Josephine Caroline Lang (March 14, 1815 in Munich – December 2, 1880 in Tübingen) was a German composer. Josephine Lang was the daughter of Theobald Lang, a violinist, and Regina Hitzelberger [de], opera singer. Her mother taught young Josephine how to play piano, and from age five it became apparent that Josephine was possessed with great potential as a composer. As early as age eleven Josephine started giving piano lessons herself. Through her godfather, Joseph Stieler, Josephine was exposed to some of the greatest artists of her time. Both Felix Mendelssohn and Ferdinand Hiller went to great lengths to ensure that Lang learned the proper theory for song-writing, and used their connections to publish Lang's music. Even Robert Schumann published a song of Josephine’s in Neue Zeitschrift für Musik in 1838.
From a very young age Lang had always been described as having a “weak constitution”. Thus she was always struggling to keep up her pedagogy and performance while simultaneously maintaining her health. Once during a performance for the king and queen of Bavaria, Queen Caroline Augusta of Bavaria took notice of Josephine’s poor state of health and arranged for Josephine to go to Wildbad Kreuth in the German Alps to recover. During her stay at the Alps, Josephine met Christian Reinhold Köstlin, a lawyer who also took to writing poetry on the side. According to all sources, the two fell in love and shared a happy marriage. Köstlin was a professor at the University of Tübingen.
Köstlin died in 1856 of what is now suspected to be cancer. To sustain her family Josephine went back to song-writing and piano-pedagogy. After some financial floundering and unsuccessful attempts at publishing music, Josephine contacted Ferdinand Hiller and Clara Schumann for aid and assistance in the music world. Upon hearing the news, Clara threw a benefit concert, with herself as the pianist, featuring Lang's music. Hiller wrote a biographical essay about Lang in 1867 to send to publishers. Soon thereafter, primarily due to Hiller's essay, Lang become a prominent composer successful enough to have her work published.
Her last years were filled with trauma and illness. Lang lived to see her three sons die for various reasons, and after her two daughters married in 1868 and 1870, Josephine was left feeling alone and abandoned. She herself suffered violent illness during this time period, though she still composed music and taught piano through this entire time. On December 2, 1880,Lang died of a heart attack; she left an important legacy in her music.
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