The Novello Stockbook, 1858–1869: A Chronicle of Publishing Activity*
The relationship between composer and publisher reflects the delicate balance between art and business. For the composer, the publisher is sometimes friend and confidant, more often adversary. For the publisher, the composer may be an artistic charge or a financial liability. Without quantitative data, it is almost impossible to gauge either a publisher's anticipation of the demand for a particular work or the reality of the demand. By 1858, the Novello firm was already an established music publisher in England, having in the previous decade initiated its Cheap Classics series, Octavo editions, and the publication of its journal The Musical Times. The Novello stockbook allows us to glimpse the decision-making process that maintained a financial balance for one mid-nineteenth-century music publisher. Alfred Novello's perception of the market is suggested in the recorded print runs of his firm: the fulfilment of expectation and the frustration of misjudgement can, with caution, be assessed from the sales histories of his editions.