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German Music Archive


The German Music Archive of the German National Library is the central collection point for sheet music and sound carriers in Germany and is the nation's music bibliography information centre.

German music publishers and sound recording labels are required to submit two deposit copies of their publications to the German National Library under the Law regarding the German National Library. These publications form the basis of the collection. One copy, e.g. of each item of printed music or music CD, is archived and made available for use at the Leipzig site, whereas the second copy is forwarded to the Frankfurt site of the German National Library. Sheet music and sound recordings from 1993 onwards are also held here.

In doing so the German Music Archive is helping to fulfil the German National Library's mandate to collect, document and archive the cultural and scientific heritage of Germany in the form of text, image or sound-based publications for use by the general public both now and in the future. By transferring its bibliographic data into the catalogue of the German National Library and into the Nationalbibliografie it is creating a central pool of information both for academic and practical use and also for retailers and buyers.

The German Music Archive is housed at the Leipzig site of the German National Library. As part of the construction work on the fourth annex building (completed in 2010) the Archive was equipped with new work areas and stacks, a new music reading room, a listening booth including surround-sound system, and a state-of-the-art recording studio complex.

The German Music Archive was spotlighted in the anniversary magazine HUNDERT (issue 2, Klangraum) published to commemorate the centenary of the founding of the German National Library.

Sheet music

The systematic collection of sheet music (scores) includes printed music and digital scores. The collection dates from 1943. Older items originate from purchases of musical estates.

Sound recordings

The collection of sound recordings dates back to the early days of sound carrier production in the 19th century. Early forms of music recordings include sound carriers such as shellac records, phonograph cylinders and piano rolls. These older materials stem from purchases and the estates of collectors. Sound recordings produced in the GDR have been systematically collected since the 1960s, and those from western Germany since 1970. Digital sound recordings constitute the most recent part of the collection.

Acquisition of collections

The acquisition of materials of the MIZ (Music Information Centre of the Association of Composers and Musical Scholars of the GDR) means that audio tapes, sheet music and working card files are now available which document the musical life and output of the former GDR in the area of serious music.

In July 2000 GEMA, the German society for musical performance and mechanical reproduction rights, designated the German Music Archive as the home of its music collection. The entire inventory of the GEMA archive - comprising 210,000 pieces of music - was simultaneously transferred to the German National Library.

The German Music Archive also holds further special collections and estates.


The holdings of the Deutsches Musikarchiv are made available for use in the music reading room (18 audio work stations) and in a listening studio with surround-sound system. The music reading room is also equipped with keyboards for playing the sheet music.

Current editions of music journals are on display in the reading room and there is also a reference section stocked with music-related literature. All the holdings of the German National Library can be accessed from here. They can be searched for and ordered using the catalogue of the German National Library. Staff members of the German National Library are on hand to provide assistance at an information counter.

Further music bibliography services are also offered. Authority data including music-related personal names, corporate bodies and works are held in machine-readable form for searches and as a cataloguing instrument. The German Music Archive has built up a supplementary database of musical materials for loan, the Bonner Katalog, which is constantly updated in the catalogue of the German National Library.

On display in the foyer of the music reading room are exhibits including historical sound carriers, sheet music and sound reproduction equipment. The exhibition traces the main stages in the development of these media and devices. Guided tours around the German Music Archive are offered on a regular basis.

Opening hours and contact details can be found here.


The German Music Archive was founded in 1970 as a Berlin-based department of the Frankfurt German Library (Deutsche Bibliothek ). As a federal institution authorised to demand deposit copies, the German Music Archive continued the activities of the Deutsche Musik-Phonothek (1961–1969). The Deutsche Bücherei Leipzig and the Deutsche Bibliothek Frankfurt am Main were then amalgamated in 1990 by means of the German Unification Treaty to form the German National Library in its current form. 2010 saw the German Music Archive move from Berlin to the Leipzig site of the German National Library. The main focus of the Berlin collection of the German Music Archive was on sheet music from 1973. The move to Leipzig merged these stocks with those of the Leipzig collection of printed music which date back to 1943.

Last update: 04.01.2018


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Schriftbanner mit Deutscher Nationalbibliothek Leipzig, Frankfurt am Main