Christ Church Music Catalogue
Welcome to the Online Catalogue of music source materials at Christ Church, Oxford. Use the links at the top of this page to enter the catalogue, or the links below for further information.

We recommend that all first-time visitors read this page, which covers the following topics:

Christ Church holds an internationally important collection of music source materials. Its principal riches lie in two fields: manuscripts of English and Italian music before 1700; and printed music before 1700. There are also extensive holdings of manuscripts reflecting music-making in Oxford in general, and Christ Church in particular, during the period c.1660-1740; and numerous printed books relating to the practice, theory and history of music before 1750. The essence of the collection is captured in the following remark by the pioneering music historian Dr Charles Burney, writing in 1789: 'For masses, motets, madrigals, and anthems of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the collection is the most complete of any that I have had an opportunity of consulting'. At that time, not even the library of the British Museum could match it. Christ Church acquired these materials principally through two acts of bequest in the 18th century; the donors were Henry Aldrich (1648-1710) and Richard Goodson Jr (1688-1741). Their collections were amalgamated in the later 18th-century, and today are still shelved in the wooden presses custom built to accommodate them. (An image of one of the 18th-century presses can be viewed here.) In addition to the items donated by Aldrich and Goodson, Christ Church Library has accumulated a wide array of items relevant to the musician and musicologist, including liturgical books, music theory, ballads, libretti, and a wealth of historic travel literature in which mention is made of music-making in countries and regions around the world. It also now houses the manuscripts and printed music used by the choir and organists of Christ Church Cathedral before the 19th century. Some of these items have now been merged with the Aldrich-Goodson materials within the 18th-century presses; others are shelved elsewhere in Christ Church Library. ***PLEASE NOTE*** The Online Catalogue always shows the correct way of citing call-numbers or shelfmarks for items at Christ Church, and should be followed when citing specific items. Items within these presses are arranged by size, not by content, and manuscripts are freely intermixed with printed material, and are numbered sequentially, preceded by the prefix 'Mus.' Thus the manuscript shelved as Mus. 2 should correctly be cited only as 'Mus. 2'; expansions such as 'MS Mus. 2' or 'Mus. MS 2' are incorrect.

Largely because of the unique presence of a cathedral within its precincts, Christ Church has long been a focus for music-making. However, very little music in the current library collections can be traced back to the college's origins in the 1520s, or indeed to the first century of its existence, and the extensive holdings of 16th- and early 17th-century English music appear largely to have been imported from elsewhere. In particular, the Aldrich bequest contained many items acquired directly or indirectly from the library of the Hatton family. Some of the Goodson music, too, can be traced back to earlier owners, principally members of other Oxford colleges. The term 'collector' can probably be applied without hesitation to the three men whose music-books form the core of the current collection: Henry Aldrich, and the two organists both named Richard Goodson (father, c.1655-1718, and son, 1688-1741). All three men, however, were also proficient performers and promoters of music, and their personal libraries reflect that fact. Aldrich, a fellow of Christ Church and later its head (Dean both of the academic college and the cathedral), must be classed as an amateur, but his interest in music was profound, wide-ranging, and influential not only on music-making in the cathedral but also on informal music meetings held both within Christ Church and Oxford at large. Aldrich's bequest therefore falls essentially into two overlapping parts: first, the impressive array of music he acquired through his collecting instincts; second, materials that shed light on his performing and composing activities, including many items that were copied by members of Christ Church Cathedral choir (its organists and lay clerks) and by Aldrich himself. There are autograph manuscripts at Christ Church by leading composers of the day, such as Matthew Locke, John Blow and Henry Purcell, that testify to a network of contacts linking Aldrich and other Christ Church musicians with the London musical scene in the second half of the 17th century. The Goodsons were more obviously performers than collectors. However, both men in succession held the position of professor of music at Oxford University - a post defined at that time more with performance in mind than with the academic study of music - and their personal libraries contained some material that is clearly unrelated to their day-to-day activities as performing musicians. Goodson Sr, a direct contemporary of Aldrich's, was a composer; autograph scores and drafts feature prominently in his part of the bequest. Goodson Jr, who was closer in age to Handel, appears to have composed little, and to have been the least interesting musician of the three; his principal importance is as preserver of his father's effects, and a donor. Both of the Goodsons taught music to the cathedral choristers, and to amateur musicians within Oxford; some of their teaching materials survive within the collection. Since the acquisition of the Aldrich and Goodson bequests, the Christ Church 'Music' collection has remained relatively stable; little new material has been acquired, and little has gone astray. The survival of what appears to be an unbroken succession of historic shelf-lists and catalogues, the earliest of which dates from 1717, makes it possible not only to trace the provenance history of most items within the collection, but also to name (and, in a few cases, to locate the current whereabouts of) those few items that are now missing. Since the mid 18th century, there have been a few notable purchases, and a few further donations or expansions (including the selection of largely 18th-century manuscript and printed music transferred from Christ Church Cathedral). These accretions, however, amount probably to no more than fifteen per cent of the current 'Music' collection. The rest comes from Aldrich and the Goodsons.

