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Finding music: items in the special 'named' collections

How to find music in the special named collections at the British Library, including the Royal Music Library, the Hirsch Collection, the Zweig Music Collection and the Royal Philharmonic Society Archive.

Royal Music Library

All the printed music in the Royal Music Library is included in the Library's main catalogue, Explore the British Library. To restrict a search to printed music alone, choose Advanced Search, then select 'Scores' from the 'Material Type' menu. Royal Music Library scores all have a shelfmark beginning 'R.M.'

The Royal Music Library manuscripts are all catalogued in the online Manuscripts Catalogue. This database supercedes the older printed catalogues: W. B. Squire, Catalogue of the King's Music Library, I, The Handel Manuscripts (London, 1927); II, The Miscellaneous Manuscripts, by H. Andrews (1929); III, Printed Music and Musical Literature (1929).

All Royal Music Library manuscripts have the prefix 'R.M.' Searching for the phrase "Royal Music Collection" in Descriptions Search will bring up all the manuscripts from the Royal Music Library.

Hirsch Collection 

The printed music and printed books in the Hirsch Collection appear in Explore the British Library, and have shelfmarks beginning 'Hirsch'.

The small number of music manuscripts in the Hirsch collection are included in the online Manuscripts Catalogue. These may be found by searching for "Hirsch" in Descriptions Search. The full list of Hirsch manuscripts may also be found in: Pamela Willetts, Handlist of Music Manuscripts acquired 1908-67 (London, 1970), pp. 86-98.

Hirsch's own catalogue of his music library was published as Katalog der Musikbibliothek Paul Hirsch, Frankfurt am Main. Herausgegeben von Kathi Meyer und P. Hirsch. (4 Bd., 1928-47.)

Zweig Music Collection 

The music manuscripts in the Zweig Collection are listed in the online Manuscripts Catalogue. A Descriptions Search of this database using the phrase "Stefan Zweig Collection" will bring up the complete list of manuscripts.

For a more detailed printed catalogue, also containing a large number of illustrations of the manuscripts, see: Arthur Searle, The British Library Stefan Zweig Collection: Catalogue of the Music Manuscripts (London, 1999).

Royal Philharmonic Society Archive 

The manuscript scores in the collection (MSS 1-271) are all listed in the online Manuscripts Catalogue. The complete list can be retrieved by making a Descriptions Search for the terms "manuscript music" AND "royal philharmonic society". The papers of the society (MSS 272-417) are still be catalogued and indexed in detail; a summary may be found by making a Descriptions Search for the phrase "royal philharmonic society archive".


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