Printer Friendly

Music publishing by subscription in 1820s France: a preliminary study.


Subscription lists in six scores published in France in the 1820s open a window onto publishing and distribution practices of that era. The publishers are J. Frey of Paris, with examples of subscription lists from full scores in his complete sets of operas by Mozart and Gretry, Maurice Schlesinger, also of Paris, with a vocal score of Mozart's Requiem; and Bohem of Lille, with a vocal score of Zemire et Azor by Louis Spohr. The subscription lists contain information about the types of subscribers: male/female, musicians/nonmusicians, and Parisians/ provincials/ foreigners. These examples from nineteenth-century France suggest that funding the publishing of scores through subscription had become a less viable business model than had been the case in the eighteenth century.

While cataloging the Rokahr Family Archive, a special collection of opera scores donated in 2002 to the University of Nebraska--Lincoln (UNL), we came across a score that had been published by subscription. Before its title page, the score included several bound-in pages listing names of subscribers. After noticing this item, we made a point of looking for more such scores in the collection, in part with the aim of discovering how prevalent this mode of publishing was. In the end, after examining all the scores, we found six scores prefaced with lists naming subscribers. The collection holds over 5,700 opera scores dated from the eighteenth century into the twenty-first with an emphasis on French publications. Significantly, the six subscription scores were all published in France and date from the 1820s. Listed below are the scores, their bibliographic information, and their ownership history.

1. Spohr, Louis. [Zemire und Azor. Vocal score. French] zentire et Azor: opera seerie [sic] en quatre actes / musique de L. Spohr; arrange pour la scene francaise par H. Brovellio; arrange pour le forte piano par J. P. Pixis. Lille: Bohem, [1824?].

Purchased from the music shop Arioso, Paris, 6 October 1984. Sticker on p. 2 of cover, "Adolph Audener, 19, Faub. Poissonniere." Sticker on cover and stamp on p. [i] for Abonnement Rouart Lerolle showing that this score was offered on loan from a publisher who also ran a subscription library. Rouart Lerolle's business operated from 1904 to 1941. (1)

2. Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus. [Zauberflote. French & Italian] Il flauto magico: Dramma giocoso in due atti / W A. Mozart. 2 vols. Paris: J. Frey, 1821. (Collection des operas de Mozart; no. 3).

Purchased from Maison Pugno, Paris, 7 June 1951. Page 2 of cover includes inscription, "Conservatoire Royale de Musique de Paris premier prix de Cor, par Jean Mengal, 1815." Page [i] has inscription seemingly in the same hand, "Offert a son ami Perier, 1864." Note that the publication is dated from the heading to the subscription list, 1821, while the inscription notes that Jean Mengal was given the first prize in horn from the Conservatory in 1815.

3. Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus. [Don Giovanni. French & Italian] Don Giovanni: Drama giocoso in due atti / messo in musica dal Signor W. A. Mozart. 2 vols Paris: J. Frey, 1820. (Collection des operas de Mozart; no. 2). [Note: date and subscription list from vol. 2].

Purchased from the shop of Francois Roulmann in Paris, 29 September 1998. No further marks or ownership.

4. Gretry, Andre. Elisca: Opira comique en trois actes / paroles de Favieres et Gretry neveu; musique de A. Gretry. Paris: J. Frey, 1 823j. (Collection des operas de Gretry en grandes partitions; no. 32).

Purchased from Richard MacNutt, Tunbridge Wells, England, 29 May 1985. No further marks of ownership.

5. Gretry, Andre. La caravane du Caire: Grand opera en trois actes / paroles de Morel; musique de A. Gretry. Paris: J. Frey, [182--?]. (No. 19 de la Collection des operas de Gretry).

Purchased from Richard MacNutt, Tunbridge. Wells, England, 29 May 1985. No further marks of ownership.

6. Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus. [Requiem, K. 626, D minor (Sussmayr). Vocal score. German & Latin] Requiem / composto e ridotto per il cembalo da W A. Mozart. Paris: Maurice Schlesinger, [ca. 1825].

