John Sullivan Dwight founded the Harvard Musical Association in 1837. Intended on one hand to provide a forum for musical conviviality, the Association was endowed from its infancy with loftier goals as well: “…the promotion of musical taste and science at the University…to enrich the walls of Harvard with a complete musical library…and to prepare the way for regular music instruction at the College.”
By 1843, Harvard Musical Association had a music library that The Salem Register lauded as “the largest, the best, and the only Musical Library in the country.” Situated in a variety of locations, including an alcove within the Boston Athenæum, it continued to grow through purchases and donations until it became incumbent upon the Association to find a permanent home for a collection, which by the 1880s totaled about 2,600 volumes. In 1892, HMA acquired the Greenough house on Beacon Hill, where the collection has grown to 15,000 volumes (including 2,500 not held by other libraries). Still noted for the richness of its holdings of chamber music, opera, two piano, and Americana, the library is open to musicians and scholars for research weekdays from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. HMA will be closed the months of July and August.
The catalog of the Association is available through OCLC using the initials HVDMA.