Music Collection

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In line with Government Decree No. 484/2020 (XI. 10.), National Széchényi Library has suspended indefinitely its personally available public services as of Wednesday November 11, 2020. Please, note that many of our services are still available remotely (via email, online). Detailed information

NSZL’s staff will gladly give you information via phone or by e-mail. You can send your questions to e-mail address or, during the opening hours of the Music Archive, you can call us at the following numbers: +361 224 3778, +361 224 3367.


Registering for a Reader Pass

On registering for a Reader Pass, our readers are kindly requested to tell us what kind of documents they would like to use because they might need a different Reader Pass in the Reading Room of NSZL’s Music Archive.

The use of documents

Request of documents
Readers can ask for preparing the documents they wish to study, via phone, by e-mail or online. In the latter case, ordered items can be used immediately on arrival.

Requests made by filling in a request form to be found in our Reading Room are fulfilled within an hour. New request forms can be submitted until 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and until 4 p.m. on Friday. Queries coming in after that will be fulfilled only on the next workday. On Saturday, we have no service from repository but orders submitted until 2 p.m. Friday will be served on Saturday. Readers of NSZL can submit only a limited number of request forms:

Reference codes Z, ZR, Mus. pr.: 30 items / day
Reference codes Ms. mus.: 15 items / day
CD recordings: 15 items / day

The especially valuable parts of our collection (such as Bártfai Collection, Esterházy Collection or author’s manuscripts) can be researched only with a preliminary consent from the Head of Department. Documents belonging to the Theater History Collection (reference codes Színház, Népszínház, ZB, ZBK, Ms. mus OE and OK) and various heritage materials can be studied only if they are prepared for you. You must notify NSZL’s staff about your special query at least one workday in advance. Documents of the Sound Archive can be served only following previous digitization, so these orders must also be submitted one day before fulfilling them.

Use of original documents
Original documents can be used only in the Reading Room of Music Archive and they cannot be transferred to the catalogue cabinets or to other Reading Rooms of the Library. The use of manuscripts is recorded in the Research Diary which is filled in by reader in handwriting and is verified by his or her own legible signature. In order to prevent our documents from any damage, readers are kindly requested to write even their own personal notes by a pencil. Out of manuscripts with a reference code Ms. mus., one reader can study only three items simultaneously. CD recordings served by our staff can be used by readers on their own, at the listening workstations.

Use of copies
Digital copies: At present, NSZL is not capable of serving digital image recordings in the Reading Room of Music Archive. Sound recordings, digitized on previous request, can be used by readers on their own, at the listening workstations.

Microfilms: Ordered microfilms can be used independently on microfilm readers placed in the Reading Room. Our staff on duty will gladly show you how to use these equipments.

Returning and reserving

Our readers are kindly requested to return unused documents in person to the librarian on duty, stating exactly which items can be returned to repository and which will be used by him or her in the coming days. The latter documents will be reserved on the name of the reader for a maximum period of two weeks, so that reader should not repeat his or her query before a next visit to the Library

Copy orders

In our Reading Room, researcher visitors can order a daily amount maximum 25 pages of fast copying, which is delivered within one hour. A greater amount can be ordered by filling in an official request form, via the Digitizing Department of the Library. Queries are approved by Head of Department, in case of special documents, after a preliminary discussion with the person placing the order.

If you wish to make a copy of not the entire sheet music, you are kindly requested to carefully mark the pages you need on the request form. At the same time, customers are requested to mark the needed pages by sliding slices of paper at the right place(s) in the original document. National Széchényi Library does not make a copy of entire current sheet music available in shops. Detailed price list

Digital copy
Digital copies of our documents can also be ordered. These copies are made by the staff of NSZL’s Digitizing Department. Queries are approved by Head of Department, in case of special documents, after a preliminary discussion with the person placing the order. In line with valid rules and regulations, NSZL is not in the position to make copies of documents contained in the Sound Archive. Detailed price list

Terms and conditions of use
Personal use: Copies are provided by NSZL for use of personal research, so they are forbidden to be forwarded to any third party.


  • Publication fee: If customer wants to publish the ordered or previously received copy, he or she must directly contact Head of Department of the Music Archive. (Please, note that it is considered to be an act of publication if you make the given sheet music sound within the framework of a public concert.) Publication fee is determined by Head of Department, based on regulations valid for the Special Collections of National Széchényi Library. Head of Department can set a different fee only in highly justifiable cases.
  • Copyright: National Széchényi Library can provide you with copies of sheet music of compositions protected by copyright but in such cases, search for the copyright owner and getting the necessary permits for a performance or publication are entirely the obligations of the customer who placed the order.
  • Reference: Documents included in NSZL’s Music Archive have to be referred to as: National Széchényi Library, Music Archive + reference code, in short: NSZL Music Archive + reference code.

Other services

In addition to providing basic information related to the Music Collection of National Széchényi Library, the staff of Music Archive will take on carrying out more complex tasks as well. Based on a preliminary discussion with customer, they are ready to make special bibliographies or select material for various exhibitions, etc. In such cases, NSZL will charge a fee, on the basis of the fee of man-hours, calculated according to all-time average overhead costs.

How to get by in the Collection


Online catalogues and databases
In the central catalogue of NSZL (Nektár), you can search for printed and manuscript sheet music, CDs, archival (78-rpm) discs, music-related books and manuscripts. In the already closed-down HEKTOR database, over 17,000 printed sheet music and a great number of (partly music-related) books can be searched. For a comparative source analysis, we recommend the free database of international music source bibliography dubbed Répertoire International des Sources Musicales (RISM).

