Music > About > The Music Department

The Music Department

The Music Department of the National Library operates according to the library's concepts and organizational framework. The department documents, preserves and makes available to the public all materials relating to the music of Eretz Israel, and to Israeli and Jewish music. Its collection includes printed material (such as books and scores), video and audio recordings (including phonograph records, compact disks and cassettes), and archival material (drafts of oeuvres, research notes, correspondence, pictures, documents, announcements, programs, newspaper items, private recordings, etc.).


The National Sound Archives, part of the Music Department, has the world's largest collection of ethnographic and commercial recordings of Israeli and Jewish music. The collection also includes non-Jewish music. Approximately half the recordings are commercial: most were purchased or donated to the Library, while some were received under the terms of the Books Law 2000 (5761) (Hebrew), the law of legal deposit. The other half of the collection comprises: recordings of interviews, made in a studio or in the home of the participant, and field recordings made at live events, such as weddings and festivals, which have been transferred to the archives by researchers (musicologists, ethno-musicologists, anthropologists, etc.), as well as Kol Yisrael (Israel Radio) recordings that have been deposited in the National Sound Archives.


It is the department's archival material, rather than its publications, that makes it unique in its field in Israel and the rest of the world.

Activities for the General Public

In addition to collecting and preserving these treasures, the National Library strives to open them to the general public. The material undergoes a lengthy process from the time that it arrives in the department until it becomes accessible to the public. It begins with cataloguing and indexing of the material and concludes with the material becoming available for loan, for study in the Reading Room and for display on the internet site. In addition, concerts are held, based on the works in the archive, some of which are premiere performances. All of this is offered free of charge in line with National Library's policy for all of its collections. Among the concerts organized by the National Library are those dedicated to composers who donated, or whose families donated, their collections. Recent examples are Alexander (Sasha) Argov, Moshe Wilensky, Marc Lavry, and Emanuel Zamir. In addition, there have been concerts devoted to Hebrew songs such as “First Tunes of the Homeland” and “Fields in the Valley” which were dedicated to the composers of the Kibbutz movement, and “Praises to Jerusalem” which was dedicated to the city of Jerusalem.
The Music Department organizes forums and seminars on the Hebrew song and on Israeli music. The department caters to school children and teachers, as well as to students and lecturers, who are studying and researching the musical memory of the Jewish people.
We welcome the public's contributions and additions to the department's collections and knowledge database on any subject relating to Jewish or Israeli music.  We will be happy to receive songs, recordings, manuscripts and any other material relevant to this field of study.