The culture of music printing in sixteenth-century Augsburg
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In the early sixteenth century, the free imperial city of Augsburg in southern Germany played a vital role in the development of music printing with movable type north of the Alps. These technical advances impacted on the distribution of musical repertoire and placed the city’s printers on a more equal footing with their Italian competitors. Taking these innovations as its starting point, this thesis examines the development of music printing in Augsburg during the sixteenth century. In addition to considering the specialist formats of choir books and partbooks, it extends the boundaries traditionally applied to music print culture to include books about music and pamphlets and broadsheets. These complementary strands of the printing industry contributed to a diverse geography of performance, with Augsburg’s musical activity taking place not only in churches, schools and the home, but also in inns and on the street. The market for music publications was similarly multifaceted, encompassing professional musicians, wealthy collectors, students, keen amateurs and humble street performers. Levels of production varied. Pamphlets and broadsheets enjoyed a diverse market profile and were produced in large numbers. Theoretical texts and partbooks were issued in small quantities. In addition to reflecting their more restricted audience, this meagre output was a consequence of the city’s thriving book trade, which reduced the demand for local production. In the case of partbooks, it was also a result of deliberate product placing. Augsburg’s astute printers carved out a niche in a crowded market by issuing small numbers of partbooks at the highest end of the quality spectrum. The inclusive approach to music printing adopted in this study ensures that the significance of its findings extends beyond a localised investigation of print culture. By tracking the ebb and flow of production across formats and over the sixteenth century as a whole, a complex relationship between music printing and the socio-economic, cultural, political and religious upheavals of the period becomes apparent. Music printing, often the preserve of musicologists and specialist bibliographers, emerges as a powerful tool with which to refine our understanding of the early modern book world.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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Embargo Date: 2027-02-14
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Print and electronic copy restricted until 14th February 2027
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