Collections of works


The classical style guide recommends to not treat collections of works as works with parts:

Sometimes works are published in “collections”. This is common for songs and shorter instrumental pieces, but can also happen with larger works like piano sonatas. These works can be interesting to have as “containers”, but should not be treated as a main work with parts (for instance regarding Recording titles).

J.S.Bach’s “The Well-Tempered Clavier” seems to violate this rule. Let’s take as an example “Prelude and Fugue no. 1” (44933da0-ec90-3545-9b1b-7cb7812889bf):

  • Work name contains the collection name
  • Work has a relationship to the collection as its part

Is this indeed a violation of the style guide, or am I misunderstanding the guide?


I would hope there is nothing wrong with that. Since each WTC book was conceived as a whole, each is a work, to my mind. There has been a lot of debate here.



So if several works were published by the author as one collection, and they have some common theme, it is appropriate to create a collection as a separate work and use the collection’s title in titles of individual works? I am not talking about obvious cases like “Symphonie no. 1: I. Moderato”, but about cases where works in a collection are not closely related.

To make sure I really understand the style guide recommendation, could you please provide a couple of examples when it is not appropriate to create a work for collection? I assume that there should be many such cases if somebody cared to include a special rule against it in the style guide.

I have asked this question because of several collections of works by Frescobaldi. For example, in 1628 he published “Il primo libro delle Canzoni”, a collection of 40 works. In the catalogue each canzona has its own catalogue number, similar to works in Bach’s “The Well-Tempered Clavier”. Is this enough to treat canzonas as parts of a whole and enter their titles like “Il primo libro delle Canzoni: Canzona I detta la Bonvisia, canto solo, F 8.01a”, or is a simpler “Canzona I detta la Bonvisia, canto solo, F 8.01a” more appropriate?


I’m slightly puzzled by the question. You have already entered Il primo libro delle Canzoni as a work, which seems OK to me. Re-reading the original question, it seems to be more about naming the lower-level works. Practice here seems to vary. Often all the higher-level works are included, separated by colons (as in WTC), but not always. E.g Carmina Burana is part of Trionfi, but its parts are named “Carmina Burana: …”, not “Trionfi: Carmina Burana …”. Perhaps someone more knowledgeable than me can explain this, but common usage seems to be a factor.