Graduated from the high school, New York City studies with Serly, Wolpe, Copland, Luening, Greissle.
Born in Manhattan, Townsend became interested in composition while a student at the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, in New York City. He taught himself composition, counterpoint and orchestration. In 1941, he began studying composition privately, with Tibor Serly, Stefan Wolpe, Aaron Copland, Otto Luening and Felix Greissle, among others
Townsend taught at Brooklyn College, City University of New York (1958-1969), Lehman College, City University of New York (1970-1971), the University of Bridgeport (Connecticut.
1973-1975) and Purchase College (also known as State University of New York Purchase) (1973-1976). From 1977 to 1980, he was editor of Musical Heritage Review.
Townsend’s research into 18thand 19th-century music has resulted in editions, recordings and performances, most notably of a Carl Czerny overture and a mass by Sigismund Neukomm. He received research grants from the Martha Baird Rockefeller Fund (1965) and the New York State Council on the Arts (1975).
Townsend’s compositions include several orchestral works, chamber music pieces, choral works, film and television scores, three operettas, and one opera.
1 at Carnegie Hall. Townsend"s own compositions generally used traditional forms and tonality. Townsend was married twice.
Divorced; children: Jonathan, April, Adam.