Welcome to the first blog based around the newly launched Europeana Music Collections site! This is an exciting opportunity to showcase some of the most beautiful, interesting and entertaining music-related material on Europeana. The site has been developed as part of the Europeana Sounds project, which aims to add another 500,000 sounds to Europeana, along with another 225,000 audio-related items such as music manuscripts, letters, photographs, video, etc.

Over the next year, the data providers working on Europeana Sounds will be involved in the curation of the Music Collections site, month by month. This month, the British Library starts the ball rolling with an exploration of European composers:

What’s interesting about the Music Collections is that one can immediately see what a rich amount of material there is from different cultural institutions. For example, a search for “Robert Schumann” gives 501 results.

As well as historic recordings of Schumann’s work, there are many autograph manuscripts of Schumann’s works from the National Library of France (BNF), including the “Manfred” overture. But there are letters stored at the Bergen Public library, Norway including a letter from Schumann to his teacher and future father-in-law, Friederich Wieck in 1837.

A search for the composer Richard Strauss also yields a wealth of material – recordings, photographs and scores. There’s also a short video, from Netherlands Institute of Sound and Vision, of Strauss visiting Amsterdam during the Straussfestival of 1924.

Composer Richard Strauss | Polygoon-Profilti (producer) / Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision (curator). Public Domain Marked

Composer Richard Strauss | Polygoon-Profilti (producer) / Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision (curator). Public Domain Marked

If you’re more interested in the instruments that were around at the time of these composers, here’s the piano on which, according to its plaque, Chopin composed some of his works:

Which brings us to the subject of musical instruments: there are over 60,000 images of musical instruments on the collections site, mainly from our colleagues at the Musical Instrument Museums Online (MIMO) project. There’ll be further opportunities on this blog and elsewhere to explore these instruments from all around the world, whilst listening to the music that they create. Watch this space!

by Tom Miles, The British Library