European music publishing during the Napoleonic wars

Rowland, David (2016). European music publishing during the Napoleonic wars. In: Jardin, Étienne ed. Music and War in Europe from the French Revolution to WWI. Music, criticism and politics (2). Turnhaut: Brepols, pp. 223–232.



Prior to the French Revolution the publishing trade in Europe had become increasingly international. Composers and the major publishers had established international networks which enabled them to negotiate deals and to work in collaboration in order to counteract the effects of piracy. The practice of simultaneous publication was gaining ground. While the French Revolution had held back these developments to some extent, the Napoleonic wars had a much more significant impact. Governments (especially the French) became highly protectionist, communications between countries became unreliable and the movement of musicians around Europe became difficult. The dissemination of works was restricted and composers’ contracts, which had previously begun to take on an international dimension, tended to become more localised in nature. These developments are discussed in relation to major publishing figures of the era such as Artaria, Breitkopf & Härtel, Clementi, Erard and Pleyel and contracts signed by Beethoven, Clementi, Haydn and others are examined. The re-establishment of international collaboration from 1815 demonstrates just how restrictive the Napoleonic wars had been.

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