Ottaviano Petrucci

Ottaviano Petrucci (born in Fossombrone on 18 June 1466 – died on 7 May 1539 in Venice) was an Italian printer. His Harmonice Musices Odhecaton, a collection of chansons printed in 1501, is commonly misidentified as the first book of sheet music printed from movable type. Actually that distinction belongs to the Roman printer Ulrich Han's Missale Romanum of 1476.[1] Nevertheless, Petrucci's later work was extraordinary for the complexity of his white mensural notation and the smallness of his font, and he did in fact print the first book of polyphony using movable type.[2] He also published numerous works by the most highly regarded composers of the Renaissance, including Josquin des Prez and Antoine Brumel.


He was born in Fossombrone (Pesaro), and probably was educated at Urbino. Around 1490 he went to Venice to learn the art of printing, and in 1498 he petitioned the Doge for the exclusive right to print music for the next 20 years. The right was very probably granted, since no examples of printed music from other Venetian printers are known before 1520. In 1501 he produced his first book of music, 96 chansons, as the Harmonice musices odhecaton A (sometimes referred to as "the Odhecaton"), which is the earliest known example of printed polyphonic music. In the following years he continued to refine his technique, producing new editions and reprints every few months until 1509, when his activity was interrupted by the war of the League of Cambrai against Venice; he departed the city for Fossombrone, where he resumed his activities as a printer.

Fossombrone being within the papal states, Petrucci applied for a patent with the Pope for the exclusive right to print music, which was granted for several years; however the Pope rescinded the patent when Petrucci failed to produce keyboard music, granting it instead to one of Petrucci's competitors at Rome. In 1516 papal troops ransacked Fossombrone, and Petrucci printed nothing for three years: most likely his equipment was destroyed. The competitor who took Petrucci's printing privilege away from him in Rome, Andrea Antico, also took over his printing business in Venice in 1520. During the 1520s Petrucci seems to have made his living managing a paper mill.

In 1536 he returned to Venice at the request of the civic authorities there, and assisted them in printing Greek and Latin texts.


A total of 61 music publications by Petrucci are known. By far the most fruitful period of his life for publishing music was the period between 1501 and 1509, during which he published the three volumes of chansons (the Odhecaton being the first), 16 books of masses, five books of motets, 11 anthologies of frottole and six books of music for lute. The last publication is dated 1520.[3]

Petrucci was not the first music printer in Europe – a number of liturgical works with woodcut music were printed before 1500, with the first, the Constance Gradual, printed about 1473, and works using movable type were printed beginning with Ulrich Han's Missale Romanum in 1476. He was, however, the first to print in quantity and the first to print polyphonic music, and the quality of his printings was outstanding.

Petrucci's technique required three impressions; each sheet of music would be run through the presses once for the staves, once for the music, and once for the words. Petrucci was highly successful at this enterprise; his publications are quite exact and beautifully executed. However, other printers using this method sometimes offset their prints slightly, which could result in notes being printed too high or too low on the staff – and thus jarringly incorrect for performers. Petrucci's method was soon superseded by the innovations attributed to Pierre Attaignant, who developed and popularized the single-impression method of printing in 1528.

The printing of music made possible the development of the first truly international musical style since the unification of Gregorian Chant in the 9th century. Printed music moved around Europe during the migration of Franco-Flemish composers from their home areas in the modern day Low Countries to Italy, Germany, Spain, Poland and elsewhere; the polyphonic style of the Franco-Flemish became an international language, with later regional variations.

See also


  1. ^ Mary K. Duggan, Italian Music Incunabula (Los Angeles, 1992), 13.
  2. ^ Boorman, "Petrucci at Fosmobrone," 29–30.
  3. ^ Krummel, Grove.


