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David Johnson

(b Straloch, Perthshire, Feb 13, 1721; d London, Feb 6, 1807). Scottish composer, flautist and musical benefactor. He studied law at Edinburgh University and in 1745 joined the British army as a lieutenant; he was active in Scotland in the Jacobite Rebellion (1745–6), in Flanders (1747–8) and in North America (1756–67). In 1770 he retired from the army, intending to settle in New York State, but this plan was upset by the War of Independence; he returned to the army in 1780 and was promoted to the rank of general in his old age.

Reid’s flute-playing was renowned in Edinburgh and London salons. He wrote 12 flute sonatas, the melodic invention and security of construction of which are remarkable for a part-time composer. Some are English in style (e.g. no.3 of the 1762 set, which ends with a fast 3/4 air similar to some of Purcell’s theatre songs), others Scottish (e.g. no.2 of the same set, the slow movement of which has gapped-scale melodies and Scotch snaps, and which ends with a 6/8 jig). His use of different regional styles was probably learnt from James Oswald, who, as well as being a prominent composer, was Reid’s publisher. Reid’s marches, dedicated to various army regiments, are vividly coloured by Scottish idioms. The most famous is the ...