Collection supervisor

About the collection

The music collection at the University Library Basel counts among the most significant in Switzerland. It includes more than 60,000 printed music supplies, around 10,000 musical manuscripts and early prints, and more than 70 composer bequests. They are an exemplary reflection of the musical life of the city during the respective time periods. Although the medieval sources remain sporadic, the part books and tablatures of the 16th century testify that there was already a lively domestic music scene among wealthy family circles. The collections from the 18th century are a reflection of an emerging bourgeois music scene, which drew its foundations from the leading music centres in Europe. The composer bequests from the 19th and 20th centuries document the work of musicians, composers and conductors who were either born or worked in Basel.

Printed music

Printed music is documented in the classic catalogue as well as in swissbib Basel Bern. The classic catalogue a useful tool when it comes to searching printed music.

You can find individual prints as parts of bequests in the HAN-catalogue.

Music manuscripts

Music manuscripts can be found in the HAN-catalogue.

Composer bequests

You can find composer bequests in the HAN-catalogue. An overview of the structure and order of the indexed bequests can be found under: “Nachlässe/Privatarchive: Personen A-Z” (in German).


Printed catalogues

Die Handschriften der Universitätsbibliothek Basel: Katalog der Musikhandschriften des 16. Jahrhunderts: quellenkritische und historische Untersuchung von John Kmetz. Basel: Verlag der Universitätsbibliothek, 1988. (in German) Location.

Refardt, Edgar: Thematischer Katalog der Musikhandschriften des 18. Jahrhunderts, Instrumentalwerke, in der Universitätsbibliothek Basel, 1928-1934. (in German) Location.

Refardt, Edgar: Katalog der Musikabteilung der Oeffentlichen Bibliothek der Universität Basel und der in ihr enthaltenen schweizerischen Musikbibliothek. Basel, Universitätsbibliothek, 1925. Location

Richter, Julius: Katalog der Musik-Sammlung auf der Universitätsbibliothek in Basel. Verzeichnet und beschrieben im Jahre 1888. Leipzig : Breitkopf und Härtel, 1892. Location.

Printed music

The historical collection of print music ranges from early theoretical treatises, such as Sebastian Virdung‘s “Musica getutscht” from 1511, to the first prints of the 18th and 19th centuries. The combined prints from Canzone and madrigals from the late 16th century are particularly important because only very few copies are available worldwide.

Composer bequests

The composer bequests of the 19th and 20th centuries document the works of musicians, composers and conductors who were born or worked in the city of Basel; including renowned personalities such as Theodor Fröhlich, Hans Huber, Hermann Suter, Ernst Reiter, Felix Weingartner, Albert Moeschinger, and Jacques Wildberger.

Music manuscripts

You can find music manuscripts in the HAN-catalogue. Among the most significant manuscript sources are around 50 part books and tablatures from the 16th century, which reflect how comprehensive the Basel music scene was during the period of humanism. The sources from the 18th century are a reflection of an emerging bourgeois music scene; exemplary is the Lucas Sarasin music library, a worldwide unique fundus of early classical symphony and chamber music.

Items from the musical manuscript or archive collections can generally be ordered from the HAN-catalogue or directly in the Special reading room. Depending on the amount ordered, the articles are ready after a few working days.

Printed music can be ordered preferably via the catalogue interface IDS Basel Bern. After the usual delivery periods, they will be available in the Special reading room for consultation.

You can order printed materials up to and including 1899, as well as manuscripts, as a PDF or TIFF file using EOD.