Comparisons between continental and British music libraries on the one hand and British and American on the other give evidence of the richness of Great Britain in the field of old printed music. Even here there is little realization or adequate means of knowing the extent of this wealth. Not that the older catalogues of the continent, especially in Italy, Austria, Germany, and France, or the newer ones of America, are much better, more consistent, or up to date than the British, although they are probably more numerous. On the whole the music libraries abroad are, however, better known—at least in their own countries. In this connexion we are not so much concerned with national music as with great music of all nations; the extent of the latter only is open to comparison. No difficulty would arise in gaining knowledge of a nation's accumulation of incunabula, collected in the general and the special libraries: there are lists proudly showing the national wealth in this sphere, and the British catalogues of incunabula are, perhaps, the best in the world. But it is nearly impossible to get, from the few existing printed music catalogues, exact knowledge about the distribution of rare music. The enterprise of R. Eitner, about 1900, in publishing single‐handed in ten volumes a world catalogue of old music partially failed because for the most part he undertook the task of collecting his titles by correspondence. He was handicapped also by the fact that the best catalogues were published only after he had completed his work. His references to music in Britain were collected without visiting the libraries and are very incomplete.
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