Boston Public Library
Special Collections
Music Department
3rd Floor, McKim Building, Central Library
617-536-5400, ext. 2285


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Online Collections
Allen A. Brown Music Collection
Philip Hale Collection
Serge Koussevitzky Collection
Marchard Orchestra Collection
Walter Piston Collection
Music Program Collection
John B. Sanromá Collection
Victor Young Collection
Handel & Haydn Society Collection

Use Of the Music Department Collections
Additional Music Resources at the Library


ONLINE COLLECTIONS The Boston Public Library is working to digitize its historical collections. The following materials are available online for easy access:


Allen A. Brown Music Collection
The heart of the Music Department's holdings is the Allen A. Brown Music Collection, named for the donor who presented it to the Library in 1895. By the terms of the gift, the original collection is housed in a specially designated area, and the books and other materials included in it are restricted to use in the Music Reading Room. Mr. Brown made regular additions to his original gift of 6,990 volumes so that it had nearly tripled in size by his death in 1916. The collection continues to grow through purchases from trust funds, including the Allen A. Brown Fund, and now contains more than 40,000 books, scores, and manuscripts.

The Brown Collection reflects the broad musical interests and activities of a collector and serious amateur musician at the turn of the century. It is well rounded in the area of operas, oratorios, orchestral and chamber music as well as solo songs and catches and glees both in manuscript and published score format. One of the important aspects of the collection is the ephemera Mr. Brown collected and preserved. Reviews of performances, published interviews, biographical sketches, concert programs, etc. are pasted in many of the books and scores that he purchased as well as in the numerous scrapbooks which he compiled.

Years of heavy use and environmental conditions have taken their toll on the collection. As a result, certain parts of the Collection have had to be restricted to persons working on serious research projects and graduate students working on their theses or dissertations. Prospective users should be prepared to present letters of introductions and proper credentials. For further information, please contact the Music Department.



Philip Hale Collection
Consisting of clippings, photographs and scrapbooks compiled by Boston music critic and Boston Symphony Orchestra program annotator, Philip Hale (1854-1934), the collection includes biographical materials, obituary notices, reviews, essays and short articles collected or written by Hale on musical subjects. Photographs, taken between 1853-1931, are primarily of opera singers and musicians. The scrapbook volumes of Hale's own Musical and Dramatic Criticism (1887-1933) are available on microfilm in the Music Department.

An appointment is required to use the pictorial and non-microfilmed portions of the Hale collection.


Serge Koussevitzky Collection
Mrs. Olga Koussevitzky donated the Koussevitzky Music Archive in 1974 in memory of her late husband Serge Koussevitzky (1875-1951), conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra from 1924 to 1949 and founder of the Koussevitzky Music Foundation located at the Library of Congress. The scores, some of them annotated in his own hand, scrapbooks, and photographs come from his home Seranak in Lenox, Massachusetts.

Non-musical materials are available by appointment only.

Online access: Selections from the Koussevitzky collection are accessible through the BPL's online sound archives.


Marchard Orchestra Collection
The Marchard Orchestra, a Boston-based dance band, played at dances and other society functions along the "Champaign" route which ranged from Bar Harbor down to Virginia and to the mid-west. It played on a regular basis at the Ritz Carlton and the Plaza Room at the Copley Plaza Hotel in Boston. The collection consists of the repertory of the Orchestra from the 1930s to 1960s. Many band arrangements (both published and manuscript) of popular songs, seasonal music and "light classics" make up this collection of "charts."


Walter Piston Collection
Books, scores, antique musical instruments and personal effects belonging to the two time Pulitzer Prize winner Walter Piston (1894-1976) are mostly housed in the Piston Room located off of the Koussevitzky Room. Many of Piston's compositions are represented in this collection, in both printed and holograph forms. The Music Department has a Piston Room which is furnished after Piston's home library in Belmont, Massachusetts. Manuscript scores are in the custody of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Department.


Music Program Collection
Concert and theatre programs for many Boston area musical events are found in this collection. Programs date from the mid 1800's to the current time period. They represent both music theater, opera, chamber music, orchestral and popular music programs.
The collection is available by appointment only.


John B. Sanromá Collection
During the 1930's, John Sanromá was the staff photographer for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the City of Boston Parks and Recreation Department, the first "candid camera" photographer for the Boston Herald, and active as a private commercial photographer. The collection includes many pictures of BSO rehearsals and performances, musicians (including his brother pianist Jesus Maria Sanromá, 1902-1984) as well as Boston politicians, Boston Park events, formal portraits, weddings, etc. The collection is divided between the Music Department and the Print Department.
Access to the collection is by appointment only.


Victor Young Collection
Victor Young (1900-1956) was an active instrumentalist, orchestra leader and composer-arranger for vaudeville, radio and film from about 1929 to 1956. The collection includes manuscript scores (with some parts) of Young's original compositions and arrangements for radio shows and Paramount films. Film scores include Academy Award Winner Around the World in 80 Days (1956), the Quiet Man (1952) and Shane (1953), among others.

Access to the collection is by appointment only. A card index "finding aid" is available.


Handel & Haydn Society Archives
The Handel & Haydn Society officially transferred its collection to the Library in April 1978. The Society gave its books, scores, and archives to the Trustees of the Library to be maintained and preserved as part of the permanent research collection. Presently housed in the Rare Books and Manuscripts Department, the collection ranges from early imprints of Handel's music and copies of the Handel and Haydn Society Collection of Church Music to the holographs of commissioned works. The archives includes copies of bills and disbursements dating back to 1815, printers' plates for tickets, programs from 1815-1912, membership lists and by-laws. A finding aid to the Handel & Hayden Archives is available online.


Use Of the Music Department Collections
The Music Department Collection is used exclusively for reference and research. It is not a performance collection. Major reference works-current encyclopedias, bibliographies, indexes, dictionaries, discographies, and similar research guides-are available in open shelves in the alcoves of the West Gallery. Included are such major reference works as the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, The International Cyclopedia of Music and Musicians, The New Oxford Companion to Music, The Music Index, RILM, RISM, and other similar research tools.

The main part of the Music Department collection is housed in closed stacks. To obtain a book or score from the stacks, or to ascertain the Library's holdings in the various fields of music, a reader has access to five catalogs which provide guidance to music collections: The Dictionary Catalog of the Music Collection (20 volumes), the First Supplement to the Dictionary Catalog of the Music Collection (4 volumes), a second and third supplement which are in card catalog form, and an online catalog which is part of the supplement of the Research Library catalog. All of the cards which were filmed for the Dictionary Catalog have been interfiled in the Research Library which is available on microfiche. This part of the catalog has not been converted to the online catalog. The print or microfiche sources must be consulted for in depth research.

To obtain a music item from the stacks, the reader fills out a call slip, copying the call number completely-i.e., all the letters, numbers, dates-from one of the corners of the catalog cards. A double asterisk preceding the number indicates that the book is part of the Allen A. Brown Collection. Please consult with the Music Librarian about access to the Brown and other special collections.


Additional Music Resources at the Library
A circulating collection of music and books on music is located on the second floor of the General Library and provides for the home reading needs of Library users. Sections within the Children's and Teen Rooms of the General Library offer books for young people's tastes and interests.

Musical recordings on compact disc, as well as spoken word discs and DVDs for home use may be found in the Johnson Building.