Mozart: A Progress Report

Having begun the process of re-cataloguing my collection of Mozart music just before Christmas (see the previous blog post), I thought it about time I posted a bit of a progress report. Naturally, what began as merely an exercise in re-naming things (for example, 'Requiem, K626' would become 'DZ 02082 Requiem' using the new Dizwell numbering scheme), rapidly became a full-on musicological cataloguing process... since I needed a good list of 'new names' with which to rename my music files to begin with.

As I hope the graphic at the left of this blog post indicates, I'm now about half-way through that cataloguing process. That is, if you visit the new catalogue, you will see green '+' buttons next to each listed composition. Click one of those, and for about half of the listed works, a 'hidden screen' will appear that shows a score of the first few bars of music for the piece (an 'incipit', from the Latin for 'Here begins...') and contains a link to an extract of an audio recording of the work (all extracts last for 40 seconds and are presented as 128kbps MP3 tracks, so are not 'hi-fi' quality).

The other 50% of compositions have been listed in their correct place in the catalogue, but their incipits and audio extracts have yet to be prepared.

Getting to this point has been harder than I'd have liked, largely because the Köchel catalogue from which this process drew its initial contents is a bit of a mess, with some compositions appearing under various numbers, depending on whether you are referring to the first, third or sixth editions of the catalogue. As a result, a number of duplications appeared in my first draft of the new catalogue -meaning that when I realised a duplication had happened and removed the second (or third!) example of the same composition, a numerical gap appeared in my Dizwell numbers. To close such a gap requires every other composition in that section of the new catalogue to be re-numbered -and that in turn means that any incipits or audio extracts that were created for those compositions then have themselves to be re-numbered, re-uploaded and re-applied to the newly-numbered works. It's a bit of a pain, to be honest... but I think that, for the most part, all of that sort of thing is now behind me.

Almost. There remains one gap to sort out:

If you are paying attention, you'll note that item 04007 is followed by 04009: the missing 04008 was a duplicate entry in my initial draft of the catalogue which I've now removed. I haven't yet 'closed the gap' that produced -because it's a mammoth task to re-name, re-number, re-incipit and re-audio-extract every '04' work listed after 04007. In fact, it involves re-cataloguing 102 items out of 109! I'll bring myself to do that soon enough, but I'm presently rather fed up with having done the same thing on about four different occasions for the '07' group of compositions (the 'Chamber Music' group), so I've put fixing the '04s' on hold for a day or two!

The shenanigans that have gone on with the Chamber group of compositions have been something of an education! My troubles principally started when I went through the original Köchel catalogue and said "If it's a sonata, it must be a chamber work". A bit of scripting and macro-writing later, and anything with 'sonata' in its title was thus assigned to the '07' group. Only later did it dawn on me that a 'piano sonata' has the word 'sonata' in its title and therefore got put into the '07 - Chamber' group... but, by virtue of it being a work for solo piano, I really ought to categorise them all as 'keyboard' works (which is the '06' grouping). Moving all the piano sonatas out of '07' into '06' caused a big gap in the '07' group, of course; making room for the new arrivals in the existing '06' group then meant a lot of re-naming and re-numbering there, too. So double the fun!!

All was then well until I one day rather casually decided that it was time to prepare an incipit and audio extract for the piece which Köchel called K448 -a piano sonata for two pianos, not one. Around New Year's Day, I'd performed the following bit of logic: if a piano+a violin  = a violin sonata, which is '07 - Chamber', then a piano+a piano = a chamber work also. I had therefore resolved to call K448 an '07' work, because it's not for solo piano, but for piano+piano. Unfortunately, my decisiveness about this categorisation decision began to falter in subsequent days! Involuntarily, I kept thinking and worrying about the problem and deciding on some days that my decision had been correct, and on others, that it had been profoundly wrong.

Around 7th January, after a week of indecision, I came to a conclusion: whilst it is clear that piano+violin isn't exclusively a keyboard work and cannot therefore be called a keyboard work, a piano+piano is exclusively a keyboard work... and thus should be regarded as a keyboard work, not a chamber piece. In which case, its inclusion in the '07' group was wrong, and instead it should be moved into the '06' group. Something which then required me to renumber both groups for a second time!

In the end, I don't suppose it really matters where K448 ends up, so long as one is transparent about the logic and is consistent about its application. So K448 is now DZ 06043 and all is well... except that I hadn't noticed that K497 is also a 'piano sonata for four hands'! Yup, Mozart wrote two piano sonatas for two pianos without telling me... and whilst I'd re-allocated the first, I hadn't spotted the need to re-allocate the second at the same time. When I did, about 6 hours after completing my first 06/07 re-numbering, it was therefore time to do yet another bout of 06/07 renumbering... 🙁

Anyway: apart from that gap in the 04 section, which I'll fix within a day or two at most, I now believe that the renumbering, re-naming and re-cataloguing games are now, finally, over. Thus, I can now get on and catalogue (i.e., prepare incipits and audio extracts for) the last 50% of Mozart's works with a reasonable degree of confidence that I won't have to do it two, three or more times as DZ numbers change under my feet! I'm hoping the entire thing might be as-near-as-possible 100% complete around the end of February!

My New Year's resolution, incidentally, was not to re-catalogue the works of Joseph Haydn, which I'd been thinking about for a while... 🙂