9th Biennial Conference on Baroque Music


The Promotion of Italia in Print: Pierre Phalèse and the Marketing of Madrigal Anthologies in the North

Susan G. Lewis

Central to the “success” of the madrigal in northern Europe—the genre enjoyed great prestige outside Italy well into the seventeenth century—were the commercial and marketing strategies adopted by the Antwerp-based printer-editor Pierre Phalèse (c.1550-1629), the principal supplier of Italian madrigals to northern courts, institutions, and cities.  The most important (and perhaps the most obvious) strategy of northern promoters of the madrigal was the preference for the anthology over the single-composer edition, a preference which gave printers more control over the market for Italian music in the north.  Taking Venetian editions as a source base for their collections, madrigals were recombined and recontextualised in an effort to adapt the genre to the northern marketplace.  Further, just over half of Phalèse's collections were reprints or re-editions of his first four anthologies—Musica divina, Harmonia celeste, Symphonia angelica, and Melodia olympica—a promotional “re-release” strategy which (judging from Phalèse’s sales to the Officina Plantiniana) met with some degree of success.  A more direct appeal to non-Italian consumers was made by “northernising” editions by including contributions by regional and Antwerp-based composers in the hopes of tapping into a pre-existing market for polyphonic music.  This familiarisation process was furthered by the “packaging” of anthologies, which aimed at drawing the foreign genre into the representational idioms of the northern print world.  Dedications (often coupled with “dedicatory madrigals”) to dignitaries in the region, a consistent, “house-style” title-page design, and the titles themselves were recognised as important advertising mechanisms for encouraging northern interest in the Italian madrigal.

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Last updated on 8 June 2000 by Yo Tomita