The BnF

Music Department

Created in 1942, the Music department gathers one of the most important music collections worldwide; it is the only Library-museum housing the heritage collections of a theatre while being connected with a national library. Located on two different places, it gathers, in the Richelieu-Louvois premises, the music collections collected since the early 18th century and the heritage collection of the Music Conservatory. At the Palais Garnier, it houses at the Opera Library the artistic heritage (music, iconography, archives, architectural drawings...) of Paris Opera and the Opéra-Comique. The oldest manuscripts date back to the Middle-Ages; as for printed documents, the oldest ones date back to the beginnings of music printing, at the end of the 15th century.
The reading rooms (Richelieu-Louvois and Opera libraries) are open to the readers of the Research Library; prior authorization is necessary to consult certain documents. A museum is available to the public at the Opéra-Garnier. 

Catalogs of the Music Department

Richelieu Library

For the collections of the Royal then National Library, from the origins to the present day:

For the collections of the former Bibliothèque du Conservatoire de Paris, various paper files are available in the Department's reading room: authors / anonymous authors, titles, libretti, iconography, lyric writers, literary and music documents.
The whole of the paper file 'authors / anonymous authors' will be loaded into the Catalogue général de la BnF in 2018 and then available online.

Some of these collections are not listed in the digitized catalogues. Some of them are available via paper files or catalogues in the reading room (ex: Coirault and Weckerlin collections, libretti).

For certain collections, readers have only paper inventories at their disposal.

Opera Library

Works added to the Opera Library's collections after 1992, the whole of the 'Authors' card file and a part of old music and iconographic collections are listed in the Catalogue général de la BnF.

Various printed catalogues are also available to readers:

  • Lajarte, Théodore de : Bibliothèque musicale du Théâtre de l'Opéra : catalogue historique, chronologique, anecdotique…, Paris, Librairie des bibliophiles, 1878 (2. Vol.)
  • Wild, Nicole ; Rémy, Tristan : Le Cirque – Iconographie, Paris, éd. de la Bibliothèque nationale, 1969
  • Wild, Nicole : Affiches illustrées, 1850-1950, Paris, éd. de la Bibliothèque nationale, 1976
  • Wild, Nicole : Décors et costumes du XIXe siècle. Tome I, Opéra de Paris, Paris, éd. de la Bibliothèque nationale, 1987
  • Wild, Nicole : Décors et costumes du XIXe siècle. Tome II, Autres théâtres et décorateurs, Paris, éd. de la Bibliothèque nationale, 1993
  • Wild, Nicole : Archives de l’Opéra – Inventaire sommaire, Paris, éd. de la Bibliothèque nationale, 1988

Friday, September 2, 2016


Mathias Auclair

Richelieu-Louvois Library :
Phone : 33 (0)1 53 79 88 50
Fax : 33 (0)1 53 79 88 28
Email :

Opera Library :
Phone : 33 (0)
Fax : 33 (0)
Email :

For a bibliographic search, use our "Ask a librarian" service, SINDBAD :
Ask a librarian (SINDBAD)