We have excellent holdings of printed and manuscript material relating to music, including original scores and theoretical text books, from the medieval period to the 20th century. The most important collection for early material is undoubtedly the Euing collection which includes:

  • manuscripts of two medieval liturgical works, an early 17th century lute book and a set of part-books belonging to the music publisher John Playford (1622/3-1686/7)
  • biographical documents and letters sent to John Sainsbury for use in his Dictionary of musicians (1824)
  • published music includes contemporary editions of works by Byrd, Purcell, Gibbons, Lully, Marenzio, Couperin, Frescobaldi and many others
  • among the theoretical works are several rare items, such as Thomas Morley’s Plaine and easie introduction to practicall musicke (1597) and Thomas Mace’s Musick’s monument (1676).

Another strength of our musical collections is in the work of 19th century Scottish composers, with a good representation of both published works and manuscript scores.

The collections that contain the most significant material are:

  • Euing: a collection of 2,500 volumes of early printed music, including 7 incunabula (pre-1501). Also of interest is Euing's collection of some 408 English broadside ballads (uncatalogued but reproduced in the publication The Euing Collection of English broadside ballads in the Library of the University of Glasgow, with an introduction by John Holloway (Glasgow, 1971)
  • Farmer: printed books and manuscript papers of Henry Farmer (1882-1965), musician and orientalist, including correspondence with contemporary composers and music critics, and material on military and oriental (especially Arabic) music and musical instruments, Scottish music, concerts and variety theatre
  • Drysdale: manuscript and published compositions of Scottish composer Learmont Drysdale (1866-1909)
  • Hyllested: small collection of compositions by August Hyllested (1856-1946), a concert pianist and music teacher; also contains some correspondence with contemporary composers and musicologists
  • Lamond: musical compositions of Scottish composer and concert pianist Frederic Lamond (1868-1948), supplemented by programmes and reviews of Lamond’s concerts, photographs, drawings, and some correspondence with contemporary composers
  • MacCunn: published and unpublished manuscript scores of Scottish composer Hamish MacCunn (1868-1916), supplemented by some correspondence
  • McEwen: autograph scores of Scottish composer Sir John Blackwood McEwen (1868-1948), augmented by some drafts, fragments and sketches
  • Moonie: published and unpublished manuscript compositions of Scottish composer and music teacher William Beatton Moonie (1883-1961), accompanied by some archival material such as concert programmes
  • Roberton: songs (original compositions and arrangements) by Hugh Roberton (1874-1952) for the Glasgow Orpheus Choir. (See also MS Gen 573 and 1742.) 
  • Stillie: 750 volumes of scores (mainly 19th century oratorios, part-songs, operas, instrumental and chamber music, and symphonies) and books on music
  • Traquair: seventeen 18th century music prints from Traquair House, Peeblesshire, the majority published by John Walsh
  • Whittaker: c. 1000 printed items, comprising of reference material and a large number of standard scores (particularly strong in early 20th-century English music), and manuscripts of original and edited or arranged music by William Gillies Whittaker (1876-1944)
  • Zavertal: includes compositions by Ladislao (1849-1942) and Wenceslas (1821-1899) Zavertal, and archival material that contains correspondence with contemporary musicians as well as a number of items relating to Mozart.


The collections that are particularly useful for research into the study of the composition and history of hymns are:

  • Mearns: some 2,000 hymnological works, including  many rare early items from the continent; also some 1,600 letters to James Mearns (1855-1922), mainly on hymnological topics, associated with his revision of John Julian’s Dictionary of hymnology
  • Euing: as well as the general music collection, has a collection of bibles, psalters, books of prayers and hymns amounting to 3,000 volumes
  • Roberton: includes most of the faux bourdon psalm settings in the series arranged by Hugh Roberton (1874-1952)

Material relating to music is dispersed throughout a number of other collections including the general rare books and manuscripts sequences, eg:
MS Gen 1728 - material relating to Thomas Wilson (1927-2001), composer and Professor of Music.
MS Gen 1773 - papers of Simon Frith (1946-), author, music critic and journalist.
MS Gen 1775 - papers of Pete Frame (1942-), music journalist and author of Rock Family Trees publications.
The easiest way to locate this material is by using the rare books search (for printed material) and the manuscripts search (for unpublished manuscript scores etc).

A number of web exhibitions and book of the month articles have featured items from our music collections: