Good source for scores?

Can anyone recommend a good source for classical and film scores? I want to analyze them so I would like them as true to the original as possible. I did some searching but the sites are often geared to colleges or just plain bad…

Of course you have imslp, but it’s only for public domain scores. Biggest source I know though.

Except for arrangements of the popular tunes from modern blockbusters, film scores are hard to come by. Many scores from the “classic” era of Hollywood (before computer notation software existed) were simply thrown away as scrap paper after they had been recorded, since nobody was ever going to play them again.

If copies or sketches still exist somewhere, nobody knows where. A few have been reconstructed by transcribing the audio.

You can take a look at
for a limited number of (somewhat expensive) film scores.

It depends what one wants to pay. Omni Music Publishing has been bringing out editions (with some – not enough – critical commentary) of film scores. Most of them are recent stuff that doesn’t interest me, but I did spring for The Wizard of Oz and North by Northwest.

[I guess I didn’t refresh before posting, and so missed that **Derrek** had said basically the same thing just before me.]

So weird that didn’t come up in my Google search


For “classical,” almost anything published by Boosey & Hawkes can be studied on their perusal site:

Schirmer, Novello, etc have their perusals on Issuu “ScoresOnDemand” here:

Obviously you can’t download the perusal scores (unless screenshot) but they are good references for studying orchestration (and engraving too).

While we’re on the subject, what’s the best source for public domain musicxml files of classical scores that are importable into Dorico (and played back using Note Performer, etc.?)

  • D.D.

There have been a few attempts to set up “open source” libraries of music scores. None of them have got very far. Either the number of contributors remained tiny (the Mutopia project based on Lilypond has only accumulated about 2000 scores in 20 years) or the quality control is terrible (e.g. parts of the CPDL library, or even worse, MuseScore - try finding any useful content buried under a quarter of a million pieces of junk!).

Musescore started a separate “OpenScore” kickstarter project to “liberate classical music scores” (with the first 100 scores to be liberated chosen by the people who funded the project) but after three years they have completed just 15.

The bottom line IMO is that everybody thinks it’s a good idea so long as other people do the hard work!

Many classical film scores from the Hollywood golden era are sadly lost … studios just threw them out to make space.

Fortunately in recent years people have become more aware of the value of preserving film scores. Most of those are still in copyright so there are legal issues with making them available to the public, which have to be addressed before they can be published.

That said, Omni Publishing is a terrific resource, and it is a company which is essentially run by one guy, Tim Rodier. Yes they are expensive but the market for film scores is pretty small, and the amount of work turning often handwritten and incomplete manuscript into publishable material is enormous. They just released “How to Train Your Dragon”, an absolutely delightful score by John Powell to an equally enjoyable animated movie.

Another terrific resource is Hal Leonard, which is the official publisher of John Williams. Expensive but beautifully engraved in large format.

Keep in mind that the soundtrack for the movie isn’t necessarily the same as the soundtrack as released on CD or other media or published. It’s not unusual for cues to be scratched or replaced or recorded differently from the printed scores and parts, decisions being made on the fly during the recording session to leave out instruments, have sections play different dynamics or using different techniques, etc.

In other words, you’d have to rent the DVD of the movie even to get close. :laughing:

Here’s a source for Victor Young Scores.

The website from the New York Philharmonic. You can see all the scores. You can not download them but the scans are really sharp with annotations from the conductors.

It really goes back in the time. From the start of the Phil I think. It is an amazing source.


Thanks for that! In fact, that being page 2, there are maybe 40 more scores on the previous page. (These look like cleaned-up copyist’s short scores for archive deposit.)

I think with Sibelius.


No, large-scale orchestral and band publications from Hal Leonard in the United States are produced in Finale.

In the early 1980s I worked with someone who used too scour skips for electronic equipment he could re-use. One night, behind a film company’s office, he found a load of parts for a film soundtrack by Lalo Schfin - if I remember correctly they were for the ballroom dance scenes in Titanic but I could be wrong. I don’t remember him finding a score though.

I would love to check out his scores! I had a little west coast tour last year and he came to one of the LA gigs, so it was pretty cool to get to meet him and briefly hang out. Here’s Lalo holding court backstage after the gig with Don Cheadle and Christian McBride: