Music Library Collections
In 1902 a small music collection was created in the Department of Music, where it was housed in a single room. In 1917, with the construction of Sprague Memorial Hall, the Department's music collection was moved to a well-appointed room in the new building. At the same time, music materials were collected from the University Library and combined with the Department's holdings to form one large music collection. The Music Library continued to grow, and when the Yale School of Music obtained new quarters in the early 1950s, the Music Library expanded to fill the first floor, basement, and portions of the upper floors of Sprague Hall. Once again too large for its surroundings, the Music Library moved in 1998 to a new facility constructed in a courtyard of Sterling Memorial Library and named for Irving S. Gilmore (Yale '23). At the same time the Historical Sound Recordings and American Musical Theatre collections moved into the Music Library.
Today the Music Library holds approximately 100,000 scores and parts for musical performance and study; 70,000 books about music; 35,000 LP recordings and compact discs; 11,600 microforms of manuscripts and scores; 45,000 pieces of sheet music; 95,000 photographs; 4,000 linear feet of archival materials; 560 individual music manuscripts not forming a portion of a larger collection; and 425 active subscriptions to music periodicals, and numerous electronic databases of books, scores, audio, and video.
Among the strengths of the Music Library collections are complete runs of nearly every available monumental set and composer's collected edition; an extensive collection of historical treatises on music theory; and early publications of opera scores and chamber music. Archival holdings include the complete papers and archives of Charles Ives, Virgil Thomson, Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya, Carl Ruggles, Leo Ornstein, Paul Bekker, Karl Weigl, Deems Taylor, Henry Gilbert, E. Robert Schmitz, Lehman Engel, Goddard Lieberson, Horatio Parker, Kay Swift, Harold Rome, Vladimir Horowitz, and Benny Goodman. A special collection focuses on Paul Hindemith's American years, and thousands of photographs of classical and jazz musicians are contained in the archives of Fred and Rose Plaut and Stanley and Helen Oakley Dance. For brief descriptions of the archival collections please see the Archival Papers Checklist. Individual manuscript holdings include autograph manuscripts of J. S. Bach, Frederic Chopin, Johannes Brahms, Robert Schumann, and Franz Liszt. Researchers should make appointments to study archival and manuscript material.
Rare books, scores, and periodicals
(classed M, ML, and in Yale classification) are housed in the Beinecke Library and are paged by Beinecke service staff. Books in the MT classification are housed in the Gilmore Music Library and are paged by the Special Collections staff. To obtain reproductions click here.
(classed Misc. Ms. or Ma21 Y11) are housed in the Gilmore Music Library and in the Beinecke Library--researchers should register with the Special Collections staff, who will page material and bring it to the appropriate reading room. To obtain reproductions click here
Archival collections (Archival Papers at the Music Library: A Checklist)
(classed MSS) are shelved in several locations; most are shelved off-campus and require one to two business days for retrieval. Researchers should contact the Special Collections staff several days in advance for an appointment. Researchers interested in Cole Porter, E.Y. "Yip" Harburg, or The South Before the War Company Papers should contact the Historical Sound Recordings Curator. To obtain reproductions click here.
The American Musical Theatre Collection contains scores, sheet music, manuscripts, books, memorabilia, and recordings, available for scholarly purposes. Registers for the Cole Porter Collection, the E.Y. "Yip" Harburg Collection, and The South Before the War Company Papers are available online. Monographs have been cataloged in Orbis. Staff-accessible finding aids have been prepared for scores, sheet music, and recordings. Researchers should arrange appointments with the curator for interviews concerning their needs for service.