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Opening hours: Monday, Thursday 9 a.m. - 7 p.m., Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.
phone: +48 22 55 25 740, e-mail: muz.buw@uw.edu.pl


Warsaw University Library Division of Music Collections was established in 1954. In 1996 it was renamed the Music Department. Previously books on music had been incorporated in the main Library holdings while scores received as a legal deposit were transferred to the National Library of Poland (before World War II) and Warsaw music schools (after World War II). In the interwar period the Warsaw University Library music collection deposited in the National Library of Poland included over 15,000 items. It was torched together with other special collections of the National Library in 1944.

The core of the Department collection at the time of its opening consisted of objects from the collection of former Musicology Division of Wrocław University (approximately 15,000 items). The majority of them previously belonged to the collection of Musikalisches Institut at Wrocław University  (the successor of the institution formerly known as Königliches Akademisches Institut für Kirchenmusik established in 1815 which collected the Lower Silesia church music left behind after the dissolution of monasteries or no longer used for the liturgical purposes). The afore-mentioned collections transferred to Warsaw University Library in accordance with the act passed by the Ministry of Higher Education in 1952 included nearly 4500 music manuscripts from the period between the 16th and 20th century, early printed music and numerous valuable books and scores, mostly of German origin. The most priceless items of the Wrocław collection are the mensural codex from the turn of the 15th and 16th century („Kodeks wrocławski” („Wrocław codex”) RM 5892 olim Mf 2016), the set of 18th century lute tablatures from the Cistercian abbey in Krzeszów and unique items such as Missa super O gloriosa Domina by Marcin Mielczewski (17th century), Credo in G major attributed to A. Vivaldi, manuscript copies of Bach, Händel and other works of various composers related to Wrocław Singakademie active in the first decades of the 19th century. Nearly two-and-a-half thousand 19th and 20th century books and printed music items were transferred as a deposit to the Warsaw University Division (later Institute) of Musicology.The collection of historic printed music housed in Warsaw University Library includes rare Polish musical items from the Library’s old collection which survived the war, including the collection of 16th century “Olkusz Partbooks” and an 18th century liturgical manuscript known as Graduał łowicki (Łowicz Graduale). Some historic objects belonging to the music collection are housed in other Library departments: Melodie na psałterz polski (Melodies for Polish Psalter) by Mikołaj Gomółka is held by the Early Imprints Department next to the collection of early printed music (mostly liturgica) while the Print Room stores a magnificent manuscript of J.-G. Noverre’s treatise entitled Théorie et pratique de la danse together with Médée et Jason ballet score and costume designs.

Currently the Music Department primarily collects printed music (so far approximately 20,000 items) received as the legal deposit from Polish publishers. Its holdings quite faithfully reflect Polish music repertory published after 1945, in particular that produced by Polskie Wydawnictwo Muzyczne publishing house. The legal deposit acquisitions have been complemented through the purchase of foreign publications so that the Department collections include numerous titles belonging to the music canon, including collective works of various composers, series of critical editions of printed music from various periods and places, etc.Visitors to the Department reading room are provided with reference works in the field of music (including the basics of musicologist resources: encyclopedias, lexicons, guides, catalogs, bibliographies, monographs on composers, etc) as well as a computer workstation, a listening booth and Yamaha-Clavinova synthesizer.  

UW library Archives of Polish Composers 

Archiwum Kompozytorów Polskich Biblioteki Uniwersyteckiej w Warszawie (Warsaw University Library Archives of Polish Composers, formerly known as the Archives of 20th Century Polish Composers) is the only collection in Poland orientated towards the comprehensive documentation of Polish contemporary music sources. The Archives were established in 1958 as a separate collection of Warsaw University Library Music Division. At present the collection includes more than 40,000 items: approx. 5000 music manuscripts, nearly 30,000 letters from and to Polish composers, several thousand photographs, posters, concert programs and biographical material (personal papers, family papers, literary and commentary writings and objects of historic value).In the 1950s and 1960s the collection was enriched with personal papers of Artur Malawski, Jan A. Maklakiewicz, Kazimierz Jurdziński, Roman Padlewski, Ludomir M. Rogowski, Karol Szymanowski and Stanisław Wiechowicz. In the 1970s the Department received the papers of Ludomir Różycki, Grzegorz Fitelberg, Zdenek Rund, Paweł Klecki and Witold Maliszewski. In the 1980s the Archives were enhanced with works of emigrant composers: Tadeusz Z. Kassern, Michał Kondracki, Feliks R. Łabuński and Roman Palester. In the early 1990s the Library received a comprehensive collection of works from Adam Świerzyński. After 2000 the Archives incorporated the papers of Tadeusz Baird, Andrzej Dobrowolski, Zbigniew Krukowski, Stanisław Janty-Połczyński, Tadeusz Machl, Mieczysław Mierzejewski, Karol Prosnak, Stanisław Prószyński, Witold Rudziński and selected personal papers of Edward Bogusławski, Tomasz Gablenz, Jan A. Maklakiewicz, Andrzej Panufnik, Kazimierz Serocki, Antoni Szałowski, Romuald Twardowski and Kazimierz Wiłkomirski. Besides this impressive collection of papers the Archives boast single music manuscripts by many famous composers such as Grażyna Bacewicz, Witold Lutosławski, Krzysztof Penderecki, Henryk Mikołaj Górecki and material documenting the professional activity of Polish musicologists such as Krzysztof Biegański, Józef M. Chomiński, Stanisław Golachowski, Tadeusz Kaczyński and Zofia Lissa. 

