Magdeburg - July, 1634"It's here! It's here!"

The three men looked around as Marla Linder burst through the door. Next moment, she laid an oblong package on the table in front of them.

"What is here?" Franz Sylwester asked his wife. The inevitable smile crossed his face as he looked at Marla.

It seemed a lifetime since he had sat, pfennig-less, in the Thuringen Gardens and listened to her sing for the very first time, yet it had only been two years ago. It still amazed him that she had agreed to marry him. As an up-timer, she had had so many options open to her, but she had "fallen in love", to use the up-time phrase, with him, a crippled vagabond who had once been a musician. And it was from her support that he had fought his way through therapy in Grantville to reclaim his musicianship, and more.

Others might find flaws in Marla; Franz knew that. Indeed, some of his friends would mutter about "Minerva in jeans" sometimes after an episode of Marla's strength of will being displayed. And objectively, he knew she wasn't perfect. But when he looked at her—lustrous black hair, unbound and flowing over her bosom; blue eyes, capable of a gamut from flaming passion to piercing iciness, now sparkling with excitement; red blush shining through her translucent skin—all he could see was beauty. God Above, how he was blessed, and not just because of her appearance. Marla's passion for music equaled his own, and that was no small thing.

Franz's attention was drawn back to the moment when Andrea Abati asked, "So what is it?"

Marla finished unwrapping the package, almost bouncing in her excitement. When she folded back the last of the paper, a large book was revealed. It looked to Franz to be about eleven inches by fourteen inches. The worn cloth binding was a dark blue, closer in hue to navy than royal. Printed in gold on the front cover was the following:

HANDEL

MESSIAH

FULL SCORE

"This," Marla declared, "is our Christmas concert for this year." She definitely bounced after she said that. "I knew that Marcus Wendell had this on his shelves, and asked him to lend it to me. He hemmed and hawed a bit, but finally agreed to let me borrow it."

Christmas already, Franz thought. They had just finished their huge concert not two days ago; Bitty Matowski's production of her new ballet A Falcon Falls was to begin that night; yet already Marla was thinking about Christmas. Once again he had the feeling that he was running as fast as he could just to keep up with her.

"So, again I ask, what is it?" Andrea was smiling. As usual, Franz noted, Marla's enthusiasm was infectious.

Franz reached out and opened the book, turning the pages carefully. The sight of printed music drew the attention of all three men. Heinrich Schütz drew the book in front of him. Andrea adjusted his chair to sit at the Kappellmeister's right hand to observe the turning pages.

"A full orchestra conductor's score." Franz's surprise was evident in his voice. "By what miracle do you present this?"

Marla bounced again. "I was looking at my vocal parts copy, wondering how long it would take Thomas to reconstruct the orchestra parts from one of the recordings in Grantville, when I remembered seeing this in Marcus' office a year or so before the Ring fell. I thought it was so cool then, especially when he told me that it was the work that his conducting teacher used to introduce him to instrumental conducting. It still has all of his notes and cues penciled in."

"Does it now?" Franz muttered, his interest definitely caught by that last statement.

"It is an oratorio, yes?" Heinrich asked in his careful English. "A good one?"

Marla looked to the man who was the preeminent composer in the German states in 1634. "Yes, Master Heinrich, it is an oratorio. It was written in 1741 in twenty-four days by a German named Georg Friedrich Handel." Heinrich looked intrigued. "And it is arguably the greatest oratorio ever written; certainly the most famous in the up-time. One of the choral pieces from it is one of the two or three most widely recognized musical works in the up-time culture."

Master Schütz looked back to the score with an avid expression and patted a page with satisfaction. "So . . . Handel . . . a German, one who has much to teach me. I can handle this." He smiled as the others burst into laughter.

After her laugh ceased its pealing, Marla said, "Oh, Master Heinrich, that joke was so old up-time it had whiskers."

"Ah, but you are not in the up-time now, are you?" Heinrich's smile grew even broader. "It is a new joke here, now."

"As you say, Master Heinrich," Franz chuckled. "As you say." The sight of the usually somber composer indulging in a bit of humor was enjoyable in itself. Franz had the impression that Master Heinrich had not laughed much since his wife Magdalena died several years earlier.

