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Gustavson, Royston Robert

Hans Ott, Hieronymus Formschneider, and the Novum et insigne opus musicum (Nuremberg, 1537-1538)

Ph.D. The University of Melbourne, 1998

The work of the Nuremberg bookseller and publisher, Hans Ott, and the printer, block cutter, and type-cutter, Hieronymus Formschneider, is examined in part I. Ott's publications form two series: that devoted to secular music contains three lied anthologies (the Schöne auszerlesne Lieder is identified as his "lost" second lied anthology), and that devoted to sacred music includes anthologies of motets and mass ordinaries, and was planned to continue with mass propers. All but his last anthology were printed by Formschneider; the printer of the 115 guter newer Liedlein (1544) is identified as Berg & Neuber, with whom, at the time of his death, he was planning further volumes including the Choralis Constantinus. Ott's six realised anthologies are among the most important and influential German sources from the first half of the sixteenth century.

Formschneider was one of the great artisans of his time, noted especially for preparing woodcuts from artists' sketches and for the Fraktur and music typefaces that he cut; his work as a printer was secondary. It is argued that his role in the production of books and music was purely as a printer, those who commissioned the printing being responsible for the volumes' intellectual content and sale to the public. The music prints which he was believed to have edited are assigned to others. Arguments for a direct link with Senfl are dismissed: the 1526 Quinque salutationes is a "ghost", and correspondence shows that others were responsible for the publication of the Varia carminum genera.

Their most ambitious collaboration, the Novum et insigne opus musicum, a two volume anthology of one hundred motets published in 1537-1538, is examined in part II. It is of key historical importance as the first anthology of Latin-texted sacred music which shows the influence of the Reformation, and as the most influential print in the establishment of the central motet repertoire in Reformation Germany; it has at least 1,090 concordances in at least 390 sixteenth-century sources. Ott's primary concern as compiler was with the verbal texts, which he revised as he felt appropriate. His revisions fall into two groups: the emendation of ceremonial motets to make them in praise of members of the dedicatee's family, and the Protestantisation of texts. He appears not to have been responsible for the contrafacta which involved completely new texts, and apparently had little concern for purely musical matters.

The anthology is of great interest as a physical object. It has survived in more exemplars that any other set of partbooks published before 1550; all but two of the 177 known extant partbooks have been examined first-hand. The discussion of in-house practices focuses on the internal order of printing, the proofreading, and in-house correction; evidence is put forward for a print-run of 500 copies. The provenance and use of each exemplar is considered, drawing on evidence including bindings, manuscript additions, and the many annotations made by sixteenth-century users. This allows conclusions to be drawn about issues ranging from music education in the Lutheran Latin schools or the understanding of perfect mensuration in mid-sixteenth-century Germany, to attitudes about Marian texts and the dissemination of music in Protestant Europe. The wealth of material allows a picture of the compilation, printing, and reception of a sixteenth-century music print to be drawn in unparalleled detail.


  1. Catalogue of the Prints of Hieronymus Formschneider (1-71b)
  2. Inventory of the Novum opus musicum I-II
  3. Facsimiles of printed documents and translations of those in Latin
  4. Watermarks in Formschneider's Prints
  5. The watermarks in Ott's Hundert und Fünfftzehen guter newer Liedlein (1544) and four Berg & Neuber prints, 1544-1549
  6. In-house corrections made to the Novum opus musicum I-II
  7. Bibliographic descriptions of exemplars of the Novum opus musicum I-II (1-41)
  8. Substantive changes made by users of the Novum opus musicum I-II (excluding those to the text included in Appendix 7)