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    Our vast collection includes commercial discs, tapes of radio broadcasts, and rare or unpublished recordings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

Moomins music

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Readers of a certain age may recall from 1980s tea-time TV the children's series The Moomins, a stop-motion animation treatment of the stories of the Moomintrolls, the family of small woodland beings created by Finnish writer-illustrator Tove Jansson. The original...

Stefan Zweig’s Literary and Musical Treasures

Thursday, February 23, 2017

To mark the 75th anniversary of the death of the Austrian writer and collector Stefan Zweig (23 February 2017), the British Library has this week opened the display: ‘Stefan Zweig: The Magic of Manuscripts’ in the Sir John Ritblat Treasures...

They Walk Alone – A Benjamin Britten discovery

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Benjamin Britten composing in Crantock, Cornwall 1936 [PH/1/30] Photo Lennox Berkeley, by permission of the Lennox Berkeley Estate Rob Smith, metadata support officer on the Save our Sounds project, alerted me to the fact that he had discovered a hitherto...

Introducing British Library Music Collections

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Earlier this month, British Library staff held a special open day aimed at doctoral music students. The programme included presentations on printed music, music manuscripts and sound recordings. There was also a chance to chat to curators and to see...

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.