Collecting · Exploring · Preserving

As the most comprehensive Bach collection anywhere, the library features a matchless array of original Bach sources, manuscripts, rare books, and early editions.

P1010155_bearb2.jpgThe remains of the old St Thomas's School Library constitute its oldest part. Next to the State Library in Berlin it contains the largest collection of original Bach sources in the world, among them forty-four sets of original performing parts from the composer’s second Leipzig cantata cycle of 1724–25, the so-called chorale cantatas.

The extensive holdings of music and literature on music from the 16th century up to the present are complemented by photocopies of Bach sources scattered throughout the world, audio recordings, graphic art in addition to coins, medals, sculptures, press cuttings, films, slides, and many other items.


The library systematically expands its collections by acquiring all relevant current publications and recordings as well as, whenever possible, rare materials on the antiquarian market. An electronic catalogue provides manifold access points to the various collections.


Sheet music

  • works by J. S. Bach, his sons and contemporaries in:

    - handwritings and autographs

    - first and early editions

    - critical complete editions

    - practical editions

  • hymnbooks from the 17th and 18th century


Music literature and scholarly Bach literature

  • important textbooks and reference works on music theory
  • music encyclopaedias and standard works on the life and works of J.S. Bach and his sons
  • literary studies and poetry by authors of the words used in Bach's composition
  • music journals
  • letters
  • theological works


Audio recordings

  • CDs, LPs und DVDs with recordings of works by J. S. Bach, members of his family, Thomaskantors in the 17th and 18th century and selected works by Bach's contemporaries



  • images of J. S. Bach, his family and contemporaries
  • views of Leipzig and the places where Bach lived and worked in a wide range of graphic techniques (17th-20th centuries)



  • rolls of 35mm film, negatives and slides on the life and works of J.S. Bach, his family and contemporaries
  • photographs of Bach events since 1950


Programmes, posters and newspaper cuttings

  • programmes and festival brochures from Germany and abroad since 1950 focusing in particular on programmes documenting performances by St Thomas's Choir and the Gewandhaus Orchestra
  • German-language press reports from Germany and abroad on J. S. Bach and his family


Coins and medals, busts and sculptures