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The Music Trade in Georgian England.

The Music Trade in Georgian England. Edited by Michael Kassler. Farnham: Ashgate, 2011[ xi, 560 p., ill. ISBN: 978-0-7546-6065-1. 60.00 [pounds sterling]]

Whereas many musicologists begin with a study of their chosen composers' creative processes, their lives, relationships, and musical activities, it is probably fair to say that fewer scholars choose to focus on the music trade which serves as the conduit between the composer and his appreciative public. From this standpoint, it will immediately be clear that The Music Trade in Georgian England is very much a specialist book.

The Georgian period technically covers the reigns of the first four Hanoverian Kings of Great Britain, from the commencement of George I's reign in 1714 to the end of George IV's in 1830. The present volume of nine extended essays largely concentrates on the latter years of George III's reign and that of George IV, with the exception of the essay on musical copyright.

Five authors are represented, three from Australia (volume editor Michael Kassler, Yu Lee An and John Small); and Jenny Nex and David Rowland from England. This enables each of the four overarching topics to be covered by a specialist.

Thus, the first four essays about publishers Longman, Broderip and their successors are by Jenny Nex, Michael Kassler and David Rowland.

In the second section, Yu Lee An contributes a single case study about music sellers' catalogues, namely, the periodical music collections of John Bland and his successors, 'periodical' being the term Bland used to describe a series of publications intended to be released at periodic intervals in order to sustain the interest of his purchasing public.

The third section, headed 'The Legal Context', consists of John Small's overview of the development of musical copyright, beginning with a brief survey of the seventeenth century context and extending forward as far as the late nineteenth century. Occupying 150-odd pages, this essay is as good as a short monograph on the history of British musical copyright, but it is most unfortunate that--at least in the review copy--there are quite a few pages misprinted and overprinted, making some pages almost impossible to follow.

The fourth and final section, 'New Technologies', contains three essays by Michael Kassler. From our twenty-first century vantage point, there is a humorous irony in this reminder that Earl Stanhope's 'Letter-Music' (a notation using letters on a single line--which glorious hindsight proves never to have captured the imagination of the music-consuming public!); Stanhope's 'Novel Musical Instruments'; and the German Georg Jacob Vollweiler's introduction of the printing technique of lithography to music in England, were all new technology in their day.

The bringing together of these various aspects of the Georgian English music trade into one volume was a shrewd move on the part of the publisher, since it allows each author to have a substantial contribution published in book format, as opposed to the more usual journal article or conference paper. However, although the essays are certainly related chronologically and by their connection with trade in some way, we are still, at the end of the day, presented with a book of essays that cannot decisively cross-refer with one another except coincidentally, and reveal aspects of the larger subject without telling an overarching story. The preface is simply a brief introduction to the volume, without posing a 'big question' that the collection is intended to answer; it would also have been useful to have had at least an opening summary literature survey of work that had hitherto been undertaken in this field.

Similarly, there is no epilogue to bring the strands together, whether to prove a point, or to tell the reader why this particular period is important and what main conclusions can be drawn from its study.

Another minor criticism is that, whilst a 'Summary of Legal Cases' is appended to the volume, and an extensive 35-page Index of Persons concludes the book, there is no general index or bibliography. For example, one of the opening chapters alluded to the popularity of the flute in the early nineteenth century, but a general index would have indicated whether other chapters also had any information on this subject. Additionally, whilst compiling a bibliography from the work of five different scholars would, admittedly, have been quite an undertaking, it would have been helpful to have had key sources gathered together in a more convenient way for further study.

This is not to say that the book does not have significant value, though. It is admittedly very much a volume for a research library, and is aimed at the postgraduate and scholarly reader. Individual essays reveal a painstaking examination of sources, and a wealth of detail about some important publishing and dealers' names.

The first section on Longman and Broderip, the subsequent partnership of Broderip and Wilkinson, Clementi's music business, and Clementi as publisher, is particularly fascinating in this respect. This section will be of interest to many scholars of late eighteenth and early nineteenth century music, not merely as a history of the British music trade, but because these firms interacted with the major composers of their day: Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven and Cherubini, to name but a few.

Additionally, there is a lot to learn about Clementi's extensive foreign travel, and his monumental and surprisingly successful efforts to achieve simultaneous publication in Great Britain and Europe, in an era when the difficulties were almost beyond our twenty-first century imagination. The reader is also enlightened about the impact of the Napoleonic Wars upon the publishing trade and about the popularity of various types of music in the domestic music-making market. Thus, anyone studying the music of this period will encounter 'eureka' moments when they are able to slot these newly-learned insights into the picture of the period that their own studies have already built up. The book is a valuable library acquisition for this reason alone, though it is difficult to imagine it being purchased except where related research is currently taking place, at a time when book budgets are being trimmed and managed more carefully than ever before.

Karen E. McAulay

Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
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Author:McAulay, Karen E.
Publication:Fontes Artis Musicae
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jan 1, 2011
Words:1017
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