Between the years 1903 and 1939, the Music Division arranged for over 600 unprocurable dramatic musical works in full score to be copied from original music manuscripts and early imprints. The original sources were located in over three dozen European libraries in Austria, Belgium, France, Great Britain, Germany, Hungary, Italy, and Russia. The majority of the operas transcribed date from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; a small percentage are reproductions of nineteenth-century works.
Besides opera, the library commissioned transcripts of incidental music for dramas, melodramas, ballets, and pantomimes; and finally, a small number of rare instrumental works, mostly for viola da gamba, were transcribed over a two-year period when the parameters of this project were provisionally broadened.
The Music Division’s collection of transcripts of dramatic musical works in full score is available for use in the Performing Arts Reading Room. Reproductions of these scores may be generated from microfilm surrogates also available in the Reading Room. Reference inquiries about these materials may be directed to the Music Division via our Ask A Librarian reference service.
The Performing Arts Reading Room is the access point for the collections in the custody of the Music Division at the Library of Congress. Numbering approximately 20.5 million items and spanning more than 1000 years of Western music history and practice, these holdings include the classified music and book collections, music and literary manuscripts, iconography, microforms, periodicals, musical instruments, published and unpublished copyright deposits, and close to 500 special collections in music, theater, and dance.