This collection holds great interest for music scholars of the 17th-, 18th- and early 19th-century Italian music. The collection offers an abundance of sources for vocal and instrumental music, sacred and secular. Organized in four chronological segments, Italian Music Manuscripts bears comparison with distinguished manuscript collections in Italy and is one of the world's most substantial collections of Italian music in the world.
Section A: Music Manuscripts, c.1640-c.1720
The most substantial ingredient of the collection is secular music, especially the opera. Many of the copies must presumably have come from the Italian copying-houses, but they are nevertheless useful, especially in cases where there is no modern edition of an opera and indeed where there was no printed edition at the time.
Section A: 46 reels
Section B: Music Manuscripts, c.1720-c.1740
The publishing of the British Library's extensive collection of Italian music manuscripts continues with Section B, covering the years c.1720-c.1740.
Section B: 79 reels
Section C: Music Manuscripts, c.1740-c.1770
In the central years of the 18th century, opera was a dominant form of composition, and many high-quality works were commissioned in Venice, Naples, Rome, Milan, Bologna and other cities.
Section C: 60 reels
Section D: Music Manuscripts, c.1770 c.1820
The end of the 18th century saw the flowering of the neo-classical style, the continuing supremacy of opera with both comic and serious opera retaining huge popularity in Italy and the rise of instrumental and orchestral works in the shadow of Mozart and Rossini.
Section D: 100 reels