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    Our vast collection includes commercial discs, tapes of radio broadcasts, and rare or unpublished recordings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

New to the Treasures Gallery

21 November 2015

As frequent visitors to the British Library will know, we regularly make changes to the items displayed to the public in the Sir John Ritblat Gallery, also known as our Treasures Gallery. We are pleased to announce that the Ancient,...

Curatorial vacancy in the Music Collections

27 October 2015

We recently advertised details of a vacancy that has arisen in the British Library’s music department. The post will have a particular focus for exploring digital opportunities with music materials, but will also involve working with the Library’s rich heritage...

The British Library acquires the D’Oyly Carte archive

23 October 2015

by Helen Melody, Lead Curator, Contemporary Creative and Literary Archives. The British Library is happy to announce that it has acquired the archive of the D’Oyly Carte Theatre Company. The company, founded by Richard D’Oyly Carte, was a professional light...

Radio Festival 2015 at the British Library - with highlights from the radio archive

20 October 2015

Brian Eno delivering the John Peel Lecture at the 2015 Radio Festival The British Library recently hosted the 2015 Radio Festival, including BBC Radio’s John Peel Lecture, presented this year by Brian Eno, and a two day programme bringing together...

More blog posts


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.


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.


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.