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Sheet music in Amsterdam

Within walking distance from Amsterdam's Amstel Metro and train station is a music book store that has an interesting history.

The owner started 40 years ago by paying three times what paper collectors would pay for newspapers and other bulk paper trash. This was how he got the collectors to siphon out the music books and music scores that Amsterdam residents threw out. His brother owned the famous Van Poppel music book store in the Museum District. But he started from scratch.

Muziekbeurs has both new and old published sheet music. However, the second-hand ones are in such good condition that it's hard to believe they've been used. Indeed, it's the organisation of music by instrument and composer that makes this store a worthwhile visit. The father and son team are also very knowledgeable about music. If one edition is out, they can easily find another.

I went there the first time last year searching for duo music for piano and guitar and violin. The son took me downstairs where the second-hand music scores were arranged in logical order. I was amazed at the unmarked condition of the piano parts. He explained that most of these were owned by violinists, whose own parts were heavily marked.

Today I visited again, in search of piano cello duos. To make life easier, the son suggested printing out everything he had. I soon found a sicilienne by Rodrigo as well as tangos by Piazzolla. Some arrangements were extremely expensive. The owner (the father) explained that it was due to the scarcity of print -- few copies were published.

Compared to the Archive Bookstore in London (Bell Street near Marylebone Station), the sheet music here was far more expensive. The reason? there's so much more work involved in finding and organising the scores. At the Archive Bookstore, it's a scavenger hunt -- be prepared to spend hours in the dusty basement. For the time-challenged sheet music seeker with money to spend, Muziekbeurs is the place to go.

23 October 2002 Wednesday

Muziekbeurs "Amsterdam"
1079 TV Amsterdam
Trompenburgstraat 111
Tel: +31 20 644 5767
Fax: +31 20 642 7528
Searching for sheet music
Conservatories in Netherlands
Not everything is on the Web, as the free sheet music guide suggests. There's a lot of stuff offline - such as music libraries.
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