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Printed music

Last Updated: 28-Aug-2013

This guide provides an introduction to finding printed music in both paper and digital formats.

Subject Librarians

Ray Heigemeir
Public Services Librarian for Music
(650) 384-9985
Music Bibliographer
(650) 725-1144

Search or browse

Search in SearchWorks using combinations of title words, opus numbers, and composer names.

Use the “music-score” format filter.

  • Try using fewer words if you don’t get good results.
  • Use the Advanced Search page for more complex searches.
  • Search for the larger work when necessary.
  • Keep in mind music’s complexity:
    • One specific musical work can exist in multiple formats, including full conductor's scores, miniature study scores, arrangements, transcriptions, piano-vocal reductions, instrumental parts, popular sheet music compilations, "fake book" lead sheets. 
    • A single work may be published in several languages and editions, resulting in multiple unique catalog entries.
    • Works may be published in compilations or in series, and smaller works may be components of larger works, such as individual songs within song cycles.

Browse the stacks:

Scores are arranged according to the Library of Congress system. A print guide with an index to the “M Class” is shelved at M1.1, across from the elevator.

Identify title information

Grove Music Online is an excellent source for identifying the proper title of a work. Most individual composer biographies provide works lists, often including title information, key, opus number, and date of composition.

Research guides and thematic catalogs can also help you correctly identify works. Find them shelved alphabetically by composer in the Reference Room at ML134.

Uniform Titles

Uniform titles are unique titles assigned to all manifestations of a musical work. They serve several purposes, including to:

 

Group together variants of a work under a title unique to that work

Variants of Bizet's Carmen:

Carmen. (this is the complete opera)
Carmen. Selections ("highlights" on a CD)
Carmen. German & French (a printed score with the sung text in two languages)
Carmen. Libretto. German & English (text only in two languages, no musical notation)
Carmen. Danse boheme; arr. (in this case, one aria arranged for trumpet solo)

 

Identify works with generic names

Some titles for the same Beethoven violin sonata:

Violin Sonata opus 24
Sonata no. 5 : for piano and violin
Sonata in F major
"Spring" Sonata

use: Sonatas, violin, piano, no. 5, op. 24, F major

 

Identify works published in multiple languages

The Rite of Spring
Le Sacre du Printemps
Frühlingsopfer

use: Vesna sviashchennaia (the title in Stravinsky's original Russian is preferred)


You will see a work's uniform title at the top of the SearchWorks record; you may click on it to find more entries for that work. The format filter will allow you to limit to scores or recordings. Composer/uniform title combinations also display as links when they are added titles in a SearchWorks record.

Learn more about uniform titles with this tutorial from Indiana University.

Printed music databases

See also:

Printed music on the web

Single-composer collections:

Beethoven-Haus Bonn Digital Archives
Brahms-Institut an der Musikhochschule Lübeck
Chopin Early Editions (University of Chicago)
Fryderyk Chopin Digital Collection (Polish National Library, Warsaw)
Georg Friedrich Handel Werke (Chrysander Edition ; Bavarian State Library)
Franz Liszt Werke (Carl-Alexander-Ausgabe ; Bavarian State Library)
Jean-Baptiste Lully Collection (University of North Texas)
Mendelssohn-Edition (Bavarian State Library)
Neue Mozart-Ausgabe
Ignaz Pleyel Early Editions Digital Collection (University of Iowa)
Schubert Autographs project
Robert Schumann Werke (Bavarian State Library)
Robert Schumann autographs at the University of Bonn

 

Printed and manuscript score collections

The Mutopia Project

The Music Treasures Consortium (Library of Congress)

International Music Score Library Project
Sibley Music Library Scores (Eastman)
Digitized Score Collection (Bavarian State Library)
Loeb Music Library Digital Scores Collection (Harvard)
Juilliard Manuscript Collection
Choral Public Domain Library
Hofmeister XIX (digitized 19th c. catalog of printed music)
The Classical String Quartet, 1770-1840 (Duke University)
Music Library Digital Scores Collection (University of Washington)
Jewish Art Music (Jewish Theological Seminary)
Early Music Online (British Library)

 

Sheet music

Sheet Music Consortium
19th-Century California Sheet Music (UC Berkeley)
Digital Archive of American Popular Music (UCLA)
Lester S. Levy Collection of Sheet Music (Johns Hopkins University)
Historic American Sheet Music (Duke University)
Digital Sheet Music (University of Colorado)
Sheldon Harris Sheet Music Collection (University of Mississippi)

MusicNotes.com (purchase popular sheet music downloads)

The American Memory Project at the Library of Congress includes the following collections:

African American Sheet Music, 1850-1920
"We'll Sing to Abe our Song": Sheet Music about Lincoln, Emancipation, and the Civil War
Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music, 1820-1860 & 1870-1885
Historic American Sheet Music, 1850-1920
America Singing: 19th-Century Song Sheets