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Systems For Cataloging Classical Music

Here, The Muse Of Music explores the subject of music cataloging and provides an extensive list of composers, catalogers, and music catalogs.


Access the Classical composer Catalogs index now

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about this feature

Many classical music composers have attracted so much attention and have written so much music that individual musicologists have been willing to devote considerable time and energy to creating exhaustive lists of their works and to classifying them in catalogs. Some of these musicologists have devoted their entire careers to this noble endeavor.

This feature explains the nature of these classical music catalogs, how they work, and what they are designed to accomplish. It shows you how to use them. It outlines their benefits for everyone from the casual music lover to the professional  or amateur musician to the music scholar. It explains why catalogs are important, describes a few of the difficulties and complexities inherent in the cataloging process, and strikes a well-deserved note of appreciation for the important contributions to music that have been made by the unsung few who have risen to the challenge of creating a music catalog.

So many of these catalogs have been produced over the years that sometimes it becomes difficult to identify which catalogs are available for a particular composer or which catalogs have been created by a particular cataloger. As the field of classical music advances, new catalogs are being produced all the time, compounding these difficulties.

This feature attempts to rectify this situation by offering a list of hundreds of classical music composers, catalogs, catalogers, and catalog identifier codes used by musicians, music lovers, musicologists, critics, connoisseurs, and scholars.

This feature also provides access to other web sites where you can find additional classical music catalogs. These sites also offer all sorts of other kinds of information about composers and compositions: works, biographies, musical histories, photos, sound samples, diskographies, sheet music, midi music, etc., as well as information about catalogs, catalogers, musical societies, and classical music in general.

Why catalogs for classical music?

Scholars and musicians are not the only (or even the primary) consumers of the information contained in classical music catalogs. The matic catalogs are the major source of the information about composers and their works that is promulgated to the public, as well. Catalogs are normally quoted when a piece of classical music is broadcast on the radio or played in a concert hall. This information is rarely omitted from the typical printed musical program distributed at a classical concert performance.

In such cases, it is common practice to cite the name of the catalog from which the information about a composer or a work is extracted; the cataloger's name or initials will be announced along with the opus number and other significant facts about the musical work that have been extracted from the catalog. Thus, before and after a radio broadcast or concert hall performance, Scarlatti's Opus 21 might be referred to as Scarlatti Opus 21 in the Kirkpatrick catalog, or with some similar designation. Citing the catalog that is the source of the information about the composer and his work usually serves to clear up any doubts about whether the information offered is authoritative. It also provides a frame of reference, since many in the audience will have become familiar with the catalog and its numbering system long before the performance begins.

The catalogs and the numbering systems for prominent composers and catalogers are so well established in their listeners' minds that it is common practice to shorten the cataloger's name to a code derived from the cataloger's initials, although this is not always the case. Thus, a designation such as  Mozart's Opus 351 in the Kochel catalog might well be shortened to Mozart K.351 (standing for the number in Kochel's catalog of Mozart's works).

Who needs them?

  • Music lovers
  • Readers
  • Music collectors
  • Connoisseurs
  • Musicians
  • Record collectors
  • Radio and TV announcers
  • Librarians
  • Music students
  • Listeners
  • Musicologists
  • Critics

What can you do with them?

  • Learn the names of classical musicians.
  • Decide on recorded music to buy.
  • Check diskographies.
  • Build musical libraries.
  • Find music to play.
  • Buy sheet music.
  • Look up songs in a Broadway musical.
  • Find the names of operas in which arias appear; find the arias in an opera.
  • Learn the ages of composers; learning when they wrote a piece of music.
  • Discover classical music pieces you want to hear.
  • Check the titles and popular names given to musical works and their histories. (Dvorak's Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, titled From the New World, is popularly known as the New World Symphony.)
  • Note how many symphonies a composer wrote.
  • Do musical research.
  • Explore the personal histories of musicians or the history of music.
  • Determine the number of movements, or acts in a symphony, suite, ballet, etc.
  • Lots more.

about catalogers and cataloging—an appreciation

Cataloging is a task fraught with human frailty. At first glance, the art of music cataloging may seem to some to be a trivial and mundaneeven boring occupation; but it's far from that. Here, The Muse explains the importance of this activity, which seems to be incidental and secondary to the music itself, offers catalog users cautionary advice, and comments briefly on the difficulties and limits of the cataloging process.


classical music Cataloging systems explained

Systems for cataloging classical music are schemes or methodologies for listing, organizing, and describing classical music compositions. A cataloger applies such a scheme when he compiles a list of musical works written by a composer. Each cataloger independently lists, organizes, and describes a composer's works in accord with his own numbering system. Nevertheless, the basic scheme employed by most catalogers is fundamentally the same.

There are basically two kinds of classical music composer catalogs: 1) Thematic, and 2) Informal lists of composers' works.


the Muse of music's Composer Catalogs Index

The Muse Of Music is pleased to offer visitors to this web site an index to composer catalogs titled Composer Catalogs.

The Composer Catalogs index lists the names of about a thousand classical music composers, with scores of published (printed) catalogs of these composer's works, the names of the catalogers who created them, and the symbols for the catalogers and catalogs. If a catalog for a composer is published online at a web site, you can jump to it directly from a link in the index.

The index also provides links to hundreds of web sites where you'll find formal or informal lists of the works of composers you can access online. Some of these websites are published by composers themselves, while others are published by musical organizations, musicians, vendors, independent compilers of composer listings, and other interested parties.

The Composer Catalogs index takes the form of an automated table that allows you to do keyword searching, sorting, printing and other tasks. With the table, you will be able to rapidly, easily, and conveniently search for, find, and arrange search results.


Information contained in the index

  • Names of about one thousand classical music composers.
  • Names of hundreds of music catalogs and listings.
  • Names of hundreds of music catalogers and listing compilers.
  • Standard symbols used by musicologists, musicians, scholars, and music lovers to represent music catalogs in which the works of composers are cited and described.
  • Links to formal catalogs and informal listings of composers' works, web sites published by composers and their works, web sites published about composers and their works.
  • Comments, as relevant.

how to use the index

Each row in the index contains the name of a single classical music composer, the name of a single catalog, and the standard symbol for that catalog (if available). If more than one cataloger worked to create a given catalog, all cataloger names are cited. A row may also contain the name of a web site and a link to an online version of the catalog or listing. Comments are included as relevant.

To search for information, scan rows manually or employ the table's automated searching features to find:

  1. Names of classical composers.
  2. Catalogs of a composer's works.
  3. Standard symbols or abbreviations that stand for catalogs and catalogers.
  4. Names of composer catalogers.
  5. Names of web sites that contain composer catalogs or listings of composers' works. Click the word Open in a row containing the name of a web site and the page containing the catalogs or listings at that web site will open.

how to access the index

the Schwann Catalogs

The Schwann Catalogs were and are an collection of comprehensive periodical music catalogs devoted to the latest and greatest performances in all sectors of recorded music, especially classical music. If you were a music lover in the era of Long Playing records and thereafter, the current edition was your standby, your indispensable vade mecum.

Composer cataloging systems were essential to the success of the Schwann Catalog. It's a perfect example of the role music catalog systems play in all aspects of music, from its production to its reproduction and dissemination.

  • Explore the Schwann Catalog and its use of the cataloging systems cited here at the feature called Electricka's Resource Shelf—Resource Reviews: click here

ETAF Recommends

Many of the catalogs cited in the Computer Catalogs index can be viewed in libraries and are available for purchase at book stores or online.

Are you a listener, reader, collector, connoisseur, musician, recording collector, or classical radio announcer? Do you work in the reference section of a public library?Are you looking for a handy, user-friendly resource you can use to look up the works of the most frequently heard classical composers? then the Da Capo Catalog of Classical Music Compositions by Jerzy Chwiakowski is just right for you.

The Da Capo Catalog exhaustively lists the works of 132 major composers, from Vivaldi and Bach to Webern and Cage; it contains all the essential information about classical compositions within the convenient covers of a single volume. It tells you things like which works will complete your collection of a composer's works; which songs appear in a Broadway musical; which operas arias appear in an opera; at what age a composer wrote his first symphony; the popular names given to compositions; how many symphonies a composer wrote.

The Da Capo Catalog is what The Muse Of Music calls an informal printed list of composers' works. It's da capo because it gets its information from other reliable sources and other catalogs and boils it down for you; it makes finding information simple.

At the other extreme of musical catalogs, try using a bibliography of thematic catalogs to find thematic catalogs. If you're a student majoring in classical music, a scholar of classical music, or a performer of classical music, at one time or another you may need to consult a thematic catalog for a specific composer; but which one should you choose? You need to have its name and other its bibliographic information to find it.

Thematic Catalogues in Music: An Annotated Bibliography by Barry S. Brook and Richard Viano will help you decide which catalogs to look at and to find them.



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