on a Harpsichord, which is to be sent from Paris. I do not smile on this idea, as he has given up piano playing in public, and he is before the public so much anyway, with the 2 singing societies, his organ playing etc. and etc…Lel is going on with his plan, only has decided to ask different musicians to play. Erard + Co. in Paris will send the harpsichord here.” (Diary 2, Spring 1898) On December 1, 1898 and January 12, 1899 Lang arranged two Bach Concerto Concerts performing on the Erard harpsichord imported from Paris which was done “by the kindness of Messrs. Chickering and Sons.” (BPL Lang Prog.) The purpose of these concerts, which were held at the Association Hall at three o’clock, was the “enlarging of the Ruth Burrage Library by the addition of full orchestral scores for the home use of Musicians.” (Ibid) As usual, Frances and family members were involved in the details. “I worked almost all day on the Announcements for the Bach Concerts. They are very handsome. The work of Updyke…Directed envelopes all day. Bach concerts.” (Diary 2, Fall 1898)

Johnston Collection.

At the first concert Lang and Madame Hopekirk played the Concerto in C Major for two keyboards, Lang played the Concerto in D Minor on the harpsichord, and Lang, Mr. Foote, and Mr. Proctor played the Concerto in C major for three keyboards. At the second concert Lang and Madame Szumowska played the Concerto in C Minor for two keyboards, Lang played the Concerto in F Major on the harpsichord, and the concert ended with Lang, Mr. Baermann, and the BSO conductor, Mr. Gericke performing the Concerto in D Minor for three keyboards. The accompaniment for all the concerti was provided by an orchestra under Mr. Kneisel. “The subscription list will include the first names in Boston, as Mr. Lang’s clientele is a distinguished one, and orders are pouring in at the Music Hall.” (Herald-Social Life (November 13, 1898): 31, GB)

These early music performances were not the first for B. J. At a concert at Bumstead Hall on Sunday, April 12, 1896 he included the Bach Concerto in C Major for Three Pianos which he followed with the Prelude in C Major by Bach and the Allegro in C Major by Handel which were performed on a harpsichord built by the Boston keyboard maker, Chickering. The concert finished with Bach’s Coffee Cantata using members of the Handel and Haydn Society. A note at the end of the program stated “except in some portions of the cantata, for which Mr. Lang will play accompaniments from Bach’s figured bass, the original instruments will be used.” (Anon., undated)


December 5 and 7, 1898 saw the American premiere at the Music Hall of Verdi’s Te Deum for Double Chorus and Orchestra whose world premiere had been only a few months earlier in Paris, March 20, 1898! Mr. B. L. Whelpley was the organist and Miss Sara Anderson the soprano soloist for this concert. Verdi’s Stabat Mater and other shorter works were also on the program. (Cecilia program) Hale approved of the Verdi pieces, noted that the soprano “evidently gave pleasure to the large audience, [but] was not the Miss Anderson who triumphed at the Worcester Festival,” and ended his review with his now-familiar complaint: “But, as we know, orchestral rehearsals are few before Cecilia concerts, and Mr. Lang is not at his ease before an orchestra.” (Journal, undated) H. M. Ticknor gave more credit to Lang but echoed the rehearsal problem: “Mr. Lang conducted and obtained more faithful attention from the orchestra than the Symphony men always give to a leader not their own, but the Verdi hymns needed much more rehearsing than any of our choral societies can afford to pay for.” Ticknor also faulted the choir’s diction. “A mere stream of pulpy vowels without distinctive consonants means so little.” (Courier, undated)

The second concert of the season (134th. in all) has given on Wednesday evening January 25, and Thursday evening January 26, 1899 at the Music Hall with two new accompanists, Miss Alice Coleman and Miss Laura Hawkins. Mr. Melville Horner sang Margaret’s song, The King is Dead and the choir sang Love Plumes His Wings. [for SSAA choir] Elson wrote that “there had not [been] a single weak number on the programme…Once more the Cecilia has done a good deed for Boston’s music. When one remembers how many new works have been heard here because of the energy of this society, it seems as if a very large debt of public gratitude was due to this organization.” Of Margaret’s choral piece: “Love Plumes His Wings is a dainty bit of composition, well worth the singing, and the female voices gave it with feeling and finesse.” (Transcript, undated) The Herald headline was: “Fine Volume and Quality of Tone of the Singing of the Chorus—Miss Rock Piano Soloist.” This review recorded that there was “a very large audience present, and applause was generous and well deserved. The chorus sang in tune throughout the evening, with a fine volume and quality of tone. It sang expressively too, and was a credit to itself and its conductor.” Miss Rock played twice in the concert “in a manner which provoked the heartiest applause.” Nevin’s Wynken, Blynken and Nod was also part of the program. (Herald, undated) The Globe wrote: “The concert attracted a large and appreciative audience to the Music Hall last night. Mr. B. J. Lang’s marked ability as a conductor of chorus music was demonstrated anew…Miss Moulton’s love stanza, Love Plumes His Wings was given new meaning by Miss Lang’s melodious setting of the words…Miss Frances Rock assisted at this noteworthy concert, giving three piano compositions.” (Globe (January 27, 1899): 5)

The third concert was La Damnation de Faust by Berlioz, and “On account of the unusual expenses incurred to produce [this work], by reason of the artists engaged and an enlarged orchestra, a certain number of tickets will be placed on public sale at the Music Hall Box Office on and after March 1. Price, $1.50 and $2 each.” (Anon., undated) The performances were on Monday evening March 13, and Wednesday evening March 15, 1899. The Transcript wrote: “We think the performance, as a whole, the best the Cecilia has yet given of the Damnation, indeed, the best that has been heard since Mr. Lang’s first productions of the work here, in the Music Hall in 1880, and in Tremont Temple in 1881…It is getting past the time for praising the Cecilia chorus; their wonderful excellence in singing is becoming proverbial. The orchestra did better than usual…What was evidently lacking was sufficient rehearsing of all save the chorus.” (Transcript, undated) The Advertiser also praised the choir: “The work of the chorus from the very outset to the very end was admirable and always full of merit.” (Advertiser, undated) However, Hale began with the headline: “A Poor Performance of Berlioz’s Damnation of Faust in Music Hall Last Night.” he continued: “The performance last night was neither coldly accurate nor brilliantly wrong. It was colorless, dull, slovenly. Let me first of all praise the chorus for what it was allowed to do.” He continued with more praise of the choir, especially in unaccompanied works, but then wrote that when the group did orchestrally accompanied works, “it’s life is taken away by a stick, and it is sacrificed, as upon an altar and in the presence of the people.” (Journal, undated) That is certainly a new way to comment on Lang’s conducting. Another review began by saying that this was  “a performance which had marked merits and serious faults, but was upon the whole interesting and creditable. The many delicate points and fine shades of the score were not to be found in the rendering, can not be denied. But probably the heaviest blame for this should rest rather upon the singers than the conductor.” The writer, possibly a choral singer himself, then remarked on how often the conductor would call attention to points of interpretation only to have them forgotten and/or ignored the next time through. “One might fancy that common sense had temporarily deserted many of them.” He then mentioned the orchestra players, who knowing that little can be covered in the in-adequate rehearsals provided, “will play neglectfully, even if they are not wilfully recalcitrant. A strong, obstinate and quite expert leader might get better results than are generally obtained, but we doubt if even such as one could come very near to perfection.” (Anon., undated)

The fourth concert broke the usual pattern of a Miscellaneous Program with just piano accompaniment, instead, The Transfiguration of Christ by Perosi was given on April 14 and 26, 1899 at the Music Hall with Mr. B. L. Whelpley as the organist and members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Perosi was then only twenty-six but was already the Music Director of St. Mark’s in Venice. This performance was a Boston and American premiere-it had only been premiered in Italy a year earlier, March 20, 1898. A story written before the performance began with: “No event in the musical annals of Boston has ever been attended with greater or more deserved interest than the production of the Perosi oratorio by the Cecilia on the 27th.” [Actually April 24 and 26-Annual Report ] This writer noted that London, which was known to have much experience with “oratorio composers” and praised this work should account for much more than then the “grumblings of the Viennese” audience.  “Everything concerning the new composer is being read and discussed with an interest thoroughly Bostonian. There remains little to be said until we hear what he says for himself.” (Anon., undated) Hale’s review included interesting comments about Italian concert life. “We heard an oratorio by Perosi last week. How do you account for the success of the work in Italy? Perosi has two powerful backers; The Church and a rich and indefatigable publisher.” [Ricordi] He then suggested that The Church wanted to have the “dramatic intensity” of modern Italian opera “used in its own service,” but “unfortunately Perosi does not show himself in the works that I have heard to be a musician of either technical proficiency or marked temperament.” From the first “to the very last note of this story of the demonic child there is not a beautiful or moving phrase, there is nothing in recitative or in the accompaniment that excites any emotion whatever, religious or dramatic, there is nothing that suggests religious contemplation or leads to it…It is a bitter disappointment. For we all hoped to hear religious music that would move and uplift; and we heard music that is inherently, continuously and irretrievably dull.” After all this (and more) Hale had no space to say anything about the performance itself. Another Hale review said: “Verdi’s most effective Te Deum, sung for the second time at these concerts, brought relief, pleasure, and the heartiest admiration” after the Perosi where “the singers had performed bravely their repulsive tasks. Mr. Herbert Johnson, to whom fell the burden of the evening, sang with marked purity of voice and style. Alas! he had nothing to sing but notes-notes-notes.” (Journal, undated) Another reviewer noted the advance publicity which suggested that “a new musical genius was expected.” But, this reviewer felt that the composer handled “his art like a thoughtless amateur…To compare him to Palestrina, as his admirers have done, is to indulge in the most crushing satire…The concert ended with Verdi’s Te Deum, and it gave the audience the opportunity of judging between genius and incapacity.” (Anon., undated) After the concert, Richard Bliss of Newport, writing a Letter to the Editor of the Daily News noted: “It can scarcely be denied that Perosi has been absurdly overpraised by his countrymen,” but Bliss was concerned that all the Boston critics (except Louis C. Elson) “had been not only supercilious in tone, but [also] unfair and indiscrimination in substance.” Bliss did acknowledge that the work “seems to me like a number of musical fragments written at different times, and finally tacked together. That many of the individual parts are of great beauty does not make the work as a whole satisfying.” Of the performance: “The vocal parts were excellently well done, both by the soloists and choristers. But here praise for the execution must cease. The orchestra played with a carelessness and indifference that is astounding.” At the end of his letter, he returned to the choir: “The singing of the choristers was admirable, and their work was worthy of the highest praise.” (Daily News, undated)

This season also saw the choir taking part in performances by the Boston Symphony Orchestra on March 10 and 11 when the male voices took part in Liszt’s Faust Symphony, and on April 7 and 8 when “the full chorus, enlarged for this occasion, sang in the Manfred by Schumann.” Finally, the choir “again enlarged, sang in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the BSO…This makes a total of fourteen concerts which the Cecilia has taken part in this season.” These additional concerts were reported in the Annual Report of May 25, 1899 where it was also reported that “a contribution of one thousand dollars a year for the next five years has been secured from anonymous subscribers, to enable the Society to rearrange its system of sale of seats in such a way as to make receipts larger and the amount of work smaller, at least, than the amount you have done during the last year…The resumption of the ”Wage-earner Concerts” had been an entire success…The increased demand, it is interesting to note, seemed to come from teachers in the public schools.” President Carey then announced that due to having had to miss so many meetings, he was stepping down as President after only two years, but “I shall always feel the liveliest interest in the welfare of the Cecilia, and the greatest sympathy with it in its problems.” (1899 Annual Report)


Writing probably about 1897, Elizabeth Porter Gould, who was probably a piano student of Lang’s, describes him as she saw him at the weekly Sunday afternoon Open House that the family offered. “Here the pleasant Sunday afternoons are held, where so informally and delightfully such good music is interspersed with good talk. For the chatelaine is a scholarly student in good literature, and fanatico par la musica as Mr. Lang may be, he is a man of many parts and well skilled in social accomplishment. Nervous yet self-possessed, Mr. Lang suggests the rare type of man of perfectly regulated enthusiasm. It is common to say of him that he might have excelled in any other line of life quite as distinctly as in the artistic, because he has been so industrious a workman; but talent is industry, and we all know for what shortcomings ‘the artistic temperament’ is made the scapegoat, while only to the vulgar critic irregularities of life are convincing proofs of greatness.” (Gould, Archive Book, HMA)

>>> Part: 123


CHAPTER 05. (Part 2) SC(G).  WC: 12,313.


Essay-From Literature to Music.                                                                                           Apollo Club Twenty-third Season: 1893-1894.                                                    Edward Burlingame Hill.                                                                                                Lang’s Musical Talks.                                                                                                          Hook and Hastings Studio Organ.                                                                                 Cecilia Nineteenth Season: 1894-1895.                                                                           Apollo Club Twenty-fourth Season: 1894-1895.                                                      New Boston Farm: First Summer Season-1895.                                                    Ship: Typical Journey.                                                                                                    Cecilia Twentieth Season: 1895-1896.                                                                       King’s Chapel: Easter and Christmas 1895.                                                                    Apollo Club Twenty-fifth Season: 1895-1896.                                                      Farm: Second Summer Season-1896.                                                                   American Guild of Organists.                                                                                           Handel and Haydn Society-Lang as Conductor. “Best concert in  its history.”


Written for The Atlantic magazine by someone whose education ended with graduation from High School.


The first concert was given on November 22, 1893 with the wife of the conductor of the Boston Symphony as assisting artist. Mrs. Emil Paur played Beethoven’s Variations in C minor in the first half, and in the second half, she presented four lighter pieces which were highly praised. Hale called the choice of the Beethoven “unfortunate” and the performance “accurate” but “dry.” (Journal (November 23, 1893): 5, GB) My Native Land by Meyerbeer was “beautifully rendered” by the tenor from the choir, Mr. E. E. Holden, and “the soft repeating of each line by the chorus after the soloist was a device that was truly worthy of Meyerbeer…In the last verse the effect of the rolling river was truly wonderful.” (Advertiser (November 23, 1893): 4, GB) An unusual number which was a surprise to many was Stephen Foster’s Old Folks at Home in an arrangement that was called “Glorified.” The arranger was Mr. Frank Van der Stuken and the soloist was Mr. Clifford whose performance was “sweet and pathetic.” (Ibid) Hale noted that “the power of a popular and simple melody was again shown by the loud applause that followed” this arrangement. (Journal (November 23, 1893): 5, GB) This arrangement had just been copyrighted on the previous October 20, 1892-was this its Boston premiere? The Bedouin Song ended the concert in a performance of which the choir “may well be proud of.” (Ibid) It was noted that “Mr. Lang has brought his forces to a degree of such enviable perfection that scarcely a defect can be found by the most critical.” (Advertiser (November 23, 1893): 4, GB))

The next concert was given on Wednesday, January 17, 1894 at the Music Hall. Mr. Clifford was also a soloist in this concert. Philip Hale noted “his natural advantages; he has an excellent voice and a manly presence,” but he sang as though he were being “driven recklessly over a stoney street.” (Journal (January 18, 1894): 4, GB) Hale was complimentary about five of the choir’s pieces, but he had a number of negative comments concerning Buck’s King Olaf’s Christmas. These comments included balance problems between the piano and organ, poor attacks, “and in the 10th. verse the true pitch seemed an unknown quantity.” (Ibid) Hale could always be counted on for a pithy comment. The vocal soloist was Miss Marguerite Hall who “sang at times above the true pitch.” (Ibid) Then another Hale comment: “She was applauded heartily and gave in answer a Scotch ballad.” (Ibid)

The third concert was held on Wednesday, March 7, 1894 with an orchestra. The main work was the symphonic ode The Sea (1889) by Jean Louis Nicode (1853-1919). It used soprano soloist, Mrs. Jennie Patrick Walker and used a large number of the male singers of the Cecilia Society. “The work is a stupendous one, splendidly conceived and treated with the genius of a master. In style, it is nearly akin to Wagner…The chorus of 120 voices and more was not equal to the gigantic task in power, though excellent quality was noticeable.” (Advertiser (March 8, 1894): 5, GB) A note in the score asks for Tenor One-50 singers, Tenor 2-40, Baritone-40 and Bass 2-50 for a total of 180 singers. The work is in seven sections with the first, “The Sea” and the fourth, “Phosphorescent Light” being for orchestra only. A group of partsongs by McDowell was praised for its shading and ensemble.

The fourth concert was given Wednesday, May 9, 1894 at the Music Hall before the usual large and enthusiastic audience. Among the partsongs was one by Arthur Foote and another, Jack Horner by Mr. E. Cutter, Jr., the choir’s accompanist. He “was obliged to bow his acknowledgment.” (Journal (May 10, 1894): 5, GB) The violinist Miss Carrie Duke was the assisting instrumentalist. Her lighter pieces were well received, but in the more difficult Polonaise by Wieniawski “her intonation was at times distressingly false.” (Ibid) Then the usual sly comment by Hale to finish: “She was loudly applauded and recalled.” (Ibid)

(Globe (April 8, 1894): 2).

Also published with this drawing were the names of the Audition/Examining Committee and the results of this process.  SECOND BASS: 100 apply-20 accepted, 80 rejected. FIRST TENOR: 100 apply-31 accepted, 69 rejected. SECOND TENOR: 100 apply: 26 accepted, 74 rejected. Then the names of those accepted are posted in the clubrooms for two weeks to be reviewed by the current members. A vote is taken on each name, and “if there are any sound reasons why he should not become a member, his name is signally dropped. Because of the care thus taken, the Apollo Club is made up of a fine class of men-morally and mentally as well as musically speaking…There is always a big waiting list; sometimes there are 500 names handed in of men eager for membership.”  (Ibid) One very qualified gentleman from Boston’s Back Bay had his name on the waiting list for seven years. In 1894 there were about 80 singing members rehearsing every Tuesday night [the same night is still used today-2020], October through May. Four programs were given each year, and each of the 500 non-singing Associate members were given four tickets-thus an automatic sellout for every concert because each Associate could easily give out three tickets to his friends because of the demand to hear the Apollo Club.

The annual meeting was held on Tuesday afternoon, June 5, 1894 at the Club’s rooms at 2A Park Street. The officers elected were: President-Arnold A. Rand; Vice President-George H. Chickering; Clerk-Arthur Reed; Treasurer-Charles T. Howard; and Librarian-Albert F. Harlow. (Herald (June 6, 1894): 6, GB)


Photo from Wikipedia, accessed February 15, 2019.

Born in 1872 into a musical home, Hill was to teach music at Harvard from 1908 until 1940. After four years at Harvard where he graduated summa cum laude in 1894, Hill felt that his musical education under the one-person music department of Prof. John Knowles Paine was incomplete. During the summer of 1894, he studied piano with Lang, and the fact that he was a visitor to the Lang farm during the following summers of 1895, 96 and 97 would indicate that Hill had become part of the Lang musical circle. During the summer of 1897 Hill studied composition with Charles Marie Widor who was then composition professor at the Paris Conservatoire. Why Hill chose to study in France rather than Germany is not known for sure, but possibly Lang’s interest in French music at that time, Hill’s admiration for Edward MacDowell’s who had studied in Paris for three years, or Hill’s interest in the music of Charles Martin Loeffler, assistant concertmaster of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, whose music the BSO was beginning to program, any, or all of these factors may have influenced Hill.

Before his Harvard appointment in 1908, one of Hill’s means of support was as a reviewer for the Evening Transcript, a position he held from 1901 until 1908. For this paper, he wrote reviews of Lang’s Enoch Arden performance in 1902 and reviews of the Apollo Club in 1906 and 1907, Dubois’s Cantata in 1902, and reviews of The Boston Singing Club, conducted by Lang’s pupil Hiram Tucker, in 1902 (2) and 1908, and an article in 1907 about the coming production of Paine’s opera Azara, which was Lang’s final concert with the Cecilia Society.


On October 23, 1894 Lang the “first of a series of 12 lessons. conversations or talks about the symphony concert programme of the week.” Chickering Hall was “well filled” and Lang organized his remarks  “based upon the supposition that his audience were students rather than professionals…In addition to a four-hand pianoforte reading of the leading works of the present week’s programme, in which Mr. Ernst Perabo gave his valuable assistance, Mr. Lang told many facts relating to the several compositions.” (Herald (October 24, 1894): 5, GB) These talks were to be continued every two weeks throughout the Symphony Season.


In 1894 Lang ordered this organ for his teaching studio. It is now in the Church of the Epiphany in Washington, D. C.

hh 1894 epiphanyrc dclang organ


The fall of 1894 saw the Boston premiere of the opera Samson and Dalila by Saint-Saens given at the Music Hall on Tuesday, November 27 (Wage Earner Concert) and Wednesday evening, November 28 with the Boston Symphony. The soloists were Mrs. Julia L. Wyman, Clarence B. Davis, Heinrich Meyn, W. H. Clarke, Robert T. Hall, and Stephen S. Townsend, the last two being members of the Cecilia. Carl Zerrahn had conducted the work at Worcester’s Mechanics Hall just two months before. The Courier wrote that even though the work was called a biblical drama, “the music has a certain unmistakable oratorio flavor,” and as a staged version was probably not to be given in Boston, as it was one of “the composer’s most famous creations, it is far better to hear it given in this way than not at all…The performance had many fine points. The chorus sang admirably from beginning to end, with accuracy, authority and effect.” When the soprano soloist, Mrs. Wyman “sang the more famous passages…she dropped from English into the original French; a proceeding which may be criticizable on the ground of good taste, but was none the less welcome to us; it gave the music its true flavor, and showed it forth in a far more brilliant light…The orchestra, if we except some occasional moments of not perfectly clear playing, did well, doing justice to the wealth of color in the scoring and giving the often intricate detail-work with good effect. The Cecilia is heartily to be thanked for giving us so good an introduction to a work which every music-lover is interested to hear, and one which holds unquestionably high rank among the dramatic productions of the last quarter of the present century.” (Courier, undated) Hale in the Journal wrote that the first four scenes suffered from Lang’s “sluggish” tempi. “If the conductor is not a man of marked talent in orchestral leadership and the rehearsals are few, the most skillful players are apt to appear at a disadvantage. The chorus was generally excellent. It sang with beauty of tone, as a rule, and with understanding…It was a pleasure to hear it again, even with perhaps inevitable drawbacks. may the day soon come when this opera will be heard here as an opera.” (Journal, undated) Warren Davenport referred to Hale’s remarks about “sluggish” tempi, but wrote that he felt “Mr. Lang’s tempi was [sic] well-conceived, in my opinion.” Of the other aspects of the performance: “The work of the chorus was admirable in every particular, and Mr. Lang conducted the performance in a firm and confident manner.” (Globe, undated) Another review wanted to see the work as a staged opera “rather than perverted into an oratorio. The result of this perversion was that there was an absence of warmth and of color contrast…Palestine was changed to Boston, and the Philistines metamorphosed into Puritans…Nothing but praise is due to the chorus, all the members of which sang with spirit and with feeling. It may be truthfully said that, from an art-viewpoint, the chorus performed the best work of the evening…A word of protest may be urged against Mrs. Wyman’s bad taste and small art in singing several of her numbers in French, while the remainder of the opera was sung in English. Musically, there is no merit in pronouncing French correctly, and art propriety [what is that?] is of far more importance than linguistic skill. It remains to be added that at every available opportunity Mrs. Wyman was greeted with applause, which was enthusiastic at the conclusion of the love song in [the] first act.” (Anon., undated) Interesting ideas!



Another piece, Love Plumes His Wings,  by Margaret Ruthven Lang was premiered at the Wednesday evening, January 16 and Thursday evening, January 17, 1895 concerts at the Music Hall. The secondary headline of one review was: “A Not Particularly Interesting Programme Presented” (Anon., undated) while another review began: “The programme was most excellent and varied…The song for female voices by Miss Lang is charming in melody, and it is most skilfully and effectively arranged. It was sung with intelligence and sympathetic feeling, and was fully deserving of the applause that it won.” (Anon., undated) Hale listed the title of Miss Lang’s piece, but made no mention of the work saying: the concert “was not of special interest.” (Journal, undated) However, another review ended with the comment: “The whole concert was one of the most enjoyable of the smaller ones ever given by the Cecilia,” and described Miss Lang’s piece as “charming through and through.” (651-653) The Herald review wrote that Love Plumes His Wings was “Cleverly set for the voices, and is dainty, pretty and would be wholly admirable if it were more emphatic in its climax. It was tastefully and smoothly sung.” (Herald (January 18, 1895): 7, GB)

The third program of the season was given on Thursday evening March 28, 1895 at the Music Hall with orchestra and H. G. Tucker as organist. The Brahms Requiem and selections from Act One of Wagner’s Parsifal were performed. The Courier described the Brahms as “a long, heavy and complicated work, intensely honorable, thoroughly academic.” The writer thought little of the Wagner excerpt “which is vain and irrelevant without its context and poor concert material anyhow.” (Courier, undated) Hale called the Brahms “this crabbed and tiresome Requiem…It is unemotional, it does not provoke a good or mental emotion; it is without a religious feeling…Mr. Lang conducted in a perfunctory manner and without disclosing possible beauties that may lurk concealed…The chorus sang carefully and faithfully, but without marked distinction in dynamics. It must not be forgotten that the task of the chorus is exceedingly difficult, and the attacks and the intervals are dangerous even for picked and long-drilled singers. The orchestra did its best in the absence of a firm conductor.” Hale did not approve of opera excerpts, and the most positive thing that he could say was: “The performance was one of good faith.” (Journal, undated) The Transcript wrote that this second performance by the Cecilia of the Brahms “gave one fresh insight into the work; at the first performance, a few years ago, one listened to it, as one is often impelled to listen to something at once new and evidently beautiful and sublimity is a rather general way, but without very definite musical understanding…The Cecilia last evening sang the great music admirably for the most part; with careful attention to light and shade, firmness of attack, and often brilliancy…One wished that the singers would only sing with more of individual fervor, with more buoyancy of phrasing, in a word, with more style…The selections from Parsifal were sung far more satisfyingly and made a very powerful impression. The singing of the small choirs behind the stage was one of the most beautifully perfect things of its kind we have ever heard. The orchestra played unusually well throughout the concert; only in some portions of the Parsifal music was a certain lack of dynamic balance between different groups of instruments to be noticed.” (Transcript, undated)

The usual miscellaneous program finished the season on Thursday evening May 2, 1895 at the Music Hall with Frederic H. Lewis as the pianist and Rose [Laura, 1870-    ] and Ottilie [1872-    ] Sutro as the featured guest soloists. Their pieces were by Mozart-Fugue, Chopin-Rondo and Brahms-Theme and Variations Op. 56. Among the choral pieces were two by Boston composers, The Robin by Helen Hood and From a Bygone Day by George Osgood. Warren Davenport wrote: “The performance of the Sutro sisters was a delightful one, the ensemble of the effort being faultless. It was a thoroughly artistic effort devoid of affectation or sensationalism.” After the Chopin piece, “these admirable artists were recalled and played in a charming manner a Scherzetino by Charmenade.” [sic] “Mr. Lang conducted with his accustomed attention to detail and the concert was an agreeable experience on the part of the audience.” (665) The Sutro sisters were then in their early twenties, and their career continued to blossom to a point that they appeared during the 1916 Season of the Philadelphia Orchestra, probably conducted by Leopold Stokowski. (Wister, 227)

One “Wage-Earner” from Cambridge wrote to the Transcript saying that he was very insulted by the insert which had appeared in the last program which noted that the concerts: “are given at no profit to the club, and at great personal inconvenience to the members of the chorus.” He asked: “Are not the conductor, orchestra and many members of the chorus wage-earners? ” (Transcript, undated)

Winslow Homer lectronicrepro

Winslow Homer (United States, 1836-1910) Benjamin Johnson Lang (1837-1909), April 19, 1895. Graphite on paper, 16 x 13 3/8 inches. Portland Museum of Art, Maine. Gift of William D. Hamill, 1991.19.3. Reproduced by permission. Can not be downloaded without a fee to the Portland Museum.

An article entitled “Recent Accession-A Portrait Drawing by Winslow Homer” written by “JH” for a publication of the Portland Maine Museum of Art gives the specifics behind this work. It is “thought to have been drawn in the Lang Studios at 6 Newbury Street, and dated 19 April 1895…The Homers were good friends of the Langs and often visited them at their home on Brimmer Street. In a letter to Homer’s sister-in-law, Mrs. Charles S. Homer, Jr., on April 20, 1895, Homer reported; ”I send today the sketch of Mr. Lang. He was very prompt in giving me permission and opportunity and he likes the sketch. The light was bad and he was a hard subject. Such as it is you are now welcome to it. On no account think of sending me that $25 that you may think was a trade between us-as I shall not take it.”…This drawing is a strong work from the peak period of Homer’s career. its informality of pose and costume-an embroidered smoking jacket with contrasting collar-place the composition closer to Degas and Eakins than to Sargent’s flamboyance; Homer was always a precise draftsman while knowing what to accent and what to omit. the simplification is seen in the modeling of the head with its features intent on the effect of pulling a stop. The drawing is a fine instance od one artist’s appreciation for another united by their common interest in music.” The article mentions that Winslow played the guitar and sang when alone and that he was a patron of musical events. “He shared with Lang an appreciation of Wagner.”

Mrs. Charles S. Homer, Jr., known as Mattie, who requested the work was among the leading society dames of the period. “At the turn of the century on Prout’s Neck, Winslow Homer’s sister-in-law Mattie was the leading hostess; for one soiree she invited Madame Melba, the leading prima donna at the Metropolitan Opera.



Rain doesn’t keep the Associates away. Childe Hassam. Rainy Day-Boston.

The first concert was given during a storm on Wednesday, November 21, 1894. “Not a single unworthy selection did the programme contain-if we may be pardoned for this left-hand complementing a club that for years, even from its first season, has been noted for the high artistic worthiness of its concert programmes.” (C. L. Capen in the Advertiser, November 22, 1894, 5) The major work was The Pilot by Max Spicker which Capen called a “masterpiece.” The assisting artists were the tenor, Mr. C. B. Shirley and Miss Mary Louise Cary whose voice was described as “both cumbersome and unpliant, voluminous but not pleasing, and with faulty and indecisive production of tone. (Ibid) However, the third soloist, Mr. Thomas L. Cushman displayed “a tenor voice of rare purity, sympathy and trueness, and with as refined and delightful phrasing as one would care to hear.” (Ibid) Mr. Basset was the pianist and Mr. Cutter the organist. The choir’s President, Mr. Arthur Reed, had the idea of interspersing appropriate selections from the poems of the late Oliver Wendell Holmes among the musical pieces.

The second concert on Wednesday, January 23, 1895 included Brambach’s Columbus, “Friar Tuck’s Song” from Ivanhoe, and “Introduction, Recitative and Chorus” from the Third Act of Tannhauser, all with orchestral accompaniment. The other pieces were Pache’s Longing for Spring, Donati’s Villanella and Pendergrast’s Serenade. (Journal (January 24, 1895): 4, GB) Elson in the Advertiser found the Brambach too long, with too much recitative and with a finale in a minor key that did not connect to the text. Mr. Osgood as Columbus lacked power in the loud passages, but once he warmed up, his “was a very acceptable rendition.” Lang’s conducting of Bache’s Longing for Spring  presented ” a better piece of light and shade [than] has rarely been heard in Boston.” One of the choir’s tenors, Ivan Morawski sang the rollicking song from Sullivan’s opera Ivanhoe to such effect that an encore was demanded. The Pendergrast was a “beautiful bit of concentrated melody, which appeals alike to ear and heart.” In the Wagner the orchestra played the best that it had all evening and the voice of the soloist, Mr. S. Townsend, a relative newcomer to Boston, showed “plenty of proof of latent power and dramatic expression.” There was a large audience to hear the choir under “Mr. Lang’s excellent conception and leadership, which, as ever, showed itself strongly throughout the evening’s performance.” (Advertiser (January 24, 1895): 8, GB)

The third concert was sung on Wednesday, March 21, 1895. The choir sang well with a few problems such as the “inadequate power of the first tenors” which was balanced by the perfect intonation in Gauby’s Night at Sea. Chadwick’s Jabberwocky was the night’s “artistic success” with Lang’s “startlingly realistic reading of the piece. The description of the uncanny spook, in word and music, was a masterly touch of weird humor.” (Advertiser (March 21, 1895): 4, GB)


the lang residence“The Lang Residence, New Boston, N. H.”  Johnston Collection.

After spending many summers in many different places, the Langs began to look for a place of their own. A house owned by the BSO founder was considered, land in Tenant’s Harbor was so appealing that Lang “came back crazy over it. He started us making house plans.” Then a farm auction in New Boston, New Hampshire came to their attention, they went and it was bought for $4,000. At first, Frances was not impressed but found the setting beside “a lovely river and a mill…picturesque.” (Diary 2, Summer 1894)This was a working farm, and so the Langs had to hire “a Farmer…Lel took Rosamond with him to New Boston yesterday. He talked with 2 different men who have applied” for the position. (Ibid) Neither was hired. By early October Lang had “received innumerable applications from Farmers..” (Diary 2, Fall 1894)

In June 1895 the Langs started a Guest Book for the “House of Lang,” his newly bought summer home in New Boston, New Hampshire. During the first summer, Mrs. Lang’s relatives visited: Emeline Burrage who visited that first month, June 1895, followed by Edward Burrage and Julia Severance Burrage, June 22, 1895. Elizabeth May Marsh, a B. J. piano pupil visited June 25, and the critic William F. Apthorp visited in July 1895 writing, “Push it along, it’ a good thing.” Another of Lang’s piano students who would later become a music professor at Harvard, Edward Burlingame Hill signed on August 3, 1895 and included four measures of a song. Martha E. Homer, the sister-in-law of Winslow Homer, signed on August 6, 1895 as did Charles H. Burrage and Lydia L. Burrage on August 19. 1895. Caroline Severance Burrage stayed from September 2nd. until the 5th., 1895. Lang’s pupil E. Cutter then arrived on September 5th. and stayed through the 7th. leaving both an eight-line poem and a musical quote from [his?] Fugato-Suite in G Minor. The next day, September 8, 1895 Herbert E. Burrage as did Ruby M. Burrage. Isabella Stewart Gardner signed on September 28, 1895  and she seems to be the last guest of the first season, and certainly the most famous.

Isabella Stewart Gardner by John Singer Sargent, 1888.

This portrait was first displayed at the St. Botolph Club, but her husband, John Gardner found it so offensive that it had it removed. It now hangs in Fenway Court, but she did not allow it to be shown to the public until after her death. From this painting it is obvious that Mrs. Gardner was the “possessor of a slender, curvy body,” and while the Boston women in the mid-1860s were still wearing hoops, she was wearing the latest fashions from Paris. When one gentleman remarked, “Pray, who undressed you?” she was able to drop the name of a most famous Paris designer of the day with her reply: “Worth, didn’t he do it well.?” (Vigderman, 37 and 38)

Isabella Stewart Gardner (April 14, 1840-July 17, 1924) was a good friend of the Lang family, so much so that she was in charge of arranging the flowers at B. J.’s funeral. The Langs also visited the Gardners-among the “first visitors at Beverly Farms [in 1895] were… B. J. Lang” – this was the summer home of the Gardner’s – they had just returned from almost a year in Europe. (Carter, 154) In a more informal situation: “Rosamond rode on her bicycle to Mrs. Gardner’s to make a dinner call.” (Frances’ Diary Excerpts)

Mrs. Gardner helped many in addition to B. J. Among the young men in her circle was the composer Clayton Johns who had taken a young piano student, Heinrich Gebhard under his tutelage. Johns had Gebhard play for Paderewski who was on tour in America-the suggestion was that Gebhard should study with Leschetizky. “However, before I left for Vienna, Mr. Johns wanted to present me to the Boston public as his pupil. So in April 1896, a concert was arranged in Copley Hall, where I played before a large representative audience a program [that included] the Schumann Concerto accompanied by sixty-five players of the Boston Symphony Orchestra under the leadership of Franz Kneisel. Mrs. Jack Gardner, that wonderful and brilliant woman, who so often was a benefactor to young promising talents, in her great generosity footed the bill for this expensive concert.” (HMA Bulletin No.13)

Arthur Foote wrote “that Boston began its greatest musical growth soon after he started living there. He attributes much of this growth to the local women and their clubs… The preeminent example of a woman dedicated to the arts was the wealthy Isabella Stewart Gardner, Foote’s kindly friend and patron. She gave moral and monetary support to musical performers, composers, painters, and sculptors… She exerted herself in helping musicians to establish the Boston Composers’ Manuscript Society. its aim was to give local composers a hearing.” (Tara, Foote, 57) Gardner’s biographer, Morris Carter was quoted as saying: “Whether a social renaissance was created or not may be a question, but ”the Brimmer set, which represents the old Puritan aristocracy,” and ”the Apthorp set, which represents the new Bohemianism,” did meet in her house on common ground.” (Ibid)

Phyllis Robbins had a farm in New Boston which she found during a visit to the Langs. “The owner, an obdurate old woman, did not want to sell. Mr. Lang broke through her resistance on my behalf, after paying her many calls, by bringing a doll to her granddaughter.” (Robbins, 125) Robbins mentioned that: “Pianos were scattered here and there on the Langs’ big farm. There was one in the ‘Chalet’; another in the ‘Crow’s Nest’; and two in the ‘Mill.’ We listened to Beethoven with an accompaniment of rushing water. Even the bullfrogs contributed their choral chant, which varied so little from evening to evening that it was found possible to compose an obbligato and a piano accompaniment to their serenade.” (Ibid) Yet another missing Lang composition! The Robbins farm was “a tiny white house, near the river, under a giant elm.” (Ibid) Quite often the actress Maude Adams would spend time during the summer at the farm of Miss Robbins. Miss Adams was also a friend of the Langs. “I had seen Miss Adams at a distance coming out of Boston’s famous old King’s Chapel on one of the Sunday evenings when Mr. B. J. Lang sometimes played the organ for his invited friends. He had sent her a card, though at the time she did not know him personally.” (Robbins, 69)

Maude Adams in 1892. Wikipedia article accessed July 10, 2016.


As the summer of 1895 was the first year the Lang family spent at the New Boston farm, no one went to Europe. However, the earlier trip of 1893 in the ship MAJESTIC could have been much like what follows. A passenger on the Steamer PAVONIA made a ten-day westward journey from London to Boston, “sailing in early August,” thinking that the passage would be “pleasant,” but “the words ‘very unpleasant’ will have to characterize it.” From the first day, it rained and was “exceedingly chilly. The wind blew you about, while the steamer pitched, then rolled and tossed about in the tumultuous sea.”

SS PAVONIA. Cunard Line launched 1882, ran mainly from Liverpool to Boston, sometimes to New York, sold for scrap 1900. Wikipedia. Accessed March 25, 2020.

Steerage and second-class passengers boarded by means of a tender-thus you loaded all your luggage unto this small boat that took you out to the steamer that was in the middle of the river and then unloaded all that luggage unto the steamer. Those in first-class waited until the steamer docked, and then easily boarded-you could get a train from  London that arrived shipside just fifteen minutes before sailing and still have time to board! As so many ships needed to dock, each ship was allowed only one hour load and then sail. Seeing people off was still a novelty; the crowd gave the “impression that Liverpool men and women would rather watch the departure of a ship off to sea than work.”

There were 102 first-class passengers, which was an unusually large number of returnees for so early in the season. Because of the weather, many people didn’t come to the dining room, but instead took their meals “on deck or in the seclusion of their rooms.” During the first night, they sailed into a storm and they were awakened the next morning “by the goods and chattels in our rooms tumbling about in a very lively manner. At breakfast, there were very few indeed.”

Too bad they missed this breakfast. Wikipedia, accessed March 24, 2020.

The last stop before heading out into the Atlantic was Queenstown in Ireland. Here “bum-boats” surrounded the ship and the women in these boats were “hauled up by ropes with their baskets” of wares that included “sets of lace collars and souvenirs of oak.” Other women were selling “fruit and eatables” in second class and steerage. “The trading was continued even from the tender by means of a basket and rope, as a penny placed in the basket entitled you to four small apples.”

For the times when the passengers felt well enough to eat, French, English and American menus created by one of the best caterers in the Cunard fleet were available. “French soups and entrees, English game and bacon, we had such tempting American dishes as ice cream, sherbets, and ices daily, with codfish balls and apple dumplings to make us feel that we were eating at home.”

Wikipedia, accessed, March 24, 2020.

As they were nearing Boston, vaccinations had to be given to second class and steerage passengers. For entry into New York, only steerage passengers were required to have this done. “This is the reason that there is always a larger number of second cabin passengers to New York than to Boston. The ship’s surgeon has always to use considerable tact and diplomacy when there are several hundred and often 1,000 steerage to be vaccinated.”

Due to the winds of the various storms, the ship arrived in Boston at 7:30 PM of the day before it was due. Unfortunately, no one was at Quarantine to do the inspection, and so the passengers spent the evening within sight of Boston which aggravated many of them. The next morning “we were aroused for an early breakfast, unbearable heat and the trials of the custom-house.” All quotes from “A Midsummer Ocean Trip,” (Herald (August 25, 1895): 33 GB)


The opening concert at the Music Hall on Thursday evening, December 5, 1895 presented the Berlioz Requiem. Hale gave his usual hedged review noting how difficult the score was, how large the orchestra; “It is seldom, then, that this mass is ever heard as it looks in the score and may be imagined from it. To say that the performance last evening was wholly excellent would be to say the thing which is not. Yet it may be said truthfully that the performance was respectable throughout, and at times admirable.” He ended his review: “In spite of the shortcomings, some of them inevitable, to which I have alluded, the performance was a creditable one, and this phrase applied to the Requiem means much.” (Journal, undated) Another review noted: “Considering its difficulties the Requiem was surprisingly well sung, although now and then the singers were in advance of or lagged behind the orchestra…It was, however, all conscientious and well-studied work, and at times reached a high point of excellence…No fault could be found with the excellent work of the orchestra [and then a few faults were listed].” (Anon., undated) The Globe first headline was “Another Splendid Performance of Berlioz’s Requiem” while the second headline noted “Last night Cecilia for 3rd. time in this city.” (Globe (December 6, 1895): 8) It also noted that in spite of the extremely inclement weather, there were only a very few seats empty. “The singing of the chorus was uniformly excellent and almost all the work was done by the chorus…The chorus throughout was well balanced, and the basses and sopranos sang remarkably well.” (Ibid) The reviewer had noted earlier that the work “is written without an alto part, but Mr. Lang utilized his contraltos by having them sing in unison with the tenors. The effect of this combination was very pleasing and the tenor part was decidedly stronger than it is in most of our concerts.” (Ibid) The Advertiser made many of the points mentioned above, calling special attention to the choir’s work in the “Sanctus, ” “excellently evinced,” and the “Rex Tremendae,” “the most telling” of the evening. The tenor soloist, Mr. J. C. Bartlett,  was found to be “profoundly impressive,” and although his voice was not powerful, “the B flats were placed and sustained with perfect ease.” (Advertiser (December 6, 1895): 5, GB)

The second concert was presented on Thursday evening February 13, 1896 at the Music Hall with Harry Fay and Frederic H. Lewis pianists. Margaret’s Irish Love Song was sung by Mrs. Jeannie Crocker Follett who seems to have had an ideal voice for this piece. The Transcript wrote: “Mrs. Follett was utterly unlike the soprano soloists we have heard in recent years, for she sang with no affected airs. Hers is the ideal ballad voice, simple, sympathetic and appealing. Her three songs were admirably chosen, and with Mr. Lang’s skillful accompaniments, gave genuine delight.” The review continued with comments about one of the accompanists. “We venture to suggest to Mr. Fay that he profit by the lesson given him by Mr. Lang. [Fay was a Lang pupil] Where the latter’s touch was delicate and subdued, Mr. Fay’s seemed harsh and noisy. Mr. Lang’s pianoforte work was a treat in itself. Mr. Fay’s made one squirm.” (Transcript, undated) On the other hand, the Globe wrote: “Messrs Fay and Lewis are to be congratulated for their work in the Wynken, Blinken and Nod accompaniment.” (Globe (February 14, 1896): 8) However, Lang’s paying was also praised: “The fine hand of Mr. Lang was probably not more noticeable in any other number on the program than in this [Wynken,Blinken and Nod]. The lights and shades were beautifully done.” (Ibid) Mrs. Follett’s rendering of Margaret’s Irish Love Song  “was especially good.” She had also done the solo in Wynken, Blinken and Nod. The concert opened with “O Gladsome Light” from Arthur Sullivan’s The Golden Legend, a work that Lang would do in its complete form in April 1898.

The third concert was given on Friday evening March 20, 1896 at the Music Hall using a string orchestra, harp and organ for the accompaniment; Foote and Lewis were the organists. Margaret’s work also appeared in this concert-not as a composer, but as the translator of a scene from Goethe’s Faust which opened the second half of the concert. The translated title was “The Shepherd deck’d him For the Dance” with music by Moritz Moszkowski, his Op. 44. The Gazette review was lukewarm: “The concert was solemn as befitted the occasion and somewhat dull.” The reviewer felt that “the Moszkowski music came in as appropriately as a clown at a death bed; it drew the line at solemnity and converted it into farce. A sample of bad taste not often heard at dignified concerts. The piece was not bad in itself, but its place was surely not on a programme of a religious or semi-religion [sic] nature.” Three movements of the St. Saens Noel found favor, and “the singing was admirable throughout, the soloists being surprisingly good…the orchestra played with independence; a large audience was liberal in its applause and the Cecilia may be congratulated on the excellent work done.” (Gazette, undated) Louis C. Elson also thought the Moszkowski “a bit of an interruption to the prevailing thought of the evening, but in itself proved a sparkling sketch of bucolic fun and laughter.” He approved of the Sgambati Te Deum for organ and strings which he described as “replete with spiritual exaltation” and played “with just the right touch of religious fervor, portraying a churchly pageant rather than a humble prayer.” (Advertiser, undated) Elson also enjoyed the Saint-Saens noting especially the chorus work in the final section. “Their splendid precision of attack, purity of tone, surety of intonation, were given free scope in that inspiring finale.” The choir’s performance inspired Elson to devote a paragraph to their place in Boston’s musical world. “With all due excuses for a display of local pride, we take pleasure in renewing our own assurance of unrivaled distinction for the Cecilia in the way of a body of ensemble singers, after hearing most of the best chorus work done in America. Even the patron saint of the society would find satisfaction in the tone quality of the soprani. Rarely in a body of singers are there to be found such distinctive qualities as refinement, power, tone and temperament, but in the Cecilia, the combination is refreshingly patent.” (Ibid)

The fourth concert was given on Thursday evening April 30, 1896 at the Music Hall with Ernst Perabo as the guest soloist and Lewis as accompanist, and Elson noted that he played “with discretion and good taste.” Elson also wrote: “Miss Margaret R. Lang’s In a Garden was graceful but nothing more; Miss Lang must beware of taking so long a time to say nothing.” He ended the review with the comment: “Altogether the evening was a pretty and unambitious ending to a season that has been even above the praiseworthy standard generally maintained by the Cecilia.” (Advertiser, undated) The Transcript review didn’t mention Margaret’s piece directly but noted: “Mrs. [Alice] Rice’s three songs were a delight to the ear and soul,” and of the solo pianist: “Mr. Perabo played exquisitely as ever.” (Transcript, undated) Hale also noted the pianist’s performance: “Mr. Perabo played with his customary thoughtfulness and reverence for the composers,” and of Margaret’s song: “Mrs. Bates-Rice sang [her three songs] with technical skill and genuine feeling.” (Journal, undated)

President Thorndike’s Annual report of May 28, 1896 wrote: the “kind public has greeted our successes with appreciative favor. Even the critics…have not found fault oftener than is the wont of their tribe or, perhaps, oftener than we have deserved.” He also called attention to the “higher standard of performance of the Cecilia” and cited one of the factors: “the playing of Mr. Higginson’s orchestra is superior to that of the orchestra of the Harvard Musical Association. And I am never tired of saying that the Cecilia owes most of this to Mr. Lang, who must have great pride in the manner in which the club has grown under his hands.” Thorndike then reflected on the general growth during the previous twenty years of all aspects of music in Boston. “The musical life of the city is far more intense and pervading, far more a necessary part of daily existence, than ever before. Fifty girls play the piano fairly well to one who played it fairly well when Mr. Lang and Mr. Dresel began to teach. ” He then addressed the younger members of the club: “Upon you, young people, it rest to see that the Cecilia takes its proper place in this general progress. You are the inheritors of all the gains that it has made in the time that is past, and it depends upon you to add like gains in the time that is to come.” One area of needed attention was financial support: “We could do much more than we have done if we had more associate members, and we must, each and all, neglect no opportunity of obtaining them.” The continued success of the Wage Earner Concerts was noted as was the continued abuse by some who used these cheap tickets even though they could afford to become Associates. “This dishonesty manifestly causes pecuniary loss to the Cecilia. Mr. Ryder [Secretary of the Wage Earner Committee] well remarks, ”If the evil cannot be abated, the Wage Earner Concerts must stop.”” The Report ended with news of the following season: “The next season will begin with a repetition of Dvorak’s The Spectre’s Bride, not heard here for seven years. In a later concert, Massenet’s Eve will be repeated.” (1896 Annual Report).


Just horse-drawn carriages-no cars yet. Johnston Collection.

The music for Easter Sunday 1895 included a Te Deum in G Flat Major by Lang together with Lang’s Easter Carol. While “G Flat Major” is possible, it is more probable that the “G” was a misprint for “B” which is located just below “G” on the keyboard. The choir for that day was: Mrs. Josslyn, Miss Lena Little, Mr. W. J. Winch and Mr. Max Heinrich. (Herald (April 12, 1895): 7, GB)

“Unitarians from all parts of the city attended the Christmas services at King’s Chapel yesterday forenoon [December 25th.] The interior of the chapel was elaborately decorated with evergreen and hemlock…The choir rendered a special musical programme. The numbers included Christmas Carol by Lang…Te Deum in D Major by Lang. (Herald (December 26, 1895): 6, GB)

“The Musician,” Vol. 1, No. 4, April  1896. 90.



