Thomas Morley: Elizabethan Music Publisher

July 2014
13 black and white, 4 line illustrations
285 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Music in Britain, 1600-2000
ISBN: 9781843839606
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
Boydell Press
BISAC MUS006000, HIS015000

Thomas Morley: Elizabethan Music Publisher

Tessa Murray

An essential book for scholars and students of renaissance music, as well as the history of music publishing and print.
The Renaissance composer and organist Thomas Morley (c.1557-1602) is best known as a leading member of the English Madrigal School, but he also built a significant business as a music publisher. This book looks at Morley's pioneering contribution to music publishing in England, inspired by an established music printing culture in continental Europe. A student of William Byrd, Morley had a conventional education and early career as a cathedral musician both in Norwich and at St Paul's cathedral. Morley lived amongst the traders, artisans and gentry of England's major cities at a time when a market for recreational music was beginning to emerge. His entrepreneurial drive combined with an astute assessment of his market resulted in a successful and influential publishing business. The turning point came with a visit to the Low Countries in 1591, which gave him the opportunity to see a thriving music print publication business at first hand.
Contemporary records provide a detailed picture of the processes involved in early modern music publishing and enable the construction of a financial model of Morley's business. Morley died too young to reap the full rewards of his enterprise, but his success inspired the publication by his contemporaries of a significant corpus of readily available recreational music for the public. Critical to Morley's success was his identification of the sort of music, notably the Italianate lighter style of madrigal, that would appeal to amateur musicians. Surviving copies of the original prints show that this music continued to be used for several generations: new editions in modern notation started to appear from the mid eighteenth century onwards, suggesting that Morley truly had the measure of the market for recreational music. Thomas Morley: Elizabethan Music Publisher will be of particular interest to scholars and students of renaissance music, as well as the history of music publishing and print.

Tessa Murray is an honorary research fellow at the University of Birmingham.

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Table of Contents

Childhood and Early Career
From Church Musician to Entrepreneur
The Market for Recreational Music
The Establishment of Music Printing in London
Morley's Monopoly
Morley's Publishing Business
Morley's Printing Business
Morley and the Madrigal
Morley's Other Publications
Music Publishing after Morley
Morley's Legacy


A final impressive aspect of this interesting and informative book is the amount of source material used in creating it. . . . Each chapter demonstrates that . . . [Murray] knows how to use them in support of her arguments. Two well-constructed indexes complete a book that very successfully presents us with a more rounded, and multi-faceted, portrait of Thomas Morley. . . . There is much to learn here, and much to think about. FONTES ARTIS MUSICAE

It is difficult to imagine a group more indebted, or, indeed, more beholden, to the great English Renaissance musician Thomas Morley than ourselves -- the readers of these pages -- as Tessa Murray's new and comprehensive study here under review amply reveals. EARLY MUSIC

[W]ith massive reference and exceptionally useful appendices, giving a fine, detailed background to the whole topic. . . . [T]he sheer range of factual information [Murray's book] provides . . . all this is enormously useful. MUSICAL TIMES

Fantastic study of the life of one of the English composers least visited by musicologists ... a remarkable perspective on the world of music publishing and printing in the British Isles ... an indispensable tool ... An excellent work carried out by Tessa Murray, whom Boydell Press has had the wisdom to publish for the benefit of passionate scholars, interpreters and readers of this fascinating period. DOCENOTAS

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