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Music History

Thematic Catalogs

Thematic catalogues 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 catalogue and Bach's BWV Bach Werkeā€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 catalogue for a particular composer you can:

  1. search in the library catalog 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 (Jones, Ritter & Bach Institute Libraries) 
  3. check the Grove entry for the composer, which often lists the thematic catalog before the works list.

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

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


Abkuerzungen:  abbreviations
Anmerkung: remarks/observations
Ausgaben:  editions
Autograph: manuscript
Bearbeitungen: arrangements
Begleitung: accompaniment
Besetzung: instrumentation
Faksimile: exact copy
Kritischer bericht=critical commentary
Partituren: scores
Stimmen: voices/parts
Widmung: dedication (gewidmet= dedicated to)
Literatur: articles/studies about work
Thematish-Verzeichnis: catalog, inventory
Vergleiche (Vgl.): see also, compare


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. These are typically found in the library's circulating M collection.

Collection editions/critical editions: These are sets of composers' 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: Are 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. Oxford Music Online. 25 Aug. 2008 <> for a more complete definition.