The first concert of the 25th. season was on Tuesday, November 26, 1895. The sole work was Oedipus Tyrannus by Harvard’s Prof. J. K. Paine which was accompanied by a full orchestra. This was the first complete performance, the Prelude having been given about fourteen years previously. Mr. George Riddle was the reader and Mr. William H. Rieger was the tenor soloist. (Herald, (November 24, 1895): 16, GB) On Friday, November 29 the Club repeated the work at Harvard’s Sanders Theatre where it had first been produced in 1881. For this performance, all the parts were again read by George Riddle. The reviewer had “frequently spoken of it as the leading American work in music ” since its premiere in 1881. [That is the opposite of the third sentence] Mendelssohn had set Oedipus in Colonos and Antigone and had planned to set OedipusTyrannus before his death. “Comparisons are naturally in order between Mendelssohn and Paine,” but Mendelssohn, in his two Greek settings had “not attained the direct strength and majesty which characterize Prof. Paine’s setting.” Sanders Theatre was “more perfect in its acoustics than any large hall in Boston, and the chorus rang out with a virility and vigor that it could not have attained in Music Hall.” The auditorium was filled and all the performers, Paine, who conducted the Overture [Lang, the rest], Riddle and Lang were greeted with “ardent” applause. (Louis C. Elson in the Advertiser (November 30, 1895): 8, GB) The Globe wrote that “The work made a great sensation when performed at Harvard college, and is without doubt one of the finest compositions ever written by an American.” (Globe (November 24, 1895): 17, NA)

The second concert was given on Tuesday, January 28, 1896 with Miss Gertrude May Stein, mezzo-soprano and Mr. Ondricek, violinist as assisting artists. “As usual Mr. Lang provided something worth listening to.” (Advertiser (January 29, 1896): 5, GB) The reviewer, Louis C. Elson, found ” the intonation true, the rhythms perfectly preserved, and the attacks precise.” (Ibid) He did note that the First Tenor was weak, of a “most feathery description.” (Ibid) Elson enthused that Mr. Ordricek’s encore “must have warmed the pulse of any violin student present,” (Ibid) but Philip Hale felt it was a “Musical bore.” (Journal (January 29, 1896): 5, GB) Hale praised the performance of the club, but wished they would sing “English masterpieces. The German modern part songs somehow or another sound pretty much alike.” (Ibid) Hale’s greatest praise was for the singing of the “beautiful By Celia’s Arbor” by Arthur Foote with the composer as the accompanist, but Elson thought that the piece was sung “at least a minor third below its proper pitch,” which robbed it of color. Both reviewers found Foote’s Bedouin Song to have problems; Elson felt it was “too conventional to be attractive,” while Hale was reminded that only one composer out of many, “poor Alfred H. Pease,” had caught the spirit and suggested the Oriental passion that was in the poem.

The third concert was given on Wednesday, April 8, 1896 assisted by two vocalists. The major choral works were Stanford’s Cavalier Tunes, Bullard’s War Song and Lund’s March to Battle for soprano solo and choir. Shorter pieces included part songs by Sullivan, Weinzierl, Bache and Massenet. The soprano, Mrs Gadski offered Wagner and Damrosch while the tenor, Mr. G. W. Ferguson sang an aria from Herodiade.

The fourth concert was given on Wednesday night, April 9, 1896 and it was mainly lighter material. A former singer in the group, Warren Davenport, was now the reviewer for the Journal (Philip Hale was also reviewing for this paper), and he wrote a detailed piece that covered both the choir and also the two vocal soloists. The tenor, who was new to Boston, had a voice “of ordinary character” and “a bad manner of producing it.” His “jaw was ridged,” and his tones “throaty, thin and forced.” The soprano’s efforts “were not marked by any high artistic excellence…[her] intonation was frequently sharp…[and] The audience was merely gracious in its recognition of her efforts.” The choir did sing one challenging composition, The Cavalier Songs, Opus 17 by the Englishman, Charles Villiers Stanford. They were “finely sung” by the club, and overall, “in all the work done by the club, there was that same excellence in dynamic expression, good attack, and admirable intonation that has always marked its efforts in concerted work. It showed the careful training of Mr. Lang, and deserved more recognition than was accorded it by the audience.” (Journal (April 9, 1896): 7, GB) The only encore was for the simple Bavarian Folk-Song.                                           The Globe also mentioned the audience. “The choruses were admirably sung and the work of the club deserved a heartier appreciation from a rather undemonstrative audience.” (Globe (April  9, 1896): 5) Whereas the Journal found tenor’s voice to be “ordinary,” the Globe found them to be “rich and sweet, and he proved himself an artist in phrasing, modulating and general execution…The contrasting group of Cavalier tunes, which brought out the robust quality of his tones, was sung in a style that awakened the audience to hearty applause.” (Ibid) Lang’s name was not mentioned once.


Apollo Club-25th. Anniversary Concert, May 6, 1896. Courtesy of the Trustees of the Boston Public    Library/Rare Books.

The 25th. Anniversary Concert was given on Wednesday, May 6, 1896 together with the Mendelssohn Glee Club of New York. A visit by the New York group to Boston during the winter of 1870-71 had led to the formation of the Apollo Club. Philip Hale wrote what would seem to be a rave from his pen: “The many excellent characteristics of the singing of the Apollo are familiar to all music lovers in Boston, and it is sufficient to say that last night the members were in the vein and the performance was of the best.” Hale then continued with an extensive section on the performance by the Mendelssohn Glee Club which ended: “In a word the singing of this society was long to be remembered. It was on a level with the best of the Symphony and Kneisel concerts.” He finished with a short paragraph about the soloist, Mrs. A. Sophia Markee “who flattered parochial pride by singing songs of Mrs. Beach, Mr. Chadwick and Miss Lang. Her singing was a disappointment. Her intonation was frequently impure.” (Journal (May 7, 1896): 8, GB) The Globe mentioned that the opening Mendelssohn double chorus from Antigone “was admirably interpreted, the different parts being given very smoothly and the clubs singing together as if they were one organization and familiar with Mr. Lang’s conducting.” (Globe (May 7, 1896): 4) The greatest success of the evening was a piece written by the Mendelssohn’s recent conductor, Joseph Mosenthal entitled Thanatopsis, text by Bryant. “The performance was as nearly perfect as one could wish,” and then many reasons given. (Ibid) The soprano soloist sang three pieces by local composers, Mrs. Beach, Mr. Chadwick and Margaret Ruthven Lang, but only “in a satisfactory manner.” The Apollos “sang admirably, and received warm applause.” Their repertoire included a cradle song by MacDowell, a Schumann setting, Suomi’s Song by Mair and Osgood’s In Picadie. “A humorous bit, The Chafer and the Flower went with a capital swing, and proved somewhat of a relief from the prevailing style of the selections.” (Ibid) All in all the evening was “especially enjoyable.”


The same angle as the postcard used for the First Year entry. Taken 2011 by Quent and Carolyn Peacock.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The first guest of the second season was Benjamin Lang, B. J.’s father who wrote: “well done my boy, I’ve seen the farm. its hill and dale and every charm. May heaven always bless you all.” Dated June 14, 1896. The singer Lena Little visited July 11-12, 1896, and Arthur Sturgis Dixey signed on August 3. 1896 and left a colored sketch. Emeline Burrage, Caroline Severance Burrage and Edward Burlingame Hill made return visits during September 1896. Winslow Homer’s brother, Charles and his wife, Martha E. Homer also stayed during September.


Lang was one of the founding members of the American Guild of Organists whose first President was Gerrit Smith; his wife had organized in New York City a recital of Margaret’s songs. Other prominent Boston AGO members were Arthur Foote, John K. Paine. Horatio Parker, George Whiting and Dudley Buck who was named Honorary President during the period 1896-99. (Orr, 85)

HANDEL AND HAYDN SOCIETY: LANG AS CONDUCTOR. “Best concert in its history.”

After having been the organist for the Handel and Haydn Society for thirty-five seasons, Lang succeeded Carl Zerrahn as conductor for the two years 1895-1897, but this was a period when the group was at a low ebb and torn with dissensions. However, he conducted the “best concert in its history” with the Elijah performance. (Secretary notes)[February 1897] During the season before he became conductor, Lang had the chance to conduct the Feb. 3, 1895 concert of Handel’s Israel In Egypt as Zerrahn had had an accident. With no rehearsal, Lang conducted a brilliant performance. President Browne’s annual address included these words of praise: ”Mr. Lang conducted. He had no time for rehearsal with the chorus, but he held them so firmly and conducted with so much coolness and intelligence that it was a notably good performance.”(History-Vol. II, 47) Secretary Stone wrote: “Under such circumstances, Mr. Lang was the center of interest, and covered himself with glory. He held command of the situation throughout. His depiction of ‘There was not one feeble person’ was sublime: an amazing revelation of the possibilities of the passage. The chorus worked hard. its performance was somewhat uneven, but always powerful and vital. The reserve power which was flung into the final chorus carried it out with a sweep and rush that was new in the story of the Society…It was voted that the cordial thanks of the Society should be extended to Mr. Lang for his invaluable services, generously rendered without charge, in conducting the performance of Israel in Egypt.” (History-1911, 46 and 47) The critical response was very favorable: the Globe critic was very complimentary. Secretary Stone noted: “A most interesting event of the evening was the appearance of Myron W. Whitney, father and son. Mr. Whitney senior seemed restored to his old greatness, and the son showed himself a youth of noble promise.” (History-1911, 47) Louis Elson wrote: “Probably no audience has ever before heard ‘The Lord is a man of war’ given by father and son, and the result was something that both might be proud of.” (Ibid)

Lang had also conducted the Society almost twenty years before. At its April 12, 1876 concert at the Music Hall he had conducted Mendelssohn’s Hymn of Praise (their 12th. performance of the work) and the Rossini Stabat Mater (their 20th. performance). J. K. Paine had been the organist. (BPL Lang Prog., Vol. 2) Perhaps Zerrahn needed a rest or had an engagement with another group, as he had conducted the Society in Bach’s St. Matthew Passion on Palm Sunday, April 9, 1876, just four days before!

                                                                                                                                                       Handel and Haydn Scrapbook. BPL.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         At the June 25, 1895 meeting of the Board, President Browne read a letter from Carl Zerrahn saying ”that I will withdraw at any time from the candidacy of the conductorship.”(History, Vol II, 54) The year before: ”The opposition was so great that Mr. Zerrahn was not as usual elected at the early meetings of the board of 1894 and not until Sept. 10, 1894 when he was elected conducted at a salary of $1,000 and Mr. Lang organist at a salary of $300.” (History-Vol. II, 55) Therefore it probably was not a surprise when the June 25, 1895 meeting decided to accept Zerrahn’s withdrawal as a candidate for conductor. At the same meeting B. J. Lang was elected as conductor at a salary of $1,000 by a vote of nine yeas and three nays. The Anti-Lang Board Members were really more Pro-Zerrahn in that they felt that he “had not gone out altogether of his own will, and the unwillingness of the directors to say anything about it did not tend to settle the trouble.” (Advertiser (June 9, 1896): 1, News Arc)  The Board Members were not alone; 100 people attended the meeting. “Mr. Copeland led the attack.” He wanted to know details about the content of the letter. President Browne replied that members should trust the actions of the Board. Reporters were then asked to leave the room and President Browne told the story of the origin of “the letter.” Zerrahn had written it ten years before and given it to Browne with the instruction to use it when appropriate. After about 5 years, Browne began to notice that Zerrahn was gradually losing his hearing. Browne had been told this by a physician, and Browne “tried to tell him that it would be best if he retired now, but the words would not come…The remembrance of 40 years of service in the society arose and he had not the heart to speak.” (Advertiser (June 6, 1896): 1, News Arc) Browne had thought that Zerrahn would retire at the end of his 40th. year with the choir, but he did not. That was when Browne finally summoned courage to make this suggestion and the letter was written.” Zerrahn wrote: “I tender my resignation now or at any time in the future that you care to accept it.” (Ibid) Browne read all the correspondence involved, and then Vice-President Hagar “rehearsed the whole matter.” Secretary Stone “spoke to the same effect.” The six Anti-Lang members, headed by Boynton had visited Zerrahn and told him that the Directors’ action was not supported by much of the membership. He gave them the impression that he hadn’t actually resigned. President Browne’s reply was that “Dr. Zerrahn’s letters were on file.” Then two new directors were elected and the meeting ended. But “not, however without assurance from both sides that the warfare is over. But of that there is reasonable doubt.” (Ibid)

President Browne later wrote that ”With his (Zerrahn’s) retirement came, for the first time in forty years, the necessity of choosing a conductor, but hardly a question as to who it should be. The excellent musician who has been our organist for thirty-six years, and had, as conductor of the Cecilia and Apollo clubs during a quarter of a century, abundantly shown his high capacity in that regard, was, of course, the choice of the board…It might have been expected that a feeling of unfamiliarity because of the change in conductorship would operate to the disadvantage of the chorus singing, but nothing of the kind was shown. There was no falling off in attendance or interest at rehearsals or concerts, Mr. Lang’s devotion to his work has been above praise, as have his skill and success in instruction, so that in some very important respects the chorus improved during the year.” (History-Vol. II, 63) Thus after the success of his conducting debut with this group and his long connection as organist, Lang began leading the major choral group of Boston. Tara described Lang’s era: “Lang nursed back to health a Handel and Haydn Society that was almost moribund.” (Tara, Foote, 41)

The repertoire for Lang’s first season included two performances of Messiah in December (the 92nd. and 93rd. time the group had sung this work). One writer said of the first concert: ”As Conductor Lang walked up to the platform warmly applauded by the immense audience that completely filled Music Hall, one could not feel that it was a case of ‘Le Roi est mort; Vive le Roi”; for there in the foremost row sat Carl Zerrahn in the audience. As he watched the every motion of the man who now conducts his beloved Society, many an eye grew moist at the deep suggestion of the picture.” (Bradbury, History-Vol. II, 57) It is ironic that he would have to begin his conductorship with this work as ”Mr. Lang regarded the singing of Messiah by the Handel and Haydn on Christmas week so many consecutive years as having really no fitness for that season. He viewed as the most fitting music for that season the Christmas Oratorio by John [sic] Sebastian Bach. Bach, he considered the greatest name in Protestant church music.” (Transcript, April 5, 1909)                                                                                                                                       The Herald noticed “many innovations in regard to the time in which the choruses were taken…for a more rapid pace was adopted.” This worked well in some cases but the “more flowery passages could not be sung clearly and steadily by so large a body of singers, and the effect was confused and muddy.” However, one of the most difficult, “‘For Unto Us a Child Is Born,’ was finely sung, with strong emphasis, admirable color and impressive spirit,” and nothing said about the roulades! “Mr. Lang was evidently suffering from nervousness, for he did not always hold his forces together, and there were many moments when he was at odds with both the singers and orchestra.” (Herald (December 23, 1895): 5, GB)                                       Philip Hale in the Journal also noted the faster tempi: “Certain choruses were taken at a faster pace than has been the custom, and the majority of these choruses gained thereby.” However, those with roulades “were for the most part indistinct and without accent.” To Hale, the choir didn’t sound any different than it had under Zerrahn. The orchestra played poorly, and Hale wrote: “This was not the fault of the orchestra; it was the fault of Mr. Lang, who is apt to bury his head in the score, forgetting that even the most experienced player is often anxious for a cue.” (Journal (December 23, 1895): 5, GB)  The Post review of the Sunday performance called Lang a “sterling conductor” who was well established [in] his ability to conduct so large a body of singers, “and the end result was that “it was a long time since so spirited and intense a performance of  The Messiah has been given.” (Post (December 23, 2895): 8, News Archive). The choir was well balanced and each section was praised. Two choruses were highlighted-“Surely he hath borne our griefs” and the “Hallelujah”  were “rendered in grand style, being sung with much strength and precision and in tune.” (Ibid)  The Globe review included comments on both Sunday and Monday performances calling the Monday concert “a great deal more satisfactory,” but the reviewer found the general lack of volume of such a large chorus “decidedly disappointing.” (Globe (December 24, 24, 1895): 3, News Archive) The choir did seem to be more alert on Monday. “For unto us a child is born” was sung “in a manner to arouse deserved enthusiasm.” It was a high point of the night. “The attack was good, exclamations were splendidly given, and there was a spontaneity in the work of the chorus throughout.” “Glory to God,” “Sure he hath borne our griefs” and the “Hallelujah” chorus “won deserved recognition.”(Ibid)  No mention was made of the conductor.                                                                                                                            Charles W. Stone, the Secretary of the Society would enter into the Minutes his own comments of each performance. Of this first Messiah he wrote: “The chorus work was more uneven than usual. It showed far greater merits and also some demerits. There was immense improvement in delicacy and in expression, but the great choruses were given with less power than usual. ‘For Unto Us a Child is Born’ was the especial success of the evening. Mr. Lang modified the tempo somewhat in several numbers. In the ‘Pastoral Symphony’ in particular, the local traditions were disregarded, the tempo was much quickened and the wood was kept playing throughout.” Stone then reviewed the soloists giving the two women only passing marks, but the tenor Mr. Johnson sang “with glorious voice, fine expression and musicianly style. He won golden opinions even from the Boston critics…The orchestra played a little better than usual.” (Bradbury, Ibid) A was a total of 368 singers and an orchestra of 54. There was a loss for Sunday night of $27.22 and a profit for Monday night of $575.15. Even though this was Lang’s first appearance with the group, sales were poor and every singer was given a ticket free in order to help paper the house. Some of the critics said that that was a full house on Sunday night. Bradbury wondered: “Were these critics there?”

The Verdi Requiem was performed on Feb. 2, 1896 (for the fifth time) to mixed criticism. On Good Friday, April 3, 1896 Bach’ St. Matthew Passion was presented (for the thirteenth time), also to mixed critical response and a very poor house which led the Society’s Secretary Charles W. Stone to predict the ”doom” of this work as an annual feature in the Society’s programming. Only two days later, on Easter Sunday, Haydn’s Creation was given (the sixty-sixth time since 1819) to a full house that produced a profit of $1,282.80. The soloists were well received, the chorus performed well, and Lang was lauded by the critics. The choir numbered 381 and the orchestra 69. (Bradbury, History, Vol. 2, 58)

On Good Friday, April 3, 1896 the choir sang its 13th. performance of Bach’s “Passion Music with a chorus of 323, an orchestra of 61 and the usual boy choir.” (Bradbury, History, Vol. 2, 60) Ticket sales were very poor, and although the Society’s Secretary wrote that the “choral performance was superb, finer than ever before in the work,” (Bradbury, 60) this marked the last performance of the work.

A week later [!] the Society gave their 66th. performance of Haydn’s Creation. “The chorus numbered 354 and the orchestra 55. The house at this concert was full [ as opposed to the Bach performance] and not papered, for the receipts were $3,762.42 and the direct profit of $1,282.80. (Bradbury, 61) One of the soloists canceled at just a few hours’ notice, but Mrs. Henschel stepped in, singing, as Secretary Stone reported, “very well, evading the high notes and hard places in the highest style of the art.” (Ibid) “In almost every number the chorus executed its task in a manner to do credit to itself and to the training of Mr. B. J. Lang (Louis C. Elson), and “the chorus sang splendidly with vim, accuracy, sharpness of attack, and all due shading (Transcript-probably Apthorp).” (Ibid) The profit from this concert helped to reduce the loss for the year of $1,416.15. (Bradbury, 66)

The Annual Meeting held on May 25, 1896 was described as ”stormy.” It was demanded that the correspondence between President Browne and Carl Zerrahn be read to the full meeting. The Journal had multiple headlines for its story: “A CONTEST OVER B. J. LANG; Handel and Haydn Society Have a Contest; What the Conductor Has to Say on the Subject; Secretary Stone talks Freely of the Affair”. Lang was asked by the Journal reporter what he knew about this situation, and Lang replied that he was just the conductor and not a member of the society. He did not attend meetings and so knew nothing of the affairs of the choir. The reporter brought up the deficit of c. $1,000 for Lang’s first season, but Secretary Stone replied: “There have been very few seasons for 12 or 15 years when we have paid expenses out of the season’s receipts.” concerning the Annual meeting Lang mentioned: “What happened, by the way, doesn’t concern me particularly. In the course of the day I have met perhaps 40 or 50 friends and pupils. Not one of them said anything to me about the incidents of last night’s meeting.” (Journal (May 27, 1896): 7, GB)

Philip Hale of the Journal did some investigative journalism. First he went to Lang’s teaching studio on Tremont Street for reaction to “the attempt to oust him from the conductorship of the Handel and Haydn Society at its annual Meeting.” (Journal (May 27, 1896): 7, News Arc) Lang read the article and replied: “This news to me.” As an employee he had not been invited to the meeting. He also said that he knew nothing of the finances. “I was engaged to conduct the society’s series of concerts last season. I did what I was engaged to do-nothing more.” Next Hale went to the home of the Secretary C. W. Stone on Chestnut Street and asked if the Society was concerned about the deficit of $1,200 for Lang’s first season. Stone’s reply was: “That is the normal state of things. There have been very few seasons for 13 or 15 years when we paid expenses out of the season’s receipts.” (Ibid)  Stone reminded everyone that the Society elects the Board and the Board makes the decisions-there had been some talk of “Why doesn’t the Society [singers] select the conductor.”

The meeting was continued until June 8. Two days later the Worcester Daily Spy reported: “The war in the Handel and Haydn Society of Boston is nominally ended, and Mr. Lang will continue as conductor. Two more directors favorable to him were elected by the Society, Monday night, so that the board stands 9 to 2 in his favor…There are hints, however, that the suspension of hostilities against Mr. Lang is merely a truce and not an established peace.” (Worcester Daily Spy (June 10, 1896): 4, GB) The actual vote was Nine in favor, Four against. At a final meeting on July 1, Lang was elected conductor for the next season. The program was to be Messiah in December, Elijah in February, and Horatio Parker’s Hora Novissima in April.

Philip Hale announced to his Journal readers: “Gentlemen of the Handel and Haydn, now lay aside all strife and unseemly bickering and consecrate yourselves to the arduous labors of nest season. It is rumored-and we see no reason for disbelieving the report-that you will produce on or about Christmas a new work, which has excited considerable attention in Europe. We believe the oratorio is entitled The Messiah. Gird up your loins and buckle yourselves bravely to the taste. Look your conductor straight in the face, and sing “Wonderful! Counselor!” (Journal (June 10, 1896): 10, News Arc.)

For the December 20 and 21, 1896 concerts Lang was unable to conduct because of pneumonia. “From an attack of congestion of the lungs, he was confined to his home by the imperative order of his physician.” (Herald (December 21, 1896): 5, GB) Without rehearsal, George W. Chadwick conducted the Messiahs. “It may be said, however, that there were no serious hitches, and that, all things considered, he acquitted himself with much credit.” (Ibid) “It will suffice to say of the chorus work that it was steady and generally praiseworthy. To criticize it more closely would not be kindly.” (Ibid) For the Sunday performance, there was a chorus of 346 and an orchestra of 54; for Monday’s concert, the numbers were 304 and 54. (Bradbury, History, Vol. 2, 68)

The February 7, 1897 Elijah performance was the 50th. for the Society and every seat in the hall was filled. The Society first sang the work on February 13, 1848, just nine months after its premiere in England. “So great was its success that it was performed on the next eight Sunday nights.” (Bradbury, Op. cit., 69) This 50th. performance was called a “triumph” for Lang, and even Philip Hale said ”It is only just to say that the performance as a whole deserves hearty praise.” (Ibid) The Globe gave more details. The second paragraph began: “The only notable novelty about the performance was the appearance of the distinguished boy soprano, Henry Donlan, in the part of the youth.” (Globe (February 8, 1897): 5) Before this date, this part had always been sung by a soprano. The ease with which he sang the high A at the end of his section was noted. However, another critic noted that he “lapsed from correct intonation,” and that instead of singing in “a simple childish manner,” he had been coached to produce a ” maturity of feeling quite out of keeping with his age, and that deprived his efforts of anything resembling sincerity.” (Herald (February 8, 1897): 4, GB) However, “Master Donlan received an ovation such is seldom seen anywhere. At intermission, when he left the stage, the audience arose and shouted for him.” (Worcester Daily Spy (February 8, 1897): 3. GB)

Another highlight of the performance was the singing of the Welshman Ffrangeon Davies, in the part of Elijah. He received “most generous applause” for his main aria, but also he was applauded for his recitatives, “the entire performance coming to a pause, while conductor Lang, resting his arm upon his music stand, waited for quiet to be restored.” (Ibid)

Of the choir: “Mr. Lang has made distinct improvements in his handling of the chorus. He has better control and leads with more confidence. The work of the great body of singers was unusually good. There was precision of attack and exact unanimity of action without which the effect of the work of a chorus is sadly marred. The balance was fairly good, though a little more volume of sound from the alto section would not have been amiss. The shading of tone volume was beautifully done, the chorus responding as accurately and surely to the conductor’s command as an organ does to the drawing of its stops.” (Ibid) The Worcester paper reported that this concert had been “one of the best in the history of the Handel and Haydn Society.” Lang had brought about “excellent dynamic effects of light and shade in both chorus and orchestra, good attacks and improved pronunciation” was evident, “while the orchestra was held well in hand and made more than usually effective in the solo accompaniments.” The young boy soloist “Master Donlan received an ovation such is seldom seen anywhere. At the intermission, when he left the stage, the audience arose and shouted for him.” (Worcester Spy (February 8, 1897): 3, GB) The Society’s Secretary wrote: “This was pronounced by the friends of the society the best concert of its history. It was a day of triumph for Mr. Lang…The chorus sang with amazing ease, grace, flexibility, responsiveness and power. its work was a revelation. [!] Immense enthusiasm attended the performance, and even the hostile critics [see Hale above] had not the temerity to deny it.” (Secretary notes, 261) But yet he was not hired for the next season! The choir numbered 334 and the orchestra 55. (Bradbury, History, Vol. 2, 69)

The Bach Passion was not presented this season. The Easter Sunday, April 18th. performance included Lang leading Mendelssohn’s Overture to St. Paul and Hear My Prayer together with J. C. D. Parker conducting his own Redemption Hymn and Horatio Parker conducting his own Hora Novissima. The high point of the performance was to have been the first Boston appearance of the English soprano, Miss Ella Russell, but “her rendering of the solos in Hear My Prayer was heavy and lacking ” in style, color, freedom and warmth of sentiment while the speed was so slow that “grace of phrasing were quite out of the question.” (Herald (April 19, 1897): 8, GB) Her major solo in Hora Novissima, “O Bona Patria” was marred by “the unimpassioned manner in which she interpreted it.” (Ibid).  The Redemption Hymn was “again listened to with pleasure and interest.” (Ibid) End of comment. The work of the chorus was “praiseworthy in every way…It has done nothing better than its firm and solid rendering of the difficult a capella chorus.” [In Hora Novissima] (Ibid) The orchestra played well, especially under Horatio Parker, and “the concert may be confidently pronounced the most commendable of the society’s season.” (Ibid) The choir numbered 329 and the orchestra 59. (Bradbury, History, Vol. 2, 70)

At the Annual Meeting of the Handel and Haydn Society on May 24, 1897 nine of the thirteen board members elected were seen as ”Anti-Lang men”. This board then elected Zerrahn conductor again, and, disregarding precedent, created an executive committee that did not include the Vice-President and Secretary. It also removed from the President the duties of appointing the voice committee and superintendents. The result was that the four major officers of the Society resigned. In a story dated June 23, 1897 in the Boston Record the various officers were quoted. Ledbetter summarizes the story-  “The four principal officers of the Society were older men, while new members of the board in 1897 were younger. Nonetheless, these younger fellows preferred Zerrahn to Lang, feeling that his personal magnetism and familiar ways of conducting were more healthful than the stricter discipline immediately imposed by Lang. Lang was at a disadvantage with the orchestra and had difficulty in holding all forces together in concerts. The younger men felt that the older Zerrahn had not outlived his usefulness and wanted him back again.” (Johnson,  Hallelujah Amen, 167, 168) The four officers were: President: Eugene Hagar, Vice-President: Gen. F. Daniel and Secretary: Charles W. Stone with Treasurer M. Grant Daniel resigning later. (Journal (June 23, 1897): no page number, GB) These men “had long been valued officers of the society.” (Ibid)

When Lang was questioned about this, he pointed out that he was not at this business meeting: “I am a musician. I have nothing to do with the business of the society…I understand that some gentlemen who are termed ‘anti-Lang’ were put into power…But I don’t know. Mr. Stone [Secretary of the Society] knows, I daresay. He lives on Mt. Vernon Street.” (Journal (May 25, 1897: 6. GB) The Journal was Boston’s more sensational paper of its time, and so Lang’s comments generated this headline: “MR. LANG AT SEA. He Doesn’t Know What Happened at the Handel and Haydn Society Meeting or What It Means.” (Ibid)

“This unfortunate situation explains why Elson refers to Lang as a musical ”admirable Crichton,” after the sixteenth-century Scottish scholar who was attacked one night by a party of armed and masked men. Crichton recognized one of them as his pupil and offered him his sword, and this young prince of Gonzaga immediately ran him through with it. Lang must have felt acutely the betrayal of the young Boston musicians.” (Fox, Papers,  11)

“The conflict rocked the town, and the Press gave the Society its most complete coverage to date. The Record showed a large drawing of the decrepit Zerrahn leading an orchestra of bald-headed men while disgruntled officers with large portfolios headed toward the Exit sign, above which, in a coffin, rested B. J. Lang on the shelf. The title was Why Do the Heathen Rage? Letters of a most confidential nature were gleefully printed in full in the Journal, and officers, behaving like primadonnas were interviewed… There was even hidden treasure! A rumor ran widespread that a wealthy man in another city intended to contribute about $150,000 to an organization that would use it effectively and that he had communicated with B. J. Lang. Mr. Lang talked it over with the President and Secretary of the Society, Mr. Hagar and Mr. Stone, giving the implication that the long-desired building might become a reality. This had the air of being a bid for the conductorship of Mr. Lang…Charges and countercharges upset the musical boat as the newspapers used the words ”row,” ”fight,” ”factions,” ”strife,” ”clash,” in protesting that both sides held Mr. Zerrahn in affection but that the dissenters felt that he had lost his ”vital fluid,” and they preferred Lang in perfect health at sixty years of age… The final meeting of September 29, 1897 proved to be quite tame, for the Lang forces withdrew, Zerrahn was ‘vindicated,’ and an unconvincing attempt made to gloss things over.” (Johnson, Hallelujah, 169 and 170) Zerrahn’s “Loss of vital fluid” some felt was due to having lost his wife the previous year, “and [he] naturally showed less vigor and strength for a time thereafter.” (Advertiser (May 26, 1897): 8, GB)


Herald (September 17, 1897): 1, GB). On the front page!

This September meeting elected officers for the coming year, but no one would stand for the post of President. E. P. Boynton, [lower left] “who has been all along the leader of the Zerrahn contingent” was elected Vice President…It has been freely hinted outside the meetings that those who are running the society at present would like to get for the new president such a man as either Col. H. L. Higginson or Richard H. Dana, and the failure to elect last night is construed as giving a semblance of probability to the story.” (Globe (September 30, 1897): 8) At the previous Annual Meeting on May 24, 1897, the four primary officers were reelected but the eight Directors and the Librarian were all “Anti-Lang Men.” As soon as they were elected, they passed a number of rule changes so that “the President was to be merely a figure-head, and the Vice-President not even as much as this…In consequence of this action Messrs. Hagar [President], Daniels [Vice-President], Stone [Secretary], and Daniell [Treasurer] resigned.” (History II, 78) In an interview of June 23, the Vice-President, Mr. G. F. Daniels said: “Mr. lang has brought the work of the society to a degree of excellence which it never before attained and this is solely due to the superiority of his methods. The very thoroness [sic] of these methods, however, made them more difficult for the members of the society, and consequently, they turn for relief to the easier and more magnetic methods of Mr. Zerrahn.”  (Op. cit., 79)

At the September 16, 1897 “Special Meeting” the four letters of resignation were read out and Mr. Simmons moved for acceptance. But before this, the long-time former President of the choir, Mr. A. Parker Browne, moved that this new board resign. The vote was Yeas 56 and Nays 57. By just one vote history was changed. After the vote, “Mr. Browne, followed by a large number of the Lang faction, left their seats in the hall.” (Op. cit., 92)

Between the May 24th. and September 29th. meetings various other candidates for conductor were mentioned. One longtime member suggested, “young Mr. Chadwick ” who had conducted a few times last year and was considered “first-rate…I think he would do more to bring up the society than any other man.” (Advertiser, Op. cit.) Other suggestions were Emil Mollenhauer and Horatio Parker. Mollenhauer was trained as a violinist and he began his career in New York City at the age of 9. He moved to Boston and joined the BSO in 1884. In 1889 he resigned and became the concertmaster of the newly formed Boston Festival Orchestra, and after three years, he then became the conductor for the following 22 years; c. 1892-c. 1914. After Lang’s two years with the Handel and Haydn Society and a following one final year with Zerrahn, Mollenhauer became the Society’s conductor “which he reorganized and revitalized after a period of musical decline. He took over the directorship of the Apollo Club after Lang’s retirement in 1901, and [much like Zerrahn] also led choral societies in Brookline, Lynn, Salem and Newburyport.” (Ledbetter entry in Vol. 3. The New Grove Dictionary of American Music, 255-256)

The Herald wrote on September 19, 1897 an article based on many articles published previously. “The published reports of the meeting in Bumstead Hall one evening last week indicated an intensity of feeling on the part of the vanquished [Lang’s men] that fell little short of indiscretion, to say nothing of oblivion to the dictates of becoming dignity. Nothing lasts forever, even the supreme control of an organization by a faction or a clique.” (Herald (September 19, 1897): 29, GB) The article then wished that all the energy generated by bickering had been instead directed to discussing how the choir could be returned to a place of major influence in the musical life of Boston, as it had ” ceased to be a prominent factor in musical progress here.” (Ibid) The ending sentence hoped that the incoming faction would be “inspired by like zeal for the welfare of the society.” (Ibid)

Philip Hale made his position known in the first issue of the Musical Record. “What is to be said about the Handel and Haydn row?-for row it is; row is the proper word…It is a pitiable sight, this spectacle of members of the venerable society squabbling, calling each other names, sulking, eager to fall into the hands of interviewers. Much might be forgiven if either Mr. Zerrahn or Mr. Lang were admirably qualified for the position. There are younger and far better-equipped men living in Boston, whose claims are not now considered. (Musical Record, October 1897, 2) Hale had made the point of how old both men were.

Zerrahn’s return lasted only one year, and after a May 2, 1898 “testimonial concert of Elijah-the work he had first led for the Handel and Haydn on December 3, 1854-combining these three choruses [H and H, Worcester Chorus, and the Salem Chorus] with similar groups from Lynn, Lowell, New Bedford, Hyde Park, Chelsea, Quincey, Waltham, a vast throng of 1700 voices with soloists headed by Johanna Gadski, the great Wagnerian prima donna” Zerrahn retired to Germany. However he spent only five years there, and then “returned to Milton, Massachusetts, where he enjoyed eleven years (1909) of comfortable retirement at the home of his son.” (Ibid, 171) Thus Zerrahn and Lang died in the same year.

While Lang was the conductor of the Handel and Haydn Society he had greater prestige among Boston Social Circles. The “Social Life” section of the Herald reported on the list of those who had already signed up as subscribers or patrons of the Castle Square Theatre, “that beautiful playhouse with the best people.” (Herald (September 27, 1896): 27, GB) He was the first on the list: “Mr. B. J. Lang, director of the Handel and Haydn and Cecilia Societies.”  Others listed were Mrs. W. B. Sewall of Commonwealth Avenue, Mrs. Skinner of Marlboro Street, Mrs. E. J. Andrews of Beacon Street, etc. The Langs now moved in very elevated circles.

>>> Part: 1   2   3 


  • PART 4      WC 13,670.  2/05/2021.
  • APOLLO CLUB SEASON 1878-1879.                                                                  ARLINGTON CLUB.                                                                                                    EUTERPE.                                                                                                                                 PIANO RECITALS.                                                                                                               CLIQUE IN BOSTON.                                                                                                                   
  • APOLLO CLUB SEASON 1879-1880.                                                                            CECILIA-FOURTH INDEPENDENT SEASON: 1879-1880.                                RAFAEL JOSEFFY.                                                                                                                       ST. BOTOLPH CLUB. HISTORY.                                                                                              MECHANICS’ HALL CONCERTS: 1880.                                                                                                                                             CENSUS-1880.                                                                                                                  BERLIOZ: DAMNATION OF FAUST-THREE TIMES!                                          DWIGHT COMPLIMENTARY CONCERT.                                                                BENJAMIN EDWARD WOOLF-CRITIC.                                                                          TREMONT TEMPLE NEW ORGAN.                                                                           APOLLO CLUB SEASON 1880-1881.                                                                             CECILIA SEASON 1880-1881. 5th. Indi.                          
  • CHADWICK PREMIER WITH APOLLO CLUB.                                                         CECILIA SEASON 1880-1881 CONCLUDED.                                                                   CECILIA DETRACTOR.                                                                                                     TREMONT TEMPLE CHAMBER MUSIC CONCERTS OF LANG.                               ORCHESTRAL CONCERTS OF LANG.                                                                                     ST. SAENS: NOEL-CHRISTMAS ORATORIO.                                                          APOLLO-SPRING 1881. TENTH ANNIVERSARY.                                              HENSCHEL MARRIAGE.                                                                                               BOSTON PHILHARMONIC SOCIETY.                                                                          BIRTH OF MALCOLM LANG.                                                                                         TRIPS BACK TO EUROPE.


Dwight reprinted an announcement of the forthcoming 1878-79 Season.“The Apollo Club, Mr. Lang, director, (as we learn by the Courier) will give the first concert of its eighth season in Tremont Temple, December 6. Subsequent concerts will be given in Music Hall, December 9, February 19 and 24, and two in May. The committee make[s] no announcements of the works to be presented. But the associate members may rest assured, had they any need of that assurance, that the programme will be made up with the care that has been expended on them, that the rehearsals will be through, and the performances quite up to the club’s high standard. The list of applicants for associate membership now numbers over three hundred names.”(Dwight (October 26, 1878): 327)

The reputation of the Club after just seven seasons was such that non-Boston papers were also posting reviews. The Springfield Republican ran a lengthy review of the December 9, 1878 concert (December 9 rather than December 6, and at the Music Hall rather than Tremont Temple, as Dwight had announced)-it was signed by Baritone. Such phrases as “A large, well-balanced and artistic chorus..such immense power…nicety in pianissimo…It is so seldom that a mixed chorus gives anything like satisfaction…As a rule rather than the exception, the average chorus is apt to be unevenly balanced, and the persistent sopranos gather up all their available lung-power and screech the other parts pretty nearly out of sight.” The reviewer was aware of the “professional talent” of such singers as “Whitney, John and W. J. Winch, Barnabee, Wilkie and others…Mr. B. J. Lang, who is such a thorough artist, and so eminently fitted for the position, is director, and his perfect control over the chorus is something remarkable, and not unlike Theodore Thomas’s masterly handling of his orchestra.” Also mentioned was the Serenade by Abt where  the “tenor solo taken by Mr. Want, was lovely and sung with faultless expression.” The review ends with the suggestion that the Orpheus Club (one guesses that this is a male-voice choir in Springfield) “Take the Apollo for a pattern.” (Springfield Republican (December 13, 1878): 2, GB)

The third pair of concerts on May 15 and 20, 1879 ended the season. “For both there was the usual crowded and enthusiastic audience, and on both occasions the splendid body of finely trained male voices, full of esprit de corps, seemed, if that were possible, to surpass their best previous instances of well-nigh perfect execution.” The concerts used mainly piano accompaniment with the addition of a string quartet for the Schumann Piano Quintet in E-flat and to accompany one extended choral piece. The second concert repeated three pieces from the first and added six new pieces that used orchestral accompaniment. B. J.’s song Ho, Pretty Page with words by Thackeray was sung by Mr. J. F. Winch, and Dwight’s review said it “catches and reproduces the fine pathetic humor of the verses, and is a fresh, genial, fascinating bit of music. As sung by Mr. Winch it took the audience almost off their feet, and had to be repeated.”(Dwight (May 24, 1879): 86) 

Program: Eighth Season, Fifth Concert, May 15, 1879. Johnston Collection.


Lang certainly did not have the monopoly on male-voice singing with the Apollo Club. “Boston has also a new organization of male voices called the Arlington Club. Mr. William J. Winch is its musical director.” (Musical Herald (July 1880): 165) How Lang appreciated a friend and associate leading a rival choir is not known. Later George Whitefield Chadwick led the choir, and it was reported in 1884 that this choir had given “a series of concerts during each of the past five years.” (Boston Musical Year Book, Vol. 1 1883-84, 57) However, in the 1884-85 edition of the Boston Musical Year Book it was noted, “the Arlington Club did not reorganize.” (BMYB 1884-85, 56)


Early in 1879, Lang was involved in the founding of a new performing group-Euterpe. The officers of the group included Lang as Vice-President, Apthorp as Treasurer with Lang’s pupil, H. G. Tucker as one of the Directors. (Dwight (February 1, 1879): 21) For each concert, a different four-person committee chose the music. For the first concert held on Wednesday evening January 15, 1879 the committee included Charles C. Perkins, J. C. D. Parker, George L. Osgood and Jules Eichberg. The committee for the Second Concert included B/ J. Lang, John Orth, J. K. Paine and W. S. Fenollosa while the third group included W. F. Apthorp and H. G. Tucker (both Lang pupils), and Lang was again part of the fourth committee. The season was one concert per month; January through April 1879. For the Second Season, five concerts were schedules running from December 1879 through April 1880. Committees were not named, but instead, F. H. Jenks was listed as the Secretary on the Season Announcement. The Third season 1880-81 also included five concerts on Wednesday nights at 7:45 PM performed at the Meionaon (part of Tremont Temple), and the repertoire was mainly string quartets. The Fourth Season of four concerts, November 9, 1881 through February 1, 1882 were all performed by the Beethoven Quartet, and the first two concerts used Camilla Urso as the First Violin player. In June 1882 the officers were: President, Charles C. Perkins; Vice-President, B. J. Lang; Secretary, F. H. Jenks; Treasurer, Wm. F. Apthorp; Directors, Julius Eichberg, A. A. Brown, John Orth, W. Burr Jr., Hamilton Osgood, S. B. Whitney, J. C. D. Parker, and H. G. Tucker. “It is an understood thing that all of the money collected shall be expended on concerts-or as nearly as practical-allowing for outside expenses.” (Elson, Musical Boston, 4) For the Sixth Season of four concerts, December 12, 1883 until March 12, 1884 performed at Apollo Hall, 151 Tremont Street, two were played by the Campanari Quartet and the other two by the Beethoven Club. The Seventh Season of four concerts was also performed at the Apollo Hall and ran from January 7, 1885 until March 25, 1885. For the Eight Season 1885-86, a subscription was sold for $7 which gave you three tickets for each concert. For this season B. J. Lang was listed as Vice-President, W. F. Apthorp as Treasurer, and F. H. Jenks continued as Secretary. (HMA Program Collection)


Lang presented two piano recitals during March 1879. “Mr. B. J. Lang’s two concerts at Mechanics’ Hall, on Thursday afternoons, March 6 and 20, were choice and somewhat unique in character. Both were very fully attended, especially the last, and by the most refined, appreciative sort of audience.” (Dwight (March 29, 1879): 54) The first concert opened with Beethoven’s Piano Sonata, Opus 81 played by Miss Jessie Cochrane, continued with eight songs sung by Mr. W. J. Winch including B. J.’s The Two Roses, and finished with Rubinstein’s Concerto No. 3, Opus 45 with B. J. as the soloist. Miss Cochrane was a pupil of Lang’s and she had also studied in Europe with von Bulow. Lang had played the Rubinstein with orchestra seven years ago-this time the accompaniment was at a second piano played by Mr. W. S. Fenollosa. “It gave full scope for all the vigor, fire, and finished, brilliant virtuosity of Mr. Lang, who, we are sure, brought out all the soul and all the interesting detail of it…Mr. Lang’s mastery of its exacting difficulties was supreme.” (Ibid) Lang’s own song was “a graceful, dainty fancy, [and] was heartily appreciated.” (Ibid) The second concert opened with the first Boston performance of a Trio in G Minor with piano by Hans von Bronsart, then active in Leipzig. “Mr. Lang was at his best in it.” (Ibid) “This proved a work of rare beauty, and the three artists gave to their interpretations their very best endeavors.” (Journal (March 21, 1879): 3, GB) Mr. Winch offered another set of songs including Lang’s Absense and Her I Love, but neither was mentioned in Dwight’s review. However, the Journal wrote: “His fine efforts contributed very largely to the success of concert, which, in all its features, was excellent.” (Ibid) Beethoven’s Grand Trio, Opus 97 completed the concert. The Beethoven “which was superbly played by Messrs. Lang, Allen and Fries, brought the delightful entertainment to a conclusion.” (Ibid) The Globe reported: “The final recital for the season, by Mr. B. J. Lang, was given yesterday in Mechanics’ Hall before  an audience that more than filled it comfortably, and which was as appreciative as it was large.” (Globe (March 21, 1879): 4) The assisting artists were Mr. C. N. Allen (violin), Mr. Wulf Fries (cello), and Mr. W. J. Winch (singer). The reviewer wrote: “Few ballads have been sung this winter so well and so pleasantly as were those which came so easily and in such round tones from his lips.” (Ibid) “Mr. Lang’s reputation as a pianist is so well established that it is almost needless to say anything about his part of the performance, but he deserves the warmest commendation for what he did.” (Ibid) See below: HMA Program Collection.  


The Sunday Globe of March 23, 1879 carried a reprint from The Music Trade Review (a New York publication) saying, “Of [musical] cliques, the Review says there is no better example than in Boston ‘where the organization is a very perfect and complete one. Mr. B. J. Lang is the best bower.'” With Lang at the head, Carl Zerrahn and Mr. Chickering are right and left bowers; Messrs. Sumner, Foote, Dresel and Preston are trumps, Mr. Dwight is the ace, and Mr. Sherwood and Mr. Osgood are aces of the side suits.” The writer does have to admit that “the clique has done more than anything else to bring Boston to the good point of musical appreciation which it certainly has reached. All honor to Messrs. Lang, Dresel, Zerrahn and company.” The Harvard Musical Association is mentioned. “All life and enthusiasm seems to have died out of the organization. Its concerts are advertised in the most meager manner in a portion only of the newspapers.” This was true, and the founding of the Boston Symphony 2 years later led to its end. Lang’s two choirs are mentioned, with the Cecilia mistakenly called a female choir. It was noted that “the Apollo chorus is limited to fifty voices, and the list of names waiting to be enrolled is far more numerous than those already enrolled as members.” But, the writer feels that the chorus lacks blend, delicate shading is lacking, and they rarely “do a great vocal work.” The group is then compared to The Boylston Club, led by the singer George Osgood. This group is three choirs in one; it began as a male choir, then a female choir joined, thus making TTBB, SSAA, and SATB repertoire possible. The choir  “gives better programmes, often with important works upon them, and gives them much better.” This is definitely comparing oranges and watermelons. Both of Lang’s groups exist today, well over 150 years after their founding, but the Boylston Club floundered, was reorganized and then disbanded. The writer attributed this vibrant musical life to the fact that these groups have “made music popular by giving the social element a prominent place, and using the social influences of these large societies to draw audiences to concerts of the best music.” This he finds bad! The Apollo Club had 500 Associate members (donors) who received 4 tickets for each concert. Maybe the Associate would invite another couple to go to the concert with them, maybe three other male friends, maybe one or two children. This would have a social element in that you would know the people you were sitting with at the concert rather than having two strangers on either side. The Cecilia operated in the same manner. This program of ticket distribution guaranteed a full house for every concert. Most other Boston groups, from The Handel and Haydn Society to Lang giving a three-concert chamber music series, sold individual and season tickets.


