Pre-State and Contemporary Israeli Music
The collection includes the complete personal archives of some preeminent composers as well as the archives of a number of music institutions in Israel. Notable archives of Israeli composers are those of Alexander (Sasha) Argov, Paul Ben-Haim, Andre Hajdu, Moshe Wilensky, Dov Seltzer, Emanuel Zamir, Mordechai Zeira, Marc Lavry, Daniel Sambursky, Mordecai Seter , Yair Rosenblum, Naomi Shemer and Noam Sheriff.
Apart from written and recorded music, in draft and final form, the archives also include items related to the process of the composition and performance of the music, such as correspondence with colleagues and performers, concert recordings, announcements, programs, reviews and photographs.
In the field of Hebrew song, the National Sound Archive's recordings of Kol Yisrael (Israel Radio) from its earliest days, particularly stand out. The sound archive holds some 10,000 records of Hebrew songs, which were recorded for broadcasting, mainly from the 1950s. The records were transferred to the National Library in the 1970s. A digitization project, aimed at preserving this material, began two years ago and is scheduled for completion in another two years. On completion, the music and song clips will be accessible to listeners both in the Bella and Harry Wexner Libraries of Sound and Song and on the National Library of Israel's website. Another 10,000 tapes of Hebrew songs, recorded by Kol Yisrael during the 1960s and 1970s, were transferred to the department a few years ago. They have all been copied onto compact discs and are accessible, both in the library and on its website.
The National Sound Archive comprises tens of thousands of hours of recordings of prayers, liturgical poems, religious songs and music, rituals, and folksongs, deposited, since the beginning of the last century, by researchers and others from the field of music. The task of trying to document all the multicultural musical traditions of Israel, from primary sources, is a continuous and never-ending process. The execution of this undertaking is carried out at events all over the country, at interviews conducted in the participant's home, and in the recording studio of the sound archive. As part of this enterprise, great effort has been made to document the beginnings of the Hebrew song. The results of these efforts, as well as those of other research projects in the field, have been published, in articles and on compact disc, by the Jewish Music Research Centre, which functions in close cooperation with the music department (e.g. Early songs from Eretz Israel, edited by Yaakov Mazor).
The personal archives of researchers and collectors comprise, inter alia, notes and summaries, drafts, offprints, field recordings and photographs, which they accumulated during their musical activities. The archives of Yaakov Michael and Meir Noy, collectors of Jewish music, are central in this field. Meir Noy collected songs in Yiddish, as well as in Hebrew, and he is considered one of the fathers of the Hebrew Song and its origins. There is also material, used by a variety of performers, such as cantors' notebooks, scores of Hasidic songs, and songs in Ladino, recorded from informants.
An integral part of the intellectual output of the Jews is the classical music that they wrote. Therefore, the music department selectively collects print editions and sound recordings of performances of their compositions. Their oeuvres are found in the department as printed commercial publications, as part of the composer's archive entrusted to the library, and also as original manuscripts.