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London-born in 1781 to an Italian father and an English mother, Vincent Novello became a hardworking practising musician. Chorister, organist, conductor and teacher, he was particularly notable for introducing to England a number of unknown compositions by the great masters including the Masses of Haydn and Mozart.
Perhaps Vincent Novello’s most enduring legacy was to be the name Novello & Company which he established in 1811 in order to publish editions of his own church music. It was left to his son, Joseph Alfred Novello, to turn the enterprise into a flourishing and pioneering publishing company that almost single-handedly moved printed music away from the predominant subscription model.
Joseph Alfred took over in 1829 and after several company name changes reflecting other partners’ involvement, he reverted to the original Novello & Company name and established a virtual monopoly in low-cost mass sales of choral music. It brought the English speaking world performing editions of Bach, Handel, Haydn Mendelssohn and many others. Later it published individual choral works by Dvorák, Gounod and Saint-Saëns.
Educational publishing constituted an important part of the Novello catalogue throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Elgar, Bliss, Dyson, Holst, Howells and Moeran were signed. In the 1970s the list grew to include names such as R.R. Bennett, Bush, Frankel, Horovitz, Joubert, Leighton, McCabe and Musgrave. Novello acquired Elkin & Co in 1961 and Paterson’s Publications in 1989. These brought Scott, Quilter and Malcolm Arnold to the catalogue. Novello joined Wise Music Group in 1993 and today remains a major choral publisher and champion of new music.