Mendelssohn’s companion work to Antigone, Aedipus at Colonus was given in January of 1880 with orchestra accompaniment and “with the connecting readings being given by Mr. Howard M. Ticknor (instructor of elocution at Harvard College, and a bass in our club)”(Baker, 10). “It is good proof of the intrinsic power and charm of the music and the old Greek tragedy, and of the excellence of the interpretation, that the whole audience, crowding the Music Hall, listened with unflagging interest, and with frequent tokens of delight, to a work so far removed from all our modern tastes and ways of thinking, and so uniformly grave and tragical, in so monotonous a key of color and feeling…The Apollo Club never sang anything better, and that is high praise indeed.” (Dwight (Feb. 14, 1880): 30) The Musical Herald review began: “The Apollo Club gave one of its finest concerts…The club in this concert attained a higher plane than ever before: their work was noble.” The solo work of Mr. C. E. Hay and the reading by Mr. Ticknor were praised. “He kept the individuality of each character so distinct,” that anyone one in the audience could easily follow which character was speaking.” (Musical Herald (February 1880): 31) The February 19 and 24 concerts were reviewed with an opening sentence that said the concerts were “one of the most interesting it has given. The singing was in all respects most admirable, -an improvement even on the best efforts of the past. The pure, sweet, manly quality of voices; the prompt and sure attack; the precision; the fine phrasing, delicate light and shade, distinct enunciation; and the pervading fire and spirit, seemed to leave nothing to be desired in respect to execution and interpretation. The selections, too, though mainly part-songs were uncommonly interesting.” A string ensemble was used to accompany Schubert’s Song of the Spirits Over the Waters. Also programmed were three movements from Hummel’s Septet for strings and winds: “the performance gave great pleasure, and the Scherzo had to be repeated.” The final accolade was that “Mr. Lang has certainly the choicest of materials for a male chorus under his control, and he has trained them to a rare perfection of ensemble. There is no need of saying that the Music Hall was crowded,” (Dwight (March 15, 1879): 45) The March 9 concert contained mainly short pieces, and the guest soloist was Miss Hubbell from Grace Church in New York City. “The programme was miscellaneous, containing things of a high artistic order, and nothing commonplace.The singing seemed to us extremely good, -almost too good, that is to say, too daintily refined for certain things, say ”drinking songs,” which owe much of their charm to a certain off-hand freedom.” The next to the last piece was a duet by B. J. entitled The Sea King, and it was sung by Dr. Ballard and Mr. J. F. Winch. Dwight’s review said the “duet is in the rollicking old English bravura style, with plenty of ”go” in it, and made a lively effect as sung by the two basses.”(Dwight (April 10, 1880): 62) “We are hearty admirers of some of Mr. Lang’s compositions, especially those of the German lied form. This is rather in the old English vein, florid and full of bravura, without saying a great deal. The mock-heroic Flow Gently, Deva, and much of Arne’s and Purcell’s music are in this style. We do not value the genre very highly.” (Musical Herald (April 1880): 93) Also on the program was Dudley Buck’s The Nun of Nidaros-this was the first work by an American included except for Lang’s own works. This piece was repeated the same year at the late November concerts; G. Schirmer had published the work with a copyright date of 1879, and a “New and Revised Edition” was copyrighted in 1905. “During the 1880s Americans began to appear on Apollo Club programs with great regularity. Buck-King Olaf’s Christmas. December 1881 Whiting-March of the Monks of Bangor. April 1881 Chadwick-The Viking’s Last Voyage. April 26, 1881. Conducted by the composer. Paine-Excerpts from Scenes from Oedipus Tyrannus. February 1882 Paine-Summons to Love, Opus 33 (Written for Apollo)1882 Paine-Radway’s Ready Relief. April 1883 J. C. D. Parker-The Blind King. April 1883 Whiting-Free Lances. 1883 At the Annual Meeting the Hon. John Phelps Putnam was elected President, Robert M. Morse, Jr.,-Vice President, Arthur Reed-Clerk (he also served as the Treasurer for the Cecilia), Committee on Music-E. C. Bullard for three years and Warren Davenport for two years. (Musical Herald (July 1880) 164)


After beginning rehearsals on Thursday, October 2, on Monday, December 22, 1879, the choir presented the Boston premiere of Max Bruch’s Odysseus with Charles Adams as the soloist (Johnson, First, 96). “The performance of this remarkable work complete, with chorus, male and female solo voices, and orchestra, in the Music Hall, was a new feather in the cap of the Cecilia, and a notable event of our present musical season. It had been very thoroughly and critically rehearsed under Mr. B. J. Lang, and in all its length, with all its difficulties, it was in the main very satisfactorily done.” (Dwight (January 3, 1880): 6) The Courier review thought the work “thoroughly interesting, from overture to finale–filled with melodic forms and sumptuous orchestral coloring,” but noted the “comparative coldness of the audience… The orchestra played fairly, and Mr. Lang directed the performance with his habitual ease and smoothness.” One member of the “cold audience” who singed himself “Growler” wrote to the Musical Editor of the Courier that in the Bruch he “had looked for bread, and they had given what to me was a stone.” His chief complaint was the lack of melody, and he noted that the Advertiser review “started out with the assertion that the chief characteristic of the work was its expressive melodiousness.” “Is the gift of melody utterly lost, and must we for the future be satisfied with the Wagnerian Endless Melody.” The Musical Editor”s reply was to hear the work again, and he noted that Berlioz “declared that absolute beauty would never be positively determined.” The Musical Herald review noted that Miss Louie Homer “met with fine success in the very taxing solos assigned to Penelope, although nervousness led her once or twice into false intonation…She has a fine voice, and it has evidently been well trained…The Cecilia ought certainly to repeat a work of such importance.”(Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1) On November 25 and 29 1879 Cecilia presented Rheinberger’s Tottenburg which Brainard’s Musical World found “admirable.” (Brainard (January 1879): 13) There were two Boston correspondents for Brainard’s at this time. One was “Athenian” and the other “Dix.” Both seemed to give evenhanded comments about Lang’s groups and concerts. In the same paragraph which mentioned Cecilia, The Boylston Cub conducted by George L. Osgood and a new group, the Mendelssohn Choral Union conducted by Mr. S. A. Emery were mentioned. This latter group also had a large orchestra (50 to 60 members) which “had  been organized in connection with the chorus.” (Ibid) A final goup, the Church Music Association was noted.                                                                             The second concert of the season was given on Friday, February 27, 1880, and “had the usual eager audience, filling the Music Hall.” The first work (its Boston premier) was Bach’s cantata Bleib bei uns (Bide With Us) with solos by Clara Poole, Dr. Langmaid, and Frank Young, and the accompaniment by George W. Sumner, piano and John A. Preston, organ. (Johnson, First, 12) In 1899, almost twenty years later Apthrop remembered that “the critics were singlemindedly bored. One critic naively confessed himself thus: ‘We again feel compelled to say that Bach’s cantatas do not belong to the genre of compositions in which one takes a sensuous delight.'” (803) That was followed by Mendelssohn’s setting Judge Me O God, and then selections from Athalia. The second part “was secular and composed of choice part-songs and glees… All these pieces were sung to a charm.” The Courier reviewer noted that the Bach cantata “gave very little satisfaction to the audience,” but that “the second part of the programme was of a secular character, and was all, being of a high order, worth listening to.” Included were Gade’s Spring Song for female voices and Stewart’s glee, The Bells of St. Michael’s Tower. Lang did not repeat his mistake of not allowing encores in this program. “The part-song by Gade was repeated in answer to an uncertain demand and the glee by Stewart in response to an unquestionable wish.” Another reviewer found the Bach “a bit hard to understand and enjoy.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1) Dwight finished his review with a plug for the next concert: “The main feature of the next concert, April 12, will be Schumann’s Manfred Music, with orchestra, and a reading of portions of Byron’s text.” (Dwight (March 13, 1880): 47)                                                                                                                                 Five weeks later the concert took place. It had been postponed from April 12th. because of Lang’s illness. “The first performance here of Schumann’s Manfred Music, in the third concert of the season (Saturday April 24, 1880), intrinsically considered, was a musical event second to no other of the year past.” The orchestral numbers “were finely executed by the orchestra, obedient to the baton of Mr. Lang, whose re-appearance after a severe attack of illness was the signal for hearty congratulations… We must congratulate Mr. Lang and the Cecilia, and Mr. Ticknor (narrator), upon the excellent presentation of so difficult a work…Whatever of gloom and depression the poetry and music of the Manfred left upon the audience was happily relieved by the short, and for the most part hopeful, joyful music of Max Bruch’s cantata Fair Ellen, of which the chorus work was rich and euphonious, and the solos were well sung by Miss Abbott and Dr. Bullard.” (Dwight (May 8, 1880): 78) The entire work was also performed four years later by the BSO under Henschel. (Johnson, 334) Apthorp, in a three-page review in The Bostonian of April 29, 1880 wrote that “It is not often that one can so thoroughly enjoy a great work at the first hearing, as we did the Manfred.” He noted that some numbers had been heard before, “but the greater part of the work was wholly new.” The music consisted of the overture and fifteen sections; “some melo-dramatic, some regularly musical in form…The performance by the Cecilia of the few choral numbers was admirable for its precision and vigor. The solos were less satisfactory. The orchestra, albeit small in numbers, and not always sure of its cues, did, in general, extremely well, notably in the overture… Max Bruch’s Fair Ellen was capitally given… Mr. Lang, who was warmly greeted by audience, chorus and orchestra in this, his first appearance in public since his illness, can congratulate himself upon the artistic success of the concert. Recent suffering seemed to have no power to diminish the healthy verve of his baton.”” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1) Apthorp wrote a shorter review for the monthly Musical Herald in which he wrote of the Schumann: “One cannot help feeling the presence of a mighty genius in it…It is not a composition to exercise snap-judgment upon. The performance was very fine…The concert ended with a fine and brilliant rendering of Max Bruch’s exciting cantata Fair Ellen.” (Musical Herald (May 1880): 104)                                                                 For the fourth and final concert of the season Bruch’s Odysseus was repeated. Whereas the work was a “failure at the beginning of the season, this time, with almost the same artists, it was a success.” However, “Miss Homer who, although she may bear the poet’s name, is by no means Homeric in her treatment of Penelope.” The chorus was praised, and this review ended with: “We congratulate the club on so finely redeeming themselves from the failure of eight months ago.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1) The Courier began with: “At the risk of exciting the ire of our correspondent Growler, we again feel compelled to express our admiration for the work and to reiterate the judgment expressed five months ago-namely, that the cantata is ”melodious” and ”expressive.”” (Ibid) “The composition, albeit evidently over-long, made a much finer impression that at the first performance. It is not music to be understood and appreciated at a flash; and we earnestly hope that Mr. Lang, to whose exertions we mainly owe these two hearings of this very interesting work, will not rest content until it has been given once or twice more.” (Musical Herald (July 1880): 164) The President of the choir presented his yearly report in June of 1880 that made this reference to the Odysseus performances: “The work is tuneful throughout, and contains many distinct melodies which linger in the memory. It is by no means an easy thing to sing. The success of the Club in coping with its difficulties at the first concert, on December 22, may be best judges by the general demand for another performance. We have probably never produced a work which excited such interest at the first hearing… On May 24 [1880] the Odysseus was repeated, and was found to realize all the favorable impressions of the first hearing. It ought to become a stockpiece with vocal clubs.” (Dwight (October 9, 1880): 163) The review in the July issue of the “Score” was not so enthusiastic- it referred to the December performance as a “failure.” However the May repetition “although the thermometer registered high in the eighties, few left the hall before the glorious final chorus.” (Cecilia program clippings) Another reviewer of this second performance noted that “Mr. Adams astonished us by the poetic feeling with which he imbued his part…We have only to find fault with Miss Pierce, who sang very frequently in keys Bruch never intended.” (Ibid) The Courier reviewer also noted of the second performance that among the eight soloists, “Some were too sharp, others too flat, and the result was distressing.” This review described Miss Pierce’s voice as “bright and fresh,” but her performance was marred by nerves. (Ibid) Other points mentioned by the club’s President included the problem created by the fire that destroyed Tremont Temple that forced the choir to move to the Music Hall that, it was felt, was too large for their use. Their original use of Horticultural Hall was no longer possible, as it was too small for the repertoire that they were now performing. “To give a Bach, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Gade, or Bruch, with our present vocal force [c. 150 voices] and a full orchestra, in a place no larger than that in which we sang four years ago, would certainly be an exquisite pleasure. But here comes the dreadful question of expense. We require the support of a larger number of associates than can be accommodated in Horticultural Hall…The greater expense of singing in Music Hall, and our determination, which has every year become firmer, to employ an orchestra as often as possible, rendered it necessary at the commencement of the past season to raise our assessments. Our associates generously acceded to this change, and have provided all the money we have really needed.” (Dwight (October 8, 1880): 163) The President went on to say that he expected “a certain amount of pure instrumental music to relieve the otherwise continuous flow of vocal sound. The monotony of an evening of male part-singing has been frequently remarked. The ear craves the variety of voice and pitch which mixed part-singing affords. In like manner, uninterrupted vocal music, though for mixed voices, after a while palls upon the senses.” (Dwight (October 9, 1880): 163) Thorndike also noted that the additional cost of renting the Music Hall verses Tremont Temple (which had burned) plus the desire “to employ an orchestra as often as possible resulted in the need to raise the yearly assessments. Our associates generously acceded to this change, and have provided all the money we have really needed.” (Dwight (October 9, 1880): 163) He also noted that the Music Hall was “too large to present the Club, and the music which it desires to sing, to the best advantage…The list of singers has been fuller than ever before. Indeed, the pressure for admission has been such that the number of active members has constantly exceeded the prescribed limit of one hundred and fifty. The balance of vocal parts has also been improved, and the regularity and punctuality of attendance have been better than in any previous year.” (Ibid) Thorndike then mentioned that the success of the Bruch Odysseus performance in December 1879 had been so great that the Associates demanded a repeat, which was done on May 24, 1880. “We have probably never produced a work which excited such interest at the first hearing.” This second performance “was found to realize all the favorable impressions of the first hearing. It ought to become a stockpiece with vocal clubs.” (Ibid) It seems not to have been taken up by many, and the only recent CD of the work, made at a live performance, is now (August 2011) fetching $74.96 used and $249.99 new on Amazon, while in Germany the price for a new copy is E143.42! Also at the Annual Meeting was the election of officers. S. L. Thorndike was elected President, Dr. S. W. Langmaid-Vice President, George O. G. Coale-Secretary, Arthur Reed-Treasurer (probably the same person who was the Clerk of the Apollo Club), and Directors-A. Parker Browne, George E. Foster, I. F. Kingsbury, and W. J. Windram. (Musical Herald (July 1880): 164)  

RAFAEL JOSEFFY. In May of 1880 Joseffy presented three recitals at the Music Hall, “positively his last appearances in Boston…He is to sail  for Europe about the latter part of the month.” (Journal (May 13, 1880): 4) The previous year he had settled in America and toured with the Thomas Orchestra. He then taught at the National Conservatory in New York City-later in life he preferred teaching over concertizing. For these Boston concerts, he was assisted by “Adamowski, the distinguished violinist, Mr. B. J. Lang and other well-known artists, [and the program] will be the most attractive of any he has yet given in this country.”(Ibid) Dwight wrote of the “magical touch, the faultless perfection of technique, the exquisite grace and finish of his every phrase and passage, and to the fine poetic feeling.” For the third concert, it was all solo material except for one piece-Variations on a Theme by Beethoven by Saint-Saens with Lang playing the second piano. Dwight mentioned how well matched the two pianists were. “For once Joseffy played with a musician who was capable of seconding his intention, and the Saint-Saens variations were an entire success. Mr. Lang has so often proved his absolute ability to satisfy exacting virtuosi (with Von Bulow and others) that we expected a clean performance; but it really was much more than that,-it had life, vigor, beauty.” (Musical Herald (July 1880): 164) They had much in common: Joseffy had studied with Lizst in the summers of 1870 and 1871, becoming a favorite pupil, and Joseffy did much to increase the awareness of Brahms as had Lang.


Lang was a founding member of this club. “St. Botolph was founded in a golden epoch of the City of Boston. Arts, literature, music, architecture, clubs and public affairs, as well as the vast commercial, shipping and professional empires that supported them, were all experiencing a great flowering. Many of the eminent individuals connected with all these were original members of our Club. A ”Committee of Ten” had sent out invitations to several hundred friends and colleagues, and upon receiving an enthusiastic response, founded the Club on January 3rd., 1880.” [Massachusetts Historical says January 10, 1880] First location “at 87 Boylston Street.” (Williams, 32) “Members drawn from Boston’s upper class… John Quincy Adams, Philips Brooks, Francis Parkman,[First President] William Dean Howells and Henry Cabot Lodge, H. H. A. Beach” and among musicians, “William Apthorp, George Chadwick, Philip Hale, and B. J. Lang… The St. Botolph Club, in particular, had artistic intentions from its inception… Concerts were also encouraged, and to that end, they bought in 1882 a Chickering grand piano.” (Blunsom, 134 and 135) “The Club was to be inexpensive, with dues of not more than thirty dollars,” (Williams, op. cit.) and there was to be no restaurant. Arthur Foote and George Parker (both members) performed Margaret’s Deserted at a club function. (Blunsom. Op. cit.) B. J. was “a Resident and Founding Member of the St. Botolph Club (January 1880).” (Howlett, e-mail, November 30, 2009) In 1883 he was elected to the “Art and Library Committee” along with William F. Apthorp. (Journal (January 1, 1883): 3, GB) Other members of the Lang circle and their dates of joining include: Arthur Foote-January 1887; Philip Hale-May 1890; William F. Apthorp-1880, but William Foster Apthorp-March 1896 [?]; Allen Augustus Brown-June 1889; George Laurie Osgood was a founding member, January 1880; G. W. Sumner-1880; William Johnson Winch-1883. (Howlett, e-mail, January 4, 2010) In 1889 it was “situated on Newbury Street, and was modeled after the plan of the Century Club in New York. its particular feature is its Saturday evening and monthly meetings, to which men eminent in literature and art are invited. its gallery contains a choice collection of sculptures and pictures. It is noted for its musicales, “smoke talks” and theatricals. On Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons, a stringed quartette not only plays a choice repertory but also compositions by members of the club. These concerts are very popular and are one of the features of this peculiarly artistic club, whose membership is limited to men of literary and aesthetic tastes and pursuits,” (Grieve, 100) William Foster Apthorp sang the part of “Prof. J. Bolingbroke Smythe” in the musical farce “The Aesthetic Barber” presented at the Club on December 23, 1881. Dr. S. W. Langmaid sang “Charles Chestnut” and Mr. H. G. Pickering sang “Columbus Bunker. ” (BPL Lang Prog., Vol. 5)                                                                                                                                                    After a few years, the club moved to larger quarters at 4 Newbury Street, “the site which is now the parking lot of the Ritz Carlton Hotel. It was just what they wanted; and they lived in it happily, if with increasing worries about financing it, for fifty-five years.” (Williams, 33) This new location allowed for a new art gallery, and then a kitchen and dining room were added. In 1941 the Club moved to smaller quarters at 115 Commonwealth Avenue, on the “sunny side” of the street. A final move was made to 199 Commonwealth Avenue in 1972. (Club Website)                                                    The Club presented “John Singer Sargent’s first one-man show in America in 1888. Works by Claude Monet were displayed in 1892, 1895, and 1899. Monet’s first show in the United States was held in February 1891 at the Union Club in New York.” (St. Botolph Club Records: Guide to the Collection, pp. 1 and 2. Massachusetts Historical Society)                                                Chadwick wrote in his Diary: “Every Saturday night there was a supper after which congenial souls gathered about the tables and discussed artistic and other affairs of the town and the nation. And as many members came directly from the Symphony concert we often had the male soloist of the evening with us. In this way, the club soon got a reputation as a place where artists were made welcome and in that way added materially to the musical prestige of Boston…In 1888 he was elected to the Tavern Club-a mostly social fraternity-to replace the departing Gericke.” (Faucett, Life, 106)


In April 1880 Lang presented another group of two performances at Mechanics’ Hall at 3 PM. On Thursday, April 1, 1880, at the first of two concerts. Lang included the premier of Saint-Saens Sonata Opus 32 for cello and piano played by lang and Mr. Wulf Fries. Dwight didn’t find the Saint-Saens exciting.”But what woke us all up to new life, dispelling all possibility of doubt about its genial excellence and beauty, was the Concerto for Four Pianofortes [by Bach] with string accompaniment,[eight additional players were listed on the program] given for the first time in America. It consists of three short movements: Moderato, Largo, and Allegro. The four pianos were played by Mr. And Mrs. Sherwood, Mr. J. C. D. Parker, and Mr. Lang; and they did it con amore. Dwight enthused: “It is wonderfully interesting, not merely for its contrapuntal skill and learning, but for its fresh ideal beauty.” (Dwight (May 8, 1880): 79) The concert opened with “a repetition of the Trio in G minor by Hans von Bronsart, which excited so much interest last year…The interpretation lacked nothing of spirit or discrimination, and the impression which the work before made of nerve, originality and power was confirmed.” (Dwight (May 8, 1880): 78 and 79) George L. Osgood performed ten songs as part of this program. The Globe reported on Page 2 of it’s April 2, 1880 edition that Lang’s Concert “at Mechanic’s Hall, yesterday, was attended by a very large and extremely fashionable audience.” (Globe Archive (April 2, 1880): 2) The second programme, on Thursday afternoon April 29 at 3 PM, opened with a Quartet by Raff, followed by ten songs sung by Mr. William J. Winch who was “in excellent voice and sang with fervor, with artistic finish, and with fine expression.” (Dwight, Op. cit.) The concert ended with the Boston premiere of Goldmark’s Pianoforte and String Quintet in B Flat Opus 30. (Dwight (May 8, 1880): 79)(BPL Lang Prog., Vol. 3) Lang discovered this work very quickly as it had only been published in Europe the year before, 1879. (Program notes, CPO recording) Dwight wanted to hear this piece again before recording his impressions. Tickets for the season were three dollars available from Chickering’s Pianoforte Warerooms. (BPL Lang Prog., 6566) The Globe notice for the second and last concert was only two lines. “Mr. B. J. Lang’s concert at Mechanic’s Hall, yesterday afternoon, was much enjoyed by the large audience. The program was admirably interpreted throughout.” (Globe (April 30, 1880): 2)


The 1880 Census lists Benjamin (aged 40), Fanny M. (aged 38), Margaret R. (aged 12), Rosamond (aged 3) and servants Ellen O’Connel; (aged 50), Alice S. McGuire (aged 19) and Ellen O. Gorman (aged 19) at 3 Otis Place. (Census 1880)


From the mid-1870s Lang had begun to turn from German works to a new interest in French composers. for example he gave the American premieres of the Saint-Saens Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Harvard Musical Association on 3 February 1876, the Saint-Saens Rhapsodie d’Auverge, op. 13 (1 January 1886), and Massenet’s Eve (27 March 1890), as well as a the Boston premier of the Berlioz Requiem (12 February 1882).” (Fox, Rebellious Tradition, 240) Fox does not mention the next, very important work. On Friday evening, May 14, 1880 at the Music Hall, Lang presented, as his own private undertaking, the first Boston performance of  by Berlioz. (BPL Lang Prog., Vol. 6) Early in May, Dwight reported that this first performance had been postponed from a previous date, “and after fresh rehearsal, it cannot fail to be a success.” (Dwight (May 8, 1880): 79) Dwight praised Lang’s “great zeal and energy in bringing out” this work, and reported that the evening was “crowned with success. The means employed were adequate: an excellent orchestra of sixty (Mr. Listemann at their head), a select, well-trained, efficient chorus, of two hundred and twenty mixed voices [Lang had announced a male chorus of 140 and a mixed chorus of 230], and four good solo singers [only three are called for, they were all local singers]. The rehearsals had been through, the reports from New York had excited eager interest in advance, and the Music Hall was crowded with the best kind of an audience. The result was in the main most satisfactory. Hundreds came away convinced of the inventive genius and originality, the many-sided power, the rare musicianship and learning, the consummate savoir-faire of Berlioz…Mr. Lang had orchestra and chorus well in hand, and all was complete except that the two harps were replaced by two pianos.The only drawback of importance was, that the orchestra too frequently covered up the voices.” [well that is a change] (Dwight (May 22, 1880): 87 and 88) However, Johnson lists as the first American performance one given on January 28, 1880 at the Boston Music Hall by the Thomas Orchestra and chorus with the soloists, Clara Louise Kellog, W. C. Tower and Georg Henschel. (Johnson, First, 121) The importance that Lang attached to this event is reflected in the chorus announcement of March 4th. which stressed that every singer “must have attended every rehearsal of his or her part. This condition will be secured by the distribution at each rehearsal of a new entrance ticket, good only for the following rehearsal.” There were four male sectional rehearsals and three female women’s rehearsals followed by three combined rehearsals. The choral announcement ended with” N.B.-Persons who are not quite sure of being able to attend every rehearsal, will do Mr. Lang a favor by declining this invitation.” (BPL Lang Prog., 6569) The sectional rehearsals were held in March at the “Apollo Rooms,” and the combined rehearsals were scheduled for April 5, 7, and 13 at Bumstead Hall for a performance date originally advertised as Thursday, April 15. Apthorp gave further details: “Since his performance of Haydn’s Seasons in 1864 he had mounted no large choral work on his own account, his conducting having been confined to his own occasional courses of orchestral concerts and to those of the Cecilia and the Apollo Club. The time was singularly propitious: he was at the height of his popularity with the Boston public and still continually before the public. But the task was an arduous one. None of the singers available for choral productions in Boston had ever grappled with an important work of the advanced French school; they had never sung anything bristling with such trying rhythmic complications as this work of Berlioz’s, and were moreover unaccustomed to the peculiar distribution of the voices in his choruses. Instead of the familiar soprano, alto, tenor and bass of the German choral writers, the choruses in Berlioz’s Faust are for the most part written, for male chorus with first and second soprani ripieni, the female voice seldom having independent parts to sing…But in spite of the unusual difficulties of the music, the Damnation of Faust was triumphantly brought out with Mrs. E. Humphrey-Allen, Mr. William J. Winch, Mr. Clarence E. Hay, and Mr. Sebastian B. Schlesinger in the solo parts. The performance was one of the most brilliant successes Lang had ever had, and the work was repeated several times, later with the Henschel’s and others, and afterward by the Cecilia.” (Apthorp, 358 and 359) The success was well deserved as much time had been devoted to the preparation of all aspects of the performance. Frances wrote in her Diary: In February “Lel went to New York to hear the Damnation of Faust…Lel sent Mr. Tucker [one of his pupils] to New York, to try to get Orchestral parts for the Damnation of Faust. Later Tucker returned with them…I worked 2 hours copying parts. (Later) Copying parts hours a day…Addressing envelopes all day. So much to be done, in preparation for the performance.” And, while all of this was going on, “Lel played superbly at the Symphony Concert last night. Received tremendous applause.” And then, “Last night was the first of Lel’s series of pianoforte concerts. He received an ovation and quantities of flowers. But he is so tired that I am frightened…April 11th. Lel is very ill. Not until 2 did the Doctor arrive. Then the report was, -Pneumonia. Lel was put to bed immediately…It has been decided that the Manfred performance is to be postponed for three weeks…April 17th. No wonder that Lel is feeling worried and depressed with all that is ahead of him, rehearsals, etc. that he should not undertake. I am worried sick…April 24th. My head ached terribly, but I wouldn’t give up going to the Manfred performance. Lel came on to the stage looking very pale. He was tremendously applauded by the audience and orchestra. He nearly fainted, as he later told me…Lel seems to be really himself again. He needs to be. The next three weeks are solid with musical events.[late April entry]” (Diary 2, Spring 1880)

Concerning the second performance of the Berlioz on Friday, November 12, 1880 at the Music Hall, Dwight recorded that “we can only say, at present, that it was a great improvement on the first presentation here last spring, both as regards choruses, male and female, orchestra, and solo singers, and that the interest and fascination of the strange, weird, in parts extremely beautiful music grow upon one as he becomes more familiar with it…The chorus of 200 male and 100 female voices had the charm of careful, critical selection, beautiful ensemble of tone quality, as well as of precise, well-shaded, and finely effective execution.”(Dwight (November 20, 1880): 191) An additional attraction in this performance was the appearance of George Henschel as Mephistopheles, “in which he has made [a] very great success in Europe.” (BPL Lang Prog., 6573) The other soloists were Lillian Bailey, Herschel’s future wife, William J. Winch-tenor and Mr. Clarence E. Hay-bass. (BPL Lang Prog., 6574) The Globe noted: There was a “very large and cultured audience” who frequently applauded. The performance was “a decided success.” (Globe (November 13, 1880): 4) Henschel’s “remarkable singing of the serenade” produced a request for an encore he “generously accorded.” (Ibid) The performance was such an “artistic and popular success,” that the reviewer suggested another performance. (Ibid) “The performance of the work was the best that yet has been given here. The solo-singers were of higher grade, or at least of greater power than before; and the chorus was more familiar with its difficult music.” (Musical Herald (December 1880): 270) The women’s voices were singled out for special praise.  “To Mr. Lang, whose care and musicianship made so generally good a performance possible, the thanks of all Boston music-lovers are due.” (Ibid) On November 30, 1880 “Lang gave his third presentation of the Damnation of Faust, this time at the Tremont Temple; and it must be admitted that all the details of the music, all its greatest and its least effects, came out with a remarkable distinctness, and with satisfactory intensity of sound. It was an even better rendering, under, in some sense, better acoustical conditions, than the two before…The orchestra was remarkably complete and satisfactory, from violins, oboes and bassoons, to cymbals, gong, and all the kitchen utensils. The Racockzky March created a furore.”(Dwight (December 18, 1880): 207) Margaret lists other performances of this piece on May 14, 1885, May 25, 1887, March 15, 1899, December 2, 1903, July of 1903 for a Teachers’ convention, and finally on December 13, 1904. (“Facts In the Life of B. J. Lang” by Margaret-Scrapbooks) Obviously this was a work that B. J. believed in deeply. He also presented the work with the Cecilia in 1894. The singer Clara Kathleen Rogers (Clara Doria) also mentioned the Cecilia performance, but gave the date as 1885 “on which occasion Mrs. Humphrey Allen was the Margherite.” She then mentions further performances by Lang “in 1887, 1888, and 1889, when Melba sang the Margherite music.” (Rogers, Two Lives, 147) These performances may have inspired Theodore Thomas to do the same!. Just two months after Lang’s third performance, “Theodore Thomas’ Unrivalled Orchestra” and “The Thomas Choral Society,” J. B. Sharland Chorus-Master presented two performances at the Music Hall on Friday evening, January 28 and Saturday afternoon, January 29, 1881 using a “Complete and Newly Revised Translation.” Thomas used some of Lang’s soloists: Georg Henschel sang Mephistopheles and Clarence E. Hay sang Brander. The other soloists were Miss Fanny Kellogg as Marguerite and W. C. Tower as Faust. (Program advertised on E-Bay, November 2010)

The December 2, 1903 performance was in honor of the 100th. Birthday of Berlioz. It was advertised as a “Gala Performance,” and certainly with Madame Melba, this would have been the case.


Lang was one of thirty-five Boston musicians who volunteered their talents for a “Complimentary Concert for Mr. John S. Dwight” held on Thursday afternoon, December 9, 1880 at 2:30 PM. “The Boston Music Hall Association has given the use of the Music Hall for this occasion, without charge, and Mr. Peck, the Superintendent, his assistant, the ticket sellers, doorkeepers and ushers also contribute their services.” The orchestra was “of the Harvard Symphony Concerts,” Mr. Berhard Listermann, leader and Mr. Carl Zerrahn, conductor. (BPL Lang Prog., 6577) Lang played the Concertstuck in G, Op. 92 by Schumann, and Arthur Foote, John Preston and J. C. D. Parker played Bach’s Concerto in C for Three Keyboards. Schubert’s Twenty-third Psalm was sung by a women’s choir drawn from the Cecilia and the Boylston Clubs conducted by George L. Osgood. A total of “nearly $7,000” was raised. (Brainard’s (January 1881): 13) The organizers included almost 50 of Boston’s musical and artistic greats, and in Dwight’s acceptance letter he refers to this committee as “so largely representative of the best elements of the musical profession, of the best and wisest friends of music, as well as of the honored names of dear old Boston.” (Journal (November 18, 1880): 3, GB) In addition to performing in the concert, Lang was also a member of this committee.


Not all criticism was positive.” A letter printed in the Philharmonic Journal sometime during the winter of 1880-1881 identifies ”the powers” controlling music in Boston. Named were Dwight, the ”educated music critic,” Otto Dresel, B. J. Lang, J. C. D. Parker, Chickering, and institutions like the Handel and Haydn Society, the Apollo Club, and the Cecilia Club. It declares Lang to be the head of ”this clique.” Benjamin Edward Woolf, an English-born and exceedingly right-wing musician who wrote mainly for the Saturday Evening Gazette, launched constant attacks on Lang. Woolf found Lang’s musical tastes too radical and his dominance too insidious.” (Tara, 42) Woolf, Benjamin Edward (London: February 16, 1836-Boston: February 7, 1901). “Born in London, multifaceted, was a composer, violinist, and libretto writer who married an actress, joined the Boston 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 in his memoirs 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 favorities. Hale added that toward ”really promising beginners,” Woolf was never severe but gave personal advice and often financial aid.” (Grant, 68) His father, Edward Woolf, came to America in 1839, “settling in New York as a member of a theatre orchestra. The son inherited his father’s talent for music, and received from him most thorough instruction.” The son was the leader of the orchestra at the Boston Museum [conducted by Julius Eichberg] from 1859 until 1864 “at which time this orchestra provided the public with the best theatre music there was.” (Klauser, Vol. 3, 627) 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: ”His labor.” the Herald observed in its obituary, ”might have been concentrated upon fewer objects with better effect.”” (Am. Grove, Vol. 4, 561) He composed “madrigals, overtures, string quartets and symphonies…In all he wrote sixty plays and six operas.” Klauser, Op. cit.) 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) “He became music critic of the Boston Herald, and for it he wrote reviews notable for their clarity and severity.” (Dic. Am Bio., 514) George Whitefield Chadwick referred to him as the only “thoroughly educated musician” among the critics of his time, but he noted that Woolf “was a Jew who was so embittered by his personal experiences that he could see nothing good in people he disliked no matter how worthy. But he had keen wit and could write – some of his ”mots” have become classic. He was never mean to me although sometimes cool, but his judgment was true as I look back on it now. The other fellows could not tell flutes and oboes or horns and bassoons apart by the sound as their public writings show.” Woolf “came from a family of operatic conductors and [he] studied music practically with his father’s theatrical orchestra…From Mr. Woolf’s English and rather conservative training, it was natural that he should be out of sympathy with the radical modern school. He was at one time one of the fiercest opponents of the Wagnerian music, and his bitter sarcasm and invective made him feared by many who held different opinions. He was often sublimely savage in his reviews. But, in spite of these limitations, his great musical ability made him an influence to be reckoned with. He died in Boston in 1901.” (Elson, Hist. Am. Mus., 323)


The November 1880 issue of the Musical Herald gave the complete list of stops and mechanical aids of this four-manual instrument. The Great had 15 stops, the Swell 15, the Choir 11, the Solo 2, and the Pedal had 9. The total number of pipes was 3,442, and this was the fourth instrument that E. & G. G. Hook and Hastings had built for the church. “The two large ones which preceded it in 1846 and 1853 having been burned in 1852 and 1879 respectively…The organ is blown by one of the Boston Hydraulic Motor Company’s engines, water from the high-pressure service having been brought into the building for that purpose.” (Musical Herald (November 1880): 260)


The November 26 and 29, 1880 concerts again contained primarily short works, but “We never heard those seventy men sing better; and we were struck by the remarkable preservation of their voices, many of them being original veterans in the service. Rich, sweet, manly quality of tone, large, generous volume, admirably blending of the voices in a grand organ-like ensemble, combined with rare unity, precision, light and shade in producing a fine impression.” Instrumental works (including the Widor-Serenade for piano, violin, cello, flute, and harmonium), solos, and Dudley Buck’s setting of Longfellow’s poem, Nun of Nidaros. The review ended with the announcement of the Boston premiere of Max Bruch’s Frithjof for soprano and baritone solos, male choir, and orchestra to be given in its entirety on the following February 4 and 9, 1881. (Dwight (December 18, 1880): 207) The Bruch was given as advertised and was well received by Dwight with special mention for the soloists, Miss Simms and John F. Winch. “Though dark and tragical in its pervading tone, it is grand, poetic, deeply impressive, wildly romantic and imaginative music throughout; full of old Norse tenderness and passion, blended with heroic fire.” (Dwight (February 26, 1881): 36) The second part of the concert was “an agreeable miscellany.” Three part-songs, solo songs, the orchestra playing the third movement of Moskowski’s Joan of Arc symphony, and “the concert ended with a remarkable arrangement, with expressive, ever-varying orchestral accompaniment, by Hector Berlioz, of the Marseilles Hymn, which was sung with great spirit and exciting effect. (Ibid) For 10th. Anniversary Concert and Dinner, see further on.


Another first Boston performance of a Bach cantata was performed at the end of 1880-# 106 Actus Tragicus (God’s Time Is the Best) was sung at Tremont Temple on December 13, 1880. One review mentioned: “Bach’s cantata was received with a lukewarm admiration, at which we do not wonder. The taste for Bach is one that requires special cultivation.” The concert ended with a glee by Caldicott Little Jack Horner which was thought to be “a good bit of brightness to end a concert.” (Cecilia program, clippings) The second concert of its fifth season was given at Tremont Temple on January 24, 1881 included “liberal and splendid” excerpts from Beethoven’s Ruins of Athens, a duet by Grieg, and the Boston premiere of Dudley Buck’s cantata The Golden Legend based on a poem by Longfellow. Buck’s work had won over twenty-four others for the $1,000 prize offered by the Cincinnati Festival of 1880. The Courier review noted that: “the orchestration throughout was extremely interesting; skillful, varied, richly and even gorgeously colored.” (Cecilia program, clippings) Dwight felt that Buck’s work suffered in being in the same program with the Beethoven. “By itself, it would have commanded closer attention and have been more appreciated.” (Dwight (February 26, 1881): 36) Overall Dwight’s opinion was that “If with all his talent, learning, savoir-faire, and power of clever workmanship, the multifarious composer could only burst the bonds of commonplace.” (Dwight (February 26, 1881): 36) Often reviewers remarked on various orchestral problems. For this concert, one reviewer noted: “The orchestra, Under Mr. Lang, played finely, the wood [sic] being better than usual, though an occasional wheeze and faulty attack in the brass gave a grotesque effect.” (Cecilia program, Sunday Times clipping) Apthorp also commented on the orchestra: “The orchestral work in the Ruins of Athens was hardly respectable, in Grieg’s work it was good, and in Mr. Buck’s cantata it was of a superior order.” In a “Letter” from Boston, the author called this concert “excellent,” giving special praise to the sopranos in the Beethoven who sang their part that “even soloists might find it hard to satisfy… it was an unexpected pleasure to hear this number given without screechiness.” The tenors and basses were “full of manly power and vigor.” Of Buck’s cantata the writer “found musicianly ability in every bar of this work, but not always dramatic power… The chorus did well throughout the evening, and Mr. Lang’s work was apparent in this and the orchestral departments.” The writer of this “Letter” had begun with a comment about a Berlioz Damnation of Faust performance given by Theodore Thomas and his orchestra: “The chorus was poorer than under Lang, the orchestra better, and the possession of two harpists, gave the final number a better color than the substitution of pianos did in the previous representations” in Boston. (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1) The writer in the Transcript described Buck’s cantata as “neither empty nor dull, but without a pleasurable surprise in it. Unimpeachable as it all was and very strong in parts, there was not a turn or ending that might not have been anticipated. It was very finely rendered by the chorus and soloists. Among the latter, Mr. Charles R. Hayden especially distinguished himself for the power and beauty of his voice and the taste of his expression.” March 28, 1881 saw the American premiere of Schumann’s Scenes from Goethe’s Faust (Part III) at the Music Hall [Dwight’s review says at Tremont Temple] with Miss Gertrude Franklin and Mr. George W. Dudley, with Mr. Charles R. Adams and George Henschel as the principal soloists together with a “full orchestra.” “The impression was deep and more general than we dared hope considering the mystical and philosophical character of a great portion of the text as well as the necessarily undramatic nature of the music in which it finds expression. The frequent absence of mere surface beauty, the reflective brooding, subtle, involved crowed harmonies almost cloy the sense with fullness. But at the same time it abounds in exquisite melodic inspirations, it is at times wonderfully graphic and it rises in power and splendor with the grandeur of the theme, reaching the sublime and therefore sustaining itself at the close.” (Dwight’s Journal of May 7 in Johnson, First, 334) Of Miss Franklin’s part, Dwight noted: “All this was sung in sympathetic, pure soprano tones, and with earnest, true expression.” His review ended with: “The conjunction of two such thorough vocal artists as Mr. Adams and Mr. Henschel was an experience not to be forgotten.” (Dwight (May 7, 1881): 75 and 76) The Evening Transcript called the concert “an event of capital importance in the local annals of music,” and the reviewer compared this work with the Berlioz Damnation of Faust, which was based on the “same theme…The spectacle” of the Berlioz compared to the “intellectual and spiritual music” of Schumann. The orchestra was called “rather thin,” but the solo work of Miss Franklin and Mr. Henschel was praised. “The Cecilia chorus, too, sang very finely, better, probably, than ever…Only the orchestra was unequal, and it is so new a thing to expect an orchestra at all with these singing-club entertainments, that it is ungracious to mention that a pianoforte is a fatal substitution for a harp in an orchestra.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1) This last comment shows the level of expectations that Lang was trying so hard to raise. The demand for tickets for this concert was so great that the concert had to be repeated on April 4th. at Tremont Temple with half of the tickets given to members and the other half to be sold to the public. The Courier review of this second performance noted that only half of the seats offered to the general public had sold.


George Whitefield Chadwick returned from his European study in the spring of 1880. Lang quickly showed his support of the young composer by commissioning him to write a piece with orchestral accompaniment for the Tenth Anniversary Concerts of the Apollo Club on April 22 and 26, 1881, “the oldest of the Associate-membership vocal clubs celebrated the tenth year of its prosperous existence, having given sixty-eight concerts, always under the musical directorship of Mr. B. J. Lang. On the occasion, both the programme and the entire performance were exceptionally interesting.” Chadwick also conducted the premiere of his piece, and Mr. C. E. Hay was the baritone soloist. Chadwick noted in his Diary: “Sylvester Baxter made the poem, called The Vikings Last Voyage, and afterward Billy Halsall painted a picture to illustrate it which he afterward gave us for a wedding present… At the concert which was on April 22, 1881 the piece was quite a success and was taken up by several other societies in the U.S.  I had never composed for Male voices before and some of it was too thick and too low, but the orchestra which I conducted sounded very well. I worked on the piece all winter and enjoyed it much.” (Chadwick, unpublished Diary) The review in the Evening Transcript of April 23, 1881 noted that the piece “deals cleverly in descriptive effects of instrumentation in the orchestral accompaniment…has an easy flow of graceful melody, and rises into a superb climax,” while the announcement of the piece’s premiere in the Church’s Musical Visitor of May 1881 noted: “The composer regards it as his strongest work.” John Dwight’s review of May 7, 1881 recorded: “The young composer, who was warmly welcomed, conducted the performance. The cantata, almost unavoidably, seemed somewhat in the vein of Max Bruch’s Frithjof music, heroic, gloomy, wild, tempestuous, now mournful, now exulting, nor does it lag far behind that for vivid graphic power, felicitous invention, or mastery of the art of thematic development and instrumental coloring.” (Faucett, Bio-Bib, 146 and 147) Rupert Hughes wrote of this work: “What would part-song writers do if the Vikings had never been invented? Where would they get their wild choruses for men, with a prize to the singer who makes the most noise? Chadwick falls into line with The Viking’s Last Voyage (1881) for barytone solo, male chorus, and orchestra, which gives him a very high place among writers in this form.” (Hughes, Am. Com., 213)


The last concert of the 1880-1881 season was held at the Tremont Temple, on May 31st., “(which, we confess, the temptation of the country after a hard, hot day’s work caused us to forget)… It was without orchestra, and consisted of for the most part of short, but really choice and favorite selections.” After listing the contents of the program, Dwight offered no critical comment. The assisting artists were Mr. John A. Preston, organ, Mr. J. Phippen, piano, and vocalists Miss Ella M. Abbott, Miss Gertrude Franklin, Dr. S. W. Langmaid, and Mr. A. F. Arnold. (Dwight (June 4, 1881): 92) Maybe Dwight’s lack of comments reflected that the choir was having an off night-one reviewer said that the Widor piano and organ duets received the most applause with one being encored. The Folio review written by Louis C. Elson referred to these pieces as “bonbons,” and complimented Mr. Preston for his selection of stops, choosing chiefly “the gamba, flute and clarinet, making the large organ, as much as possible, like a cabinet organ, and not using the too-tempting tremolo.” Another reviewer noted: “Of course, the audience was large, but a more apathetic array of people hardly can be imagined.” (Cecilia program-clippings) This concert had other distractions besides the heat. “At the Cecilia concert on Tuesday evening, the Baptist prayer meeting in the Meionaon [the basement auditorium within Tremont Temple] filled in the rests in Mendelssohn’s 95th. Psalm with a Moody and Sanky hymn. This is no uncommon occurrence, though the responsive style on that occasion was rather more apropos than usual.” Another clipping noted: “…An operatic chorus and the name of Auber on the Cecilia programme, last evening, must have been something of a shock to the sensibilities of those who think no music is worth hearing if not written in Vaterland.” (Cecilia program, clippings) The Courier felt that “the efforts of the chorus were the best shown by them this season, the elements of light and shade and promptness in attack, together with more freedom and volume of tone, being particularly apparent.” It also noted that the accompaniments for the solo songs by Miss Abbott and Miss Franklin “were played by Mr. Lang in his most exquisite manner.” With the Auber and the Widor Duets and John A. Preston’s opening organ solo of Saint-Saens” Rhapsodie, we begin to see Lang’s interest in French composers reflected.


Not everyone was a Lang supporter. A “Letter to the Editor of the Musical Bulletin” dated June 1, 1881 rated the Boylston Club better than Cecilia, and explained this, as both groups were about the same size, as due to the fact that “Mr. G. L. Osgood is a born musician and an artist by instinct, while Mr. Lang possesses the mere attribute of a skilled artisan, accompanied by a refined sense of taste and an adequate amount of ambition and energetic force.” The writer also was very critical of the two soloists-Miss Abbott and Miss Franklin, finding fault with the “methods of instruction,” but saying that “this, however, is not to be wondered at, since it is well nigh impossible to find one teacher that is capable and trustworthy, among the hundreds in this city who follow voice culture as a profession.” (Cecilia Program Clippings for the May 31, 1881 concert)


Lang promoted two chamber music concerts on Thursday afternoons at 3 PM, February 24 and March 10, 1881 at the Tremont Temple; it was announced that only the floor and first balcony of the hall would be used. Dwight’s announcement also mentioned that “Mr. Lang will have the assistance of the Philharmonic and Beethoven clubs, and of Messrs. G. W. Sumner, A. W. Foote and J. A. Preston, pianists; as well as of Mrs. Humphrey Allen and Mr. F. Korbay of New York, vocalists.” (Dwight (February 12, 1881): 28) “During the past month, Mr. B. J. Lang has given at Tremont Temple, before large audiences, two concerts quite unique in character, being as it were between orchestral and chamber concerts, though nearer to the later.” (Dwight (March 26, 1881): 52) The February 24th. concert featured woodwinds, opening with Rubinstein’s Quintet in F major, Opus 55 for piano and four winds, and concluding with Raff’s Sinfonietta, Opus 188 for ten winds.  “The Rubinstein Quintet alone brought Mr. Lang’s excellent pianoforte-playing into requisition, but all the instruments seemed to be equal in importance.” (Dwight (March 26, 1881): 52) Between these works, five songs were sung by Mr. Korbay who performed his own accompaniments. The Herald said the concert was “as enjoyable as it was novel.” The reviewer noted that the Rubinstein was a Boston premiere and the Raff, an American premiere. (Herald (February 25, 1881): 4, GB) The second concert on March 10th. concert included vocal solos and an Octet in D Minor, Opus 60 by Rubinstein for piano, strings, and winds-“It can hardly be called an octet in the strictest sense of the word, as it partakes more of the character of a pianoforte concerto with a septet accompaniment.” (Dwight (March 26, 1881): 52) The Musical Herald called the Rubinstein “the finest number on the program…Although the first movement was rather unpromising, the other three were of great merit, especially the andante, which was of transcendent beauty. Mr. Lang’s work at the piano was throughout excellent, the reserve with which the instrument was used to strengthen the ensemble being admirable. The crisp staccato effects of the second movement and the well-shaded arpeggios of the third were instances of this.” (Musical Herald (April 1881): 78) The announcement had originally listed Rubinstein’s Quintette, Opus 53 for piano and four winds instead of his Octet (BPL Lang Prog., 6579) Also performed were Mendelssohn’s Octet and Bach’s Concerto for Four Pianos with G. W. Summer, Arthur Foote, J. A. Preston, and B. J. as the soloists with an accompaniment of an octet of strings.” “This work opened as brightly as a May morning, the subject (consisting chiefly of major trichords, with accents on the second note) being charmingly naive and simple…This work was thoroughly well done, and heartily enjoyed by the audience, judging by the applause.” (Musical Herald (April 1881): 78) Hearty applause for Bach! Certainly, Dwight would have wanted to write that, and comment on how Boston’s musical taste had grown. The eight strings were from the Philharmonic Club and from the Beethoven Club. (Ibid) “Mr. Lang is to be thanked for these two instructive concerts, and for the opportunities he afforded for hearing new works of such importance as the quintet and octet of Rubinstein, and the sinfonietta of Raff.” (Dwight (March 26,1881): 52)


For 1881 Lang moved the concert location for his spring orchestral concerts to the Brattle Street Church on Clarendon Street. They were presented on the two Sunday evenings after Easter-April 24 and May 1. One unannotated report mentioned that “An orchestra that has been formed on a basis of fifteen first violins-nearly double our usual number of strings…The acoustic properties of the church are particularly favorable for music,” and the church was chosen “for the purpose of reproducing, so far as possible, the effect of a very large orchestra in a small place, as in the Gewandhaus at Leipzig and at the Conservatoire in Paris…As the expenses must [not] exceed the receipts, there can be no complimentary tickets.” The series of two concerts cost $4. (BPL Lang Prog.) The Herald referred to “the magnificent orchestra of 75 picked musicians” who “left little or nothing to be desired.” (Herald (May 2, 1881): 5) Dwight, in his April 23, 1881 issue gave good advance publicity for this new series. “Mr. Lang’s first concert at the new Brattle Square Church, which seats about six hundred, with a grand orchestra of seventy-five, will take place tomorrow Sunday (evening). He will give the Overture to St. Paul, the Pastoral Symphony of Beethoven, and the first movement of Rubinstein’s Ocean Symphony. Mrs. Allen will sing ”Angels ever bright and fair,” and Mendelssohn’s ”Jerusalem.” The occasion is one of novel and especial interest. —On Sunday evening, May 1, Mr. Lang’s orchestra will play the great Schubert Symphony, Mendelssohn’s Overture: Becalmed at Sea, and Prosperous Voyage, and Beethoven’s Coriolanus Overture. Mr. Henschel and Mr. John F. Winch will sing.” (Dwight (April 23, 1881): 69) Dwight  t also in the same issue reprinted a notice about the concerts that had appeared in the Advertiser which included additional information that he had not mentioned. “Mr. Lang will give two remarkable orchestral concerts in the church formerly occupied by Dr. Lothrop’s parish on the evenings of the first and second Sundays after Easter. The orchestra will number about seventy-five performers, including fifteen first violins, as many second violins, eight violoncellos, and eight double basses. The programmes will be of the noblest character, that of the first concert opening with the overture to Mendelssohn’s St. Paul, including selections of sacred vocal music, sung by Mr. Henschel, and ending with Schubert’s great symphony in C. The programme of the second concert will be of the same sort and will include one of the great Beethoven symphonies, probably the fifth. There will be thorough and numerous rehearsals in advance. Two-thirds of the tickets have already been taken; the remainder may be subscribed for at Chickering’s, the price being $4 for both concerts. –Advertiser.” (Dwight (April 23, 1881): 62) The Musical Herald noted: “The strings were especially strong, and the effect in the comparatively small edifice was superb. The piece de resistance of the first concert was Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony...Mr. Lang’s reading was an artistic one…The concerts were largely and fashionably attended.” (Musical Herald (June 1881): 125 and 126) Dwight further supported these concerts by reviewing them two weeks later.” Mr. B. J. Lang’s concerts of orchestral music in the new ”Brattle Square” Church (Commonwealth Avenue) on the last two Sunday evenings, were of exceptional interest, not only as good renderings of good programmes, but also as illustrations of his special object, which was to show the superior sonority, intensity of tone, and more effective ensemble of music given by a large orchestra in a comparatively small hall. For this end he prepared two capital selections, good intrinsically, well contrasted, and almost more than reasonably short, neither concert lasting over one hour and a half.” The church sat about six hundred people and had a Gothic ceiling like the Music Hall. “It was found a bad place for the speaking voice, and hence abandoned as a church. For music, at all events for an orchestra, it seems very good.” Dwight noted that the ensemble consisted of a total of seventy-five instrumentalists-fifty-four strings to the usual twenty winds; “and it is not yet proved that such an orchestra would not sound as well or better in the great Music Hall.” (Dwight (May 7, 1881): 77) Of the second concert the Herald wrote that “a more satisfactory presentation of the great symphony [Schubert No. 9 in C Major] and Wagner’s overture [Tannhauser] has never been heard in this city.” (Herald (May 2, 1881): 5) Further, it wrote: “The concerts appear to have shown one other thing, that Sunday evening symphony concerts, under the proper management, would be well patronized in this city.” (Ibid) Lang may have had bigger plans for these two concerts. In October of the previous year, the word was out the “Mr. B. J. Lang contemplates a series of concerts in which both a chorus and an orchestra will be heard.” (Brainard’s, (October 1880): 157) What repertoire did he have in mind that could not be done by the Cecilia? Was it possible that he felt that the Cecilia Committee did not allow him enough artistic freedom? Questions that will probably remain unanswered. The “Music and Drama Supplement” of 1882 mentioned: “For the past ten years he [Lang] has been in the habit of giving a series of pianoforte concerts, the present season forming the only exception. He has given five different sets of symphony concerts, and in these has always followed the good German idea of a large orchestra in a small hall, so that no possible effect should be lost.”



