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Music Research

This research guide helps you to navigate various in-print and online music resources for your upcoming performances, papers and projects.

Accessing Music Rare Materials

Rare Books, Scores, Archival and Manuscript Collections

Access and use of rare books, scores, archival and manuscript collections is available to Northwestern students, faculty, staff and visiting researchers via the McCormick Library of Special Collections and University Archives. For optimal service, appointments are encouraged prior to visiting. Contact the McCormick Library at to get started.

  • Rare books and published scores: Find first and early editions of treatises, libretti and printed music as well as facsimiles of manuscripts and other primary sources. Use NUsearch to locate rare books and published scores.
  • Archival and manuscript collections: Collections represent multiple styles and eras and range from the archives of experimental musician John Cage, to the modern conductor Fritz Reiner. Other rare materials include musical autographs, general music manuscripts and correspondence from the 14th century to the present. More on archival and manuscript collections.
  • Northwestern performance recordings: Northwestern Libraries holds recordings of faculty recitals, faculty master classes, and performances by School of Music ensembles. Performances from 1995 onward can be located in NUsearch; performances from 2006 - 2016 are available in digital format to the  Northwestern community via Digital Collections. See the Find and Use Materials page for information about circulation and reproduction of these recordings.