MUSC 801 - Music Bibliography and Research: Collected Works and Thematic Catalogs

Guide for students of Musicology 801 on how to use the library and find resources


Performing editions:

These are scores that have been edited by publishers and teachers/performers to include fingerings, phrasing, and sometimes tempo indications. These editions range in quality, but you'll find that publishers such as Henle, Wiener Urtext, Breitkopf and Hartel (among others) tend to put out better editions than, for example, International.

Collected editions/critical editions:

These are sets of composer's collected works. They have been compiled by scholarly editors to try to give the closest indication of what the composer truly intended. Critical commentary is included that discusses any alterations in accidentals, notes, ornaments, and so forth. The editors refer to any manuscript sources available and also research whether the composer later made changes (such as notes or cuts, etc.). These editions are also sometimes called 'complete editions' or 'Gesamtausgabe'.

Monuments or Denkmäler:

Collected editions that focus on a particular country, region, or type of music rather than a single composer. 


See Sydney Robinson Charles, et al. "Editions, historical." Grove Music Online for a more complete definition.



Abkuerzungen:  abbreviations
Anmerkung: remarks/observations
Ausgaben:  editions
manuscript written in the hand of a particular person; in normal musical parlance, the manuscript of a work in the hand of its composer
Band: volume
Bearbeitungen: arrangements
Begleitung: accompaniment
Besetzung: instrumentation
Briefe: Letters (correspondence)

Buhnenwerke: Stage works
Druck: print
Faksimileexact copy
 (usually of a manuscript)
Handschrift: manuscript
sometimes used to distinguish a manuscript wholly in the hand of its author or composer
Kammermusik: chamber music
Klaviermusik: piano music
Kirchenmusik: church music
Kritischer bericht: critical commentary
Lieder: songs
Literatur: articles/studies about work
 source that is written by hand
Mehrstimmige Gesange: Songs for multiple voice parts
Opera Omnia: all works
Opus Zahl: Opus (work) number
Orchesterwerke: Orchestral works
Oeuvres completes: complete works
Partituren: scores
Quellen: sources
Reihe: Row or series
Sammtlicher: collected
Skizzen: sketches
Stimmen: voices/parts
Takte: measures
Thematisches-Verzeichnis: thematic catalog, inventory
Teil: part
Vergleiche (Vgl.): see also, compare
Werke: works

Widmung: dedication (gewidmet= dedicated to

Finding Pieces in Collected Editions

To locate individual items in a collected works set using Grove in Oxford Music Online, first select the "Works" tab under the entry for the composer.

Collected editions for that composer will be listed at the top of the page. Note the abbreviation in brackets at the end of each listing. 

Examples of abbreviations of the titles of the collected editions of the works of J.S. Bach.

Find the piece you are looking for in the works list. The right-hand columns will tell you where in the composer's collected works you can find that piece. 


It can also be useful to refer to the following print resources to identify a collection edition. 

  • A.H. Heyer: Historical Sets, Collected Edition, and Monuments of Music: a Guide to their Contents (Chicago, 1957, 3/1980) ML113.H52 1980 (Music & Dance Library - Reference)
  • G.R. Hill and N. L. Stephens: Collected Editions, Historical Series, & Sets & Monuments of Music: a Bibliography (Berkeley, 1997) ML113.H55 1997 (Music & Dance Library - Reference) [Hill will tell you whether a collected edition exists, but doesn't provide volume contents listings.]

Locating Collected Editions in the Library

Collected editions for composers are primarily classified in the M3s (located in the Music & Dance Library Reference collection). Monuments or Gesamtausgabe are in the M2s. Once you become familiar with the section you can scan it to find the set you are looking for, but otherwise you'll need to find the call number for the set you need. You can search the library catalog with the title you find in Grove, Heyer, or Hill, or, you can simply do a Boolean search for [composer name] AND works. This isn't precise, but will give you something to start with. 

Caveat lector: sometimes we call things by nicknames, and you won't find those in the catalog. Perhaps the best example of this is the Neue Bach Ausgabe. This is what we call it, but the official name, and the name under which it is listed in the library catalog, is Neue Ausgabe sämtlicher Werke

Thematic Catalogs

Thematic catalogs provide lists of composer's works in an organized fashion; many include incipits for the beginning of each work/movement. Often this is by opus number or chronology. Well-known examples are Otto Deutsch's Schubert thematic catalog and Bach's BWV Bach Werke-Verzeichnis (Index to Bach's Works). For a more detailed definition see the entry in Grove. Thematic catalogs can also help you locate individual works in a composer's collected edition. 

To find a thematic catalog for a particular composer you can: 

  1. search in the library for the composer's name and "catalog?", and/or
  2. check in Barry S. Brook's Thematic Catalogues in Music: An Annotated Bibliography ML113.B86 1997 (Music & Dance Library - Reference)
  3. check the Grove entry for the composer, which often lists the thematic catalog before the works list.

To find a thematic catalog for a composer using Grove Online, first select the "Works" tab under the entry for that composer.

Thematic catalogs for that composer will be listed before the works list. 


Text and examples on this page are courtesy of the Music and Performing Arts Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Finding Needles in Haystacks

What is a thematic catalog?

"A thematic catalogue is an index to a group of musical compositions that incorporates citations of their opening notes (incipits), or principal melodic features (themes), or both...

The organization of a thematic catalogue will very in accordance with what it covers. Ideally it should include... the following elements: (a) title, opus or other identification numbers, references to standard and complete editions, author or other source of text, date and place of composition; (b) incipits of each movement, noting the number of bars in each movement where applicable and indicating variants among sources; (c) full description, location and shelf-mark of autographs; (d) description of significant copies, their shelf-marks, dates and important differences or special markings; (e) bibliographical description of first editions, including date, imprint, price and plate number, and all subsequent editions or arrangements published in the composer's lifetime or reflecting changes made or sanctioned..." 

(from Brook, Barry S.: 'Thematic Catalogue', Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy.)