Catalogues of Beethoven Compositions - The Problem

The Problem

When Beethoven died (as with many other composers), he left a great many compositions behind. In Beethoven's case, a sizable majority of his works were published. However, some works were not published, and some works were unfinished, either because he had laid them aside, or died before he could finish them. The catalogues described here are attempts to organize and identify with precision all of these works in ways that are useful to musicologists, musicians, and the listening public.

Most of Beethoven's best known works were published in his lifetime, and bear opus numbers, with which they may be reliably identified. The short piano piece "Für Elise" is a notable exception: it is usually designated WoO (Werke ohne Opuszahl – literally, "works without opus number") 59.

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