Sheet Music Collection
The John Bassett Memorial Library Sheet Music Collection
Over the years, the library has received several early 20th century sheet music collections from local donors. These works are now available digitally through our online catalogue.
Searching the Collection
Browse and select from the following categories (and many more) in our catalogue:
- Art songs
- Motion picture music excerpts
- Musical excerpts
- Opera excerpts
- Popular music
- Sacred songs
Click on the thumbnail images for enlarged displays of the cover art.
- Much of this collection is in the public domain in Canada and can be downloaded online through the catalogue for educational and research purposes. (If outside Canada, please obey your own country’s copyright laws. The Library assumes no responsibility or liability if these titles are downloaded illegally).
- Click on the title for more information on each piece, then on the link beside “View sheet music” for full-text (if available).
- Works not in the public domain in Canada may be borrowed for use inside the library: inquire for these at the Circulation Desk.
About the Collection
Primarily popular songs and international in scope, the collection reveals social history and public interests of the time with prominent themes such as the First World War, patriotism, exotic lands, and romance.
American music heavily influenced popular tastes in Canada then as today, and there are many excerpts from early musicals represented here. Works by Carrie Jacobs-Bond, one of the first popular American women composers to achieve international success, are included. One of her songs sold 8 million copies and 5 million recordings worldwide in 1910 (Fox, 2013): A perfect day became the second selection from the official song book for performance on the doomed ocean liner Titanic (R.M.S. Titanic, 2013).
Some Canadian pieces with local connections to the Eastern Townships can also be found: songs by bass singer Eugene Cowles, born in Stanstead, Quebec, who performed at the inauguration of the Haskell Opera House in 1904 (Potvin, 2013) and works by Albert Ham, recipient of an honorary DCL from Bishop’s University in 1933.
Colourful cover art by illustrators such as Albert Barbelle, Oscar Brandstetter, and Lionel S. Reiss, helped sell early sheet music, and fine examples of their work and other artists can be viewed in the collection.
Many thanks to all those who have contributed to this collection.
Fox, P. (2013). Bond [Jacobs-Bond], Carrie. Retrieved from: www.oxfordmusiconline.com
Potvin, G. (2013). Haskell Opera House/Opéra Haskell. Retrieved from:
R.M.S. Titanic: White Star Line song book: 1912 R.M.S. Titanic Liverpool. Retrieved from: www.statekmarzen.fora.pl/muzyka,13/white-star-line-song-book-1912-r-m-s-titanic-liverpool,522.html