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Advancing the Resource: Our specialist music collections

Cardiff University holds a substantial collection of manuscript and printed music from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a resource of nearly 3000 items. These specialist music collections constitute one of the largest music resources within the UK Higher Education sector, outside Oxbridge and London.


Complementary expertise within the School of Music, the University’s Special Collections and Archives team, and the library services staff, along with existing good working relationships with the British Library led to a successful bid for JISC funding to catalogue the Mackworth Collection, the Aylward Collection, and the BBC Collection.


In 2012-13 this project ran in partnership with the international music database RISM (UK), the British Library and Royal Holloway, University of London, making information available that previously had been largely unknown to the wider scholarly community.






Mackworth Collection


The Mackworth Collection of manuscripts was built up over several generations of the Mackworth family, whose family seat was at Neath’s Gnoll Castle, beginning with industrialist Sir Herbert Mackworth (1739-91). Subsequent generations built up the collection, which contains publications from the 17th to the 19th centuries (including, among others, pleasure garden-songs, fashionable dance music and instrumental music by Corelli, Handel and Hasse), plus some 70 manuscript volumes, including full scores of operas and operatic arias.

Related links:
Browse the online collections (manuscripts)
More on the Mackworth collection


Aylward Collection


The Aylward collection was the personal collection of Theodore Edward Aylward (1844-1933). Aylward was cathedral organist at Llandaff and Chichester, conductor of the Cardiff Musical Society and chorus-master for the Cardiff Triennial Festival. The collection consists mainly of printed material from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. It includes material on sacred works, songs and singing, dramatic music, orchestral music, solos and studies and music for organ and harmonium.

Related links:
Cataloguing the Aylward Collection
More on the Aylward Collection

BBC Collection


A collection of 18th and 19th century printed music, first amassed in the 1950s and 1960s to serve the needs of producers preparing broadcast material for the Third Programme/Radio 3. This collection was acquired by the University because it complemented material in the Mackworth and Aylward collections.

Related links:
More on the BBC Collection


Other collections


Other notable collections include a large number of rare books from the BBC’s music library, and the personal archives of several Welsh composers, including Morfydd Owen, Grace Williams and David Wynne.

Special Collections and Archives also holds an extensive collection of Welsh ballads.