Purchased from the shop of Francois Roulmann, Paris, 29 September 1998. No further marks of ownership.

This article examines the business model of publishing music by subscription; the six scores at our disposal allow us to focus on this model as it existed in France during the 1820s. Although in earlier times patronage often provided a musician's livelihood and the means for performance and publication, subscription publishing, as in these nineteenth-century examples, is a more democratic form of patronage in which the funds for publication come from many donors who make relatively small contributions rather than from one patron. Subscribers promise in advance of publication to buy one or more copies of the score, often for a deep discount, thus guaranteeing the publisher or composer a baseline income from his endeavor. The subscribers' names are printed as part of the publication.

Publishing costs can be shouldered by various entities--by the author/composer, by a group of subscribers, by a patron, or by a publishing house. The questions we ask of different models of music publishing are: Who pays? Who profits? Who subscribes? Is the publishing model working? Is it making or losing money? These are the questions to ask of the six French music publications under discussion.


The literature on publishing music by subscription is primarily about German publications in the eighteenth century, with a nod toward England at the same time. Of nineteenth-century music-subscription publishing in France there is almost no hint. Looking at some of the literature about earlier music subscription publishing will enable us to view the birthplace of the nineteenth-century French subscription model.

In Germany, the 1770s through the 1790s represented the heyday of publishing music by subscription. In 1783, the first year of Cramers Magazin der Musik, more than eighty music scores were advertised as being available by subscription. (2) Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach famously self-published some of his works and financed the venture through subscription. In addition to being a composer, he was, perhaps by necessity, a businessman, and he did the "planning, preparing, marketing, and distributing" for sixteen of his own works, according to Peggy Daub in an article in Bach Perspectives. (3) Bach had an arrangement with the publisher Breitkopf to serve as his printer. Breitkopf had recently begun laying out their pages of music using movable type instead of engraved plates. With movable type, larger editions could be printed than with the softer engraved copper plates. After printing one edition, the type could be reused for something else. If more scores were needed, a second edition would need to be produced. Thus, when using movable type, it became quite important to get a solid estimate of the number of copies that would sell of a certain publication. As Daub says, "Gathering subscriptions was a pragmatic vehicle for determining potential sales." (4)

Bach spent about half a year gathering subscribers for a new publication of piano sonatas. (5) He solicited subscribers in a Hamburg newspaper, and he sent personal letters to composer-friends and to collectors of subscriptions (Kollekteuren) (6) who would act as agents of sale for his works. Often he timed his publications to correspond with the Leipzig book fairs. For the first of the six subscription publications entitled Sonaten fur Kenner und Liebhaber, which were printed between 1779 and 1787, Bach managed to find 335 subscribers. This number dropped for future publications; the third had just 156 subscribers. (7) Bach's actual print run was 1,050, (8) considerably larger than the number of subscriptions sold, so it seems clear that Bach was using his subscription sale as a gauge of interest in the publication, not as a hard number which would determine the size of the print run. His sales to subscribers, however, did pay the costs of paper, printing, advertising, and shipping. In a letter he claims to have made 1,000 marks profit from one of these publications. (9) So, to some extent the model of self-publishing by subscription worked for C. P. E. Bach.

Klaus Hortschansky, a scholar of music publishing, writes more generally about how music was distributed in eighteenth-century Germany. "Such activities as sales, distribution and lending were conducted as sidelines by the cantor, organist, or orchestral musician, whose positions already provided a fixed annual income." (10) To the end of the eighteenth century composers themselves often ran their own music sales and distribution business. They produced copies of their music, sometimes in manuscript form, and offered them for sale. With subscription publishing, a network of middlemen or distributors received free subscriptions, or even cash, and could distribute printed works at no risk to themselves. (11) They would sometimes invest in advertising on behalf of the composer. Middlemen can be identified from some subscription lists, which show how many copies each subscriber received. If a subscriber received forty copies of a publication, we could assume he was acting as a middleman. As an example, C. P. E. Bach would have what were essentially dealers, or Kollekteuren, listed as subscribers. These dealers, at the highest point thirty-one of them, came from as many as twenty cities in Europe, (12) and by this means, distribution of C. P. E. Bach's music could be quite broad.


