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Finding music: books on music, music periodicals and concert programmes

Information on how to find books and periodicals on music, and also concert programmes, in the British Library.

The reference collection

Books and periodicals on music

You can search for books on music using the Library's main catalogue, Explore the British Library.  Periodicals and magazines on music are also included there.  Periodicals are indexed by the title of the publication, and in some cases the names of authors of individual articles, and the article title, are also included. 

For older, rare periodicals a useful book for identifying which libraries hold a particular music periodical is:

John Wagstaff (ed.) The British union catalogue of music periodicals, 2nd ed. (Aldershot: 1998).

Concert programmes

Concert programmes are found in a number of the British Library's collections. The Concert Programmes database gives details of programmes held in libraries, archives and museums in the UK and Ireland, and includes programmes held by the British Library.

Some concert programmes are also included in Explore the British Library. Try searching for the name of a concert hall or music society to find concert programmes from that organisation. In addition, numerous concert programmes have been received as part of composers' or other musicians' archives. These are listed in the online Manuscripts Catalogue. An Index Search of the Manuscripts Catalogue may be made by entering the term 'programme' in the 'Index entry' field. By selecting the option 'include longer words', you will bring up entries both for 'programme' and 'programmes'.

The lending collection of books

As well as its main reference-only collection, the British Library holds a large collection of modern books, including many books on music, which can be borrowed on interlibrary loan via your local library. These are also listed in Explore the British Library. To restrict your search to items in the lending collection, change your search from 'Everything in this Catalogue' to 'Remote Supply' in the drop-down menu.


Music Collections
The British Library
96 Euston Road
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7772
Fax: +44 (0)20 7412 7751

E-mail: Ask the Music Reference Team