JOSEFFY AND LANG. Joseffy and Lang were reunited again for two concerts that Joseffy gave at the Music Hall. The ad listed “Assisted by Timothie D’Adamowski” with Mr. B. J. Lang and Wulf Fries listed next. The concerts were on Tuesday evening May ?? and Saturday afternoon May ?? (Daily Advertiser (May 18, 1880): 1, GB)


Dwight noted two performances of this piece. The first was a complete performance with choir, soloists, and orchestra at St. James Catholic Church under the direction of Br. Bullard. “The other performance was under Mr. B. J. Lang’s direction, during the service at the Rev. Edward E. Hale’s Church, where there was no chorus or orchestra to be sure, but nearly the whole work was sung by the regular quartet choir of the society (Mrs. Julia Houston West, Mrs. Kate Rametti Winch, and Messrs. W. J. and J. F. Winch), Mr. Lang playing the accompaniment, the pastorale prelude, etc., on the organ. The music proved both edifying and artistically pleasing.” (Dwight (January 1, 1881): 6)


By the spring of 1881 the Apollo, “the oldest of the Associate-membership vocal clubs celebrated the tenth year of its prosperous existence, having given sixty-eight concerts, always under the musical directorship of Mr. B. J. Lang. On the occasion, April 22, 1881, both the programme and the entire performance were exceptionally interesting. “After opening works, the group sang a work by George E. Whiting written for this occasion called March of the Monks of Bangor with orchestral accompaniment. It shows marked originality, particularly in the nervous rhythm of the march itself; and the whole work is melodious, clear, and vigorous.” (Dwight (May 7, 1881): 76)     [Choral score at the Library of Congress download; vocal scores at BPL and Westminster Choir College; autograph full score at BPL] The choral score of this work was published by the Apollo Club dated 1881, and another edition, with piano reduction, was published by John Church Co. of Cincinnati dated 1887. Next on the program was a world premiere, Chadwick’s The Viking’s Last Voyage. “The young composer, who was warmly welcomed, conducted the performance.” (Ibid) The work was compared favorably with Bruch’s Frithjof Saga, and “in the orchestral part he seems particularly strong.” (Ibid)  The Apollo Club had given the Boston premiere of the Frithjof Saga just three months before.  Tawa describes the work  as ” a brooding, dramatic subject, expressive melodies, stormy emotions, and heroic .” He then offers a judgment of the club:the composition matches the tastes of the audience.”  (Tara, From Psalm to Symphony, 158) The critic Rupert Hughes liked the work but he did remark to Chadwick : “What would part-song writers do if the Vikings had never been invented? Where would they get their wild choruses for men, with a prize to the singer that makes the most noise?” (Ibid)  Chadwick certainly fell into this group and The Viking’s Last Voyage “gave him a very high place among writers in this form.” (Ibid)                                                                              The orchestra played two movements from Saint Saens’s Suite Algerienne, “and the ever-inspiring ‘Bacchus’ double chorus from Mendelssohn’s Antigone, splendidly delivered, brought the memorable concert to a close.” (Dwight (May 7, 1881) April 22, 1881 was notable for Chadwick both in this premier and also in the fact that he was hired at New England Conservatory to teach “composition.” He would continue at the Conservatory rising to the post of Director (1897) with a salary of $5,000 which rose to $10,000 in 1912 and $15,000 in 1922. (Chadwick, Life, 239)

“Exterior of Young’s Hotel, Court Square and Court Street.” From  About the Farm, no page numbers.

“The Tenth Anniversary Dinner was held on Tuesday, May 24, 1881, at Young’s Hotel on Washington Street at Court Square. It must have been a gay evening, the formally dressed members entering through the billiard room and bar on Court Street, then ascending the stairs to the second floor and the private dining room. A six-course dinner with wines, punctuated by speeches and toasts closed the tenth year of pleasant rehearsals and convivial meetings.” (Baker, 10) In Dwight’s issue of June 4, 1881 he reprinted an article from the May 25th. issue of the Advertiser which furnished further details. “The tenth-anniversary supper of the Apollo Club was held at Young’s Hotel last evening. The company numbered eighty persons and was composed of the active members, and the past active members, and the invited guests, who were the President and Director of the Harvard Musical Association, of the Boylston Club, the Cecilia Club, the Handel and Haydn Society, the Orpheus Club and the Arlington Club. Judge Putnam presided in his usual graceful and genial manner. Supper was served between half-past six and eight o’clock. Speeches and songs were then in order. The soloists were Mr. Pflueger, Mr. Osgood, William Winch, Clarence E. Hay, and there was a piano duet by Mr. Lang and Mr. Parker. The club opened the musical part of the entertainment by Mendelssohn’s Sons of Art, and subsequently sang a number of part-songs interspersed between the speeches and solos. Speeches were made by John S. Dwight, Professor Paine, G. W. Chadwick, Charles Allen and Robert M. Morse, Jr. The tables were set in the form of a Greek cross, and were handsomely spread and ornamented. All the arrangements were made under the supervision of Mr. Arthur Reed, the secretary of the club.” (Dwight (June 4, 1881): 93)


Mr. Georg Henschel and Miss Lillian Bailey were married at the Second Church [Unitarian?] on the morning of April 9, and the service “was largely and fashionably attended. The newly wedded pair are to sail for Europe next month, but will return in October.” (Musical Herald, (April 1881): 79) In the May issue of the Musical Herald Henry L. Higginson announced the formation of the Boston Symphony Orchestra: “Mr. Georg Henschel will be the conductor for the coming season.” (Musical Herald (May 1881): 104)


A new orchestra was born in the spring of 1881. The Boston Philharmonic Society (not to be confused with the older Boston Philharmonic Orchestra) used the same players as the old HMA Orchestra with the exception of Mr. Allen moving to the Concertmaster chair as Mr. Listemann moved to the conductor’s post. Concerts were on Thursday nights at the Music Hall with public rehearsals on Tuesday afternoons. The group was managed by a board of twenty-five directors which included as President, Professor John K. Paine of Harvard. Lang was not connected to this group. Six hundred signed on as associate members, thus covering the costs of the first season of five concerts. Each member was given four tickets for the evening concerts and tickets were sold for the rehearsals. (Dwight (February 12, 1881): 28) There were to be seven concerts in the season ranging from the first on November 10, 1881 to the last on April 13, 1882. (Brainard’s (July 1881): 109) In July 1881 it had not been decided who would be the conductor” “The chances are understood to lie between Messrs. Bernard Listemann and Louis Maas. (Ibid) Also in July, it was announced the HMA Orchestra season would be only of five concerts, with the first to be on December 8, 1881, and the location would be the Boston Museum rather than the Music Hall. (Ibid) The season before, 1880-81, the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra had given a series of five concerts and the HMA Orchestra had given eight. (Brainard’s (October 1880): 157)


Malcolm Lang was born on June 14, 1881 at Lynn, MA. This would seem to be the Lang summer home. “Mr. B. J. Lang and family are, as usual, at Lynn for the summer.” (Herald (July 27, 1890): 19, Personal and Social Gossip, GB)

TRIPS BACK TO EUROPE. In a short biography of Lang published in the summer of 1881, it was mentioned that since his return from his three-year study trip in 1858, “he has gone not less than fourteen times over the blue water in order to continue his studies with the best masters there. This proves Mr. Lang to be a man fully impressed with the idea that there is no end to art, and that although a man has studied for years with Liszt, and has gathered laurels for himself at home, he may still go abroad for higher culture and greater attainments. We doubt whether many would have been willing to return to Europe after Mr. Lang’s first flattering successes at home, and we are quite sure that none have ever crossed the ocean as often as he has in search of more knowledge.” (Brainard’s (July 1881): 98) That makes 14 trips in 23 years!

>>> Part: 1   2   3   4 


  • CHAPTER 03. (Part 3)      SC (G).        WC. 11,834   9/20/2020
  • LILLIAN JUNE BAILEY HENSCHEL. B. 1860, D. 1901.                                                  ST. SAENS-CONCERTO NO. 2.                                                                                MECHANICS’ HALL CONCERTS.                                                                              HANDEL AND HAYDN SOCIETY-LANG CONDUCTS.                                                SON AND STRANGER-MENDELSSOHN.                                                                  BOSTON CHURCH CHOIRS.                                                                                              WAGNER AND LANG.                                                                                                          LANG AS ASSISTING ARTIST.                                                                                           ST. SAENS PIANO CONCERTO NO. 2 IN NEW YORK CITY.                                 APOLLO CLUB SEASON 1876-1877.
  • CECILIA-FIRST INDEPENDENT SEASON: 1876-1877.                                      CRAMER PIANOFORTE STUDIES.                                                                         AVERAGE WEEK.                                                                                                                         APOLLO CLUB SEASON 1877-1878.                                                                          CECILIA-SECOND INDEPENDENT SEASON: 1877-1878.                                   BIRTH OF ROSAMOND.                                                                                                 CECILIA CONTINUED.                                                                                                  CECILIA-THIRD INDEPENDENT SEASON: 1878-1879.



Georg Henschel and Lillian Bailey probably just before their marriage.  BSO Archive.

Among the many young artists that Lang helped was Lillian Bailey who later married Georg Henschel, the first conductor of the B. S.O. She was born in Ohio, and her first teachers were her uncle, Charles R. Hayden, and Mme. Rudersdorff. When but sixteen years old she made her first public appearance in Boston and met with much success. In 1878 she went to Paris and became a pupil of Mme. Viardot-Garcia. It was while singing his songs at a private recital in London that she met Georg Henschel. Later she became his pupil, and in 1881 they were married in Boston. Wherever Mrs. Henschel sang she met with success; her method was excellent and her voice possessed a charm that merited the applause given her. She appeared with her husband in song recitals in most of the largest cities in America and delighted most critical audiences, as well as the pubic at large. She died in London in 1901.” (Green, 370) The “first public performance” referred to above was probably a concert that she presented at the Revere House on Friday evening, April 7, 1876 where B. J. Lang was among the seven assisting artists. In this concert she only sang three songs with the majority of the concert being provided by the guest instrumentalists and vocalists (HMA Program Collection) Early in the program Lang made his only appearance, playing three solos: Allegro in C Major by Handel, his own Spinning Song in A Major, and the Caprice in E Minor by Mendelssohn. The concert ended with Mendelssohn’s Trio in D Minor Op. 49, a work often played by Lang, but in this case the piano part was taken by his pupil G. W. Sumner (HMA Program Collection) Arthur Foote referred to this concert: “In 1876 I assisted at two of Lang’s concerts in Boston…In these concerts a wonderful young girl, Lillian Bailey, afterwards Mrs. George Henschel, made her first appearance: a lovely voice and most beautiful singing-one of the finest artists I have known. She, her mother, brother, and uncle (Charles R. Hayden), lived at the top of the Hotel Pelham (where the Little Building now stands), and I was a frequent visitor, making music there with her.” (Foote, Auto., 44)

Hotel Pelham: corner of Boylston (left to right) and Tremont (up and down), the Boston Common is to your right and behind. Though called a hotel, this was an early version of an apartment house. By the time that Miss Bailey lived here, the building had been moved 14 feet to the right. Photo courtesy of the Boston Public Library. Information from “Lost New England” Series, Derek Strahan, accessed September 22, 2018.

On February 10, 1877 she presented a concert at Union Hall that was “appreciated by a large and cultivated crowd. This gifted lady, yet in her teens, shows a remarkable improvement since her first semi-private appearance a year ago. Her fresh, sweet, penetrating voice has developed into a larger volume and capacity of various expression…For she has intellectual talent likewise and seems to be prompted by a genuine musical enthusiasm…Miss Bailey’s teacher, Mr. C. R. Hayden, [her uncle] to whose judicious training the young maiden bore such testimony” also sang. Lang students Sumner and Foote were the accompanists. (Dwight (March 3, 1877): 399) Fifteen months before Mr. C. R. Hayden had been called “one of the best tenors of our concert rooms” when he took part in the 452nd. recital of NEC. (Dwight (December 11, 1875): 142) Lang knew Hayden as both had been faculty members of the National College of Music (1872-73).

In December 1877 Miss Bailey was the soloist at the Second Harvard Musical Association Orchestra Concert singing both with orchestra and piano accompaniment. Dwight wrote: “Miss Lillian Bailey, with her delicate, sweet, fresh voice, her charming naturalness of manner, and her artistic, earnest feeling and expression, sang to great acceptance. She has gained much in power and style within a year, and, being very young, she will gain more. But it is already a rare treat to listen to her.” (Dwight (December 8, 1877): 142) A month later she presented herself in a concert that “was very agreeable and lively. The audience, which filled Union Hall, was of as select and flattering a character as a young artist could be honored with.” Her uncle also sang and Mr. Dresel was the vocal accompanist. (Dwight (February 2, 1878): 175) Later that spring she appeared again at Union Hall at a “testimonial concert tendered to the favorite young Soprano by the Second Church Young People’s Fraternity.” It was a great success: “Union Hall was crowded: Miss Bailey sang her best.” Again her uncle was part of the performance, and Lang served as accompanist and piano soloist playing the Nocturne in C Minor and Etude in E Flat Major by Chopin and the “Introduction and Scherzo” from the G Minor Piano Concerto by Saint-Saëns. (Dwight (May 11, 1878): 231)

In October she sang the soprano solos in Messiah for the Handel and Haydn Society. “Miss Bailey, who sang here for the first time since her studies in Paris, and her successful career in England, took the soprano solos; and, considering her youth, and the yet juvenile though much-improved quality of her voice in firmness, evenness and fullness, acquitted herself most creditably…The young lady’s tones are pure and clear as a bird, her intonation faultless, and all the exacting arias were well studied and agreeably sustained with good style and expression.” (Dwight (October 23, 1880): 174) A month later it was noted that she was “affianced to George Henschel. (Dwight (November 20, 1880): 191) Two months later Bailey and Henschel were sharing recital programs where he “splendidly played all the accompaniments.” Lang and Henschel played the Moscheles Homage a Handel, a duet for two pianos to finish their January 31, 1881 concert at the Tremont Temple. (Dwight (February 26, 1881): 37)

Twenty-five years later, on Saturday, March 13, 1901 3 PM at the Association Hall, Lang and Foote repeated the St. Saens Variations on a Theme of Beethoven for two pianos which they had performed at Lillian’s Boston debut (which this 1901 program said had happened on March 13, 1876 “at Mr. Lang’s concert”), but this time the concert’s featured artist was Lillian and Georg Herschel’s daughter, Helen Henschel. This 1901 concert was a family affair, for part of the program was a group of duets sung by mother and daughter, accompanied by father. (BPL Lang Prog) Helen, the Henschel’s daughter, recorded the remarks of Edith Hipkins who remembered that in 1879 Georg’s London debut been “like a great wind, with his glorious voice, his flashing eyes and his splendid vitality. He was invited everywhere at once, and appeared even to be everywhere at once…As for your mother, she was too charming for words. And how jealous we all were when your father got engaged to her. That this glorious creature should be going to marry a very young and unknown singer from America seemed unbearable! But quite understandable, too. How pretty she was. So gentle and amusing. And she sang like a little bird.” (Henschel, H. 14)

B. J. studying a full score. Collection of Amy DuBois.

Lang’s orchestral conducting experience began early in his career. On May 12, 1867 at age thirty he conducted (a) Boston Symphony Orchestra at the Mechanic Hall in Salem, MA “In aid of the New Music Hall.” This concert was promoted by Mr. M. S. Downs and also included as soloist “Miss Adelaide Phillips, the celebrated Prima Dona.” The program was: Symphony # 5- Beethoven, Song-Donizetti, Overture: A Midsummer Night’s Dream-Mendelssohn, Cuban Song, Waltz-J. Strauss, Song, Wedding March: Midsummer Night’s Dream-Mendelssohn. Dwight’s review said: “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.” (Dwight (May 25, 1867): 39)


On February 3, 1876 Lang gave the American premiere of the Second Piano Concerto by St. Saens with the Harvard Musical Association Orchestra. Apthorp wrote in the Atlantic Monthly that he thought this work to be the best concerto since those by Mendelssohn and Schumann. “The first movement is simply great. The dainty little scherzo that follows it and the tarantella finale are gems of their kind. In playing it, Mr. Lang fairly outdid himself, especially in the first two movements; the effect upon the audience was electric.” (Atlantic Monthly (May 1876): 635) He continued to say that as much as he enjoyed the piece, he could hardly remember it after the concert. The suggestion was made that Lang could have played the last movement with more fire; his was “a highly refined fire.” (Ibid, 636)

The Music Hall as it was in 1876 (Decorated for July 4th.). BPL, Digital.

Dwight found the concerto “entirely fresh and novel…very modern, to be sure, and very French.” It had “immense technical difficulties and sensational effects.” Cast in an unusual Slow, Fast, Fast arrangement, the opening Andante Sostenuto was “broad and massive, full of fire and strength.” The second, a Scherzo was “fascinating…[and] played [with] airy life and freedom.” It was encored! The final movement, a Presto in Tarantella style “whirls in ever-widening circles” and “Mr. Lang proved fully equal to its unrelenting demands…[The] whole performance [was] magnificent, surpassing all that has done before. The task was to his fancy. He embraced it con amore.” (Dwight (February 19, 1876): 183, GB)

The Traveler noted that “Mr. Lang insists upon stepping out of the beaten paths in selecting his number for performance…[The St. Saens] is brilliantly bright, flowing and graceful, and entirely unconventional…The piano part bristles with difficulties…The last movement requires more of the pianist than its predecessors. It abounds with technical requirements, and it is the highest praise to say that the difficulties were all ably met. Mr. Lang played with consummate zeal and fire, with a finish of execution which calls for the highest praise. The performance was throughout electrifying, and the audience has seldom been more honestly warmed. The orchestra seconded with rare devotion Mr. Lang’s efforts.” (Traveler (February 4, 1876): 1, GB)


An ad appeared in March saying that Lang was to give two concerts on Thursday afternoons March 23 and 29 at 3 o’clock. “He will play two Concertos by Saint-Saens, the Tschaikowsky Concerto, a new Trio by Saint-Saens, numerous pianoforte pieces, etc., etc.” Additionally, songs were to be given by Miss Ita Welsh, Miss Lillian Bailey, and the other assisting artists would be Mr. Wulf Fries, Mr. August Fries and Mr. Arthur Foote. Season Tickets, three dollars.” (Traveler (March 13, 1876): 3, GB) The Traveler review of the second concert said that it was “a beautiful programme, interpreted with rare taste and excellence. The two concerts taken together have “seldom been equaled by any resident artist, in character, or character of performance.” (Traveler (March 31, 1876): 3) The Saint Saens Trio “was interesting throughout, and was superlatively well performed in all its parts. ” Of Miss Bailey the reviewer wrote: “We have not often heard a more intelligent, sweeter, sympathetic delivery” than she presented. (Ibid) The major work was the Tschaikowsky Piano Concerto No. 1 with Lang as the soloist and Sumner and Foote at a second piano providing the orchestral reduction. This was just a year after it’s world premiere! Even with four hands covering as much of the orchestral fabric as possible, “the orchestral part was much missed.” (Ibid) Lang’s performance was “intense…graceful…[one] he might be proud of, even” in comparison with that of Von Bulow. (Ibid) “A very large audience was present.” (Ibid) The Journal wrote: “In all these selections Mr. Lang played with fine taste and expression…There was an excellent attendance and the programme was presented in a manner to afford much genuine pleasure.” (Journal (March 31,, 1876): 1, GB)

Lang was to do much to further Miss Bailey’s career. Often she would appear as an assisting artist , as above, and also he would appear in her concerts as assisting artist/accompanist. Less than two weeks later he was part of a concert that she presented at the Revere House. Miss Bailey’s “taste and her powers are of the most enviable character.” (Traveler (April 10, 1876): 2)


For the 1876 Easter Season the Handel and Haydn Society gave their usual series of “Easter Oratorios.” First, on Palm Sunday was Bach’s Passion Music with primarily local soloists-Mme. Rudersdorff, William and John Winch and Myron Whitney. Then on Easter Sunday came Handel’s Joshua in its Boston Premier with local and imported soloists. For the singers to have to learn such a long, new work during the time that they were having great demands made by their local choirs, was certainly testing their loyalty! Finally, on the next Wednesday, April 12th., Mendelssohn’s Hymn of Praise and Rossini’s Stabat Mater were presented. This performance was the last performance in America (she died a year later at the age of 46) of “the distinguished vocalist”(a seamless voice of three octaves) M’lle Theresa Titiens, and for this performance B. J. was the conductor and Professor John K. Paine of Harvard was the organist. (Traveler (April 11, 1876): 2) Possibly Zerrahn thought that three performances in such a short time were too much for one person, or possibly he had a conflicting engagement. For whatever reason, Lang had his chance to conduct the Handel and Haydn, but I don’t believe this happened again until he was appointed conductor in 1895.


In May of 1876, Lang presented the operetta Son and Stranger (Heimkehr aus der fremde) by Mendelssohn at the new hall of the Young Men’s Christian Union on Boylston Street “before a very large and cultivated audience who had purchased tickets privately under the double inducement of artistic pleasure and of sympathy for want.”… The performers were amateurs and volunteering artists, Mr. Lang conducting, under whose direction the performance had been most carefully prepared, so that the representation of the work, both musically and scenically, was complete.” The overture was arranged for two pianos, eight hands and played by Lang, Mr. Parker, Mr. Leonard, and Mr. Sumner. The critic, Mr. Wm. F. Apthorp “was capitally made up for the respectable old German Mayor, and sang his one note in the Trio doubtless quite as well as the composer’s brother-in-law, the painter Hensel, for whom the part was written… Altogether the performance was a great success… The accompaniments were beautifully played by Mr. Lang, Mr. Leonhard assisting him again in the interlude (“Night and Morning”).” (Dwight (May 13, 1876): 231) Mendelssohn had written this work in 1829 for the silver wedding anniversary of his parents. (BPL Lang Prog., Vol. 2) Clara Rogers (Clara Doria) wrote: “A group of my friends, in which Mrs. James Lodge, Mrs. George Howe [Mrs. Lodge and Mrs. Howe were sisters], Mrs. [Leslie] Codman, the [Ellerton] Pratts, and Mr. Richard S. Fay were prominent, got it up to raise a goodly sum for a deserving benevolence. It was in the character of an amateur performance, though some professional musicians took part in it, the direction of the music being in charge of B. J. Lang…The cast was as follows: Lisbeth-Clara Doria; Ursula-Ita Welsh; the Mayor-William Apthorp; Hermann-Nat Childs; Hans-Doctor C. E. Bullard; Martin-A. S. Dabney… The rehearsals took place for the most part in my music room…It was a great success, a large proportion of Boston Brahmins turning out for the occasion, and a handsome sum being raised for the charity.” (Rogers, Memories, 448) Lang may have become interested in this work when the “Overture” was played at a concert in December 1865 in which he was a soloist.

1876 May. Lang performed the Saint-Saens Christmas Oratorio (Noel) at South Congregational. A year later, May 1877, the same work was performed as part of the Handel and Haydn Society’s “Fourth Triennial Festival.”

BOSTON CHURCH CHOIRS: 1876 and 1885.

In the spring of 1876, Dwight reprinted an article from the Sunday Herald of May 14 on “Boston Church Choirs-How Hard Times Affect the Service of Song.” The country was in a period of economic “hard times” and this had an effect on the quartet choirs which were the standard for most churches. “Quartet singing, which has been a costly item in the expenses of some churches heretofore, has in many instances been altogether abolished. In others, the salaries have been largely reduced. In others still, professional singers have been dismissed and volunteers substituted, whose chief merit lies in the attribute that they are willing to serve without pay.” (Dwight (May 27, 1876): 239 and 240) Thirty-seven churches were included in the survey. The comment for Lang’s quartet at South Congregational Church was: “There have no changes in the quartet at this church during the past year. its organization is-soprano, Mrs. Julia Houston West; alto, Mrs. J. F. Winch; tenor, Mr. W. J. Winch; bass, Mr. J. F. Winch.” (Ibid)

In March of 1885, the Journal published an article about “The Reorganization of Choirs Throughout the City.”  At this time the Winch brothers were still present at South Congregational Church, but the alto was not Mrs. Winch, but Miss Mary Howe, and the new soprano was to be Miss Emma Bockus. Other members of the Lang circle seemed to have little change. Arthur Foote at First Church [Unitarian] had George J. Parker for tenor and Clarence E. Hay as bass, both of whom Lang used regularly as soloists with the Cecilia. His pupil George W. Sumner was at Arlington Street Church [Unitarian] and had only one change, while at King’s Chapel, where Lang would soon take over the music, no changes were made and the soprano was Gertrude Franklin who later helped introduce Margaret’s early songs. Charles R. Adams, Lang’s tenor friend from the early 1860s, First Baptist days was at the Church of the Unity. George L. Osgood was Choir Master at Emmanuel Church, and Signor Campanari, who had been on the faculty of the National College of Music with Lang, went back to Europe. (Journal (March 30, 1885): 3, GB)


RMS PARTHIA. Cunard Line.

“In 1871 the Wagners and the Langs were calling on each other in Switzerland. Mrs. Lang owned several songs of Wagner,- among them Fuenf Gedichte translated into Italian by Arigo Boito! Attached to the music was found this note of Mrs. Lang: ‘Wagner’s Songs given to me by himself in Switzerland at our Hotel Luzerner Hof-Luzern’ – as he and Madame Wagner returned our call on July 22, 1871. They rowed over from Triebschen at 4 PM. We called at Triebschen on PM of July 21st.'” (Liepmann, 5) Always interested in the new compositions of his time, as “an ardent Wagnerian, Lang visited Wagner in 1871 and offered his assistance in publicizing the Bayreuth Festival in America. The Saloon Passenger List of the RMS PARTHIA sailing from Boston to Liverpool listed B. J. Lang as departing on August 7, 1875. An entry in Cosima Wagner’s Diary for August 26, 1875 mentions that she showed B. J. the Bayreuth Theater. In 1876 Lang and his wife were honored guests at the first performance of the Ring in Bayreuth.” (Ledbetter, Amer. Grove, 10) Arthur Foote also attended (Cipolla, Amer. Grove, 50).

Two illustrations from Jullian’s Wagner, Vol. 2, 269 and 259. The top one shows the theatre as it was in 1876 when it first opened and the bottom one shows the addition buildings-on the left the Victoria Column high on the hill with the large restaurant at the foot of that hill and the smaller restaurant on the right, adjacent to the theatre. On the lower right is a sketch of the sunken orchestra pit with its wooden hood.

Frances’ Diary recorded that they sailed from Philadelphia on June 24, 1876 together with Mr. and Mrs. Tucker (she=Jeanie). They were in London from July 4-14 and had rented a room at…..

If they were in London July4-14, this program shows that they went to a concert on their first night. It included the Beethoven Variations that Lang performed many times. BPL Lang Scrapbook.

14 Arlington Street; then Paris, July 14-23 during which they heard High mass at St. Sulpice where Mr. Widor’s “improvisations were delightful.” There were other things besides music. “Dressmakers, and buying clothes at the Bon Marche.” (Diary 2, Summer 1876)

The Wagner festival was August 6-23, and a letter from Frances dated August 9, 1876 from Bayreuth tells about the Festival. Apparently only the parents went on this journey as the letter is addressed to the children (?) She mentioned that they saw four operas, three times each! She noted in her Diary that on August 6, B. J. met Liszt and Mme. Wagner who gave him tickets to a private rehearsal of Rheingold to be given for the King! Frances was very excited to be a part of this event. (Diary, 6 and 7) Arthur Foote wrote that their party of five (Langs, Tuckers and him) had arrived in Bayreuth two weeks early. “We were now informed that there was to be a sort of dress rehearsal of the four opers on the week preceding the date scheduled, And so, not only did I hear the series expected (and paid for at the rate of twenty-five dollars a night), but also the preliminary performances.” (Foote, Auto., 62) In 1876 the town of Bayreuth was not able to handle the huge numbers of visitors to the Festival. For Foote: “My sleeping place was really a sort of large closet, and the bed consisted of bedding laid on some wooden planks supported by large logs. This was the least luxurious experience in the way of rooms that I ever had, the only similar one being that of sleeping in a bath-tub in Munich, when the town was overcrowded.” (Foote, Auto., 63) In an additional letter which Frances wrote to her parents more details are given the most important of which was that the pre-opening private performance given for the King of Bavaria, Wagner’s patron, was attended by the Wagners, the King, and his Suite and THE Langs! An 1882 article wrote: “His studies of the works of Wagner have been made with the assistance of the great composer himself.” (1882 Music and Drama Supplement)


Diary 2, Summer 1876.

On the return journey, after another stay in London, August 30-September 5, they set sail from Queenstown, Ireland on the Steamer CELTIC on September 6th. She noted that Mr. Foote was also on board. (Frances Lang Diary, 1876) Margaret, then aged eight, together with her nurse spent the time with Frances’ mother in Stockbridge, Western Massachusetts. “There were several other groups of Bostonians who went over chiefly on account of the Bayreuth production” including Arthur Foote who was introduced to the London music publishers Schott and Company by Lang. (Foote, Auto., 61).

Johnston Collection.

Among the American visitors to Bayreuth was Louis C. Elson (critic at the Boston Advertiser 1866-1920) who recorded his impressions of a visit to Bayreuth that he calls “A sleepy German town” in the late 1880s. He began with a reference to the slowness of the Bavarian railroads, and then continued: “July 20th. The town was still its normal condition, dull, sleepy and apathetic; but early on the next morning matters began to change with the rapidity of a fairy transformation scene. Train after train came in, crowed in every compartment, and bearing the motliest assemblage that ever a caricaturist could dream of. Fat, florid, and bespectacled men jostled against lean, long-haired specimens of the genus music professor, and the way in which greetings and kisses were interchanged was appalling to the American eye. At eight in the evening, fresh impetus was given to the growing excitement by the arrival of the special train from Vienna, bearing a vast crowd of South German artists and musicians. Locomotive decked with flowers, and flags hanging over some of the carriages, it slowly pushed into the immense crowd gathered at the station to welcome it… Many Americans were at the station. Correspondents from all over the world were there, and anxiety about lodgings grew apace. It was an odd spectacle to find princes lodging above grocers” shops and princesses coming to dwell with well-to-do sausage makers…It was a great delight to live with a quiet German family during the rush of the festival, and to be able to withdraw occasionally from the bustle of publicity into cool and neat rooms.” Joining him that year were George E. Whiting, Carl Faelten, and Miss Fanny Paine. He later saw Mr. Gericke, Franz Kneisel, Clayton Johns, Arthur Foote, Mrs. J. L. Gardner and other Americans. “An entire American colony was formed.” Elson visited Cosima Wagner and was immediately invited into “a room half drawing-room, half boudoir, in which sat a slim and graceful, but not beautiful, lady, writing. She arose and greeted me with cordiality, and in a few moments by kindly question and unaffected conversation put me at ease…She inquired after American friends, and particularly Mr. B. J. Lang.” She asked Elson if he knew how many Americans were in the city, and he replied “that I knew personally of some fifty who were coming, and that I had no doubt the number would reach two hundred or more… The resemblance of Madame Wagner to her father, Liszt, was more marked than ever as she grew animated.” (Elson, Reminiscences, 73-78)

“His interest in the Bayreuth Festival, the Franz benefit concert, the Dwight testimonial, the Liszt celebration, in short, in every memorable musical occasion has been earnest, thorough and, above all, practical. He has been honored with the personal friendship of the greatest composers of Europe, and his studies of the works of Wagner have been made with the assistance of the great composer himself. He has, like every earnest, original and competent worker, formed for himself a set of followers, pupils and disciples. It is impossible to enumerate these since the number of his pupils who have become concert soloists is over sixty. The work of the Cecilia Club is wholly due to Mr. Lang; that of the Apollo and Euterpe societies largely so. therefore, in the articles on these subjects, the reader will find a continuation of his too-brief personal sketch. Mr. Lang, although he has composed some very fine works, has, as yet, published nothing. As a musician he is armed at all points; he is one of the very surest of ensemble players and never loses his head. We can personally recall many instances where his calmness has saved careless or nervous players from disaster. He is a good organizer and a very efficient leader. At a time when no one else dared undertake playing with, or directing for, the belligerent Von Bulow or the meteoric Joseffy, he did both-and well. He is one of the surest of score-readers and, though not a virtuoso, is one of the best types of true musician. He has long been the organist of a leading Unitarian church. Of his Boston pupils, we may mention Mr. Arthur Foote… Mr. W. F. Apthorp is another of Mr. Lang’s eminent pupils.” (Elson, Musical Boston, 3)

Wagner was a patient of the American dentist Dr. Newell S. Jenkins who had a practice in Dresden from 1875 until Wagner’s death in 1883. In 1879 Wagner had the idea of migrating to America with his family. This came about because of various professional problems that he was having in Germany. “His life at this time was so unhappy that he thought he might get the needed support in America. Perhaps what influenced him in part was the fact that America, in 1876, had accepted his Grand Festival March composed for the Philadelphia Exposition, for which he received $5,000, that payment, as he remarked, being the best thing about it.” (HMA, Bulletin No. 21, 6) Jenkins sent a letter from Wagner about his possible move to John S. Dwight, “a foremost authority on matters musical and a widely renowned critic and writer” probably not being aware that “the very name of Wagner, let alone his music, was anathema to Dwight, and a less sympathetic consultant could hardly have been found.” (Op. cit., 7) Dwight showed the letter to various Boston associates including Lang, who then wrote to Wagner “reproving him for his lack of ”common sense” and advising him to withdraw the letter.” (Ibid) Wagner was not to be changed, and he wrote again to Jenkins on July 13, 1880 asking him to find a trusted friend who might be able to manage this enterprise. However, things in Germany improved for Wagner, and so nothing further was recorded about the project.

On January 6, 1876 Cosima Wagner wrote to B. J. “Dear Mr. Lang, I found the book you had the kindness to send to me as I came back from Vienna and was very glad to read it; receive my best thanks and also our best wishes for you and Mrs. Lang for the New Year. I have had so plenty to do in the past last time, that I even don’t know more if I answered the kind letter with the nice photograph of Mrs. Lang. If I didn’t I at least always intended it, and in her kindness Mrs. L will take the intension for the fact. I beg you today, to send the enclosed letter to Herr von Buelow; most probably you will know where he is now. Many thanks to you for doing so.” (Liepmann, 5 and 6) Liepmann also mentions a letter “to Mrs. Lang from Cosima when she was still Cosima von Buelow.” (Ibid)


Early in 1876, Lang was one of four organists who played the dedicatory recital for an invited audience of over 1,000 on the Hook and Hastings at Holy Cross Cathedral in Boston, The program went from “half-past seven to a little past ten o’clock,” just over two and a half hours, and even though Boston organ audiences were used to the Music Hall recitals of about one-hour, this event “was listened to with the utmost careful attention and evident attention.” (Dwight (February 4, 1876): 192) For Boston’s major Catholic church, the company built “their largest organ yet,” (Ibid) double the size of the instrument that they had built for the Catholic Cathedral in New York City. In fact, with its 5292 pipes, it was the largest in the country, except for the foreign-built instrument in the Boston Music Hall.

On Saturday evening, November 4, 1876 Lang was one of five assisting artists in a concert given by Miss Ita Welsh, soprano, at Mechanics Hall. Lang accompanied August Fries in Grieg’s Sonata in F Major Op. 3 for violin and piano, and near the end of the program played three solos, Prelude by Bach, Caprice by Widor, and Gavotte by Bach as arranged by Saint-Saens (HMA Program Collection).

Lang was part of another Complimentary Concert on Saturday evening, April 28, 1877 at Union Hall, 18 Boylston Street. Given for Miss Louie A. Homer, Lang and Wulf Fries opened the program with the “Allegro” from Mendelssohn’s Sonata in D Major for Cello and Piano. They also played a Polonaise for Cello and Piano by Chopin, and Lang presented three solos: Nocturne in C minor by Chopin, his own Spinning Song in A Major, and Caprice in E minor by Mendelssohn. (HMA Program Collection)


Lang played this work early in December at the Academy of Music one day after Mme. Essipoff played its New York premiere in Steinway Hall with the   Thomas Orchestra (Johnson, First, 309). Dwight’s New York correspondent wrote in defense of his original review: Lang’s “high reputation as a musician and a pianist is known to all readers of the Journal; therefore when he played the Concerto of Saint Saens, as I think badly, I felt no hesitation in saying so.” (Dwight (February 17, 1877): 389) Dwight had added a note after the original review that it seemed that the New York reviewer’s position was “colored by local prejudice.” (Ibid) Dwight was “surprised to hear of a strong prejudice in New York against any Boston artist who should venture to use a Boston piano in the Academy of Music.” (Dwight (February 3, 1877): 383) He then published reviews of Lang’s performance from four New York papers. The Tribune wrote: “Mr. Lang acquitted himself excellently. His execution is neat, clean, and finished, and his reading very correct…Mr. Lang secured a well-deserved recall.” The Evening Mail wrote: “Mr. B. J. Lang, of Boston, proved himself to be a pianist of the highest order. His rendering of the Saint-Saens was superb…The clearness, precision, and accuracy with which he gave the many runs of the piece were astonishing; especially was this noticeable in the difficult run of thirds which occurs in the presto.” The Daily Mail’s notice was very positive, also noting the third movement while the Sun called Lang’s performance “a charming rendering, and being fully equal to its many and great difficulties.” It did mention that Mme. Essipoff’s performance the night before had “excited her audience to a greater enthusiasm and admiration than she had at any previous time commanded.” It did say her performance did have a higher enthusiasm rating than did Lang’s. (Ibid) Lang’s hometown paper mentioned that this was “the first time a Boston pianist has been requested to play for the Philharmonic.” (Salem Register (December 7, 1876): 2, GB)

APOLLO CLUB 1876-1877.

Dwight’s review of January 20, 1877 said: “The first concert (sixth season) given by the Apollo to its friends, Tuesday evening, Jan. 2, placed this well-selected and well-trained body of now nearly one hundred singers in a brighter light than ever as an instance of what perfection may be reached, alike of technique and expression, in the execution of part-songs and choruses for mere male voices. For the most part, this time, it was the manner of presentation, more than the matter, that claimed attention.”The concert was mainly short works, and Dwight felt that fine performances did not make provide as much pleasure as the repertoire of a mixed chorus such as the newly formed Cecilia whose concerts supplied “sweets more inexhaustible.” (Dwight (January 20, 1877): 375) However, one of the soloists was praised: In the “Serenade by Storch, in the tenor solo of which that steadily ripening artist, Mr. Wm. J. Winch surpassed himself. ” The work was popular, being given three times in the 1870s (Zeller, Apollo Club Music Performance History)

In May of the same year Dwight writes: “The Apollo Club gave an admirable example in their last week’s concerts of what pitch of perfection part-singing can be brought to. Yet it is difficult not to bring in the ungracious ‘but’ very soon in speaking of these concerts.” His ‘but’ concerned the low level of the selections presented. After allowing that as the group was giving private concerts to friends, and thus could program whatever the group wanted, Dwight called the choir to a higher level as “They have the most transcendent means of performing or doing their part towards performing all that is greatest, highest and also most difficult in choral music…they should direct their efforts to producing really worthy works.” (Dwight (May 12, 1877): 24)

The April 24, 1877 concert was typical of Dwight’s comments. In fact, the critic of the Advertiser, after saying that this was their most “delightful” concert from all their “delightful” concerts wrote that the program would have been “nearly perfect” if only it included “one of the Greek tragedy choruses or double choruses of Mendelssohn to give it just a little more solidity.” (Advertiser (April 26, 1877):1, GB) This critic rated Rubinstein’s Morning and Lenz’s Wanderer’s Night Song the “choicest.” Italian Salad with Dr. Langmaid as the soloist was included, singing the solo “with fine judgment and skill.” The piece had been done the year before, (Zeller, Performance History) and would be done for President Hayes in two months. The “solo singers of the club” were featured with Mr. M. W. Whitney and Mr. John F. Winch singing the bass duet, “The Lord is a Man of War,” which was encored.  Mr. J. E. Winch did the recit. in Lohengrin, Dr. Langmaid as mentioned, and the tenors Mr. George F. Parker and Mr. Barnabee who sang “with exquisite taste” and was also encored. “The Apollo Club sang in its very best style,” with added strength and vitality. “Their pronunciation was just about faultless…In conclusion, we must say the usual word, even if it be trite, about Mr. Lang’s admirable conducting, adding that listening to some of his piano-forte accompaniments was of itself a pure pleasure.” (Ibid)

A month later (June 7, 1877 at Tremont Temple) Dwight hails the choir for “a task worthy of its unsurpassed vocal material and trained perfection, in Mendelssohn’s Antigone, which was given entire at the last concert, with the connecting text of Sophocles read (in English), it is said, very finely, by Prof. Churchill, of Andover. All who were present speak of the performance altogether as the finest achievement of the Apollo, giving unqualified delight.” Dwight then finishes with another suggestion, saying that the work had been done well, “so far as possible without orchestra.”(Dwight (June 23, 1877): 47) The soloists were Messrs. Dr. Bullard, Powers, Wilkie, Lincoln, Babcock, Allen A. Brown, and Aiken, with Arthur Foote at the piano. (Johnson, First, 253)


In the mid-1870s “Monthly Rehearsals” at Horticultural Hall were advertised in the newspapers (Advertiser for one) The Advertiser ad appeared in the Saturday paper before the Tuesday evening event. The time is given and nothing else; no mention of tickets, no mention of limits on audience size, get there early and form a line. It would seem that these were both for their audience, but also for those who were not able to get tickets for the regular concert series. For February 1877 the date was the 6th., but then the ad in March said that there would be no “Monthly Rehearsals” because concerts would be given on April 24 and 26. (Advertiser (March 6, 1877): 1, GB)


Rutherford B. Hayes. Wikipedia, accessed August 8, 2020.

“By request of the Governor of Massachusetts, the club gave a concert on June 23, 1877, to honor the President of the United States, [President Hayes] then on a visit to Boston.” (Elson, Musical Boston, 3)(Coburn, 584) Presented at the Music Hall, the program began with Prelude-Rink [sic] and Fugue-Bach, two organ pieces played by Mr. S. B. Whitney, and then the Club sang Mendelssohn’s To the Sons of Art. Mr. Eugene Thayer played Handel’s Organ Concerto No. 12 followed by The Long Day Closes-Sullivan, Italian Salad-Genee (a comic opera finale using random Italian musical terms. Genee wrote the libretto for Die Fledermaus by Strauss). Mr. Whitney

Choral Public Domain Library.

returned playing his own Pastorale and Fanfare-Lemmens, and the concert finished with the “Double Chorus” from Antigone by Mendelssohn; they had just performed this earlier in the month. (BPL Lang Prog.) The concert was to last no more than one hour. “The hall was filled with an exceptionally brilliant, appreciative, and withal, charming audience…The appointed hour was half-past eight, but the chief guest did not arrive until nearly a quarter before nine…As he appeared in the balcony the entire audience rose en masse and received him with a round of applause…The delicious Italian Salad was encored, the President himself joining in the demand. Dr. Langmaid took the solo part.” (Advertiser (June 27, 1877): 1, GB)


This shows the three main concert halls used by the Cecilia. Lower left (green arrow) Music Hall; middle right (purple arrow) Tremont Temple; to the upper left of Tremont Temple, Horticultural Hall (dark blue arrow).

The Cecilia was formally organized as an independent body with an active membership increased to 125 singers on April 20, 1876, and in November rehearsals began under Lang who conducted its first concert on January 11, 1877 in Horticultural Hall, which included the first Boston performance of Gade’s The Crusaders, considered by many to be his best choral work due to its great “variety” and “fresh imaginative beauty.” Dwight’s review began: “The Cecilia, that fine chorus of mixed voices, which lent so much charm to the last two seasons of the Symphony Concerts, but which is now reorganized upon an independent footing—many of its members feeling not quite at home in singing with an orchestra—gave its first concert to its associate members, in Horticultural Hall, on Thursday evening, Jan. 11, and repeated the same programme one week later [18th.]. The choir has been considerably strengthened, till it numbers about 120 sweet and effective voices, finely balanced, and very carefully trained under their old director, Mr. B. J. Lang. A more perfect body of sopranos we have not yet heard; they sing with one voice. The Contraltos, too, sound very rich and musical; and it is a rare thing indeed to hear so many pure, sweet tenors, singing so smoothly, with no harsh disturbing element. The Bass part only, needs more strength and substance, though the voices seem to be all good.” (Dwight (February 3, 1877): 382) Four part-songs and five solos filled the first part; Lang was the accompanist for the songs; two of the choral pieces were encored. The Gade cantata filled the second half and was the “Piece de resistance.” For the accompaniment “we had only the piano, with the aid of a cabinet organ, played by Mr. Foote, to strengthen the bass part and hold out the notes in the religious choruses and in the recitatives and airs of Peter the Hermit. The effect, on the whole, was quite effective.” Dwight noted that B. J. had heard this cantata at the Birmingham Festival. The soloists were Miss Clara Doria (Soprano), Dr. S. W. Langmaid (Tenor) and Dr. E. C. Bullard (Bass). One of the highlights was the “Chorus of the Sirens, a most exquisite piece of melody and harmony for female voices. It was exquisitely sung and had to be repeated…on the whole, it was a great triumph for the Cecilia, and warrants hope of fine things hereafter.” (Ibid) Dwight seems to have attended both performances of this program, for he ends his review with: “In the second concert, the part-songs did not go quite so perfectly as in the first, but The Crusaders was sung even better.” (Ibid) This performance no doubt inspired another performance of the work June 1881, this time by the Schubert Club of Salem which was conducted by Lang’s friend, Mr. W. J. Winch. (Dwight (June 18, 1881): 101)

As it looked in 1867 at its opening. Harpers Magazine.

The second set of concerts was given in Horticultural Hall on March 19 and 22, 1877, and Dwight’s review began “The Cecilia, our choicest and almost our youngest chorus of mixed voices,” certainly a reflection of what B. J. had been able to achieve in a very short period. The review continued: “The high degree of perfection in their singing at their first concert surprised and delighted us; this time, though the programme was hardly so interesting as the first one, execution seemed to us equally, if not even more successful.” It addition to conducting, Lang also served as accompanist. (Dwight (April 14, 1877): 7) Mr. Charles R. Hayden, the uncle of Lillian Bailey, was the soloist. After two seasons of a cappella concerts, the choir used an orchestra in one concert, and the norm became orchestral accompaniment for one or two of the three to four-concert season.

The May 23 and 25, 1877 concerts by The Cecilia presented again Schumann’s Paradise and the Peri, “with a small orchestra as could find room [for] in a corner of Horticultural Hall. The choruses went very finely, particularly on the second evening, when the Hall was less hot and crowded…Miss Lillian Bailey, who had not quite recovered from a hoarse cold, but who sang the part in a fresh, charming voice and manner in the second performance…The performance as a whole was very much enjoyed, doing great honor to the Conductor, Mr. Lang, and to all concerned…We are curious to know what good work the Cecilia, now so happily established, will set itself about after the summer’s rest.” (Dwight (June 23, 1877): 47) Among the soloists were the Winch brothers.

In June 1877 the President of the choir, S. Lothrop Thorndike, made his report at the Annual Meeting, where he reviewed the Club’s first two years (1874-76) as part of the Harvard Musical Association Concerts, the spring 1876 reorganization of the choir as an independent group, and then the repertoire presented in the 1876-77 Season. The ranks of Associate Members were oversubscribed: “We were obliged to limit the number to two hundred and fifty, for the reason that Horticultural Hall, in which we proposed to give our first series of concerts, would not allow to more than this number (in addition to our active members) the two seats to which they would be entitled for each performance.” That first season “embraced six entertainments (three concerts, each repeated), the music to be of a lighter character and greater variety than that which is offered by the larger choral societies… The music has been given with piano accompaniment, excepting the Paradise and the Peri, for which we had a small orchestra.” Thorndike noted “the Club is no longer without rivals in its own particular field. Three years ago it took possession of an unoccupied ground…We are not alone. At least one other society in Boston has embarked upon the same mission. This is no reason for discouragement, but an added stimulus. There is work enough for all. Let us bid our rivals good-speed, and hope to receive from them alike greeting. By our friendly emulation, the good cause will, in any event, be the gainer.” (Dwight (September 15, 1877): 93 and 94) The name of the other choir was the Boylston Club which was directed by the singer George L. Osgood who had recently returned to Boston after a period of European study. Thorndike then went on to say: “The list of active members of the Club during the past year has comprised one hundred and thirty-one voices, thirty-seven soprano, twenty-eight also, thirty-one tenor, and thirty-five bass. The real working force, however, has consisted of not more than one hundred singers. From these figures two things are apparent: first, that we still have some active members whose indifference renders them useless, who must be replaced by more valuable material; and secondly, that the balance of parts needs correction. The rectification of the Club in these respects will be the first duty of the coming season.” (Ibid) This report, in full, was printed by Dwight in his Journal of Music, obviously so that the choir members and the whole Boston choral community would know the direction of this choir. It would seem that Lang was intent upon making the choir the very best possible. A year later Thorndike repeated the same theme: “I am sure that you will join me in taking this occasion to pay our compliments to the Boylston Club, to whose admirable concerts most of us have listened with delight. We owe each other the debt due from everyone to an able rival. Each club has done better from having the other in the field. In such contests, both sides are the winners.” (Dwight (September 14, 1878): 303)


In 1877 Oliver Ditson published 50 Selected Painoforte Studies of Cramer, arranged by Dr. Hans Von Bulow, translated and revised by B. J. Lang.


In 1877 Lang’s regular week was outlined in the Diary of his wife, Frances. “Mr. Lang’s regular weekly schedule was as follows;-he taught at his studio from 9-6 daily. His lunch brought to him from the house. Sunday A.M.s he always played the organ at church, and for many years had to undertake afternoon services also. Two evenings a week he regularly had rehearsals of the Cecilia Chorus and the Apollo Club (a male chorus). These groups each gave 3 concerts a season. Until the early 90s, Mr. Lang was preparing for, and giving pianoforte concerts, also occasionally organ recitals. He was constantly being asked to play at one affair or another. His interest in young musicians as well as many of the great ones who came to this country was inexhaustible. Every day was a full one.” (Diary 2, Fall 1877) Frances was busy with the house. She noted that Julia Nolan, their cook was paid $5 per week while their chambermaid was paid $4. (Ibid)


By now a pattern had developed. The fall rehearsals would be spent preparing for the spring concerts. Possibly informal presentations were given specially invited audiences, but the fall months seem to have been used to train new members in the Club’s ways and to get by all the note pounding that was probably still needed.

