top of page
Ton Koopman .HR. © Foppe Schut _S222650.jpg

The library of Ton Koopman

Ton Koopman is one of the Dutch Early Music pioneers. The Early Music-movement started in the 60’s and 70’s with musicians who were questioning the way music of the 17th and 18th centuries was performed. They started researching sources of the period to discover fundamental aspects of perfomance practice: On what instruments did they play back then? How were these instruments tuned? What was the size and set-up of choirs and orchestras? How did musicians play together, how did they articulate? How did they play trills and other diminutions?

From his student days until now Ton Koopman has been studying and reading 17th and 18th century sources about music and applies what he has learned as a performing musician. His library serves as a base for his performance practice. As a true bibliophile and collector Koopman not only wants to read the treatises by Mattheson, Quantz, Praetorius, Mersenne and many others, but he also wants to own the original prints. Not only the treatises of course, but also those beautifully engraved 17th century French scores, rare Dutch songbooks with their playful illustrations, first Handel editions, that important work on organ building, etc. 


Since the start of his career Koopman has combined gathering information on performance practice with collecting beautiful books. Over a period of 50 years, he has built up this collection with a lot of money, love, collector’s instinct and a true Dutch merchant spirit. As a musician he has been travelling frequently since the 70’s and thus has become a regular guest at a variety of antiquarian book shops all over Europe. The result is a wonderful library that is focused on music from 1600 to 1800.

In 2020 Ton Koopman has sold his collection to the Orpheus Institute in Ghent. In this way his precious and important collection will be kept together and it will be made accessible for new generations of musicians, musicologists and researchers.

More on the Koopman-collection at the Orpheus Institute can be found here:
Orpheus Instituut Library


The collection is the subject of the research group Resounding Libraries, on which you can read more here:
Orpheus Instituut Resounding Libraries

Ton Koopman Library in Ghent

Besides the unique collection of manuscripts and early prints, Koopman has also collected a reference library on 17th and 18th century music in a broad cultural context. Bach and other composers of the Baroque era are the main subject but there is also a wide variety of literature on keyboard- and other instruments, art books, letters, biographies, ‘Festschriften’, symposium proceedings, books on local history, and music periodicals.

Vast collection

bottom of page