"So," Franz turned to Marla, "you already had a copy of the vocal parts, and now we have the full score. Knowing you, you have a printer in mind to make copies."

"Yep. Herr Zopff."

Marla's smile lit the room up again. This time, however, Franz's heart did not respond with its usual leap. Instead, it descended to the region behind his belt buckle.

"Tell me you jest."

"Nope."

"Marla, the man is utterly outrageous!"

"I know, but he does good work."

"He will not deal with you!"

"I know, but that's okay." Franz's dumbfounded state increased as Marla's smile grew even brighter, if that was possible. "I know someone who's even more outrageous that I can turn loose on him."

Franz watched as Marla turned her smile on Andrea Abati.

****

Franz trudged along beside Andrea Abati. The day was warm enough that he wished he had left his jacket behind. Dust hung in the air, stirred up by wagons that trundled by with some regularity. The most recent wagon had rolled through the dung deposited in the street by preceding teams of horses. Andrea, on the outside, had nimbly avoided the splash, but his muttered response was both expletive and description of the matter.

Franz grinned in sympathy. "You are getting quite proficient in vulgar German, you know."

"It is the low company I keep," Andrea responded with a dry smile. "On the other hand, as an Italian, I have a certain standard of decadence I must live up to." That quip evoked a laugh from Franz.

True to her word, Marla had left the dealing with the printer Zopff to Andrea, who had promptly drafted Franz to accompany him to beard the lion in his printer's den. Now Franz pointed ahead.

"There . . . there is Herr Zopff's place of business. See the sign says 'Zopff and Sons.'"

"At last," Andrea sighed dramatically. "Let us fulfill our charge, so that I can return to the warmth of my rooms."

"Warmth?" Franz said incredulously. "How can you be cold, man? The sun is high and warm, summer is in full bloom."

"Ah," Andrea gave a bit of a shiver, "but you are not from Roma. Trust me, this air would be considered chilly, there."

And with that, they arrived at the door to the shop. Franz held the door open out of respect, allowing Andrea to enter before him. He turned from closing the door, to see Master Agamemnon Zopff stepping forward to confront—that was the only word that came to Franz's mind—his companion.

Herr Zopff was—impressive, Franz decided. He had seen the man at a distance before, but never up close, and never in his working dress. With a coat on, Herr Zopff appeared to be stocky. Without a coat, with his sleeves rolled up and his printer's apron strapped on, the printer was revealed to be barrel-chested and heavily muscled. True, his belly did indicate a fondness for the fare of the taverns, but Franz would not have wanted to trade either blows or handshakes with the man.

His thought of a lion earlier was also somewhat on pitch, Franz decided. Herr Zopff's hair was thick, and flared out like a mane where it had pulled loose from being tied back. His steps, despite his size, were not ponderous. And there was a definite glint to his eyes, not unlike a carnivore sizing up his next prey.

"And what can Agamemnon Zopff do for you distinguished gentlemen?"

Zopff's voice completed the leonine resemblance as it rumbled out of his big chest. Despite being low, it was smooth, not gravelly or hoarse. Franz saw Andrea tilt his head a little to one side as he appreciated the timbre of the printer's voice.

Franz found Zopff's habit of referring to himself in the third person somewhat pretentious. That was, however, in keeping with the man's reputation, along with his scorn of all other printers in Magdeburg. He was, unfortunately, almost as good a printer as he thought he was, so Marla was right selecting him to print the music of the oratorio.

"I am Andrea Abati, and this is Franz Sylwester. We have a proposal for you to print—or I should say reprint—some music from Grantville," Andrea began.

Franz saw Zopff blink as Andrea's soprano voice registered with him. The printer's eyes widened and his lips parted as it dawned on him that he must be talking with the famous Italian castrato that had been the talk of Hoch-Adel society for several months now.

After a moment, the printer said, "Come, then, and let Zopff see it." He turned and beckoned to a younger man who was cleaning a press in the rear of the room. "Patroclus, come."