  • Joshua F. Drake, ‘Randomness and Patterns: repeated texts in Petrucci’s Motet Prints’, paper given at the Annual Medieval and Renaissance Music Conference, Jena, Germany, July 2003. Abstract
  • Harold Gleason and Warren Becker, Music in the Middle Ages and Renaissance (Music Literature Outlines Series I). Bloomington, Indiana. Frangipani Press, 1986. ISBN 0-89917-034-X
  • Stanley Boorman, Ottaviano Petrucci: Catalogue Raissonne, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2006. vi+1285 pp. ISBN 0-19-514207-1
  • D. W. Krummel and Stanley Sadie, Music Printing and Publishing. New York, Norton, 1990.
  • Martin Picker, "Ottaviano Petrucci," Donald W. Krummel, "Printing and publishing of music", The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. Stanley Sadie. 20 vol. London, Macmillan Publishers Ltd., 1980. ISBN 1-56159-174-2
  • Gustave Reese, Music in the Renaissance. New York, W.W. Norton & Co., 1954. ISBN 0-393-09530-4

External links


Year 1466 (MCDLXVI) was a common year starting on Wednesday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar. It is one of eight years (CE) to contain each Roman numeral once (1000(M)+(-100(C)+500(D))+50(L)+10(X)+5(V)+1(I) = 1466).

1500 in science

The year 1500 AD in science and technology included many events, some of which are listed here.

1500s in music

The first decade of the 16th century marked the creation of some significant compositions. These were to become some of the most famous compositions of the century.

1501 in literature

This article presents a list of literary events and publications during 1501.

1510s in music

The decade of the 1510s in music (years 1510–1519) involved some significant compositions.

1520s in music

The decade of the 1520s in music (years 1520–1529) involved some significant compositions.


Year 1539 (MDXXXIX) was a common year starting on Wednesday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar.

1539 in literature

This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1539.

Andrea Antico

Andrea Antico (also Andrea Antico da Montona, Anticho, Antiquo) (c. 1480 – after 1538) was an Italian music printer, editor, publisher and composer of the Renaissance, of Istrian birth, active in Rome and in Venice. He was the first printer of sacred music in Rome, and the earliest competitor of Venetian Ottaviano Petrucci, who is regarded as the first significant music printer.


A bergerette, or shepherdess' air, is a form of early rustic French song.

The bergerette, developed by Burgundian composers, is a virelai with only one stanza. It is one of the "fixed forms" of early French song and related to the rondeau. Examples include Josquin's Bergerette savoyene included in Petrucci's Odhecaton (1501).

Franciscus Bossinensis

Franciscus Bossinensis (fl. 1509 – 1511) (Francis the Bosnian) was a lutenist-composer active in Italy in the 15th century. Although his name suggests a Bosnian origin, this is a point of historical debate. He lived and worked in Venice. He published two collections of lute music (containing 126 frottolas and 46 ricercares), printed by the Venetian printing house of Ottaviano Petrucci.

Giovanni Maria Alemanni

Giovanni Maria Alemanni (also Joannis Marie, Gian Maria, etc.) (fl. 1st quarter of the 16th century) was an Italian composer and lutenist. Practically nothing is known about his life or work. The only known collection of his music, published in 1508 by Ottaviano Petrucci, is lost. He was still active in 1521, and apparently was one of the last exponents of the plectrum technique (Wilson, 1997, citing Franco Pavan). Alemanni's reputation was probably quite high: in 1536 the printer Francesco Marcolini praised him as one of the best composers of his time, along with Giovanni Angelo Testagrossa and Josquin des Prez (Ness, Grove).

Harmonice Musices Odhecaton

The Harmonice Musices Odhecaton (One Hundred Songs of Harmonic Music, also known simply as the Odhecaton) was an anthology of polyphonic secular songs published by Ottaviano Petrucci in 1501 in Venice. It was the first book of polyphonic music ever to be printed using movable type. (Printing plainchant with movable type had been possible since the 1470s.) The Odhecaton was hugely influential both in publishing in general and in dissemination of the Franco-Flemish musical style.

Seeing the business potential for music printing, in 1498 Petrucci had obtained an exclusive 20-year license for all printing activities related to music anywhere in the Venetian Republic. Three years later, in 1501, he brought out his first anthology, 96 secular songs, mostly polyphonic French chansons, for three or four voice parts, calling it the Harmonice musices odhecaton. For this work he printed two parts on the right-hand side of a page, and two parts on the left, so that four singers or instrumentalists could read from the same sheet. The type was probably designed, cut, and cast by Francesco Griffo and Jacomo Ungaro, both of whom were in Venice at the time. The collection included music by some of the most famous composers of the time, including Johannes Ockeghem, Josquin des Prez, Antoine Brumel, Antoine Busnois, Alexander Agricola, Jacob Obrecht, Hayne van Ghizeghem. Many of the works contained in it (as is often the case in manuscripts and early printed collections) are anonymous.

