The Birth of the Music Business? Public commercial concerts in London 1660–1750

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


The public commercial concert arose out of formal and informal occasions where music often formed part of other activities — public ceremonial of many kinds, social rituals and communal celebrations, church services and theatrical performances — and London played a pioneering rôle in its development. Here, public commercial concerts emerged in a fledgling form in the period following the restoration of Charles II in 1660, developing from private music meetings dominated by amateur performers and informal public performances by professionals in taverns via John Banister’s first advertised concerts in December 1672. Musicians performing in London’s new public commercial concerts were not acting alone in creating this new business; they were part of overlapping networks of creativity, distribution and consumption in which music was composed and performed: composers, performance venues, music and newspaper publishers, sellers of musical instruments and musical supplies and the members of the audience also formed part of this system.
Based on an in-depth analysis of some 6000 newspaper advertisements, this paper is a case study in cultural production and consumption, and of the commodification of culture in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century England. It explores the nature of the relationship between art and commerce, the emergence of musicians from their dependence on the patronage of court, aristocracy and church into a more public sphere, and the overlapping and interconnecting networks surrounding public commercial concerts in London. In these early public commercial concerts we can surely see the germ of what was to come: the birth of music as a business.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 13 Jul 2016
Event17th Biennial International Conference on Baroque Music - Canterbury Christ Church University, Canterbury, Kent, United Kingdom
Duration: 13 Jul 201617 Jul 2016


Conference17th Biennial International Conference on Baroque Music
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
CityCanterbury, Kent

Cite this