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Collections and services

The departments

Music Department

Collections on the following topics are available for consultation in the Music Department (département de la Musique):
The Golden Cockerel. Nikolai Andreevitch Rimski-Korsakov. 1908

The Golden Cockerel. Nikolai Andreevitch Rimski-Korsakov. 1908

The Music Department’s collections contain approximately two million documents: printed music scores dating back to the origins of printed music, autograph manuscripts by composers, handwritten copies, autograph letters by musicians, the archives of musicians and musical institutions, opera librettos, portraits of musicians, books and reviews, press cuttings, concert programs, and publishers’ catalogs.

In addition, 8,000 works are available on an open-access basis.

The most remarkable pieces and collections include the following:

  • the manuscript of Mozart’s Don Giovanni
  • autograph manuscripts by Hector Berlioz
  • autograph manuscripts by Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel, and Gabriel Fauré

To be noted

Since 1991, the department has been receiving the files and musical works of deceased composers by way of deposits by the Contemporary Music Resource Center (Centre de documentation de la musique contemporaine).

History of the department

From the 18th century onwards, musical collections began to be added to the Royal Library: Sébastien de Brossard’s collection, manuscripts by Marc-Antoine Charpentier, etc. Legal deposit arrangements covering printed music, governed by the 1793 laws, came into effect at the National Library in 1812.

The Library of the National Conservatory of Music (Bibliothèque du Conservatoire national de musique), created in 1795, benefited from revolutionary confiscations and received part of the royal collections, including the Philidor collection, which can be accessed by way of a file within Gallica. It was expanded in the 19th century by the legal deposit scheme (effective from 1834 onwards), a policy of holding copies in European libraries, acquisitions, and donations.

In 1942, the musical collections of the Bibliothèque nationale de France, the Library of the National Conservatory of Music in Paris, and the Opera Library, still based at the Palais Garnier, were brought together within a single entity, forming the Music Department. The old collection of the Conservatory Library (Bibliothèque du Conservatoire) has been available for consultation at the Music Department since 1964.

For more info

History of the BnF

Thursday, March 27, 2014


Élizabeth Giuliani
Phone : 33 (0)1 53 79 88 50
Fax : 33 (0)1 53 79 88 28
Email :

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