Blake’s Select Beauties for the German Flute

By Tom Moore

Although the flute was among the most popular instruments in the American colonies, and in the new American nation, publications from the United States for flute were relatively few in number, and often only included collections of popular tunes, giving us a notion of the relative level of the development of the instrument in America, in comparison to the virtuoso literature developing in the early nineteenth century in western Europe, particularly in Denmark, the German lands, Austria, France and Italy (Iberia and eastern Europe were far behind in this regard).

One of the few surviving publications including more advanced repertoire for the instrument in the United States was published by George E. Blake around 1820.

Blake’s Select Beauties for the German Flute Consisting of Favorite Airs with Variations and Embellishments. To be Continued. No. ….. Price 1 Dollar. Philadelphia: Published by G.E. Blake, at his Piano Forte and Music Store, No. 13, South 5th Street.

As far as I know the unique surviving copy of this is held at the Library of Congress, which has digitized it . Although the title page notes “to be continued”, there is no evidence that any other numbers were ever issued.

Blake (1775-1871), a flutist himself, was honored with an extensive obituary in the Philadelphia Evening Telegraph, which I excerpt below:

The venerable George E. Blake, who has kept a music store on Fifth Street, a few doors above Chestnut, for so many years past, died at his residence in the same building, last evening. Mr. Blake has attained the extreme old age of ninety-five years, and has long been regarded as one of the celebrities of this city. He has been for many years the oldest music publisher in the United States, and there is but one music house in the country whose original establishment antidates his. This is the music publishing house of Lee & Walker, Philadelphia, which was founded in 1772 [i.e. 1794] by George Willig who died very old in 1851.

Mr. Blake left England, his native country, at the age of sixteen, coming to Philadelphia where he worked for a while as a carpenter and taught music, but finally in 1802 opened a music store at 3rd, & Market Streets, from which he continued his business and residence for nearly fifty-seven years. The store is about 20 x 30 feet, and immediately in the rear is the small office in which the venerable nonagenarian was accustomed to pass much of his time. When Mr. Blake first started in business, he engraved with his own hands all the plates for the music which he published and this he continued to do for many years .

Watsons’ Annals of Philadelphia says the following about Blake :

Blake & Willig were among the earliest music-publishers in Philadelphia. Mr. Blake died nearly one hundred years of age, at No. 13 South Fifth street. Mr. Blake stated that Messrs. Carr and Shetkey were publishing music previous to 1800, and that John Aitken was their predecessor for several years, at No. 3 or 5 South Third street. It will be remembered by many—a queer-looking building at the south-east corner of Third and Market streets. Many of the plain people at that time named the building “Jones’s Folly.” Mr. Blake, it seems, came over from England in the year 1793. The yellow fever was raging badly. Our city was truly desolate. He said everyone seemed “frightened out of their wits.” The year following, he began teaching the flute and clarionet over Aitken’s music-store, on South Third street. He related that one day he was called upon by a committee of Friends, threatening him, to stop teaching the clarionet to their boys, or “we will have thee put in prison.”

This last anecdote relates to the strong Quaker presence in Philadelphia, which had been founded by members of the Society of Friends, as the Quakers were more formally known. The Friends had a strong testimony against music, as being something frivolous and a waste of time. Some Quakers nevertheless cultivated music, but had to do it secretly, because of social pressure.

In addition to the musical selections, Blake also included the following introduction:


When we contemplate the numerous and multifarious Publications of this nature which have recently appeared, it would seem almost superfluous to introduce another to the notice of Amateurs; but considering at the same time the prominent disadvantages which those works exhibit, even to persons far advanced in the more abstruse beauties of the Flute, and presuming it will be in our power to obviate the same, we feel convinced another Publication, on an improved plan, is still a Desideratum amongst the Patrons of that elegant and classical instrument.

