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Early Music Printing in German-Speaking Lands


Printing was first established in Mainz, the seat of the archbishop who was the most important of the seven Electors of the Holy Roman Empire and head of the largest ecclesiastical province of that Empire, containing 17,000 clerics who made a perfect market for liturgical books.1 The Council of Basel had ended in 1449 with the imperative to distribute newly reformed liturgical texts across Europe, and music was an integral part of those reformed texts. Although it appeared that the entire international church was behind the adoption of the conciliar reformed Liber Ordinarius, the Council of the Province of Mainz that met in 1451 voted against what was essentially a Roman liturgy, supporting instead a text offered by the archbishop of Mainz.2 Despite the pope’s threat to use military force if necessary, the council ended by sending bishops and abbots back to their homes to create unique reformed diocesan and monastic texts in a giant exercise in textual editing.3

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