The Sound of the Music Library

The Old Music Library – Image courtesy of The Royal Pavilion and Museums, Brighton & Hove

I was talking to a musician at a concert in Brighton last Tuesday, who said “It’s such a pity the music library in Brighton closed (our old collection on Church street, now the Cote Restaurant), I had to go to Hove Library for a score”

To all you musicians out there: it hasn’t closed, it’s just spread over two floors at the Jubilee Library!  Compact Discs are in the Sound & Vision collection on the ground floor and books and scores on the top floor.  The collection of printed music in Brighton and Hove consists of some 7,500 titles.

I have been working with the collection for over 20 years and making many additions in the last few months. Musicians, I have noticed, mainly take scores out if they are available “to hand” on the open shelves.  Therefore a great project of updating the store scores has been taking place.  Tens of shiny new yellow Eulenburg miniature scores have arrived “like the daffodils of spring”, as well as playing parts for a wide range of instruments.

Readers may be interested in using our song index.  Years ago we started song indexing all our vocal anthologies.  In the old library in Church Street it was housed in massive wooden catalogue drawers, a card for each song.  Something like “101 Hits for Buskers” would have us scribing for weeks on a forest of paper cards.  Thankfully, I can now just add them to our catalogue.  I have indexed everything from “Kidney Stew Blues” to “Frim Fram Sauce”.  Just  type the song into our catalogue search box (ideally checking the phrase box below), type in the song and then “click and find”.

A very popular section is our “Music Tutor” collection, of DVDs and books, helping you to learn an instrument.  A few years ago we couldn’t get enough titles on playing mandolin – the Captain Corelli effect. Now the whole of Brighton seems to have gone mad for banjos and ukuleles.

At another concert I attended on Sunday it was great to hear that the vocal scores had all come via Brighton & Hove music libraries.  If you are interested in putting on a choral or instrumental concert we either have the sets of scores or should be able to get them for you. Send an e-mail to for more information. 

Years ago I remember people sitting in the music library for hours making programme notes for concerts, pouring over the “Grove Dictionary of Music”.  Musicians used to save up their pennies to purchase a home copy at great expense.  Although we still have the hardcopy of this book in the library, you can also access it via our Virtual Reference library under Oxford Music Online (which in addition to Grove includes “Encyclopedia of Popular Music”, “Oxford Dictionary of Music” and “The Oxford Companion to Music”).

Jane – Library Services Manager – Information

To investigate our music resources, you can use our catalogue, our Virtual Reference library or just pop in and talk to staff at your local library. The Jubilee library enquiry desk is on 01273 296969, or you can e-mail us at

Thanks to the Brighton History Centre, based in Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, for the photograph.


About Alex

Digital comms officer
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