Vincent Novello (1781–1861): Music for the Masses, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Vincent Novello (1781–1861)

Music for the Masses, 1st Edition

By Fiona M. Palmer


280 pages

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Today Vincent Novello (1781-1861) is remembered as the father of the music-publishing firm. Fiona Palmer's evaluation of Novello the man and the musician in the marketplace draws on rich primary sources. It is the first to provide a rounded view of his life and work, and the nature of his importance both in his own time and to posterity. Novello's early musical training, particularly his experience of music-making in London's embassy chapels, influenced him profoundly. His practical experience as director of music at the Portuguese Embassy Chapel in Mayfair informed his approach to editing and arranging. Fundamental moral and social attitudes underpinned Novello's progress. Ideas on religion, education and the function of family and friendship within society shaped his life choices. The Novello family lived in turbulent times and was widely-read, discussing politics and religion and not only the arts at its social gatherings. Within Vincent and Mary Novello's close circle were radical thinkers with republican views - such as Leigh Hunt and Charles Cowden Clarke - who saw sociability as a means of reorganizing society. Thematic studies focus on Novello as practical musician and educator, as editor, and as composer. His connections with institutions such as the Covent Garden and Pantheon Theatres, the Philharmonic Society and Moorfields Chapel, together with his adjudicating and teaching activities, are examined. In his wide-ranging editorial work Novello found his true vocation positioning himself as preservationist, pioneer and philanthropist. His work as composer, though unremarkable in quality, mirrored the demands and expectations of his consumers. Novello emerges from this study as a visionary who single-mindedly pursued greater musical knowledge for the benefit of everyone.


'This book is the first modern account of Vincent Novello in which we learn for the first time the extent of his life as a professional musician. In the first part of Palmer’s painstaking study, we learn much of Novello, his life and the artistic world in which he moved, richly enhanced by the little-documented correspondence of family members and professional colleagues. In the second part of the book we learn more of Novello’s work at the Portuguese Embassy in London, his work as a composer, and of his work as an editor. This is a pioneering study.' Jeremy Dibble, University of Durham ’The level of reference Palmer has amassed in this volume is nothing short of astounding . . . [she] has an engaging writing style, and her anecdotes and descriptions of Novello’s social circle, working habits, and goals and aspirations make for fascinating reading . . . her accomplishment is considerable: she has organized the life of Vincent Novello and lucidly described his importance for English music in the nineteenth century.’ Music and Letters ’… a very readable history of this important family.’ The Delian ’Anyone familiar with the career of that indefatigable early 19th-century organist, composer and editor, Vincent Novello, cannot fail to be impressed by Fiona Palmer’s new study of his life and work. Over one thousand footnotes (occupying almost a quarter of the pages) stand as proof of her diligence and grasp of the extensive source material: an abundance of letters, notebooks, diaries and family documents, music manuscripts and published scores….I must end by heartily commending this book to all those with an interest in musical life in 19th-century London, and congratulating the author on her splendid achievement in so successfully rehabilitating this hitherto rather shadowy figure.’ North American British Music Studies Association Newsletter ’Fiona M. Palmer's intensively researched and clearly written Vincent Novello (1781-1861): Music fo

Table of Contents

Contents: Family tree; Introduction. Part 1 The Man: Formative years; Marriage and family; Friends and network. Part 2 The Career: Phases and preoccupations; Practical musician and educator; Editor; Composer. Epilogue; Select bibliography; Index.

About the Series

Music in Nineteenth-Century Britain

Music in Nineteenth-Century Britain

So much of our ‘common’ knowledge of music in nineteenth-century Britain is bound up with received ideas. This series disputes their validity through research critically reassessing our perceptions of the period. Volumes in the series cover wide-ranging areas such as composers and composition; conductors, management and entrepreneurship; performers and performing; music criticism and the press; concert venues and promoters; church music and music theology; repertoire, genre, analysis and theory; instruments and technology; music education and pedagogy; publishing, printing and book selling; reception, historiography and biography; women and music; masculinity and music; gender and sexuality; domestic music-making; empire, orientalism and exoticism; and music in literature, poetry, theatre and dance.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MUSIC / General