By the 1820s in France, the conditions for subscription publishing had changed. Composers were much more dependent on publishing houses to produce and market their scores. Publishing by subscription, insofar as it persisted, was usually undertaken by the publishers, not by the composers. Using the examples found in the Rokahr Family Archive gives us a window into what kind of music was published this way.

The first of the scores is an engraved vocal score of Zimire ei Azor by Louis Spohr, published in Lille by a relatively unknown publisher: Bohem. The publisher information at the bottom of the title page in UNL's copy is covered by a sticker from Dufaut & Dubois in Paris. Appendix 1 shows the list of 113 subscribers that was published with the score.

There are four publications from J. Frey in Paris. The first two are the second and third numbers of an edition of Mozart's operas: Die Zauberflote (called here II flauto magico--a French edition of a German opera with text in Italian and French) and Don Giovanni (also in Italian and French). These are full-score, engraved editions. Appendix 2 shows the first of three pages of the 172-name subscriber list of Die Zauberflote. (Note that the title is given in French here, La flute enchantee, even though the Italian title was used on the title page.) The subscriber list in Don Giovanni is similar in layout, but contains 333 names.

The third and fourth publications from Frey were published in a series of operas by Gretry in full score, also in engraved editions: La caravane du Caire, no. 19, and Elisca, no. 32 of the thirty-two Gretry operas. The subscription list as shown in appendix 3 is the same on each, and is very short at only nineteen names. One wonders why Frey printed such a short subscription list, except to note that Archduke Rodolphe of Austria, the first name listed, was one of the subscribers.

Finally we have an engraved vocal score of Mozart's Requiem, published by Maurice Schlesinger in Paris and co-published in Berlin by A. M. Schlesinger, his father. Appendix 4 shows the first page of the subscription list, which has a healthy 151 subscribers.

In all six cases, the publications are physically large and impressive (36 cm x 32 cm) and printed on heavy paper from engraved plates. Four of the six are full scores and two are vocal scores. Hortschansky characterized subscription publishing in this century as follows: "During the nineteenth century, subscription plans were used by publishers mainly to finance monumental, memorial, or complete editions." (13) Our sample confirms this observation: four of our six examples are from complete editions, and all could be called fine, large editions.

The publishing of the lists themselves as a preface to the score bears some similarity to donor walls in buildings or patron lists in concert programs. Having their names listed in the publication was an encouragement to the subscribers. It gave notice of their interest and their financial ability to be a subscriber. It also gave them some glory by association, particularly for those publications in which royalty were listed.

The nature of the information given about the subscribers in these six scores varies. Looking in greater detail at the layout of these lists and the information included will give more insight into the subscribers.

Bohem, the publisher for the opera by Spohr, was located in Lille, not Paris, so it is not surprising that the subscriber list is arranged by city. The publisher was able to obtain subscribers in fourteen French cities and in six cities in Belgium. Notice from appendix 1 that the number of orders for each subscriber is listed. Almost all have submitted orders for one or two copies, but Mees in Brussels is getting seven, while six each go to Broveillo in Douai and Professeur Danjoux in Mons. It is quite likely that these subscribers sold some of their copies, so they were acting as distributors. Each column of this list begins with "MM." (messieurs), but there are some female subscribers, and their titles are added: for example, [M.sup.elle] Cornelie Flak (Arras), [M.sup.elle] Louise Killemacher (Paris), also Veuve Augt. Le Duc (Paris). Titles are listed for nobles: Comte de Murat and Baron de Tinand, both in Lille. Occasionally a first name or initial appears on the list, but usually just surnames are listed. A few professions are noted, mostly professors, with also a chef d'orchestre and an artiste du theatre, and a facteur de piano.

