Lang, Benjamin Jackson


Eminent American musician; born in Salem, Mass., and received his first instruction from his father, who was a well-known teacher of piano and organ there. His next teacher was. Francis G. Hill of Boston. When he was fifteen years old, his father becoming ill, he took over his pupils, at the same time obtaining the position of organist at Dr. Neale's Church in Somerset Street, Boston. He has ever since been actively engaged in teaching; was organist for twenty years at the Old South Church, and since 1885 organist at King's Chapel. In 1855 he went to  Germany to study and received piano instructions from Alfred Jaell and others, also some supervision from Franz Liszt. His first public appearance was made in Boston in 1858. About this time he received instruction from Gustav Satter, who was traveling in the United States. He was organist of the Handel and Haydn Society from 1859 to 1895, when for two years he became its conductor. His first appearance as conductor was in 1862, when he gave the first performance in Boston of Mendelssohn's Walpurgis Night, and the next year he, with Carl Zerrahn, directed the music at the jubilee concert in honor of President   Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. In 1869 he returned to Europe and gave concerts in Berlin, Leipzic, and other musical centers. Lang was an important member of the Concert Committee of the Harvard Musical Association during the years in which it gave symphony concerts, and was conductor of the Apollo Club, a men's singing society, from its foundation in 1871, until 1901. He has also conducted the Cecilia, a mixed chorus, since its establishment, in 1874. In 1903 the degree of Master of Arts was conferred upon him by Yale University. Lang has given many orchestra, choral and chamber concerts of his own, and as pianist and conductor has brought out in  Boston more new works and works of importance than any other resident musician. He was on intimate terms with Wagner at Triebschen and Bayreuth and introduced many of his works in this country. He employed his influence in raising funds in Boston for the first Bayreuth Festival in 1876. His greatest work lies in interpretation, most of his compositions eing still in manuscript. However, of these are David, an oratorio, symphonies, overtures, chamber-music, piano-pieces, church-music and songs, most of which have been performed.