Dwight reviewed concerts given on January 9 and 15, 1878 “before immense and most enthusiastic audiences. We know not when we ever listened to those seventy voices musical and manly voices with so much pleasure. The singing, the execution and expression of the music, was beyond praise. And there were more things of a substantial, noble character than has been usual in programmes mostly made up of part-songs.” Such things as William Winch’s “admirable singing of Schubert’s Erl-King, and the “Andante and Variations, and the Presto, from Beethoven’s Kreutzer …The other was a pleasing Romance in B flat, Op. 27 by Saint-Saens for violin, pianoforte and organ. “These programming changes earned the comment: “We said we never listened to the Apollo with more pleasure. We did not hear them sing the Antigone music last year, which must have been a greater treat. Will they not give it again?” (Dwight, Jan. 19, 1878) “Athenian,” wrote of these concerts: They “were two of the most thoroughly enjoyable concerts ever given by the Club, which, by the way, has now reached its seventh season.” (Brainard’s (February 1878): 29) he was so pleased that he listed the complete program and the performers for each piece

Early in his conductorship, Lang effected some changes that would later be adopted by other groups: “He was also an innovator in other aspects of concert presentation: for example, he experimented with the use of heavy paper for programs so they would not rustle in the hands of the audience, and had the texts of vocal compositions printed in the program in such a way as to avoid page turns at particularly quiet passages.” (Ledbetter, 10)

Dwight again makes his suggestion that orchestral accompaniment would enhance the Apollo’s performances when he refers in an April 27, 1878 review to a cantata which “doubtless the orchestral accompaniments, which were merely sketched on the piano, well as that was played by Mr. PETERSILIA, would have placed the whole work in a stronger light.” One wonders if Lang had spoken to Dwight about his desire to have orchestral accompaniments?

Dwight’s wish to hear Antigone was granted within six months together with his suggestion of orchestral accompaniment. “The concert of May 7, in the Tremont Temple, was entirely devoted to the performance of a single work, -but that perhaps the noblest work existing for a chorus of male voices: Mendelssohn’s music to Antigone of Sophocles…And it is the first of Mendelssohn’s creations of this kind, and the freshest. It was conceived in a high moment of his genius and executed while the mood possessed him…This time it was made complete by bringing in the full Orchestra, which added vastly to the inspiring grandeur of the work, and to the clear comprehension of it. The orchestra had been well drilled by Mr. Lang…The instrumentation throughout is singularly beautiful and chaste, and with the voices frequently sublime. The rich and manly voices of the Club, some seventy in number, perfectly well balanced, and trained to remarkable perfection, were admirably suited for such music, and the performance was almost without a flaw. It was the crowning achievement of the club. Would there were more such music for them!” (Dwight (June 8, 1878): 247)

Dwight reprinted an announcement of the forthcoming 1878-79 Season.“The Apollo Club, Mr. Lang, director, (as we learn by the Courier) will give the first concert of its eighth season in Tremont Temple, December 6. Subsequent concerts will be given in Music Hall, December 9, February 19 and 24, and two in May. The committee make[s] no announcements of the works to be presented. But the associate members may rest assured, had they any need of that assurance, that the programme will be made up with the care that has been expended on them, that the rehearsals will be through, and the performances quite up to the club’s high standard. The list of applicants for associate membership now numbers over three hundred names.”(Dwight (October 26, 1878): 327)

The third pair of concerts on May 15 and 20, 1879 ended the season.”For both, there was the usual crowded and enthusiastic audience, and on both occasions, the splendid body of finely trained male voices, full of esprit de corps, seemed, if that were possible, to surpass their best previous instances of well-nigh perfect execution.” The first concert used mainly piano accompaniment with the addition of a string quartet for the Schumann Piano Quintet in E-flat and to accompany one extended choral piece. The second concert repeated three pieces from the first and added six new pieces that used orchestral accompaniment. B. J.’s song Ho, Pretty Page with words by Thackeray was sung by Mr. J. F. Winch, and Dwight’s review said it “catches and reproduces the fine pathetic humor of the verses, and is a fresh, genial, fascinating bit of music. As sung by Mr. Winch it took the audience almost off their feet, and had to be repeated.”(Dwight (May 24, 1879): 86) The Daily Evening Traveler of May 8, 1878 reported: “The club has not sung more artistically this season, the orchestra played with a finesse and unison altogether uncommon, and seemed to have been much longer preparing its part than was the fact. A great share of this excellence is due to Mr. Lang, whose guiding hand and thorough care were once more appreciable in their highest value.” (Scrapbook 1887-1906)


Within six months Dwight recorded an example of this friendly rivalry. The December 6 and 13, 1877 concerts held at Tremont Temple by The Cecilia had a first half of short works and piano pieces. Arthur Foote had arranged the “Overture” to Cantata # 28 by Bach that he played with Mr. J. A. Preston; they also performed the Variations on a Theme by Beethoven (“Trio” from Piano Sonata, Op. 31, No. 3) by St. Saens. The second half was a cantata by Heinrich Hoffmann: The Fair Melusina. By coincidence, the Boylston Club’s December concert also included a cantata on a Mermaid/Watery Nymph subject, George Smart’s Bride of Dunkerron. Both choirs were praised by Dwight: The Cecilia “showed critical and careful training-indeed a marked improvement on the year before,” while the Boylston Club “was richer in numbers and in quality of voices than ever before, and sang with a precision, spirit, taste and nice light and shade, more honorable to themselves and their accomplished Conductor, Mr. Geo. L. Osgood.” (Dwight (January 19, 1878): 167) The Courier reviewer found the Hofmann cantata “dull and tiresome,” but he did find Foote’s Bach transcription to be “very fine,” as it brought “the public into a closer relation with great classic works.” The reviewer’s bias to older music is shown by his description of current composition as “of more or less chaotic music-writing.” However, the Gazette of December 8, 1877 found the Hofmann to be “the feature of the concert. It is a charming composition, abounding in poetic feeling and dramatic effect.” All in all “the entertainment was the most generally commendable the organization has given us.” This review has Foote and Lang playing the St. Saens. A third review, headed “The Vocal Clubs” praised the two pieces for two pianos, commented that the “choruses showed critical and careful training-indeed a marked improvement on the year before,” but felt that the Hofmann had “little that is strikingly original, or much above innocent, agreeable commonplace.” The soloists “all sang creditably. Dr. Bullard truly like an artist.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1)


On February 4th. “Lel drove out in the sleigh,-and to my horror, returned an hour later, with a broken arm. Dr. Hodges was sent for. Lel was put to bed in the upper front guest room. The bell rings constantly. Flowers inquiries, etc. etc.                                                                                                                                           Two days later:                                                                                                                           February 6th.  My little girl baby was born this morning at 8.45. I waked at 4, called Mrs. Pratt [her nurse]. Luther [B. J.’s “man”] went for Dr. Morton, and all was over. Flowers have literally poured into the house, also letters and cards. It is almost frightful. Baby is to be named Rosamond.” (Diary 2, February 4 and 6, 1878)                                                                                                        On February 19th. Dr. Hodges allowed B. J. to attend part of the Apollo rehearsal. The singers were quite surprised to see him and “they shouted and gave him a great ovation. Of course, he stayed there only a short time, and then returned home to sit with me and talk about it. And then wonder of wonders, we heard male voices singing outside, under our window,-and it was the Apollo Club. It was really too much. Lel opened the window and called out,-‘God bless you, thank you.’ Then they cheered and sang two more lovely songs. Lel thanked them again, calling out, ‘Mrs. Lang sends her love to you.'” (Diary 2, February 19, 1878)                                                              “The baby laughs, seems happy all day long and sleeps perfectly, so I do too. The Apthorps think that she looks like the Holbein Madonna.” (Ibid)


Lang did not conduct the next concert given on Feb. 8, 1878. Mr. Arthur Foote conducted that performance as Lang “had the misfortune to be thrown from a sleigh, breaking the upper bone of his left arm.” (Dwight (February 16, 1878): 182) “Foote replaced him at the last minute and, among other things, conducted Mendelssohn’s Athalie. He was master of the situation, at ease with the music and the technical demands of conducting according to witnesses to the performance.” (Tara, Foote, 105) For this February 8th. performance, the Mozart “Overture” to Magic Flute was performed on two pianos, eight hands by Sumner, Tucker, Preston and Foote as was also the Mendelssohn “Overture” to Athalie and the “Priests War March.” Apthorp felt that the music in Athalie “cannot be mentioned in the same breath with his Antigone or Oedipus...It is unobtrusive, agreeable music, and, if rarely powerful, it is never dull and stupid. The performance was very fine, and reflected great credit both upon chorus and conductor.” The Gazette review noted that “Mr. Parker’s club brought out Athalie in Chickering Hall January 1, 1864, and repeated it in January 1870. On the first occasion, Mr. Thomas B. Frothingham read the narrative portions of the text. The South Boston Choral Union also gave the work in Watt’s Hall some six or seven years ago.” The solos were “generally well sung… The choruses were, for the most part, also well done, the most notable defect being a tendency to fall from the pitch.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1) Dwight reported: “Mr. Lang having happily recovered the use of his broken left arm, sufficiently at least to conduct, with that arm in a sling, -the Club on Thursday evening, March 14, gave the promised repetition of their concert of Feb. 8.” The main point of the review was how much better the pieces sounded with their original orchestral accompaniment, the Feb. 8 concert having been done only with piano accompaniment. “Not only did the instruments lend color, vividness, intensity, to what some before found rather monotonous and tame; they also brought out many unnoticed points and features into the light.” The orchestra was of about 35 pieces who “played with care, the noisier instruments being well subdued under the conductor’s sway; so that the voices in that resonant hall (Tremont Temple) were heard to excellent advantage… The prejudice, hitherto existing in our vocal clubs, against singing with an orchestra, must now, we think, confess itself unfounded; and it will henceforth pass for granted that the production of a great composition in its integrity, vocal and instrumental, is of too much consequence to be sacrificed to the perhaps natural, but blind desire of singers to have all sounds kept aloof which might divide the attention claimed exclusively for their own precious voices.” (Dwight (March 30, 1878): 207) A review of this second performance noted that an “overflowing audience” heard the fruits of “Mr. Lang’s careful and studious direction [which] resulted in a splendid giving of all the numbers…The soloists sang, if possible, better than ever before…We are sure everyone enjoyed the concert greatly.” These February and March 1878 performances were probably the first given by the group in Tremont Temple-their previous concerts had been at Horticultural Hall. (BPL Lang prog., Vol. 2) The Apollo Club also began to use Tremont Temple as a concert site at this time with a concert on June 4, 1878. (Ibid)

For the Friday evening, May 17 and Wednesday evening May 22, 1878 concerts at Tremont Temple, Acis and Galatea by Handel was given. Dwight devoted a page and a half to a detailed comment on each of the sections, as this was the first complete performance in Boston. However, he lamented that only the piano was used for the accompaniment. “As it was, it had to be given with such meager piano accompaniment as is put beneath the sketchy score in the edition of the Handel-Gesellschaft. “As it is, well as the present accompaniment was played by Mr. Lang, with able assistant, Mr. Foote, many of the airs must have seemed thin, long-spun and full of repetition to many in the audience… It was a rare treat as it was, and two audiences came away upon the whole delighted, their minds enriched with ever fresh flowers of musical fancy which will haunt them a long while.”(Dwight (June 8, 1878): 246) The soloists included Lillian Bailey, Ita Welsh, Dr. Langmaid and John F. Winch. No reviews are preserved in the Cecilia Program Collection, Vol. 1.


Dwight printed in October of 1878 a short announcement of the upcoming season that listed Cecilia concerts at Tremont Temple, concerts by the Boylston Club under George L. Osgood, “and now a new society, the Mendelssohn Choral Union, with numerous voices of both sexes, has begun rehearsals in the spacious hall of the Young Men’s Christian Association. Mr. Stephen Emery has been secured as conductor… We have not learned whether it is their intention this season to give public concerts.” (Dwight (October 26, 1878): 327) This new choir had A. D. Turner as the accompanist and such Boston musical notables as S. B. Whitney, J. C. D. Parker and E. Tourjee as Board members. (Ditson-Musical Record (November 2, 1878): Vol. 1, No. 5)

A month later Dwight announced the program for the late November pair of Cecilia concerts, November 25 and 29: two works for eight hands—”Allegro Vivace” from Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony played by Sumner, Foote, Preston and Fenollosa and Les Contrastes by Moscheles played by Lang, Sumner, Foote and Preston with the major choral work being Toggenburg by Rheinberger. (Dwight (November 23, 1878): 342) The Rheinberger was an American premier. (Dwight (August 16, 1879): 134) One review noted:” The club has given much brighter entertainments. It is hoped it will never give a duller one.” The Mendelssohn was described as a piece that gives “more delight to the players than to the listeners,” but the Moscheles, because it was an original piece for eight hands, “was far more enjoyable than the symphony extract.” The Rheinberger “has a doleful plot…The pathos of the story is well expressed in the music, and that is about the only sentiment there is to be found there.” However, the soloists “did good service,” and “the choral execution throughout the concert was very fine.” Just the opposite attitude was expressed by another reviewer who felt that “a distinguishing feature of the programme was the superior vocal character of the selections sung by the club.” Of the Rheinberger, “the music, as a whole is expressive, the pathetic portions being especially strong in this respect. Rheinberger is certainly one of the best vocal writers of the day.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1)

The Friday, February 7, 1879 concert at Tremont Temple was “the finest concert [given] thus far in the course of its three seasons.” Two contrasting cantatas were given-the second part of Bach’s Ich hatte viel Bekummerniss and Gade’s Crusaders; the Bach had been performed during the second season with the HMA (1875-1876) and the Gade had been performed during the choir’s first independent season (1876-1877). “An excellent orchestra was provided, with Mr. J. A. Preston at the organ, and the chorus of mixed voices was in fine condition.” In the Gade, which was its first local performance with instruments, the orchestra “put an entirely new life into it. Indeed, instrumentation is Gade’s strong side always, and to leave out the orchestra in such a work is to leave out the soul of it…Altogether it was a complete and signally successful performance. The concert was repeated on Monday evening, but unfortunately without the orchestra, it being impossible to procure one on that evening; so that the accompaniments were represented on the pianoforte (Mr. Tucker) and the organ (Mr. Preston), very creditably, it must be said.” (Dwight (February ??, 1879): 30) The Choir’s President mentioned in his Annual Report that this second performance with piano and organ accompaniment “had to be given, on the score of expense, and the contrast with the previous evening was depressing,-another occasion to point the moral that it will not answer to divorce works wedded to instruments from their lawful alliance, and a hopeful sign, in that the violence done was felt by everyone in the hall.” (Dwight (August 16, 1879): 134) the review in the Post began with the comment that this concert was given “in the presence of a large and fashionable audience, which gave frequent evidence of its appreciation during the evening…The chorus work was excellent throughout, and gave ample evidence of the careful instruction of Mr. Lang.” The reviewer in the Advertiser wrote: “Last night’s performance was the first in Boston with an orchestra. It is needless to say that the manifold beauties of the work were greatly increased in effect in consequence…The performances of all concerned were of a high order. The chorus did itself great credit, mainly to Mr. Lang’s skillful training and direction. The orchestra was large, and included many of the best resident musicians.” Another review said: “The orchestra deserves warm praise for its delicacy, unity and correctness.” This concert was repeated on Monday evening, February 10, but with no orchestra; instead, Mr. H. G. Tucker was at the piano and Mr. John A. Preston at the organ.

Handel was again featured in the spring concert of 1879 when the first half of the April 21 concert “consisted of copious selections from Handel’s L’Allegro ed il Pensieroso, which were given with full orchestra and with fine effect. Mr. Sumner presided at the organ.” (Dwight (May 10, 1879): 79) In a display of professional cordiality, Mr. George L. Osgood, conductor of their rival choir, the Boylston Club, was one of the soloists, as he was identified “with the production of this particular work on both sides of the water.” (Dwight (August 16, 1879): 134) As Osgood had sung this work in Germany, he decided to sing the “Trumpet Aria” in German that caused letters to the various papers. In a reply sent to the Transcript he defended this decision by saying that “the English vowels are mostly close and dull in this aria. The German vowels, on the other hand, are of the brightest description.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1) Based on the comments of another reviewer, Osgood should not have bothered. “The trumpets were, as usual, diabolically dissonant. If that was to represent ”mirth,” I would prefer to enjoy myself in some other manner.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1, article dated April 29, 1879, Boston, Mass) This same article did give high marks to the soprano section: “I noticed throughout the evening and especially in L’Allegro, how easily the soprano voices gave their phrases, even when they were in alt. Every voice seemed to tell. It was not, as in some clubs., where, when a high passage occurs, a ”forlorn hope,” of perhaps twelve veterans, constitute the storming party, and make a desperate attack on the heights, while the remainder of the army stand quiet, and wait for them to ”come down,” before they resume singing. It is an exciting moment when these daring spirits scale the mount or rather mount the scale.” (Op. cit.) The second half of the concert included part-songs, solos, “the clever comic glee of Humpty Dumpty by Caldicott, which was gleesomely received; and Gade’s cantata Spring Greeting, in which of course the orchestra was all-important.” The Courier review made reference to another Letter to its Editor from the aptly named “Deadhead” which took Lang to task for not encoring Humpty Dumpty. The writer noted the persistent applause to which Lang dismissed their request “with a superior bow which reminded them that the name of the glee was Humpty Dumpty! That it was in English! That it was written only a short time ago, by a man who is not even dead yet, and if they liked it they were entirely wrong and certainly should not be encouraged.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1)

The final concert of the season given at Tremont Temple on May 8, 1879 was the complete music to Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream with orchestra, women’s choir, solos and “an admirable reading of the play by Mr. George Riddle, one of the teachers of elocution in Harvard University” (Dwight (May 24, 1879): 85) who was lauded for his presentation which ranged from the roaring of Nick Bottom to the humor of Puck. The choral contribution was only two choruses for women’s voices-the soloists were Mrs. Hooper and Miss Gage. “Of all the readings with the music of the Mendelssohn-Shakespeare fairy play that we have had, this as a whole was much the most successful.” (Dwight (May 24, 1879): 85) All the other reviewers agreed: one called the concert “an entertainment of rare beauty,” while another wrote that “it may be fairly said that the Cecilia outdid themselves last evening.” Lang was praised for his “careful training,” and his “good taste and refined judgment [which] was everywhere made apparent.” Riddle was also praised for his “discrimination of the various characters,” while the orchestra generally played “with spirit and accuracy” except for “some slight inadvertencies” such as the “troublesome woodwind” who displayed their “chronic tendency to splatter.” (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1)

Dwight printed the report of the President of the Cecilia together with an introduction of four paragraphs. After tracing the early history of glee singing, German part-singing groups, and informal groups that met to sing masses and cantatas, he cites the new choral societies of mixed voices who have ”made it possible to bring out really important works by the best masters, and to do them justice… they (Cecilia and Boylston Club) do not sell tickets, they sing to invited audiences and in a friendly atmosphere; their treasury is kept full by subscribing ”associate members,” and sympathizing volunteers and backers, who delight to ”assist” at concerts and rehearsals..” He then congratulates the groups for using orchestras were appropriate. “In one or two instances a work has been given first with orchestra with triumphant effect, and then repeated (on grounds of economy) with nothing but pianoforte accompaniment, and the second performance fell so flat that everybody felt that the orchestra must be a sine qua non from this time forward.” The report itself by President S. Lothrop Thorndike covered the events of the group’s third season. (Dwight (August 16, 1879): 133 and 134)

The 1879-80 Season had a new element. “Since its first year the club had given its concerts in Tremont Temple, but during the summer of 1879 that hall was destroyed by fire and the Cecilia was driven for the next season to the Music Hall. It was felt to be a disadvantage. The Music Hall was too large for the club and the kind of work it had taken upon itself to do. But there was no help for it, and in the Music Hall were given the four concerts of the fourth season – and the number of active members was increased to 150 to partly compensate for the size of the Hall.” The original size of the choir when first organized was “about a hundred picked voices.” (Cecilia program clippings May 10, 1882 concert-BPL Collection) For the 1879-80 season, the Annual Assessment for Associate members was raised to $15 and additional Associates were admitted-this was due to the added costs of performing in the Music Hall. (Cecilia Programs, Vol. 1)

This image appears in a chapter from the H and H Society History covering the years 1891-92. However, the darker beard and more hair would seem to place it much earlier. He would seem to be in his early forties. Bradbury, History of the Handel and Haydn Society, 1890-1897, between pages 24 and 25.

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CHAPTER 03. (Part 2) BJL: APOLLO/CECILIA/TCHAIKOVSKY: 1871-1881.   SC (G)  WC: 12,617.     (9/20/2020)







  • HANDEL AND HAYDN SOCIETY.                                                                              ARTHUR FOOTE.                                                                                                                       MECHANICS’ HALL CONCERTS: 1874 FEBRUARY-MARCH.                           SALEM CONCERT.                                                                                                                LANG AS HANDEL AND HAYDN ORGANIST: Third Triennial Festival.                LANG’S MOTHER DIED.                                                                                               BOSTON PHILHARMONIC CLUB.                                                                              APOLLO CLUB SEASON 1874-1875.                                                                             BUNKER HILL-100TH. ANNIVERSARY.
  • CECILIA-BEGINNINGS.                                                                                            THOMAS CHORAL SOCIETY.                                                                                                MR. JOHN F. WINCH. MR.  WILLIAM JOHNSON WINCH.                                        MECHANICS’ HALL CONCERTS: 1875.
  • SUMMER of 1875.                                                                                                                 APOLLO CLUB SEASON 1875-1876.                                                                         CHAMBER MUSIC: SPRING SERIES 1876.


In the June 1874 Annual Report of the Handel and Haydn Society, Lang’s role as accompanist was noted. “The pianist who is willing to devote his time to the dry study of the intricate choruses of any new and difficult work with a society of amateurs like ours, who stumble at every step, requiring the closest attention on his part to aid them in their work, most assuredly must be induced to do so from love of the compositions and from the advantages which must thereby accrue to the cause of art, and in this his chief recompense is found. Mr. Lang has not only shown a self-sacrificing spirit in all this, but he has in no small degree contributed his powerful and valuable support to the chorus from his obscure position behind the Beethoven statue, [at the Music Hall] through the instrumentality of the superb organ under his control. One less skillful than he might have jeopardized many a performance, however able the hand which wielded the baton.” (Dwight (June 13, 1874): 244)

ARTHUR FOOTE (b. March 5, 1853 at Salem, MA and d. April 8, 1937 at Boston, MA).

 “Arthur Foote As a Young Man.” Grove, American Supplement-1920, 206. Used in Elson’s The History of American Music, 1904, 188.

Foote was among the many talented pupils of Lang, and their association then became one of colleagues. Lang first taught Foote when he was 14. In 1870 Foote began at Harvard having “the good fortune to find John K. Paine there. His coming in 1869 marked the beginning of real musical instruction and of the development of a Department of Music…There were naturally few students for Paine at that time; in fugue I was the only one, taking my lessons at his house. He was college organist as well, and I had sense enough to appreciate the beautiful improvisations which I heard at chapel. I owe a great deal to him, not only for the excellent teaching but also for the important influence which he had on me at a time when it was sadly needed.” (HMA Bulletin No.4, 1) Foote graduated from Harvard in 1874, and he took organ lessons from Lang that summer—Lang convinced him to continue his music study. A year later he graduated from Harvard with the first MA in music. Foote opened a piano studio next door to the Harvard Musical Association and became a member. He was appointed organist of Church of the Disciples 1876, then in 1878 at First Unitarian Church, Boston where he stayed until 1910. Foote shared Lang’s love of Wagner. He attended the first Bayreuth Festival in 1876 and the premiere of the complete Ring of the Nibelungen (Cipolla, Am Nat Bio, Vol. 13, 190) He made eight trips abroad over a twenty-year span. He married in 1880—his only child, Katharine was born in 1881.

On Wednesday, April 22, 1891, Foote led “The Ladies” Vocal Club of Salem” at the Cadet Armory Hall in one of three “Popular Concerts” sponsored by the “Salem Oratorio Society” whose conductor was Carl Zerrahn. In addition to the vocal numbers, piano pieces included Lang playing the Etude, Opus 25, No. 7 by Chopin and “Scherzo” from Sonata, Opus 31, No. 3 by Beethoven; Lang and Foote playing the Variations on a Theme from Beethoven by Saint-Saens: and the piano quartet of Lang, Foote, Phippen and Fenollosa playing the “First Movement” from Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony and Les Contrastes by Moscheles. Foote taught at NEC from 1921 until his death in 1937. (Cipolla, 150) “Though he lived to 1937, Foote absorbed no twentieth-century styles. He was not a bigot, like Dwight. Rather, he acknowledged his timidity with typical equanimity: ”My influence from the beginning, as well as my predilection, were ultra-conservative”…Foote’s failure to grow was typical of Boston: like the writers he knew and admired, he was both supported and stifled by a benign cultural environment.” (Horowitz, 99) following the lead of his teacher Lang, Foote presented a series of eight chamber music concerts “on every Saturday evening in February and March.” [1881] at the Chickering Hall, 156 Tremont Street. (BPL Music Hall Prog., Vol. 3) Another series was presented in 1882.

Original at the HMA. Used with permission.


Lang presented a series of four chamber music concerts on Thursday afternoons from 3:30 PM until 5 PM on February 19, March 5, 12 and 26, 1874. The first concert opened with Beethoven’s Sonata in C minor, Op. 30 for Violin and Piano and closed with the Fantasie in form of a Sonata, Op. 5 by Saran which “Mr. Lang played with unflagging spirit and great brilliancy…to the delight of the whole company” except for Dwight who felt that there was just too much expression even though he did have to admit that the title did allow “more or less of moody freedom in this regard.” (Dwight (March 7, 1874): 190) The Metronome reported on the first concert: “We were unable to be present, but are pleased to hear on every hand that the concert was a perfect success. It could not have been otherwise, for Mr. Lang has fairly earned the reputation of being one of the most thorough pianists among us, and his fine taste as regards selections cannot be questioned. Those who have observed his musical career, have been pleased to note that his ambition has led him in the direction of true progress, both technical and aesthetically; by true merit, through indomitable will and keen judgment he has arrived at a most enviable position in his profession.” (Metronome (March 1874): 90) Additional repertoire included songs by Beethoven and Mendelssohn by Mr. Nelson Varley, and Lang played Impromptus, Op. 5, on a Theme by Clara Wieck by Schumann as the middle piece. Lang followed the model of the era by including two other artists in the program; the singer and a violinist for the Beethoven Sonata, Op. 30.

A review by Dwight did not always guarantee a positive evaluation of Lang. The second concert “offered to a crowed audience” included Mendelssohn’s youthful Piano and String Quartet in B minor, Op. 5 with three members of the Mendelssohn Quintette Club “which he composed over two years before the Midsummer Night’s Dream Overture…Mr. Lang showed an easy mastery of its great difficulties, and the work went well as a whole.” Mr. George L. Osgood sang Schubert and Beethoven, and Lang played Chopin’s Fantasie in F minor, Op. 49, but not to the best review: “We have had [it] better played in concerts of Mr. Dresel and, more recently, of Rubenstein. Mr. Lang was not at his best in it, -at least not so happy as in his rendering of some other not less trying works of Chopin.” The concert ended with Schumann’s Piano Quintet in E flat major, Op. 44-no critical comment was made. (Dwight (March 21, 1874): 178 and 179)

On March 12, which was the third in the series, Lang and the brothers August and Wulf Fries played Mendelssohn’s Trio in C Minor.” Mr. Lang repeated the Fantasie Sonata by Saran, with the same brilliancy and clearness as before, and, to our feeling, much more satisfactorily with regard to evenness of tempo and chaste simplicity of expression. The concert closed with an admirable performance, by himself and Wulf Fries, of the Introduction and Polonaise, Op. 3 for piano and cello, by Chopin.” The tenor, Mr. Charles R. Hayden also performed. (Dwight (April 4, 1874): 206 and 207)

The final concert in that year’s series was given on March 26: it “was a remarkably attractive one, -at all events Mechanics’ Hall was thronged. The great feature was the Trio in B flat, Opus 52, [for piano, violin and cello] by Rubinstein, a fiery, strange, effective work, bristling with difficulties from which many a deft and staunch pianist might well shrink; but Mr. Lang seemed in his element while resolutely, gracefully surmounting them, and came out loudly cheered…Mr. Lang’s piano solos came all together in a series of six pieces in the middle of the concert…finally, again by Chopin, that ever welcome great Nocturne in C minor (opus 48), for which we have several times expressed our indebtedness to Mr. Lang, who played it con amore.”(Dwight (April 18, 1874): 214) The thirty-year-old vocalist Miss Clara Doria also took part. Miss Doria recently arrived in Boston, and Lang hired her professionally and then came to know her socially when she married the Boston lawyer Henry Monroe Rogers. The daughter of the English composer John Barrett,  Miss Doria was the “youngest student ever accepted by the Leipzig Conservatory, where she studied piano and singing.” (Grove Amer., Vol/IV, 75)

Wiliam F. Apthrop gave a very favorable review of the series; “Mr. Lang’s series of concerts at Mechanic’s Hall closed March 26. They have been decided favorites with the lovers of classical music, every concert being largely attended. With able assistants, Mr. Lang presented on each occasion good selections, and rendered them in a manner worthy of his high reputation as a musical artist.” (Brian, 59: original in Folio, May 1874, 148) Of course this was written by a former pupil of Lang’s.

Of the final three concerts, the Metronome thought that the programs would “compare favorably with those of any other series of classical concerts ever given.” This critic did not like the singer of the third concert “Mr. Chas. R. Hayden, who was neither happy in his selections nor the performance of them.” However, of Lang’s playing: “We were well aware of Mr. Lang’s’ rare ability as a pianist, but must say it occurred to us that he played at these concerts with more than his wonted excellence, and this opinion is shared by many who are best acquainted with his public performances. The concerts were attended by full houses.” (Metronome (April 1874): 3)


Lang continued his early musical connection by various concerts throughout his career. On April 16, 1874 he presented a solo piano recital at Plummer Hall including music of Chopin, Mendelssohn, Handel, Schumann, Saran, Bargiel and Liszt. Also on the program were “Lang’s diversions, caprice and spinning song. The tickets were 50 cents. (Salem Register (April 13, 1874): 2, GB)

Other Lang appearances. HMA Program Collection.


“Mr. B. J. Lang, the organist of the Handel and Haydn Society exhibited the greatest taste in his manipulations of the ”Grand organ” during the choral performance of the festival. This matter of organ playing in conjunction with chorus singing is a very important one, for the finest vocal effort can be totally destroyed by injudicious use of the organ. Mr. Lang’s quick perception in adding the organ at the right moment and in the right quantity was notable and deserves the highest mention. We can not recall to mind any organist who could have so skillfully filled the position. We think Mr. Lang stands alone in this particular…We would again draw the attention of our readers to the fact that Mr. Lang filled one of the most onerous positions in the performance of the festival, and with extraordinary success.” (Metronome (May 1874): 13) The Festival ran from Tuesday evening May 5 to Sunday evening May 10, and Lang’s energy was such that at the Friday St. Matthew Passion performance it was noted that “the great organ, Played by Mr. Lang, lent new intensity and overwhelming grandeur.” (Perkins, Vol. 1, 345)

On Saturday, May 9, 1874 Lang gave a solo organ concert. The program was: Fantasie in G-Bach, Sonata No. 4-Mendelssohn, Improvisation and Transcription for organ of Mendelssohn’s Hymn of Praise Symphony (in three parts). This was prepared along with the organ parts to: Handel’s Judas Maccabeus, the First part of  Haydn’s The Seasons, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Mendelssohn’s Hear My Prayer and Christus, Buck’s 46th. Psalm, Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, Paine’s new oratorio, St. Peter and Messiah. Both the conductor and organist were paid extra for the Festival; Zerrahn $1,000 and Lang $400. (Perkins, 350)

“Artistically, musically, the Festival was a great success,” (Perkins, 348) but there was a loss of $4,400 which “had to be assessed upon the guarantors.” However, this Festival had done better than the Second. The question was asked:  Is the Festival too long: “Why should we, in this busy country, attempt to go beyond the musical festivals abroad, which seldom, if ever, last more than three days?” (Perkins, 349)


Lang’s mother, Hannah B. Lang (maiden name Learock) died from cancer on September 25, 1874 at 93 Waltham Street, Boston—57 years, 7 months. She had been born in Salem. Her father was listed as John Learock, also born in Salem, and her mother was also named Hannah; both her parents had been born in Salem. (Death Certificate)


In addition to promoting his own concerts, B. J. appeared in those organized by others. After the headline “Boston Philharmonic Club” Dwight wrote: “The first Classical Matinee of Mr. Bernard Listemann and his accomplished associates, took place Nov. 30th, in Mechanics Hall, before a very appreciative audience. And it was one of the finest chamber concerts we have heard for many a day.” After the String Quartet in D minor, Opus 77 by Raff, and a French Horn solo, “The piano selections were interpreted by Mr. Lang; that happy little, bright Allegro from Handel, with which he pleased so much last year, was played more exquisitely than ever; and that almost impossible Etude of Chopin, with the wide arpeggio chords, kept up unflaggingly, all came out clearly and effectively.” The concert ended with Beethoven’s Trio Opus 87 for Piano, Violin, and Cello. (Dwight (December 12, 1874) “The Boston Philharmonic Club” was organized much like the Mendelssohn Quintette Club in that it was a combination of string and wind players. The players in 1874 were: Bernard Listemann, violin; Fritz Listemann, violin; Emil Gramm, viola and violin; Adolph Hartdegen, cello; Eugene Weiner, flute, and Adolph Belz, horn and viola. The piano accompanists listed were E. Gramm. A. Belz, and F. Listemann (HMA Program Collection).


Dwight reviewed the concerts of late 1874 as being “Singularly perfect and delightful specimens” of male part-singing. “The Apollo Club (64 good singers, with fine voices, and well balanced), have given two concerts, with essentially the same programme, to their crowds of friends; and never has their singing seemed so perfect in the finish and refinement, as well as the rich volume and grand power of tone, and the harmonious blending of tone colors” (Dwight (Jan 9. 1875): 367) Dwight continues by decrying that the group should spend so much time on trivial material, but concludes, “on the other hand, there was the grandly satisfying double chorus from Oedipus of Mendelssohn, which closed the concert, and was sung magnificently, to the effective piano accompaniment of their accomplished conductor, Mr. B. J. Lang.”(Dwight (Jan. 9, 1875): 367)

In 1875 Dwight continued his good reviews. Mentioning a June concert, he said: “The singing of the former (Apollo Club), -a well-selected, solid, and well-balanced body of 67 voices, -even surpassed their own high standard of past years. The sweet, pure, rich ensemble of tone, its vital resonance, was most remarkable; and the execution, in all points of precision, light and shade, etc., was singularly perfect. Vocal solos and a Rondo for two pianos by Chopin were also included. (Dwight (June 26, 1875): 47)


Nearly all the members of the Apollo Club, by invitation of the Bunker Hill Monument Association, assisted at the services on the occasion of the First Centennial Anniversary of the Battle of Bunker Hill, June 17, 1875. They sang the hymn God Save the Queen with words by Charles James Sprague and Loyal Song with music by Kuchen and words by Sprague. The final hymn had words by “G. W. W.” and music by Abt. The Benediction was given by Rev. Phillips Brooks. “G. W. W.” was George Washington Warren who was President of the Bunker Hill Monument Association, and he had given the address. Lang thought enough of the event that he saved his “City of Boston Pass” which allowed him “through all the lines, military and police.” (BPL Lang Prog., Vol. 2)


The Cecilia was formed in 1874 as a 100 member mixed choir as an adjunct of the Harvard Musical Association so that its orchestra would have “a choral adjunct to strengthen its position musically and financially.” (Hill-p.5) The first joint concert was held in The Music Hall on November 19, 1874 with Carl Zerrahn conducting (the choir had been prepared by Lang) and the second half of the concert was Mendelsohn’s First Walpurgis Night. Dwight wrote: “The introduction of the new Choral element and the first appearance of ‘The Cecilia’ drew an immense audience to the Music Hall on Thursday afternoon ‘at 3 PM precisely’, Nov. 19. This was the second concert of their tenth season. To give the hundred or more singers a fair chance on the stage, so that they could be massed together in the middle front, the orchestra was [?] placed down in front, on a platform half the height of the stage, and stretching over its entire width… The arrangement was, on the whole, a good one for the singers, but not so altogether for the orchestra.” After the opening overture, the first sounds from the new choral group were that of an a cappella madrigal by Weelkes, and this was followed by a Mendelssohn’s part—song  The Lark—both were conducted by Lang and were reviewed in a very positive manner. “The great event of the concert, and of the musical season so far, was the revival of Mendelssohn’s Walpurgis Night under the direction of Mr. Lang, who had first brought it out here in the small hall some ten years ago, giving it twice over in one evening. It was a success then; of course a much greater success now. Yet it was a bold undertaking, with only two orchestral rehearsals, only one for orchestra and chorus, to produce a work so difficult and so exacting… Dr. Langmaid sang the tenor solos with great sweetness and nobility of tone, and with consummate style and beauty of expression… We may find room to treat the theme with fuller justice should Walpurgis Night be repeated, which there is a fair prospect that it will be at an early date, as there has been much call for it; in that case, it will doubtless go still further and will be better understood.” (Dwight (Nov. 28, 1874): 343)

1874cecilia-1  Johnston Collection.

At the same time that Lang was preparing this new choir, he was also continuing his own piano performance career. This is shown by two ads that appeared next to each other in the Boston Daily Globe of November 28, 1874. The first ad announced “Four Subscription Concerts” to be given by the Boston Philharmonic Club. Lang played a Chopin piece as a soloist in the first program, November 30th. Just two days before he had been part of the committee that organized a “Grand Testimonial Concert” for Mr. J. D. Mansfield. Among the volunteer performers was Mr. C. R. Hayden, “The Favorite Tenor” who was Lillian Bailey’s uncle and voice teacher.

At the December 24, 1874 concert the First Walpurgis Night was indeed “Repeated by request” after its performance a month earlier. Dwight’s review reported that “The day, a busy one for many so preoccupied with Christmas trees and presents, besides being stormy, was not very favorable, and yet the audience was large and it’s attention hearty and unflagging from the beginning to the end of the cheerful and attractive programme… The repetition of the Walpurgis Night was decidedly an improvement on the first performance, gratifying as that was. [But there were no a capella pieces in this performance]. This was the fruit, partly, of renewed rehearsal by the singers, and partly of more self-possession and control of the orchestral forces acquired by Mr. Lang in the bringing out of the very trying prelude and accompaniments; nut it was also greatly owing to the better arrangement and chorus on the stage, the former being grouped behind the voices. The sopranos and altos were massed together on one wing of the front, the tenors and basses on the other, for the reason that the choruses in this work for the most part are alternating for male and female voices.” (Dwight (Jan. 9, 1875): 366) Two soloists were singled out for praise: “Mr. John Winch, whose grand voice and delivery, in the baritone solos of the Druid Priest, won him the chief honors; but the sweet tenor tones, the well-trained organ, the refined, expressive art of Dr. Langmaid, if not so telling in a great hall, deserve equal praise.” (Dwight (Jan. 9, 1875): 366)

The eighth Symphony Concert of the 1874-1875 season was given at 3 PM on Thursday afternoon, February 18, 1875, and it “drew a great crowd to the Music Hall to hear the first Boston performance with orchestra, of Schumann’s wonderful cantata Paradise and the Peri. The vast crowd listened to it all-for nearly two hours-with almost absolute attention, and with abundant signs at first of wonder, then of steadily increasing interest and delight… . Mr. Lang conducted carefully, -perhaps a little mite too anxiously, -but in the main firmly, doing his best to keep down the noisier instruments so as to give the voice a chance. It is obvious, however, that the instruments of the orchestra are sometimes not entirely sure of his intentions, and that the baton does not always lead them in spite of themselves… The Cecilia had been very patiently and thoroughly trained in all the choruses; if there was any fault it was that possibly the drill had been too strict and careful, leaving not enough of spontaneity and freedom to the singers for the best effect sometimes… But they had entered into their work with enthusiasm; the voices of sopranos and altos especially, were delightfully fresh and telling, and the tenors and basses showed a vigorous reinforcement since the Walpurgis Night was sung.” Only two professional soloists were used with the other solos being sung by members of the choir. “There appears to be a pretty general desire to have Paradise and the Peri repeated. Such an effort does indeed seem too great to be spent upon only one performance; and doubtless, a second time. Both public and performers would come better prepared both for the appreciation and the rendering of so great a work.” (Dwight (March 6, 1875): 398 and 399) Among the eight soloists were Miss Ida Welsh (Alto), Mr. George L. Osgood (Tenor) and Mr. John F, Winch (Bass). There was enough public interest to warrant a second performance which Lang conducted on Wednesday, April 14 at Horticultural Hall with one change among the soloists: “The part of the Peri this time will be sung by Miss Henrietta Beebe, of New York; the other solos as before (Mrs. Gilbert, Miss Ita Welsh, Mr. George L. Osgood, Mr. John F. Winch, etc.)” (Dwight (April 3, 1875): 415)

The reviewer in the Gazette took a less enthusiastic position. “There was an immense audience present, the hall being literally crammed. We do not think that Schumann’s genius was quite fitted to deal with the theme of this particular quality. In other words, to transfer to music the airy grace and delicate fantasy and the tender brilliance of Moore’s music. The sweetness of the poem and the almost melancholy seriousness of the music to which Schumann had wedded it, do not blend happily. The effect on the audience was, we think, disappointing. For the performance, we do not know what to say. It was good and bad in turn.” (Johnson, 331 and 332) The work had been presented in Boston eleven years earlier at a private performance at Chickering Hall on April 25, 1863 led by J. C. D. Parker and a “Club of amateurs” with the soloists, Mrs. Harwood, Miss Huntley, and Dr. Langmaid (Johnson, 331).

Just a month later the choir was part of a concert with the Harvard Musical Association Orchestra concert that included the Boston premiere of sections from Mendelssohn’s unfinished opera Loreley, Op. 98. Dwight’s review of this March 18, 1875 event at the Music Hall said: “The tenth and last concert of the tenth season called out a large audience on Thursday afternoon, March 18. The Cecilia, in full numbers, under Mr. Lang’s direction, again lent its valuable aid, and the programme consisted of about equal halves of vocal and of purely instrumental music.” The concert opened with the second performance of the Magnificat by Durante for choir and orchestra with “the choral parts well sung by the Cecilia,” and also included two part-songs by J. C. D. Parker conducted by the composer which “were to many of the singers’ pleasing reminiscences of the old Parker Club… They were indeed exquisitely sung, and were enjoyed as charming specimens of delicate, poetic harmony.” During the second half, three sections from Loreley were sung… “The ‘Finale’ is by far the most important of these fragments and the most important contribution of the Cecilia to that closing concert… The whole was given with great spirit and with vivid coloring, the alternate passages of chorus and soprano keeping up a breathless interest. Miss Whinery in the earlier portions was a little weak and tremulous, but she rose to the full height of the long, impassioned climax, her voice coming out quite splendidly on the high notes, showing what dramatic fire and fervor she is capable.” (Dwight (April 3, 1875): 414 and 415)

Print from the lower first page of Harper’s Weekly, April 13, 1867. Johnston Collection.

 Clark’s Boston Blue Book 1888,  320.

