In addition to style guidance found at WP:MOS pages such as Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Music this page provides some specifics for pages that fall under the WikiProject Classical music:

Biographical infoboxes


Infoboxes are neither required nor prohibited for any article. Whether to include an infobox, which infobox to include, and which parts of the infobox to use, is determined through discussion and consensus among the editors at each individual article. However, current consensus among project participants holds that biographical infoboxes are often counterproductive on biographies of classical musicians, including conductors and instrumentalists, because they often oversimplify issues and cause needless debates over content; and that they should not be used without first obtaining consensus on the article's talk page. This position is in line with that reached by the participants at the Composers Project.

Links to the various infobox-related discussions from 2007 to 2013 are provided at Wikipedia:WikiProject Classical music/Major discussions.

Articles about compositions




An article's title should be selected to best represent what readers of Wikipedia expect. This means, among other things, that titles should be consistent for each genre. For example, a reader who has already successfully found Mozart's 40th symphony under Symphony No. 40 (Mozart) will expect that Haydn's 103rd symphony should be found under Symphony No. 103 (Haydn).

For existing precedents regarding article titling, please see: Category:Compositions by composer.

Judgment calls arise when a work has a famous nickname. For example, it might be more useful to readers to label the famous string serenade by Mozart as Eine kleine Nachtmusik, and not Serenade No. 13 (Mozart), even though doing so would violate the de facto naming convention for serenades. In borderline cases, consult other editors on appropriate talk pages before proceeding.

No matter what title you select, be sure to include redirect pages to help readers who search under different titles. For example, the link Serenade No. 13 (Mozart) given immediately above is in fact not a separate article, but a redirect to Eine kleine Nachtmusik.

Capitalization: original language titles


Capitalization of work titles would usually follow the style used in the most recent editions of New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians and The Oxford Dictionary of Music:



All articles should begin with a sentence that clearly identifies the piece, with the following suggested format:

[Piece name] is a [work type], [opus number], written by [composer] in [date].
Example: Caractacus is a cantata, Op. 35, written by Edward Elgar in 1898.

When the piece is commonly (see below #Opus numbers and catalog numbers) characterized by one or more catalogue numbers such identification should be given in the intro. Use the usual abbreviation that indicates the catalogue, preferably linked to a page that explains the abbreviation, and avoid a line break for the ensuing identification value(s). Don't bold such classification identification even when it appears in the article title or exists as an incoming redirect.

Example: The Missa solemnis in C minor, K. 139/47a, is a mass composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart ...

The body of a Wikipedia article on a composition is often organized more or less chronologically, with the description of the music separating the history of the piece's genesis from that of the piece's reception history (the summary of these topics often also more or less in the same order in the opening paragraph or lead section):

Topics related to the piece's genesis
Usually includes a brief account of the piece in the context of the composer's life (e.g., "The composer had just returned from...") and/or the wider political, social, historical, and musicological context of the piece (e.g., "At the time, the Napoleonic wars were raging in Europe..."). If relevant, this part of the article answers questions like – Where did the composer get his inspiration for this piece? Was the piece commissioned? Did the composer try to make a difference with previous compositions in the same genre? For vocal works: did the composer collaborate with the text author? ...
If no more specific (sub)divisions are warranted a good generic section title for this part of the article is for instance "==History=="
Description of the music
If the piece is an oratorio or other dramatic work, a plot summary may be written (preferably scene by scene, but not overly detailed), followed by dramatis personæ.
A musical analysis should follow, discussing the work's distinguishing features, such as its dynamics, performance quirks, instrumentation (see below: #Musical forces: specifying those used in a work), key, and so forth. Where appropriate, list the movements.
A generic section title that would often work for this part of the article is: "==Structure=="
Topics related to the reception of the piece (by the general public, critics,...)
A description on the legacy and impact of the piece should follow, e.g. how it perhaps altered genres, begat new styles, or popularized new methods. Other questions that may deserve an answer in this section: did the piece become immediately popular, or was it forgotten for some time? How and when was it premiered? How and when was it published? Are there any particular editions, concert performances, arrangements, recordings, publications (etc.) that had a significant impact on how the piece was perceived? See also below #Uses in popular culture. A more generic title for this section that is often suitable is "==Reception==". If the intro hasn't done so already, this is the part where it should become clear that the article conforms to WP:GNG/WP:Notability (music).
Finally, the listing of any notable recordings and references is recommended, complete with links, so as to allow the reader to obtain further information if desired. See also below #Recordings and #References for formatting.