The book was edited by Petrus Castellanus, a Dominican friar who was maestro di cappella of San Giovanni e Paolo. Inclusion of composers in this famous collection did much to enhance their notability, since the prints, and the technology, were to spread around Europe in the coming decades.

The Odhecaton used the triple-impression technique, in which first the musical staff was printed, then the text, and then the notes. Most of the 96 pieces, although they were written as songs, were not provided with the text, implying that instrumental performance was intended for many of them. Texts for most can be found in other manuscript sources or later publications.The first edition of the Odhecaton (Harmonice Musices Odhecaton A) does not survive complete, and the exact publication date is not known, but it includes a dedication dated May 15, 1501. The second and third editions were printed on January 14, 1503 and May 25, 1504, respectively. Each corrected several errors of the previous editions. Petrucci published two further anthologies, the Canti B and Canti C, in 1502 and 1504, respectively.Petrucci's publication not only revolutionized music distribution: it contributed to making the Franco-Flemish style the international musical language of Europe for the next century, since even though Petrucci was working in Italy, he chiefly chose the music of Franco-Flemish composers for inclusion in the Odhecaton, as well as in his next several publications. A few years later he published several books of native Italian frottole, a popular song style which was the predecessor to the madrigal, but the inclusion of Franco-Flemish composers in his many publications was decisive on the diffusion of the musical language.

Helen Margaret Hewitt

Helen Margaret Hewitt (May 2, 1900 – March 19, 1977) was an American musicologist and music educator, who received a Guggenheim Fellowship to study sacred music in Paris in 1947. She was best known for her scholarly editions of sixteenth-century Venetian music incunabula printed by Ottaviano Petrucci.

International Music Score Library Project

The International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP), also known as the Petrucci Music Library after publisher Ottaviano Petrucci, is a subscription-based project for the creation of a virtual library of public-domain music scores. Since its launch on February 16, 2006, over 370,000 scores and 42,000 recordings for over 110,000 works by over 14,000 composers have been uploaded. Based on the wiki principle, the project uses MediaWiki software. Since June 6, 2010, the IMSLP has also included public domain and licensed recordings in its scope, to allow for study by ear.

List of publications by Ottaviano Petrucci

This is a list of all known publications by Ottaviano Petrucci, an influential Italian printer of the 16th century. Most of these were reprinted several times during Petrucci's life, but in this list only dates of first publication are given. Some of the earlier publications (for instance, the Josquin masses) were reprinted separately, in Fossombrone, after Petrucci moved there around 1510; these reprints are listed. The vast majority of Petrucci's publications were published in Venice; those from his Fossombrone years are marked accordingly.

Missa L'homme armé super voces musicales

The Missa L'homme armé super voces musicales is the first of two settings of the Ordinary of the Mass by Josquin des Prez using the famous L'homme armé tune as their cantus firmus source material (for the other, presumed later, setting see Missa L'homme armé sexti toni). The setting is for four voices. It was the most famous mass Josquin composed, surviving in numerous manuscripts and print editions. The earliest printed collection of music devoted to a single composer, the Misse Josquin published by Ottaviano Petrucci in 1502, begins with this famous work.


The pavane, pavan, paven, pavin, pavian, pavine, or pavyn (It. pavana, padovana; Ger. Paduana) is a slow processional dance common in Europe during the 16th century (Renaissance).

The pavane, the earliest-known music for which was published in Venice by Ottaviano Petrucci, in Joan Ambrosio Dalza's Intabolatura de lauto libro quarto in 1508, is a sedate and dignified couple dance, similar to the 15th-century basse danse. The music which accompanied it appears originally to have been fast or moderately fast but, like many other dances, became slower over time (Brown 2001).

Petrucci (surname)

Petrucci is an Italian surname.

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