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Music: Collected Editions

A guide to identifying and locating music works published in collections owned at the SJSU Library

Oxford Music Online

Using the Works Lists

For most major composers, the easiest tool to use to determine volume numbers in historical editions is Oxford Music Online. In the dictionary article for the composer, there will be a section that lists all (or most) of that composer’s works. At the beginning of the works list, the dictionary gives citations and abbreviations for collected works editions available for that composer.


Here is the example of the collected works citations for Handel:

Handel, George Frideric



George Friedrich Händels Werke: Ausgabe der Deutschen Händelgesellschaft, ed. F.W. Chrysander, i–xlviii, l–xcvi, suppls.i–vi (Leipzig and Bergedorf bei Hamburg, 1858–94, 1902/R) [HG]

Hallische Händel-Ausgabe im Auftrage der Georg Friedrich Händel-Gesellschaft, ed. M. Schneider, R. Steglich and others (Kassel, 1955–) [vols. in progress are given in square brackets] [HHA]

In this case there are two collected works editions: the older George Friedrich Händels Werke: Ausgabe der Deutschen Händelgesellschaft, and the newer Hallische Händel-Ausgabe. The older edition was originally published in two series (48 and 96 volumes), with six supplemental volumes. Series numbers usually refer to the genre (e.g. oratories) or type of music (e.g. vocal works). These volumes appeared from 1858-1894, and a revised edition was printed in 1902. The abbreviation used by Oxford Music Online and other reference sources for this edition is HG.

The newer Hallische Handel-Ausgabe, begun in 1955, is still in progress with about 30 or so volumes published in the series to date. It is sometimes referred to as a “critical” edition because it is based on scholarly analysis of all known primary sources (manuscripts and early printed editions) of Handel’s works. The abbreviation for the newer edition is HHA. A search in the online catalog reveals that the library does owns a reprint edition of the HG (M3.H262) as well as the HHA (M3.H26). Therefore when you look for the Messiah in Handel’s work list in Grove Music, you will need to make note of the appropriate HG or HHA volume. For the HHA, Grove lists this volume as “i/17” which in this case means “ser. 1, Bd. 17.” “Ser.” is the abbreviation for “series;” most works of the same genre are published as part of the same series. “Bd.” is the abbreviation for the German word “Band,” which means volume in English.


Title (Libretto)

Performances under composer (no.)





Messiah (compiled Jennens from the Bible and Prayer Book Psalter)

DNMH, 13 April 1742 (2)†; LCG, 23 March 1743 (3)†; LKH, 9 April 1745 (2)†; LCG, 23 March 1749 (1)†; LCG, LFH, 13 April 1750 (3)†; LFH, 18 April 1751 (2)†; LCG, FH, 25 March 1752 (3), 13 April 1753 (2), 5 April 1754 (2), 19 March 1755 (3)†, 7 April 1756 (3), 30 March 1757 (3)†, 10 March 1758 (4)†; LCG, 30 March 1759 (3)†

composed 22 Aug–14 Sept 1741; 2 solos added 1743 (But lo! and Their sound); Rejoice and Their sound reset ?1745; But who may abide and Thou art gone up reset 1750



The HHA volume that you need will have the call number label M3.H25 ser.1 Bd.17. The HG volume will simply be v. 45 (you will need to know your Roman numerals!).

Oxford Music Online also maintains a comprehensive list of historical editions at:

Sydney Robinson Charles, et al. "Editions, historical." In Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online, (accessed August 26, 2008).

 You can use the Control-F function in Oxford Music Online to search for specific titles in the works lists for composers. A search for “This is the day” in the Handel works list retrieves the following:


This is the day (13), D

A, T, B, SSAATTBB, 2 fl, 2 ob, bn, 2 tpt, ? timp, str, bc

for wedding of Princess Anne and Prince William of Orange; perf. German Chapel, St James’s, 14 March 1734; music mainly arr. from Athalia, Nisi Dominus (Gloria Patri) and ‘Caroline’ Te Deum; see Sing unto God

xxxvi, 27

In this case, the volume numbers xxxvi, 27 refer to the volume in the HG (v. 36), and the beginning page number (27). The work is not yet included in the HHA, so no volume information is included.