The British Library has a world-famous collection of printed and manuscript music, music recordings, concert programmes and books and periodicals on music.

Collection guides

  • John Taverner, Mass 'The western wynde'Add. 17803, ff. 23v-24r

    Music manuscripts and archives

    We hold a wonderful collection of manuscripts dating from the middle ages to the present day
  • Afton Water part 04

    Printed music

    Material published in every European country, from the beginnings of music printing to the present day
  • pop record

    Music recordings

    Our vast collection includes commercial discs, tapes of radio broadcasts, and rare or unpublished recordings
  • Metropolitan Opera House

    Classical music recordings

    Recordings in the western concert tradition, opera, liturgical music, and the pre-Baroque repertories of Western Europe
  • Nathan King

    Pop music recordings

    We hold one of the most wide-ranging collections of popular music in the world
  • Albert Steward (fiddle) and unidentified accordionist with other Stewart family members.

    World and traditional music collection

    We hold one of the world's largest collections of recordings variously described as traditional, folk or world music
Reading Room  Paul Grundy

Rare Books and Music

  • Find information on the shelves
  • Access online databases and electronic journals
  • Order collection items to the Reading Room via our catalogues

You’ll need a Reader Pass

Mon 10.00 – 20.00
Tue – Thu 09.30 – 20.00
Fri – Sat 09.30 – 17.00
Sun & English Public Holidays closed

Opening hours for all Reading Rooms

We offer a series of workshops to help you make the best use of the Library's collections.

For enquiries, please contact the Reference Service

Blog posts

New collections online - April 2016

05 May 2016

In April six collections were made available through the EAP website and BL Sounds. The variety of subjects, locations, and types of record really highlight the broad range of projects that the Endangered Archives Programme is involved in. EAP190: Digitising...

From poets to punk: Who is Barry Miles?

28 April 2016

Key counterculture figure, bookshop manager, editor, publisher, author, music journalist, archivist, biographer: all of this, and more, is Barry Miles, or just ‘Miles’, as he is better known. His archive, acquired by the British Library in 2013 and recently catalogued,...

Tolstoy and music

12 April 2016

Nikolai Gusev, Tolstoy’s personal secretary, stated in his memoirs that “for Tolstoy music was not an amusement but an important business in life” as Tolstoy was “a good musician and composer”. The professor of music at the Moscow conservatory, Aleksandr...

Passion and compassion: Nikos Kazantzakis’s Christ Recrucified

24 March 2016

Throughout Europe, the tradition of the Passion Play has a long history, reaching back to an age where it was a powerful means of bringing the dramatic events of the last week of Christ’s life before the eyes of those...

More blog posts

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Fela Kuti Vinyl Boxset

Fela Kuti Vinyl Boxset curated by Brian Eno

Limited to 2000 pieces. These seven albums were chosen by long-time admirer, Brian Eno.

Music for London (audio CD)

Music for London (audio CD)

A musical tour of London, with an atmospheric piece of music for each major site. The CD provides a fine reminder of a great city.

Music in Exile by Songhoy Blues

Music in Exile by Songhoy Blues

Songhoy Blues are a familiar proposition: four young men, guitar, drums, bass and vocals, driving rhythms, big hearts and a story to tell.