Commerce and Culture

4. The Economics of Classical Music: Patronage vs. the Market

Commerce and Culture
Paul A. Cantor

There was a conflict between patronage and the market in music, as reflected in the book, Quarter Notes and Banknotes. The classical music tradition is traced back to Paris. The Court of Burgundy in the 14th and 15th Century begins to get interesting.

Development around Venice and the first operas flourished in roughly the first time and in exactly the same places as painting. Patronage and the great commercial centers supported the luxury of music which required performers, which required money. The environment was very competitive. Rather than a national, big-state culture, culture blooms best in decentralized ways. French culture is basically just Paris imposing its way upon France.

Vivaldi was one of the first successful composers. He could sell his music. Mozart would sell out before concerts. Mozart made a fortune in his lifetime, but he spent more than a fortune. Mozart was not, however, buried in a pauper’s grave.

Music publishing became an industry. The publishers were the entrepreneurial middlemen.

Lecture 4 of 10 from Paul Cantor’s Commerce and Culture.