Accessibility statement

University of York Sound Archives

The University of York Sound Archives (UYSA) consists of sound recording collections held at the University of York, available for teaching, research and listening. In particular, the UYSA specialises in non-commercial, off-air and unreleased recordings.

The UYSA is a joint initiative of the Music Department and the Borthwick Institute for Archives, which together host the collections in order to preserve recordings in increasingly obsolete and fragile media, to digitize them, and to deliver and disseminate them using means that retain fidelity to original audio environments.

The UYSA has received a number of grants and awards, including an AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award, enabling research into the audio archives of Music Preserved.


The University of York Sound Archives comprises the following collections:

Music Preserved

Founded in 1987, these collections of classical music preserve rare recordings of public performances and interviews, spanning the 1930s to the 1990s, made from broadcasts or recorded on-site. As a Music Preserved Listening Centre, the University of York offers secure access to these special collections for research, teaching and listening. A searchable index is available at the Music Preserved website. Music Preserved regularly issues recordings on its MPLive label.

The University of York is a Music Preserved Listening Centre, along with the Jerwood Library of the Performing Arts at Trinity College of Music in Greenwich.

Music Preserved includes extraordinary broadcast recordings from Lord Harewood's personal audio collection. These date back to the 1930s and 40s, and include nearly 1,500 acetates and reel-to-reel tapes of broadcast public performances, with special focus on opera and art song. Another recent donation includes the private recordings of Sir Charles Mackerras, and another includes live performance tapes from the collection of the British tenor, Richard Lewis.

Music Preserved's 'Recording of the Month'

In a collaborative initiative between the Jerwood Library at Trinity College of Music and the University of York Sound Archives, a select Music Preserved recording is promoted each month at the Music Preserved Listening Centres. A recent transfer of the featured recording is readily available at each Centre, with accompanying information prepared by Jerwood Library or UYSA staff, publicly available at the Recording of the Month webpage.

John R. T. Davies Collection

This collection of commercial recordings includes nearly 20,000 rare jazz 78s and LPs, including many test recordings. The Davies materials give the Department an extraordinary resource for research and for teaching in jazz history.

The Ray Spencer Collection

This jazz collection contains more than 1,000 cassettes of live, broadcast and compilation recordings assembled by the noted critic, pedagogue and amateur pianist Ray Spencer. For further information, contact Professor William Brooks (

The Wilfrid Mellers Collection

This collection, a legacy of the noted musicologist and long-time member of the Music Department, Wilfrid Mellers, includes a number of personal tapes (not yet digitized), as well as commercial LPs and CDs.

ECM Records

This collection of commercial recordings presently includes over 800 compact discs, representing the full ECM catalogue. These recordings are held in the University Library and are accessible through the University Library online catalogue (include "ECM" as one of the search terms).

Historic Masters

This collection of remasters includes early opera and vocal recordings commercially reissued on 78 rpm discs. The UYSA hold the full Historic Masters Catalogue, and it is possible to listen in digital format. For more information, and the full catalogue, see Historic Masters

Sound Archives of the Music Department, University of York

These collections extend from the 1960s to the present and include live performances and compositions created by visiting artists, staff and students, with important materials from the University of York electronic music studios. There are also many commercial LP recordings. Most of these collections are not yet digitized. 

Trevor Wishart Archive

This collection comprises the complete audio works of the Yorkshire-based composer, as well as manuscripts, diaries and other writings.

This and many of the other collections can be found in the Borthwick Institute.