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Classical music recordings: research resources

A large number of books, reference works, periodicals, discographies and record company catalogues relating to classical music are available on open access in the Humanities - Floor 2 Reading Room in the main British Library building at St. Pancras. There are also release sheets on microfilm and in hard copy form dating back to the turn of the century.

Books and reference works

Notable examples of works on open access are:

  • Chanan, Michael. Repeated takes: A short history of recording and its effects on music,Verso, London & New York, 1995.
  • Welch, Walter L. & Burt, Leah Brodbeck Stenzel. From tinfoil to stereo: The acoustic years of the recording industry, 1877-1929, University Press of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, 1994.
  • Hitchcock, H. Wiley (Ed.). The phonograph and our musical life: proceedings of a centennial conference, 7-10 December 1977, The City University of New York, 1980.
  • Harvwith, John & Edwards Harvwith, Susan. Edison, musicians, and the phonograph: A century in retrospect, Greenwood Press, New York, Westport, Connecticut, London, 1987.
  • Dearling, Robert & Celia and Rust, Brian. The Guinness book of recorded sound, Guinness Books, Enfield, Middlesex, 1984.
  • Blyth, Alan (Ed.). Choral music on record, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1991.
  • Penguin guides to LPs, compact discs and cassettes.
  • Myers, Kurtz. Index to record reviews: 1949-1977, Boston, Massachusetts, 1977.
  • Myers, Kurtz. Index to record reviews: 1978-1983, Boston, Massachusetts, 1985.
  • Music-Index on CD-ROM.
  • An archived collection of the Gramophone Classical Catalogue.

Magazines and periodicals

These include:

  • Gramophone
  • CD Review
  • Classic CD
  • Fanfare
  • Bielefelder Katalog Klassik
  • Diapason
  • Musica
  • Radio Times


Among the Sound Archive's comprehensive collection of discographies are:

  • Bauer, Roberto. The new catalogue of historical records 1898-1908/09, London, 1947:
    'In this second edition of Historical Records will be found record-listings of all internationally famous opera and concert singers known to have made lateral cut discs during the years, roughly, from 1898 to 1908/09, as well as record listings of other important vocalists whose reputations never travelled, for one reason or another, beyond the confines of their own countries.'
  • Darrell, R.D. The Gramophone Shop encyclopeadia of recorded music, New York, 1948.
  • Clough, Francis F &.Cuming, G.J. The world's encyclopedia of recorded music, London, 1957.
  • Rigler-Deutsch Index, New York, 1985:
    A listing of the coarse-groove discs held at the following North American sound archives:
    Rodgers & Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound of the New York Public Library, New York City
    Syracuse University Audio Archives, Syracuse, New York
    Yale University Audio Archives, New Haven, Connecticut
    Recorded Sound Collection, Library of Congress, Washington D.C
    The Stanford University Archive of Recorded Sound, Stanford,California.
  • CD review digest, a North American indexing service; Classical music vol.1: 1983-1987, and then with quarterly up-dates and an annual compilation.
  • Methuen-Campbell, James. Catalogue of recordings by classical pianists, Epsom, 1984.
  • Creighton, James. Discopaedia of the violin, 1889-1971, Toronto, 1974.
  • Bennett, John R. Melodiya: a Soviet Russian LP discography, Westport, Connecticut, London, 1981.

Further information

Sound & Vision Reference Service
The British Library
96 Euston Road
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7831
Fax: +44 (0)20 7412 7691

E-mail: Ask the Sound & Vision Reference Team