The following categories of material are included in the Online Catalogue: All manuscripts and printed items that include music notation. Works devoted to (or including aspects of) music theory. General lexicographical, historical and theoretical works that contain important sections on music. Libretti, ballads, and other texts intended for sung performance. Historic travel literature in which mention is made of music-making in countries and regions around the world. Sermons and courtesy books that deal centrally or in passing with musical topics. Music fragments preserved in bindings. All materials falling into the above categories that form part of collections gifted to Christ Church since 1900, or on permanent deposit at Christ Church. These include the Allestree library, the Gibbs collection, the Hussey deposit, and the Okes deposit. The following categories of material are not included in the Online Catalogue: Non-notated liturgical books, and books of private devotion (for instance, primers). Documents kept in the college archives (relating, for instance, to musicians with Christ Church connections, and to the maintenance and personnel of the cathedral choir). Enquiries about these should be directed to the following address: Christ Church manuscripts on permanent deposit at the Bodleian Library, Oxford. Collections formerly deposited at Christ Church, and now housed elsewhere (for instance, the Evelyn collection). 19th- and 20th-century printed music formerly in use by Christ Church Cathedral choir, and now deposited in the Library. Pictorial depictions of musicians and music-making in prints, drawings and paintings curated by the college's Picture Gallery. Musical instruments either owned by the college, or represented within its precincts (for instance, the plaster swags depicting instruments in the Upper Library). The Online Catalogue gives complete coverage of all the Library's printed and manuscript holdings of music source-material. Printed items can be searched by title, author/composer, printer/publisher, date, place of publication, and keyword. In addition, information is given about the physical appearance and provenance history of every printed item shelved within the core 'Music' sequence (i.e. with a call-number opening with 'Mus.'). For printed items shelved outside the 'Music' sequence, physical descriptions are given only when the Christ Church copy is of special interest - for instance, on account of its rarity, its provenance, or the annotations that have been made to it. Online entries are now available for all the music manuscripts at Christ Church. Some of these entries are not yet fully comprehensive, and will be expanded in the future. Searches of manuscript material can be made by composer, title, keyword or shelfmark. Visitors' comments about catalogue entries for both printed and manuscript material are welcome; please use the email link provided at the foot of the web page. Any relevant new information supplied by readers will, where appropriate (and with acknowledgement), be entered on to the Online Catalogue itself.

