Music at the Library and Archives Canada | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Music at the Library and Archives Canada

Library and Archives Canada. Federal government department established in 2004; formerly National Library of Canada and Public (later National) Archives of Canada.

Federal government department established in 2004; formerly National Library of Canada and Public (later National) Archives of Canada. The Canadian Bibliographic Centre, created in 1950, became the National Library of Canada in 1953, and was administered jointly with the Public Archives of Canada. The two federal government departments continued to occupy the same building (opened in 1967) in Ottawa, but were separate entities until 2004, when the National Library and National Archives joined to become Library and Archives Canada (LAC). The role of Library and Archives Canada is to collect Canada's documentary heritage (publications, archival records, recordings, photographs, etc.), preserve this heritage, and make it available to Canadians.

The Library and Archives Canada Music Collection

The National Library of Canada established a Music Division in 1970 to acquire and manage music collections including printed material, archival fonds, sound recordings, and video recordings. With the establishment of Library and Archives Canada in 2004 a new Music Section was set up, focusing on acquisition, cataloguing and description.

Library and Archives Canada's collection of musical Canadiana is the largest in existence. Most of the items in the collection are Canadian in content or by association. Among the first components of the collection were the library of the British lexicographer Percy A. Scholes, Canadian sheet music from Confederation onwards, Canadian and foreign music scores transferred from the Library of Parliament, a record collection compiled by Edward Moogk as a Centennial project, and the archive of Healey Willan, acquired in 1969. Further growth came following the enactment of regulations requiring publishers to deposit at LAC copies of printed music and musical literature (1951); sound recordings (1969); multimedia kits (1978); video recordings (1993); CD-ROMs (1995); and electronic publications including web sites and material available for download (2007); and through the acquisition of the papers and libraries of many Canadian musicians and music organizations.

Music Holdings
In 1991 the National Library music collection consisted of about 13,000 books, 11,000 printed scores, 45,000 pieces of sheet music, and 1600 music periodical titles, as well as 62,000 concert programs, 12,600 information files, 25,000 iconographic items, 120,000 sound recordings, and nearly 300 archival collections and fonds. By 2007 the music collection had grown to 22,750 books, 21,700 printed scores, 61,000 pieces of sheet music, 2,000 periodical titles, 90,000 concert programs, 13,000 information files, 30,000 iconographic items, 310,000 sound and video recordings and 320 archival collections and fonds. During the 1990s and early 2000s, the collection of popular music holdings was significantly increased with the acquisition of archives of jazz and popular artists including Randy Bachman, Paul Bley, Moe Koffman, Manteca, Ben Mink, Oscar Peterson, and Trooper; the record companies Duke Street Records and the Canadian Talent Library; and the publication RPM. Also added during this period were the archives of Harry Freedman, Jacques Hétu, Lois Marshall, André Prévost, Louis Quilico, Leopold Simoneau and Pierrette Alarie, Harry Somers, and the Canadian Music Educators Association, to name a few.

To encourage and assist research in Canadian music, extensive information files and concert program, poster and photo collections were established, and numerous indexes documenting musicians and musical activity in Canada were created. Prominent among these is the Canadian Music Periodical Index (CMPI), a searchable database of over 36,000 entries from 625 Canadian music journals; CMPI became available online in 1996.

Extensive non-Canadian holdings exist only in the printed collection, comprising music books, periodicals and scores. Other non-Canadian items include the Scholes collection; sound recordings beginning from 1889, including possibly the largest collection held anywhere of early Emile Berliner recordings; the Rossinger Collection of world music recordings; the Paul Voigt Collection of recordings made in Eastern Europe for Edison-Bell in the 1920s; and letters and other autograph materials by Beethoven, Brahms, Debussy, Marcel Dupré, Elgar, Éva Gauthier, Gershwin, Gounod, Hindemith, Joseph Joachim, Liszt, Nikolai Medtner, Milhaud, Poulenc, Rachmaninoff, Ravel, Dane Rudhyar, Clara Schumann, Scriabin, Stravinsky, Varèse, and Vaughan Williams.

