Major Collections of the Music Division - A Selection

Lithograph of Jenny Lind from the Muller Collection.

The Music Division is a repository for musical documents, past and present. It has assembled many of its vast holdings through generous gifts from the music community. The contents of these collections are either listed individually in the Archives Portal, (click here for just the Music Division holdings) or in on-site finding aids maintained by the Music Division. Inquiries about these collections may be submitted to

Some of the major collections housed in the Division include:

American Music Center Collection

This unique collection of 50,000 music scores represents a cross section of over 60 years of American concert music and jazz. Founded in 1939, the mandate of the American Music Center Collection is to make the music of its composer members available to performers and conductors, and to act as a clearinghouse for the dissemination of information vital to its membership.  Manuscripts from the American Music Center are available in a separate collection.

George Avakian and Anahid Ajemian Papers

Documents the careers and lives of the producer and violinist through personal and professional correspondence; published and unpublished writings and speeches; contracts and other business papers; scores; clippings; photographs; awards; posters; and visual art. 

Pierre Bernac Collection

Autographs of composers from whom Bernac commissioned songs or song cycles, with emphasis on Francis Poulenc. Individual items can be searched in the Catalog under Bernac as author.

Burnside Collection

Manuscripts of works performed at the Hippodrome Theater, including incidental music to plays, as well as songs by Irving Berlin, Rodgers and Hart, Victor Herbert, Emmerich Kálmán, and Jerome Kern.

John Cage Music Manuscript Collection

Includes autograph manuscripts of nearly all of Cage's musical works, as well as sketches and other pre-compositional materials. All works are cataloged individually and can be found in the Catalog (click on the link above).  (Cage's personal papers are at Northwestern University; his literary works are at Wesleyan University.)


The Music Division is privileged to have the personal archives of many composers.  Among our numerous collections are the scores and papers of:

David Amram
George Antheil
Johanna Magdalena Beyer
Jerry Bock
George Bristow
John Cage
Carlos Chávez
Henry Cowell
Norman Dello Joio
Charles Dodge
Jacob Druckman
Miriam Gideon
Louis Moreau Gottschalk (The Library has several collections of Gottschalk papers and manuscripts)
Charles Griffes
Louis Gruenberg
Vincent Persichetti
Wallingford Riegger
Joseph Schillinger
William Schuman

Benny Goodman Collection

A selection of scores and parts used by Benny Goodman and his various performing groups.

Harrach Family Collection

32 volumes of manuscripts from the Harrach Family household, containing approximately 100 compositions copied from the 1730s to the 1740s, including works for voice, solo instruments, and ensemble by Reinhard Keiser, Leonardo Vinci, Nicola Porpora, and many others.

Otto Hess Photographs

4,000 candid photographs of jazz musicians in concert or at leisure. Listed under the names of the musicians in the Music Divisions Iconography File.

Letter File

Catalog of several thousand letters owned by the Music Division of musicians from the 18th through the 20th centuries. Includes single items by composers such as C. P. E. Bach, as well as larger bodies of correspondence of musicians such as Ferruccio Busoni, Ruggero Leoncavallo, and Adelina Patti. Especially strong in 19th-century French composers.

Mendelssohn Family Letters

700 letters written by Felix Mendelssohn and his sister Fanny to their parents and to each other from the years 1821–1847.

Joseph Muller Collection

Over 6,000 prints, especially rich in contemporary portraits of musicians from the 17th through the 19th centuries.  All have been digitized and are available through the New York Public Library's Digital Collections portal.

Neapolitan Librettos Collection

1,300 librettos for operas performed in Naples from the years 1705 to 1865.

Opera and Concert Singers

The Music Division is fortunate to have the papers (in most cases including scores) of many noted opera singers:

Organizations for the promotion of American composers

The Music Division has the papers of several important organizations who were devoted to promotion contemporary music.

Sy Oliver Papers

Scores and parts for Oliver's original compositions and arrangements.

Opera Set and Costume Design Collection

Contains original set and costume designs by artists active locally and internationally. Represented in the collection are Leon Bakst, Cecil Beaton, Eugene Berman, Frederick John Kiesler, Simon Lissim, Donald Oenslager, Alfred Roller, Richard Rychtarik, Günther Schneider-Siemssen, and Rouben Ter-Arutunian.

Ernst Oster Collection of the Papers of Heinrich Schenker

Theoretical and analytical writings of the Austrian theorist Heinrich Schenker. A finding aid for the collection, as well as microfilms of its contents, can be provided to individuals and libraries at cost.

Arthur Russell Papers

Documents Russell's creative process, out, and reception through written and recorded music, correspondence, photographs, printed matter, articles, contracts, and biographical materials.

Harry Schumer Collection

Copyists’ manuscripts of 19th-century Italian operas in full score, including works of Gioacchino Rossini, Gaetano Donizetti, Vincenzo Bellini, and Giuseppe Verdi. Individual items can be searched in the Catalog, under Schumer as author. Also in the collection are photographic images documenting the Metropolitan Opera Company. A finding list of these images is available in the Music Division.

Sheet Music Collections

Extensive holdings of American sheet music spanning the years from about 1769 to the present. There are special collections of rags, marches, songs from musical comedies, and pop songs. For information on holdings, you may contact us at Sheet music collections include:


Minstrelsy and temperance songs of the 19th century are especially well represented in our holdings.

Toscanini Legacy

Toscanini's annotated scores and parts, correspondence, photographs, biographical material, and memorabilia. Sound recordings, including many rehearsal tapes, are in the Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound.

Toscanini Memorial Archives

A microfilm collection of more than 3,000 autograph music manuscripts written by 18th- to 20th-century composers, acquired from libraries and private collections all over the world. Among recent acquisitions are 42 microfilm copies of Benjamin Britten autographs from the Britten-Pears Library in Aldeburgh, England.

Paul Wittgenstein Collection

Autograph music manuscripts commissioned and collected by the pianist Paul Wittgenstein. Contains eight autograph Brahms manuscripts, among them the Alto Rhapsody. Individual items can be searched in the Catalog under Wittgenstein as author.