Ansicht vom Kohlmarkt / Carl Schütz (1745-1800)

Emily H. Green and Catherine Mayes

In a print by Carl Schütz from 1786, a rather large crowd gathers in front of Artaria’s shop in Vienna (fig. I.1). Among the roughly two dozen well-dressed individuals, some inspect the shop window, while others try to peer into the store itself, presumably to gather an impression of its offerings beyond those on display. The Kunsthandlung, as the shop billed itself, might be advertising engraved pictures, maps, or even music; Schütz’s faint scribblings obfuscate the exact nature of the wares exhibited. Based on available evidence, we can’t know what curious onlookers might have seen, either in the window or beyond. Like the viewers on the street, we are left, rapt, with an incomplete picture of the contents of the store and its windows.

Wien, Tuchlauben: Laden Steiner/Haslinger: Innenansicht, um 1840 – anonyme Fotografie nach Aquarell von Weigl

A later print, Franz Weigl’s aquarelle of Steiner and Haslinger’s shop ca. 1835 (fig. I.2), takes us inside a Viennese Kunsthandlung, but again no music is visible. Rather, one sees shop attendants, customers, prints of visual art, books one can assume to be shop registers, and commemorative busts. The only sounds in the room presumably emanate from the conversations among the buyers and attendants in the room. A transaction might be taking place, but it likely concerns a picture of some sort rather than anything musical.

These two prints are vivid reminders that the successful sale and distribution of music depended on much more than the quality of the ideas on the page: musical commerce involved both a physical and a social infrastructure. Though the existence of that infrastructure is most likely obvious, its organization and participants are among the least well-preserved and thus least-understood elements of the musical culture of the common-practice period: who bought music, and how did those consumers know what music was available? Where was it sold and by whom? How did the consumption of music affect its composition? How was consumers’ musical taste shaped and by whom? The documentary difficulty one encounters when attempting to answer such questions has been an impediment to engaging in more complex historical inquiries about consumers’ tastes, publishers’ promotional strategies, celebrity culture, and the wider communities that were fundamental to these and many more aspects of musical life in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Though we can identify the major music publishers in nearly every European city at this time based on their catalogs and advertisements in periodicals, their clientele has often remained opaque, as have, moreover, the motivations of these purchasers.

Indeed, the musical consumer is underdocumented, underresearched, and undertheorized. Musicologists have done considerable archival legwork to establish the means of musical producers, particularly in the eighteenth century—from extensive work on publishers and their wares to studies of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach and Telemann and other musical entrepreneurs—but the identities and activities of music’s consumers are still unclear.[1] Relying mainly on data from subscription lists, Bianca Maria Antolini has divided this group into social and professional categories—“aristocracy, citizens (employees, lawyers, merchants), clergymen, musicians, entrepreneurs in the musical domain such as impresarios, book-sellers, and publishers, and people related to the author”—as well as female amateurs and institutions, including music societies.[2] In his investigation, Axel Beer has separated consumers by their modes of access: those who read periodicals, attended concerts, and participated in music-making.[3] Furthermore, despite their otherwise thorough and foundational work, neither author has fully investigated the role of publishers in the consumption of music, especially the ways publishers modeled consumption for each other and for their customers. And consumers—to whose ranks dancers also belonged, although Beer left them out of his classification—and publishers are only two groups who participated in the consumption of music; other notable producers include performers (who are also consumers), impresarios, instrument makers, and composers themselves. The goal of this volume is therefore to provide a more thorough framework within which to understand the activity and proliferation of musical consumption during the century spanning approximately the years 1730–1830.

Undoubtedly at least part of the reason why the consumption of music during this time has received relatively little scholarly attention is that the mid- to late nineteenth century has commonly been acknowledged as the period during which consumerism in general blossomed in Europe, nurtured by the Industrial Revolution and its infrastructure for the mechanical reproduction, transportation, and distribution of accumulated wealth and income across a large segment of the population. For some writers, including John Benson, the resulting consumer society identifies itself as one “in which choice and credit are readily available, in which social value is defined in terms of purchasing power and material possessions, and in which there is a desire, above all, for that which is new, modern, exciting, and fashionable.”[4] For others, from Thorstein Veblen to Peter Stearns, the key ingredient of full-blown consumerism is widespread and enthusiastic participation in leisure activities, such as shopping, sporting events, resort travel, numerous toys and games for children, and indeed musical entertainment.[5] Another crucial step in the formation of a consumer society, at least in the eyes of Karl Marx and his ideological descendants, is the moment in which all of these activities and objects become fetishized upon entering the marketplace, sloughing off any whiff of the labor and social relations required to produce them. A great amount of nonmusicological work on this topic focuses on London—and to some degree Paris—as the birthplace and breeding ground of these consumer habits, exemplifying commodity fetishism, for instance, in the marketing of English fashion and tracing the concept of leisure to the Parisian department store later in the nineteenth century.[6] In fact, scholarship that explores the early stages of consumerism in Europe focuses on London almost exclusively.

It may seem misplaced, therefore, to set a discussion of continental musical culture predating the mid-nineteenth century against the backdrop of so-called consumerism, but we believe the origins of the modern marketplace are clearly evident in the period in question in this volume. Music became, particularly in its printed form, a luxury leisure item (as argued by Emily H. Green and Rupert Ridgewell); the marketplace offered increasing options for individuals to buy, quite literally, into a community of ideas (as demonstrated by Steven Zohn, Patrick Wood Uribe, and Peter Mondelli); and the broad consumption of music fostered both emulation (as explored by Marie Sumner Lott, Catherine Mayes, and Glenda Goodman) and diversity (as suggested by Roger Mathew Grant) in musical style, notation, and performers’ self-presentation.

Moreover, we are not alone in our desire to search for the origins of modern consumerism in an earlier period. In particular, aside from a number of sociological studies, Nicholas Vazsonyi has argued for the rather loose application of “consumer” to the characters in and spectators of Wagner’s mid-nineteenth-century works, because the term captures both the relation of certain characters to the objects they encounter and audiences’ approach to those works as leisure items.[7] Studies of self-publishing in the eighteenth century have laid a more convincing groundwork for ours by outlining the entrepreneurship typical of a more robust modern market economy.[8] In fact, entrepreneurship is the focus of a collection of essays—The Musician as Entrepreneur, 1700–1914, edited by William Weber—that addresses consumerism in all but name, examining the ways individuals embodied and drove changes in the musical market-place.[9] Weber’s volume emphasizes the roles of composers, performers, and patrons in the formation of a new musical economy, with particular attention to the mid- to late nineteenth century. Here, we expand on Weber’s important work and that of his contributors as we highlight the efforts of similar types in an earlier period, adding publishers, theorists, impresarios, and critics to the individuals and groups under consideration.

The present study of eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century music, in its printed and sounding forms as well as in the communities that fostered it, further contributes to the existing scholarship on consumerism in at least three ways. First, it highlights an interesting impulse toward the mundane. Because of the difficulty of measuring the effect of commodification on the content— rather than the packaging—of a product, particularly an artistic one, it is significant that three of the chapters in this volume offer insights in that regard. Both Sumner Lott and Mayes present evidence that the process of commodification led to the simplification of music destined for a wide market, and Goodman explores how some female performers also presented themselves in a very basic and simple guise to ensure their social acceptability. Second, the studies in this collection bring into focus the mechanisms of consumerism across the continent and beyond, as they deal with the German-speaking lands (Green, Ridgewell, Zohn, Grant, Sumner Lott, Mayes, and Wood Uribe), Paris (Mondelli), and the United States (Goodman)—areas whose musical market-places (unlike London’s) have not been broadly studied in this period. Finally, the research presented here offers new ways of characterizing the activities of producers and consumers as individuals and as groups.

The temporal scope of the chapters in this volume ranges from the late 1720s to the mid-1830s. This period of roughly one hundred years encompasses the latter two portions of what James Webster has posited as the “long” eighteenth century (ca. 1670–1830), analogous to the now familiar concept of a “long” nineteenth century, commonly accepted as the period spanning the years 1789–1914.[10] As Webster reminds us, periods are constructions, and what we call a century need not accord with the calendar, much less can the end of one period (or century, in the broader construal of the term) and the beginning of the next be narrowed down to a precise year. Rather, a period is coherent by virtue of turning points at each of its extremes important enough to outweigh potential partitions within it. Webster’s own reading of the long eighteenth century relies on a tripartite division of the period into spans of approximately equal duration: 1670-1720, 1720–80, and 1780–1830. The early portion of the long century (what Webster terms the “late Baroque”) was marked particularly by the dominance of Italian opera—especially opera seria, which was born from the Arcadian reform of ca. 1690—and French tragédie, as well as by the emergence of instrumental genres that would be lastingly influential (the keyboard suite, solo concerto, and trio sonata) and the rise of major-minor tonality. The importance of Italian opera continued throughout the central part of the period, with the eventual rise of opera buffa and wane of opera seria, the advent of what Webster has termed “Enlightened–galant aesthetics,” and the cultivation of sensibility after ca. 1760. The final portion of the long century witnessed the dominance of the Viennese style throughout Europe and the dawning of Romanticism on the heels of the French Revolution.