Thus in its first season, the Cecilia took part in four of the Harvard Symphony Concerts and repeated Schumann’s Paradise and the Peri after the season closed. (Music, June 3, 1882) Originally this repeat of the Schumann was to have been with orchestra, but “the music-loving public, probably from sheer satiety after so much musical excitement, seemed quite indifferent to so rare an opportunity. To have given it again, at so unpropitious a moment, would have entailed a serious loss…But Cecilia had her revenge, in a more private social way, by inviting her friends to Horticultural Hall, on Wednesday evening, and there, singing it with simple pianoforte accompaniment. And the entertainment was really delightful…The remarkably fine voices which comprise this chorus were at least heard for once, and the excellence of their singing was appreciated.; their sound was neither covered up by an overpowering orchestra, nor lost in space.” (Dwight (April 17, 1875): 7)


Just as Lang was establishing the Cecilia, another symphonic choir had been formed by the New York conductor, Theodore Thomas, for use in his Boston performances. In March 1875 it was noted that: “The Thomas Choral Society will rehearse Bach’s cantata My Spirit Was In Heaviness,” in Bumstead Hall, this evening.” It was described as one of Bach’s grandest works, and it would be an American premiere at the Thomas April 3 concert where “the society is to have the valuable assistance of Mr. Theodore Thomas’s orchestra and distinguished solo talent.” (Advertiser (March 18, 1875): 1, GB)


1000 Massachusetts Men, 1888, 1013.

The Winch brothers were important members of Lang’s musical circle. William Johnson Winch (tenor) and John F. Winch (bass) were “Boston merchants, whose part-time careers as tenor and bass ranked them only a little lower than the angels.” (Johnson, Hallelujah, 135) “The Winch brothers illustrate a difference in temperaments. John F. Winch, the bass, was direct and positive in his acceptance of engagements. William J. took a long time to make up his mind whether or not he was available, whether or not he wanted to sing the role offered, or whether or not the price was acceptable, with or without expenses of hotels and travel. In as much as he was the best tenor for the music of Bach, some patience was needed to obtain a definite commitment.” (Idem, 133) On Easter Sunday 1874 the Handel and Haydn Society presented Mendelssohn’s Elijah. “The new point of interest was the rendering of the Prophet’s part by Mr. J. F. Winch whose rich, elastic quality of voice gave unusual life to all the music. And he improved as he went on; rarely anywhere have we heard the beauty and deep pathos of ”It is enough,” or the emphatic energy of ”Is not the word” more satisfactorily brought out.” (Dwight (April 18, 1874): 215) W. J. Winch was also a conductor- he led a performance of Gade’s Crusaders with the Salem Schubert Club on December 30, 1879 at Plummer Hall. (Dwight (January 31, 1880): 16) He appeared as soloist with the BSO on nine programs during the seasons ’85, ’89, ’90, ’91 and ’92. (Howe, BSO, 261) The 1892 appearance was as the tenor soloist in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. (MYB, 1892-93, 10) When Chadwick and his wife returned from their summer in Europe (1888) they “went by previous arrangement to Wm. Winch’s in Brookline, to stay until we found a place to settle down. His house was on Longwood Ave. next to the present No. 124 which was then a vacant lot…We had a delightful time at the Winchs, with fun and music every night and we made many new acquaintances among the nice people who live in that neighborhood. One night uncle Joseph, the eldest of the three Winch Bros. was at the house. We coaxed him to sing ”Every Valley” which he did in remarkable style for a man of seventy.” (Chadwick, Unpublished Memoirs) Clara Rogers described William Winch: “the ever genial and witty, and who had, happily, remained immune from tenor-itis…overflowing with fun, as usual.” (Rogers, Two Lives, 191)

Winch, William Johnson (tenor) and John F. Winch (bass). Like many in his musical circle, William condutced a choir.  Both Winch brothers were just beginning their professional careers in 1866 singing Messiah for the Handel and Haydn Society.. Dwight noted: “Mr. Wm. J. Winch, a fresh young tenor, whose voice and style raised high hopes at the rehearsal, and for basso Mr. J. F. Winch, of whom the like may also be said.” (Dwight (December 22, 1866): 367) Dwight’s review of the Messiah performance noted: “The younger Mr. Winch (Wm. J.) has a beautiful, clear tenor voice, of good power, not yet developed, and sings with so good a method, in so classic a style, and with so much intelligence that it was to us a great pleasure to hear him, [more so] than we find in many more experienced and would-be impassioned tenors. The performance was somewhat cold and dry, but seemed to warrant high hopes. The new basso, Mr. J. F. Winch, has a capital deep voice and sings as if more study and experience would make him a superior oratorio singer.” (Dwight, Saturday January 5, 1867, 375)

William J. Winch wrote to Arthur Foote dated London, March 23, 1876 about his busy schedule in London, the English Provinces and Scotland. He ended with the news that he would be appearing at the Three Choirs Festival in Gloucester on September 7, 8, 9 and 10, “After which I shall sail for Boston and settle down once more.” (NEC-Foote Collection of Letters-, Vol. One) Like many in his musical circle, William conducted a choir. He led a performance of Gade’s Crusaders with the Salem Schubert Club December 30, 1879 at Plummer Hall; the soloists were Miss Clara L. Emilio, soprano, Dr. S. W. Langmaid, tenor, and Mr. Clarence E. Hay, baritone. (Dwight, January 31, 1880, p. 16) Winch appeared as soloist with the BSO on nine programs during the seasons ”85, ”89, ”90, ”91 and ”92. (Howe, BSO, 261) The 1892 appearance was as the tenor soloist in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. (MYB, 1892-93, 10) When Chadwick and his wife returned from their summer in Europe (1888) they “went by previous arrangement to Wm. Winch’s in Brookline, to stay until we found a place to settle down. His house was on Longwood Ave. next to the present No. 124 which was then a vacant lot… We had a delightful time at the Winchs, with fun and music every night and we made many new acquaintances among the nice people who live in that neighborhood. One night uncle Joseph, the eldest of the three Winch Bros. was at the house. We coaxed him to sing ”Every Valley” which he did in remarkable style for a man of seventy.” (6432) Clara Rogers described William Winch: “the ever genial and witty, and who had, happily, remained immune from tenor-itis… overflowing with fun, as usual.” (Rogers, Two Lives, 191)

“The younger Mr. Winch (Wm. J.) has a beautiful, clear tenor voice, of good power, not yet developed, and sings with so good a method, in so classic a style, and with so much intelligence that it was to us a great pleasure to hear him, [more so] than we find in many more experienced and would-be impassioned tenors. The performance was somewhat cold and dry, but seemed to warrant high hopes. The new basso, Mr. J. F. Winch, has a capital deep voice and sings as if more study and experience would make him a superior oratorio singer.” (Dwight (January 5, 1867): 375) William was only 19 years old when he sang Messiah, and “for 25 years he held the  first position as a tenor in this part of the world.” (Sunday Globe (October 13, 1895): 28, NewsAch) William’s career progressed with his appearance in February 1867 singing the solos in Haydn’s Creation with the Handel and Haydn Society. This performance  featured one of the most famous vocalists of the time, Madame Parepa, who “cannot fail to attract a full house.” (Journal (February 23, 1867): 4, GB) The brothers appeared together again at the Handel and Haydn Elijah performance of November 29, 1868. This was the first that John had sung that work and he did so ” much of it successfully. Mr. Wm. J. Winch, with large tones, not without sweetness, made a conscientious, earnest effort, with no air of pretense; but voice and manner were not ripe for the tenor solos of Elijah.” (H  & H History, Vol. 1, 280) In fact, William was 6 feet tall and robust and looked “more like a follower of the science of military movement than of the alluring art of music.” (Globe, Op. cit)                                                                                                           The bass in the February 1867 Creation performance was Mr. M. W. Whitney, and a friendship must have developed so that he called upon both Winch brothers to help him in his “Complimentary Concert” on April 21, 1869. There were 6 other assisting artists and a “well known Choral Club of this city, who have kindly volunteered their services” included in the performance, but the Music Hall was a big hall to fill. (Traveler (April 19, 1869): 3, GB) The 1867 Creation had been conducted by Carl Zerrahn, who, in addition to conducting the Handel and Haydn Society in Boston, also conducted a number of suburban choral societies-knowing him would lead to many other jobs. And, so it was that the Winch Brothers were the soloists in the Lynn Choral Union performance of Mendelssohn’s Elijah in February 1872, conducted by Zerrahn. (Journal (February 28, 1872): 2, GB) The Brothers were among the soloists for the Handel and Haydn “Third Triennial Festival” in May 1874 where they again appeared with Myron Whitney. (Advertiser (April 24, 1874): 1, GB) Dwight was very impressed by the Easter 1874 performance by J. F. Winch singing the Prophet’s part in Elijah. “The new point of interest was the rich, elastic quality of voice [which] gave unusual life to all the music. And he improved as he went on; rarely anywhere have we heard the beauty and deep pathos of ‘It is enough,’ or the emphatic energy of ‘Is not his word’ more satisfactorily brought out.” (Dwight (April 18, 1874, 215, GB) ) The following spring the two brothers appeared in Haydn’s Creation. “Mr. W. J. Winch, suffering from a cold, sang with some effort in the tenor solos, but in a highly intelligent, artistic, cultivated style; and Mr. J. F. Winch’s noble voice and his majestic, musical. sustained delivery throughout the numerous and trying solos for the bass, were eminently satisfying. ” (Dwight, No date) Another Handel and Haydn appearance was on Palm Sunday, 1876, when the Brothers soloed in Bach’s Passion Music. (Traveler (April 4, 1876): 3, GB)                                                                 “Mr. and Mrs. William J. Winch and family” spent the summer of 1875 “at their cottage at Manchester [Mass.].”(Traveler (July 9, 1875): 2, GB) William J. and Elizabeth S. Fowler had been married by the Reverand E. E. Hale [of South Congregational Church-William J. was probably singing tenor in the quartet of this church] on October 19, 1869; he was 22 and a wholesale shoe dealer with a “Personal Estate of $25,000″(1870 Census)(worth $496,717.56 today-November6, 2020) and she was c. 19. Their first home was with her parents and her sister in Beverly (the same arrangement that B. J. and Frances had the first years of their marriage). The “and family” may refer to the Fowler family as the Winch’s son, William Porter (named after Mrs. Winch’s brother) was born five years later.                                          Like many other organists and singers, Winch added directing choral groups to his weekly routine. W. J. Winch led a performance of Gade’s Crusaders with the Salem Schubert Club on December 30, 1879, at Plummer Hall; the soloists were Miss Clara L. Emilio, soprano, Dr. S. W. Langmaid, tenor, and Mr. Clarence E. Hay, baritone. (Dwight (January 31, 1880): 16) The Brothers and Mr. Whitney continued to appear together including the Handel and Haydn “Sixth Triennial Festival” in April 1883 where William sang in Handel’s Ode to St. Cecilia and on the same program, John and Mr. Whitney soloed in Rubinstein’s Tower of Babel. Then, all three were soloists in Gounod’s Redemption on Thursday night and William appeared again at the Saturday matinee miscellaneous concert. (Herald (April 29, 1883): 13, GB) The Herald’s comment was not too positive: “Mr. William F. Winch’s voice is not equal to the dramatic recitatives assigned the tenor, and, although his interpretation of this portion of the work was characterized by much artistic intelligence and good taste, the effect of parts of the oratorio was largely lost by the lack of character and strength in this important role.” (Ibid)                                                                                                                                     Apparently, in the fall of 1883, William went to England for what was to be two years.  Already by October, it was noted that “Mr. William J. Winch is already engaged for an extended series of oratorio and concert performances in London and English provincial cities this season.” (Herald (October 25, 1883): 6, GB) Then, a note was published that in London, he had been “met with a very kindly reception. He sings with Charles Halle’s orchestra at Manchester on the 13th., and has other equally flattering engagements in view.” (Herald (December 2, 1883): 9, GB) The following February was a busy month. He visited the composer Gounod at his home in Paris where the composer played selections from the work he was working on, a requiem mass. “The  work has been contracted for Messrs. Novello of London for 4,000 Pounds, the same amount paid by them for the Redemption.” (Herald (February 17, 1884): 9, GB) Winch would have shared information about Boston performances of his works, including his own solo appearance in the Redemption the previous year. Also in February Winch sang in one of the “Gentlemen’s Concerts” in Manchester under the patronage of the Earl of Wilton, and then sang another Redemption with the Liverpool Philharmonic Society under Randegger. (Ibid)  During this first year in England “he sang 80 times in such places as Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Glasgow, etc.” (Globe, Op. cit.)                                                                         By late September 1884 Winch had been in Europe for just over a year, and a “Special Correspondent” for the Herald wrote an extensive interview with him of over fifteen paragraphs. It appeared in the Sunday Herald one day after Winch had returned to Boston; he was able to read all about himself on a lazy Sunday afternoon. The interview began by speaking of the two concerts Winch did with Charles Halle; a description of the man and the 20-concert series that he does with the Manchester Orchestra and a list of his other conducting appearances throughout the country and also his recitals as a pianist. Ten choral conductors are then described together with a number of singers; he got to know and sang with Mme. Albani and heard performances of over ten of the leading vocalists of the say. His visit with Gounod was described in detail, including a small piano hidden in his writing desk. He watched rehearsals and attended concerts; “As a conductor, to my mind, he is simply perfection-to see him at a rehearsal, the way in which he tells the musicians what he wants done, and singing this phrase to one singer and a little hint here and there to another. I shall not soon forget it.” (Herald (October 5, 1884:13, GB) He also met Saint-Saens and was the first to perform a set of songs by Dvorak with the composer as the accompanist. Winch found him to be “a most unassuming man in every respect.” (Ibid) Sir Julius Benedict, “a musician who has a warm welcome for all Americans, I saw very often.” (Ibid) Benedict talked often about his trip to America with Jenny Lind; he would like to visit again. “He has a beautiful home in London where he entertains his friends in royal style.” (Ibid) Also special to Winch was his visit with Dr. John Stainer, organist at St. Paul’s  Cathedral, where his home next to the Cathedral is so secluded, you do not hear the sounds of London. “He has a rare collection of everything old that has anything of music about it, especially old and rare books.” (Ibid) The final paragraph also concerned the Redemption-how it had become more popular than Elijah or Messiah.                                                  The Winch family, father, mother, and son William Porter, aged four returned to Boston on the Cephalonia arriving on October 6, 1884. (Passenger List,, accessed October 27, 2020) Winch spent October 1884 until August 1885 in Boston, and then on August 15, 1885 “sailed for Europe for an absence of two years.” (Journal (August 17, 1885): 1, GB) By late October a notice was printed that he “is already engaged for an extended series of oratorio and concerts in London and English provincial cities this season.” (Herald (October 25, 1885):4, GB) The following February Winch wrote from London saying that, contrary to rumor, he was not going to remain abroad and become an Englishman. He had six months of engagements and expected to return, not after two years, but after one year, on September 1, 1886, “when he expects to return to Boston as a permanent residence.” (Ibid) The letter added that  “he has recently appeared in Glasgow an Edinburgh concerts with distinguished success.” (Ibid) Before he returned he had “the distinguished honor of being chosen as the only vocalist to take part in the soiree given to Abbe Liszt at the Grosvenor Gallery in London on April 8th. by Mr. Walter Bache.” (Herald (April 11, 1886):9, GB) The family of three arrived back in Boston on September 25, 1886 on the Pavonia-William J. was then 39 years of age. (Passenger List)

SS Pavonia. Cunard Line. 200 1st. Class and 1,500 3rd. Class (Steerage). Launched 1882, broken up 1900.                                                                                                                                                   Winch announced his return on September 24, 1886 by placing the notice that “He has been associated intimately during the past year with Mr. William Shakspeare, the eminent vocal teacher of London.” (Herald (September 26, 1886):10, GB) He then signed up for management with “Cecilia Concert Co.,” a small firm with only three other clients, (Herald (October 3, 1886): 11, GB) and placing an ad as a singing teacher with a studio at 149a Tremont Street. (Advertiser (October 8, 1886): 10, GB)               When Chadwick and his wife returned from their summer in Europe (1888) they “went by previous arrangement to Wm. Winch’s in Brookline, to stay until we found a place to settle down. His house was on Longwood Ave. next to the present No. 124 which was then a vacant lot… We had a delightful time at the Winchs, with fun and music every night and we made many new acquaintances among the nice people who live in that neighborhood. One night uncle Joseph, the eldest of the three Winch Bros. was at the house. We coaxed him to sing ‘Every Valley’ which he did in remarkable style for a man of seventy.” (Chadwick, Unpublished  Memoirs) Clara Rogers described William Winch: “the ever genial and witty, and who had, happily, remained immune from tenor-itis… overflowing with fun, as usual.” (Rogers, Two Lives, 191)                                                                                                                                       In 1889 Winch’s wife and her sister inherited “the Fowler” estate in Manchester, MA and “are improving the property by the erection of two substantial houses which they will lease next spring.” (Journal (November 22, 1889): 3, GB)  Their step-father, Orson Squire Fowler was the pre-eminent phrenologist during the middle 1800s, and “he also popularised the octagon house.” (Find a Grave, accessed October 28, 2020) Phrenology is the detailed study of the shape and size of the cranium as a supposed indication of character and mental abilities.                                                                  Winch’s career continued with the major Boston choral groups. In February 1891 he was the tenor soloist in the Handel and Haydn performance of Dvorak’s Stabat Mater, “and he again sustained his enviable reputation…His solo, ‘Fac Me Vere,’ was a vocal gem, and his admirable skill in such work has never been more prominently displayed than in this number, which won him a grand demonstration of the pleasure it gave to his hearers.” (Herald (February 2, 1891): For the May 14, 1891 Cecilia concert he replaced a Mr. Dunham, singing the solo with the chorus in a section of the Crusaders by Gade, and also two solos by Jansen. The choral number was well received and encored, and his solos “were sung with the excellent taste always characteristic of Mr. Winch’s vocal work.” (Herald (May 15, 1891): 9, GB) Winch appeared as a soloist with the BSO on nine programs during the seasons ’85, ’89, ’90, ’91 and ’92. (Howe, BSO, 261) The 1892 appearance was as the tenor soloist in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. (MYB 1892-93, 10)  2, GB)                                                                                                                                           Mr. and Mrs. Winch spent the summer of 1893 in  Europe, leaving from New York on June 21st. on the Majestic and returning to New York on September 20th. on the Teutonic. 

RMS Majestic. Maiden Voyage-April2, 1890. Scrapped May 5, 1914. Teutonic was her sister ship.  In 1912 the Majestic had been designated a reserve ship, but after the Titanic disaster, she was returned to service on that route. The Titanic’s captain had earlier been captain of the Majestic. Wikipedia, accessed November 10, 2020.

All of these many years of Symphony appearances earned him good fees, and so in 1898, the William J. Winchs were able to move into the city and onto Beacon Hill, buying from the Appleton heirs a brick house and 1440 square feet of land situated at No. 78 Mt. Vernon Street, near Willow Street. The assessed value was $12,000, of which $6,100 was for the land. (Journal (July 12, 1898): 6, GB) The following February it was announced that “Mrs. William J. Winch is at home Thursday afternoons in the new home, 78 Mt. Vernon Street, which Mr. Winch has lately purchased.” (Herald (February 5, 1899): 31, GB)                                                                                                                                A passport application for William J. dated 1893 when he was aged 46 gave the following information: 6 feet tall; Brown eyes; Brown hair; Dark complexion; Oval face.                                                                                                          The Winchs had two children: Bessie S., born about 1875 and died in Manchester, MA on September 1, 1878, and William Porter, born July 8, 1877 (Passport), he studied at Harvard and then became a lawyer (1910 Census) and died a bachelor, in Vermont in 1965. William spent two years as a young child with his parents in England/Europe; the years between 3 and 4 and the years between 8 and 9. (Ship listings)

Real Estate photo listing price of the last sale. In 2020, the estimated price was closer to $6,000,000. Listing accessed October 28, 2020)



This illustration appeared in the Herald of September 17, 1897, 2.

“Mr. B. J. Lang gave the first of two concerts, at Mechanics’ Hall, last Thursday afternoon (April 22, 1875), which drew the large audience which his concerts always command; and it was a concert full of interest.” Two artists assisted: Miss Grace Sampson, one of his pupils, played Mozart’s Sonata in D for Two Pianos” with her teacher; the two giving us a very finished and artistic rendering…Miss Sampson’s touch is nice, her execution clean and even, and her whole performance had not a little of the fineness as well as the vigor of her master’s.” Miss Ita Welsh, not in the best of voice, sang four songs to Lang’s accompaniment, and his solos included Chopin’s Impromptu in F Sharp Minor, Handel’s Bourree in G, and the concert ended with Schumann’s Concertstuck in G, Op. 92 with Lang as soloist and his pupil playing the orchestral accompaniment. Dwight mentioned that Lang had played this work twice before with orchestra. (Dwight (May 1, 1875): 15)

The second concert on April 29 used the same three performers and the same program arrangement. At this concert Miss Ita Welsh was in fine voice earning and encore, “and in all her songs she succeeded admirably.” (Dwight (May 29, 1875): 30)

SUMMER of 1875.

“Aug. 7th. Lel sailed for Europe. Mr. Breed and Mr. Tucker with him…Aug. 23rd. Maidie and I to Stockbridge for a long visit with mother. It is very gay here. Continuous parties. I am often asked to sing, and must confess that I enjoy it all…Sept. 18th. Lel returned from Europe. He came directly up here.” (Diary 2- 1875)

APOLLO CLUB 1875-1876.

Dwight’s review of the January 1876 concert said that the club “sang more admirably than ever.” The Mendelssohn “Bacchus” chorus again closed the concert, and the guest soloist was a soprano from Brooklyn. But, “Part-songs, sentimental or playful, filled the intervening space, all sung with that exquisite finish, which becomes cloying after a certain time. One critic described the effect with more truth than he intended when he called the execution ”dead perfect.” It is not that anything can be sung too well; the secret of the fatigue lies, we think, in our feeling of the disproportion between comparatively little consequence of the music itself and the great amount of time and pains which it must cost to render it so perfectly.” (Dwight (Jan 22, 1876): 167) In a review following of the Boylston Club, mention is made of the Apollo Club’s having “many ripe, smooth, well-matched high tenors.” (Ibid)

This previous review provoked “S. L. B” (presumably a member of the Apollo Club) to write to Dwight-this letter Dwight published in two full columns of his February 5, 1876 edition. The gist of the letter was that the Apollo committee had spent much time and effort in researching the best male repertoire and that many of the great composers of the time had set short poems: If triviality is inherent in brevity, then all of these worthies must bear the charge, for they have not sought to elevate the character of Liederkranz and Mannerchor by offering important works…The mind is not always attuned to grandeur and profundity…The four-part songs of the great composers include some of their sweetest musical thoughts.” Dwight is forced to admit “That we cannot, any more than the Apollo Committee, draw up a list of noble pieces to be added to the Antigone choruses, etc., which they have already sung.” Dwight’s solution is to have the club become a mixed voice choir, a solution that they have not followed up to the current day.

Dwight review of the May 3 and 26, 1876 concerts began: “May and early June bring to the songbirds, with and without wings. Our vocal Clubs, -it is theirs by right to sing out the long concert season, and usher in the summer.” Dr. Langmaid (tenor), Mr. J. F. Winch (barytone), and Mr. W. J. Winch (tenor) were the featured soloists. The accompaniments were done on the piano, and five of the choral pieces had been translated “for the club by Mr. Charles J. Sprague sung on this occasion for the first time in this country.” It would seem that having the audience understand the texts was important to B. J. “We may truly say that we have never enjoyed an Apollo Concert quite so well as this one. It has long seemed as if they had about reached the last limit of attainable perfection in the balance and well-blended beauty of their voices, and the nice, effective and expressive execution of whatever music that are wont to undertake. But this time they really pushed the limit farther back; the rich, full manly, sweet ensemble of tone, the precision, force and delicacy of execution, the truth to every shade and contrast of sentiment, too, though still kept within the rather exhausted and monotonous sphere of male part-songs, had uncommon freshness…Mr. Sprague has been happy in his exploration after fresh material, as well as in his singable translations.” Dwight ended with a paragraph from another paper, the Advertiser:  “Upon the stage of the Music hall, during the concert of the Apollo club last evening was to be seen a very beautiful bronze statuette of the Apollo Belvidere. This work-a Barbedienne and an exquisite specimen of its kind-was obtained through Messrs. Bigelow, Kennard & Co., expressly for the active members of the Apollo Club, who last night presented it to their conductor, Mr. Lang. The gift was certainly an appropriate expression of the feeling of admiration and regard cherished by the corps for the accomplished artist under whose guidance they have won so many artistic triumphs.” (Dwight, June 10, 1876, pp. 246 and 247) Other reviewers were enthusiastic; the “Traveler” critic ended: “We cannot find words to say what is due to Mr. Lang. He gave his whole soul to the performance and inspired the singers throughout. A justifiable pride should be his in the success of the concert.” (Scrapbook) The Advertiser reviewer held the same opinion: “The last concert of the club marks the highest point which it has yet attained, and seems to leave little more to be accomplished.” (Scrapbook)

Music Hall-July 4, 1876. BPL Digital.


The choir took part in three of the Harvard Symphony Concerts during the 1875-76 Season. The third concert of the season was given Thursday, December 2, 1875 and included in the first half the cantata Spring’s Greeting by Gade, the 23rd. Psalm Op. 132 for female voices by Schubert. In the second half, two fragments from Mendelssohn’s unfinished opera, Loreley, the “Ave Maria” and the “Finale for Soprano solo and Chorus” were performed. “The attraction of the Concert was the singing with and without orchestra, by The Cecilia, conducted by Mr. Lang…The voices, now raised to about 120 in number, are fresh and musical, making a fine ensemble. The tones blend richly, beautifully; and all the four parts were effective, though the balance is still capable of improvement.” (Dwight (December 11, 1875): 142) Dwight felt that the Gade was not a major work, but charming. He commended Mr. Sumner for his accompaniment of the Schubert.

The sixth concert of the season, “owing chiefly to the attraction of the Cecilia, under Mr. Lang, had the largest audience of the season.” The choir sang Gade’s cantata, Comala, text from Ossian; the complete text was printed in the program. Part of the preparation for this concert was that Frances had to “copy the words of Comala into the orchestral score to help Lel.” (1876 Diary, January 4, 1876) “The performance was unequal; the male chorus of bards and warriors commencing rather timidly, partly because the time was taken too slow, and partly because they were too weak in number and too widely set apart upon the platform. The weakness was felt more than once. But the soprano and alto portion of the chorus was altogether beautiful and telling.” The soloists were mentioned: Miss Clara Doria “was in excellent voice;” Dr. Bullard sang with “judgment and refinement,” but was covered in many parts by the orchestra. (Dwight (February 5, 1876): 174 and 174) The second half of the concert had several shorter numbers including Schubert’s psalm setting of The Lord is My Shepherd, “repeated by request, confirmed the beautiful impression which it had made before, and must stand as so far the most successful effort of the Cecilia. The delicate piano part was nicely played by Mr. Arthur W. Foote, -A very spirited performance of the Fifth Symphony of Beethoven brought the concert to a grand conclusion.” (Ibid)

The tenth (and last) concert of the 1875-1876 season had Carl Zerrahn conducting the first half and B. J. Lang conducting the second half of the concert. The second part began with Bach’s cantata Ich hatte veil Bekummerniss with George L. Osgood and Miss Clara Doria as soloists who were members of the choir. John F. Winch, a non-chorus member was the bass soloist. It certainly speaks well of the choir that it and Lang attracted such fine voices as those of Osgood and Doria. Osgood was to go on to lead choirs somewhat in competition to the Cecilia; Doria would give up her solo career when she married a Boston lawyer in 1878, but she was very active as a vocal teacher and hostess on the Boston social scene until her death in 1931. G. W. Sumner as organist for this performance. An ad for the concert mentioned additional “members of the Cecilia” who would be soloists: Miss Ita Welsh, Dr. S. W. Langmaid and Dr. E. C. Bullard.” (Traveler (March 13, 1876): 3, GB) Dwight, while finding the “tenors and basses still inferior in number and volume to the sopranos and contraltos,” did better than in previous concerts. Knowing that a Bach cantata was a difficult offering for the Boston audience of this time, began one paragraph of his review with: “And what impression did the Cantata make? Good enough upon the whole, we think, to justify the risk of introducing it, and to give promise of better yet in this sort for the future.” (Dwight (April 1, 1876): 207)

By the spring of 1876 it had been determined that the choir, in fact, did not add financially, and separation was suggested. Gould cites the reasons for the separation as being the “frustration at being overwhelmed by such a large orchestra and the difficulty experienced by singing businessmen in attending the afternoon rehearsals.” (Gould-Our History Part 1, 1) A two-page notice dated November 16, 1876 gave details of the new, independent organization – about one-hundred singers, SATB, which would give three programs per season (each repeated) at Horticultural Hall, “the music presented to be a lighter character and greater variety than that which is offered by the larger choral societies of this city.” To defray expenses, three-hundred Associate members, either ladies or gentlemen were assessed $10 for which they received two tickets for every performance- “No tickets are to be sold.” The notice also stated that solo pieces would be included and that members of the choir would be used as soloists. This policy of using soloists from the ranks of the choir obviously made membership attractive to many singers, but it also was to create a problem for the future as in many works the voices were not up to the solo demands of the works performed-a fact that was cited by the critics often.

“Lel is almost ready to give up the conductorship of the Cecilia and the Bach Cantata Ass. All this because the Orchestra plays so carelessly and indifferently.” (Diary 2 – Winter 1876)



The two 3 PM chamber music concerts held in the spring of 1876 were given on Thursday afternoons March 23 and 30, again at Mechanics’ Hall. “His programmes were unique, the distinctive feature being the great prominence given to the French composer who has excited so much interest here of late, Camille Saint-Saens…On his visit to Europe last summer the Harvard Musical Association commissioned Mr. Lang to procure, for its Library and its Concerts, some of the principal compositions of Saint-Saens.” Dwight wrote at the time: Saint-Saens, “organist at the Madeline in Paris, a musician thoroughly trained in the best classical school, at home in Bach [important to Dwight], [had] a streak of genius in him.” (Dwight (April 15, 1876);  213) As a result of Lang’s music-buying the HMA performed the Saint-Saens Second Piano Concerto with Lang as the soloist, and the Concerto for Cello with Mr. Wulf Fries and the symphonic poem, Phaeton.

For the first concert on March 23 concert, Lang and Arthur Foote opened with the American premier [Foote, Auto., p. 44] of Saint-Saens’ Variations for Two Pianofortes on a Theme by Beethoven, Opus 35 which had just been composed and published only two years before in 1874. “These were the days when St. Saens’ music came to us as a stunning novelty.” (Foote, Auto., 44) About twenty-five years later the Bostonian Mabel Daniels, who was a music student in Munich at that time (1902) recorded that she played this piece with her teacher. “I think it is great, especially the big fugue at the end.” (Daniels (Am. Girl): 258) It would be interesting to know if she had previously heard the work in Boston. In the same concert Miss Ita Welsh sang two songs, Lang played four short Bach pieces as transcribed by Saint-Saens and the concert ended with Lang as the soloist and Foote providing the orchestra parts in the Saint-Saens Concerto No. 2 in G Minor. Lang had played the American premiere of this work two months before with Carl Zerrahn conducting the Harvard Musical Association at the Music Hall. Lang was able to play the work with an orchestra again at the end of the year. He performed with The New York Philharmonic Society led by Leopold Damrosch on December 9, 1876, but the New York premiere of the work had been done only one day before with the Thomas Orchestra at Steinway Hall with Annette Essipoff, pianist!

The program of the second chamber music concert again followed the outline of the first. The Trio in F Major for Piano, Violin, and Cello by St. Saens played by Lang and the two Wulf brothers opened the concert, followed by two songs, this time sung by Miss Lillian Bailey were separated by four Bach/Saint-Saens transcriptions, and the concert ended with Lang as the soloist in the Tschaikowsky (sic) Piano Concerto in B Flat Minor and the orchestral part played by Arthur Foote. (BPL Lang Prog., Vol. 2)  Dwight did not enjoy the Tchaikovsky. “The Russian Concerto suffered peculiarly by being deprived of its orchestral background; for it is a work conceived in the extreme modern style, dependent upon brilliant accessories and color contrasts for its effect.” Then Dwight weighed in with his critical comment on the work. “Without these, what intrinsically remains, with all its ingenuity and brilliancy, seems poor and uninspired and dull. Mr. Lang had mastered its immense technical difficulties surprisingly well…How much of the pretentious music of today can bear this test? But Beethoven is Beethoven if you only feel his shadow pass you in the twilight.” (Dwight (April 15, 1876): 213 and 214) Lang had been the conductor of the world premiere of the Tchaikovsky concerto with Hans von Bulow as soloist only six months before (October 25, 1875).

This had been Miss Bailey’s debut: “She is a bright, enthusiastic maiden of sixteen, with a soprano voice of singular purity and sweetness, and of a sympathetic quality. For one so young she seems to have made careful studies, as well as to have intelligence beyond her years.” (Ibid) The opera singer Clara Rogers was also present at Bailey’s debut, and she noted: “Her singing at that time was almost amusingly unbridled, but her fresh, young voice and musical instinct had a charm of their own. She had not then the remotest idea how to adapt the spoken sentence to the musical phrase; good diction was an unknown quantity to her! I mention this because it was precisely the timely acquisition of good diction in her studies abroad that made her a finished artist; the distinguishing feature of her delightful singing being her faultlessly clear enunciation of every word.” (Rogers (Two Lives): 70 and 71) Dwight also remarked on the vocalist: “A fresh and interesting feature of this concert was the singing of Miss Lillian Bailey,-her first public effort, we believe. She is a bright, enthusiastic maiden of sixteen, with a soprano voice of singular purity and sweetness. For one so young she seems to have made careful studies, as well as to possess intelligence beyond her years, and we should say a decidedly musical nature.” Lang seems to have found and helped yet another young talent. (Dwight, Op. cit.)

von BULOW.

It was von Bulow more than anybody else who by the force of personality, skill, perseverance and rasplike intelligence established the supremacy of the German school for several decades. He was the archetype of the German Tonkunstler: demanding, dictatorial, testy, chauvinistic, convinced of his superiority, possessed of a fine musical culture plus executive ability and leadership…The most valued member of the Wagner circle, he conducted the world premiers of Tristan und Isolde in 1865 and of Die Meistersinger in 1868. During the Tristan period, he was married to Liszt’s daughter Cosima. Wagner and she had an affair, three children resulted, and eventually, she divorced von Bulow for him.” (Schonberg, 244)                                                     von Bulow had met Liszt in 1849 and was overwhelmed. After hearing him play a number of times he did a self-analysis of his own piano technique: “a want of freedom and spontaneity” he decided. In 1850 Liszt agreed to take him as a student, and von Bulow “turned out to be his first great pupil.” (Op. cit., 246) After three years of study, he began his concert career, and then two years later he mixed administration, opera and orchestral conducting into his schedule.                                                                                                                    He made three tours to America. The first, 1875-76, was arranged by Chickering-they paid $20,000 for 172 concerts (he completed 139) The Tschaikovsky premier was on this tour. The second tour was in 1889 and the third in 1890. At first, America impressed him. He enjoyed studying the women, especially their ears. In Chicago, the critics attacked him for his “heavy” programs. At a concert soon after, he spoke to the audience saying that as a German he would “always worship in the temples of the great masters,” and that he felt that he did not have to play down to them as “American audiences are the best before which I have had the honor to play anywhere in the world.” (Op. cit. 247)                                                                           He never seemed to overcome his self-analysis of “a want of freedom and spontaneity.” The critic James Huneker called his playing “all intellect: his Bach, Beethoven, Chopin and Brahms were cerebral, not emotional. He has the temperament of a pedant.” Clara Schumann wrote: “To me he is the most wearisome player; there is no touch of vigor or enthusiasm, everything is calculated.” Another critic found his tone rang like steel and was almost as hard. (Op. cit., 249) He died only three years after his last American tour in 1890, and his last year was spent in an institution.


The year 1875 was also important for Lang as an orchestral conductor as he led the world premiere performance of the Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with Von Bulow as the soloist on Oct. 25, 1875. This created quite a sensation. (Foote, Auto., 44) Lang learned the piece in “less than 24 hours.” (Herald (December 16, 1900): 17, GB-written when Lang again conducted the work 25 years after the premiere) Johnson in First Performances states that this concert was not actually part of the regular season given by the Harvard Musical Association, but that the group was “generally speaking the same body of players.” (Johnson, 364) Lang and Von Bulow had met back in the summer of 1860. Liszt had provided one of his own cards as an introduction to Von Bulow who was, at that time, his son-in-law. (Excerpt 1860 B. J. L. Diary)

The details of the event are covered well in the following story filed by the Boston correspondent of the Graphic. “Von Bulow’s Quarrel with Bergmann. It may not be generally known that Von Bulow quarreled with Carl Bergmann, who came on here to conduct the orchestra at his opening concerts. The New York conductor, be it known, is no stranger to Boston, for he came here twenty-four years ago at the head of the Germanians before proceeding to New York. At rehearsal, the German pianist is extremely fiery if things go wrong, and things did go exceedingly wrong at one of the preliminary rehearsals of the terribly difficult concerto by the Russian composer, Tschaikowski, which had never been performed at all until brought out here. Indeed, matters had gone wrong on several occasions. At this particular time, the diminutive doctor became more animated than ever, and made a sarcastic remark which Bergmann resented. The result was that the latter conducted one more concert, which was to finish the first week, and then departed for New York. There were some thoughts of sending for Dr. Damrosch, who is an old friend of Dr. Von Bulow, but it was decided to try Mr. B. J. Lang, who was also personally known to the pianist. Lang accordingly passed the next day, Sunday, in studying the music with Von Bulow, and the result was highly satisfactory to the latter and very creditable to our Boston musician, who continued to conduct at the remaining concerts.” (Cincinnati Daily Gazette (November 19, 1875): 2, GB)

Verlag Hans Dursthoff-Berlin: J. W. Johnston Collection.

Von Bulow almost did not make it to America in 1875. “During the end of the 1874-75 season, while on a tour to England, he suffered an ‘apoplectic stroke’ that partially paralyzed the right side of his body. In late June [1875] he wrote Cosima that his health was ‘completely shattered,’ and he feared he would be ‘incapable of starting for America.’ A couple of weeks later he was able to view his situation not ‘too tragically or pathetically’ but still made arrangements for a ‘fatal ending,’ drawing up his will and giving instructions to Cosima for disbursing his possessions. It was in this debilitated physical condition and cynical state that Bulow began the musical preparation for his American tour.” (Lott, Peoria, 237 and 238) He had done his will as “He knew that he would be in North America for at least nine months…There was a predictable division of money and personal property to the three daughters Daniela, Blandine, and Isolde (the last whom he continued to call his own.” (Walker, 211) Cosima was a major reason for this tour-it was six years since she had left him for his friend Wagner, “and he was still struggling to regain control of his life-mentally, emotionally, and physically.” (Lott, Trance, 530) He also needed money and this tour would provide that. Over a period of eight months, he was to give 172 concerts; this averaged five concerts per week for which he would be paid c. $20,000 (about $450,000 in 2018). However, even though during the early weeks (October 1875) he called America a “marvelous country” with “splendid people,” and he was “housed and served like a prince” which made him “consider remaining in the New World,” by the following March physical and emotional depression had set in and he “withdrew from his contract with thirty-three concerts remaining.” (Op. cit., 531 and 541) He had played 139 concerts in thirty-nine different American cities, and in some, such as Boston and New York, he gave multiple performances. 101 were solo recitals, 20 were with orchestra, and 18 were with chamber ensembles. (Op. cit., 548 and 549)

E. Bieber, Berlin “Photographer to the Court.” Johnston Collection.

“The American tour began in Boston, on Monday, October 18, 1875, after a very rough transatlantic crossing on the steamer Parthia, during which Bulow was seasick. Immediately after his arrival in Boston, he locked himself away in his private quarters at 23 Beacon Street. The local newspapers reported that he practiced for eight or nine hours a day-as well he might in view of the workload before him.” (Walker, 213)

For his first concert on October 18th. the Music Hall’s 2,700 seats were filled. His entrance caused some comment: “Bulow walked onto the platform, a short, dapper figure, carrying a hat. This disconcerting appendage he proceeded to place under the piano. He also wore gloves which he ceremoniously removed before surveying the audience with his usual aristocratic disdain…This opening concert was hugely successful and Bulow could not have been happier with the press notices…The New York Times accorded him a position of preeminence among the pianists who had visited America during the past fifteen years…During the first few days in Boston, Bulow gave four more concerts. But it was his appearance the following week, on October 25, that has entered the history books.” (Walker, 212 and 213) This was the world premiere of Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto.

Dwight’s Journal of November 13, 1875 states that this concert was the fifth in a series of seven, [dates of the concerts were: #1-Monday, October, 18;#2-Wednesday, October 20; #3-Friday, October 22; #4 Saturday, October 23;#5-Monday, October 25;#6-Friday, October 29; #7-Saturday, October 30] and that the entire program of number five was repeated for the seventh concert. Between the Monday, October 25 Fifth Concert and the Friday, October 29 Sixth Concert, Bulow gave two recitals in Providence! (Lott, p. 301) “Mr. Peck, to whose enterprise we are indebted for these seven feasts, has made arrangements to have him [von Bulow] return in January [1876] and give some concerts of Chamber music with the Philharmonic Club (Messers. Listemann, etc.).” The program for the Fifth Concert was:


Grand Concerto in B-flat (sic)-Tschaikowski

Sonata, Opus 27 (Moonlight Sonata)-Beethoven


Grand Fantasie, Opus 15- Schubert arranged for Piano and Orchestra by F. Liszt

Wedding March-Mendelssohn

“The Overtures went smoothly under the baton of Mr. Lang who had been called to succeed Mr. Bergmann and who [Lang], being himself a pianist and an enthusiastic admirer of von Bulow, was in better sympathy and understanding with him for the rendering of the extremely difficult, strange, wild, ultra-modern Russian score. It is the composition of a young professor at the Conservatory in Moscow, a pupil of Rubinstein’s (indeed the work contained not a few suggestions of the master), and is dedicated to Bulow, who complimented Boston very first performance. A compliment well-meant, and warmly responded to by the applauding audience, -twice-for this program was repeated for the seventh concert… How wonderfully von Bulow rendered it, there is no need of telling; all that a hearty sympathy, a masterly conception, and an infallible technique could do for it, it had the fullest degree; and the young author well knew that his work could not suffer in such hands.”(Johnson, First Performances, 364) “Privately, Bulow thought Lang’s performance was ‘very decent’ and a repeat performance of the Tchaikovsky was ‘most spirited.’ Publicly, he linked his arm in Lang’s after his first performance and insisted on sharing the applause with him. ” (Lott, Peoria, 243) Lott amplifies this story in a footnote, saying: “One writer remembered Bulow being ‘extravagant in testifying his satisfaction’ with Lang and reported this conversation with the pianists: ‘Did you see my little scene with the conductor?’ I said that I did, and asked why he was so desperately demonstrative, and why he made such a scene. ‘Ah! you ask that? I expected you would,’ he said. ‘But why not? It did me no harm, and it may do him good. Besides, I was so grateful that the conducting was no worse, that I could not restrain myself.”’ (Lott, 339) Bulow’s gratefulness extended to having Lang also conduct the sixth concert: “The little orchestra still manifested improvement,” and Lang also appeared with von Bulow in the last piece: “The Chopin Rondo (in C Major for two pianos) was very finely rendered by both artists, who kept perfectly together; and this compliment of Von Bulow to his new conductor, like the one before, when he led him out to share the honors of a recall, found a sympathetic audience.” (Dwight (November 13, 1875): 126) Recently Steinberg mused: “I do wonder, though, what it all sounded like with B. J. Lang’s little orchestra with its four first violins (Steinberg, 477) Dwight had reported in his issue of October 30, 1875 concerning the fifth concert in the series: “Carl Bergmann’s baton gave a fair outline, although, to be sure, four first violins were rather thin and feeble for the great crescendo of the Leonora No. 3.” Dwight earlier in this same review had said: “There has been an orchestra, a small one to be sure, with the best conductor in America at its head during the first week” of the von Bulow concerts. (Dwight (Oct. 30, 1875): 118) This would then make Lang better than the best conductor then in America!

Upton, Musical Memories, facing 54.

The question remains as to why Bergmann was dismissed which then gave Lang his chance to conduct. Bulow recorded that “Bergmann had not taken much interest in the concerts as he had in drinking beer, he had missed two meetings to discuss the concerts which forced Bulow to make suggestions to the orchestra himself, and then, while Bulow was beginning his solo pieces in one of the concerts, Bergmann audibly invited the musicians to ”go get some refreshments,” and brought six of them back half tipsy.” (Lott, Peoria, 251) At Bulow’s next stop on his tour, New York City, he was asked during an interview with the New York Sun to explain why he had fired Bergmann who was well regarded, especially in the German community. Bulow began “by denouncing Bergmann as incompetent. He then went on to berate him for ”showing more interest in drinking beer” than in pursuing his duties as a conductor…The interview was so outspoken that it created what Harper’s Magazine called a ”hullabulow”. The German press gored him, calling him a great artist but a small man. That only made matters worse. Bulow went on to criticize the Germans in general as a beer-swilling crowd who drank until their brains were stupid, rendering them incapable of appreciating great music because they listened to everything through an alcoholic haze. This led to a further outcry and Bulow received the predictable crop of hostile letters.” (Walker, 214)

As late as the program for the Forth Concert held on October 23rd., Bergmann was still listed as the conductor of the fifth concert to be held two days later! In the fifth concert program, Lang is advertised as the conductor, and also for the sixth and seventh concerts, which was a repeat of the material from the fifth concert. Nowhere in the program is there any mention of who the orchestra was. Walker describes the group as “a scratch orchestra of a mere thirty-five players.” (Walker, 213) Also, there were no notes about the music, but only various articles about von Bulow. (HMA Program Collection) Bergmann, as conductor of the New York Philharmonic, had built that group “into a fine orchestra,” but according to Howard Shanet, “the modern chronicler of the Philharmonic,” Bergmann “was now professionally so sloppy, spiritually so depressed, physically so decayed, and continually so drunk that only the great affection that his men bore him kept him in his post.”…”By August 1876 he would be dead.” (Lott, Peoria,  251 and 152) This was a sad ending for someone who had conducted the New York Philharmonic beginning in 1858: “Bergmann was the Philharmonic’s most potent artistic personality for more than three decades. He also happened to be America’s first potent advocate of the music of Richard Wagner.” (Horowitz, Wagner, 38) The careers of Theodore Thomas and Bergmann “intertwined…Thomas, fourteen years Bergmann’s junior, frequently played the violin under Bergmann’s baton. Bergmann was initially the cellist in the historic chamber-music concerts of Thomas and the pianist William Mason. It was Thomas who brought the work Bergmann had helped begin to a plateau of high fruition.” (Ibid) In Thomas’s autobiography he evaluates Bergmann: “Bergmann was a talented musician and a fair ”cello player…He lacked most of the qualities of a first-rank conductor, but he had one great redeeming quality for those days which soon brought him into prominence. He possessed an artistic nature and was in sympathy with the so-called ”Zukunft Musik” [”Music of the Future”]. He lacked the force, however, to make an impression, and had no standard. He derived his principal inspiration from our chamber music practice. His readings of Beethoven’s works showed clearly that he had no tradition, and that it was not based on study.” And, if this was not damning enough, Thomas ended with: “Bergmann never practiced.” (Horowitz, Wagner, 38 and 29)


HMA Program Collection

Von Bulow had made known that “the grand composition of Tschaikovsky, the most eminent Russian maestro of the present day, composed last April and dedicated by its author to Hans von Bulow, has NEVER BEEN PERFORMED, the composer himself never having enjoyed an audition of his masterpiece. To Boston is reserved the honor of its initial representation and the opportunity to impress the first verdict on a work of surpassing musical interest.” (Steinberg, 477) Originally the composer had dedicated the piece to Nicolai Rubinstein, Head of the Moscow Conservatory (from its founding in 1866 to his death in 1881), but Rubinstein’s reaction, which Tchaikovsky recorded three years after the event in a letter to his patron, von Meck so upset the composer that he vowed to ignore Rubinstein’s suggestions and publish the work “exactly as it stands”-which he did (Steinberg, 475) He wrote to von Meck: “It transpired that my concerto was no good, that it was impossible to play, that some passages were hackneyed, awkward, and clumsy beyond redemption, that as a composition it was bad and banal, that I had pilfered this bit from here and that from there, that there were only two or three passages which would do, and that the rest would have to be either discarded or completely reworked.” (Lott, Peoria, 241 quoting from a letter) The connection between the composer and von Bulow seems to be Karl Klindworth who “was a colleague [of Tchaikovsky] at the Moscow Conservatory,” and with Bulow, a fellow pupil of Liszt. (Ibid) “Bulow had already written favorably of some of Tchaikovsky’s earlier works… Upon receiving the concerto, Bulow wrote to Tchaikovsky: ”The ideas are so lofty, strong, and original. The details, which although profuse, in no way obscure the work as a whole…The form is so perfect, mature, and full of style – in the sense that the intention and craftsmanship are everywhere concealed.”” (Ibid) After such a response, naturally, the work was given to von Bulow.

Not everything was perfect at the premiere. “The distinguished Boston composer George W. Chadwick, then just about to turn 21, heard the performance and recalled in a memoir years later, ”They had not rehearsed much and the trombones got in wrong in the ”tutti” in the middle of the first movement, whereupon Bulow sang out in a perfectly audible voice, ”The brass may go to hell.” This was the first Tchaikovsky piece [I] ever heard and I thought it the greatest ever, but it rather mystified some of our local scribes [critics], who could not have dreamed how many times they would have to hear it in the future.” (Ledbetter, Program Note) “Critical reaction to what is now the world’s favorite piano concerto was decidedly mixed. its lyrical themes and colorful orchestration were immediately recognized and praised, but the sheer length of the work and the rambling first movement, in particular, were obstacles to appreciation. The Boston Evening Transcript found the ”elaborate work [to be] as difficult for popular apprehension as the name of the composer.” because of the ”long stretches of what seems, on the first hearing at least, formless void, sprinkled only with tinklings of the piano and snatchy obbligatos from all the various wind and string instruments in turn.” Dwight judged the last movement of the ”strange, wild, ultra-modern work” to be ”extremely brilliant and exciting,” but he wondered whether the public could ”ever learn to love such music.” …The public’s response was not nearly as guarded. A reporter for the New York Daily Tribune, in Boston for the premiere, thought the performance was ”irresistible, and the effect upon the audience most intense.” In fact, the exhilarating last movement, despite some ensemble problems, was so enthusiastically received that it had to be repeated. Tchaikovsky wrote to Rimsky-Korsakov after Bulow informed him of this demand, which happened more than once: ”Think what appetites these Americans have: after every performance Bulow was obligated to repeat the entire finale! Such a thing could never happen here.”” (Lott, Peoria, 241 and 242) Having taken over as conductor of the fifth concert, Lang was retained for the sixth concert and then the seventh. For the sixth concert, he had only two or three days to prepare another new piece, the Raff Concerto!


HMA Program Collection.

Lang was also the conductor for the Sixth Concert on October 29, 1875 (see program above). Note that Lang and von Bulow ended the concert with Chopin’s Rondo in C Major, a piece that Lang would later program with his pupils. Lang and von Bulow repeated the Grand Concerto as part of von Bulow’s Seventh and final Concert in Boston.

Genealogy Bank. June 19, 2020.


Then during December of the same year, at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia von Bulow played five concerts. On Friday, December 17, 21, and 22 these were orchestral performances, and on December 18 and 23 these were solo recitals. Lang’s name was printed as the conductor for the third and fourth concerts and was written in as conductor for the first concert, but the Tchaikovsky does not appear in any of these programs. (BPL Lang Prog.) Lang’s biographical entry in the 1886 A Handbook of American Music and Musicians edited by F. O. Jones characterized his conducting as follows: “His calmness and presence of mind under all circumstances and surety of score reading has more than once saved a careless or nervous performer from disaster. These qualities make him one of the best conductors, and enabled him to successfully act in that capacity for the belligerent von Bulow and the meteoric Joseffy.” (Jones – first page of ”L” section) Von Bulow played the Tchaikovsky Concerto in 139 out of a total of 172 concerts that he presented that 1875-76 season! As a performer himself, Lang was very considerate of the soloist when he conducted. Apthorp relates more of Lang’s experience with von Bulow in their Philadelphia appearance. Lang, “having heard reports that the Philadelphia orchestra was none of the best at that time, besides knowing that von Bulow was liable to be nervous and at times rather obstreperous at rehearsals, thought it wise to have some rehearsing without his presence. Among other things Beethoven’s G major concert [sic] was to be played; Lang agreed with von Bulow to have the rehearsal at ten o’clock the next morning, but privately sent word to the orchestra that it would be called at nine. This would give him an hour’s rehearsal before von Bulow appeared on the ground. The orchestra assembled as ordered, the orchestral numbers and accompaniments were rehearsed; when it got to be six or seven minutes to ten, Lang and the orchestra were still hammering away at the accompaniment to the G major concerto. But it happened that von Bulow got there some minutes before his appointed time, and, finding Lang already rehearsing without him, took a seat at the back of the hall to wait until this unexpected preliminary rehearsal should be over. Lang standing with his back to the house, of course, did not see him and went on with his work unsuspicious of his presence. When the orchestra got to the tutti hold on the dominant that ushers in the cadenza and Lang had cut the chord short with a wave of his baton, he was not a little startled to hear von Bulow shriek out behind him in his sharpest and most acrid voice: ‘The woodwind may go to hell!’ Lang turned around just in time to see the infuriated pianist jam his stove-pipe upon his head and rush out of the hall as fast as his legs could carry him; von Bulow was not to be found again that morning, and the G major Concerto was played in the evening without rehearsal with the pianoforte.” (Apthorp, 357 and 358) When this story was repeated in the Springfield newspaper, the writer interpreted this last sentence to mean that “in the evening the concerto was played with a piano accompaniment instead of the orchestra.” (Springfield Republican (September 29, 1893): 10, GB) However, the concerts went well: the pick-up orchestra played accurately and expressively under Lang’s meticulous direction. What he lacked in magnetism, Lang compensated for through his careful study and preparation of the orchestra… Bulow’s faith in Lang’s abilities was validated by excellent performances…Bulow’s continued to share the credit publicly with Lang. After a performance of Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto, Bulow grabbed both of Lang’s hands and ”led him impulsively to the footlights to share blushingly the honors of the occasion.” (Lott, 260) Later, Lang himself was the soloist in this work at performances with the BSO in 1883 and 1885. (Steinberg, 473)

Another story of von Bulow’s “artistic eccentricities” was told about his appearance in Baltimore. While the conductor was rehearsing the orchestra von Bulow “shot out” as if fired by a gun,”advanced through the forest of trombones and big fiddles to the conductor’s stand…caught him to his bosom and kissed him.” (Memphis Ledger (December 21, 1875): 2, GB, reprinted from the Baltimore Bulletin) The conductor was an old pupil of his, but this joyous reunion “lasted but a moment, and the darker side of his temper flashed out.” Von Bulow was upset that the piano maker, Chickering, had sent a sign with “large gilt letters” which was placed on the instrument. First, he placed it face down, then, during the rehearsal, he moved the sign to “under the tail” of the piano,” and then he later got up and kicked it…’I am not’ he said with a look of scorn, ‘ a traveling advertisement’…Thus was he appeased with blood.” (Ibid)

Articles before the concert talked about fortunate Philadelphia was to have von Bulow perform there; it would be his first performance in the city. On review began by calling the event “a conspicuous event in our musical history…The pleasure incident to his performance is lasting, thorough and complete…It was so perfect that criticism seems out of place.” (Philadelphia North American (December 18, 1875): 2, GB)  “In all of these the same easy mastery of difficulties, the same felicity of expression and the same entire subordination to the music in hand was apparent.” (Philadelphia Inquirer (December 22, 1875): 8) He was called an equal to Rubinstein and Thalberg, both of whom had performed to great acclaim in the city. Comments about Lang were also made before the concert. One noted that he was a “pianist and organist of high repute, but not an orchestral director in any sense,” while the same paper also said: “Why he was selected as the director of a Philadelphia orchestra remains to be seen.” (Philadelphia Inquirer (December 13 and 17, 1875): 3 and 8, GB) Five days after the second comment about Lang, the Inquirer included the following: “One word should be said in praise of the orchestra at these concerts. It was hastily collected from such material as was attainable. Many of the best performers…could not be had. But the thirty-six gentlemen composing the orchestra have shown a care and intelligence, and an unusual degree of accuracy and expression in the accompaniments, which must have been as gratifying to the soloist as to the audience. Mr. B. J. Lang directed last night with his usual care, and shows long study of and familiarity with the music.” (Philadelphia Inquirer (December 22, 1875): 8, GB) The other reviewer called the orchestra as one “of only fair capability, very well led by Mr. Lang of Boston.” (North American, Op. cit.)

Genealogy Bank. June 19, 2020.

  • Philadelphia Inquirer, December 22, 1875, 8, GB. Comparing the ad with the program below you can see that the three additional orchestral pieces were not listed in the ad. There were obviously other orchestral pieces for the December 17 and 21 concerts. Fox lists the Overture-The Naiads, Opus 15 as being played December 22. Was there also an orchestral concert that night in addition to the recital?


