Thomas Roughead

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Fictional 18th century English composer in the 1966 novel The Anti-Death League, by Kingsley Amis. Very little is known of his life.

British army chaplain and amateur musician Willie Ayscue discovers a manuscript of his trio-sonata for flute, violin and piano in the library of Lady Lucy Hazell, and plans a concert of Roughead works.

He composed a masque, Hector and Andromache, the song "Airs and Graces," and a number of church anthems including "Lord, Protect Thou Thy Servants." The novel ends with Ayscue's concert of his music.


Before Leonard could reply, Ayscue hurried into the room with a sheaf of papers in his hand. His face was less gaunt than usual.

"This is amazing," he said loudly. "Look at this, all of you. Found it stuffed between the pages of a Victorian biological encyclopedia, of all things. Must have been there for a hundred years."

What he was displaying was a number o£ sheets of music, creased, yellow and spotted, but quite legible. Leonard caught the words Vivace assai.

"Does the name Thomas Roughead mean anything to you?"

Hunter and Leonard shook their heads. Dr. Best said he was not sure.

"Late eighteenth-century chap. More or less the generation after Boyce. Chum of Jonathan Battishill. Organist at the Temple at one stage. And ... pupil of the very same Johann Christian Bach you and I were discussing not half an hour ago, doctor. Absolutely fantastic!"

"What about this Roughead?" asked Hunter.

"I have discovered," said Ayscue, "what I bet you anything you like is the only surviving copy of Roughead's trio-sonata in B minor for flute, violin and clavier. Hitherto known only in a transcription for two pianos by that awful old ass Cipriani Potter. Plus a couple of pages of a rather dull organ piece by John Stanley. I say, I wonder how much Lady Hazell would want for the Roughead."

"I should think she'd let you have it for what it's worth," said Hunter. "Viz, nothing."

"Oh, surely it'd be worth quite a bit," said Leonard. "It's not as if it's by anybody famous, I know, but it is old. You know, like an old master. You don't have to know who the old master is."