The traditional 19th-century method of identifying a composer's works was for publishers to assign some sort of consecutive Opus number to the works as they were published. This method is not entirely satisfactory to anyone. Musicians and the listening public have no reliable way to distinguish different works with similar characteristics. Musicologists cannot reliably identify unpublished works, nor do they have a reliable indication from the opus number of the actual composition date(s). For example, the Octet, written from 1792–1793 is Opus 103, while Opus 102 and Opus 104 were written in 1815 and 1817 respectively. Some opus numbers comprise multiple pieces; 172 works are divided among 138 opus numbers.
All of Beethoven's compositions up to and including Opus 135 were published in Beethoven's lifetime; later numbers were published posthumously, and are generally denoted by "Op. posth."
Read more about this topic: Catalogues Of Beethoven Compositions
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—John Ruskin (18191900)