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Smithsonian Folkways Recordings gives new life to the UNESCO Collection of Traditional Music of the World

The UNESCO Collection of Traditional Music of the World, a pioneering effort for more than five decades to make the world’s musical heritage more widely known and appreciated, takes on new life with the release by Smithsonian Folkways Recordings of more than 100 albums spanning more than 70 nations on every continent. Twelve previously unreleased albums are available on CD, digital download, streaming services, and library subscription from the Smithsonian Folkways website and all major music retailers worldwide.

Beginning on April 29, 2014, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings will release two albums per week, publishing an in-depth article about the newest releases as well as free, full-album streams to allow as much access as possible for these rare and influential recordings.

The newly released titles, that join more than a hundred previously published, include:


  • Afghanistan: Music during the Civil War (1979–2001)
  • Fiji: Songs of Love and Homeland—String Band Music
  • Japan: Koishimaru Izutsuya: Master of the Kawachi Ondo Epics
  • Oman: Arabian Weddings
  • Peru: Andean Music of Life, Work, and Celebration
  • Portugal: Festas in Minh
  • Portugal: Music and Dance from Madeira
  • Romania: Festive Music from the Maramureş Region
  • South India: Ranganayaki Rajagopalan—Continuity in the Karaikudi Vīṇā Style
  • Uzbekistan: Echoes of Vanished Courts
  • Uzbekistan: Musical Traditions of the Karakalpaks
  • Venezuela: Afro-Venezuelan Music, volumes I and II

The release of the 12 new titles was saluted by UNESCO’s Cécile Duvelle, Chief of the Section for Intangible Cultural Heritage, who said, “This strategic partnership with Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, the preeminent publisher of the world’s musical heritage, makes it possible for these important recordings to reach eager audiences.”

The new titles, like their predecessors, are in situ field recordings of musical expressions in their community context. The recordings are accompanied by scholarly annotations and photographs. The Collection is a reflection of the immense variety of music making and of the position music holds within cultures around the globe. 

The UNESCO Collection was launched in 1961 in collaboration with ethnomusicologist Alain Daniélou (1907-1994) and the International Music Council (created by UNESCO in 1949). Later, the International Institute for Comparative Music Studies and Documentation and the International Council for Traditional Music collaborated with UNESCO as the Collection grew.

The partnership established between UNESCO and the Smithsonian Institution in 2009 is aimed at supporting cultural diversity and increasing understanding among peoples through the documentation, preservation, and dissemination of sound and video recordings and educational materials related to intangible cultural heritage and its practice.

For more information please contact Edmond Moukala (ich_com(at) for UNESCO and Richard Burgess (BurgessR(at) or David Horgan (HorganD(at) at Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.