Andrea waved Franz forward to the desk that Zopff led them to. Franz opened his satchel and laid out both the full score and the vocal parts book that Marla had given him. Then he opened both of them, to display the music printed within. Both Zopff and his associate leaned over the pages, avidly drinking in the music printed within. The young man, who from his appearance must have been one of the advertised sons, wiped his hands on a cloth several times, then turned pages in both books by barely touching the edges. The two men examined the books carefully, spending almost as much time looking at the paper and the bindings as they did the printing. Zopff definitely sneered when he saw the paper binding on the vocal parts book. At length the two men straightened. Franz saw the younger give a slight nod in response to Zopff's querying look.

"So, what is it you want?" the printer's voice rumbled again.

"For immediate use," Andrea responded, "five copies of the large score and one hundred copies of the parts book."

"Bah! That is not enough to make it worth Zopff's effort!" The printer smacked his chest, evoking a sound not unlike an ax blade sinking into a tree trunk. "You insult Zopff! Zopff, who once printed for the Elector of Brandenburg himself!"

The young man laid his hand on the printer's arm. "Father, hear them out." Grumbles resulted, but Zopff calmed down.

"For immediate use," Andrea repeated, an edge to his tone. "But we anticipate that this will sell many, many copies. This is the first of the great Grantville works to be printed here and now, and musicians from Moscow to London, Stockholm to Madrid and Naples will want copies of this." He paused to let that sink in. Franz saw the eyes of both the printer and his son take on a far away look. "Thousands, no, tens of thousands of copies," Andrea resumed, "all of which can come from your presses." A smile began to grow on Zopff's face. "All under the auspices of the Royal Academy of Music."

The smile disappeared.

"Who is this Royal Academy of Music?" the printer thundered. "Zopff is the printer! Zopff is the publisher! Zopff, who once printed for the Elector of Brandenburg, determines what is good, and what is not!"

Franz almost smiled. Despite the noise, the printer at that moment bore a strong resemblance to a character from one of the Grantville cartoons who had stuck his finger in one of the electric sockets. His hair was bristling, his arms were wide-spread, and his eyes were almost alight.

Andrea was manifestly unimpressed with the claims of past glory. "That, as the Grantvillers would say, was then. This is now. Who have you printed for lately?" Zopff turned red and seemed to swell up. "Whoever we settle on will print for the Royal Academy of Music, founded by Gustavus Adolphus Vasa. There are other printers in Magdeburg; Septimius Schneegasse, for example." Zopff's complexion now verged on purple. Andrea waited a moment. "And the last we heard, the Swedish king has a score to settle with your precious elector."

Once again the son laid a hand on his father's shoulder. Zopff stood tense for a moment, then deflated. Patroclus turned to the others.

"You are saying that we would become the exclusive printers for this . . . Academy of Music?"

"Yes," Andrea nodded. "Provided the quality is high." Zopff started to turn red again, but the son squeezed his shoulder.

"And this is just the beginning?"

Franz laughed out loud. "Only the veriest beginning. There is 350 years worth of all kinds of music to be printed, much of which will be in immediate demand."

Patroclus looked at his father intently. Finally, Zopff gave a grudging nod. He faced back to Andrea.

"Printers, now, music is a . . . a sideline. We print books. Sometimes those books contain music, most times they do not. It takes special fonts to print music. It can be very costly." Andrea nodded. "And the fonts we use do not look like the fonts in these books."

"True," Andrea nodded again. Now that the initial breakthrough had occurred, his voice was much warmer. "But we will insist on new fonts that match those in these books. This will become the modern style, and you will be the . . . how do the Grantvillers say it . . . you will be the leading edge. You will have an advantage."

Both printers' eyes lit up at that. They understood the concept of competitive advantage very well.

"And," Andrea interrupted their reverie, "there will be books as well, books that need some music printed amidst text. There will be treatises about music to be printed that will be in demand in every court and church and collegium in Europe. But you will need the new fonts for that work as well."

Zopff rubbed his hands together, smiling an acquisitive smile. "Zopff will do this."

"We have yet to negotiate prices," Andrea warned.

"Bah! We will do this."

"And we will have very strict standards about accuracy."

"Bah!"

Franz was starting to chuckle, watching the bombastic printer wave away the remaining obstructions as if they were nothing but the paper he printed upon.

Patroclus closed the books and set the vocal part volume on top of the full score.

"Can you leave these with us? The full score is about a quarto size, and the parts book is about an octavo size, but we must count pages and plan how they would be printed to tell you how much they would cost to print."

