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

Photo: Thomas Søndergaard

A few words 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 information related to the individual work.

We collect and preserve music in the form of, for example, sound recordings, sheet music, music scores, and archive material. In addition, we prepare the Union Catalogue of Danish Music, and we are also the national centre for projects like 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 has your interest. 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 limit the type of resource you are interested in (for example, audio or music scores).

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

Remember that it is important to order the material that you are interested in before you show up at the library. Most of our materials are not on open shelves, but are located in our closed stacks.

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 some are also available for borrowing.

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 student  reading room in The Black Diamond, Copenhagen. See our list of topics covered by Klippoteket (in Danish).

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 the music field, 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) 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 a significant number of letters can be found in the personal and institution archives in the manuscript collection. See also letters in the digital collection Danmarks Breve (in Danish only).

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

Books and articles about music are searchable in the library system. Most of them you can either access online, borrow and use at home, or you can order a copy. However, some of the older material you can only view 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 and music scores online which are freely available.

It includes:

  • older printed music and music manuscripts that have been digitised and can be searched for in our library system.
  • the library's own publications of practical scholarly editions, 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 photos 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 significant number of performance photos related to musical drama .

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

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

Contact us, if you cannot find what you are looking for.

The library has both published 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 they are often available for borrowing
  • 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 us

The material is on all types of media, such as phonograph cylinder, reel-to-reel tape, cassette tape, and Digital Audio Tape (DAT). We are in the process of digitising part of the material.

You can listen to cassette tapes and CDs in our reading room in Aarhus. For preservation purposes, it is not possible to play phonograph cylinders and gramophone records (shellac and vinyl).

We have a very extensive number of recordings and sheet music (for example scores or piano scores) of musical drama of both Danish and foreign origin. Some of the material is available for borrowing. You can find it via the library system, where you can search for composer, musician or work title, and so on.

Some music has been digitised, for example the oldest pieces from the Royal Danish Opera, Bournonville's ballets and Copenhagen vaudevilles.

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 are often available for borrowing, whereas others you can only see in our reading rooms. Find more information in the heatre collection

We have a large collection of handwritten music manuscripts from many Danish composers as well as a small collection from foreigners. In addition, we have many manuscript copies.

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

The folklore archives has a large number of fiddlers' music books and songbooks as music manuscripts. Some of these can be 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 which are available for borrowing by Orchestral users. You can search for the works via the library system.

Some of the performance material you can only see at the Research reading room in The Black Diamond, Copenhagen, while some of the newer editions can be borrowed by ensembles.

You must be registered as an Orchestral user to borrow the material.

You will find posters in the pamphlet and ephemera 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 us.

You will primarily find programmes in the pamphlet and ephemera collection.

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

Please contact us, 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 individual prints. In addition, there are handwritten lyrics, occasional songs and more, which can be found in the folklore archives.

We have an almost complete collection of Danish printed music. Some publications are available for borrowing, whereas others you can only use at the Research reading room in The Black Diamond.

In addition, we have a large collection of printed foreign music in all genres and time periods that you can borrow. When it comes to chamber and orchestral music, in addition to scores, there are parts. Some of the older material you can only use 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 music via the library system, where you can search for composer or work title as well as instruments. 

All printed music which is available for borrowing, you can order via for pick-up at your local public library.