Douglas Townsend (1921-2012)

Composer, Musicologist, Teacher, Producer

pic dt Douglas Townsend

American composer, musicologist and native New Yorker Douglas Townsend was actively composing, teaching, coaching ensembles and producing concerts until shortly before his death at age 90, on August 1, 2012, in Manhattan (where he was born). Townsend's career was effectively launched at age 17, when he won a nationwide student composition contest while attending Manhattan's High School of Music and Art. The prize was a nationally broadcast radio performance by the CBS Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Bernard Herrmann, the great film composer. After graduation Townsend privately studied composition with Aaron Copland (as a composition fellow at Tanglewood), Stefan Wolpe (five years), Otto Luening (as a two-time composition fellow at the Middlebury Composers’ Conference), Tibor Serly, and Felix Greissle. During his 75-year career, he composed well over 100 original works: symphonies, concertos, chamber works (including several for piano four-hands), as well as ballet music, film scores, and incidental music for theatrical productions. His vocal works include operas, operettas and choral music; and he has written extensively for wind ensembles and symphonic bands. Townsend was the recipient of numerous commissions and grants from, among others, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Martha Baird Rockefeller Fund for Music, the NY State Bicentennial Revolution Commission, and the NY State Council on the Arts. Additionally, he is credited with more than 70 editions of important 18th and 19th century European works which he brought to light and edited or arranged for performance and publication (with many still in print or archived in The Douglas Townsend Microfilm Collection housed in Princeton University’s Mendel Music Library). For an extensive current bio of Townsend (which also references his writings and college teaching), or to see videos of his works and editions, go to: 



Musicians Club of New York Concert, Sunday, November 17, 2019, Victor Borge Hall, Scandinavia House, New York City: "Dear Composers: Surviving Families Present the Composers in their Lives"

Jean Townsend presents Douglas Townsend's "Sonatina No. 2 for Piano"

00:00 Introduction by Per Brevig.
01:33 Jean Townsend presents Douglas Townsend (1921-2012)
08:44 Sonatina No. 2 for Piano by Douglas Townsend performed by Eric Clark, piano
     09:11 Sonatina
     11:47 Song without Words
     14:50 Rondo – Fast
Video by Paula and Chris Argondizza.