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Advanced Classical Music Research Guide

Advanced Tips for Finding Classical Scores and Audio Recordings

1. Always search in the keyword field, as you never know when the work you are searching might be in a larger collection.

2. Along with the composer name, use plurals for sonatas, symphonies, and other nondistinctive titles, even when searching for only one piece; also, don't include numerical distinctions like "no." or "op." Examples:

  • Beethoven piano sonatas 5 (for Beethoven's Piano Sonata no. 5)
  • Haydn symphonies 101 (for Haydn's Symphony no. 101)
  • Chopin ballades 38 (for Chopin's Ballade in F major, op. 38)

Why? You'll usually miss some holdings when using the singular form and number designations can vary (for more on this, read about uniform titles below).

3. Use the original language for works with distinctive titles and drop all initial articles. Examples:

  • Matthauspassion for St. Matthew Passion
  • Zauberflöte (not Die Zauberflöte) for Magic Flute

4. If you can't find the work, or want more editions

  • Search for collections containing the piece—e.g., all sonatas by the composer.
  • If it's part of a larger work, look for the title of that work.
  • Find out if Emory has the complete works of the composer.
  • Contact the music librarian for help. Finding scores can be tricky.

About Uniform Titles

Uniform titles provide consistent, standardized ways of identifying individual compositions and groups of compositions. This makes it possible to find works all scores and recordings of a work without having to look up every conceivable title the piece might have been called.  A library catalog record gives both the work's Title—meaning the title used by the publisher—and its Uniform Title.

Works with Distinctive Titles
If the work's title is distinctive, the uniform title consists of the original title (from the manuscript or first edition) in the original language. Examples of distinctive titles:

  • Daphnis et Chlöe
  • Quatuor pour la fin du temps (Quartet for the End of Time)
  • Mer (for "La Mer": initial articles omitted)
  • Symphonie de Psaumes
  • Messiah
  • Wohltemperierte Klavier (Well Tempered Clavier)
  • Otello (Italian equivalent of Othello)
  • Zhar-ptitsa (The Firebird)

Works with Form or Genre Titles
If the composer's original title is simply a form name or genre (with or without key and number), the title is considered nondistinctive. The first word of the uniform title is the form or genre, and it's always in the plural except when the composer wrote only one sonata, nocturne, etc.Examples of form and genre terms used in uniform titles:

  • Quartets
  • Arias
  • Lieder
  • Sonatas
  • Songs
  • Nocturnes    
  • Suites
  • Motets
  • Pieces (Stücke in German)
  • Symphonies
  • Masses

The instrumentation, number (ordinal, opus, and or catalog number) and key are often added to the form name.

Collections of Works in the Same Medium
This type of uniform title is used when one recording or score consists of various types of pieces that are all for the same medium. Examples:

  • Choral music
  • Guitar music
  • Violin music
  • Vocal music

Complete Works of Individual Composers
The uniform title Works is used for a set of the complete works of a composer. Note that many editions of complete works are still in the process of being published—volume by volume. Look at Locations/Call Number in the DiscoverE record to see which volumes are actually in the library's collection.

Finding a Uniform Title in Library Search

Here's a basic search in Library Search when you don't know the work's uniform title:

Look at one of your hits to find out what the work's uniform title is.

Using Composers' Complete Works

Some complete-works editions of composers’ scores are not thoroughly indexed in library catalogs.  Two of the principal ways to find such pieces are

Oxford Music Online

  • In the Grove Music Online article on the composer, go to the "Works" list.
  • Look at the top of the list to see what complete editions exist.  (Note that there may be none for a particular composer.)
  • Within the list, the entry for each composition will usually identify which specific volume of the complete edition contains that piece. 

Index to Printed Music

This is a tool for locating musical scores of compositions published in scholarly editions (such as historical sets and composers’ complete works) and in series.

  • SEARCH TIP.  Separate different types of terms with "and," e.g., Beethoven and string quartets and op. 59; Mozart and k451.
  • IPM provides citations.  After identifying where a piece is published, use discoverE to check on Emory's holdings of the cited collection or edition.
  • For more information on IPM, see