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Music Subject Guide — Finding Music Scores

Searching for Scores and Recordings

  • Performances and exams
    • Modern or scholarly performance editions for contemporary music practice and historically informed music performance practice.
  • Musicology
    • Scholarly editions with critical commentary, facsimile manuscripts and early editions, and historical editions.
  • Theory and compositional research
    • Full and/or miniature scores for analysis.

Editions matter.  A 19th or early 20th century edition of a Beethoven sonata is important for analyzing the performance practice of the time for your history research, or for checking fingerings by the editing pianist, but is not always an appropriate edition to use for your end of year exam.

  • Do you need an 'urtext' edition for your exam? 
    ('Urtext' is used in German/Viennese publications, meaning the score is based on the original manuscripts or sources to most closely reflect the original intentions of the composer.)  
  • Does the song need to be in the original key or transposed?
  • Do you need an early edition of a work for your music history research?

Particularly for pre-20th century music, discuss with your instrumental teacher or lecturer about what type of edition you may be expected to use, or ask a music librarian for assistance. 

Click on the tabs on this page for tips on searching and browsing for music scores and sound recordings.

Searching for scores can be challenging, but here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Performers and composers are treated as authors in library catalogues and search tools
  • Combine composers/performers, works, numbers (e.g. op. 105, k.545, BWV. 223), and keys for a more precise search. For example, search for Mozart + sonata + K. 545 + C major to locate Mozart's piano sonata no. 16 in C Major. 
  • Remove terms if you are getting too many results and  limit by format to musical score
  • Scores are published in multiple languages and often using different numbering, so titles vary for the same work. For example, Mozart's piano sonata no. 1 in C Major is published as:
    • Sonata no. 1, C major
    • Sonata no. 15, C major 
    • Sonata no. 16, C major 
    • Sonate C-Dur für Klavier
  • Is the score you want to find part of a larger work, or in a collection or anthology? Library catalogues and search tools do not always describe individual pieces, so you need to search for the larger item just to be sure. For example:
    • To find "Casta Diva", from Norma (Bellini), you will need to search for Norma + Bellini to be sure you have found all available versions
    • To find "Die Krähe" from Winterreise (a song cycle by Schubert), you will need to search for Winterreise + Schubert to be sure you have found all available versions

Some online audio visual resources and sound recordings can be found in the catalog. Using the Audio Visual catalog filter greatly helps locate these.

Searching for recordings is fairly straightforward, but here are some tips for locating them:

  • Try combining authors (composers, performers, ensembles), with musical works/album titles/songs for an effective search. Here are some examples:
    • Shostakovich + Bernstein + New York Philharmonic + Symphony 5
    • Arcade Fire + Reflektor
    • Fischer-Dieskau + Schubert + An die Musik

Online Scores

Online Sound Recordings and Videos