Henry Watson music library

  1. The Henry Watson Music Library is named after Dr. Henry Watson, a renowned composer and teacher born in nearby Accrington.  He gifted the contents of his private library to our care in 1902. Watson's original collection (some 16,700 volumes) has been supplemented by many important donations and acquisitions since and has grown into one of the largest collections of music in any public library.

  2. What's available

    The library contains 380,000 books and individual items of music, including:


    • monographs (some 9,500 books on western and non-western art music, folk, jazz and popular music) 
    • periodicals (50 popular and scholarly titles with extensive back-runs)

    Printed music:

    • printed music (vocal, choral, orchestral and popular music)
    • early printed music and manuscript collections

    Most of the material is available for loan but a a selection of reference works is for research and study or leisure reading.

  3. How to access

    Items from the collections can be viewed in the Central Library search room, please make an appointment (with at least one day notice).

    Sets of choral and orchestral music are available to hire for registered societies.

    Contact henrywatsonmusiclibrary@manchester.gov.uk if you have any enquiries.

  4. Related information

    Library members can use our free online reference library, this carries a huge number of resources including online music such as Oxford Music Online and Naxos, where you can listen to music free of charge.

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