It would be idle and ridiculous to question the merits of many of the Professional Gentlemen of eminence, whose works are now before the Public, but we appeal to three fourths of the performers on the Flute, whether the labored and scientific extravagances of their compositions are not a great drawback to the beauty, taste, and elegance which their productions otherwise unencumbered would exhibit.

From this conviction we beg leave to submit the present undertaking to the Patrons of the German Flute, in full confidence of the pleasure it will excite, and as it is our intention to embrace all the most exquisite and popular compositions of the most celebrated authors, with suitable variations as may appear expedient, and also such Original new Music as it will be in our power to procure through our extensive connexions, we have no doubt of being enabled to present to the younger Students as well as the established Professors of this Instrument, a work inferior to none in point of its pleasing and facilitating properties.

The Folio size has been adopted, as capable of containing more in a page than the Quarto without crouding, — the work to be continued in occasional numbers, —- of which to form a volume, but as each number will be entirely independent of the other, Gentlemen can bind up what they please with any other Flute Music of the usual size.

The volume contains exclusively music that might have been heard in the London of the time, with three works by Charles Saust, born in Germany, and emigrating to London in about 1809 , two by William Bark, and one each by Powell and Smith. Of all of these, I have only been able to locate an additional source for the Bark variations on The Ash Grove.


Page 4:
No. 1 Scotch air [with one variation, anonymous]

Page 5.
No. 2 Paddy Carey with Embellishments – Blondeau.
No. 3. Waltz – T. Monzani.
No. 4. Danza spagnola – [anon.]
No. 5 Madame Knittel’s waltz.

Page 6
No. 6. Life let us cherish – Saust. [with three variations]

Page 7
No. 7 Ye banks and braes of Bonnie Doon – Saust [with two variations]

Page 8
No. 8 In my cottage near a wood – Powell [with six varations]

Page 9
No. 9 Mio caro adone –Mozart [with two variations, and concluding Allegretto]

Page 10
No. 10 Ash grove – Bark [with six variations]

Page 11
No. 11 Andante grazioso – Mozart [from the piano sonata in A major, K. ]

Page 12
No. 12 Tyrolian air – Smith [with six variations]

Page 13
No. 13 Oh nanny wilt thou gang with me – Saust [with one variation]
No. 14 Waltz – [anon.]

Page 14
No. 15 Air con variazione [title of tune] – Bark [with six variations]

Page 15
No. 16 Coolin – Saust [with minore and concluding maggiore]


No. 1
I have not yet been able to identify this anonymous Scotch Air.

No. 2
This is still a traditional tune among Celtic musicians, and dates back at least as far as about 1780 . It is among the tunes included in Riley’s Flute Melodies (vol. 2).

Paddy Carey’s Fortune, or Irish Promotion

Paddy Carey’s Fortune:

Twas at the town of nate Clogheen
That Sergeant Snapp met Paddy Carey ;
A claner boy was never seen,
Brisk as a bee, light as a fairy:
His brawny shoulders, four feet square,
His cheeks like thumping red potatoes;
His legs would make a chairman stare!
And Pat was lov‘d by all the ladies !
Old and young, grave or sad.
Deaf and Dumb, dull or mad,
Waddling, twaddling, limping, squinting,
Light, brisk, and airy–
All the sweet faces, at Limerick races,
From Mulinavat to Maghera felt,
At Paddy’s beautiful name would melt!
The souls would cry. and look so shy,
Och! Cushlamachree, did you never see
The jolly boy, the darling joy, the ladies toy,
Nimble-footed, black-ey’d, rosy-cheek’d,
Curly-headed. Paddy Carey!
O, sweet Paddy. beautiful Paddy!
Nate little, tight little, Paddy Carey.

His heart was made of Irish oak,
Yet soft as streams from sweet Killarney,
His tongue was tipt with a bit o’ the brogue,
But a deuce a bit at all of the blarney.
Now Sergeant Snap, so sly and keen,
– While Pat was coaxing duck-legg’d Mary,
A shilling slipt, so nate and clane,
By th’ powers! he listed Paddy Carey;
Tight and sound- strong and light-
Cheeks so round —eyes s bright,—
Whistling, humming, drinking, drumming,
Light, tight, and airy!
All the sweet faces, at Limerick, etc.

