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The Rare Collections of the Music Library are diverse in both content and origin. Though the Conservatorium was founded in 1891, there was no library at all until 1908, and for many years members of the teaching staff provided music for their students ad hoc. Some of these items are still with the library, augmented by numerous donations and purchases over the past century.

The manuscripts are chiefly of works by Australian composers from the colonial period to the present day, while the printed music includes many early and rare editions of European composers from Corelli to Stravinsky. Among both the musical scores and the smaller collection of books on musical topics there are many unusual and obscure items.

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