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    Our vast collection includes commercial discs, tapes of radio broadcasts, and rare or unpublished recordings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

How to …

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

Thea Musgrave - a new performance and a PhD opportunity

07 July 2015

A few years ago the British Library acquired the archive of Thea Musgrave. We are now collaborating with the University of Glasgow to offer a PhD studentship on "The music of Thea Musgrave: an analysis based on the archival sources"....

Two film screenings and Conference on Audio-Visual Archives at the British Library, 17-19 July 2015

02 July 2015

The School of Music at the University of Leeds and the British Library will host a conference, Audio-Visual Archives, at the British Library on 18-19 July 2015. In addition we will screen two films, Still Alice (2014) on Friday 17...

The British Library at WOMAD

01 July 2015

The British Library is celebrating 30 years of collaboration with WOMAD. The British Library’s relationship with WOMAD is nearly as long as the festival's existence. Since 1985, missing only 3 years, we have been present at WOMAD's major annual summer...

Musical Journeys to Oman, Qatar and Kuwait

20 March 2015

27 short films on music from Qatar, Oman and Kuwait, made by Rolf Killius (the BL's Gulf History Curator for Oral and Musical Cultures) are now available online. Traditional music in the Persian (or Arabic) Gulf region creates joy at...

More blog posts

Shop

Sanctus: Music for Contemplation (audio CD)

Sanctus: Music for Contemplation (audio CD)

Haunting and evocative words and music that bring us echoes from the world of the monks of Lindisfarne, the Saxon monastery on Holy Island off Northumbria, with early English church music and Northumbrian pipes.

£12.50

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, from band music for changing the guard to Lloyd Webber in theatre land, and from soaring church music to popular songs from the East End.

£12.50

Music for book lovers

Music for Book Lovers

These works are interspersed with characterful pieces which reflect a quiet mood or a scene from nature.

£12.50