Music Libraries in China

By Xu, Wu | Fontes Artis Musicae, January-March 2014 | Go to article overview

Music Libraries in China


Xu, Wu, Fontes Artis Musicae


Library systems in China

There are three major library systems, first, public libraries of all levels, from the National Library of China to village libraries, governed by the China Ministry of Culture; second, educational institution libraries, from university libraries to primary school reading rooms, funded by the China Ministry of Education and local administration of education; third, a cluster of special libraries headed by the Chinese Academy of Science.

Music libraries in general

Nine music libraries, affiliated with nine independent music conservatories, fall into the second category of educational institution libraries. In addition, almost every university library has a music collection of various scales. In alphabetical order, the nine music conservatories are the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, the China Conservatory of Music in Beijing, the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, the Shenyang Conservatory of Music, the Sichuan Conservatory of Music, the Tianjin Conservatory of Music, the Wuhan Conservatory of Music, the Xi'an Conservatory of Music, and the Xinghai Conservatory of Music in Guangzhou. Theoretically, each of the conservatories represents their geographical, ethnic and folk music cultural characteristics, so do their library collections.

Among educational institutions in music and also the arts in general, the Central Conservatory is the only one institution of its kind eligible to be in The Project of 211 (2), a project of National Key Universities and colleges initiated in 1995 by the Ministry of Education, with the intent of raising the research standards of high-level universities and cultivating strategies for socio-economic development. The Project of 211 universities and colleges is funded directly by the Ministry.

The Central Conservatory focuses on the teaching and researching of both Western music and Chinese traditional music, in aspects of theory and performance, offering advanced degree programs from undergraduate to postgraduate. So far, many of the conservatory alumni are among the most active composers and musicians all over the world such as Tan Dun, Qu Xiaosong, Zhoulong and Chenyi, Chen Qigang, Ye Xiaogang, Guo Wenjing, the pianist Lang Lang, and many players in top American and European symphony orchestras.

The library of the Central Conservatory is the largest of its kind in China, holding half a million items in its music collection (3), on both western style and Chinese traditional music, among them are music scores, music books, music periodicals, music recordings and special collections for Chinese contemporary music and Guqin music.

Within the last ten years, all music conservatories began to provide an all-around music curriculum both in Western and Chinese music, however, each music library has their own collection emphasis. Sichuan Conservatory library, for example, located in the southwestern part of China, which is amazingly rich in Minority groups' music cultures that are exotically different from each other. Correspondingly, the library collection focuses on the study of ethnic and folk music with unique geographical and ethnic identity. Wuhan Conservatory library, Xi'an Conservatory Library (348,000 items in music holdings (4)), and Shenyang Conservatory Library(more than 200,000 items and a Chinese traditional and ethnic music instrument museum (5)) have their respective ancient and rare book collections on traditional Chinese music and music philosophy as well as many music related archeological discoveries spanning the time from 17th century BC to the present. For example, a Set of Bells (6) (bianzhong) from the tomb of Marquis Yi of the Zeng state (c433 BCE) and related research materials are in the Wuhan Conservatory library and there is a Xi'an Drum Music (7) collection in the Xi'an Conservatory library. The Tianjin Conservatory Library, with music holdings of 264,000 items (8), owns the largest musical drama and narrative collection from the north provinces of China. …

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