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Status: This page describes an active style guideline proposal and is not official.

Proposal number: RFC-347
Champion: Hawke
Current status: RFC

The aim of this style guide is to define some kind of consistency for classical music in MusicBrainz.

Basic Guidelines


You may enter performance data (e.g. orchestra, conductor, soloist, and/or performance year) into the release’s disambiguation comment, as a means of identifying a specific release. For instruments, do not use the perfomer's role ("pianist") but instead note the instrument ("piano").


Various Artists
If a release contains works by more than one composer, it may be changed to a Various Artists release. See also Classical Release Artist Style.
Mixed recitals
In cases where a release features performances by one artist of works from several composers, that artist may be used as the Release Artist, with each Track Artist assigned to the appropriate composer.


  • The Track Title should contain the name of the work performed within, and any additional sub-parts that don’t qualify as separate Work Parts See also #Work
  • The Track Artist should be assigned to the composer.
  • Track numbers refer to the position on the release, which often is not the movement number. Movement numbers should be added to the track title.
  • Use roman numerals for movement numbers.


Classical Covers
When classical works are arranged, remixed, or otherwise substantially modified by the primary performer, the performer may be entered as Track Artist. The original composer can be found via the Work linked to the track’s Recording


The work should contain the title of the main work (symphony, etc.) followed by ':' and the name of the relevant part (movement, etc.)


  • The recording title should be the same as the track title.
  • The recording artist should be similar to the disambiguation comment. Enter the main orchestra or other artist, plus any featured artists (e.g. Royal Philharmonic feat. conductor Vernon Handley, chorus: The Ladies of the Ambrosian Chorus feat. chorus master John McCarthy') . For instruments, do not use the perfomer's role ("pianist") but instead note the instrument ("piano"). See examples below.

Additional Guidelines

Catalogue: number and opus

Always use "No. " and "Op. " Examples:

  • Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67. Note the spaces after the period, and the use of comma (i.e. "No. 5", not "No.5" and "Op. 67", not "Op.67").
  • Mazurka in B major, Op. 63 No. 1. Here the “No. 1” is part of the opus number. Note that there's no comma between them.

Here are two links that explain some subtleties of classical catalogues:Opus Numbers; Mozart work numbers

Chord: minor and major

Always use the expanded form and lowercase including a hyphen for German. Examples:

  • Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 47 (English)
  • Prélude No. 1 C-dur, Op. 28: Agitato (German)


Always use uppercase for English and German notation. "A, B, C, D, E, F, G" and proper case for Italian, French and Spanish "Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Si". "in", "en" or "em" should be inserted according to release language. Examples:

  • Trio in A minor, Op. 50 (English)
  • Prelude and Fugue in F-sharp major, BWV 858 (English)
  • Concerto No. 1 in Sol minore, Op. 8, RV 332 (Italian)
  • Concerto No. 4 en La mineur (French)
  • Prélude No. 2 A-moll, Op. 28: Lento (German)
  • Prélude No. 8 Fis-moll, Op. 28: Molto agitato (German)

For more combinations refer to English Musical Keys and to the complex German notation

Italian tempo markings

Since they are Italian they should follow Capitalization Standard Italian such that only the first letter of the phrase is titled. Example:

  • Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 5 in D major, KV 175: II. Andante ma un poco adagio

Common names

Common works names may be omitted, but it's preferable to add them. They should be surrounded by double quotes:

  • Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor, Op. 57 “Appassionata”: II. Andante con moto (do not use 'Appassionata' or «Appassionata» or -Appassionata-)
  • String Quartet No. 17 in B-flat major, KV 458 “Hunt”: II. Moderato
  • Sinfonie E-moll, Op. 95 “Aus der Neuen Welt”: II. Largo
  • Cantata, BWV 17 “Wer Dank opfert, der preiset mich”: Part II, V. Aria “Welch Übermaß der Güte”. Note that this also applies to individual movements.


Listing vocal parts (tenor, soprano, bass) is not mandatory. If included, they should be after the track name, but before the common name if present:

  • Cantata, BWV 17 “Wer Dank opfert, der preiset mich”: Part II, V. Aria (Tenor, Soprano) “Welch Übermaß der Güte”



(disambiguation comments in italics)

  • Complete String Quartets (Lindsay String Quartet)
  • Concerto for Orchestra / Dance Suite / Concerto for Orchestra (City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra feat. conductor: Sir Simon Rattle): The titles of many classical releases are really just a list of works on the CD. Separate with slashes according to Multiple Title Style
  • Piano Concerto No. 5 “Emperor” (Israel Philharmonic Orchestra feat. conductor: Zubin Mehta, piano: Radu Lupu): Multiple performers. Do not repeat the “feat.”, but separate additional roles/performers with a comma.

More ambiguous examples:

  • The Takacs Quartet Plays Dvorak (The Takacs Quartet): The title contains the performer but it is still part of the Release Title. This is preferred to just “Plays Dvorak…”
  • Sibelius: Orchestral Works (Chicago Symphony Orchestra): The composer name is a part of the release title. In some cases the release name might be just 'Orchestral Works'. If in doubt follow what is on the cover.

Track Title

  • Concerto for Orchestra: IV. Intermezzo Interrotto:In this case we just need the include the name of the work, movement number and name of the movement.
  • The Lark Ascending: Tasmin Little performed only on this track of the release; an Advanced Relationship should be added.
  • Cantata, BWV 17 “Wer Dank opfert, der preiset mich”: Part II, V. Aria “Welch Übermaß der Güte”: Here the movement number is “Part II, V.” because BWV 17 is separated into parts above movements.


  • St. Paul's Suite for string orchestra, Op. 29 No. 2: Jig


(Artist Credits in italics)

  • The Planets Suite, Op. 32: Neptune, the Mystic: Royal Philharmonic feat. conductor Vernon Handley / chorus: The Ladies of the Ambrosian Chorus feat. chorus master John McCarthy