Irving S. Gilmore Music Library


The Irving S. Gilmore Music Library at Yale University is one of the largest collections of music scores, sound recordings, and music research materials in the United States. The Music Library’s collections include scores and parts for musical performance and study, books about music, LP recordings and compact discs, microforms of manuscripts and scores, sheet music, photographs, archival materials, individual music manuscripts not forming a portion of a larger collection, subscriptions to music periodicals, and electronic databases of books, scores, audio, and video.

Highlights of the archival holdings include the complete papers and archives of Benny Goodman, E.Y. “Yip” Harburg, Vladimir Horowitz, Charles Ives, Horatio Parker, Cole Porter, Carl Ruggles, Robert Shaw, Virgil Thomson, and Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya. The archives are particularly strong in American music, including musical theater, and German music between the two World Wars.  

The American Musical Theatre Collection contains scores, sheet music, manuscripts, books, and memorabilia, as well as the Cole Porter and Harburg Papers.

Yale’s Collection of Historical Sound Recordings offers over 250,000 historical recordings of Western classical music, jazz, musical theater, drama, literature, and history.  The collection documents performance practice from the beginning of the recording era (ca. 1890) to the present day.

Departments/disciplines/programs/subject areas supported

Main constituents:

  • Department of Music (Undergraduate major, PhD in Musicology, Theory, and Ethnomusicology)
  • Yale School of Music (graduate-level performance & composition)
  • Institute of Sacred Music (music and liturgy) 
  • Shen Musical Theater Curriculum jointly sponsored by the Departments of Music and Theater Studies

Other constituents include (but not limited to):

  • Other Arts
    • Dance, Theater, Art and Art History
  • Divinity/Religion
  • Area Studies
  • Humanities
  • Gender Studies
  • Sciences and Social Sciences
    • Cognitive Science,  Neuroscience, Psychology, Sociology


The library collects materials in any format pertaining to music, including microformat or electronic versions of materials. 

Formats collected

Books and Periodicals

  • English-language university press and major trade publishers (US, Canada, UK), college-level and above (textbooks excluded).
  • Books in Western foreign languages, particularly German, French, Italian, and Spanish, are heavily collected. Books from the International Collections areas are also collected.
  • Periodicals in a wide variety of languages and variety of topics, from historical musicology to music theory to instrument-specific journals.

Printed Music

The Music Library maintains approval plans for chamber music (up to five instruments including a wind instrument (not all flute or saxophone), plucked instrument, and/or percussion); two composer-based plans for US and European imprints (the former in collaboration with Borrow Direct partners); and for new issues from certain publishers (Bärenreiter, Henle). Selections are made to acquire works not covered by the plans, according to instrument, genre, composer, and/or publisher.

Sound Recordings

Selections support teaching and research. The collection is particularly strong in Western Art Music, with core collections for jazz and world music, primarily in CD or LP.  A small collection of musical theater and other CDs is available. The collection is enhanced by the Historical Sound Recordings Collection.

Video recordings

Selected to support teaching and research, primarily opera, with some performance and world music videos. In DVD or, when necessary, videocassette. The Historical Sound Recordings Collection also includes video recordings.

Electronic Resources

Online reference tools, including full-text dictionaries and encyclopedias, periodical indexes, online scores, and streaming audio and video.


The Music Library maintains an extensive collection of microforms of rare manuscript and printed materials, purchased to support faculty and graduate student research.

Rare Books, Scores, and Manuscripts

The Music Library purchases a limited number of rare or archival materials, to fill in gaps in areas where the library holds particular strength or which support current teaching and research areas.  Special collections materials also support the library’s numerous archival collections.

Ancillary Materials

“Portrait File” of photographs, engravings, lithographs, and the occasional drawing (acquired through purchase and donation). Other objects include large holdings of programs, prints and photographs, posters and publicity materials, art work and realia.

Languages collected

Primary languages:

English, French, German, Italian and Spanish

Secondary languages include (but are not limited to):

Baltic languages, Czech, Dutch, Finnish, Hungarian, Icelandic, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Swedish

Collection of materials in secondary languages is done in collaboration with International Collections librarians, so that music materials are collected across the spectrum of languages. 

Chronological and geographical focus

Music and music literature from  antiquity to the present day.

Particular emphasis on Western Europe and North America.

Collaborations within Yale

  • African Collection
  • Near East Collection
  • East Asia Library
  • Haas Family Arts Library
  • Judaica Collection
  • Latin American Collection
  • Slavic, East European & Central Asian Collection
  • Southeast Asia Collection
  • The Music Library’s special collections are enhanced by the Oral History of American Music (OHAM), a separate department devoted to the creation and preservation of recorded interviews and transcripts with composers and musicians. OHAM has five series: Major Figures in American Music, Charles Ives, Paul Hindemith, Duke Ellington, and the Steinway Company. Additional collections of interviews have been acquired through gift and purchase.

External collaborations

Ivy Plus Music Libraries have each selected 12-15 contemporary composers for whom they comprehensively collect printed scores and web sites.

Subject Librarian

Ruthann McTyre
(203) 432-0495