Music Publishing and Compositional Activity in England, 1650-1700

  • Stephanie Tritton

Student thesis: Phd


This thesis focuses on the flourishing music-publishing industry in England in the second half of the seventeenth century, and examines its relationship to and influence on the activities of professional musicians. Music publishing as a commercial entity developed in England during this period, particularly, but not exclusively, through the endeavours of the Playford family. By placing the printed music books within the social and cultural contexts in which they were produced, this thesis explores the consequences of printing on the musical text, understanding the purposes for which the printed book was created and how different functions of print affected the musical texts that they contained. A detailed examination of the printed music sources sheds light on how publication (including posthumous publication) related to the image and status of the composer, and draws attention to the interaction between public music-making, compositional activity and music publishing during this period. Through an investigation of the contemporary printed outputs of five case-study composers - William Lawes, Henry Lawes, Matthew Locke, Henry Purcell and John Blow - this thesis explores the individual nature of the composers' relationships with the printed music book trade and how their contemporary printed outputs relate to their overall compositional output. This is followed by a detailed analytical study of specific compositions by the five case-study composers, examining both contemporary manuscript and printed sources, in order to determine to what extent the commercial print market influenced professional musical creativity. Different versions of compositions of certain genres, particularly secular vocal works, were disseminated via print as opposed to manuscript, and these alternative versions appear to have been instigated by both composers and stationers. This approach to examination of contemporary sources calls for the contextual consideration of sources and the musical texts within them.
Date of Award1 Aug 2011
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorRebecca Herissone (Supervisor) & David Fallows (Supervisor)


  • Playford
  • Locke
  • Lawes
  • Blow
  • Purcell
  • printing
  • creativity
  • publishing
  • music
  • England
  • seventeenth century
  • print culture

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