Bernard Lee’s “A Choice Collection of 20 Airs”


This work consists 20 short pieces for the double flageolet. It seems to be targeted mainly at the amateur player with most of the pieces being quite simple and primarily in major thirds (the easiest interval to play on the instrument), although a few of the later works (such as number 17: “Sing To Love a Roundelay”) include more challenging intervals and simple polyphony.

The Music

Many of the works seem to have been original compositions, with a few popular songs and national works. Of the arrangements, the setting of “God Preserve the Emperor” (number 15) is particularly interesting as it was also arranged by John Parry in his work “Philomel”, probably making it unique in a work arranged for this instrument by two composers. A copy of Parry’s setting has been included as it illuminates some of the difficulties faced when writing for the double flageolet (such as when the tune descends to a low “D” in the third line of the poem) and how different musicians attempted to resolve them.

Bernard Lee

Little is known about Bernard Lee, although his name periodically is found in references to flageolet playing in the early 19th Century. In the Morning Post, 22 December 1818 he placed an advert stating:

A Card to the Public
Mr B. Lee, Professor of Collinet’s Improved French Flageolet, begs leave to inform the Nobility, Gentry, &c. that he Provides for Balls and Quadrille Parties select Musicians, whose performance in accompanying that fasionable instrument he pledges himself will ensure satisfaction.
The Flute, Flageolet, &c., accurately taught.
Address, No. 27, Frith-Street, Soho.

This suggest that, perhaps unusually for this period, he was an English specialist in the French flageolet and its music.

This Edition

The work was originally published by the flageolet maker John Briggs. This edition was prepared from a copy in the British Library (Music Collections; b.60.(5.)). Apart from one missing accidental in number 9, the work has not required any substantive editing.

The Music

You may download the entire work as a single pdf file or each individual piece by choosing them from the list below. Parry’s setting of “God Preserve the Emperor” is included in the full work and is also available on its own.

Download the Full Work

Individual Pieces:

  1. Waltz
  2. March
  3. Waltz
  4. King George IV’s Visit to Scotland
  5. Allegretto
  6. Allegro
  7. [Untitled]
  8. Moderato
  9. Allegretto Moderato
  10. [Untitled]
  11. Waltz
  12. Allegro
  13. Andante. Ballard—“Dear Harp of Sweet Erin”
  14. Allegro
  15. Adagio. “God Preserve the Emperor”. Compare to Parry’s version of the same piece.
  16. “Di Tanti Palpiti”. By Rossini.
  17. Andante Allegretto. “Sing To Love a Roundelay”
  18. Allegretto Moderato.
  19. The Rose Tree.
  20. Waltz. Allegro.

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There are 2 comments for this page.

  1. I’m really pleased you played (and hopefully enjoyed!) this music!
    Jacob, posted on: 6th May 2016 at 8.33 AM
  2. Thank you for making this music available. At a Regency Era ball last Saturday my group, the Divertimento Dance Orchestra, played #20 Waltz from this set for dancers in Alameda, California.
    James Langdell, posted on: 1st February 2016 at 8.05 PM