The sowls wept loud, the crowd was great,
When waddling forth came Widow Leary;
Though she was crippled in her gait,
Her brawny arms clasp‘d Paddy Carey;
‘Och, Pat !” she cry’d – ‘ go, buy the ring“,
Here’s cash galloire, my darling honey;
Says Pat, ‘you sowl! I’ll do that thing,
And clapt his thumb upon her money,
Gimlet eye—sausage nose,
Pat so sly—ogle throws.
Leering,—tittering,—jeering,-— frittering,
Sweet Widow Leary!
All the sweet faces, at Limerick, etc.

When Pat had thus his fortune made,
He press’d the lips of Mrs. Leary,
And mounting straight a large cockade,
In captain’s boots struts Paddy Carey?
He grateful prais’d her shape, her back,
To others, like a dromedary;
Her eyes, that seem‘d their strings to crack,
Were Cupid’s darts to Captain Carey,
Nate and sweet, — no alloy—-
All complete—love and joy,
Ranting, roaring, soft adoring.
Dear Widow Leary?
All the sweet faces at Lim’rick races,
From Mulinavat to Maghera felt;
At Paddy’s promotion sigh and melt.
The sowls all cry, as the groom struts by.
Och? cushlamacrees thou art lost to me!
The jolly boy ! the darling boy !
The ladies’ toy? the widows joy!
Long-sword girted, mite short skirted,
Head cropt, whiskers chopp’d,
Captain Carey?
O, sweet Paddy? beautiful Paddy!
White-feathered, boot-leathered, Paddy Carey.

No. 5

Madame Margareta Knittel was a clarinetist, certainly one of the only women performing professionally on the clarinet at this time. Originally from Zurich, she arrived in the USA in 1816. Her performance in Washington in 1818 was noted in a German-language periodical, Amerika dargestellt durch sich selbst , published in Leipzig, reporting on events in the new nation.
John Baron (Concert Life in Nineteenth Century New Orleans) gives extensive details of concerts for her benefit performed in New Orleans in 1819 .

No. 6.

The origin for this very popular traditional song is a poem by Martin Usteri (from Zürich), with music by Hans Georg Nägeli . This was already anthologized in the Neues Schweizerisches Museum in 1793 . It was included in the Vollständiges Gesangbuch für Freimaurer, which went through multiple editions between 1801 and 1819. The poetry for the English version seems to be anonymous, but was already anthologized by shortly after 1800 (it is included, for example, in The Portfolio, published in Philadelphia in 1802). The tune is also included in Riley’s Flute Melodies. There is a set of six variations included as the third item in the four books of flute works attributed to Karl Kreith that are held at the Music Library of the University of California, Berkeley. I am not aware of any other source for this work by Saust.

Aufmunterung zur Freude

Freut Euch des Lebens
Weil noch das Lämpchen glüht;
Pflücket die Rose,
Eh sie verblüht!

So mancher schafft sich Sorg und Müh,
Sucht Dornen auf und findet sie
Und läßt das Veilchen unbemerkt
Das ihm am Wege blüht.
Freut Euch… .

Wenn gleich die Schöpfung sich verhüllt
Und lauter Donner ob uns brüllt
So lacht am Abend nach dem Sturm
Die Sonne, ach, so schön.
Freut euch …

Wer Neid und Mißgunst sorgsam flieht
Und Gnügsamkeit im Gärtchen zieht
Dem schießt sie schnell zum Bäumchen auf.
Das goldne Früchte trägt.
Freut euch ….

Bey dem der Lieb und Treue übt
Und gern dem ärmern Bruder giebt
Wie siedelt die Zufriedenheit
So gern sich bey ihm au
Freut euch ….

