Music

"Champagne Galop." Driscoll Box 39
"Champagne Galop." Driscoll Box 39
"Chut! Pas de Bruit..." Driscoll Box 349
"Chut! Pas de Bruit..." Driscoll Box 349

The Newberry collects manuscript and printed source materials for western European music from the late Middle Ages into the early twentieth century and for American music from the seventeenth to the mid-twentieth century. There are also strong holdings for musical life in Chicago, from the mid-nineteenth through the twentieth century. Strengths include:

  • Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque music manuscripts and imprints
  • Psalmody and hymnody
  • Librettos
  • Examples of music printing techniques
  • Theory and instructional books
  • American sheet music
  • Classical music scores and anthologies
  • Music periodicals
  • Manuscript collections of musicians, composers, and musical societies
  • Concert programs

For a survey of the library’s music collecting up until the 1960s, see Donald W. Krummel’s description published in volume 16 (1969) of Fontes artis musicae.

Since 1969, the largest single acquisition in music has been the donation of the library and papers of Howard Mayer Brown (1930–1993), a leading medieval and Renaissance musicologist of the University of Chicago. In addition to collecting numerous liturgical books and opera librettos, Brown directed considerable resources to the microfilming of music from the thirteenth through the nineteenth centuries. 

The American Sheet Music collections shed light on the history of popular music in America and the history of American music printing. The acquisition of the Driscoll Collection of American Sheet Music in 1968 added dramatically to the library’s preexisting holdings of U.S. sheet music.

Additional information about the Newberry’s music collections is listed in the bibliographic guide, Music – Publications about the Newberry Library Collections, and our reference guide, Music – Reference Sources.

Please call the reference desk at (312) 255-3506 with questions on our holdings, or Contact a Librarian with research questions.

The Newberry Consort, affiliated with the Newberry’s Center for Renaissance Studies, is a musical ensemble dedicated to providing performances of music from the thirteenth to the eighteenth centuries.

Digital Resources

Below is a list of related digital resources.

The Capirola manuscript is a beautiful example of Renaissance lute tablature that has recently been made available online by the Programme Ricercar through the Center for Renaissance Studies at the University of Tours, France. This resource is in French with no English translation.

In this exhibit, the Newberry offers a glimpse at its splendid printed sources that relate to the last great queen of France.