Friday, December 17.  8 PM. Orchestra.  Beethoven: Piano Concerto # 4 and Liszt: Fantasie Hongroise (dedicated to von Bulow)

  • Saturday, December 18. 2 PM.  Recital.
  • Tuesday, December 21. 8 PM. Orchestra. Henselt: Concerto in f minor and Weber/Liszt: Polonaise Brilliante.
  • Wednesday, December 22. 8 PM. Beethoven: Piano Concerto # 5 and Schubert/Liszt Fantasie. Von Bulow also played four solo Chopin pieces AND the orchestra played, Mozart: Overture-Magic Flute, Mendelssohn: Overture-Return from Abroad and Schubert-Entr’act from Rosamond.
  • Thursday, December 23. 2PM. Recital.

During November and the first two weeks of December, Lang would have had to learn the Henselt Concerto and the Liszt Fantasie Hongroise together with three orchestral pieces for the December 18 and 21st. concerts. Certainly from the reviews he found time to do this among his others responsibilities.

Tchaikovsky was very moved by the news of Bulow’s success with his concerto. In a letter dated February 13, 1876 he thanked Bulow for the news of “another American success that I owe to you,” the first being the Boston premiere. (Walker, 214) This second success was the New York performance of the concerto led by Leopold Damrosch whom Bulow had known in Weimar. For this performance, the finale was also encored as it had been in Boston. Tchaikovsky also noted that he had known Bulow “only a short time,” and having been treated so badly by his mentor, Anton Rubinstein, Tchaikovsky expressed to Bulow “the immense gratitude that I owe you, to you who were not my master and who are not even a compatriot.” (Walker,  215)

Bulow had some interesting observations on the musical audience in Boston. A year after his first appearances there, in 1876, Bulow told the Chicago Times: “There are two types of musical cultivation: for want of better terminology. I might call them in-breath and in-depth. In the latter respect, I would consider Boston the most cultivated; but the people are narrow and too pretentious for the measure of their knowledge. Puritanism has frozen art in New England; it’s a miracle that it hasn’t killed it altogether in the last 100 years. The Bostonians feel their indifference not only to an extreme degree: they even display it openly with pride. Presumably they reckon it as one of the Fine Arts. But that it is not. It is simply a form of paralysis…nevertheless, for a certain sort of technical facility and depth of musical cultivation, Boston takes first place.” (Horowitz, America, 10 and 11)

Lang also learned the solo piano part of the Tchaikovsky work. At the February 19 and 20, 1885 concerts (19th. Pair of the Fourth Season) of the BSO Lang soloed in this work which just ten years earlier he had conducted its world premiere; this time the conductor was Georg Henschel. He had done the “Allegro” only at a Fitchburg concert of March 1883. Lang was still conducting this work 25 years later. At a Sunday night December 16, 1900 concert at Symphony Hall, Lang conducted an orchestra of 55 in a “GRAND CONCERT given by and for the benefit of the Musicians” Aid Society.” The orchestra solos were the “Overture” to St. Paul by Mendelssohn and the Overture-In Memoriam by Sullivan (Mr. J. Wallace Goodwich-organist) The main soloist was Ossip Gabrilowitsch who played the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto in B Flat Minor Opus 23 and Liszt’s Hongarian Fantasie for piano and orchestra. (BPL Lang Prog.)

>>> Part: 1   2   3   4 


PART 3.      WC-13,602 (09/15/2020)

  • Carlyle Petersilia and Lang.                                                                                           Premiers of Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 2 and Liszt/Schubert Wanderer Fantasia, Op. 15.                                                                                                              Gilmore Concert.                                                                                                                Concert to Help the Patriots of Crete.                                                                           Salem Concerts.                                                                                                                       Clara F. Joy- Early Lang Pupil                                                                                  Summer-1867.                                                                                                                        Piano Technique Lectures-1867 and 1883.                                                                     Margaret Ruthven Lang.                                                                                           Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 1-Boston Premier.                                 Mendelssohn-Eighth Book of Songs Without Words.
  • Handel and Haydn-First Triennial Festival.  1868.                                                        First Lectures.                                                                                                                 Mercantile Hall Concerts.                                                                                                    First Symphony Series.                                                                                                     Music Hall Organ Concerts.
  • Peace Jubilee: 1869.                                                                                                             Year In Europe-1869 to 70: Berlin Concert. Rome and Liszt. April. Vienna    Concert. June. July. August 12th.                                                                                                                                                 Fall of 1870.                                                                                                                             Hiram G. Tucker.                                                                                                                   Teacher of Piano.                                                                                                                        Other Concerts.                                                                                                                  Globe Theatre Concerts.                                                                                           Frances’ Singing Lessons.                                                                                                William Foster Apthorp.                                                                                            Benjamin Edward Woolf.                                                                                                  Salem Oratorio Society.
  • Student Concerto Concerts.                                                                                         Another European Summer-1871.
  • Mendelssohn Quintette Club Performances-1860 to 1869.


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 unequaled in our annals of piano concerts.” Lang took part in three of the four major pieces; a vocalist, Miss Edith Abel sang four songs scattered throughout the program. Petersilia performed the solo parts to the last two movements of Chopin’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)


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

Below: Ryan, facing 186.


On February 3, 1867, two days after the HMA concert, Lang was the guest conductor of a Gilmore Grand Sacred Concert.  He conducted his pupil, Miss Alice Dutton as soloist in Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 25. Lang and Gilmore possibly first met when Gilmore became the director of the Salem Brass Band in 1857. With the new director’s enthusiasm, a group that had been good became a group that rivaled more established bands.                                                                                                                                         The next month Lang played the orchestral part for the Mendelsohn when another of his pupils soloed at a concert at Chelsea City Hall on March 7, 1867.


Harvard Musical Association via digitalcommonwealth.

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]

Harvard Musical Association via digitalcommonwealth.


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)


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

SUMMER of 1867.

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


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)

In 1883 Lang announced a series of three lectures “upon pianoforte playing” for May 1, 5 and 8 at Chickering Hall at 2:30 PM. The three lecture titles were: “Teaching the Art of Playing the Pianoforte,” “Mr. Lang”s System of Modern Piano-forte Technics,” and “The higher development of the Musical Senses.” Tickets were Three Dollars for the series and individual lectures could be bought at for $1.50 if seats were available. (BPL Lang Prog.) This announcement inspired a lengthy article “Mr. Lang’s Lectures” in support of this presentation. “Mr. B. J. Lang is one of those artists whose personality and whose work are best enjoyed when one can come close to them. Thoughtful, delicate and sensitive, his temperament is inclined to shrink from those larger and more public tests of professional accomplishment…when he has to stand out alone before a great public, something of the freedom is at times lost, and those who have only heard and known him on such occasions, have not fully heard him and known him…He has studied and taught the pianoforte for many years, to many pupils of various minds and dispositions. Such experience brings much to a man who thinks, and we were glad when Mr. Lang began modestly to tell something of his experiences and his thoughts a few months ago. Since that time he has arranged what he wants to say into three lectures upon pianoforte playing as he understands and teaches it, and upon that awakening and development of the artistic sense, which are as essential in music as in painting. If we may judge the future by the past, these conferences (for they will be more such than mere bald lectures) will have interest for many other persons than students of the pianoforte, and will hope that Chickering Hall will be filled with an audience so interested and sympathetic that Mr. Lang will speak as brightly and suggestively as he often does to a single friend.” (Courtesy of the Boston Symphony Orchestra Archives) Another article, unsigned and without title also referred to Lang’s series of lectures. “It was a characteristic idea of Mr. Lang to set an unusual hour for his lectures on pianoforte playing and to ask so high price for the tickets, and then to follow it up by his subsequent action. When the audience has assembled for the first lecture, he confessed that he had felt a great curiosity to know if anyone in town cared enough for the matter to pay a big price and submit to an inconvenient hour, for the sake of what he might have to say. His ruse had proved successful, and he should therefore make the audience his guests, and their ticket money should be returned to them the day of the second lecture.” (Courtesy of the Boston Symphony Orchestra Archives)


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.


On January 16, 1868 Lang played the Boston premiere 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)


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. The 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)


  • The opening concert on Tuesday, May 5, 1868.
  • The Festival ran from Tuesday, May 5 to Sunday, May 10, 1868. There were “five great oratorios, grandly given by a well balanced, well trained force of seven hundred and fifty voices, with an orchestra of more than a hundred instruments, the best solo singers in the country, with one of the grandest organs in the world too, as well as in the noblest Music Hall upon this continent-besides four Symphony concerts,” and on Saturday at noon, Lang presented a solo organ recital which included:
  • Prelude and Fugue in C-Bach
  • Sonata in B flat, Op. 65, No. 4-Mendelssohn
  • Pastorale in F-Bach
  • Fugue on the letters B-A-C-H-Schumann
  • Improvisation
  • Fantaisie in G, Grave (full power of the Organ)-Bach (H & H History, Vol. 1, 264 and 277)
  • The Festival made a profit of $3,336.94 which was added to the Permanent Fund, bringing its total to $7,576.05 (Op. cit., 278)


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.

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

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


In the spring of 1869 Lang expanded his conducting/concert production activities by presenting a series of three orchestral concerts on Tuesdays at 3:30 PM. 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.).

After the first concert, Dwight wrote that it was “a decided success in every respect: large and cultivated audience; fine programme; the pianist,  Miss Dutton’s playing was “almost perfect,” and that the concert gave “thorough enjoyment,” and there were “no end of congratulations at the end.” There were many concerts that week, and so “This is all that we have room to say now.” (Dwight (April 10, 1869): 16)

After the fourth concert, he 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)


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, 1869): 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)


Ryan, facing 186.

June 15, Opening Day during the singing of Glory to God. Originally from Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, # 717. BPL, Digital Commonwealth from Historic New England. This “Coliseum” had seating for 30,000 in the audience, 10,000 in the choir, and 1,000 for the orchestra. It was the largest building of its kind ever built in Boston. Choirs came from New England and the Middle-West and the orchestra and band were composed of professionals from a very wide area-how else would you find 1,000 professional band players? President Grant, members of his cabinet, several governors, and many military leaders came to Boston for the event.

For five days, June 15 to 19, 1869 inclusive, Boston was the site of the Peace Jubilee. The Handel and Haydn Society had had many discussions about joining this event, but in the end, the Board vote was nine to two to take part, with the President voting nay. “They formed the nucleus, the sure and solid heart and centre of the great chorus of ten thousand voices (instead of twenty thousand, as at first announced), and they did their work as well as practicable under the strange conditions, the vast hall for sound, the audience too multitudinous for musical appreciation.” They sang the “great choruses of Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Mendelssohn, and more which need not be mentioned. It shared the abundant popular applause.” (H & H, Vol. 1, 286 and 287) Specific mention of Lang’s part is not made, but one guesses that he took over the organ for the major chorus numbers in order to give the support for which he was known, but there was a festival organist, so Lang might have escaped the whole event.

View from the choir. Wikipedia, accessed July 6, 2020.

Chorus Members were “expected to be present…during the entire four days. Rehearsals will occur each day at ten, A. M. Singers are expected to be in their seats half an hour before the commencement of the afternoon concert…Loud talking, humming, singing, while in seats, is strictly forbidden…No one must leave the chorus seats during the concerts without special permission. (Gilmore, 421-22)                                                                      Gilmore involved the important musical men of the time in this project. Eben Tourjee, from NEC, organized the choir and its principal conductor was Carl Zerrahn from the Handel and Haydn Society. The Director of the Boston Conservatory, who was also the superintendent of music for the Boston public schools conducted some of the instrumental pieces. However, for the showpieces, Gilmore conducted himself! The “Anvil Chorus” from Il Trovatore by Verdi was one such showpiece: the famous 100 Boston firemen striking anvils, cannons, church bells, the huge bass drum, and a loud pipe organ specially built for this room.                                                                               The one-keyboard organ was built by the Boston firm of E & G. G. Hook for $3,000. There were ten stops (sets of pipes, 61 pipes in each set) that were divided treble and bass-that gave you twenty stops. Then there were an additional six stops including the 16 Foot Grand Sub-Bass which was described as being of “a large scale and very deep and powerful tone, furnishing a firm and solid foundation for the whole structure, including orchestra and chorus.” The Festival Organist was John H. Wilcox who played every day except Saturday (Gilmore, 405-6)                                             The Jubilee lasted five days, was considered a great success by most, but did not raise money for “Widows and Orphans of Soldiers and Sailors” as was its purpose. The only person to benefit directly was Gilmore himself who was given $39,028.04 by the Board for his efforts. (Op. cit., 654) One man remarked: “A ridiculous plan redeemed by a magnificent success.” Gilmore later wrote a book of 760 pages giving every little detail including the text of the prayer he offered when he thought the whole event was about to collapse. But, he had reason to be proud-nothing like this had ever been done anywhere in the world. (Cipolla, inter alia)


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

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

HMA Program Collection.

BERLIN CONCERT. Lang gave a recital at the Hotel de Rome in Berlin on December 28, 1869 with the following program: Beethoven’s Sonata Opus 22, Chopin’s Scherzo Opus 31, two works by Bach, Mendelssohn’s Caprice in E Opus 16, and ended with Liszt’s arrangement of Weber’s Polonaise. (BPL Lang Prog.) Frances wrote in her Diary: “I am now 30 years old (Dec. 18th.). Lel’s [B. J.’s name within the family] concert [in Berlin] a great success. Hall crowded, in spite of a snowstorm. Afterward, 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 a long hall. We could look into his great music room with its Chickering and Erard grand pianos. We heard exclamations and he appeared. (His servant had given him our cards) He came into the room holding a candle in his hand, high above his head and making an impressive picture. He greeted us very cordially and led us into a smaller room where there was a blazing fire. Lel asked him to write his name on a few pieces of paper, for the ladies, and he immediately took out some photographs and wrote on the backs. He asked me [Frances] to try his piano. Lel said, “You must ask her to sing.” But of course I couldn’t and wouldn’t because my cold was so bad. Then he sat down and kept us spellbound. He played the Benediction  [Benediction de Dieu dans la Solitude-a piece that Lang played regularly throughout his career], etc. He played like a God. Finally, we thanked him and said we must go. He took both my hands in his and made the most delightful little speech about coming back sometime to Weimar and bringing the baby, and took me downstairs into the starlight and put me into the carriage. We were all breathless. That night we went to Florence.” (Frances’ Diary Excerpts, 1 and 2) Maidie, then two years old had remained in Dresden with her nurse. (Diary 2, Winter 1870-Rosamond)

  1.  B. J. was considered such a good friend to Liszt, that he was part of Liszt’s funeral cortege. Clara Doria the singer (wife of Henry Rogers, the Boston lawyer) wrote of her trip in 1889 to the Bayreuth Festival. “Next day, from our windows, we watched a long and impressive funeral procession, in which we recognized many distinguished musicians-each one having a lighted torch though it was broad daylight. One of the first in the procession to be recognized by us was our fellow Bostonian, B. J. Lang, who was one of the pallbearers, 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 afterward…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. Moritz. 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).

Handel and Haydn History, Vol. 2, 135.

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 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.                                                                                                Soon Lang’s pupils were using his name as a reference in their ads. In an ad dated September 23, 1865, R. C. Dixey listed himself as a teacher of piano and organ, and gave three references: B. J. Lang, Dr. A. A. Hayes, Hon. Seth Ames. (Evening Transcript (September 23, 1865): 3, GB) “A young man of experience as a church organist desires to obtain a good situation in Boston or vicinity.” This “young man,” Mr. M. A. Smith, listed his references in order as Mr. B. J. Lang, Rev. J. A. Bolles, D. D., and Mr. Henry Carter. (Evening Transcript (March 9, 1865): 3, GB) Mrs. H. W. Cole, who offered piano lessons, listed her extensive references as: B. J. Lang, Esq., Dr. J. B. Upham, Dr. J Nelson Boriand, Col. Thomas E. Chickering, and Oliver Ditson, Esq. (Journal (November 6, 1866): 3, GB) R. F. Raymond “Teacher of Piano… Terms$24…Refers to Mr. B. J. Lang.” (Herald (October 16, 1867): 5, GB) Here was Mr. Raymond, a Lang pupil charging $24 per term, whereas an ad just above was of  “A Lady graduate of a Music School [with] good references,” but none specifically listed, charging $10 per term. Even this early in his career, Lang’s name meant something.                                                                 Lang’s actions also meant something. In describing the help he had given to Lillian Bailey (later Georg Henschel’s wife) at the beginning of her career: “…Mr. B. J. Lang, [who was] the able musician and loyal friend, who has stood sponsor for so many of Boston’s young artists. He had, further, a large influence over her success, a helpful friendship which later included both husband and herself.” BPL clipping)                                                                 One of Lang’s last pupils, Hamilton C. MacDougall, who later became Music Professor at Wellesley, recalled in 1943 Lang’s style of giving a lesson. “Lang had one peculiarity, almost a mannerism, in teaching that might well be copied in a majority of all sorts of teachers; he would silently hear me play, making no comment whatever, but following at once with ‘play it again.’ In your ‘salad days’ did you not often feel that you would have played brilliantly, indeed, if you could have had a second chance.” (Diapason, July 1943)  MacDougall then goes on to describe Lang’s studio at 149a Tremont Street, the Chickering Building, where at one period the Apollo Club had their rehearsal and fellowship rooms. “The Lang studio had two intercommunicating rooms, one of good size, the other a bit smaller and more like a business office; the larger room had a Chickering grand piano and a small two-manual pipe organ. ‘B. J.’ divided his working days into hour periods and was always on duty; I never knew a businessman more satisfactory to deal with; when he was ‘in residence,’ so to speak,’ a card hung under the bell-pull which read: ‘Ring once. Mr. Lang will answer as soon as he is at liberty.’ A comfortable sofa in the corridor could be used by callers from every part of the U.S.A. and on every kind of musical business.”(Ibid)

Childe Hassam, At the Piano. Public domain.                                                                                                                                                      After almost thirty years of teaching Lang was still inspiring his pupils. In 1897, one of them this penned this Ode to her teacher:

Gould materials, Harvard Musical Association.


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).


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

Lang expanded further his concert production activities during the spring of 1871 using the Mendelssohn Quintette Club as assisting artists-in the past he had been the assisting artist at their concerts… Dwight announced that “Mr. B. J. Lang has made arrangements to give four concerts at the Globe Theatre on Thursday afternoons, beginning Jan. 19 [1871], and alternating with the Harvard Symphony concerts. There will be a piano trio, a piano concerto and a string quartet at each concert.” (Dwight (December 31, 1870): 375) “The Programmes have been made up with special consideration for the younger class of Concertgoers.” The series cost $5, or single tickets were $1.50. (BPL Lang Prog.) The first was given on Thursday afternoon, January 19 and “drew a very choice and (for a chamber concert) a large audience. There were at least three hundred good listeners, seated mostly in the parquette of the handsome theatre, in comfortable seats with everything cozy and harmonious about them.” The Mendelssohn Quintette Club 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 3:30 PM 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 abridgment feebly supplied the place of the orchestra. And so the pleasant company dispersed, rather reluctantly at thinking that no more such feasts remained.” (Dwight (March 11, 1871): 415)

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


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.”Singing was to be an important musical outlet for Frances throughout her life. Her Diary entry for January 3, 1876 was: “At 11:00 I took my Rubinstein and Schubert and went to Mrs. Bell’s where I sang an hour.” The day before, B. J’s piano pupil Hiram Tucker and his wife came to dine at 1PM, and after tea at 6PM, B. J. went off to the Handel and Haydn rehearsal and Frances “sang nearly an hour to Tucker’s playing  Jensen and Schubert.” In the same week she sang two songs at an afternoon musicale given by Mrs. Eldridge, Mrs. Bell accompanied, and four songs Friday evening. (1878 Diary January 5 and 7)


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

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

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

Baker, A Biographical Dictionary of Music, 19

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

Ms. Apthorp

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

New York Public Library Digital Library.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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)


In the spring of 1871, Lang presented a second series of four concerts on Monday afternoons at 3:30 PM, 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 Minor for Three Pianos, Bach (Adams, Sumner, and Tucker with Apthorp playing the orchestral part) (Citations from BPL Lang Prog.)


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 premiere 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)


Below: Ryan, MQC in 1849, 94

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

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

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

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

Within days “The Club had the assistance of Mr. Lang and were greeted by a large and pleased audience” for their Seventh Regular Concert. [Tuesday, February 12, 1861, Chickering Hall, Washington Street] Lang’s part included the Boston premiere 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 ardor 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 premiere 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 on February 14, 1863 where he was the pianist in the Mendelssohn Trio in D minor, accompanied Eichberg in Beethoven’s “Variations and Finale” from Sonata Op. 47, and offered three piano solos. Tickets were 75 cents each or two for $1.00 (HMA Program Collection). Dwight’s opinion of the evening was it “was a success, and, for lovers of good classical music, who filled the hall, one of the pleasantest musical offerings of the season.” (Dwight (February 21, 1863): 374) The previous month Lang had assisted at Mary Fay’s Soiree on Saturday, January 25, 1862 at Chickering Hall where he joined Fay in the 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 premiere of Three Ecologues by Jan Vaclav Tomasek, (Dowell, 430) Otto Dresel had found these pieces in Leipzig and had sent them to the library of the Harvard Musical Association where they were eventually discovered by Lang. Tomasek dates (1774-1850) show him to be a contemporary of Beethoven, and Dwight gleefully noted that the reviewers the day after the concert called him “a new composer, rising into fame” while another felt that these pieces had an “affectation of Chopin” (1810-1849) while a third thought them “imitations of Mendelssohn’s Songs Without Words.” (Eight Books: 1829-1845) (Dwight (March 13, 1869): 415) Throughout his career Tomasek published seven collections of Ecologues, six in each collection. The Opus numbers were Op. 35, Op. 39, Op. 47, Op. 51, Op. 63, Op. 66 and Op. 83. (Wikipedia article, accessed November 21, 2017) No mention of Opus numbers is made in any of the written material. Dwight noted that the three chosen by Lang were all fast. (Ibid)

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

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  • Teresa Carreno.                                                                                                                         Gottschalk and Lang.  II.                                                                                                  Salem Concert. B. J. as Pianist. 1863.                                                                              Teacher and Pupil.                                                                                                                Music Hall Organ Dedication.
  • “The Monster Organ.”
  • More Solo Appearances.                                                                                      Shakespeare Birthday Concert.                                                                                     South Congregational Church Organist.                                                                    First Child.                                                                                                                             Alice Dutton-Early Lang Piano Pupil.
  • Hannah Lang Letter-1864.
  • Christmas Season-1864.
  • Artistic Growth-1860’s.
  • Other Concert Groups.                                                                                                       Lang’s Home: 1864. With Burrages.                                                                                     Lincoln’s Funeral.                                                                                                              Handel and Haydn 50th. Anniversary.                                                                      Harvard Musical Association Orchestral Concerts.                                           Haydn’s-The Seasons.
  • Music Hall Organ: 1866-65 Season.                                                                                 Rival Pianists of Lang-Perabo and Petersilia.                                                        Summer 1866-Europe.                                                                                                            Mr. Richard C. Dixey.                                                                                                              New England Conservatory.


Fisher, 45.

Throughout his career, Lang was involved in the development of young talent. Early in 1863 Teresa Carreno, aged nine and originally from Venezuela, had made her Boston debut both as a solo recitalist and also as an orchestra soloist. Carl Zerrahn invited her to play at the second Philharmonic Concert of the season-but the piece requested, Mendelssohn’s Capriccio Brillante was not in her repertoire, and there were only ten days before the concert. Four days before the concert a copy of the music finally arrived from New York-the first rehearsal was set for Friday and the concert for Saturday. She was able to memorize the piece and her performance was well-received. Carl Zerrahn hailed her as “the greatest prodigy which the world has known since the days of Mozart,” and he invited her to appear with the Philharmonic again on January 24, 1863.  Gottschalk heard her in 1862 in New York. He called her a genius, gave her some lessons, and promoted her career. “Carreno had overpowering personality, overpowering talent, overpowering physical strength, overpowering technique. And on top of that, she was one of the most beautiful women of her time, in an Amazonian sort of way. They called her the Walkure of the Piano, and there was something wild about her from the moment she emerged from Venezuela, a child of nine looking very much like Adelina Patti. People fell all over themselves trying to help the talented girl…Liszt offered to teach her, an opportunity any pianist would have grovelled for. But Teresa showed her independence by refusing to follow him to Rome. She was thirteen at the time, and perhaps she did not know any better…Anton Rubinstein heard her in London and gave her lessons whenever their paths converged. von Bulow called her ‘the most interesting pianist of the present age’ when she made her Berlin debut in 1889…’ She sweeps the floor clean of all piano paraders who, after her arrival, must take themselves elsewhere.’ Not many are alive who heard her. Claudio Arrau did, and he called her a goddess. ‘She had this unbelievable drive, this power. I don’t think I ever heard anyone fill the Berlin Philharmonic, the old hall, with such sound. And her octaves were fantastic. I don’t think there’s anyone alive today who can play such octaves. The speed and power.'” (Schonberg, 347 and 349)                                           On December 22, 1863 she celebrated her 10th. birthday with a concert at the Music Hall, which she shared with B. J. at the organ. Another aspect of her talent was shown when she included two of her own compositions, Impromptu and La Emilia Danza. (Ammer, 45) She had spent the previous

Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

months in Cuba practicing and giving concerts, “the result being that she has gained in physical strength, in musical skill and understanding, and has added largely to her repertoire both classical and of the virtuoso kind.” However, in performing a solo piano recital in such a large hall, and alternating with pieces played on the new, large organ, she was putting herself at a great disadvantage. “If therefore under all those drawbacks the young maiden made a fine impression and won plentiful applause, as indeed she did, it was so much the more to her own credit…Mr. Lang’s organ pieces were played in his usual masterly manner, the Pastoral Symphony [Handel] and Freyschutz Overture being loudly and persistently encored, to which he responded in kind, that is by playing again a part of the same, and not something else.” (BMT (January 2, 1864): 6 and 7)

Lahee, Famous Pianists, 303



Baker, Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, 226.

Six months after Gottschalk’s “Farewell to Boston Concerts,” he returned! in order to stimulate excitement, he advertised a bigger and better program. For his “Grand Sacred Concert” on Sunday, May 10, 1863 held at the Boston Theater the Bretto Brothers were the featured performers. Bernard, a violinist aged eleven and his brother, Richard, a cornetist aged seven were given top billing with Lang having second billing. In fact, the playbill looked like a circus announcement listing all the various acts in many different typefaces and sizes! “Mr. Gottschalk himself comes to us flushed with recent fresh triumphs in New York, where at Irving Hall, he has given concert after concert, to large and critical audiences. It is delightful to know that he will introduce some of his new compositions never before performed in Boston.” (BMT (May 2, 1863): 37) The grand finale of this “Grand Concert” was the newly composed Grand March from Tannhauser in Gottschalk’s arrangement for FOUR pianos-the players were: Gottschalk, Lang, G. W. Steele and S. Behrens. An interesting anecdote about this piece was given by the composer himself who related that at a San Francisco performance featuring local amateur pianists: “The most complaisant ear would have hardly been able to distinguish any shreds of Wagner’s theme floating here and there like waifs in the midst of an ocean of false notes, in a deafening storm of continuous pedal (the storm cannot be described), and of the complete wreck of the measure and spirit of the author; it was no longer to be thought of.” (Doyle, 326) However, even greater effects were heard in a Rio de Janeiro performance where thirty-one pianists and two orchestras were used. All that exists of these various scores is only a single piano part, marked Piano C, which is a five-page autograph (Ibid). A notice in the Boston Musical Times stated that the piece “was better fitted for a grand jubilee entertainment than for a sacred concert on a sacred evening…The pianist [Gottschalk] played in his usual showy manner, exciting the admiration of very young ladies and the criticism of connoisseurs.” (BMT (June 6, 1863) The same notice mentioned that three different halls had been used for this cycle of concerts-Tremont Temple, the Boston Theatre, and Chickering’s Hall. Lang received a separate paragraph that equaled one-third of the length of the review: “Mr. B. J. Lang has supported Gottschalk in all his concerts, and though there are less dash and gymnastic exercise, in his fingering and in his manner, his performance on the piano was quite as good. He is a fine artist, conscientious, industrious. A musician who believes in all that is intrinsically most valuable to his art, and does what he can to make it apparent; but he is as modest as he is skillful, and is therefore regarded by the unsophisticated, as a supporter rather than as a star himself. His pianism added much to the excellence of Gottschalk’s entertainments.” (Ibid)

The only sacred aspect of this concert was that it was held on a Sunday. On Friday at 2 PM of this same week at Chickering’s Music Hall, a “One Matinee Musicale… Previous to his positive departure for New York” was advertised-tickets were 75 cents. At this May 15th. concert Gottschalk and S. Behrens did Gottschalk’s arrangement of the Overture to William Tell and Gottschalk’s own Reponds Moi (Danse Cubaine, Opus 50), and the concert ended with Lang appearing again for the Duett di Bravura from Trovatore. Gottschalk was certainly affected by Dwight’s attacks on his own compositions. “At one concert, Gottschalk took a delicious revenge on Dwight on behalf of American composers everywhere. He played a work of his own and attributed it to Beethoven in the program, also playing a Beethoven work identified as his own; Dwight, predictably, praised the ”Beethoven” composition and lambasted Gottschalk’s music for its ”amateurish inanities.” Afterward, Gottschalk wrote to Dwight to apologize for the unfortunate error.” (Gann, Internet article, accessed November 3, 2011)

To his audience, Gottschalk “became romance personified. His love affairs were pleasant scandal over the teacups, the envy of the most fastidious debutantes. New York delighted in his mannerisms and applauded wildly when he seated himself at the piano, lazily drawing off his glove and running his fingers over the keyboard in prelude, as if dusting it. He had a melancholy air a little at odds with the trimly pointed mustache and an impeccably tailored suit, and he was apt to play with his head thrown back-and often with a cigar in his mouth-nonchalantly pretending to be alone with himself, to the hysterical joy of the listeners he treated so highhandedly.” (Milinowski, 28 and 29)

Eight months later on Monday, February 29, 1864 Gottschalk announced “His Second and Last Farewell Concert Prior to his Positive Departure for Europe.” B. J. was again part of the program with the Duett di  Bravura. Based on the programs in the Lang Scrapbooks, this concert seems to be the last Boston appearance that Gottschalk gave that included Lang. Dwight noted in his March 19 edition that “Gottschalk, aided by Mme. D’Angri, the contralto, has given two ‘farewell’ concerts, and has come back and clinched them with two more.” (Dwight (March 19, 1864): 207) In June 1864 Gottschalk wrote a letter to the Home Journal that was reprinted by the Boston Musical Times: “In the month of June I gave thirty-three concerts in twenty-six days. In fourteen months, during which I was off duty only fifty days, I gave more than four hundred, and traveled by railroad and steam nearly eighty thousand miles; while, in a few weeks, I shall have reached my thousandth concert in the United States.” (BMT (June 1864): 82)


Lang continued to return to his roots in Salem. The local paper wrote before his Salem concert: “Mr. Lang has taken high rank in the most cultivated musical circles of Boston and the people of his native city should testify their pride in his abilities, industry and accomplishments, by a grand welcome” (Salem Register (April 13, 1863): 2, GB). After the concert, the paper wrote: “Mr. L. completely satisfied the audience by the extraordinary skill, taste, and varied power and delicacy of his performance, and fully sustained his reputation as a first-class pianist.” (Salem Register (April 16, 1863): 2, GB)


Just after returning from his European studies.

Historic New England. c. 1862, making Lang about 25 years old. Fee paid.

In October of 1862 Lang placed an ad in the Traveler: “B. J. LANG, Organist of the Old South Church and the Handel and Haydn Society, Teacher of Piano Forte and Organ. Terms $36 per quarter. Those residing in or near the city will be instructed at their residences without extra charge. Residence No. 36 Edinboro’ Street, or address Chickering & Sons.” (Traveler (October 27, 1862): 2, GB-some words missing from the photocopy) “Edinboro’ Street is only one block long-it is in the northern part of today’s Chinatown and the Rt. 93 Tunnel passes right under it. In 1862 this was the location of the Burrage family home; B. J. began the first few years of his married life living with his inlaws.

A year later, on the same page in the Evening Transcript both Lang and his pupil, R. C. Dixey were advertising their availability as piano teachers. Dixey’s ad appeared ten slots higher than did Lang’s, and both offered piano and organ lessons. Dixey charged $20 per term; Lang listed no specific fee. Dixey listed Lang as one of his four references. Lang’s ad directed students to call at “Chickering & Sons” Pianoforte Rooms, on Mondays or Thursdays, between the hours of eight and five.” (Evening Transcript (November 7, 1863): 1, GB) Thus Lang’s schedule of teaching eight full hours was begun early in his career.




A Trade card for Parker Brothers, Importers and retailers of Fancy Goods and Jewelry, Silver Plated Ware, Russia Leather Goods, Toys, etc., etc., etc.” 13 and 15 Winter Street. Music Hall Entrance to the left. The street to the Music Hall was called “Music Hall Place,” and it was located between 15 and 17 Winter Street. The card is 2 inches wide by 2 and 1/2 inches high. Johnston Collection.


The other entrance was from Winter Street, which connected with Tremont Street just in front of Park Street Church. Johnston Collection.



New York Public Library Digital Library.

A Card 2 and 1/4 wide and 4 inches high, published by M. Ormsbee, # 11 Broadway, New York. The grand piano on the platform to the right shows how shallow the stage was. It helps show why Higginson would want the instrument removed so that his Symphony would have enough room to play their instruments. This photo also shows the placement of the two balconies. Johnston Collection.

Music Hall when first opened.

Music Hall-1855. Pre-Organ.

Facing title page of The Great Organ in the Boston Organ Hall, no author, published in 1866 by Ticknor and Fields.

Lang’s quick rise within the Boston musical establishment is shown by the fact that on November 2, 1863, within just five years of his returning to Boston, he was one of the organists who played at the inauguration of the E. F. Walcker organ at the Boston Music Hall. “It took the Walckers five years to build an instrument containing 89 registers and 5,474 pipes. When finished in 1862, the $60,000 organ had to be transported to this side of the Atlantic. Successfully evading Confederate vessels, it arrived safely in Boston and, after seven months of installation work was fully ensconced in the Music Hall. It was a handsome instrument, with a casing splendidly carved by the New York firm of Herter Bros. [The case design was by Hammatt Billings (1818-1874) who had been trained by Boston architects. He also designed the case for Lang’s E. & G. G. Hook 1864 instrument at South Congregational Church.” (Owen, 37)] “With a glorious sound, it was then the largest specimen of its kind in the United States and fourth-largest around the world. As with the Music Hall itself, the [Harvard Musical] Association had quietly but effectively made a valuable contribution to music in Boston” by raising the money for the organ. (Hepner, 40) Back in 1850 Dr. Jabez Baxter Upham had urged the Boston Musical Fund Society to build a concert hall worthy of the city, but nothing came of their efforts. Dr. Upham then turned to the Harvard Musical Association, of which he was a member, who received the idea enthusiastically. “A committee examined four possible sites and chose Bumstead Place, now Hamilton Place to purchase this estate and to warrant beginning the erection of a hall $100,000 was necessary. It was raised in the astonishing period of sixty days. The building rose quickly, watched by an interested and excited populace.” (Nutter, 10 and 11)

The “Private Test” was performed on Saturday evening, October 31 “in the presence of the subscribers and the stockholders of the Music Hall Association, members of the city government and other invited guests, numbering about a thousand gentlemen.” When the guests entered they saw only a huge green curtain that covered the entire organ, “All eyes are wandering with pleasure over the renovated walls and ceilings of the hall, for years so dingy and discolored.” The gaslighting system had been updated, the seats newly upholstered, and the hall now held 2654 seats with orchestra seating and two balconies. The concert began with soft sounds from the organ for fifteen minutes that then grew into a crescendo. The curtain descended, “revealing first the full length of the cherubs with their gilded instruments surmounting the domes of the two central towers; then the chaste beauty of the ribbed and rounded domes; then the triple columns of huge silvery pipes, with St. Cecilia throned in beauty on the summit of the arch between; and so little by little the whole breadth and grandeur of the superb facade, with its grand caryatides, its figures, heads, and wealth of carvings. From the work to the author; three cheers were called for, rousing ones, and given with a will, for Dr. J. B. Upham, to whose first suggestion, enthusiasm, wise and persistent energy, in the face of one may imagine how much incredulity and worse, for seven long years, the whole enterprise, now crowned with such complete success, is mainly due.” The music opened with Mr. Morgan of Grace Church, NYC playing the William Tell Overture. Then came a speech by Dr. Upham thanking all who should be thanked, including the builder, Mr. Walcker, and his son and shop foreman. Then, B. J. played “a sweet Andante by Mendelssohn, and part of Rink’s [sic] flute concerto, tickling the ear of the curious.” (Dwight (November 14, 1863): 133)                                                        The official inauguration was on Monday, November 2 with tickets at ”three dollars (it might safely have been five ) performed to a full house. Reminiscent of Handel’s Messiah premier in Dublin, ladies were requested to appear in demi-toilette- “presumably to avoid taking up too much space with oversized hoop shirts, bustles, and hats.” (Owen, 51) Organists and music lovers from almost every State were present.” After an ode recited by Miss Charlotte Cushman, and a speech by Friedrich Walcher, son of the builder, the concert began with the sounds of Bach’s Toccata in F. Lang, who was listed as organist of Old South Church and the Handel and Haydn Society, played Mendelssohn’s Sonata in A-No. 3. Dwight commented that “Mr. Lang’s choice of stops in the Mendelssohn Sonata was most appropriate, and revealed rare beauties in the organ as well as in the composition; it was richly enjoyed.” (Dwight (November 14, 1863): 132-135) Also performing at the dedication were John H. Wilcox (born in Savannah, Georgia in 1827: his chief work was done in Boston), John K. Paine (Music Professor at Harvard: 1839-1906), Eugene Thayer (1838-1889), Dr. S. P. Tuckerman (born in Boston, studied in England, returned to Boston, organist at St, Paul’s Church, later the Cathedral), and G. W. Morgan (born and trained in England, his main work was in New York City after 1853).”This was probably the most famous gathering of organists that had ever assembled in America. (Elson, 262) Dwight reported that: “This Great Instrument complete now in its majesty and beauty, and flooding the Music Hall with harmony, has swept into its strong, sonorous current nearly all the musical interest of the past week or two. The subject is so much more interesting than any other that can just now come up to us, and is at the same time so large, as necessarily to almost monopolize our columns. In spite of ourselves, therefore, and at risk of being called the organ of the Organ, we make this an Organ number of our paper.” (Dwight (November 14, 1863), 32 and 133)


The second public concert was on Thursday by Thayer, Paine and Morgan; each played four or five pieces as a group. On Saturday evening Lang, Wilcox, Morgan and Whiting performed, but each player only played one piece at a time. Lang opened the program with Prelude and Fugue in C by Bach and ended the first half with a transcription of Beethoven’s “Overture” to Egmont. In the second half, he played the “Pastoral Symphony” from Handel’s Messiah and the “Allegro” from the Flute Concerto in F by Rink [sic]. On Saturday afternoon Lang shared the fourth concert with Willcox playing “Bach, Handel, Beethoven, Batiste, Rink, Gounod and improvisations by Mr. Willcox.” (Dwight (November 14, 1865): 135)

Lang was also involved in the Handel and Haydn Society’s “Grand Choral Inauguration of the Great Organ at the Boston Music Hall” concert on Saturday, Nov. 28, 1863. The Society donated its services with the purpose that the proceeds of the evening be devoted toward extinguishment of the Organ Debt. The program included Mendelssohn’s Hymn of Praise with orchestra (again, probably a Lang suggestion), and in the first half Handel’s Ode to St. Cecilia’s Day (first American performance) was performed with Lang playing his own transcription of the orchestral parts on the new organ “and Lang’s registrations were praised.” (Owen, 64) If Lang played with the orchestra in the Mendelssohn he would have had his first introduction to the problem of playing with Boston orchestras of this time who regularly tuned to the old English pitch of around A-449 while the organ had been built in the new French pitch of A-435. Probably the remedy Lang used was to transpose his part a half step higher, which “was surely a tribute to his fabled musicianship.” (Owen, 74) This concert was repeated by request on Sunday Dec. 6. From the very first days of the instrument’s installation there had been comments about its slowness of speech that was a problem for a soloist, but even more of a problem for an accompanist. A review in 1876 had been critical of Prof. Paine’s performance as continuo player in a Bach Magnificat performance-“The chorus and orchestra were not together.” However, Lang was never criticized for this problem. “Whether Lang routinely played ahead of the beat…is something that can now only be conjectured, for no complaints about his accompaniments have been recorded. (Owen, 14)

On February 7, 1864 at 7:30 PM, Lang himself presented at the Music Hall a “Grand Sacred Concert” to be given with “The Great Organ” and with the assisting artists, Miss J. E. Houston (vocalist), Mr. Julius Eichberg (violinist), and Mr. J. H. Willcox (Pianist). Lang opened and closed the concert with major organ solos, Miss Houston sang twice, the second being the aria “In Praise of the Organ” from Handel’s Ode to St. Cecilia, and Eichberg and Lang performed Eichberg’s Religious Meditation for organ and violin. Tickets were 50 cents. (BPL Lang Prog.) For his February 20th. concert he played his usual Bach and Mendelssohn, but also transcriptions and an  Improvisation displaying the Vox Humana Stop.” Earlier in the month he had planned to use the Vox Humana in a Mendelssohn movement but changed his mind at the last moment. (Owen, Great Organ, 83 and 85) This stop was included in the organ that Lang designed for his own use soon after he was appointed to the South Congregational Church. (Ibid, 93) The February 7th. format was used for “Mr. B. J. Lang’s Grand Sacred Concert” at the Music Hall on Sunday evening March 6, 1864. The three soloists used before returned with the addition of Mr. J. C. D. Parker and Mr. S. A. Bancroft.

BPL, Lang Program Collection.

This concert must have been a success as Lang arranged another a month later. Two additional musicians were added, but the program followed the format of the February concert.

BPL, Lang Program Collection.

The Music Hall had a standard ad prepared that could be placed in any publication, at any time. These no doubt appeared in newspapers throughout New England The ad was placed in two Vermont papers in the fall of 1864; in the Green-Mountain Freeman of Montpelier Vermont it ran on October 11, 1864 on page 3, while in the St. Johnsbury Vermont Caledonian it ran on page 4 on October 14, 1864.

Lang continued among the solo recitalists. For his January 24, 1866 program he included the usuals-Bach, Mendelssohn, an improvisation and Wagner. Lang often repeated repertoire as it was thought that the audience was different for each performance. Dwight noted that all “things he has played repeatedly before, but he always offers some new shade of refinement in the treatment, more especially the coloring.” (Owen, Great Organ, 103)

Massachusetts Historical Society, used by permission.

In June 1866 Dwight published as part of his review of the repertoire played at for all concerts of the 1865/66 Season, a section on organ recitals, primarily those at the Music Hall. At this time the schedule was for these events to be on Wednesday and Saturday and noon and Sunday evening. Audiences ranged from 50 t0 300 with an average of over 100 giving the hall an income of nearly $7,000. (Dwight, June 23, 1866) During the year there were at least 130 Organ Recitals with the majority given by the Resident Organists B. J. Lang, G. E. Whiting (each 19 times), Mrs. Frohock, (17 times), J. K. Paine of Harvard (9 times), and Dr. Tuckerman at St. Paul’s and J. H. Willcox at the Church of the Immaculate Conception (each 5 times). There were others with only one or two concerts. (Ibid) Lang’s repertoire was heavily Bach, with Mendelssohn, Schumann and Rinck appearing often, but there were also a number of “Adaptations” both by Lang and others from orchestral and keyboard literature-“Overture” to Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night and Chopin’s Funeral March. (Ibid) Another feature of Lang’s recitals was “frequent improvisations in freestyle,” an element not found as often in the recitals of other players. (Ibid) The Treasurer of the HAll reported that for the year ending May 31, 1866, organ recitals had earned $6,890.70, second to the major income-producing “Lectures, Fairs, festivals, etc.” at $13,296.37. (Owen, Great Organ, 106)

On July 18, 1868 again the usuals-Bach, Mendelssohn, an improvisation, and then a Beethoven arrangement and an arrangement by the English organist, William Best.

Harvard Musical Association Library, used by permission.

In 1896, William Apthorp wrote an “Entr’acte” article for the February 14th. and 15th. BSO concert program book referred back to the dedication of the organ thirty-three years before: “Speaking of the Great Organ reminds me of a bogus story that went the rounds soon after it was set up in the Music Hall, to the effect that a mouse had been blown through one of the huge thirty-two-foot pipes, and came to a violent death by being hurled against the ceiling.” (Apthorp, BSO Program Book for February 14th. and 15th., 1896, 527)


Within a year of the organ’s dedication, a satirical piece had been written about the instrument and its place among the citizens of “The Hub” of the world, as Boston liked to think of itself. The story was based on Boston papers and magazines, “taking the precaution, of course, to prune down their partial and doubtless high-colored statements to the bounds of credibility.” The instrument was “equal in power to a choir of 6,00 throats. Its longest windpipes are 235 feet in length, (requiring the erection of a tower for their special accommodation), and a full-sized man can crawl readily through its finest tubes. 895 stops produce the various changes and combinations of which its immense orchestra is capable…It requires six able-bodied organists to manipulate this immense musical machine; and those engaged at the inauguration” weighed a total of 1,245 pounds. “When in grand crescendo passages these six organists rose simultaneously from their seats, and receding a couple of paces, rushed forward in line, throwing their collective weight upon the pedals. the musical explosion-for by no other name can it be designated-was terribly grand.” The sound lifted the roof 15 feet into the air; the walls of houses throughout the city shook; furniture moved; many thought that this was an earthquake! Towns nearby hear the noise. Newburyport thought that there was a naval attack in Boston harbor; Jamaica Plains thought it was a violent thunderstorm; the water in Boston harbor receded, and when it returned, “swamped, stranded and keeled over several vessels; goldfish died in their bowls; “dead bodies of drowned persons were brought to the surface in the harbor and in the Charles River.” Dr. Oliver Wendal Holmes, together with Boston’s mayor, council members and Harvard representatives “made an interesting pedestrian tour through some eight or ten miles of the main pipes of the monster organ…walking quite erect…and got through the smaller Eolian tubes quite comfortable on their hands and knees.” Dr. Holmes wrote a book about it. (Pacific Commercial Advertiser-Honolulu, (February 27, 1864): GB-reprinted from the Washington Star) Barbara Owen suggests that this was probably written by Holmes for the Atlantic magazine. (e-mail 9/5/2020)


In March Lang was the soloist in the last of two Soirees produced by Eichberg at Chickering’s Hall. “We do not remember to have heard the D Minor Concerto of Mendelssohn, his second, played here since Mr. Lang made his mark with it two years ago in the Music Hall… Mr. Lang has vastly gained as an executive and interpretative pianist since the time alluded to, and did his work most admirably, with no lack of fire in the Allegro, of delicate poetic feeling in the Adagio, of crisp, sparkling precision in the Finale… Mr. Eichberg had drilled his orchestra into quite a delicate and more than mechanical rendering of the accompaniments.” However, the orchestra only numbered “twenty-four; the chief want being that of the bassoon, (strange that Boston lacks bassoons!), which of course is only constructively made good by the violoncello.” (Dwight (March 19, 1864): 206) Lang had also been part of the First Soiree held the previous month where he played the Mendelssohn Piano Trio in D Minor and three solo pieces. (Dwight (February 14, 1863): 367)

At the Boston Music Hall, on Wednesday afternoon March 30, 1864, “B. J. Lang, The Distinguished Organist Will make his Second Appearance in these concerts.” After an opening overture by Mendelssohn (Der Heimkehe aus der Fremde), B. J. played an organ solo “Let their celestial concerts all unite” from Samson. Then Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony was followed by B. J.’s transcription of selections from Hymn of Praise, and the orchestra ended with Invitation to the Waltz by Weber and Wagner’s “Finale” from Tannhauser. B. J.’s advocacy of Mendelssohn would continue throughout his career as would his devotion to Wagner: “For the next three decades [from the 1860s] Wagner remained a fundamental part of his career.”(Briggs, 53)

Lang also appeared with the Orchestral Union at their 3 PM Wednesday afternoon concerts at the Music Hall. On January 20, 1864 he played a Fugue on Bach by Schumann and the “Andante” from Mendelssohn’s Third Sonata early in the concert, and then after Mendelssohn’s Fourth Symphony (Italian) he played Rink’s [as spelled at this time] Flute Concerto in F. (Transcript (January 19, 1864): 2, GB) At their Fifth Concert he “played a good sterling Prelude and Fugue in C, by Bach, one which we have not had before, and played it well and won applause…The rest of the programme consisted of the “Adagio and Allegretto” from Rink’s Organ Concerto in F (with flute solo); the “Turkish March” from a Sonata by Mozart, arranged for orchestra by Thomas Ryan; and the Faust potpourri as usual.” This was a program that resembled those of the Boston Pops one hundred years later under Arthur Fiedler. A month later Lang again appeared with the Orchestral Union in a concert that “was about the best programme and the best concert of the season.” He played as organ solos two excerpts from Handel’s Samson, and selections from Mendelssohn’s Hymn of Praise. Dwight wrote: “The great instrument has never been made more expressive for such subjects. His choice of stops in the Mendelssohn selections came closer to the idea than ever. He prefaced the grand chorus of Samson with the “Minuet” from the overture, charmingly rendered with soft stops.” (Dwight (April 2, 1864): 215)

Adelaide Phillips gave her first concert in four years on April 30, 1864, at the Music Hall. A Grand Orchestra conducted by Zerrahn took part and Lang played the Mendelssohn D minor Concerto. There were two other assisting artists including Adelaide’s sister, “Miss M. Phillips,” who made her “second appearance in public.”(Transcript (April 28, 1864): 3, GB)

On Sunday evening, May 1, 1864 Lang was an assisting artist in an Eichberg “Sacred Concert.” He played two solos, and also played Eichberg’s Religious Meditation for Violin and Organ, and in two pieces composed for this concert, Ave Maria and Reverie, both written for Violin, Cello, Piano and Organ.  (Transcript (April 27, 1864): 3, GB)

Lang was one of 10 assisting artists in “Mr. Alfred P. Peck’s Sacred Concert” on Sunday, May 15, 1864. He, Julius Eichberg (Violin), Wulf Fries (Cello) and John H. Willcox (Organ) played the Ave Maria written by Eichberg in the concert’s first half. To end that section Lang played “Organ Improvisation and Selections.” In the second half Lang, Eichberg and Wilcox played Eichberg’s Trio for Violin, Piano and Organ. (Program, GB)

On December 16, 1865 Lang was the soloist with orchestra in the “Andante and Rondo” from Mendelssohn’s Concerto in G Minor. In the second half, he played as a solo Caprice in E Minor, Op. 33 by Mendelssohn and Wanderstundem, Op. 60, No. 2 by S. Heller. These were just two items among 14 items in a “Bateman concert.” The orchestra conductor was Herr Carl Anschutz. At the end of the program was a notice for a Sunday night “Sacred Concert” at which the Gounod Ave Maria would be played by Willcox, Lang and Herr Carl Rosa. (Program, GB)


Massachusetts Historical Society, used by permission.