A number of names on the list, especially those in Paris, are music publishers: Dufaut et Dubois, Jeannet et Cotel, Sieber, J. Meissonnier, Carli, Le Duc, Pleyel, Petit, Schlesinger, Pacini, Lemoine. Given the limited personal information on the list it is not possible to identify salespeople with certainty, hut they surely do not constitute an inconsiderable number.

The list in the Spohr score is not alphabetized and the spelling is not perfect. Notice "Maurice Schlsimger" [rate, Schlesinger], whom we know as a music publisher, and whose last name was not proofread. The page itself appears not to have been engraved, though the rest of the volume was, and the list is also printed on a slightly different paper. This might be explained by C. P. E. Bach's complaint about how his subscribers' names would sometimes come in after the volume was published. (14) It is probable that the subscribers' page in this volume was produced last to include as many subscriber names as possible, and then bound with the volume.

In comparison with the Spohr list are impressive subscription lists in the scores for Mozart's Die Zauberfrite and Don Giovanni, published by Frey. These lists are alphabetized, at least by the first letter of the surname. They are engraved pages, unlike the Spohr, and apparently they were engraved in alphabetical order, leaving plenty of space after each letter. As late-arriving subscriptions came in, names were added. See the A names in appendix 2, alphabetical through Ayme, then Adrien and Angles added. Again the B names are alphabetical through Brute, then three more names are added at the bottom, presumably in the order in which subscriptions were received.

The Frey lists are more detailed than the Bohem list. More first names and initials are listed, more titles (Marquis, Vicomte, Chevalier, Comtesse, etc.), and more professions. The total number of unique subscribers on both lists is 365, with 172 names on the Zauberflote list, 333 on the list for Don Giovanni, and 137 names in common between the two lists. Unlike the Bohem list, however, the number of copies for each subscriber is lacking.

Compare these detailed Mozart lists from Frey to his lists in the Gretry operas (appendix 3). The Gretry list includes similar types of information, but there are only nineteen names. Either Mozart was much more popular than Gretry, or Frey developed his lists of subscribers for the two series in a significantly different way.

Last is the subscriber list attached to a publication of Mozart's Requiem. Its publisher, Maurice Schlesinger, was an innovative businessman. About ten years after he published this edition, he created a foundation for publishers, paper makers, and ink makers together to create editions that were significantly less expensive, called "a bon marche." He also had a circulating library in his music shop, and he invested in other financial concerns, such as a hotel and the telegraph. His subscription list shows some of the same zeal. He clearly wrote to a number of kings, queens, princes, dukes, and other royalty, and he lists the thirteen positive responses at the top. Notice that the king of France was a subscriber, and appeared first on the subscription list. We sec the Grand Duke Rodolphe of Austria again, as well as members of royalty of the German states. The 151 subscribers have a pan-European flavor, with France represented, as well as Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, England, the Netherlands, and Russia. The list is well alphabetized--only three mistakes--and there are a few extra names added on at the end.

Like the Bohem publication, the Schlesinger list shows the numbers of copies sold to each individual subscriber. The larger numbers come from foreign music dealers; Artaria in Vienna ordered six copies; Boosey in London, twelve; and Clementi in London, nine. These were music sellers who would have bought copies to sell in their shops. The winner, though, is Schlesinger in Berlin, who received no fewer than one hundred copies. The Berlin Schlesinger was actually a co-publisher of this work, so including this information in the subscription list is a bit disingenuous.

None of these scores includes a date of publication on its title page. The date of publication can be deduced by comparing clues in the score with information in the Dictionnaire des editeurs de musique francais by Anik Devries and Francois Lesure. (15) This work includes dates during which publishers were at specific addresses; dates that they used specific names for their business on their title pages; and dates of plate numbers. In addition, there is detailed information on legal issues: when the businesses began, when they ended, who bought out whom. For these six publications, some contradictions may be found between dates when using publishers' numbers, addresses, and names, hut all fall into the 1820s.


Who subscribed to these publications? Figure 1 shows statistics for the numbers of subscribers that could be identified in each score with specific characteristics: women, titled nobility or royalty, those living in France outside of Paris, those living outside of France, and those with professions identified.

Fig. 1. Identifiable characteristics of subscribers in each score:
women, titled nobility or royalty, those living in France outside
of Paris, those living outside of France, those with professions


Publisher                      Percent  Count

Bohem                                5  6 of 113 subscribers
Frey-Mozart                         22  80 of 365 subscribers
Frey-Gretry                         16  3 of 19 subscribers
Schlesinger                         12  18 of 151 subscribers
Total:                              17  107 of 648 subscribers

Titled nobility or royalty

Publisher                      Percent  Count

Bohem                               26  29 of 113 subscribers
Frey-Mozart                         15  53 of 365 subscribers
Frey-Gretry                         11  2 of 19 subscribers
Schlesinger                         14  21 of 151 subscribers
Total:                              16   105 of 648

Provincial (outside of Paris)

Publisher                      Percent  Count

Bohem                               62  70 of 113 subscribers
Frey-Mozart                          3  10 of 365 subscribers
Frey-Gretry                          0  0 of 19 subscribers
Schlesinger                         13  20 of 151 subscribers
Total:                              15  100 of 648 subscribers

Foreign (outside of France)

Publisher                      Percent  Count

Bohem                                9  10 of 113 subscribers
Frey-Mozart                          1  4 of 365 subscribers
Frey-Gretry                          5  1 of 19 subscribers
Schlesinger                         34  51 of 151 subscribers
Total:                              10  66 of 648 subscribers

Listed with professions

Publisher                      Percent  Count

Bohem                               15  17 of 113 subscribers
Frey-Mozart                         47  170 of 365 subscribers
Frey-Gretry                         47  9 of 19 subscribers
Schlesinger                         29  44 of 151 subscribers
Total:                              37  240 of 648 subscribers

With music professions

Publisher                   Percent  Count

Bohem                            15  17 of 113 subscribers
Frey-Mozart                      42  155 of 365 subscribers
Frey-Gretry                      26  5 of 19 subscribers
Schlesinger                      21  31 of 151 subscribers
Total:                           32  208 of 648 subscribers

With non-music professions

Publisher                   Percent  Count

Bohem                             0  0 of 113 subscribers
Frey-Mozart                       4  11 of 172 + 4 of 193 subscribers
Frey-Gretry                       21  4 of 19 subscribers
Schlesinger                        9  13 of 151 subscribers
Total:                             5  32 of 648 subscribers

There are a total of 648 subscribers listed in the scores. Seventeen percent were women--a total that varied from 5 percent in the Bohem score to 22 percent in the Frey Mozart scores. Of the 107 women, 75 were married and 31 unmarried, as distinguished by their titles: madame, veuve, or mademoiselle. One more female listing had no title associated with her name. Sixteen percent were titled nobility or royalty--varying from 11 percent in the Frey Gretry score to a high of 26 percent in the Bohem score. Perhaps his location in the provinces made Bohem more zealous in seeking subscribers among the nobility. Sixteen percent of the names were identified as from outside of France, and here the variation was quite broad--from 1 percent in the Frey Mozart scores to 34 percent in the Schlesinger score. The foreigners are all Belgian in the Bohem score, not surprisingly since Lille was near the Belgian border. The small number of foreigners listed in the Frey score are from Austria or London. Schlesinger, however, used his foreign connections to good effect in finding subscribers, with the high of 34 percent of his subscribers being from outside of France, in Austria (6), England (18), Germany (21), Italy (1), Switzerland (1), the Netherlands (2), and Russia (2).

Of all the subscribers, 237 (37 percent) have professions listed, as illustrated in fig. 1. Nearly half of the entries in the Frey publications list the profession of the subscriber.