Und wenn der Pfad sich furchtbar engt
Und Mißgeschick uns plagt und drängt
So reicht die Freundschaft schwesterlich
Dem Redlichen die Hand.
Freut euch ….

Sie trocknet ihm die Thränen ab,
Und streut ihm Blumen bis ins Grab;
Sie wandelt Nacht in Dämmerung
Und Dämmerung in Licht
Freut euch ….

Sie ist des Lebens schönstes Band.
Schlagt, Brüder, traulich Hand in Hand
So wallt man froh so wallt man leicht
Ins bessre Vaterland.
Freut euch ….

Life let us cherish while yet the taper glows,
And the fresh flower pluck ere it close;
Why are ye fond of toil and care,
Why choose the rankling thorn to wear,
And heedless by the lily stray,
Which blossoms in our way.
When clouds obscure the atmosphere,
And fork’d lightnings rend the air,
The sun resumes his silvery crest,
And smiles adorn the west.
And heedless, etc.
The genial season soon is o’er,
Then let us quit the shore,
Contentment’s cell it is life’s rest,
The sunshine of the breast.
And heedless, etc.
Away with every toil and care
And cease the rankling thorn to wear,
With manful heart the conflict meet,
Till death sounds his retreat.
And heedless &c .
No. 7

This is an original song published by Robert Burns in 1791, and also known as The Banks o’ Doon. There are three different versions of the poem. Although it was a popular tune for the flute, sets of variations or fantasies on it are few. I have found no other source for the Saust work.

No. 8

The composer is probably Thomas Powell, whose publications included arrangements of favorite Scotch airs for the piano, such as Kinloch of Kinloch, My love she’s but a lassie yet, Roy’s Wife of Alldivaloch, and We’re a’noddin, all published in London between about 1800 and 1830. Other notable versions for flute include a set of variations by Drouet, a setting for unaccompanied flute by Nicholson, and an embellished version by Dressler .

An article in the Musical Times (Sept. 1, 1895, p. 591-592, no author credited) traces the history of this tune, which began its life as a French song published in 1725 (Dedans mon petit reduit). The familiar words were published by G. Walker in 1806.

In my cottage near a wood,
Love and Rosa now are mine;
Rosa, ever fair and good,
Charm me with those smiles of thine.

Rosa, partner of my life,
Thee alone my heart shall prize;
Thou the tender friend and wife.
Ah! too swift life’s current flies.

Linger yet, ye moments stay,
Why so rapid is your wing? ,
Whither would ye haste away?
Stay and hear my Rosa sing.

Love and you still bless my cot,
Fortune’s frowns are for our good;
May we live by pride forgot,
In our cottage near a wood .

No. 9
This is an anonymous adaptation of the Variations on “Mio Caro Adone” for piano by Mozart, K. 180. Variation 1 is taken from Mozart’s Variation 3; Variation 2 is taken from Mozart’s Variation 2; and the closing Allegretto (not labeled as a variation) is taken from Mozart’s Variation 6. Mozart’s set of variations, in turn, is based on an aria from La Fiera di Venezia, a three-act comedy by Salieri premiered in Vienna in January 1772.

No. 10

The composer is William Bark. He was also a flute maker, with an eight-key flute found in the Dayton C. Miller Collection of the Library of Congress (DCM 597). This set of six variations was published (with four additional variations, for a total of ten) in London by Gerock.
Bark has very few surviving publications, and almost nothing is known about his biography, but his Selection of Airs (for flute and piano) was reviewed in the Harmonicon (1829):

A Selection of Airs from the works of Eminent Composers, arranged by Wm. Bark. No. I. (Longman and Bates, Ludgate Hill.)
This is a useful publication, for it consists of airs so good in themselves, that the great facility afforded to both performers, in the manner of arranging them, will not, however powerful prejudice may be, render them unworthy the notice of those who are equal to things requiring infinitely more practical skill. The pieces introduced are the march in the Opferfest; an aria from Le Solitaire, by Carafa; Aure felici, by the same; a Portuguese Air; the Bridesmaid’s Chorus in the Freischutz; and an air by Kummer.