Andrea looked to Franz.

"Take great care," Franz conceded. "The full score is irreplaceable."

"As if it is a royal treasure," Patroclus affirmed, "for that is what it is."

The four men shook hands.

****

"Come in, come in." Franz opened the door to admit Patroclus Zopff. "Come, meet the others." He led him to the table. "You have already been introduced to Master Abati. Now meet Master Giacomo Carissimi, master of the Royal and Imperial Academy of Music; Master Heinrich Schütz, Kappellmeister to the Vasa court in Magdeburg; and my wife, Marla Linder." Heads nodded around the table as names were called. Zopff had sufficient presence of mind to return the nods, but his eyes were a bit wide as Franz concluded with, "Everyone, this is Herr Patroclus Zopff from the printer's establishment that we approached." Franz gestured Patroclus to a seat, and took his own.

Marla giggled. Everyone looked at her. "I'm sorry, but . . . Patroclus?" She giggled again

Patroclus' face twisted into a wry expression. "Yes, well, you have to understand that my family is from Berlin." He sighed. "My grandfather, Conrad Zopff, was a leading printer in Berlin, often printing works by or for the Elector's family. The Hohenzollerns would often name their children with classical names, sometimes from Latin, but just as often from Greek. Grandfather, I suppose thinking to imitate or flatter those whose coat skirts he rode, named his children Agamemnon, Ajax and Penelope. And likewise, my father named me Patroclus, my brother Telemachus, and my sister Eurydice."

"Oh, the poor girl," Marla gasped, trying to suppress yet another giggle.

"Indeed." Patroclus smiled. "My son, however, is named Conrad." There was a general laugh at that statement.

After a moment, Franz said, "Well enough. What is your response to our proposal?"

Patroclus laid the original scores on the table, then consulted a small notebook he pulled from his pocket.

"The large book, the . . . full score, you called it: it has 421 pages of music, plus another six pages of associated introductory material, for 427 pages total. It is a quarto size, so that would require 54 sheets to print."

Marla looked confused. "Sheets?"

"Paper is made in a large sheet," Heinrich explained from his end of the table. "The size of a book is determined by how many pages are printed on the sheet and how many times the sheet is folded." He pantomimed in the air. "A quarto page is folded twice, so that the pages are one-fourth the size of the sheet . . . hence quarto."

Light dawned in Marla's eyes. "And an octavo . . . "

"Would be folded one more time." Heinrich smiled.

Patroclus held up the vocal parts book. "This is about the size of an octavo." He laid it sideways on top of the full score book. "And you can see that it is about half the size of the quarto."

"So a quarto sheet will have four pages on it," Marla concluded triumphantly.

"Um, no," Patroclus said. Marla looked confused again. "It will have eight pages printed."

Light dawned again. "Oh, front and back." Marla thought for a moment. "How do the pages line up next to each other, then? I mean, the folding . . . "

Patroclus laughed. "That is my job, to make sure the pages are arranged in such a way on the sheet that when they are folded and combined with other sheets they are in the right place." He looked back to his notebook. "So, as to the paper . . . " he pulled samples out of his pocket and passed them around, "the price varies with the quality, of course."

Marla looked at a brownish piece, and shook her head. "This almost reminds me of the old paper towels the school used to use, the kind that would take all the skin off your nose if you tried to blow into them."

Patroclus looked mystified at her comments. "Ah, that is the cheapest. It runs around 4 florins per bale."

"Bale?"

"That is our standard measurement of paper. I would expect your proposal to use at least this paper." He pointed to a cream colored sample in Heinrich Schütz's hand. "That one will run 5 ¼ florins per bale. And this grade," he pointed to the sample held by Giacomo Carissimi, "this is 6 florins per bale. This I would recommend for your presentation copies."

"Presentation copies?" Once again Marla looked confused.

"The special copies a musician gives a patron, or a prospective patron," Heinrich responded.

"They are usually printed and bound to the highest degree of quality and presentation," Giacomo added.

Marla sat back and tapped her lips with her forefinger. Franz remembered seeing Mary Simpson doing the same thing. He smiled a little at the thought of Mary, wondering where she was and if she was safe. He prayed so, as she had meant so much to both himself and to Marla.

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