A brief history of music printing

Jonathan and Ben Finn, creators of Sibelius

A few years ago, Ben and Jonathan Finn, the original creators of Sibelius, were interviewed for a TV programme here in the UK for The Open University for the TA212 Technology of Music course.

The programme’s synopsis is as follows:

From the middle of the 15th century onwards, the intellectual and cultural life of the West was revolutionised by the development of the printing press. This album explores the technological problems and solutions specific to the printing of music and shows how technology has transformed the way music scores are produced today. The five video tracks examine early music printing processes, 20th century photo lithography and the invention Sibelius, the music programme that changed everything.

You can watch the whole programme here, or download it from iTunes U.


  1. Peter Roos, San Francisco

    Very interesting – thanks for posting.

  2. Ben Finn

    Interesting – actually though I vaguely remember it being recorded I’ve never actually seen this before!

  3. Jeff

    Thanks for the heads-up — looks intriguing. But what a glum photo of the two of them!

  4. John W. Kennedy

    It seems to skip a few centuries in the middle, and left me with a few questions:

    I. There were still visible breaks from the typesetting in the late 19th century, but things were perfectly smooth for most of the 20th century. What happened?

    II. Why the 18th century habit of putting the stem on the right side of minims (only minims), whether up or down?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *