Skip to Main Content

Music Collections: Printed Music

A guide to the finding aids available for the music collections in the Bodleian Library.


All the Bodleian Library's printed music, both antiquarian and modern, must be consulted in the Sir Charles Mackerras Reading Room on Level One of the Weston Library. In addition to a large selection of reference books on Music, a selection of composer collected editions and other scholarly editions can be found on the open shelves in the reading room (shelfmark: MUS. M.) and in the adjacent Gallery (shelfmark: MUS. N.). Other music scores are stored either in the Weston Library stacks (shelfmark prefix '(W)') or offsite in the Book Storage Facility and should be requested via SOLO.

A song by John Eccles [c.1703]

A page from John Eccles' song 'If wine and musick have the pow'r to ease the sickness of the soul'

SOLO (Search Oxford Libraries Online)

Practically all the Bodleian's printed music should now be included in the online catalogue SOLO. The data from the card catalogues previously located in the former Music Reading Room has now been keyed and added to SOLO. While this means that printed music scores are now all catalogued in one place, a certain variety in cataloguing styles and a small amount of duplication may be noticeable.

For general help on using SOLO, see here.

Card catalogues (ONLINE VERSION)

Although the data from the old card catalogues has now been added to SOLO and SOLO should always be the first place to start looking for printed music scores, the old catalogue cards have been scanned and can still be browsed online. It should be stressed that the information on the cards may no longer be current. All stack requests (hold requests) for music scores should now be made via SOLO.

Using the Online Card catalogues

In fact, several distinct catalogues are included:

  • Main card catalogue
  • Supplementary slip catalogue
  • Light music catalogue (Names & Titles)
  • Partial index to music manuscripts (Names & Titles)
  • Music manuscripts on microfilm
  • Music in other collections

To expand the branches of the ‘tree’ in the left-hand panel, click on the arrow heads to the left of the folders or, where there is no arrow head, on the folder itself. Once you drill down below the level of initial letters, the index term given alongside the folders represents the heading on the first card in each sequence. Move from one card to the next by using the left and right arrow buttons at the top of the screen or, to jump to another point in the ‘drawer’, drag the round button along the bar at the foot of the screen. 

Legal Deposit music

Effectively a copyright library since Sir Thomas Bodley entered into his agreement with the Stationers' Company in 1610, the Bodleian has been regularly receiving printed music under the terms of successive Copyright Acts since the 1780s, although coverage has never been comprehensive. Music received up to the middle of the 19th century was bound in the 1880s into uniform sequences of vocal and instrumental music volumes (the Mus. Voc. and Mus. Instr. sequences).

For more information about the history of legal deposit music at the Bodleian, see:

Martin Holmes, '‘Neither exhaustive nor selective’: Legal deposit, Sir Thomas Bodley, and the growth of the music collections at his Library in Oxford', Brio v.56 no.2 (Autumn/Winter 2019), pp. 6-15.

For general information on Legal Deposit, click here

British Union-Catalogue of Early Music

In addition to the copy in the Mackerras Reading Room (shelfmarked MUS. AB. 1), an interleaved copy of The British Union-Catalogue of Early Music, partially annotated with Bodleian shelfmarks and additions is available on request. Please consult Music section staff (