For printed material, the Online Catalogue supersedes the following: Aloys Hiff, Catalogue of printed music published prior to 1801 now in the Library of Christ Church, Oxford (London, 1919). Reference to Christ Church copies listed in The British Union-Catalogue of early music, printed before the year 1801, ed. Edith Schnapper (London, 1957). Reference to Christ Church copies listed in the various series of RĂ©pertoire international des sources musicales (RISM). For certain categories of material (including music theory, and historic travel literature in which music is mentioned), RISM often does not record the presence of copies at Christ Church. For manuscript music, the Online Catalogue supersedes the following: Godfrey E. P. Arkwright, Catalogue of [manuscript] music in the Library of Christ Church Oxford, Part I: 'Works of ascertained authorship' (Oxford, 1915). Two other catalogues of manuscript music usefully supplement the Online Catalogue: Godfrey E. P. Arkwright, Catalogue of [manuscript] music in the Library of Christ Church Oxford, Part II: 'MS. works of unknown authorship, (i) Vocal' (Oxford, 1923). This provides incipits (in music notation, and in score) for unattributed vocal works. Where attributions have subsequently been discovered or proposed, the Online Catalogue will supply them. At present it does not, however, provide notated incipits for unidentified works. Godfrey E. P. Arkwright, Catalogue of [manuscript] music in the Library of Christ Church Oxford, Part III: a 'thematic list of anonymous music without words', completed in 1935 but never published. This provides incipits (in music notation, and in score) for unattributed instrumental music and untexted vocal works. The current whereabouts of Arkwright's original manuscript of this catalogue is unknown; a photographic reproduction of it is held at Christ Church (2 vols., without shelfmark), and may be consulted in the Library on request. (No microfilm of this work is currently available.) Where attributions have subsequently been discovered or proposed, the Online Catalogue will supply them.

For the following section, we recommend that you have two Web browsers open side by side, one to read the instructions below, the other to conduct Catalogue searches.
QUESTION: How can I get an overview of what the core 'Music' collection contains?
ANSWER: The Online Catalogue makes this possible for the first time. Use the 'Browse' link at the top of this page and select 'Shelfmark' (+ Browse). This includes a list of items with 'Mus.' call-numbers, each with a thumbnail description, and a link to a web-page giving further details. The list of items is numerical, and runs from Mus. 1 to Mus. 1294. If a small 'camera logo' is displayed beside an item in the list, this indicates that the catalogue entry includes one or more images of the item in question. There is also a dialogue box; enter a Mus. number (+ Browse) and the relevant section of the list will be displayed.

QUESTION: How can I see what else from the Library has been included in the Online Catalogue?
ANSWER: Again, use the 'Browse' link at the top of this page, and select either 'Title' or 'Composer or author'. This allows you to browse through all the printed material covered by the Online Catalogue (including items shelved within the core 'Music' collection). Follow the links for a display of the full bibliographical entry. A dialogue box allows you to pinpoint an opening word or alphabetic letter, but it will not perform keyword searches.

QUESTION: Is any manuscript music shelved outside the core 'Music' collection?
ANSWER: Almost none; the most interesting items have been incorporated into the 'Mus.' sequence. A list of the exceptions (including the Okes fragment on deposit at Christ Church) will be provided at a later date.

QUESTION: If I want to search for music by a specific composer, how do I do it?
ANSWER: You have several options. The least refined method is to enter one or more keywords into the 'Quick search' dialogue box at the top of the page (+ Return). This will display every work by that composer that appears in a manuscript, and every printed item of which s/he is the sole author. It will also display any other mention made of that composer within the Online Catalogue. For some composers, the search will yield manageable results; good examples would be 'Victoria' or 'Daniel Purcell'. For others however - such as 'Byrd' or 'Henry Purcell' - the yield will be enormous, and we recommend searching with greater refinement, using the 'Search' link at the top of this page.

QUESTION: How does the 'Search' facility work?
ANSWER: Select the 'Search' link at the top of this page; dialogue boxes will be displayed. In the 'Search' box, select (for instance) 'composer/author names'. In the 'for' box, select (for instance) 'printed books'. In the dialogue boxes below, enter 'Byrd' or 'Henry Purcell'; and select the command 'Search'. Follow the links (if any are displayed) for further details of the item. This procedure allows you to search more selectively - in this case, for printed music by Byrd and Henry Purcell. With different selections, you could search (for instance) for any item printed in Venice in 1611, or any manuscript work with the word 'heart' in its title.

QUESTION: Can I use wildcards in the search?
ANSWER: Yes. For instance, a search for '157*' would yield results for any item printed in the 1570s; 'B*rd*' would yield results for 'Byrd', 'Bird', and any Latinized form of the name.

