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The New Musical Magazine, Review, and Register

(London, 1809-1810)

Prepared by Richard Kitson
1 volume* (2006)

This journal appears to have been the first English music periodical to combine sheet music, biographical and theoretical articles and reviews of published music under a single cover. Published monthly in London from March 1809 until March 1810, The New Musical Magazine, Review and Register of Valuable Musical Publications, Ancient and Modern [MRR] consists of two volumes, thirteen issues. The editor and authors are not identified in the journal. The issues contain from twelve to eighteen pages (printed in two-column format) that are divided into two parts. The first contains printed pianoforte and vocal sheet music found at the beginning of each issue. The pianoforte works are by Mozart, Beethoven, Cramer, Kalkbrenner, Ferrari, Haydn and by lesser-known composers such as Joseph Kemp, Johann Franz Sterkel, John Stanley, T. Latour and J. A. André. The vocal sheet music features works by Mozart, Purcell and Haydn.

Part one also contains eighty-four musical examples (fragments) displaying errors of the notation of melodic passages and chords that are discussed in the reviews that follow in part two. The errors in notation concern the spelling of notes in chromatic chords by means of improper accidentals. For example, “G sharp,” the “raised seventh” of the relative minor of C major was, in the old system improperly written as “A flat,” and, as such had no relevance to the harmonic structure of C major. To clarify these problems of notation, the editor prints a “harmonic chromatic scale” based on the note C and containing the notes of the tonic major and tonic minor scales and the leading notes of the relative minor and dominant major (notated in naturals, sharps and flats). This is followed by chromatic scales with semitones notated entirely in naturals and sharps or naturals and flats. Neither of the latter two versions of the chromatic scale provides the appropriate “new” notation for modulation to related keys and the employment of chromatic chords such as the Neapolitan, Italian, French and German Sixth chords. The demonstration is expanded to show extracts from Handel’s oratorios Samson and Messiah in both notations.

Part two contains reviews of published music and occasionally books—these form the major part of the section—correspondence, articles (biographies), a register of new musical publications and general remarks to correspondents and publishers. The music reviews are classified “vocal” and “instrumental” and deal with a great variety of songs and airs and compositions for various instruments (pianoforte, harp, violin, flute and string quartet) by English composers; and two English operas, then current on the London stage: King’s Up All Night or the Smuggler’s Cove, and James Hook’s Safe and Sound.

In the correspondence section, discussion of William Hawkes’s patent for an “improved” transposing organ and pianoforte raised considerable controversy. No less than seventeen critical communications were directed at Hawke’s assertions concerning the instrument’s capabilities.

* Hard bound with