Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Pratten, Robert Sidney

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PRATTEN, ROBERT SIDNEY (1824–1868), flautist, second son of a professor of music who was for many years flautist at the Bristol theatre, was born at Bristol on 23 Jan. 1824; his mother's maiden name was Sidney. On 25 March 1835, at Clifton, Pratten made an early début, playing Nicholson's arrangement of ‘O dolce concento.’ After an engagement as first flute at the Dublin Theatre Royal, he came in 1846 to London. The Duke of Cambridge and others were interested in his talent, and he was sent to Germany to study composition. Pratten's popular piece for flute, ‘L'Espérance,’ was published at Leipzig, 1847. Upon his return to London in 1848 Pratten soon rose to the front rank of his art. He played first flute at the Royal Italian Opera, English Opera, the Sacred Harmonic, Philharmonic, and other concerts and musical festivals. His tone was powerful, his execution brilliant. He wrote instruction books for his instrument, special studies for Siccama's diatonic flute, 1848, and for his own perfected flute, 1856, a Concertstück, 1852, and many arrangements of operatic airs. He died, aged 44, at Ramsgate, on 10 Feb. 1868. His younger brother, Frederick Sidney Pratten, contrabassist, died in London on 3 March 1873.

Pratten married, on 24 Sept. 1854, Catherina Josepha Pelzer, guitarist, born at Mülheim-on-the-Rhine. She made her reputation as a child artist in Germany, and in her ninth year appeared at the King's Theatre, London. Madame Pratten eventually settled in London as a teacher of the guitar, for which she composed a number of pieces. She died on 10 Oct. 1895.

[Bristol Mirror, 28 March 1835; Musical World, 1868, pp. 108, 125; Athenæum, 1868, i. 331; Brown's Dict. of Musicians, p. 483; Musical Directory, 1868, p. xiii; Grove's Dict. of Music, iii. 27; Daily News, 16 Oct. 1895; Pratten's Works.]

L. M. M.