9th Biennial Conference on Baroque Music


Rhetorics of authority in the music prints of Johann Hermann Schein

Stephen Rose

Early modern authorship belongs to a discourse not of individual freedom but of temporal and spiritual governance. In the early German Baroque, there is considerable authorial anxiety about the unknown public that comprises a music printís potential audience, and this anxiety leads to displays of authority in a print's title-page, collophon, preface and dedication.

This paper examines the rhetorics with which Johann Schein invokes authorities to govern the meanings of his music prints. Although these rhetorics reflect the attitudes to print and authority held in Lutheran cities before the Thirty Years' War, they are particularly pronounced in Schein's prints because he was a self-publisher. Schein authorises an
occasional print by stressing its accuracy as a representation of the performance of the piece. His partbook collections, by contrast, have a strong authorial presence manifest in his concern for textual correctness and for his intellectual property rights. When Schein reprints an occasional piece in one of his collected volumes, the changes in his authorising rhetorics illuminate his perceptions of both his music and his status as a composer.

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Last updated on 22 March 2000 by Yo Tomita