Keeping Scores at the Wikipedia of Classical Music

Sure, everybody knows Ludwig van Beethoven. But how about his slightly less famous baroque predecessor (Johann) Ludwig Krebs (1713-1780)? Most everyone can whistle a tune by John Philip Sousa (1854-1932), the famous “March King,” but how many have even heard the name of Brazilian composer Wellington Sousa (1988-)?

Very, very few. Fewer still have heard so much as a note of music by these two composers, or by hundreds and indeed thousands of others, whose names range from the utterly unknown (most, it must be said, rightfully so) to the merely obscure, through the well-established all the way up to the household names.

But as you’ve likely already guessed, there’s a site for that: the Petrucci Music Library, an on-line treasury of some 322,913 scores by some 12,924 composers (a “score” is the written-out music for all the instruments and voices of a work, be it a song or a symphony), along with some 36,401 recordings: all just a click away on what is more or less a sort of Wikipedia of classical/academic music. Bach (no fewer than 19 different ones!), Mozart, and Schumann are all here, respectively adjacent to Thomas Babou, Luigi Mozzani, and Ludwig Schunke. (The last, through an improbable alphabetic coincidence, turns out to have been a close friend of the young Schumann.)

You can listen to and even download public-domain MP3s of selected works; there’s no synching of score and sound (that I could find), but a couple of non-functional links to a German app-maker called Peachnote suggest that such might be forthcoming; watch this space.

Realistically, I don’t suppose my discovery will be of great interest to most or even many Sound & Vision regulars. Still, whatever the intersection of the numerical set “music-geeks” with that of “S&V readers” amounts to, it’s got to be greater than that with readers of, say, “Drift-Car Monthly.” Even if you don’t read music, if you love “serious” music (God I hate that expression!) and are curious to explore some of that world’s more dimly illuminated corners, the Petrucci Library is a wonderful place to while away a few hours. Or days.

Shihara's picture

It is already a part of the Wikipedia project and it is a great news. It is a useful place which gather all the facts about music and its variation as an art. A similar project is creating a separate domain for gathering on one place all the scientists. - Shimon Haber