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

    Sources for vocal and instrumental works from the Middle Ages to the present
  • Afton Water part 04

    Printed music

    Material published in every European country, from the beginnings of music printing to the present day
  • Hirsch Music Library stamp

    Hirsch Collection

    Ca. 18,000 items of printed music and music literature and 76 manuscripts collected by Paul Hirsch and dating from the late-12th to the mid-20th centuries
  • Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's Messiah

    Royal Music Library

    Printed and manuscript music scores collected by several generations of the royal household
  • Beethoven's Ninth Symphony

    Royal Philharmonic Society Archive

    Over 270 manuscript scores and an astonishing collection of correspondence files, working papers and minute books
  • pop record

    Music recordings

    Our vast collection includes commercial discs, tapes of radio broadcasts, and rare or unpublished recordings

Blog posts

Innovations in music notation in late medieval Syria: British Library manuscript Or. 13019

Monday, June 29, 2020

The Qatar Digital Library (QDL) is a collaboration between the British Library and the Qatar National Library, in which historical records from the former India Office are being catalogued and digitised, along with Arabic manuscripts on scientific topics from the...

Solving a suffragette mystery – who was Miss Wolff van Sandau?

Monday, June 22, 2020

In 2019 a Women’s Social and Political Union medal was sold at auction in London. It was awarded in 1912 to Elsie Wolff van Sandau in recognition of ‘ a gallant action, whereby through endurance to the last extremity of...

Lockdown piano 2: a Robert Schumann manuscript online

Monday, June 8, 2020

In these socially distanced times, a concerto for one person alone could be just the thing… “I think that your idea of a concerto is wonderfully in tune with the times (and one should always move with them), and I...

Lockdown piano: the pedagogical works of Muzio Clementi

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

A piano-playing theme is emerging from the Coronavirus lockdown, with several famous names playing online, or mentioning that they are learning to play, including actor Anthony Hopkins, footballer Nathan Aké, and rugby union player Tom Curry. For anyone with time...

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Projects

Delius, Modernism, and the Sound of Place

Using manuscripts and digital technologies to understand the composer Frederick Delius

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Case studies

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…Book historical research has transformed the way we look at books and their role in society.…

Researching the social and political impact of printed music in the long eighteenth century.

…There is a wealth of primary source material…

Sasha is doing collaborative PhD research on the music of Scottish-American composer, Thea Musgrave.