The chapters in this collection do not engage with the first part of Webster’s long eighteenth century simply because it was relatively insignificant with respect to musical consumerism, especially compared with developments that took place during the latter two portions of the period.[11] Despite the star status cultivated by castrati, for example, opera seria was essentially a court genre supported by the aristocracy, whereas opera buffa and other national genres of comic opera that arose during the central portion of the long century were sustained by a growing middle-class public. Similarly, keyboard and chamber music of the early part of the century was enjoyed by a relatively small number of musicians; only during the middle and final portions of the period was a substantial quantity of such music composed for and marketed to a specifically middle-class, largely amateur audience. The rapid expansion of this segment of society during the time period under investigation in this volume accounts in large part for the unprecedented proliferation of printing technologies and publication infrastructure, improvements in the design and availability of musical instruments, and the importance of large-scale public performance spaces that characterized it. These developments in turn allowed for the publication, distribution, and enjoyment of previously unheard-of quantities of music and writings about music in books and periodicals of various sorts.

These changes took place over the course of years and continued well beyond 1830. Nonetheless, the musical landscape changed markedly after the first three decades of the nineteenth century: the deaths of Beethoven and Schubert marked the end of Vienna’s position as the undisputed musical center of Europe, and the mythologizing of Beethoven after his death largely fostered the rise of the concept and ideal of autonomous musical works. Moreover, in the second half of the nineteenth century, the consumption of music was revolutionized by the advent of sound-recording technology, forever changing how music was preserved, distributed, and enjoyed.

The century spanning ca. 1730–1830, furthermore, is coherent by virtue of the dominance of Austro-German—and especially of Viennese—music throughout Europe. Indeed, the “mixed” style of composition of the early part of this century, which blended elements of French, Italian, English, and Polish music, was none other than the German style, which eventually rose to international prominence over its Italian and French rivals.[12] For this reason, seven of the nine chapters in this volume (all except those by Goodman and Mondelli) are devoted to the consumption of music in Austro-Germany, with a special emphasis on Vienna in the contributions by Ridgewell and Mayes. Furthermore, as many of the essays in this collection attest, studying the consumption of music in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries leads to an engagement with purchasers, producers, and repertoires that have frequently received little attention from scholars, in part because they have long been overshadowed by the reception of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven (among other figures of the period under investigation here) and of their music as “great.” Yet Václav Veit’s string chamber-music compositions and numerous Hungarian-Gypsy–inspired contredanses for keyboard were popular and successful because of—not in spite of—their simplicity (Sumner Lott and Mayes); Mary Ann Wrighten Pownall cultivated a celebrity persona in the United States that depended on mundaneness (Goodman); and Telemann (whose writings are taken up here by Zohn) was in many ways more significant in his own day than was Johann Sebastian Bach.

We have organized the nine chapters in this volume into four parts, although each individual contribution addresses more topics than a single subheading can adequately capture. First, in “Selling Variety,” Green and Ridgewell probe how publishers cultivated and demonstrated a preference for wide-ranging products, both musical and nonmusical, thereby subtly guiding consumers’ purchases. In her consideration of the ways readers may have been enticed to purchase printed music, Green argues that publishers advertised their habits of consumption publicly and served as models for their nascent communities of customers. Ridgewell investigates the activities of one Viennese publisher in particular—Artaria—through a close examination of its earliest surviving ledger from 1784, which reveals not only the full spectrum of Artaria’s activities as a Kunsthändler but also the relative importance of music to the firm and the degree to which it attempted to anticipate demand for its products.

In part 2 of the collection, “Edifying Readers,” Zohn and Grant explore how writings about music, in periodicals and books, attempted to educate readers and encourage consensus among them. Zohn interprets Telemann’s journal Der getreue Music-Meister in light of other contemporaneous German and English moral weeklies, arguing that it enlightened and entertained a broad audience while fostering women’s education and constructing a German national identity through a shared literary and musical language. Conversely, Grant suggests that representations of meter in music-theoretical treatises ultimately failed to mediate the realms of print and sound because they could not properly transmit precise information about tempo and affect to readers through notated musical examples.

