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Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut
Preussischer Kulturbesitz

Three gables

Audio library

The Magic Labyrinth(© IAI)
The Magic Labyrinth

The collection reflects the diverse range of music in Latin America, the Caribbean, Spain and Portugal. It comprises recordings of various genres (such as tango, salsa, merengue, samba,   ska, calypso, son, fado, flamenco, pop, rock, mariachi, vallenato, waltz, corridos, Latin-jazz, reggae, art music, children’s songs), audio clips of writers and politicians, audio books, sounds from nature, ethnographic recordings, and language courses, on various media ranging from shellac records to CDs. The audio library’s holdings contain around 22,100 LPs, 2,100 singles, 1,600 shellac records, 13.200 CDs, 1,800 cassettes and 700 open-reel tapes. The majority of these items can be accessed in the online catalog by entering the keyword “audio media”.  Musical scores are not part of the audio library, but they are available for loan from the IAI library browsing the online catalogue.

Folkways Records

Folkways Records (New York) was founded in 1948 with the aim of documenting sounds from around the world and bringing them to a wide audience.
The label produced recordings of music and natural sounds, as well as making audio clips of social and political events. Long before “world music” became an established genre, Folkways Records was releasing music by musicians and artists from across the globe who mainly worked in non-commercial sectors and had previously received little attention. In 1987 the Smithsonian Institution bought the label (today known as: Smithsonian Folkways)
The IAI audio library contains 234 audio recordings produced by Folkways Records. The collection mainly consists of rare LPs featuring recordings from Latin America from the 1960s and 1970s.

Ibero-American art music

Art music – or “classical music” – is a term generally used to refer to music with complex structures shaped by European traditions, which was composed for orchestras or soloists. This genres also includes the “art song” and church music.
The audio library of the Ibero-American Institute (IAI) features over 4,000 recordings of renowned orchestras and soloists, mainly from Latin America and Spain.

The Egon Ludwig collection

The self-taught musicologist and collector Egon Ludwig (1938-2007) amassed one of the largest private collections of music from Latin America in the German-speaking world. He acquired almost 10,000 audio recordings during numerous trips to Latin America, in particular in Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Paraguay.
Ludwig passed on his knowledge of Latin America music in programs on GDR radio and in articles published in periodicals and newspapers in both the GDR and Latin America (mainly in ABC Color). He also compiled two lexicons: “Música Latinoamericana. Lexikon der lateinamerikanischen Volks- und Populärmusik” (Lexikon Imprint Verlag, Berlin 2001, 710 pages) and “Tango-Lexikon: der Tango rioplatense. Fakten und Figuren des berühmten lateinamerikanischen Tanzes” (Lexikon Imprint Verlag, Berlin 2002, 701 pages).

Shellac records

The audio library’s collection of historical shellac records comprises around 1,600 records dating from 1903 to 1950, including the library’s oldest audio recording of a tango piece from 1903 entitled “El Choclo”. The song “El Choclo” (The Corn Cob) was composed around 1900 and premiered by an orchestra conducted by José Luis Roncallo (1875-1954) in 1903 in Buenos Aires.

Guitar music

The guitar has influenced the musical cultures of Latin America and the Caribbean more than any other European instrument. The audio library of the Ibero-American Institute (IAI) contains almost 1,500 audio recordings of guitar music from Latin America, the Caribbean, Spain and Portugal. The collection particularly features Spanish flamenco and Portuguese fado music.


Tango originated in Argentina and Uruguay in the 19th century and was shaped by various Latin American, Western European and African musical styles. As vocal or instrumental music imbued with the “soul of the bandoneon”, tango gradually evolved into an art music form and made its way into concert halls where it was performed by large orchestras. The audio library of the Ibero-American Institute (IAI) comprises some 1,200 tango recordings, making it a focal point of the collection. The recordings range from classical tango to modern tango, which is influenced by jazz, among other genres.

Terms of use

Audio media are generally non-circulating and may not be taken off the IAI’s premises. However, it is possible to make recordings if you require copies for research purposes. The request form can be downloaded here. If you wish to listen to audio media, please make an appointment in advance. Requests for copies may also be submitted to the circulation desk. Please provide a blank digital audio CD(s) or a USB Flash drive for the recording.


Consultation hours:

Monday 2 p.m. - 4 p.m

Tuesday 10 a.m. - 12 noon

Wednesday: 3 p.m. - 5 p.m. (virtually)

Thursday, Friday: 10 a.m. - 12 noon

Contacts:Matthias Neumann

Telephone:Tel.:  +49 30 266 45 3120

Correo electrónico:colecciones@iai.spk-berlin.de 

2021 || Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut Preussischer Kulturbesitz