Free Classical Music Online - Try "Music" + "Utopia"

I believe that the origin of the term "Mutopia" in The Mutopia Project's name is "Music" + "Utopia." If I had my way, however, it would be "Muphoria," because my discovery of this resource put me on Cloud 9, and started me on my way to finding many other such resources.

In short, The Mutopia Project is a collection of more than 1,400 pieces of sheet music (with more coming all the time) that are free for you to download, print, perform, record, or even create your own editions. Put it this way: if you can find what you want in Mutopia, you will never need to go into a music store again.

They could have just as easily called it "Music To Your Wallet." But I don't suppose "Muwallet" makes any sense.

Using Mutopia is very simple. You can browse by composer, instrument group, style, or selected compilations. Or, you can use the handy little search box and search for a piece by name.

When you get to the piece you're looking for, you'll see a table, which contains links by which you can download scores in letter or A4 size, midis, or click to various kinds of additional information. Download is super easy; click on the letter or A4 links and the score loads in Adobe Reader. Print, and there you are!

Now, there are a lot of other places to get free music out here on the Wild Wild Web. A lot of those places are built on ripping off composers, arrangers, artists, and every other type of musician. I don't support that (I am a composer and arranger, after all), and neither does Mutopia.

Every piece on Mutopia has to come up to the company standard -- if it's from the classical period, it has to be from a public domain edition (that is, it has to have been written before 1923, and not only the composer but the lyricist, editor, and arranger would have to have been dead for 70 years). Mutopia's contributors tell Mutopia what sources they are transcribing from to avoid all copyright infringement issues.

As for quality, Mutopia has both transcribers and proofreaders working on their selections; it is highly unlikely that you will find Mozart's K. 545 Piano Sonata in C showing up in D on this site . . .

If something doesn't meet Mutopia's standard, copyright-wise or quality-wise, it just doesn't get on the site. And Mutopia has a reason to mind the details. Mutopia Publishing, which runs the project, does actually sell some music, and it would be putting its own bigger business at risk with sloppiness on copyright or quality issues.

Right now, Mutopia's selections tend toward smaller pieces than large ones. This is probably due to their transcribers and proofreaders being volunteers, and perhaps doing what they do for Mutopia on the time they have left over after earning a living. Therefore you will find an abundance of art songs, hymns, and single-movement-type pieces for kdyboard, guitar, chorus, and orchestra. In the keyboard area, J.S. Bach is particularly well represented.

If you need the complete symphonies of Beethoven, Mutopia doesn't yet have that. But, you can get Beethoven's Violin Concerto, in a separate download for each of its three movements. You can get (thus far) the first two movements of his Fifth and Seventh Symphonies, and several of his overtures.

You can't yet get Handel's Messiah, but you can get the "Hallelujah" Chorus for choir and orchestra.

Living composers have growing representation here as well, so if you see something you don't recognize, have a listen to the MIDI files available with each piece.

And et cetera. Perhaps the music stores won't be completely shut down by The Mutopia Project just yet, but if you take a look at their In Progress page, you'll see that many things that are missing from that complete set of things by your favorite composer are on their way.

And, if you have some time on your hands, you could help the process along.

Mutopia welcomes contributions of classical music transcriptions or new arrangements so long as the music was composed before 1923, the composer, lyricist, arranger,and editor of the manuscript from which you work have all been dead for 70 years, and no one else at Mutopia is working on the same piece.

If you have new music, Mutopia will be delighted to have you on board for free (but you would have to donate your works into the public domain, so be wise!), and you can also contact them about being included in their paid offerings.

You'll also need to download LilyPond, a sheet music typesetting program, in order to make your sheet music viewable at Mutopia. LilyPond -- particularly its latest versions -- puts forward sheet music that looks very like the old classical engraving style, so the aesthetic pleasure is high.

However, LilyPond will take just a bit of getting used to if you're familiar with Finale or Sibelius' typesetting programs. But, a discussion of that would require a separate lens. But, on LilyPond's site there is a nice tutorial to help with the learning curve.

One more thing about LilyPond . . . if perchance you have fragments of music in a large database, LilyPond can be set up to convert an entire database automatically. Just a thought for all you heavy duty music researchers out there.

Now, this possibilities for the use of this music are endless. If you are a music educator, and you'd like to introduce your students to a wide cross section of classical music without breaking the bank, you could either compile your own book or give your students links at Mutopia to download their own copies.

If you are a performer, you could download scores, make lots of concert dates (venues like public domain music too) and recordings without having to deal with the complications of figuring out who to pay royalties to, and what royalties exactly.

If you are a composer or arranger, the free food for your creativity at Mutopia would be immense. It is amazing how many popular tunes are re-mixed from classical and baroque melodies.

If you are a researcher, you can download music and cite as much as you like without fear of running afoul of fair use issues. You can also make handy compilations. Mutopia will send you the LilyPond source files if you want to edit the music to your own needs.

Obviously, if you are even the least bit business-savvy, you can find money to be made from Mutopia's resources . . .

By the way, Mutopia is not the only public domain music resource, though it probably offers the most possibilities from one spot. There are many other excellent public domain music spots, but Mutopia is a good place to start.

Deeann D. Mathews is the Creative Director of Praising Pilgrims Music, which has just released The Freedom Guide for Music Creators. More public domain music resources are linked to on the sample page of this book, at (that's also a good place to get ideas on how to make money from your finds at public domain sites). An even bigger list of public domain and free music is available in the "Web resources" section of The Free HIMbook, at