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Beethoven Center Resources

Guide to the online resources and collections of the Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies at San Jose State University

Introduction to the BBD

Click on the image for access:

Banner for the Beethoven Bibliography Database

The Beethoven Bibliography Database (BBD) is an open-access database that contains detailed bibliographical records for books and articles about Beethoven in many languages. It also includes peripheral literature on other topics that includes Beethoven content. The literature indexed ranges from the early 19th century to the present. Content is added continually in a systematic manner. However, there are many gaps and we encourage users to let us know of missing publications. Because the project largely proceeds with the help of volunteers, progress may be slow.

The Beethoven Bibliography Database does NOT include:

  • bibliographical records for scores or manuscripts in the Beethoven Center’s collection. Those records are now accessible through the San Jose State University’s Library catalog, OneSearch.
  • digitized images of Beethoven Center materials. Please use the Digital Collections database to locate digital images.
  • hyperlinks to full-text resources. However, many of the records indicate which external subscription databases (JSTOR, Proquest) contain the book or article described or include urls of open-access full-text databases (such as HathiTrust) that can be copied and pasted into your browsers.

Basic search functions

The default search option is set to “Author,” but from the pull-down menu you can select subject, category/genre, or title.

Search options for BBD 

NB: If your Author search yields no results, try selecting another index (e.g. “Subjects”) and then switching back to “Author.” A bug causes the system to sometimes fail to recognize an author search unless it is reset from the selection menu.

Please note that you will need to click on the “search” button to complete your search; hitting the return key will not activate the search.

            You can also limit your search to books, articles, or serials (rare) in the initial search if you wish.

Limiting searches in the BBD by material type 

Once you have retrieved a set of records, you can further refine your search by entering terms in the “Search in Table” box. These terms can include names, dates, language, subjects, categories/genres, etc. Separate the terms with a comma but do not add spaces.

Narrow searches using the Search in Table box

Searching by subject

The BBD uses a controlled vocabulary (a defined set of words and phrases) for subject indexing. These terms are listed and explained in the online Beethoven Thesaurus. If your search terms yield no or few results, we highly recommend that you consult the Thesaurus to determine the appropriate term.

            To index discussions of Beethoven’s works, we use the Opus, Work without Opus (WoO), and other numbers as codified in the Beethoven thematic catalog. For example, to find discussions of the Fifth Piano Concerto, enter Opus 73 as a subject. This subject can then be narrowed down by any number of added headings (subdivisions), for example: performances, criticism, form, reception history, meaning, etc. Searching only by Opus 73 will yield many pages of results, so it will be necessary for you to refine your search by entering additional topics in the “Search in Table” box.


Searching by category/genre (material type)

This index is used to find a particular type of publication (biography, discography, interview, academic dissertation, etc.). The possible terms are listed in the Categories section of the Beethoven Thesaurus. Do NOT use this index to find discussion of musical genres (e.g. Symphonies, Piano trios, etc.). Instead, enter those terms in the Subject index.

Sorting records

Your search results will appear in a table that includes title, author, subject, year, language, category, and material type. These are just brief records that could only include a few of the subjects entered in the full record (or might not show any subjects at all).

Display of results in table

From this table, you can mark items of interest and send the list to your email. You can also highlight your search term to help you locate it in the subject list. To highlight your search term, use the find function on your computer (Command-F on Mac, Control-F on PC). In the example below, we entered Opus 73 to highlight that phrase in the records.

Highlighting search terms

To see the full record, click on the title. The full record will open in a new window on your browser; your list will remain on the adjacent browser tab.

Record structure

Please note that in the full record, subjects may be divided into two categories:  “Main Subject” and “Subject.” The main subjects indicate the primary focus of the book (or book chapters) or article. The other subjects are mentioned in the publication but are not the main focus. In the brief records, only the “subjects” appear in the table so you will need to look at the full record to see the main subjects.

Full record display

Reporting problems

The 2020 version of the BBD has a few bugs that are on the list for upgrades. Please let us know if you encounter any problems or have suggestions for enhancements by contacting Patricia Stroh at Please provide full details, links, or screen shots to help us troubleshoot the database.