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4 - Music Distribution in London during Handel's Lifetime: Manuscript Copies versus Prints

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 March 2014

Ellen T. Harris
Affiliation:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Craig A. Monson
Affiliation:
Professor of Musicology at Washington University (St Louis, Missouri)
Roberta Montemorra Marvin
Affiliation:
Teaches music at the University of Iowa
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Summary

When George Frideric Handel arrived in London in 1710, he entered a flourishing musical culture. The landed aristocracy, gentry, and increasingly well-to-do merchant classes were schooled in music, and many were able performers and composers. Consorts of gentlemen musicians, often with professionals mixed in, were numerous—especially, but not exclusively, in urban areas. Some of these musical groups accrued wide recognition, and their performances were accorded specific nights of the week. John Hawkins writes that around 1720 “there were weekly concerts at the houses of the duke of Rutland, the earls of Burlington and Essex, lord Percival, father of the late earl of Egmont, and others of the nobility.” This active musical scene created a robust need for practical musical scores. Printed music was routinely sought from London dealers and brought home from European travels. No quantity of printed music, however, could replace the need for manuscript copies, not just in terms of performance, but also for instruction and archiving: commonplace books (blank volumes into which music, poetry, or factual information was collected) and composers' archives of their own music were necessarily in manuscript. Instrumental parts for both professional performance and much amateur music-making were often hand-written, as well. Throughout the first half of the eighteenth century, the distribution of printed music and manuscript music existed side by side, as witnessed in catalogues, inventories, and correspondence.

Type
Chapter
Information
Music in Print and Beyond
Hildegard von Bingen to The Beatles
, pp. 95 - 117
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2013

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