Douglas Townsend was actively composing, teaching, coaching ensembles and producing concerts until shortly before his death, on August 1, 2012, at the age of 90. Townsend was a native New Yorker. After graduating on the eve of WWII from Manhattan’s High School of Music and Art, he studied composition with a succession of well-known composers: Aaron Copland (on a scholarship to Tanglewood), Stefan Wolpe (for five years), Otto Luening (on two scholarships to the Middlebury Composers’ Conference), Tibor Serly (a friend of Béla Bartók’s) and Felix Greissle (Arnold Schoenberg’s son-in-law).
When Townsend was 17, his Contra Dances won a nationwide contest for student composers and was performed by the CBS Symphony on a national radio broadcast, with the film composer Bernard Herrmann conducting. His professional career began one day after he turned 24, when his Sonatina No. 1 for Piano Solo was premiered at Carnegie Hall by the internationally known concert pianist Ray Lev. Thereafter, Townsend composed and premiered over 100 works, including several symphonies and concertos, chamber and ballet music, film scores and incidental music for theatrical productions.
His vocal works include operas, operettas and choral music, and he wrote extensively for wind ensembles and symphonic bands. In the last five years of his life, he oversaw 65 performances of his orchestral, band, chamber and choral works in the U.S., Europe and Asia. Through grants for his work as a musicologist, Townsend brought to light, edited and prepared for performance over 60 compositions from the 18th and 19th centuries. Townsend enjoyed having his own YouTube channel and over 2,500 friends on Facebook.