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Birchall, Robertlocked

  • Frank Kidson
  • , revised by William C. Smith
  •  and Peter Ward Jones

(b London, c1750; d London, Dec 19, 1819). English music seller, instrument dealer and publisher. From his early imprints it appears that he had been apprenticed to Walsh’s successors, William Randall and his wife Elizabeth. In 1783 he was in business with T. Beardmore as Beardmore & Birchall (or Birchall & Beardmore). From 1783 to May 1789 he was in partnership with Hugh Andrews as Birchall & Andrews; he also issued publications under the name Birchall & Co., and established a circulating music library. He then continued alone in the firm until 1819, though John Bland appears to have had some association with Birchall after he sold his own firm in 1795, until about 1801.

Birchall managed the series of Ancient Concerts and most of the benefit concerts of the time. In 1783 he proposed a complete reissue of Handel’s works in 80 folio volumes, but the project never materialized, though Birchall subsequently published many Handel items. In addition to glees, country dance books and much Italian vocal music, his publications included the first English edition of J.S. Bach’s Das wohltemperirte Clavier, edited by Samuel Wesley and K.F. Horn in 1810. He also published many of Beethoven’s works, including the original English editions of the ‘Battle’ Symphony, the Violin Sonata op.96, the Piano Trio op.97 and a piano adaptation of the Seventh Symphony, the English copyrights of which he purchased from the composer.

Birchall was succeeded at his death by the firm of Birchall, Lonsdale & Mills (also known as Birchall & Co., or Mills & Co.), Christopher Lonsdale having been in Birchall's employ since at least 1817. The firm was known as Lonsdale & Mills from about 1829 until the dissolution of the partnership in 1834. Richard Mills (b ?1798; d London, 28 Nov 1870), a nephew of Birchall, remained active until about 1868, when he was succeeded by Richard Mills & Sons, a firm run by Richard Mills jr and Robert M. Mills, which continued until 1903. The firm of Christopher Lonsdale (?1795–1877), which had a large circulating music library, continued until 1880 when it was succeeded by Alfred Hays. At an early date the firms’ catalogues included vocal scores of Mozart operas.


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  • A. Tyson: The Authentic English Editions of Beethoven (London, 1963)
  • C. Flamm: ‘Ein Verlegerbriefwechsel zur Beethovenzeit’, Beethoven-Studien, ed. E. Schenk (Vienna, 1970), 57–110
  • J.A. Parkinson: Victorian Music Publishers: an Annotated List (Warren, MI, 1990)
  • R.J. Rabin and S. Zohn: ‘Arne, Handel, Walsh, and Music as Intellectual Property: Two Eighteenth-Century Lawsuits’, JRMA, 120 (1995), 112–45
F. Kidson: British Music Publishers, Printers and Engravers
C. Humphries and W.C. Smith: Music Publishing in the British Isles
O.W. Neighbour and A. Tyson: English Music Publishers' Plate Numbers (London, 1965)
Journal of the Royal Musical Association