By the mid-nineteenth century music publishing was no longer the provenance of shopkeepers, instrument makers or individual scholars, but a business enterprise undertaken by a new breed of Victorian entrepreneur.
Two such were Vincent Novello and his son Alfred, whose music publishing house enjoyed significant growth between 1829 and 1866. Victoria Cooper builds up a picture of Novello during this period and the socio-economic and cultural climate that influenced the company's business decisions.
Looking in detail at some of the editions Novello published, she analyzes the editing style of the firm and how this was dictated by Novello's main audience of amateur musicians and choral societies.
Scrutiny of Novello's stockbook indicates the financial fortunes of these editions, while correspondence between the firm and composers such as Mendelssohn reveals how Vincent and Alfred went about acquiring new compositions. With its focus on the development of a music publishing business, this study brings a fresh dimension to musicological research.
Novello was able to combine business practice with a commitment to disseminate music of educational and artistic value, and the history of the company provides illuminating evidence of the commodification of music in nineteenth-century Britain.