The third part of the volume, “Marketing the Mundane,” includes chapters by Sumner Lott, Mayes, and Goodman, all three of whom respond in different ways to David Gramit’s appeal to consider “specific, music-producing relation-ships not as the context for great works, but as elements of a musical practice that was in itself meaningful for its participants.”[13] Through a close analysis of one of Veit’s string quartets, Sumner Lott argues that much string chamber music from the 1830s was consciously composed and published for upper-middle-class men to play in domestic settings, and the accessible style and formal regularity of this music, interspersed with novel harmonic and melodic turns, allowed it to flourish. Similarly, Mayes offers a case study of the marketplace’s influence on music, suggesting that stylistic changes in Viennese representations of Hungarian-Gypsy music in the early nineteenth century can be convincingly attributed to changing fashions in social dance in the Habsburg capital at this time. Finally, Goodman presents a case study of the British singer and actor Mary Ann Wrighten Pownall, who established a successful career in Philadelphia and New York in the 1790s by carefully crafting her image as a generous and maternal woman to whom her audiences could readily relate.

Lastly, in “Cultivating Communities,” Wood Uribe and Mondelli explore strategies for encouraging shared tastes and political views in communities of readers and spectators in the early nineteenth century. Taking the Berliner allgemeine musikalische Zeitung as his primary focus, Wood Uribe draws attention to the important function of periodicals in generating business for their publishers, who also issued large quantities of sheet music. Far from only advertising this music, periodicals included reviews that guided readers’ understanding and appreciation of these works, influencing their aesthetic tastes. Mondelli argues that in spite of the transformation of opera into a commercial enterprise in Paris in the 1820s, the art form continued to express and create a sense of communal good.

We offer these contributions as a way of enriching the methodologies, repertoires, and cast of characters often associated with music of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The reader will find little mention of “major” composers or their works in these pages; instead, the focus is on commercialized collections of Hungarian-Gypsy music and music-theoretical explanations of meter, the public personae of Austro-German publishers and American female theatrical singers, periodicals and performance venues that sought to cultivate their audiences and build consensus, and the ways records of sales and wares reflected consumers’ tastes in music and other media. In other words, the reader will encounter individuals and communities of a type and class typically considered to be merely supporting in the story of musical creativity and reception. By focusing on the means by and purposes with which those individuals and communities published, performed, read, and wrote, we hope to help redefine the received notion of musical culture itself with respect to a period associated since the nineteenth century with a more absolute conception of the art form.