What are the professions of these subscribers? Musicians account for 208 of the 648 subscribers, as noted in the subscription lists. (On the Bohem subscription list there were a number of names with professions identified simply as "professeur." I counted these as musicians for these statistics.) Additional sources list names of musicians in France in the 1820s. The Devries book mentioned previously is the best source for names of music publishers. Among contemporary sources were reference books published in Paris in 1819 and 1820 called Anna/a de la musique, ou, Almanach musical. The Annales provide names, dates, and professions of musicians in Paris, in the provinces, and even in a few other countries during those two years. Of the 648 names list cd ni the music scores, about 150 are listed in at least one of these sources, though the difference in information given between sources sometimes makes it difficult to provide definitive identification.

Of the 648 subscribers, 32 percent are identified as musicians on the lists, though the actual total might be higher. A variety of music professions are identified, which are listed below in order of frequency of appearance on the subscription lists.


Professor (of music, piano, singing, harp, flute, harmony, horn, violin)

Artist, that is, singer (du Theatre Italien, de l'Acadernie Royale, de la Chapelle du Roi, de l'Opera Comique)

Music seller (marchand de musique)



Performer (cello, singer, flute, organ)

Orchestra conductor

Piano maker

Some unique positions are listed, such as:

Correspont. de l'Institut directr. de l'Ecole Royale et speciale de Chant de Paris

Directeur de l'Academie royale de Musique, a Paris

Surintendant de la Musique de S.M. l'empereur d'Autriche


Artist, sculptor, decorative painter

Theater correspondent







Some unique positions are listed, such as:

Membre des principales academies des sciences et arts de France et d'Italie etc.

Avoue pres le Tribunal de premiere instance de Paris

President a la Cour Royale d'Aix de la Chapelle de S. M. Professeur a l'Ecole Royale etc.

Inspecteur general des Theatres de la cour

Ambassadeur de France a la cour de Berlin

Secret. du Comite de l'interieur et du Commerce

Secretaire d'ambassade de S.M.T.C. pres Sa M. Britannique

Prefet de l'allier


How did publishers attract subscribers? As we saw, in the eighteenth century C. P. E. Bach advertised for subscribers in newspapers and sent personal letters to collectors of subscriptions. How French publishers in the nineteenth century advertised for subscribers remains incompletely known. One method that has been identified was to advertise in newspapers or journals. Fetis's journal, the Revue musicale (later the Revue et gazette musicale de Paris), began in 1827, not long after the period in question. In its first three years of publication there were nineteen advertisements for subscriptions, or about six per year. One, a single quintet by Louis-Emmanuel Jadin, was advertised by the composer himself, but in most cases publishers sought subscribers for complete works, groups of works, or larger works. The publisher Frey was among the advertisers, as was Maurice Schlesinger. Another journal, which began in 1825, is the Journal general d'annonces des oeuvres de musique, gravures, lithographies. This too ran subscription announcements, including, in 1825, one from Frey for the complete set of Gretry operas--all thirty-two of them. (16) He offers the total set for a large discount of 288 francs, compared with a volume-by-volume price of 1,214 francs. He also offers special prices for those who buy just sixteen of the full-score operas (fr 176), or eight (fr 96), or four (fr 56). The copies in hand of these operas show only nineteen subscribers. One may guess that Frey had offered the scores by subscription prior to publication, but in 1825 he found himself with a warehouse full of Gretry scores and decided to find another way of selling them now that they were all printed. These two journals--the Revue musicale and the Journal general d'annonces--are from the mid-1820s, so it is not clear how publishers advertised their subscriptions in the early part of the 1820s, or what other methods they might have used to attract subscribers later in the century. Their methods might have included advertising in general journals, handing out flyers, or advertising in their own catalogs.

How prevalent was publishing music by subscription in France in the nineteenth century? Answering that question remains difficult. We felt ourselves lucky to find six scores in our collection that all dated from the 1820s, giving us a cohesive set to study. Identifying additional scores published by subscription is not a straightforward task, although there are several ways to find such scores other than our method of paging through every score in a collection.