The core of the collection consists of compositions and literary works by Karol Szymanowski – the greatest Polish composer of the first half of the 20th century. The collection was compiled primarily in the period between 1939 and 1946 by Łódź musicologist Stanisław Golachowski who gathered the composer’s autographs, papers and personal belongings scattered among his relatives and friends. Warsaw University Library received this impressive collection of szymanowskiana in 1961 and commemorated the acquisition with a notation of Szymanowski’s Etude in E minor inscribed in one of the panels decorating the facade of the Library’s new building.Equally valuable are papers of Roman Palester and Tadeusz Baird and the material documenting the history of Stowarzyszenie Młodych Muzyków Polaków w Paryżu (the Association of Young Polish Musicians in Paris, 1936-1950) – a large collection of correspondence presenting various aspects of the Association’s activity.

Except for its primary function – acquisition and cataloging – the Archives are intended to preserve and popularize the afore-mentioned collections. The most valuable objects have been microfilmed and – more recently – digitized while rare and unique objects are renovated when the appropriate part of the Library budget permits. The Archives boast important publications such as catalogs Rękopisy utworów muzycznych Karola Szymanowskiego (Karol Szymanowski’s music manuscripts, 1983) and Rękopisy kompozytorów Młodej Polski (Manuscripts of Polish composers from 1890 to the end of World War I (Young Poland), 1997) edited by Elżbieta Jasińska-Jędrosz and a guide Karol Szymanowski w zbiorach polskich (Karol Szymanowski’s works in Polish collections, 1990) edited by Wanda Bogdany-Popielowa. The publications were written in cooperation with the National Library of Poland. A more recent project is The Catalog of the Polish Composers’ Archives which is intended to include the full documentation of music manuscripts in the collection. Numerous exhibitions on the individual composers as well as the whole collection have been organized such as the anniversary exhibition „The collections of the Archives of 20th Century Polish Composers” in 1998. When dealing with exhibitions and acquisitions, the Archives cooperate with the leading music institutions in Poland: Polskie Wydawnictwo Muzyczne, Polskie Radio (Polish Radio) and Związek Kompozytorów Polskich (Polish Composers Association). Various projects are implemented under the patronage of the Ministry of Culture such as the extremely important task of documenting and preserving collections of music objects run in cooperation with the Polish Composers Association which resulted in the augmentation of the Archives’ collection with a large number of various music manuscripts. The objects included in the Archives serve as valuable resources for research, the making of documentary movies and publication of critical editions.Items included in the Archives may be accessed by scholars and composers and – in well justified cases – also by students. Rare, microfilmed, non-cataloged and restricted items are not available. The collections may be accessed in the reading room of the Department on a previous request. Objects may be copied on the approval of the Manager of the Department only. 


The catalogs of the collections of the Music Department are available in the Department reading room and include:

  • the alphabetical card catalogs of printed and manuscript music,
  • the catalog of microfilmed music items,
  • the catalog of reference works,
  • the catalog of objects from the Polish Composers’ Archives.

The card catalog of objects from the “Wrocław collection” was scanned and made available online (follow the link to the Department web page or the Library catalogs from the Library website). Some recently acquired printed music items are recorded in the Library OPAC. 


  • The user may enter the reading room of the Department with the pass issued by the Information Desk staff. In order to receive the pass the user is requested to show valid Library Card and ID card.
  • Printed and manuscript music may be viewed in the reading room of the Department while the access to early printed music and items from the Polish Composers’ Archives is limited and must be arranged in advance on the approval of the Manager of the Department. Students and non-academic users who wish to view the Department collections are requested to present references from their supervisors or parent institutions. The most valuable objects are available on microfilms in the Reading Room of Current Periodicals and Microforms. Books and periodicals on music (excluding the Department reference works) which had been included in the Department holdings until 2000 (when the Library was moved to a new location) were incorporated into the Library’s main collection housed in the main storage area and open stacks. Presently they are available to all Library users.
  • Copies of objects from the Department collections may only be obtained and further reproduced on the approval of the Manager of the Department who also defines the method for the production of requested copies. Photocopies may be made of microfilmed objects only. Users may request paid copies from the Library Reprographic Services Department. In some extraordinary and well-justified cases the Manager of the Department may allow the user to take a photo of the original object.

 The details on the availability of the Department collections are provided in The rules on the use of Warsaw University Library Special Collections. 

3rd floor, room 322 

Opening hours:
Monday, Thursday 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. For July and August opening hours consult the Library website (http://www.buw.uw.edu.pl/) 

Please NOTE that on Monday and Thursday after 3 p.m. users may only access objects requested before 3 p.m. 


University of Warsaw Library
Music DepartmentDobra 56/66
00-312 Warsaw

Phone: + 48 22 55 25 740, + 48 22 55 25 745
E-mail: muz.buw@uw.edu.pl


© 2018 University of Warsaw Library
Financial support from the European Commision within the Socrates/Erasmus Programme.