Petrucci Music Library (IMSLP) – Public domain sheet music

The old-fashioned way of obtaining sheet music for “classical” music was to go to a music shop such as Zephyr Music or Allans Music and buy it, or browse in second hand shops (Da Capo Music in Glebe), or borrow from the library.

Over the last fifteen years I have enjoyed following the score when listening to classical music. Since starting to learn the piano I have been searching for suitable music to play.

In the past I borrowed scores from Willoughby library but more recenly I discovered the vast resources of Public Domain Scores.

Petrucci Music Library

The Petrucci music library or IMSLP (International Music Score Library Project) is a web site where volunteers have scanned and uploaded public domain music scores. These works include solo instrument scores (piano, cello and violin in particular), as well as orchestral scores and individual parts for ensembles. This has proved very usefel for the Kuringai Youth Orchestra where I am one of the music librarians.

The site is a Wiki and looks something like Wikipedia. You can browse scores by Composer, Nationality, Time Period, and Instrumentation. Once you have found the music of interest, PDF files can be downloaded for printing or viewing, and sometimes royalty free recordings are available.

What is public domain?

Any work published in the lifetime of an author who died in 1954 or earlier, is out of copyright. The term for authors who died in 1955 or later is 70 years.  IMSLP has a page explaining Public Domain and copyright.

Jean Sibelius died in 1957, therefore his works enter the public domain in 2027 (1957 + 70). Maurice Ravel died in 1937 therefore his work is now in the public domain. Sometimes a score is available on this web site but not public domain in Australia, therefore it can’t be legally used for a public performance.

And now read another article about Where to find Public Domain Music.


Author: charuzu

I live in Sydney and interests include music, piano playing, technology, cooking, English language, public speaking, Toastmasters, Asian culture (especially Japan and Korea), cinema, personal development, productivity and making friends with people from around the world.

6 thoughts on “Petrucci Music Library (IMSLP) – Public domain sheet music”

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  2. You know, I’m about ready to do my sleuthing the old-fashioned way. Thank the Good Lord there are still library buildings to trek to. I’ve pretty much had it with the Internet. It doesn’t matter where you go. Information in this age of information is simply non-existent. It’s the biggest joke in the book for earnest people, wanting say, a text on the Witch of Endor in Arthur Honneger’s “Le Roi David” in English. On trying to access this text, all I get is recordings from Amazon. Not even sheet music. Or IPL2, which gives everything and anything on King David, no matter what format you enter: Author, libretto to W o E, whatever, or Petrucci. I looked up Library ? without success, even using the advanced feature. If anyone can help me here, please do. I’m really sick and tired of the Internet, period. It’s just a sensationalistic piece of crap, as far as I have experienced. And I have a degree in MLIS from Florida State University. I’ve never seen the like for so much misinformation. I’ve been making some efforts to disengage from my AT&T DSL, in the hopes of not losing everything I have on my computer, the news is always the same old sensationalistic “news” and just terrible.

    How anyone can find anything, well. Please help. With Petrucci, it would be a start, perhaps in the right direction. All I need is the script from Honneger’s “King David” for the Witch of Endor. I’d be ever so grateful if some kind person here would help me with this.

    Many, Many Thanks,

    Mary M. Boyle

  3. Hello Mary,

    That was quite a comment you left on my blog article about the Petrucci Music Library! I wouldn’t agree that the internet is a “sensationalist piece of crap” – the Internet has been with us since the early 1970s and enabling communication around the world using a variety of services – email, newsgroups, web sites, file sharing, audio and video streaming. There is a vast amount of information out there and finding it has always been a big challenge. Google does have powerful search capabilities and the challenge is to be able to make specific searches to narrow the area of your search.

    With regard to your question about Honeger’s Le Roi David, there is a page of imslp:,_Arthur but there is no score available for that work. I clicked on Score on that page was taken to a list of second hand copies.
    If you don’t want to buy a score, you may want to visit the library of a conservatorium or school of music.


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