About the SAMRO Archive
The SAMRO Music Archive in Johannesburg is one of the largest resources of Southern African music in the world. It holds a comprehensive collection of Southern Africa’s musical heritage which is significant to music educators, learners, researchers, authors, academics, musicians, as well as music users. Since 1962, SAMRO collected music manuscripts of composers as part of music copyright registration. To date there are over 64 500 music scores across different genres. In addition, there is a large collection of publications of music scores and research journals, photographs as well as audio-visual collection.
The archive’s audio-visual collection includes vinyls, cassette tapes, video cassettes, and CDs. These materials contain recording of works by South African composers including some SAMRO commissioned works as well as interviews.
We also have a comprehensive collection of photographs of SAMRO composer members, staff, events, instruments etc. This includes negatives, individual photos, framed photos and posters. Over 1500 of the photographic collection has been indexed on the database and in addition, there is a collection of digital photographs of composers and SAMRO events.
Our shelves hold a large collection of research material which includes books, journals, articles, newspaper cuttings/clips, as well as publications. Publications include music, arts and entertainment magazines as well as SAMRO scores publications.
We also have a number of original paintings of important music-related artworks, including Velaphi Mzimba’s portrait of Zulu Princess Magogo , of Maggie Laubser and contemporary artists like Pat Mautloa. SAMRO Music Archive holds a collection of indigenous African music instruments. Among other significant African instruments are; Kudu Horn, Mbira, African Drum (Ngoma), and rattles.
South African Music Commissions
The SAMRO Foundation, through its SAMRO Music Archive Commissions Committee, has commissioned more than 400 new works since 1962, spanning genres such as Jazz/Popular, Western Art and
The SAMRO Music Archive has published the following volumes of music which are availabe for purchase from the archive:
- SAMRO Music Scores for Young Children : In 2010, the SAMRO Foundation commissioned 20 emerging South African composers to write musical works, aimed at young instrument players up to Grade 6 level. More than 10 new compositions resulting from this project have been published in volumes of music scores for various instruments, with the purpose of encouraging young South African musicians to perform new works by local composers.
- South Africa Sings: The SAMRO Music Archive has published three volumes of the choral music booklet South Africa Sings since 1996. This highly regarded publication features popular traditional choral repertoire reproduced in dual notation – i.e. both tonic sol-fa and staff notation.
The SAMRO Foundation is custodian of the following historically significant
archival collections, including:
Carstens De Waal Collection
Boeremusiek and “Afrikwela” pioneer Nico Carstens has a number of compositions to his credit, many in partnership with longtime collaborator Anton de Waal (aka George Charles Gunn). Their most famous song, Zambezi, became a worldwide hit and was recorded by artists such as The Shadows, Chet Atkins and Floyd Cramer. This collection consists of many handwritten scores; De Waal also bequeathed a portion of his royalty income to the SAMRO Foundation, benefiting participants in its overseas scholarships competition.
Dr Yvonne Huskisson Collection
This collection consists of the photographs, biographies and music scores used to
compile a comprehensive book about black composers during the apartheid era. The
book and its reference material are available from the SAMRO Foundation for research purposes. It was first published as The Bantu Composers of Southern Africa by Yvonne Huskisson (1983) and subsequently, in 1992, as Black Composers of Southern Africa: An Expanded Supplement to The Bantu Composers of Southern Africa.
National Anthem Collection
This collection consists of historical papers and reference material donated by two
SAMRO board members, Prof Mzilikazi Khumalo (since retired) and Prof Jeanne Zaidel-Rudolph, who were members of the National Anthem Committee commissioned by former President Nelson Mandela to create the democracy-era South African national anthem.
Gerard Sekoto Collection
The late Gerard Sekoto, one of South Africa’s most highly regarded visual artists, was also a gifted musician and composer. His original scores were donated to the SAMRO Foundation by the Sekoto Foundation, in a partnership aimed at preserving and popularising his musical oeuvre. Two original Sekoto compositions received their public premiere during the 2014 SAMRO Overseas Scholarships Competition.