The music for unaccompanied flute by John Townsend in the manuscript volumes of the Hitchcock Collection
The flutist and composer John Townsend was the subject of a perhaps surprisingly extensive biography and works list in the Dictionary of musicians from the earliest ages to the present, published London, 1824, second edition, 1827. According to the Dictionary1 , Townsend was born in Yorkshire (no date of birth given), and moved to Liverpool while still young, where he studied flute with Müller and later George Ware. Later he established himself in Manchester. He died at Lytham in 1864.
Works list (adapted from that found in the Dictionary) :
Vocal works (?)
Of the items in the works list virtually all seem to have vanished since the Dictionary was published. Life let us cherish, published in Manchester ca. 1840 (under the general series title "National melodies, with variations as solos for the flute") is held at the library of Yale University. The Copenhagen Waltz (which is no. 3 in the "National Melodies" series, is held at the library of the University of New Hampshire, as is the Fa lal la Variations (both miscataloged as being by F. Townsend, rather than J. Townsend. Another volume in the set (tune not identified in the catalogue), dated 1820, is held at the University of St. Andrew's. A work for solo flute which seems to form part of the series begun with the Introduction and Bishop's Air, for which nos. 1 and 2 appear in the Dictionary's work list is also held at Yale (Introduction and Henry R. Bishop's air, "Should he upbraid"). Yale also holds a Fantasia for the flute, in which are introduced the favorite Venetian air of Bonna notte, and Sonnez sonnes, from Boieldieu's celebrated opera La dame blanche, published, London: Wheatstone, ca. 1810. Finally, Alexanders' Complete Preceptor for the Flute, 2nd edition, contains among the practice material an Arietta con variazioni for flute duet (including 7 variations), followed by a set of 21 Preludes in the Most Useful Major and Minor Keys, both ascribed to I. Townsend (most likely our John Townsend).
In addition to these published works, the manuscript volumes of the Hitchcock Collection2, held at Florida State University, transmit eight surviving works for unaccompanied flute by Townsend. The first six of these (those from the volumes HC 245 and 246) are all embellished versions of traditional Scottish melodies, the sort of melody that would be known as a "slow air", not intended for dancing3. Such embellished airs form a substantial part of the flute publications of Charles Nicholson (a contemporary of Townsend), as found in the published collection of Nicholson's Beauties (London: Fentum), and which are also very present in the Hitchcock manuscript volumes. The "Allegro" (HC 247, p. 246 ff) is actually a Scottish tune as well, in this case a jig known by the title Kenmure's on an' awa Willie. Finally, and typically of the period, we find an arrangement of material from Rossini's Barber of Seville (premiered in Rome in 1816, with the American premiere in 1825) – the famous trio, Zitti zitti, set as a rondo for unaccompanied flute (HC 247, pp. 278 ff).
Works in MS Collections at Hitchcock: