Music Publishing in Britain ca. 1840-1900

Rowland, David (2019). Music Publishing in Britain ca. 1840-1900. In: Sala, Massimiliano ed. Music and the Second Industrial Revolution. Music, Science & Technology (2). Turnhout: Brepols.



By the middle of the nineteenth century the essential historical processes by which music was prepared for publication were established. Moveable type had been used in music publishing since the fifteenth century and although its use declined, it was adopted again in the late eighteenth century in Germany and then in the mid-nineteenth century in Britain, where it was used in conjunction with stereotyping. Engraving had become the usual method of preparing musical images for printing around 1700 and continued in use until the last decade of the twentieth century while lithography was invented in 1796 and gradually gained ground in Britain in the middle of the nineteenth century.
By the middle of the nineteenth century a new mass market for printed music was developing as the middle and lower classes gained access to instruments and performances, and as they participated in music through the development of large-scale choruses, brass bands, etc. Music publishers responded to the existence of this new, bigger market by adopting new methods and processes of music production. As the market segmented, different printing technologies were found to be appropriate to the production of scores for particular audiences. Both Novello and D’Almaine & Co. published booklets in the late 1840s explaining how they were meeting the growing public demand for music. Novello extolled the merits of stereotyping and music type as a means of publishing thousands of copies of single works while D’Almaine adopted lithographic transfer for the same purpose. Throughout this period of innovation engraving remained important as a method of producing scores that attracted smaller numbers of buyers.
This chapter examines in detail the publishing activities of Novello and D’Almaine & Co., while at the same time identifying the technical characteristics of different methods of printing and their commercial characteristics. The business of producing published music is set in the context of the social and technical developments of the nineteenth century.

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