Music Library and Archive

We are proud of our nationally acclaimed archive, curated by Dr. Richard Hall, a former director of the school. The archive is an exceptional resource for choirs, orchestras, researchers, musicologists, educationalists and all those who are curious. 

Download our lists to see the music we have available

We are happy to hire out parts for any length of time. Our archive continues to grow and cover all periods of Classical music.
We prioritise the importance of sustaining live music as an exceptionally valuable detail for all ages and abilities. We hold comprehensive sets of Classical works in addition to easily accessible lighter repertoire which is increasingly popular.

Our collection contains specialist material pertaining to local Composers (John Gardner, Rick Birley, Henry Balfour Gardiner, Christopher Le Fleming) and musical organisations, including the extensive collections created by the Dorset Back Cantata Club and the Dorset Guild of Singers.

We hold hand written 18th Century manuscript books and the unique signed manuscript copy of a major late work by Charles Villiers Stanford, a set of variations for violin and orchestra, recently premiered by Tamsin Little and the English Chamber Orchestra.

Being the only remaining rural music school in existence, we hold much material pertaining the history of this facet of music education, which played a vital role in English musical life for much of the twentieth century.
Our collection provides a narrative of the essence of the rural music schools movement, highlighting activities and discourse which contain valuable detail of educational approaches that are currently celebrating a renaissance. Of particular interest regarding the educational philosophy of the rural music schools is our collection of Folk Song and Dance. We identify that the roots of our nation provide highly accessible narratives relating to local heritage and social change, and we deliver inspirational initiatives with Folk resources, working closely with our patron, Tim Laycock to raise awareness of Sense of Place and Oral Tradition.

We aspire to share our knowledge, experience and archive resources as a beacon for traditional approaches to music education within a contemporary context.

The Dorset Rural Music School archive began to evolve from the first day that the school opened. Over the decades, each Director (with particular note to Dr. Richard Hall) has worked to preserve and extend the collection. We receive donations on a weekly basis and we carefully select and protect material of significance for the collection. We regard the archive as one of interest and value to a diverse demographic, created with those who place an importance upon the preservation of our national heritage, whoever they might be and from whatever background.

A local treasure, our collection of journals dates back to 1870 and provides strong insights into the musical life of England throughout a significant timeline.

Unique to the Dorset Rural Music School is a significant number of works inspired by Thomas Hardy and William Barnes, setting poetry to Song.

We own a complete original orchestral set of the Vaughan Williams Concerto Grosso, a work for amateur and professional orchestral String players. Always a strong proponent of widening musical participation, Vaughan Williams composed this work for the first Rural Music Schools Concert in the Royal Albert Hall in 1950. It was premiered by a massed orchestra of four hundred pupils, including those from the Dorset Rural Music School.

The collection is outstanding as a body of contrasting yet complimentary resources that describe the journey of musical engagement over three quarters of a century, through the genres of Classical and Folk music, including the literary accounts and academic observations of the timeline. The collection is in excellent condition, it resonates strong local and regional heritage in addition to areas of less localised interest through the Classical repertoire that we curate.