Online sheet music for ballet
Ballet music and music for ballet classes is a specialist repertoire that is hard to find in general music stores. But many of the most famous ballet scores such as Swan Lake, Giselle, The Nutcracker and Coppélia are free to download and print because they are out of copyright.
There are many sites that have free classical music that you can use in ballet classes. We’ve put together a list of some of the best sites, with direct links to the most famous ballet scores.
IMSLP has more than 250,000 scores that you download for free and more music is uploaded every day – so check back if you can’t find what you need. You can search and browse the site by composer, style, genre, period, nationality and many other ways. There are full orchestral scores and parts for many works, as well as piano solo and chamber music. Below are a few useful direct links to ballet scores:
Notes: The 1895 version is in the order most people know today, and includes the female solos for white and black swan pas deux. This is in Act 1 in 1877, and Act 3 in 1895. But the 1877 score linked above also includes the music for Balanchine‘s Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux and the full Danse Russe (from the current RAD Grade 8) as an appendix.
There are two versions here:
- Tchaikovsky’s original piano score, the one you are probably familiar with already
- Taneev’s version of the piano score. Much harder than Tchaikovsky’s but has a lot more detail that is useful, especially in the snow pas de deux, for example.
- Coppélia (Léo Delibes)
- Don Quixote (Ludwig Minkus)
- Giselle (Adolphe Adam)
- La Source (Act I and Act III only, Ludwig Minkus)
- La Sylphide (Løvenskiold)
- Les Sylphides (This is a list of the works used in Les Sylphides from Wikipedia. There is no public domain score of the ballet in a single volume, but you can find the individual pieces from IMSLP by using this list.)
Other sites, other scores
The Royal Library in Denmark
A large collection of 18th & 19th century ballet scores, including some of the Bournonville ballets. Useful direct links:
- A Folktale (partial piano score)
- Selection from various Danish or Nordic ballets (Includes the tarantella from Napoli.)
The American Memory Collection at the Library of Congress
This has thousands of pieces of sheet music from 1820–1860 & 1870–1885. A few pieces of ballet music, but hundreds of scores of waltzes, polkas, mazurkas, and other pieces that are useful for setting dances, or for using in class.
The Sibley Music Library (University of Rochester)
Several ballet scores, including ten by Cesare Pugni.
This site is in Russian, but you can use Google Translate to help you navigate the large library of ballet music, and music suitable for classes.
- Direct link to the music library area (‘Klaviri’ is where you will find piano scores of complete ballets).
Terms used on music sites
Many of the sites above offer music in several different formats. If you are not a musician and are looking for a score to give to a pianist, make sure you get the right one. The list below explains some of the terms you will find when searching for music.
- Piano, two hands, solo piano,or piano reduction.
What you will need most of the time. A piano reduction is an arrangement of an orchestral score, or other multi-instrument piece, made into something that can be played on the piano. In the case of an opera or musical this is known as a vocal score.
- Piano, four hands or piano duet
For two pianists at one piano – not to be confused with music for two pianos. Not much use, unless you have two pianists, or two pianos – but better than nothing.
- Full score
A conductor’s score, showing what every instrument in the orchestra is playing at any time.
- Score and parts
A full score and all the separate parts for each member of the orchestra (flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn etc.).
- Study score
A full score in miniature, also called miniature scores. Used by students, or for people who want to follow the score as they listen to a piece of music.
An arrangement of a ballet score for two violins, common in the 19th century. Very rare, but important to know what it means when you see it.
Finally, in the case of ballet scores, look carefully to see whether the score is called ‘complete ballet’, ‘suite’, or ‘selections from…’
Notes about copyright
- Copyright expires when the composer has been dead for more than 70 years. Depending where you live, that period may be longer or shorter. Be suspicious if a site offers you copyright works for free: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- Public domain or ‘in the public domain’ is another term for ‘out of copyright’. Just because something has been made ‘public’ on the web does not necessarily mean that it is in the public domain.
- Disputes over the copyright status of individual works can put them in or out of copyright at different times.
- Download at your own risk: copyright laws vary from country to country, and we cannot guarantee the status of every work that you will find on another site.