Buying and selling music in the (very) long nineteenth century [review article]

Loges, N. (2019) Buying and selling music in the (very) long nineteenth century [review article]. Journal of the Royal Musical Association, 144 (1) pp. 223-232. ISSN 0269-0403 (print) 1471-6933 (online)


This article reviews the following books: The Idea of Art Music in a Commercial World, 1800 –1930, edited by Christina Bashfordand Roberta Montemorra Marvin, Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer, 2016, 368 pp., ISBN 9781783270651 (hard cover), and Consuming Music: Individuals, Institutions, Communities, 1730 –1830, edited by Emily H.Green and Catherine Mayes, Eastman Studies in Music, Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2017. 264 pp., ISBN 9781580465779 (hard cover); 9781782049227 (e-book). These two collections are a welcome addition to the growing literature which explores how musicians, repertories, practices and ideas have gained their places in the world. The individual essays explore a complex and evolving network of technologies (principally, but not exclusively, print culture), intermediaries (such as publishers) and processes (advertising, marketing and performance). Emily H. Green and Catherine Mayes’s Consuming Music contains nine studies organized as four short sections: Selling Variety, Edifying Readers, Marketing the Mundane and Cultivating Communities. Some of its topics are of broad interest, while others are extremely specific: eighteenth-century publishers (Green); a Viennese art shop (Rupert Ridgewell); a music textbook by Telemann (Steven Zohn); eighteenth-century notation and print (Roger Mathew Grant); commercial string chamber music (Marie Sumner Lott); the decline of the Hungarian contredanse (Mayes), gender and celebrity in the early American republic (Glenda Goodman); the Berliner allgemeine musikalische Zeitung in 1824 (Patrick Wood Uribe); and the Paris Opéra between commons and commodity (Peter Mondelli). Christina Bashford and Roberta Montemorra Marvin’s The Idea of Art Music focuses on the mid-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Its 13 essays are organized into five sections: Publishers, Personalities, Instruments, Repertoires and (the somewhat confusingly titled) Settings. The generally more substantial topics include: Rossini’s military marches (Denise Gallo); the publicity campaign for Puccini’s La bohème (Michaela Ronzani); the publisher Novello (David Wright); the singer Jenny Lind (George Biddlecombe); Wagner’s concealed self-promotion (Nicholas Vazsonyi); the British conductors Julius Benedict and Frederic Cowen (Fiona M. Palmer); the advertising of player pianos in the USA (Catherine Hennessy Wolter); British violin culture (Bashford); ancient Greek music in the USA (Jon Solomon); marketing Verdi in London (Montemorra Marvin); sacred repertories in nineteenth-century Leipzig (Jeffrey S. Sposato); the music business on the edge of the British Empire (David Gramit); and the music printed in French magazines at the turn of the twentieth century (Jann Pasler).

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