The first method is by catalog searching. A few catalogers use the bibliographic description of the score to identify the fact that it is accompanied by a subscription list. Catalogers at the Sibley Music Library (Eastman School of Music) and at Harvard University have occasionally included such notes. (17) A search of those catalogs yielded three such French nineteenth-century scores that are held by Harvard and one held by Eastman. It is rare to include such notes in bibliographic descriptions, however, so it is hard to know what percentage of the total numbers of subscription publications these numbers represent.

Another method for discovering subscription scores is to search for advertisements in periodicals of the time. There were unfortunately no French music periodicals before the latter part of the 1820s that published this kind of advertising. As mentioned earlier, the Revue musicale and the Journal general d'annonces carried announcements of newly published music and advertisements for music being published by subscription. Further steps in discovering French subscription lists in nineteenth-century scores might include a careful search of advertisements in music and general periodical literature during the century, searching further for cataloged scores, and looking at catalogs and handbills from the time. The music section of the Bibliotheque nationale de France has a collection of nineteenth-century publishers' catalogs that may be helpful in the process of finding scores published by subscription. Such a study would give a more complete picture of music subscription publication in France throughout the century.


To return to the questions about subscription publishing in France in the 1820s: Who pays? Who profits? Who subscribes? Is the publishing model working? Is it making money or losing money? Unlike in the eighteenth century, when the composer often took the monetary risk of publishing, in subscription publishing in nineteenth-century France the publisher almost always took the risk. The publisher also often took the profits, because in my examples, two of the three composers (Mozart and Gretry) are deceased, and the third (Spohr), is German and may or may not have benefited from a French publication. (18) We have seen who the subscribers were--more than a third musicians, some titled people, some women, both married and unmarried, some subscribers with professions other than music, and the rest unknown. It is likely that there were many amateur musicians in the unknown group.

Did this model of publishing by subscription work? Well, yes, in that it produced some beautiful, engraved large editions. But the question of whether it made money or not is more vexed. Hortschansky looks at a number of scores published by subscription in Germany in the eighteenth century, most showing between 150 and 350 subscribers. He suggests that any publication with fewer than 200 subscribers would probably show a loss. More than 300 subscribers would probably show a profit. Some best-sellers had 500 subscribers, and the largest number of subscribers for a music publication was 2,353 for Turk piano sonatas. (19) Though our scores are from a different country and different century than Hortschansky's, it is interesting to note that five of our publications have between 19 and 172 subscribers, all below Hortschansky's cut-off for a profitable publication. Only one had over 300 subscribers: Frey's Don Giovanni at 333; the rest were considerably smaller. While we do not have enough information about any individual publication to determine whether or not it was a moneymaker for the publisher, we can look at how the publishers' businesses fared.

The publisher from Lille--Bohem--had a subscriber list of 113 for the vocal score of Spohr's Zemire et Azor, and the publisher drops out of sight almost immediately. The fact that UNL's copy of the score carries a sticker from Dufaut et Dubois, a Parisian publisher, suggests that the publisher in Lille had little success. Dufaut et Dubois remained viable until 1827, then went bankrupt. So neither the original publisher, Boehm, nor Dufaut et Dubois, who may have served as succeeding publisher or distributor, was obviously successful.

A little more is known about Jacques-Joseph Frey, publisher of the Mozart and Gretry operas. He was a violinist, a music professor, and an editor, in addition to being a publisher. He distinguished himself by being the first French editor to publish all of Mozart's operas in full score, yet he could not avoid bankruptcy. His business failed in 1837.

The third and final publisher, Maurice Schlesinger, lasted longer. He was a splashy personality, had innovative or even reckless business ideas, and advertised frequently, but in 1846, on the verge of bankruptcy and after complaints about bad payments from composers he published, he sold his music publishing company and followed other business paths.

None of these three publishers were notably successful from a financial perspective. I am reminded of a statement made by a participant on a panel about the demise of the compact disc made at the Pittsburgh Music Library Association meeting in 2009, possibly by Henry Fogel, president of the Chicago Symphony. "Money can no longer be the principal reason to make recordings, and will never again be a reason." The same could easily have been said in the nineteenth century for publishing scores. Models of publication change over time, and the subscription model was one that had some success in the eighteenth century. As this article shows, publishing music by subscription was a model that continued to be used in the 1820s in France, but seemingly not frequently and not with a great deal of monetary success.