  1. Examples include Alexander Weinmann’s thorough compilations of publishers’ catalogs, the encyclopedic work of Donald Krummel and Anik Devriès, as well as more specific scholarship on subscription lists by a number of individuals. See,  for  instance,  Klaus  Hortschansky,  “Pränumerations- und Subskriptionslisten in Notendrucken deutscher Musiker des 18. Jahrhunderts,” Acta Musicologica 40, nos. 2–3 (1968): 154–74; Alexander Weinmann, Johann Traeg: die Musikalienverzeichnisse von 1799 und 1804 (Vienna: Universal Edition, 1973); Alexander Weinmann, Vollständiges Verlagsverzeichnis Senefelder, Steiner, Haslinger (Munich: Musikverlag Katzbichler, 1979); Anik Devriès and François Lesure, Dictionnaire des éditeurs de musique français (Geneva: Minkoff, 1979, 1988); Donald Krummel, Music Printing and Publishing (London: Macmillan, 1990); Peggy Daub, “The Publication Process and Audience for C. P. E. Bach’s ‘Sonaten für Kenner und Liebhaber,’” Bach Perspectives 2 (1996): 65–83; William Weber, “From the Self-Managing Musician to the Independent Concert Agent,” in The Musician as Entrepreneur, 1700–1914: Managers, Charlatans, and Idealists, ed. William Weber (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2004), 105–29; Steven Zohn, “Telemann in the Marketplace,” Journal of the American Musicological Society 58, no. 2 (2005): 275–356.
  2. Bianca Maria Antolini, “Publishers and Buyers,” in Music Publishing in Europe 1600–1900: Concepts and Issues, Bibliography, Rudolf Rasch (Berlin: Berliner Wissenschafts-Verlag, 2005), 229–35.
  3. Axel Beer, Musik zwischen Komponist, Verlag und Publikum: die Rahmenbedingungen des Musikschaffens in Deutschland im ersten Drittel des 19. Jahrhunderts (Tutzing: Hans Schneider,  2000),  97–153.
  4. John Benson, The Rise of Consumer Society in Britain, 1880–1980 (New York: Longman, 1994), 4; quoted in Peter Stearns, “Stages of Consumerism: Recent Work on the Issues of Periodization,” Journal of Modern History 69, 1 (March 1997): 105.
  5. Thorstein Veblen, The Theory of the Leisure Class: An Economic Study of Institutions (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1925); Peter Stearns, Consumerism in World History: The Global Transformation of Desire (New York: Routledge, 2006).
  6. See, for instance, Michael Miller, The Bon Marché: Bourgeois Culture and the Department Store, 1869–1920 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981); Neil McKendrick, Colin Brewer, and J. H. Plumb, The Birth of a Consumer Society: The Commercialization of Eighteenth-Century England (Bloomington: Indiana University  Press, 1982).
  7. Nicholas Vazsonyi, Richard Wagner: Self-Promotion and the Making of a Brand (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012). Studies outside of music that push the emergence of consumerism into the eighteenth century or earlier include Gordon Vichert, “The Theory of Conspicuous Consumption in the Eighteenth Century,” in The Varied Pattern: Studies in the Eighteenth Century, Peter Hughes and David Williams (Toronto: A. M. Hakkert, 1971), 253–67; Joan Thirsk, Economic Policy and Projects: The Development of a Consumer Society in Early Modern England (Oxford: Clarendon, 1978); Walter Minchinton, “Convention, Fashion and Consumption: Aspects of British Experience since 1750,” in Consumer Behaviour and Economic Growth in the Modern Economy, ed. Henri Baudet and Henk van der Meulen (London: Croom Helm, 1982), 207– 30; McKendrick, Brewer, and Plumb, eds., Birth of a Consumer Society; Carole Shammas, The Pre-Industrial Consumer in England and America (Los Angeles: Figueroa, 1990).
  8. Barry S. Brook, “Piracy and Panacea in the Dissemination of Printed Music in the Late Eighteenth Century,” Journal of the Royal Musical Association 102 (1975): 13–36; Klaus Hortschansky, “The Musician as Music-Dealer,” in The Social Status of the Professional Musician from the Middle Ages to the Nineteenth Century, ed. Walter Salmen, Herbert Kaufman, and Barbara Reisner (New York: Pendragon, 1993), 189–218; Daub, “The Publication Process and Audience for P. E. Bach’s Sonaten für Kenner und Liebhaber,” 65–83; Stephen L. Clark, “C. P. E. Bach as a Publisher of His Own Works,” in Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach: Bericht über das internationale Symposium vom 8. März bis 12. März 1994 im Rahmen der 29. Frankfurter Festtage der Musik an der Konzerthalle “Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach” in Frankfurt (Oder), ed. Hans-Günter Ottenberg (Frankfurt an der Oder: Konzerthalle “Carl Philipp  Emanuel  Bach,”  1998),  199–211;  Zohn,  “Telemann  in the Marketplace,” 275–356; Stephen Rose, “The Mechanisms of  the  Music  Trade in Central Germany, 1600–1640,” Journal of the Royal Musical Association 130  (2005): 1–32.
  9. Weber, ed., The Musician as Entrepreneur.
  10. James Webster, “The Eighteenth Century as a Music-Historical Period?” Eighteenth-Century Music 1, no. 1 (March 2004): 47–60. This paragraph as a whole is heavily indebted to Webster’s
  11. Furthermore, as Webster has noted (ibid., 53), Carl Dahlhaus did not even consider what Webster has identified as the first portion of the period to be part of the eighteenth century: “Dahlhaus, who was relatively little interested in the seventeenth century, was correspondingly uncertain as to when it shaded into the eighteenth; he estimated this date variously as ‘around 1720,’ ‘in the 1720s,’ ‘around 1730’ and even ‘around ’”
  12. For a sustained discussion of the “mixed” style, with particular reference to Telemann, see Steven Zohn, Music for a Mixed Taste: Style, Genre, and Meaning in Telemann’s Instrumental Works (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008).
  13. David Gramit, “Musicology,  Commodity  Structure,  and  Musical  Practice,” in Crosscurrents and Counterpoints: Offerings in Honor of Bengt Hambraeus at 70, ed. Per Broman, Nora A. Engebretsen, and Bo Alphonce (Gothenburg: University of Gothenburg, 1998),  27–28.