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Works in Collected Editions

What are collected editions? Collected editions, which often run to several volumes, comprise either (1) the complete works of an individual composer, or (2) works of various composers, brought together by time period, region, or genre.

  • Examples of (1) are Liszt Neue Ausgabe sämtlicher Werke and Le opere complete di Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina.
  • Examples of (2) are Musica Britannica and Denkmäler der Tonkunst in Österreich (works composed in a particular geographical area) and Recent Researches in the Music of the Baroque Era (works composed during a particular time period).

Complete works sets exist for the most famous composers. Less famous composers are generally represented by a collected edition such as those described in (2) above. Collected editions are put together by specialists who examine manuscripts and early printed sources in the effort to create a definitive version which fully represents the composer's intentions. Collected works sets are usually published over a number of years. Some run to more than 100 volumes.

Why would you need to use a collected edition? Well, you might find that the Library does not have individual scores of some of the works that you need to study, but that these works are contained in a collected edition — either in the complete works of the composer in question, or in a series such as Denkmäler deutscher Tonkunst. Or you might want to compare the performance score you are using with a carefully edited, scholarly score.

Where are collected editions kept? Most have a call number beginning with M2 or M3. 

Can I use the OSU Libraries Catalog to find specific works within collected editions? Not always. Some collected editions do have a detailed catalog entry for each volume (e.g. Recent Researches in the Music of the Baroque Era). But some do not: you will be able to look up the overall title of the collected edition to see if we own it, but you will not find information about individual volumes. That is, you can find the call number for, say, the collected works of Bach, but the catalog will not tell you what is in each volume. 

So how do I find specific works within collected editions? If the OSU Libraries Catalog does not list the contents of individual volumes, try these guides:

Index to Printed Music. Use this database to find individual pieces in complete works editions and anthologies (e.g., the M2 and M3 call number ranges). Searchable by title, composer, editor, genre, language, librettist, publisher, series, or instrumentation. The database lists sets and series organized by various criteria: composer (complete works:Gesamtausgaben), geographical area (Monuments: Denkmäler), period or style, original source (including manuscripts), anthologies

Another means of finding specific works within collected editions: Anna Heyer's Historical sets, collected editions and monuments of music: a guide to their contents. Consult Volume 1 if you think there is likely to be a collected edition containing the complete works of a composer. Consult Volume 2 if this is not the case. 

Volume 1 consists of a list of composers' names. Shown for each composer is the title of his or her collected edition(s), followed by the contents of each volume. For example, if you look up Mozart, you can find out by browsing through the list which volume of his collected works contains the Symphony no.15. Some pieces may not be listed specifically, but more generally: e.g., Heyer may just say that Volume 7 of a particular collected edition contains cantatas, without listing the individual titles of the cantatas. Volume 1 does list the contents of collected editions such as Musica Britannica, but it would take a long time to browse through this. If you think a piece is likely to be in a collected edition such as Musica Britannica or Denkmäler der Tonkunst in Österrich, you should use Volume 2. 

Volume 2 is also a list of composers' names. Each work, or type of work, is listed, and the collected edition identified which contains that work.

Because the Heyer was published in 1980, it will not help you with collected editions published later. Another guide is by Hill and Stephens: Collected editions, historical series and sets and monuments of music: a bibliography. Hill and Stephens is less comprehensive than Heyer, but runs to 1997. It is continued by the database mentioned above, Index to Printed Music.

You can also use Oxford Music Online to locate works within collected editions. Look up the composer by surname. For most composers, a works list follows the dictionary entry. If a collected edition has been published, the entry will typically give details followed by a list of the works. Alongside each work is a section saying which volume the work is in. In some cases there will be more than one set of complete works, so each set is given an abbreviation (e.g., in the case of Schubert, NS and NAS — if the entry was 2 ; iv 3 this would mean that in the NS edition the work was in vol. 2 and in the NAS edition it was in vol. iv.3.

Text by Morag Greig, University of Glasgow Library. Revised and reproduced by permission.