Card catalogues

  • Printed sheet music (purchased after 1945, reference code Z): descriptive and professional catalogue, fast authors’ catalogue and serial catalogue;
  • Printed sheet music (purchased before 1945, reference code Mus. pr.): Munich-system, museum-type descriptive catalogue, with a related professional catalogue, which can be searched according to the name of songwriters and music genres;
  • Manuscript sheet music (reference code Ms. mus. and reference codes Ms. mus. I, II, III, IV, OE and OK  of the Esterházy Archive): descriptive and professional catalogue;
  • Theater Music Collection (reference codes Népszínház and Színház): museum-type descriptive catalogue;
  • „Operabánya” (“Opera Mine”) (reference codes ZB and ZBK ): descriptive fast catalogue of the one-time Sheet Music Archive of Budapest Opera House;
  • Music sound recordings: descriptive, serial and professional catalogue that can be searched according to composer, fellow-composer, title, text beginning, name of historical persons and geographical names;
  • Performers’ catalogue of music recordings: searchable according to the names of soloists, orchestras and bands;
  • Prose sound recordings: descriptive and professional catalogue and a catalogue of performers;
  • Supplementary catalogues
    • Reference library: descriptive catalogue of books; a list to be found in Music Archive’s Reading Room gives information about music journals in Hungarian, which are part of the Collection;
    • Descriptive catalogue of music photos: arranged according to persons, buildings and instruments that can be seen on the photo;
  • Special catalogues
    • Text beginning catalogue: searchable according to the first text line of vocal compositions with a Hungarian text, to be found in the printed stock; in case of dance songs and couplets, searchable according to refrain;
    • Bártfai Collection: descriptive and professional catalogue of a closed collection comprising manuscript and printed volumes;
    • Répertoire International des Sources Musicales (RISM): It contains manuscript music compositions by composers born before 1770, to be found in Hungarian church and secular collections, and also music compositions published before 1800 (incipites descriptive catalogue and a professional catalogue searchable according to genre and habitat).

Printed catalogues

  • Bártfai Collection
    Murányi, Róbert Árpád: Thematisches Verzeichnis der Musiksammlung von Bartfeld (Bártfa). Bonn: G. Schröder, 1991.
  • Esterházy Collection
    – Haydn [Joseph] művei az Országos Széchényi Könyvtár zenei gyűjteményében. Ed. and Preface by Jenő Vécsey. Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1959.
    – Somfai, László: „Albrechtsberger-Eigenschriften in der Nationalbibliothek Széchényi Budapest”. In three parts: Studia Musicologica 1 (1961), 175–202; 4 (1963), 179–190; 9 (1967), 191–220.
    – Kecskeméti, István: „Süssmayr-Handschriften in der Nationalbibliothek Széchényi, Budapest”. In two parts: Studia Musicologica 2 (1962), 283–320; 8 (1966), 297–377.
    – Regesten der Esterházyschen Acta Musicalia und Acta Theatralia in Budapest. Ed. Josef Pratl and Heribert Scheck. Tutzing: Hans Schneider, 2004. (Eisenstädter Haydn-Berichte 4.)
  • Other music manuscripts
    – Isoz, Kálmán: Zenei levelek. Budapest: Magyar Nemzeti Múzeum Könyvtára, 1924. (The documents can be researched in the Manuscripts Archive.)
    – Lavotta, Rezső: Kéziratos zeneművek. Budapest: Magyar Nemzeti Múzeum Könyvtára, 1940. Eckhardt, Mária: Franz Liszt's music manuscripts in the National Széchényi Library, Budapest. Translated by Erzsébet Mészáros. Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1986. (Studies in Central and Eastern European Music, 2.)
    Mikrofilmek címjegyzéke. Zenei gyűjtemény. Vegyes eredetű rezidenciális zeneműkéziratok I. Compiled by Zoltán Nagy. Budapest: Országos Széchényi Könyvtár, 1981.
  • Bibliographies of composition prints
    Dedinszky, Izabella: Zeneművek: az 1936–1940. évkör szakkönyvészete. Budapest: Országos Széchényi Könyvtár, 1944.
    Magyar könyvészet 1945–1960: a Magyarországon nyomtatott zeneművek szakosított jegyzéke. Ed. by Iván Pethes,Veronika Vavrinecz, Jenő Vécsey. Budapest: Országos Széchényi Könyvtár, 1969.
    Magyar Nemzeti Bibliográfia. Zeneművek Bibliográfiája. Ed. by VeronikaVavrinecz, Éva Kelemen. Budapest: Országos Széchényi Könyvtár, 1970–2001. (Volumes of the bibliography issued after 2001 can be read on our website.)
  • Discographies
    – Magyar Nemzeti Bibliográfia. Zeneművek Bibliográfiája. Ed. by Veronika Vavrinecz, Éva Kelemen. Budapest: 1970–2001. (Volumes of the bibliography issued after 2001 can be read on our website.)
     – Pócsiné Munkácsi, Gabriella: Irodalmi hanglemezek Magyarországon: diszkográfia. Budapest: Országos Széchényi Könyvtár, 1975.

Manuscript catalogues
– Hárich, János: Joseph Haydn kéziratainak tematikus katalógusa. Budapest,1928.
– Hárich, János: Gregor Joseph Werner műveinek tematikus katalógusa. Budapest, 1932.

List of journals in Hungarian which can be found in NSZL’s Music Archive

Reference Library
Work of the users of our collection is helped by a reference library comprising approximately 6,500 volumes. Acquisitions made in the past couple of years can be searched for in NSZL’s online catalogue, while earlier literature can also be searched for in the card catalogue cabinets, placed on the corridor leading up to our Reading Room.


NSZL’s staff will gladly give you information via phone or by e-mail. You can send your questions to e-mail address or, during the opening hours of the Music Archive, you can call us at the following numbers: +361 224 3778, +361 224 3367.


Related contents:
Music Collection