The Ash Grove is an English version of an original Welsh folk song, Llwyn Onn.

No. 11
This is adapted from the opening movement of the sonata for piano, K. 331, in A, by Mozart, and uses the theme and Variation 2, transposed into B-flat.

No. 12
This is the same Tyrolian Air that is included, with variations, in the collection self-published in London by Drouet which includes a German Waltz and a French Air. There it appears in F major.

No. 13
There are also variations on this popular Scots tune by Dressler. The poem is by Dr. Thomas Percy.

O, Nannie wilt thou gang wi’ me,
Nor sigh to leave the fl aunting town?
Can silent glens have charms lor thee,
The lowly cot and russet gown?
Nae langer drest in silken sheen,
Nae langer deck’d wi’ jewels rare,
Say, canst thou quit each courtly scene,
Where thou wert fairest of the fair?

O Nannie, when thou’rt far away,
Wilt thou not cast a look behind?
Say, canst thou face the fl aky snaw,
Nor shrink before the winter wind?
O can that soft and gentle mien
Severest hardships learn to bear,
Nor, sad, regret each courtly scene,
Where thou wert fairest of the fair?

O Nannie, canst thou love so true,
Through perils keen wi’ me to gae?
Or, when thy swain mishap shall rue,
To share with him the pang of wae?
Say, should disease or pain befall,
Wilt thou assume the nurse’s care,
Nor, wishful, those gay scenes recall,
Where thou wert fairest of the fair?

And when at last thy love shall die,
Wilt thou receive his parting breath?
Wilt thou repress each struggling sigh,
And cheer with smiles the bed of death?
And wilt thou o’er his much-loved clay
Strew flowers, and drop the tender tear?
Nor then regret those scenes so gay,
Where thou wert fairest of the fair?

No. 16

This is a very popular Irish tune, also spelled Coolun, and known in Gaelic as An Chúilfhionn [The Fair-Haired Girl]. Other contemporary versions for flute include a set of variations for flute and piano by Charles Nicholson.
John Fanning Watson, Annals of Philadelphia, and Pennsylvania, in the olden time, Volume 3, p. 151.
See my article (originally published in Flute Focus):
The Apollo; Or, Vocal Repository: Containing a Selection of Songs, London, p .19
Amerika dargestellet durch sich selbsst, no. 4, June, 1818, p. 16.
John H. Baron, Concert Life in Nineteenth-Century New Orleans: A Comprehensive Reference, p. xxiii.
Allgemeiner anzeiger und nationalzeitung der Deutschen, p. 713
Neues schweitzersches Museum, p. 797-798.
See my article on Dressler’s Choix de jolies bagatelles, published in Analizar, interpretar, hacer música: de las Cantigas de Santa María a la organología: Escritos in memoriam Gerardo V. Huseby, Melanie Plesch, editor, Buenos Aires: Gourmet Musical Ediciones, 2014, pp. 503-524.
The British melodist; or, National song book, p. 225-226.

Published on with permission from Prof. Dr. Tom Moore

About Prof. Dr. Tom Moore

Tom Moore holds degrees in music from Harvard and Stanford and studied traverso with Sandra Miller. From 2004 to 2007, he was visiting professor of music at the University of Rio de Janeiro (UniRio), where he co-directed the early music ensemble, Camerata Quantz. He has recorded with Kim Reighley and Mélomanie for Lyrichord (USA) and with Le Triomphe de l’Amour for Lyrichord and A Casa Discos (Brazil). Mr. Moore writes about music for,, 21st Century Music,  Opera Today, Flute Talk, Flutist Quarterly, and other journals. He has also sung professionally with the Symphonic Chorus of Rio de Janeiro and Concert Royal and Pomerium Musices of New York. He is presently head of the Sound and Image Department of the Green Library of Florida International University, Miami, FL. 

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