The music manuscripts (about 51,000), among which are original manuscripts of Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Schubert, and Anton Bruckner, comprise the historically most important holdings. Large format choir books document the liturgical practice of the late Middle Ages; many copied texts, especially material of the Viennese Court Music Orchestra and historic archives of theatres and churches, offer source material on the history of music.
The music prints (about 130,000) represent the entire history of music, but most of all – because of the obligation of delivering texts – the music history of Austria, which gives the Department of Music the function of a central Austrian musical archives. The collection of Anthony van Hoboken, which is among the world’s best collections with its 8,000 first and early prints, deserves special mention.
The collection of text books (about 8,000 items) offers source material on musical theatre from the past and present, particularly on Baroque opera.
The Photogramme Archives, set up by Anthony van Hoboken, is a collection of reproductions (about 60,000 pages). It allows study of original manuscripts that are not in the holdings of the Department of Music. The holdings are made accessible through a printed catalogue of volumes.
A specialised section of the book holdings of the Austrian National Library contains literature with its main emphasis on music works (about 70,000 volumes). The most important reference works, catalogues, and bibliographies can be consulted in the hands-free installation in the reading room of the Department of Music.
The Department of Music conserves for private or institutional access bequests of composers and interpreters as well as other archival holdings. Worthy of particular mention are the estates of Anton Bruckner, Alban Berg, Hans Pfitzner and many Austrian composers of the 20th century.
The microforms (microfilms, microfiches: about 2,000 items) of the Department of Music contain on the one hand reproductions of holdings belonging to the ANL itself (films for study of precious original manuscripts), and on the other hand microform publications, especially catalogues of foreign music libraries.
The sound recordings (about 18,000 records and CD’s, about 4,000 tape recordings) document predominantly the history of music in Austria.