The resources in the Music collection provide access to online audio recordings, audio-visual materials, scores and books. The Library also holds many valuable research collections on microfilm.

Several of our music collections were donated by academics in the Music department and composers linked to the University. The Borthwick Institute for Archives also houses the archives of some individual composers and performers.

ECM Collection

This collection of commercial recordings includes over 800 compact discs, representing the independent record label ECM (Edition of Contemporary Music). It is located in the Fairhurst Building.

Pearl and Bel Canto Collections

The finest producers of re-mastered archival sound material, this collection is important for anyone studying the history of recording or the history of performance practice. The Bel Canto collection is slightly more focused on vocal recordings. The collections are housed in the Fairhurst building.

Music preserved archive

Founded in 1987, Music Preserved is a charity dedicated to preserving and making available private recordings of classical music, made either off air or at performances, and for which no other source exists. The recordings span the 1930s to the 1990s.

The Music Preserved Archive includes 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. There are also the private recordings of Sir Charles Mackerras, and live performance tapes from the collection of the British tenor, Richard Lewis, among others.

In partnership with Music Preserved, the Borthwick and York Digital Library is making these recordings available, through a free audio streaming service.

The same site hosts the searchable catalogue of recordings. The size of the archive means that not everything is catalogued, and not everything has been transferred to a digital format for listening, both of which are continuing processes. If there is a recording you would like to listen to that is not yet available, please contact us.

John R. T. Davies Collection

John R.T. Davies (1927-2004) was a collector and remastering engineer of classic jazz records, a trombonist, trumpeter and alto saxophonist and a member of the 1960s jazz revival band The Temperance Seven. He was considered by many people to be the world's leading specialist in the art of sound restoration, specifically in relation to jazz and blues recordings before the introduction of magnetic tape. The collection of almost 20,000 shellac 78s is rich in rare recordings from 1917 to 1940.

Copland Collection

Comprises scores composed by Aaron Copland (1900-1990), and includes symphonies, ballet suites, chamber music, concertos, and film music. His connection with the University of York stems from a friendship with former professor of music, Wilfrid Mellers, through whose initiative Copland was awarded an honorary degree by the University in 1971. Under the terms of Copland's will, the Library received a copy of all of his works which were in print at the time of his death.

Music manuscripts on microfilm

The music microfilm collections include early music manuscripts which contain music that has often never been published. In addition to these unpublished works are facsimile reproductions of composers working scores.

For more information see: