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MUS 190: What's So Great About Bach?

Searching discoverE

Sample search for music:  here's one way to search discoverE for Bach's St. Matthew Passion. See below for more explanation about uniform titles.


What is BWV?

Bach was a highly prolific composer, so scholars have worked to create a systematic catalog of his works. The most common system today is the Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis (BWV), which numbers his compositions (mostly) by genre. For instance, the St. Matthew Passion (Matthäuspassion) is assigned the number BWV 244.

You can find scores and audio recordings of specific works by Bach in discoverE by using search phrases such as "BWV 244."

In addition to the print version of the Bach-Werke-Verzeichis, you find a list of Bach's composition in various online sources, including Wikipedia.

Tips for Finding Western Classical Music at Emory

When searching DiscoverE or any other library catalog for scores or recordings

  • Use plurals for sonatas, symphonies, and other nondistinctive titles, even when searching for only one piece.

    sonatas no. 5
    symphonies no. 3
    ballades no. 2

    Why?  You'll usually miss some holdings when using the singular form: read about uniform titles below.
  • Use the original language for works with distinctive titles:

    Matthauspassion for St. Matthew Passion
    Zauberflöte for Magic Flute
    (Drop initial articles in foreign languages—e.g.,  Die Zauberflöte.)

    Why? So you don't get an incomplete list of holdings.  The section below explains how to find the best terminology.
  • 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.

Uniform Titles - A Brief Introduction

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.  See the examples in Indiana University's excellent tutorial, Using Uniform Titles.

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
Wohltemperierte Klavier (Well Tempered Clavier)
Missa Solemnis
Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute)

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:




Pieces (also Stücke, if the title was German)


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.


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. 

Find Scores Online

IMSLP / Petrucci Music Library 
"The free public domain sheet music library."  Partifi can be used to create parts from these scores.

Choral Public Domain Library
Scores created by individual contributors and generally available free with attribution.

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