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Thursday 13 October 2016

Tagging Classical Music:Part 4 - Opus and Ranking

Forward to Part 5 - Classical Classification
Back to Part 3 - More Fields Required

One issue with Classical music is Classical composers were not the most imaginative when naming their works and it can be difficult to differentiate one work from another. Conversely the same single work can be available on many different releases but not consistently named by the record companies making it difficult to identify when you have different versions of the same work.

Some composers used the Opus catalog mechanism to organize their works, if used in conjunction with the composer this can be helpful for organizing your music.



Many Classical composers used the Opus (Op.) number. The concept was to catalogue each work as they were published, so the Opus provides a list of all the composers works in date order.

However some composers only bothered to catalog their best works, some only used it for certain types of works and  some didn't use the system at all. 

An Opus can contain multiple works. most famously Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons”  was part of twelve violin concertos all written between 1723 to 1725 packaged as Opus 8 “Il cimento dell’armonia e dell’inventione”.

Sometimes works were only produced after the composers death. 
 For example Schubert’s last three piano sonatas, which were written in the last months of his life, but were not published until about ten years after his death are written Op.  posth[umous].


Whereas the Opus should identify all a composers works in date order, the ranking (No.)  is used to catalog all works of a particular type

For example Beethoven wrote 9 symphonies, numbered 1 to 9  in chronological order, and 16 string quartets numbered 1 to 16.

Mozart wrote 40 symphonies, but these are numbered 1-41 because the Symphony No. 37 in G major, K. 444 was found to be composed by Michael Haydn  and was removed from Mozart’s catalogue, so there can be gaps.

Opus with Multiple works

Remember an Opus can contain multiple works. With  L. van Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 8 Opus 59 No. 2 in E minor, there are two numbers No. 2 and No. 8. The No. 8 refers to the  ranking among his sixteen string quartets; but the No. 2 actually represent the sub-opus number (the second piece within the Op 59).


SongKong intelligently extracts Opus and Ranking numbers into their own fields. Now they are in their own fields they can help you to search and organize your collection and they can also be used to construct new filenames for these classical compositions.

But other cataloging methods have been developed for certain composers and we will discuss that next

Forward to Part 5 - Classical Classification
Back to Part 3 - More Fields Required

1 comment:

Tanya A said...

Thanks for sharing thiis

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