- 8,000 CDs: classical, jazz, folk and spoken word (audio books)
- Music DVDs and videos
- CD-ROM sheet music
- LPs and 78s
- 6,000 scores and miniature scores
- Sheet music
- Books on music
- Biographies of musicians
A representative sample of the recorded music collection can be found via the Catalogues page, whilst the complete catalogue can be accessed from within the library. To browse our printed music collection, please use the online catalogue for the Main collection, which is also accessible from the library.
The library is collecting complete editions of works by a number of composers, including Bach, Mozart, Berlioz and Handel, and holds several rare editions, including works by Charles Avison, C.P.E. Bach and Haydn.
Background of the music library
The music library was officially created in 1913, when the decision was made to allocate specific funds to develop and maintain the collection. The annual report from the time states that the library had been considering creating a music section for some time and had established a sub-committee to assess the feasibility of doing so. The sub-committee strongly recommended the idea and advised the ‘immediate purchase’ of ‘works in various branches of musical composition’, these recommendations being approved by the main committee, who then set aside funds for buying such works.
During 1914, over 700 scores were purchased for the library, forming the basis of what we have today. The aim was to provide ‘the complete works of the great composers, and a representative selection from the works of other composers’. There was also the intention to devote special attention to British composers, with a particular focus on those from the region. Although the music library had not been officially created until 1913, the library had started to accumulate scores and music books before this time, acquiring scores by local composers Charles Avison and William Shield in 1909.
The Lit & Phil established the recorded music collection, known as the Gramophone library, in 1942, which consisted of 78 rpm records. As developments in recording music took place, the LP took over from the 78, the collection peaking at around 10,000 LPs. The library started to acquire CDs in 1985, and we now have over 7,000, covering classical, jazz and folk music, as well as audio books and sheet music on CD-ROM. We also have a growing collection of music DVDs.