Mespilus foliis lanceolatis ferratis... (Hawthorn), 1771. John Miller (Johann Sebastian Müller, 1715-1785), painter, draughtsman and engraver, after a drawing by Richard Lancake, flourished 1770s. Engraving, hand-colored with watercolor. Figures of the most beautiful, useful, and uncommon plants described in the Gardeners dictionary... by Philip Miller. London: Published for the author, 1771, volume 2, plate CLXXVIII, facing page 119. Ethelinda Schaefer Castle Collection, Special Collections Department. Bryn Mawr College Library
In 1900, Margaret Lang wrote about her compositional goals: "My intentions have been poetic and never purely (i.e., merely) musical, often dramatic and sometimes story-telling. I disapprove of pianoforte or vocal music which has no definite meaning to convey. I believe that pianoforte music would either paint a picture, tell a story or speak to the heart. The musical setting of a song should be subservient to its text, according with the poetical color of the text."
Her unaccompanied setting of The Hawthorn Tree (1896) captures two lovers beneath the hawthorn tree. Tenor and soprano soloists are accompanied by a wordless SATB [soprano, alto, tenor, bass] chorus singing "ah," depicting the breezes blowing in constant eighth notes. Lang uses frequent tempo, meter, and key changes in a highly chromatic style. Her expressive markings are painstakingly detailed. In one measure, four successive eighth notes are marked "ten., mf, mp, dim." In this part-song, she captures the affect of the poetry and achieves her musical goals of painting a picture, telling a story and speaking to the heart.
1. W. S. B. Matthews, ed., The Great in Music: A Systematic Course of Study in the Music of Classical and Modern Composers (Chicago: Music Magazine Publishing Co., 1900), 277-79.