Appendix 1: Subscription list from Louis Spohr's Zemire et Azor published by Bohem. From the Rokahr Family Archives, Music Library, University of Nebraska--Lincoln Libraries

Appendix 2: Subscription list from Mozart's Die Zauberflote published by Frey, first page. From the Rokahr Family Archives, Music Library, University of Nebraska--Lincoln Libraries

Appendix 3: Subscription list from Gretry's operas published by Frey. From the Rokahr Family Archives, Music Library, University of Nebraska--Lincoln Libraries

Appendix 4: Subscription list from Mozart's Requiem published by Schlesinger, first page. From the Rokahr Family Archives, Music Library, University of Nebraska--Lincoln Libraries

(1.) Anita Breckbill and Carole Goebes, "Musk Circulating Libraries in France," 795. See author's head-note.

(2.) Klaus Hortschansky, "Pranumerations- und Subskriptionslisten in Notendrucken deutscher Musiker des 18. Jahrhunderts." Acta Musicologica 40, no. 2-3 (April--September 1968): 154-74, at p. 156.

(3.) Peggy Daub, "The Publication Process and Audience for C. P. E. Bach's &maim fur Kenner und Liebhaber," Bach Perspeclives. 2 (1996): 65-83, at p. 66.

(4.) Ibid., 68.

(5.) Ibid., 74.

(6.) Hans-Giinter Ottenberg, "Die Klmiersonaten Wq 55 'im Verlage des Autors': Zur Praxis des Selbstverlages bei Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach," in Cad Philipp Emanuel Bach: Beil 'rage zu Leben und Werk, ed. Heinrich Poos, 21-39, Schott Musikwissenschaft (Mainz: Schou, 1993), 22.

(7.) Daub, 78.

(8.) Ibid., 75.

(9.) Ibid.. 82.

(10.) Klaus Hortschansky, "The Musician as Music Dealer in the Second Half of the 18th Century," in The Social Status of the Professional Musician from the Middle Ages to the 19th Century, ed. Walter Salmen, trans. by Herbert Kaufman and Barbara Reisner, 191-218. Sociology of Music, 1 (New York: Pendragon Press. 1983), 192.

(11.) Ibid., 194.

(12.) Ottenberg, 26.

(13.) Hortschansky, "Pranumerations," 173.

(14.) Daub. 75.

(15.) 2 vols. in 3, Archives de redition musicale francaise, 4 (Geneva: Minkoff, 1979--).

(16.) Journal general d'annonces des oeuvres de musique, gravures, lithographies 1, no. 15 (15 April 1825): 120; reprint, 3 vols., Archives de I'edition musicale francaise. 3 (Gevena: Minkolf, 1976-77), 1:120.

(17.) A 2009 message sent to the Music Library Association's electronic discussion list, MLA-L, which asked for leads to French scores published by subscription, yielded information front two librarians about scores at Harvard and Eastman.

(18.) Spohr is known to have visited Paris in 1820 and this publication may have comc from connections lie made on that trip. It is possible that Spohr did benefit I mill I hk publication, though "Spohr's music never gained significant success in France" according to Clive Rrown, "Spohr. Louis," Grove Music Online (accessed 14 November 2012).

(19.) Hortschansky. "Pranumerations," 162. For a literary comparison, Schubart's poems had 3,000 subscribers.

Anita Breckbill is the director of the Music Library at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Among other publications, she authored, with Carole Goebes, "Music Circulating Libraries in France: An Overview and a Preliminary List," Notes 63, no. 4 (June 2007): 761-97.
COPYRIGHT 2013 Music Library Association, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2013 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Breckbill, Anita
Geographic Code:4EUGE
Date:Mar 1, 2013
Previous Article:Statement of ownership, management, and circulation.
Next Article:What employers want: entry-level qualifications for music librarians.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2021 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters |