How to find music

We have large collections dealing with music. For example, you can find sheet music and recorded music, but also a lot of material about the music.

Employee between shelves with vinyl records
Thomas Søndergaard

A few things on what you can find

Music is alive. What you will find is a collection of a variety of media that try to capture the work or the experience. The documentation is either focused directly on the work, the experience of the work, the process of creation or the work's framework.

We collect and preserve music in the form of, for example, sound recordings, sheet music and archive material. In addition, we prepare the Danish Music List, and we are also the national centre for things as ISMN (International Standard Music Number), RILM (Répertoire International de Littérature Musicale) and RISM (Répertoire International de Source Musicale).

Keep in mind that if you cannot find a guide to what you are looking for here, then it may be found on one of our other guide pages.

Search help

We recommend that you do a search on the composer, musician or work that you are interested in. You unfold the search field by clicking on "search" at the top of the page. Once you have searched, you can use the buttons that appear to the left of the search results to narrow down to the type of material you are interested in (for example, sound or sheet music).

However, you should be aware that when you narrow down by material type, you may in some cases experience that material is sorted out by mistake.

Remember that it is important that you order the material that you are interested in before you show up at the library. Most of our materials are not on display, but are located in our storages.

Below we have gathered some of the most frequently used sources and where to find them. You can use many of the materials in one of our reading rooms, but you can also borrow some of it to take home with you.

Start by searching Mediestream. If you can not find the review here, it is because the newspaper is not digitised. Instead, use microfilm at the reading rooms in The Black Diamond, Copenhagen or in the microfilm readers on Victor Albecks Vej, Aarhus and the paper editions of the newspapers in the newspaper collection in Skejby, Aarhus.

The latest reviews can be found in the Infomedia database, which is also accessible to many public libraries. Find Infomedia by searching for "infomedia" in the library system.

A number of reviews from the period 1980-2002 can be found in Klippoteket - a collection of clippings about Danish music. The collection is available at the reading rooms in The Black Diamond, Copenhagen.

The library also has quite a few scrapbooks, particularly from individuals. You will find them in the library system.

We collect blog reviews and preserve them in the online archive.

Within music, there are personal archives (from composers and performing musicians as well as writers), institutional and association archives (for example, the Danish Composers' Association, Musikforeningen, Det Unge Tonekunstnerselskab, for example) and collector archives concerning particularly traditional music, dance and song (for example material collected by folklore collector Evald Tang Kristensen and composer Percy Grainger). In addition, there are a number of theatre archives, which also contain material on musical performances.

The material can be searched in the library system and used at the Research reading room in The Black Diamond, Copenhagen.

You should be aware that access to the personal archives may be subject to certain restrictions.

The majority of letters to and from composers and performing musicians are found in the manuscript collection. You can search for them by name via the library system.

In the folklore archive, we have a number of letters from informants and collectors.

A selection of letters can be searched in Brevbasen, but there are also many in personal and institution archives in the manuscript collection. See also letters in the digital collection Danmarks Breve.

Please note that not all letters are registered by single name - there are many letters in our other collections that are not registered separately.

Books and articles about music are searchable in the library system. Most of them you can either access online, borrow to take home with you, or you can order a copy, but you can only view some of the older material at the Research reading room in The Black Diamond, Copenhagen.

There are restrictions on viewing a number of online articles and e-books from home, but everyone has access to the materials by visiting one of our addresses.

If you cannot find an article by searching the library system, you can search by the name of the journal and order the relevant year.

We have a wide range of sheet music online that is freely available.

It includes:

  • older printed notes and sheet music manuscripts that have been digitised and can be searched for in our library system.
  • own publications of a practical-scientific nature, especially of Danish composers' works. This includes the entire Carl Nielsen Edition and a number of other works, edited and published by the Danish Centre for Music Editing.

Please note that you can order a copy of Danish sheet music from the period 1700-1900 free of charge. You search for them in the library system.

You will find in both the theatre collection , the manuscript collection and the collection of prints and photographs. The photographs in the collection are partly registered in the library system, and some have been digitised.

You can find portraits, group photos, venues, music situations and so on, as well as a lot of music dramatic performance photos.

You can also find a large collection of, among other things, digitised theatre drawings.

The Folklore Archive has an extensive photo archive with pictures of performing musicians and music and dance situations related to traditional music.

Contact us via Ask the library if you cannot find what you are looking for.

The library has both released recordings and unique sound recordings.

The material can be divided into four major parts:

  • Released commercial recordings - these you can search in the library system and you can often borrow them to take home
  • Radio/TV recordings - some can be heard in Mediestream by turning up at The Black Diamond, Copenhagen or Victor Albecks Vej, Aarhus, or you can write to Ask the library
  • Archive (live) recordings from, for example, concerts - write to Ask the library
  • Collected recordings of, for example, traditional music or interviews about music - write to Ask the library

The material is on all types of media, such as reel-to-reel tape, cassette tape, DAT tape and phonograph rollers. We are in the process of digitising part of the material.

We have a very extensive number of recordings and sheet music (for example scores and piano extracts) of musical drama of both Danish and foreign origin. You can borrow a large part of it to take home. You can find it via the library system, where you can search for composer, musician or work title, and so on.

Some notes are digitised, for example the oldest pieces from the Royal Danish Opera, Bournonville's ballets and Copenhagen revues.

Texts for musical drama are available both in printed form and as manuscripts, both Danish and foreign, and they can be searched via the library system. Particularly the printed texts you can often borrow to take home, others you can only see in our reading rooms. You can get more information in the theatre collection

We have a large collection of handwritten sheet music manuscripts from many Danish composers and also a small collection from foreign ones. In addition, we have many transcripts of manuscripts.

The manuscripts are registered in the library system, and the oldest can be found in the manuscript collection.

The Folkelore Archive has a large number of song recordings and fiddler songbooks as sheet music manuscripts. They can be partially searched in the library system.

We have performance material (score, piano excerpts, instrumental and vocal music) for many works, both Danish and foreign. Some go back to the 18th century, and some are only in handwriting. Others are newer works that Orchestral users can borrow to take home. You can search for the works via the library system.

You can only see some performance material at the Research reading room in The Black Diamond, Copenhagen, while some of the newer voice material can be borrowed by ensembles. You must be registered as an Orchestral user to borrow the material.

You will find posters in the small print collection and in the collection of prints and photographs.

The posters are often unregistered, so if it is not possible to find them in the library system, you can write to Ask the library.

You will primarily find programmes in the small print collection.

The material is only partially registered, so you cannot find everything we have in the library system.

Contact us via Ask the library if you do not find what you are looking for.

We have a large collection of printed song, ballad and hymn books as well as single prints. In addition, there are handwritten lyrics, occasional songs and more, which can be found in the folklore archive.

We have an almost complete collection of Danish printed sheet music. Some you can borrow to take home, some you can only use at the Research reading room in The Black Diamond.

In addition, we have a large collection of printed foreign sheet music in all genres and time periods that you can borrow. When it comes to chamber and orchestral music, in addition to score, there is also vocal sheet music. Some of the older material you can only view in the Research reading room in The Black Diamond (material in Copenhagen) or in the Reading room on Victor Albecks vej in Aarhus (material in Aarhus).

You can get a digital copy free of charge of older Danish sheet music without copyright. You can find the printed notes via the library system, where you can, for example, search for composer or work title as well as crew. It is stated in the information about the individual material how you access it.

All printed sheet music that you can borrow to take home, you can order via bibliotek.dk for arrival at your own public library.