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Reid Music Library

From Boethius to Beethoven.


The collections of early and special printed and manuscript music, in Special Collections since 2003, are some of the finest in the UK. The nucleus of the library was the books bequeathed by General John Reid, whose name the collection retains.

Rare highlights from the collection include an edition of Boethius on the theory of music printed at Venice in 1499 (C.204), and Sebastian Virdung’s 'Musica Getutscht' (Basle, 1511, C.186) - the first printed book on Western musical instruments. There are many first and early editions of composers such as Handel.

More recent printed material maintained as sub-sections of the Music Library include the Tovey and Weisse Collections, described separately. A more recent music accession is the Reid Concert Hall Collection of scores and other performance copies, many handwritten. The library of Frederick Niecks, Professor of Music before Tovey, is also distributed across library collections.

The earlier holdings are listed in the catalogue by Hans Gal, 'Catalogue of Manuscripts, Printed Music, and Books on Music up to 1850 in the Library of the Music Department at the University of Edinburgh' (Edinburgh, 1941). The music has recently been reorganised and is in the process of being fully catalogued onto DiscoverEd.  While this is in progress a shelflist giving brief details of the full collection is available to download.

For the separate collection of English madrigal books see W. Beattie, 'The English Madrigal Books in the University Library', University of Edinburgh Journal, 4 (1930-31), pp.12-17.

Shelflists available to download

Our printed collections are catalogued on DiscoverEd, the University's discovery platform. However, for research purposes we have provided shelflists of distinct collections that can be downloaded and browsed / searched.