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    Our vast collection includes commercial discs, tapes of radio broadcasts, and rare or unpublished recordings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

A leaf from Mozart's grave: curiosities from British Library Music Collections

Monday, December 5, 2016

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart died 225 years today on 5 December 1791. To mark the occasion, we’re showcasing a very unusual item from our extensive music holdings. Found within a miscellaneous collection of letters, locks of hair, and photographs of notable...

Yehudi Menuhin Centenary

Friday, December 2, 2016

This year of 2016 will be remembered for many reasons, but as it draws to a close it is worth recalling that it was the centenary year of the birth of the great violinist Yehudi Menuhin. Hephzibah and Yehudi Menuhin...

Youth's Delight on the Flagelet: Samuel Pepys and his lessons with Thomas Greeting

Monday, November 28, 2016

Nearly 350 years ago, the English diarist Samuel Pepys wrote in his entry for Thursday 28th February 1667 that he had employed a man named Thomas Greeting to teach the flageolet to his wife. According to the entry, this was...

Recording of the week: The first recording of Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony

Monday, November 28, 2016

This week's selection comes from Jonathan Summers, Curator of Classical music Recordings. Many texts cite the very first recording of a Beethoven symphony to be that of the Fifth made by Artur Nikisch in 1913. This is incorrect because there...

More blog posts

Case studies

…The research I did as an Edison Fellow at the British Library was invaluable for my PhD…

Alexis Bennett researched 1930s British film music as an Edison Fellow at the British Library.

…My work as an Edison Fellow has profoundly changed my thoughts on music making…

Pianist Marisa Gupta uses historical sound recordings to inform her chamber music performances.