About this Collection

A database of over 18,000 shows and productions dating from the 1690s to the present, containing more than 67,000 songs. These pieces come from all over the world and cover every conceivable topic, portraying the culture and history of their time and place in unique and valuable ways.

Cover from "A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody," by Irving Berlin [cover image by Henry Clive]. Ziegfeld Follies, 1919.

Received through Copyright deposit, gifts, and purchase, Library of Congress musical theater holdings range from rare opera excerpts of the late 17th century, through the popular music boom of the 19th century, to US Copyright deposits from all over the world. Most of the music is written for voice and piano; a significant minority is instrumental.

Included in this database are hits and flops by famous Tin Pan Alley songwriters, as well as manuscript and published materials from amateur composers. Rare and special items include early operas; music published in newspapers; lead sheets and other unpublished formats of musical and film music; college and civic productions; and shows produced in Europe between the two World Wars. This dynamic form is still popular in the 21st century, and additions will be made to this page as relevant sheet music is acquired by the Library.

The Library of Congress has vast holdings of dramatic music of all kinds, including operas, musicals and musical revues, and film music. Sheet music excerpts from these works have been published for over 300 years.

Please Note: It's Showtime! contains only pieces found under Library of Congress Classification of M1508. Therefore, it does not contain information about all of the theater music available either in the Performing Arts Encyclopedia or in the Library's collections.