Skip to main content

16th and 17th Century Music Treatises: Home


The Conservatory Library's special collections include a number of rare printed items from the 16th and 17th centuries.

Drawn primarily from the Frederick R. Selch Collection of American Music History, the materials highlighted here represent some of the most influential writings in the history of Western musical thought.

They include foundational texts relating to organology and music theory, along with important works on the philosophy and iconography of music.

16th Century Treatises

In 1511, Sebastian Virdung published his Musica getutscht [ML171 .V5 1931: facsimile], which was the first printed work in the west dealing exclusively with musical instruments.  The work sought to provide basic instruction for playing instruments used for art music in German-speaking lands at the turn of the sixteenth century.  It proved to be highly influential, inspiring several translations and adaptations, including the following two items:

17th Century Treatises

Contact Conservatory Special Collections

Special Collections
Oberlin Conservatory Library
77 West College Street Oberlin
OH 44074-1588

Reading Room Hours: by appointment


Request an item from Conservatory Special Collections