On the tercentennial of Shakespeare’s birthday, April 23, 1864 Lang conducted the first Boston performance of Mendelssohn’s complete music to A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Dwight announced the event as follows: “Next Saturday, the 23rd. of April, is the great Tricentennial, or Ter-centenary (as they call it in London-either name is awkward enough and well enough) anniversary of the birth of SHAKESPEARE (great type of all that there is genial in human life); and Mr. B. J. Lang announces a musical celebration thereof, to consist of the music to the Mid-Summer Night’s Dream, to be followed by The First Walpurgis Night, both by Mendelssohn. It will be given in the Music Hall, with the combined force of the best quartet choirs hereabouts, and four principal singers… Mr. Lang is bestowing careful pains on the rehearsals, and all musical lovers of Shakespeare and of Mendelssohn will look out in season to secure the privilege of listening.” (Dwight (April 16, 1864):  223). Dwight then reported: “It was fit that music should bear a part in the honor paid to Shakespeare in the world-wide observance of the three-hundredth anniversary of his birthday.” He then noted because of the effects of the Civil War, the observance was rather unorganized, but Lang’s concert was called “notable… Mr. Lang made the best choice possible in his selection of music. First the Midsummer Night’s Dream Music entire…the choruses were sung by a large choir of the freshest and best voices in the city, and the Orchestra, under Carl Zerrahn, played with more than usual delicacy and spirit, to the credit of themselves and of Mr. Lang’s conductorship.”

The second half of the concert was Mendelssohn’s First Walpurgis Night, “so admirably brought out by Mr. Lang two years ago… The audience was immense, and the enthusiasm great, and Mr. Lang’s good services will be remembered.” (Dwight (April 30, 1864):23) The Boston Musical Times review began: “The Music Hall was filled on Saturday evening, April 23rd. by one of the most intelligent and appreciative audiences that Boston can assemble to listen to music…Mr. Lang deserves and certainly receives, the applause of everybody for the artistic and well-arranged entertainment which he conducted…Altogether the entertainment was a delightful one; one that is eminently in Mr. Lang’s sphere of musical thought and ability. No one understands or more thoroughly loves Mendelssohn than he, or is better to bring out his beauties.” (BMT (May 7, 1863):  68) Between the two Mendelssohn choral works, the orchestra played Beethoven’s Overture to Coriolanus. (BPL Lang Prog.) A short note in Lang’s hometown Salem newspaper suggested: “Salem ought to furnish a large delegation to this fine entertainment. There will be a late train for the occasion.” (Salem Register (April 21, 1864): 2, GB) Imagine, special trains for concerts-those were the days!


Red arrow shows the South Congregational Church, 15 Union Park St., located between the Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Cross on Washington Street and the fashionable Union Park.

Holy Cross Cathedral. Postcards. Johnston Collection.

South  Congregational Church. Photo by J. J. Hawes, sometime between 1862 and 1889. BPL, digitalcommonwealth.

In August 1864, at the age of 26, Lang left Old South Church after five years and began a 20-year tenure at Rev. Edward Everett Hale’s D. D. (Unitarian) South Congregational Church, Union Park Street. (Hale: b. 1822- d. 1909, served South Congregational Church from 1856 until 1901) In 1857 the location of this new church on Union Park Street was described as being at “the centre of Boston bourgeois society.” (Chamberlin, 119) Here he was able to design the second organ of his career. Dwight’s Journal of July 23, 1864 reported: “The Rev. Edward Hale’s church at the south end, is to have a new organ, built by Messrs. Hook at a cost of $12,000, and Mr. B. J. Lang is to be the organist. This will probably surpass any church organ in the city. The organ of the Music Hall is creating a demand for really noble organs all around us.” (Dwight (July 23, 1864): 279) In July 1864 the Boston Musical Times announced: “Mr. B. J. Lang has been engaged to become the organist of the South Congregational Church, (Rev. E. E. Hale’s). The necessary money has been subscribed to build a new organ, under Mr. Lang’s special direction, and he also has carte blanche to secure the best quartette choir that he can find. The society is certainly to be congratulated upon these negotiations for their advantage, which go into operation on the first of August.” (BMT (July 2, 1864): 101) In December 1864, after four months in his new position, it was reported: “Mr. Lang’s new organ at Rev. E. E. Hale’s church is a fine instrument, and gives great satisfaction to those whose subscriptions secured its purchase. Mr. Lang gives masterly performances each week. His quartette choir is a good one.” (BMT (December 3, 1864) 182) Probably among the singers was the tenor William Johnson Winch who served in a Lang-led church choir for thirty years. (1864-c.1894). At one one point his wife was the alto and his brother, JohnF. was the bass. Indeed a “good quartette choir.

A year later it was noted: “A prominent feature in the religious services at the South Congregational Church, both morning and afternoon, is the organ concert by Mr. B. J. Lang, in which he takes pleasure in exhibiting the capacity of the new instrument. The choir at this church is now well selected, so that all the musical exercises there are worth listening to.” (BMT (December 2, 1865) 177) A Vesper Service bulletin of July 1, 1865 lists a Te Deum Laudamus in A by Lang. (Scrapbooks) It was reported that “the best audience which attend any place of amusement, fill Rev. E. E. Hale’s church twice a month, on the occasions of Vesper service.” (BMT (December 1, 1866): 3) During the summer of 1866 while Lang was in Europe, Mr. W. Eugene Thayer presided “at the organ, and conduct[ed] the fortnightly concerts at the South Congregational Church.” (BMT (June 2, 1866). 83) Thayer had just returned from a period of European study. (Ibid)

This new instrument was built in 1864 by E. & G. G. Hook and Hastings # 349 “according to specifications of the organist B. J. Lang. It was the largest in any Protestant Church [in the United States], and had Great, Swell, and Choir manuals and Pedal, 38 speaking stops, 7 pedal stops, one a Bourdon with 32-foot tone, and 2260 pipes.” (Ayars, 69 quoting from Dwight’s (Journal of Music):, Nov. 12, 1864, Vol. 24, 339-40 and November 26, Vol. 24,  351-2) In a “Description of the Large Organ built by E. & G. G. Hook, of Boston for the SOUTH CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH of Boston, Mass” the organ is described as “the last of three immense Organs” built by the firm in the last year. It was further described as “In size over any to be found in Protestant Churches in the United States; and in quality and style of finish, is in no way surpassed if equaled. Though so large, only four months were occupied in its construction.” (BPL Lang Prog. 6241-43) Dwight gave further information about this “thirty-two feet [sic] Bourdon Stop, giving tones low and deep, beyond the power of the ear to discriminate which are felt rather than heard. It forms a foundation for the grand harmony of the whole, wonderfully pervading and sublime.” (Ibid) The case, built by J. F. Paul, Esq., is of Black Walnut, beautiful and elaborate, with emblematical decorations, elegantly carved, and enriched with gold. The front pipes are of a new composition, surpassing in richness and color anything before used. They are highly polished, giving a brilliant silvery appearance, in beautiful contrast with the dark woodwork…many improvements in scales, voicing, and ”action” appliances are here used for the first time. This installation is located in the gallery and fills a space twenty-three feet high, eighteen and a half feet deep, with a total breadth of over thirty feet.” (Dwight (Nov. 12, 1864): 348) [Dwight was quoting from the dedication program] This “beautiful and elaborate” design of the case had been by Hammatt Billings, who had designed the case for the Walcker organ at the Music Hall. (Owen, 93)

The instrument’s public dedication was Monday, November 2, 1864 and it was described in the program as “one of the largest and most complete instruments of the kind in the state.” In the second part Lang played the Mendelssohn Sonata No. 3 which Dwight praised  his stop selection which “revealed rare beauties in the organ as well as in the composition.” (Owen, Great Organ, 61). Six other organists also took part.  On Saturday evening, November 12, 1864 Lang was part of a concert on the new instrument  playing two selections: “Allegro Vivace” from Organ Sonata No. 1 by Mendelssohn and “Selections” from Hymn of Praise “displaying the Vox Humana Stop.” Two other organists appeared-Mr. G. B. Brown and Mr. J. H. Willcox who ended the program, together with vocalists Miss J. E. Houston and Mr. Barry. (BPL Lang Prog.) Another concert of similar design was performed on Saturday evening, November 19, 1864, but using only Lang and Mr. Willcox. (BPL Lang Prog.) Dwight noted the 32 foot pedal stop, the “Grand Bourdon,” and he mentioned that the Music Hall organ had no such stop. “The front pipes are of a new composition, surpassing in richness and color anything before used. They are highly polished, giving a brilliant silverey appearance, in beautiful contrast with the dark woodwork.” (Dwight (November 28, 1884): 348) Lang opened another concert with Bach’s Fantasia in G Major (displaying the full power of the Organ), performed an Improvisation in the middle, later performed Rink’s [sic] Concerto in F Major-three movements, and ended the concert with another Improvisation. “The Organists and Choirs of the South and Unitarian Churches” assisted. (BPL Lang Prog.) Although this instrument was highly regarded by many, eight years after it was dedicated, Rev. Hale had a different view: “Rev. E. E. Hale does not believe that an organ should be placed in a church only to be used for a part of three hours of one day of the week, and left to warp and shrink and get itself out of tune in the enforced loneliness of the six other days.” (Evening Transcript (April 22, 1872): 4, Transcript Archive)


Harry, aged two. Photo on porcelain. Held by the Galacar family.


The Lang’s first child, Harry Allston Lang, was born on October 4, 1864 in Boston. Frances entered in her Dairy: “June 1st. [1865]. 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)


In early October 1864, the Boston Musical Times reported: “Little Alice Dutton, the child pianist, who is to make her appearance this evening at the Music Hall, is a musical prodigy. We have heard some of her private performances with wonderment, so remarkable a power does she possess for reading music and execution on the piano. We have seen difficult pieces of music, which she had never seen nor heard of, placed before her for the first time, and heard her play them with a facility and skill such as few practiced amateurs could accomplish after careful study of those same pieces. Since she came here she has lived in retirement, and taken finishing lessons in style from Mr. B. J. Lang. We look forward to her performance to-night with confident anticipation of success.” (BMT (October 1, 1864): 48) However, Dwight reported that Miss Dutton made her “maiden concert” in October 1865 at Chickering’s rooms. She was then thirteen, and had come “from the West two years ago with a musical talent that had been growing up wild, with no sure direction, and who has been studying with Mr. Lang, and eagerly listening to the best music, is now really an accomplished pianist, in technical facility quite remarkable… Mr. Lang turned over the leaves with anxious and we dare say proud interest in his pupil. The audience was not so large as we could have wished; but it contained some of the most musical persons, and the impression made on critical artists, as well as on friends and willing public, was highly favorable to the young player.” (Dwight (October 28, 1865): 127) However, both reports were wrong. In fact, Dwight, himself, had written in April 1864 that Lang “and his pupil Alice Dutton, a child of 12 years” would play the Grand Duo Concertante for two pianos on the Gypsey March in Preciosa arranged by Mendelssohn and Moscheles, and that this would be “her first public appearance.” (Dwight (April 16, 1864): 223) The Saturday Evening Gazette had also announced this concert on April 9th. writing that the next Orchestral Union concert “will embrace the debut of a child pianist of twelve years of age, a pupil of Mr. B. J. Lang, who will perform a four-hand piece with her, accompanied by the orchestra…Doubtless, there will be a general desire to see and hear the performances of this wonderful prodigy.” (Saturday Evening Gazette (April 9, 1864): 2. GB)

On December 17th. she returned to her home state of Iowa and gave a recital in Burlington, a program that she shared with “Mr. Strasser, an able violinist, who is well known in the West. But few had ever heard of this girl, and many doubted when they saw the programme, that she would be able to sustain her share in it. But they were soon undeceived.” The article went on to tell of her early training which began when she was nine years old with a teacher in Davenport who “instructed her in a course of Clements’, Moscheles’s and Czerny’s Studies. She then came to Prof. Lange [sic] in Boston, whose tuition she enjoyed for two years. Now she is giving concerts in order to raise the funds which will enable her to go to one of the conservatories of Europe.” Unfortunately, her programs were too heavy for Iowans at that time, and “up to the present, not successful.” (BMT (January 6, 1866): 2 and 3)

Returning to Boston, in March of 1866 she soloed with the Orchestral Union playing Mendelssohn’s Serenade and Allegro Giojoso [sic], “and played it wonderfully well for one almost a child. [She was then fourteen] Her hand spans hardly an octave… The girl has talent and the air of being sincerely absorbed in her art.” (Dwight (March 31, 1866): 215) On Sunday evening February 3, 1867 Dutton, listed as a pupil of B. J. Lang, appeared as one of eight assisting artists at one of “Gilmore’s Grand Sacred Concerts” at the Music Hall. She played Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto in G Minor, Opus 25, and a hand-written notation on the program records that B. J. Lang conducted this piece. (BPL Lang Prog.,) (Also BPL Prog., Vol. 1) On Monday evening March 4, 1867 Lang arranged a concert at Salem’s Lyceum Hall at which he played the solo part of the Mendelssohn Concerto No. 2 Op. 40 with Alice playing the orchestral reduction. Then she was the soloist in Mendelssohn’s Concerto No. 1 Op. 25 with Lang playing the orchestral part, and the concert ended with Grand Duo on Themes from Norma by Thalberg played by Alice and Lang. (BPL Prog., Vol. 1) Her career progressed well with a Spring 1867 concert featuring the Weber’s Concertstuck for Piano and Orchestra and a February 1868 Mendelssohn Piano Concerto in G Minor with the Orchestral Union. Zerrahn was the concert’s conductor, but also here a handwritten note on the program states that Lang conducted this concerto. (BPL Prog., Vol. 1)

Probably Lang introduced her to the Mendelssohn Quintette Club, for in March 1868 Dwight mentioned that “So successful a reading of the pianoforte part [Beethoven Trio, Op. 97] by so young a maiden [She was now sixteen] as Miss Alice Dutton was clear proof both of rare native faculty and rare development in so few years in a sound direction. It is clear that she loves the best music, feels it, and conceives it vividly… she has acquired such technical facility and certainty that she now has all the treasures of this fine world open to her.” (Dwight (March 14, 1868): 206) In January 1869 she repeated the Weber Concert-Stuck, this time with the Harvard Musical Association Orchestra, and Dwight noted: “Miss Alice Dutton, though yet very young and hardly past the stage of pupilage, has so distinguished herself not only by her talent, but by what with talent is too rare, a true musical spirit.” In the Weber “the swift passages of the Rondo giojoso were beautifully bright and liquid.” (Dwight (January 30, 1869): 390) Lang used Miss Dutton as one of the soloists in his series of three Mercantile Hall concerts in April 1869. At the first concert she played the Mendelssohn Serenade and Allegro in B Minor with orchestra, and Dwight commented: “Miss Dutton, as a classical pianist, gains in favor by each effort.” (Dwight (April 24, 1869): 23) In the same month she appeared again with the Mendelssohn Quintette Club playing Mendelssohn’s Quartet in B Minor, Op. 3. “The early Piano Quartet of Mendelssohn was a fortunate revival showing Miss Alice Dutton’s powers to good advantage.” (Dwight (April 27, 1869):15) She soloed with the HMA Orchestra in February 1870 in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37. “The entire C-Minor Concerto of Beethoven had never been played here before. Mr. Lang, in the second season of the Concerts, played the first movement only, which is certainly the most significant, with the Cadenza by Moscheles. This time his fair pupil, Miss Dutton, allowed us to hear the whole…Miss Dutton won much praise by the performance, showing marked improvement, though the strength flagged a little near the end.” (Dwight (February 12, 1870): 191) Now in her early twenties, she advertised to give a “Complimentary Concert” assisted by Miss Adelaide Phillipps, Mr. W. H. Fessenden, Mr. Wulf Fries, Mr. B. J. Lang, and Mr. G. W. Sumner at Mechanic’s Hall on Saturday evening, February 14, 1874. Lang’s only part was to provide the “Orchestral accompaniment on a second grand piano” for the opening Concerto [G Minor] by Mendelssohn (HMA Program Collection) Dwight attended this concert which had “a goodly audience, who listened with much interest to the young lady’s clean, forcible, and brilliant execution.” Dwight felt that in the forte passages her “sound was hard and cutting, -too much hammer, so to speak,” but he did suggest that this might have been the fault of the piano used (no brand named). (Dwight (February 21, 1874): 183) Dutton and Mr. C. R. Hayden shared the New England Conservatory 376th Concert. This might imply that she was now a faculty member. “The lady plays very much as formerly, with neat and brilliant execution,” and of Hayden, Dwight wrote: “His tenor voice has certainly improved in power and quality, and in his management of it he has grown less stiff and spasmodic.” (Dwight (October 31, 1874): 327)

Certainly, having such a talented pupil early in his teaching career was a great boost to Lang’s reputation.


Provided by the Galacar family.



Dwight reviewed the “Christmas Music” of December 1864 and mentioned the two Messiah performances of Saturday evening, December 24 and the repeat on Christmas Day presented by the Handel and Haydn Society saying that ” The choruses went remarkably well that night [the second night], the Great Organ accompaniment by Mr. Lang replenishing them with great waves of harmony.” Lang had also acted as the organ accompanist (no orchestra) for a Messiah performance given by the “Mozart Society” of Worcester conducted by Mr. B. D. Allen using the “great Worcester organ.”(Dwight (January 7, 1865): 374 and 375)


In 1907 The Boston Evening Transcript printed an extensive article: “The Career of B. J. Lang. A Remarkable Record of Fifty Years as an Executive Musician.” The first section was a reprint of an older magazine article from 1893 by William Apthorp. Then there were a number of sections that covered various aspects of his career. In the section on “Mr. Lang as a Concert Pianist,” the writer spends much time on Lang’s artistic growth in the decade of the 1860s. “Before 1865 he had generally excited considerable momentary enthusiasm whenever he played in public, he certainly could complain of no lack of applause at his own concerts, at those of the Mendelssohn Quintet Club, nor on other occasions when he appeared as a pianist. But the enthusiasm he called forth was not of the lasting kind, people seemed surprised at the brilliancy and solidity of his playing when they heard him, and then would straightaway forget all about it, and go to hear him the next time without particularly high expectations or any ready-made enthusiasm. He had succeeded in making himself admired, but not in making himself remembered by the public; as a pianist, he was not yet popular. Gottschalk, to be sure, had shown no slight appreciation of his playing. On one of his visits to Boston the great virtuoso, having some things with accompaniment for a second pianoforte, engaged Lang to accompany him at his concerts, but Gottschalk soon recognized that such work was far beneath the young artist, and ended by urging Lang to play a real two-pianoforte piece with him, one in which both parts should be on an equality, saying that he never should forgive himself for putting a pianist like Lang in the position of a mere accompanist. But, much as Gottschalk’s opinion might be worth, it had little or no weight with the more serious part of the Boston public just then…He [Lang] was then a young man, tremendously busy and very much absorbed in his work; he was inordinately shy, not sociable in his instincts, and his address was rather brusque and repelling. He entirely lacked the faculty of personal propagandism, of winning people over by charm of manner; his brusqueness often made him enemies where it was particularly important for him to make friends. He was too proud to blow his own trumpet. and others did not feel encouraged to blow it for him. In a word he lacked backing. Those who have known him only during the last twenty years or so wil find all this hard to believe, for he is personally a very different man from what he was at the time I am now speaking of, but it is, nevertheless, quite true that he then stood considerably in his own light-in the most unconscious way in the world-and the tardiness of his recognition in Boston as an exceptionally fine pianist was largely due to it.”  (Evening Transcript (April 13, 1907): no page numbers)


On Saturday, March 12, 1864 Lang was particularly busy as he appeared in two concerts that evening. At the Music Hall “Grand Concert” given by “The World-Renowned Contralto,” Madame Anna Bishop, Lang was one of three assisting artists-he played the “Great Organ.” (Advertiser (March 11, 1864): 1, GB) Later, or earlier in the evening he played one of the Mendelssohn Piano Concertos in Julius Eichberg’s “second and last Orchestral Soiree.” This concert was at Chickering’s Rooms. The concert began at 7:30, and in addition to the concerto included an overture and symphony by Mozart and Beethoven’s Eighth Symphony. (Ibid)

On Sunday evening, April 3, 1864 Lang was one of five assisting artists at a Music Hall “Grand Concert with the Great Organ” presented by the Choir of the Church of Immaculate Conception, conducted by John H. Willcox. The large ad listed the complete program and the performers for each piece. Lang appeared three times. First, the Religious Meditation for violin and organ by his friend Julius Eichberg, then an organ duet arrangement of a Gade symphony movement played with Willcox, and he closed the First Part with two movements from Mendelssohn’s Trio in D Minor. (Transcript (April 2, 1864): 3, GB)

The last weekend in April 1864 was a busy one for Lang. On Saturday night, April 30, 1864 at the Music Hall he played the Mendelssohn Piano Concerto in D Minor with a “Grand Orchestra” conducted by Carl Zerrahn as part of a “Grand Vocal and Instrumental Concert-The First in Four Years,” given by Miss Adelaide Phillipps. Then, the next evening was part of a “Sacred Concert,” also at the Music Hall, given by Julius Eichberg “in connection with the GREAT ORGAN.”  Lang’s part was to play two organ solos and accompany Eichberg in his Religious Meditation for Violin and Organ. Eichberg also composed two pieces “expressly for this concert”-an Ave Maria and a Reverie, both for Violin, Cello, Piano and Organ. In December Lang had another busy weekend. On Friday evening, December 2 at the Melodeon, he was part of “Gottschalk’s (positively) Farewell Grand Concert” before “his departure for Havana and Mexico,” and on Saturday noon Lang was part of a “Grand Matinee in connection with the GREAT ORGAN CONCERT,” which included most of the performers from the previous night, including Gottschalk! Both concerts included an orchestra conducted by Signor Muzio. (Advertiser (December 1, 1864): 1, GB) On December 10, 1864 Lang was an assisting artist at the “Third Piano-Forte Concert” given by Otto Dresel at Chickering’s Rooms. In addition to Lang, Hugo Leonhard and J. C. D. Parker were assisting artists. The opening piece was Bach’s Concerto for Three Pianos in C Major in three movements with “The stringed Quartette Accompaniment arranged for a Fourth.” The program does not state who played the solo parts and who played the orchestral reduction. It also does not show who played the other pieces for multiple pianos. Tickets were $1.50, and at the bottom of the program was the notice: “To prevent annoyance to the listener, Mr. Dresel respectfully desires that persons will refrain, as far as possible, from entering or leaving the hall, during the performance of a piece” (HMA Program Collection). Johnson records that the Schumann Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54 was also part of this concert-Dresel played the solo part and Lang played the orchestral reduction. Dresel would give the Boston orchestral premier of the work two years later on November 23, 1866 with the Harvard Musical Association Orchestra conducted by Carl Zerrahn. But, between the 1864 and 1866 performances, Lang played “part of the work at a concert by Mme. Parepa on one evening and the other half the next evening in 1865.” (Johnson, First, 328)

The Mercantile Library sponsored lectures at the Music Hall which enabled Lang to give “a grand organ concert” before a lecture given by John B. Gough. “The simple announcement that Gough, the inimitable, is to speak, never fails to draw a large audience.” (Boston Recorder (March 24, 1865): 47, GB) John Bartholomew Gough (1817-1886) was a famous temperance speaker who himself had been “a confirmed drunkard.” At first, he was glad to receive 75 cents for a lecture, but his skills developed so that in one year he spoke 386 times, and for 17 years he lectured only on the subject of temperance and addressed over 5,000 audiences. Later he expanded his topics to include “Eloquence and Orators” and “Peculiar People,” but he always included a reference to temperance. (Wikipedia, accessed March 17, 2020) As Lang was also a temperance man, he was probably very happy to be part of this event. Later in the year, on October 1st. Lang gave an organ recital as part of a Mercantile Library Association lecture given by Dr. Isaac I. Hayes, “The Arctic Explorer,” (Journal (September 30, 1867): 3, GB) and two years later Lang was still performing these pre-lecture concerts, this time for the Hon. James W. Patterson whose subject was “Revolutions-the Steps of Progress.” For this event the concert only lasted 15 minutes. (Post (October 21, 1867): 2, GB)

Lang also was active as an accompanist. Early in 1865 Dwight reported on various performances of the Messiah “in smaller cities…In Worcester, it was given on Tuesday evening by the ”Mozart Society” without orchestra, Mr. Lang accompanying on the great Worcester Organ, and Mr. B. D. Allen conducting.” (Dwight (January 7, 1865) 373) Two months later Lang was again in Worcester for a Friday evening concert on March 10, 1865 where he opened the Worcester Mozart Society concert with an “Organ Improvisation.” The rest of the program was the choral work The Transient and the Eternal by Romberg. Only a pianist and Lang were listed-probably they shared the accompaniment of the choral work. The tickets were 25 cents. (BPL Lang Prog., Vol. 1)

The cause of the abolition of slavery was one that Lang supported. He was part of the “31st. National Antislavery Subscription Anniversary” event at which there were two speakers and Lang furnished “appropriate and various music during the evening.” This was held at the Music Hall, and the sponsoring committee listed 33 members, all women. (Transcript (January 25, 1865): 3, GB)

In March of 1865 Lang was part of a “Boston Musicians’ Union” Concert played “by the united forces of the orchestras and bands…of from 90 to 95 musicians, many of them accomplished…The Boston Theatre was crowded to excess the first time, making the repetition on last Sunday evening imperative. The charitable, or, what is better, the fraternal object of the concerts must have been largely furthered, and a substantial nucleus formed for a mutual Benefit Fund for sick and needy musicians…Mr. Lang played the Andante and Capriccio Op. 22 of Mendelssohn very beautifully on a Chickering Grand Piano of remarkable power, as well as pure, sweet, musical quality, or the performance would have been lost in that place.” (Dwight (March 18, 1865): 414 and 415) Two singers were also part of the program, and the Advertiser, in its pre-concert announcement said that the “Nucleus of the concert” would be a “grand symphony” played “by the power of almost two score violins and nearly a score of basses…The plan is an entirely popular one, but the programme and its management have more than merely popular elements, and it will be well worth one’s while to attend.” (Daily Advertiser (March 11, 1865): 1, GB)

Lang performed another two-concert weekend in December 1865. On Saturday night, December 16 he was part of the “Farewell of M’lle Parepa, Mr. J. Levy and Herr Carl Rosa” and the Traveler ad said that “on this occasion, Mr. B. J. Lang, the eminent pianist will appear” together with the three departing musicians. “A full and efficient orchestra conducted by Herr Carl Anschutz” would take part and Lang would play the “Andante” and “Rondo” from Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto in G Minor, the Caprice in E Minor [Bennett?} and S. Heller’s  Wandersinnden. (Traveler (December 15, 1865): 3, GB) The next evening the same artists would make their “Positively only appearance” in a Sacred Concert with “the most brilliant and beautiful entertainment of the kind ever given in Boston.” Lang played piano solos and was the accompanist for M’lle Parepa signature piece, Gounod’s Ave Maria. (Ibid) These programs must have been well received as two days later ads appeared for the “Positively Last Concert but Two” to be held on Wednesday December 20. Lang played Hummel’s Piano Concerto in B Minor, a Mendelssohn prelude and Heller’s piece, now called Slumbering Song. This program was then taken to Springfield Massachusetts on Thursday night and Portland Maine on Friday night. “No other of the New England cities can by any possibility be visited…Only one final farewell concert can possibly be given in Boston next week.” (Transcript (December 19, 1865): 3, GB)


At this time “Mr. and Mrs. Lang were living with the Frances’ mother and father at 112 Boylston Street.” (Diary-Rosamond) Both families had moved there in 1864 from 36 Edinboro Street. This had been the Burrage

112 Boylston Street is just visible on the right-hand side of the photo; it is obviously one floor higher than it’s neighbor. Courtesy of The Bostonian Society.

family home in 1861 when B. J. married Frances and moved into the Burrage family residence under the no doubt watchful eye of his father-in-law, Johnson Carter Burrage. Mr. Burrage was a Harvard graduate and a successful dealer in woolen goods, and the family moved in the upper social circles. B. J. and Frances did not have their own home until November 1, 1872 when they moved into 8 Otis Place. This was at the corner of Otis and Brimmer (location of their second and final home), at the foot of Beacon Hill.

Johnson Carter Burrage. Family Tree: Lynn MacDonald.


The Civil War ended on April 9, 1865, but all concerts in celebration of this event were canceled when President Lincoln was assassinated on Good Friday, April 14. Early in May concerts began again but “Boston’s formal memorial for Lincoln did not occur until Thursday, June 1.” Held at the Music Hall, Lang played an “Introductory on the Organ” of a Mendelssohn sonata movement and Chopin’s Funeral March and also acted as accompanist for the Handel and Haydn selections. “Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote a hymn for the occasion, and Senator Charles Sumner, one of Lincoln’s friends and supporters, gave the eulogy.” (Owen, Great Organ, 100) Ironically Lang’s “last notable public performance [before his own death] was as conductor of part of the programme at Symphony Hall, on the night of [the] Lincoln Memorial service, Feb. 12, [1909] when he led the Boston Symphony Orchestra and a chorus.” (Unidentified obit, BPL Rare Books Collection)

Frances noted in her Diary: “Today [April 19] our beloved President was buried, and appropriate services were held in all churches in the U. S. A. Edward, Julia [brother and sister of Frances] and I went to Dr. Hale’s church. It was draped with black, also American flags. Lel (Lang) played as if inspired and Dr. Hale was wonderful. Afterward we saw many houses draped in black.” (Diary-Rosamond)


At the Tuesday morning, May 23, 1865, 50th. Anniversary Concert of the H and H, a chorus of 600 with an orchestra of 100 performed Mendelssohn’s Hymn of Praise with Lang as organist. He must have been pleased that the major choral group of Boston had now taken up this work which he had given the Boston premiere in January 1862. Other concerts that week included Haydn’s Creation on Tuesday night, orchestral and vocal concerts on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons, Handel’s Israel in Egypt on Thursday night, orchestral and vocal concerts on Friday and Saturday afternoons, Elijah on Saturday night and Messiah on Sunday night. Lang also gave a solo organ recital Saturday, May 27 at noon as part of the Festival. His program was:

Prelude and Fugue in C                                                         Bach                                      Transcription of the Overture to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”                Mendelssohn                                                                                                             Pastorale in F                                                                            Bach                               Flute Concerto:  Allegro                                                       Rink(Yes)              Quartette from “Fidelio”  (Played upon the Vox Humana Stop)           Beethoven                                                                                                             Improvisation

       Elijah was then performed again in December as part of the 1865-1866 Season.

From the Handel and Haydn website (downloaded December 2014)-researched by Herb Zeller.


Their first concert was given late in November 1865. An article in 1884 credited Lang with the creation of these concerts: “It was he who first suggested the great series of Harvard Symphony Concerts; it was he who more than any other held the programmes up to their first high level; he has also been one of the leading subscribers since the beginning of the series.” (Observer, January 26, 1884) “In 1865, when the Harvard Orchestra opened the first season of symphony concerts, to be followed by sixteen seasons, Gen. Lee had surrendered at Appomattox on April 9, Lincoln had been assassinated on April 14, and on the 15th. Andrew Johnson had taken the oath of office as President of the United States.” (HMA Bulletin No. 16) “But, little imagination was needed to foresee the difficulties: scarcity of professional musicians, professional bickerings, jealousy, captious critics, an uncertain and grumbling public, financial problems. None was escaped.” (Ibid) Arthur Foote recorded that “The audience was mainly composed of people of the kind found in our own membership, and they were not there to be in the fashion; there were always a number of music students also, but there was no thought then of appealing to the public at large. As I remember, there were no cheap seats (twenty-five cents) as was later the case with our present orchestra. I should say that, by subscription price, tickets were a dollar, but I am not sure.” (HMA Bulletin No. 4, 2)

“The first concert of the series of eight to be given under the auspices of the Harvard Musical Association took place at the Music Hall on Friday afternoon [the series had been announced for Thursday afternoons], Nov. 23. The weather was unpropitious enough, the day being dark and stormy, and the streets in the least favorable condition for pedestrians. Notwithstanding these untoward circumstances, the hall was filled with an audience of earnest lovers of music, eager to enjoy the feast of good things which the programme promised…The orchestra engaged for these concerts is large and very effective, numbering in all fifty performers, each member having been selected on the strength of his individual merits and ability as a musician, thus ensuring perfect concord and precision in the execution of the music. One noticeable feature is the great number of stringed instruments, the lack of which in many former orchestral combinations has been the cause of much complaint…In the present instance there is a grand foundation of seven contra-basses, with a corresponding number of ”cellos and tenors, ten first and ten second violins, with the reed and brass instruments admirably proportioned to the rest of the orchestra; surely a band so carefully organized, and skillfully directed by Conductor Zerrahn, could not fail to give complete satisfaction even to those disposed to be most critical.” (BMT (December 1, 1866): 5)

At the second concert of the season on Thursday, January 25, 1866 at 4 PM in the Music Hall, Zerrahn conducted the first half, but Lang conducted the second section that was the “Double Chorus” [opening choral section] from Antigone for male voices by Mendelssohn. (Note handwritten in the program) Lang probably also conducted the three choruses for male voices that opened the third section of the concert. The Antigone was repeated at the fourth concert on March 1, 1866.

For the third concert in the series on February 8, 1866, Lang was the soloist in Polonaise in E Flat by Weber with orchestral parts created by Liszt.


Massachusetts Historical Society, with permission.

On Saturday, March 24, 1866 Lang presented for the first time in Boston Haydn’s The Seasons at the Music Hall with Miss J. E. Houston, George Simpson (from New York), and J. Rudolphsen as the soloists and “a full orchestra.” (BPL Lang Prog., Vol. 1) Johnson describes this concert as “in part only. The Handel and Haydn Society did not sing this work entire until 28 March 1875.” (Johnson, First, 190) A full orchestra accompanied the “Select Chorus.” All tickets were $1 with all seats reserved. Dwight reported: “Mr. B. J. Lang deserves well of the republic for having given us, for the first time in Boston, a hearing of all four parts of Father Haydn’s genial and delightful Cantata, Pastoral, or whatever it may be called. He had gathered together a crowd of heartily interested singers, some 250 voices, fresh and telling, and drilled them well; a full orchestra for the rich and graphic instrumentation; and secured competent vocal artists for the three characters that individualize a large part of the poetry, which follows mainly in the beaten track of Thomson. The performance last Saturday evening was extremely interesting; the Music Hall almost crowded, in spite of the east Wind…On the whole, the work was very fairly rendered for a first time, considering too that the fear of its great length must have made the conductor somewhat nervous…Mr. Lang should feel rewarded for this brave effort, and we trust the Seasons will come round again.” (Dwight (March 31, 1866): 215)


Dwight produced lists of the repertoire performed by various groups and soloists each year in Boston. This included everyone who performed at the Music Hall Organ. For the 1865-66 Season, Lang played the most often with nineteen recitals followed by G. E. Whiting. In total there were 130 organ recitals given with audiences ranging from 50 to 300 people. The schedule remained as first set up- Wednesday and Saturday at noon and Sunday evenings. For some of the performers Dwight also listed the specific repertoire, Lang’s being the most “classical.”

Even though there are a fair number of transcriptions, none were from the “lighter” literature. Note also the “Frequent Improvisation in free style”-where did he learn that? (Dwight (June 23, 1866): 263, GB)


Mathews, 157.

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)


Mathews, 135

A year later a second local boy returned from his European studies. Carlyle Petersilea “has returned from his three years” studies in Leipzig and with von Bulow at Munich, crowned with concert triumphs in both cities. Another Boston boy! He has already been heard in private and must take rank among our most finished, brilliant, tasteful pianists. He and Perabo are warm friends, and it is refreshing to see two who might be rivals so warmly interested in each other’s success.” (Ibid)

It would seem that Lang befriended both Perabo and Petersilea. At Perabo’s Third Matinee on February 2, 1872 Lang joined him in a four-hand arrangement of the Tragic Symphony in C Minor of Schubert. At the Fourth Matinee, Perabo played the “Serenata” movement from Bennett’s Sonata in C Minor, Op. 13, a work that Lang possibly had introduced to Perabo, Lang having premiered a number of Bennett’s pieces in Boston. (Dwight (February 24, 1872): 190) He may have also introduced Bennett’s Fourth Piano Concerto to Perabo who then played the Boston premiere with the HMA Orchestra. (Dwight (May 15, 1875): 22) With Perabo musical education having been exclusively in Germany, he might not have known of the Englishman, William Sterndale Bennett.[1816-1875]

Lang and the vocalist Miss Clara M Loring were the assisting artists at the “Fourth Schubert Matinee” presented by the pianist Mr. Perabo on January 31, 1867. The repertoire was all by Schubert. “The Rondo (in E minor) in which Mr. Lang played the Primo, and Mr. Perabo the Seconda part, was most brilliantly executed, and in exact time, there being no apparent unevenness in the tempi of the two performers. It is a charming composition and at once found favor with the audience. The Fantasia (in F minor) created a profound impression; it is one of those compositions of Schubert that the musician must ever delight to study. Greater interest seems to be attached to it than to many of the other works by the same composer. This time Mr. Perabo played the Primo and Mr. Lang the Seconda parts; the sight of two such artists, working together with but one object in view, and that was to do honor to the music of one of Germany’s greatest composers, was indeed gratifying…It certainly was one of the finest instances of piano duet playing that we have ever had…On the whole it was as fine a concert as Mr. Perabo has yet offered. The hall was full and the audience of the most appreciative kind.” (BMT (March 2, 1867):  19)


S. S. CHINA. 268 first-class and 771 second-class or steerage passengers. Launched October 8, 1861. Maiden voyage Liverpool to NYC on March 15, 1862. Two engines with an aggregate of 560-horse power. The sleeping berths were on the main deck, below the saloons. (Norway Heritage site)

The summer of 1866 saw the Lang’s in Europe. B. J. and Frances left Boston on the Cunard S.S. CHINA for Liverpool on May 26, accompanied by his pupils Miss Annie Keep and Mr. Richard Dixey. The day that they arrived, they went directly to hear the organist W. T. Best at St. George’s Hall [where he was appointed in 1855-his repertoire was said to include some five thousand pieces (Levien, Best, 17)] as B. J. had met him previously on prior voyages. “Later that same day [we] arrived in London and went to her Majesty’s Theatre to hear Dinorah Santley a singer. On June 6th. we heard Alfred Jaell and big orchestra in Queen’s Hall [Queen’s Hall did not open until 1893]. On June 12 [in] London [heard] Dickens’ last reading Dr. Marigold and Trial in Pickwick.” Next, they went to Switzerland. “Interlaken. Rose at 4:30 A.M. and saw sunrise on the Jungfrau…Lel has written a very lovely song to the words ‘A little child dwelt by the flowing sea.’…(They went to Paris and Vienna among other cities). England. York.” (Diary 2, 1866) By August they were in Paris, and on August 16th, took part in the great celebration of the Emperor’s Fete.” When they later returned to London they also heard “the great concert in which Jenny Lind sang and Moscheles played.” They returned at the end of September on the CUBA. (BMT (October 6, 1866): 3) Their first-born, a son, “little Harry” had died on August 7 while they were away. (Excerpts from Frances M. Lang’s Note Book, 1)


Lang was fortunate to have many well-off pupils who lived on Beacon Hill. Among them was Richard C. Dixey (b. 1844—d. 1915), a “Capitalist,” who owned a home at 44 Beacon Street, four floors, 9,752 square-feet, that needed five servants to support it. (1900 Census) The house had been built in 1806 for the third mayor of Boston, Harrison Gray Otis for his daughter. [Sold for $7 million-plus in 2010. currently divided into four apartments] Dixey accompanied the Lang’s on their May to late August 1866 European trip (Excerpts from Frances’ NoteBook, 1), and also again in the fall of 1869 when he was then aged 24. He seems to have been a gifted amateur rather than a professional pianist. He was the accompanist for the vocalists at a New Bedford Lyceum concert January 12, 1864 where B. J. Lang was the featured artist. (BPL Prog., Vol. 1) Dixie also opened the program at a Lang organized concert at Salem’s Mechanic Hall on Monday evening March 10, 1865. (Ibid)

Dixey was in two benefit concerts in 1871. The first was to raise funds for a “Museum of Fine Arts.” Dwight gave advanced notice of the event and wrote: “The Editor of this Journal will be happy to receive orders for tickets.” (Dwight (April 22, 1871): 15) The concert was to be given on April 27, 8 PM at “the beautiful Mechanics” Hall on Bedford Street with tickets priced at two dollars each.” Certainly this price was above the going rate for that time, but the purpose of the concert dictated this. The program included “a Trio by Rubinstein,” probably the one just programmed by Lang, and two movements of the Schumann Piano Concerto with Dixey as soloist and Lang providing the orchestral accompaniment. In the second concert he was an assisting artist in a “Soiree Musicale” in Aid of the Fair “For Dumb Animals,” organized under the patronage of Mrs. W. M. Appleton, Mrs. R. E. Apthorp (William Foster Apthorp’s mother), and Mrs. G. J. F. Bryant held at Mechanic’s Hall on Wednesday evening, November 29, 1871. Among the soloists was Miss Alice Lang, a vocalist [a distant Lang relation?]. (HMA Program Collection).

In the spring of 1872 Dixey’s career progressed to the point that in April 1872 he presented selections from Wagner’s Lohengrin at Mechanic’s Hall. “We noticed eminent musicians, artists, and littérateurs.” Dixey was “assisted by able talent, and [the performance] was one of the most enjoyable [events] of the season.” (Folio, June 1872) A month later he organized a “semi-public” performance of excerpts from Lohengrin. He played the instrumental parts on the piano with the aid of another Lang pupil, Mr. Tucker, and the three principal roles “were sung quite admirably by amateurs with excellent voices…And for the choruses, some of which were charming, and all finely sung, in German, there was a select choir of four ladies and eight gentlemen. The evening will be remembered with much passion.” (Dwight (May 4, 1872): 231)  That certainly sounds like a “rave review” for Dwight, as his position on Wagner can be summed up with a phrase he used earlier in the review: “The long stretches of recitative, with bits if instrumentation during and between them, give it all a certain slow and drowsy character, despite the splendor…There is a lack of ‘go’ to it.” (Ibid)

The Dixey family became close family friends of the Lang’s. Arthur Sturgis Dixey (son of above, b. November 1880) left a colored drawing in the Lang Farm Guest Book dated August 3, 1896. (New Boston Farm Guestbook) Ellen Sturgis Dixey, Arthur’s mother, Richard’s wife, did the same dated June 27, 1897, and under the drawing are also the signatures of Richard C. Dixey and Rosamond Dixey (daughter, b. June 10, 1887 at Boston) (1900 Census). Possibly their daughter, Rosamond, may have been named for the Lang’s second daughter.

The son, Arthur S. Dixey died in Seoul, Korea on July 26, 1905. The cause was “heart failure, following an illness of a week, during which he received every attention.” (Herald, (July 28, 1905): 7, GB) He had graduated from Harvard in 1902, then entered Harvard Law School and had passed the bar examination. He spoke and wrote in both French and German, and his posting to Korea was as the secretary to Ambassador Edwin D. Morgan seemed to indicate a career in the Foreign Service. He had been in Korea for less than a year before his illness. Arthur had been responsible for the costumes and scenery for the Hasty Pudding Club musical of 1902 for which Malcolm Lang composed the music.

In January 1915 Richard “threw himself from a third-story window of his home at 44 Beacon Street yesterday and was dead when discovered. Dixey had been suffering from a nervous disorder for some time…Richard C. Dixey was retired. He had lived in the Beacon Street house for nearly 40 years. He was born in Marblehead and was recognized at one time as a most accomplished pianist…Mr. Dixey had a summer place in Lenox he called Tanglewood.” (Herald  (January 20, 1915): 2, GB) This house had been inherited by his wife and her sister, Miss Mary Tappen. It eventually became the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. While at Tanglewood the previous summer Dixey had been “under the treatment of Dr. Bruce Paddock, and he returned to Boston in November in better health and spirits than on his arrival at his country house. Over 40 years Mr. Dixey had been going to Lenox for resort and recreation.” (Springfield Republican (January 20, 1915): 11, GB) He was described as “an accomplished musician, dilettante of fine arts, linguist, highly accomplished and well-read,” and he “drew about him and to Lenox musicians and scholars who made up his group of friends. Several of these guests, including Timothee Adamoski, gave concerts at Tanglewood.” (Ibid) His wife had been one of his piano pupils. (Ibid)


In February 1867, Boston and New England Conservatories opened within a week of each other. “Boston Conservatory of Music is the name of a new music school on a large-scale, which went into operation last Monday, after short notice, in the new white marble building [fourth floor] upon [154] Tremont Street, partly occupied by Messrs. Mason and Hamlin. its founder and director is Mr. Julius Eichberg, which is in itself a good guaranty of thorough, scientific tone and influence.”

BPL Digital Commonwealth.

Dwight then listed the teachers associated with the school followed by a five-point listing of the “advantages of the Conservatory system.” Immediately 130 pupils enrolled. “Scarcely was the above announced, when by a sudden coup d’état a ‘New England Conservatory’ dropped from the clouds, captured the Music Hall, flooded Boston with grandiloquent Circulars, created ‘Professors,’ by the score, and gathering up pupils fast, is ready to open next Monday…We must pause, observe and think.” (Dwight (February 16, 1867): 399) A year and five months later the New England Conservatory had an enrollment of 1,500 students. (Dwight (July 4, 1868):  270)

On Monday, February 18, 1867, the New England Conservatory of Music opened its first classes in the Music Hall building, Boston. [Wiki article of 11/3/11 says the school “consisted of seven rooms rented above Music Hall off Tremont Street in downtown Boston]. One of the first students recalled that “The rooms were were bare and unattractive, even to dinginess, seven chairs and a piano constituted the furniture and the evidences of the lack of money were on every side.” Director Tourjee’s office was no more than a “cubbyhole …over the stairway.” Two people filled the total space in this office. (McPherson, 22) In less than a year expansion was needed and in January 1868, less than a year since the school’s opening, Tourjee added extra rooms. By the following December 1868, the school had 1,414 students in  25 classrooms which used most of the rentable rooms in the Music Hall building. (Ibid) Henry Dunham described the Conservatory as occupying “the three upper floors of the western side of the Music Hall building. The entrance to the Music Hall and the Conservatory were side by side at the end of an alleyway extending for some little distance off Winter Street.” (Dunham, 49) This map of 1874 shows the location of the Conservatory building to the upper right of the Music Hall:


1874 Fire Insurance Map. Courtesy of the BPL Norman B. Leventhal Map Center.

This would have been about 1878 when the Conservatory had 2,040 students; by 1885 it had grown to 4,570 students. (McPherson, Op. cit.)

The original directors were Eben Tourjee, who had previously used the class system of instruction in music at the East Greenwich Musical Institute, and at the Musical Institute in Providence, R. I., and Robert Goldbeck, a New York pianist and composer. A year later Mr. Goldbeck went to Chicago, and Dr. Tourjee assumed the directorship alone. The piano instructors were announced as follows: Pianoforte, Otto Dresel, B. J. Lang, Ernst Perabo, S. A. Emery, and Robert Goldbeck. Opening with a faculty composed of foremost musicians of the day, and offering advantages that the directors intended to be equal in rank with those of the renowned conservatories of Leipsic, Paris, Stuttgart, Prague, and others, the new institution at once secured a large enrollment of pupils. In 1870 it was duly incorporated under the laws of Massachusetts. In that year the first class was graduated… In 1882, the Conservatory having outgrown its quarters in Music Hall, the St. James Hotel in Franklin Square was purchased and converted to the uses of a music school. Dr. Tourjee died in 1891, and was succeeded in the directorship by Carl Faelten.” (Goodrich, 89) The February 1868 Catalog listed eleven piano instructors-two from the previous year had left and eight new instructors had joined the department.                                           Within six weeks of opening, on March 30, 1867 the school presented its first concert-naturally they used the Music Hall. Dwight’s review was underwhelming, possibly because he was a backer of Eichberg’s Boston Conservatory. An orchestra had already been formed and it accompanied the Piano Concerto of Robert Goldbeck. Dwight called Goldbeck “Among the best pianists of this now piano-famous city” but found little to enjoy in the Concerto. (Owen, Great Organ, 110)


St. James Hotel, Franklin Square.

Built as the “St. James Hotel” in 1868, the Conservatory took over the building in 1882 using it both for instruction and also as a dormitory. In 1902 it became the “Franklin Square House, a hotel for young women,” and today it serves as 193 units of affordable senior housing. (Wikipedia, accessed December 16, 2017). Johnston Collection.

The February 1869 catalog listed all of the current pupils among whom were Jeanie Burrage (the sister of Frances) and Ruth Burrage (her cousin)-their instructors were not listed, but Lang probably taught both. The school flourished the total attendance for the first two years was 3,241. (NEC Catalogs, BPL) By 1877 Lang pupils William F. Apthorp, Arthur W. Foote, Hiram G. Tucker (and possible pupil Fred. H. Lewis) had joined as piano instructors in a department which now numbered twenty-one teachers.

By 1901 neither Lang nor his pupils were connected with NEC.

A one-page ad in a program from the Music Hall of 1872 called the Conservatory “THE LARGEST MUSIC SCHOOL IN THE WORLD.” The ad went on to say that it was “Established upon identical principles with the celebrated Conservatories of Europe, and in many respects offering even greater advantages than they, receives beginners and pupils in every stage of proficiency, and affords the instructions of the most eminent masters at less rates of tuition than any similar institution in this country…A beautiful three-manual Pipe Organ has been constructed with special reference to the requirements of its classes, by Messrs. E. & G. G. Hook and Hastings. Organ practice free. (HMA Program Collection). Among the concerts were faculty recitals. “Perhaps [one of] the most attractive features of the conservatory here, as well as among the most improving to the pupils, are the private concerts given by the teachers. Yesterday was given what was numbered as the thirty-first concert of the New England Conservatory, at Chickering’s Hall. The performers were Messrs. Lang and Fries, and Miss Annie M. Granger; the entertainment, short as it was, was peculiarly interesting and artistic. The gentlemen played Mendelssohn’s Sonata in D for piano and violoncello, with great spirit and delicacy of rendering. Mr. Lang gave with the same finish a scherzo of Chopin; and, instead of three as the programme indicated, one caprice of his own composition. If the suppressed two are as attractive as the one performed, it was a pity the audience should have been deprived of them.” (Daily Advertiser, (January 30, 1869): 1) In the fall of 1878, the Conservatory was still advertising that it was the “Largest Music School in the World” having taught 18,000 pupils since its beginning eleven years ago in 1867.

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