Josephine Lang

Another example of being fortunate enough to be born into a musical family lies with Josephine Lang (1815-1880). Her father, Theodor, was a violinist and her mother, Regina Hitzelberger, was an opera singer. They supported their daughter in her musical ambitions, including opportunities to become acquainted with Felix Mendelssohn who worked to have Lang’s music published. Robert Schumann also recognized Lang’s abilities as a composer by publishing one of Lang’s pieces in Neue Zeitschrift für Musik.

Though she was a talented and respected musician, her luck fell short in her personal life. Lang was often sickly, was widowed young, and had to support herself and her six children through her compositions and piano pedagogy. It was after a benefit concert of Lang’s work performed by Clara Schumann and some promotion by Ferdinand Hiller that Lang was able to achieve some success as a published composer. Sadly, her final years were filled with more illness, trauma after the death of her three sons, and loneliness. However, she continued to compose and teach until her death in 1880.

A new biography, Josephine Lang: her life and songs, was published in 2007. Harald and Sharon Krebs, the authors, present strong and well-research scholarship on her life and music. The text, published by Oxford, also includes a companion website featuring 30 songs by Lang as performed by Sharon Krebs, soprano, and Harald Krebs, piano. Harald Krebs, who is faculty at the University of Victoria and in 2010 was named the President of the Society for Music Theory, also edited two volumes of Lang’s songs which are published by Hildegard Press.

Below is Lang’s “Erinnerung” as performed by Dana MacKay: