The Celebrated Circus Tunes performed at Edinburgh this season
by Watlen, John

Full title: The Celebrated Circus Tunes, Performed at Edinburgh this Season, With The Addition of Some New Reels and Strathspeys Set For The Piano Forte or Violin and Bass by John Watlen

Publisher: Edinburgh

Printer: Printed for the Author

Date: [1791-98?]


This is the music used by Watlen's Equestrian Circus (Baston).
Vol.1 has 73 items of which nine are by Watlen. Vol.2 has 74 items of which 12 are by Watlen and another 3 adapted by him.
The collection includes plenty of French (or cod French) music referencing the Revolution; a variety of repertoire, including named dancers for some tunes which appear elsewhere, battle pieces, and general exotica ('Pindaric Ode of the Ancient Greeks' [in French], 'Vulcans March composed by Countess Balcarres', etc.). The printing seems to have been compiled from various sources, with different engravers.


Vol.1 p.20 has 2 consecutive settings of 'The new Highland Laddie', the first with a very simple bass, binary octaves etc, whilst the second is explicitly 'for the Piano Forte'. Vol.2 includes the music for William Reeve's Oscar and Malvina (Shield?); and a 'Rondo for Union Pipes and Harp', naming the players as 'Mr [Denis] Courtney & Mr Meyer', to a broken chordal accompaniment.
In Vol.2, on pp.27-31, 'The 9 following Tunes were Composed by Miss J. Shirreff, a Young Lady at Nine Years of Age.'
On p.32 are two German waltzes 'presented to Mr Watlen by a Lady of Distinction'; the second has a pianistic 'Bass by J. Watlen'.
On p.33 'Tow'ring Tinto, a Strath'y' is 'corrected, with a New Bass by Mr Watlen': the first section is simpler than the second's Alberti bass.

RISM: W253, W254

Gore: W4

Link: IMSLP, from National Library of Australia - the first 30 pages of vol.1, including subscribers list.

Biographical info: In 1788, Watlen was listed as a music master and tuner, and he was publishing music in 1789, whilst his music warehouse opened in 1792. He was the first secretary of Edinburgh Musical Fund in 1790. He had to sell up c.1799 and by 1806 had moved to London, where he seems already to have had a business or agency (Glen 2, xiv-xv); Glen is dismissive of Watlen's attempts to compose Scottish tunes! Like many others, Watlen printed tunes by the Gows without attribution. (Alburger, 130)


Aberdeen University Library
Birmingham University Library
Cambridge University Library
University Library, Durham
Dundee Central Library (Wighton Collection)
National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh
Edinburgh City Library
Edinburgh University Library
Mitchell Library, Glasgow
Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Glasgow
University of Glasgow Library
Royal Academy of Music, London
British Library, London
Royal College of Music, London
Vaughan Williams Memorial Library, Cecil Sharp House, London
Manchester Public Library
Manchester University Library
Newcastle University Library
Bodleian Library, University of Oxford
A K Bell Library, Perth
Saint Andrews University Library
Sheffield University Library
National Library of Ireland, Dublin
Trinity College Dublin

GB-A Hend inst Wat c (listed as Glasgow: McFadyen, 1801?)
GB-DRu Fleming SF.412(e)
GB-DUcl 10454 (book 1)
GB-En Glen 286 (books 1-2)
GB-Gu Ca12-x29 (books 1-2: book 1 lacks subscribers list, book 2 lacks pp.22-23)
GB-Lbl g.365 (book 1? with subscribers list and index, lacks pp.30-34 )
GB-Lbl g.365.a (book 2?)
GB-P Be72 (book 1)
GB-P Be73 (book 2)

    Digitised items

    This source has not been digitised.