QUESTION: How does the Online Catalogue cope with variant spellings of composers' names and the titles of works?
ANSWER: For the names of composers/authors, and the titles of manuscript works, the Online Catalogue allows you to search either by modern spelling, or by spelling as it appears in the item itself. The titles of printed items are mostly indexed both in their original form and in modern spelling. The main exceptions currently are French and Latin titles. You can often make good use of the wildcard facility to retrieve titles in a variety of languages. For example, a search for 'mot*et*' would pick up 'motet', 'motets', 'mottetti' and 'motettorum'.

QUESTION: For multi-authored printed works (such as a book of madrigals in which several composers are represented), does the Online Catalogue list all the composers?
ANSWER: No, since this might raise questions about the authority of attribution within the print itself - a subject beyond the scope of this catalogue. Exceptionally, when only two composers have contributed to a print and are named on the titlepage, the Online Catalogue lists them both; an example is the Tallis/Byrd Cantiones sacrae (1575).

QUESTION: Can I search by printer/publisher, and place of publication?
ANSWER: Yes, although our records may sometimes include variant spellings of printers' and publishers' names, and Latinized place-names. In the case of music printers, we have always supplied modern-spelling alternatives; thus a search for 'Thomas East' would yield results for books in which the name is given as 'Est' or 'Este'. For other types of publication, however, our records sometimes include only information as supplied on the book's titlepage.

QUESTION: Can I search printed items by their STC/ESTC numbers, or by RISM A or B1 numbers?
ANSWER: Not yet, but we hope to introduce that facility in the future.

QUESTION: How can I locate specific types of item, for example ballads, libretti, or the travel literature?
ANSWER: For some types of item, a keyword search in the 'Quick search' dialogue box will yield results (for instance, 'ballad' or 'libretto'), although this may not retrieve every relevant item within the collection. For liturgical books, a wildcard may be helpful, in order to catch Latin titles (for instance, 'gradual*', 'hymn*'). For certain categories of item, a search by shelfmark may be useful, since similar items are often (although not always) shelved in close proximity. For instance, to locate much of the travel literature, select the 'Search' link; set the 'Search' box to 'shelfmarks'; set the 'for' box to 'printed books'; and type 'Arch. Inf.' into the top dialogue box. For a good selection of liturgical books, use the same procedure and type 'Gibbs'.

QUESTION: For manuscript music, can I search by copyist/scribe?
ANSWER: Yes, although at present that search would yield some additional and unwanted results. To locate (for instance) autograph manuscripts by Henry Purcell, select the 'Search' link; set the 'Search' box to 'all fields'; set the 'for' box to 'descriptions of items'; and type 'Henry Purcell' into the first dialogue box. In the future, we hope to provide comprehensive lists of copyists represented in the Christ Church collection (including unidentified copyists), and we have already added a number of these; the easiest way of gaining access to them is by selecting 'News' from the banner at the top of this page, and then following the links.

QUESTION: Can I search for early owners or donors of individual items?
ANSWER: Yes, but only for items in the core 'Music' collection. To identify (for instance) items at Christ Church that ultimately derive from New College, Oxford, select the 'Search' link; set the 'Search' box to 'all fields'; set the 'for' box to 'descriptions of items'; and type 'New College' in the dialogue box. For some queries, however - such as 'Aldrich' and 'Goodson' - this would yield almost unmanageable results. For that reason, the Online Catalogue includes some dedicated pages about provenance history.

QUESTION: How is the Online Catalogue constructed?
ANSWER: There are three databases, any or all of which may be invoked by your search, depending upon its selectivity. The first database is of printed items; the second itemizes the contents of music manuscripts; the third contains physical descriptions of specific books. Use the following links to view two sample web-pages in which all three databases are invoked. (Data from the printed and manuscript databases will be embedded within a general description of the item.) (1) Mus. 794; (2) Mus. 544-53 (N.B. maximize your browser's window for this!)

QUESTION: How many of the databases are searched if I type a keyword into the 'Quick search' dialogue box at the top of this page?
ANSWER: All three databases, which is why a search conducted that way will yield maximum (and sometimes unmanageable) results. You will first be given a summary of the results of each type, and the opportunity to sort them. To limit the search to a specific database, use the 'Search' facility. In the first form on that page, you can select the relevant database using the second box. Further forms on that page allow more specific searching of the databases of printed works and manuscript pieces.