A major project was the administration of the national Union Catalogue of Canadian Music Publications to 1950, which lists approximately 19,000 pieces of sheet music. The National Library also published the results of a survey it carried out 1977-9 of music library resources in Canada. Also, the National Library was the Canadian headquarters for various projects of the International Association of Music Libraries, Archives and Documentation Centres during the 1970s and 1980s. It has, in addition, been a research source for the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada. Library and Archives Canada is a member of national and international music, audio-visual, library and archival associations; staff members have taken leading roles in these associations and participated in many projects initiated by them. LAC works closely with the Canadian Association of Music Libraries, Archives, and Documentation Centres.

Beginning in the mid-1990s, the National Library undertook significant initiatives to digitize many of its music holdings. In addition to CMPI, the institution's music websites include the Virtual Gramophone, Sheet Music from Canada's Past, Disc-o-logue, RPM, Guide to Music Archives, The Glenn Gould Archives, and finding aids.

Several large exhibitions featuring the department's music collection have been held, eg "Healey Willan, the Man and His Music" (1972); "85 Years of Recorded Sound" (1975); "Percy A. Scholes 1877-1958" (1977); "Alexis Contant: the Composer and His Milieu" (1979); "Pipes and Pedals" (1983); "Bells Through the Ages" (1986); "Glenn Gould 1988" (1988); "Claude Champagne: Composer, Teacher, Musician" (1990-1); "Sir Ernest MacMillan: Portrait of a Canadian Musician" (1994-5); and "Oscar Peterson: a Jazz Sensation" (2001-2). In 2007 the Music Section collaborated with the Canadian Museum of Civilization on the exhibit "Glenn Gould: The Sounds of Genius." Library and Archives Canada has also mounted on-line virtual exhibitions of Champagne, Gould, MacMillan, and Peterson. Exhibits on Gould and Peterson have been displayed in the US, Europe and Japan. Materials from the music collections have been used in various publications, museum and gallery exhibits, CD reissues, television and radio programs and films.

The National Library's Music Division was headed by Helmut Kallmann 1970-87, S. Timothy Maloney 1988-2002, and Richard Green 2002-4. Green became the first manager of Library and Archives Canada's Music Section in 2004. In addition to the Music Section's archivists, librarians and other specialist staff, LAC employs music cataloguers, legal deposit music staff, and audio and video conservators.


Music Resources in Canadian Collections (Research Collections in Canadian Libraries, No. 7) / Ressources musicales de bibliothèques canadiennes (Collections de recherche des bibliothèques canadiennes, No. 7) Ottawa 1981.

Bryant, Giles. Healey Willan Catalogue (Ottawa 1972, supplement 1982)

Moogk, Edward B. Roll Back the Years / En remontant les années (Ottawa 1975)

Calderisi, Maria. Music Publishing in the Canadas: 1800-1867 / L'Édition musicale au Canada: 1800-1867 (Ottawa 1981)

Willis, Stephen. Alexis Contant Catalogue (Ottawa 1982)

Pincoe, Ruth, and Willis, Stephen. Glenn Gould Catalogue (Ottawa 1992)

Nevins, Maureen. Sir Ernest MacMillan (1893-1973): Portrait of a Canadian Musician = Portrait d'un musicien canadien (Ottawa 1994)

Barriault, Jeannine, and Jean, Stéphane. Catalogue of the Archival fonds and Collections of the Music Division / Catalogue des fonds et collections d'archives de la Division de la musique (Ottawa 1994)

Publications since 1994 are on-line and are listed on Library and Archives Canada's website.

See also: Library and Archives Canada


Great Voices of Canada / Les Grandes voix du Canada Vol. 1. 1992. Analekta AN 2 7801

Edward Johnson, Tenor. Great Voices of Canada / Les Grandes voix du Canada Vol.2. 1993. Analekta AN 2 7802

Raoul Jobin, Tenor, Live. Great Voices of Canada / Les Grandes voix du Canada Vol. 3. 1993. Analekta AN 2 7803

Sing Christmas. Great Voices of Canada / Les Grandes voix du Canada Vol. 4. 1994. Analekta AN 2 7805

Sing Christmas. Great Voices of Canada / Les Grandes voix du Canada Vol.5. 1994. Analekta AN 2 7806

Sir Ernest MacMillan: Portrait of a Canadian Musician. 1994. Analekta AN 27804

Further Reading

External Links