All musical pieces are different; these notes are intended as only a loose and general guideline. Even when some of the recommended sections listed above are necessarily short (e.g. Symphony No. 8 (Sibelius), quite obviously not having much in terms of the middle part of the description of the music) it remains recommended to loosely follow a chronological approach: this helps future editors, e.g. a new significant recording of a piece will usually be added at the bottom of the article – it doesn't help if the other recordings are described somewhere in the middle of the article.

Overall, avoid adding irrelevant or insignificant material.

Evaluative passages


In general, subjective personal responses to a work (for example, "the deeply touching, elegiac slow movement") should be avoided. If it is deemed appropriate to include such subjective interpretations, find existing source material in which critics present views of this kind, and quote the critics, including a citation of the source. Such quotations give readers an idea of how listeners have responded to a work and do not violate the Wikipedia's policy against original research.

Descriptions based on the score


In general, it is permitted to make factual observations based on examination of the musical score of a work. Such observations should be limited to those agreed upon by virtually anyone with musical training, for instance "the trio section is in F major" or "the finale is in sonata form". Statements that are clearly interpretations, not observations ("the opening four notes of the Fifth Symphony are echoed by similar passages throughout the four movements") should not be inserted by editors, since they violate the policy against original research; though they can be quoted from source material if this is suitably cited.

For borderline cases, first place the proposed revision on the Talk page and get other editors' approval.



We discourage separate articles on excerpts from famous works (and series of works) already covered by Wikipedia. Readers need to be able to find coherent, consistent information about the complete work, not just the excerpt. Disproportionate coverage of one part of a work can lead to misconceptions about the full opus, and lead to readers only finding partial information after searching. Moreover, in most cases specific redirects to main page sections can make excerpt articles unnecessary.

Separate articles can be justified if the music, being performed in a different context from the complete work or in an alternative arrangement, is notable in its own right. However these cases are rare, so editors are asked to propose excerpt articles here at the Classical Music Project before creation.

Naming using an authority control system


When choosing a name for an article, the Library of Congress name authority file should be consulted to see if there is an established name. For names not listed there (primarily foreign), users should go to VIAF, which contains international authority files. (These systems allocate canonical unique identifiers to single entities, allowing clear disambiguation between different entities with similar names, while allocating single identifiers for multiple variant names.)

Opus numbers and catalog numbers


The works of many composers are categorized by Opus number. Work titles that include opus numbers should use the abbreviation "Op. " (with capital "O" and a space between the period and the number, and be set off by commas). For example: Piano Sonata No. 32 in C minor, Op. 111, by Beethoven. (See also Wikipedia:Manual of Style (music)#Abbreviations.)

For other composers, the usual reference is through numbers assigned in authoritative catalogs of works prepared by musicologists. Below is a partial guide.

Although not as commonly referenced as the foregoing, Jarmil Burghauser's catalogue of works by Antonín Dvořák (B) offers a useful escape from the morass of conflicting opus and work numbers assigned to that composer's music by publishers and others.

Foreign language names


The letters, accents and diacritics in the original language should be preserved when referring to works by their original language title (provided that language uses the Latin alphabet), e.g. Schöpfungsmesse not Schopfungsmesse nor Schoepfungsmesse, Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune not Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un faune.

The names of works, and other terms, should be marked up with the {{lang}} template, using the appropriate two-letter language code; for example: {{lang|de|Deutschlandlied}}.

Keys: capitalization


Key should be capitalized, but "major", "minor", "sharp" and "flat" should be in lower case. For example, C-sharp major; B-flat minor; D minor; G major.

Some reference works use a space-saving system where the words "major" and "minor" are omitted; a key in upper case refers to a major key, and one in lower case is a minor key. For example, "D" would mean D major, and "d" would mean D minor. Some editors confuse matters by adopting a part of this system but still spelling out the words "major" or "minor" – thus, "D major" vs. "d minor". This is inconsistent and is to be avoided.

Musical forces: specifying those used in a work


Current consensus favours dividing instruments into their families in large works, while preserving a paragraph format.

Section title


For large works, or large articles, it's usually best to describe the forces used under a separate section header (enclosed in "=="). Current consensus strongly favours titling that section Instrumentation, and not "Orchestration," which usually denotes the composer's use of the instruments. Instrumentation denotes the instruments themselves.



The consensus format for specifying which instruments or voices a work uses follows the precedents established by professional writers on music, for example in program notes written for concerts. These generally employ a simple paragraph style, listing the instruments in the normal order in which they appear in the full score. Thus a concert program ([1]) for a San Francisco Symphony performance of Schumann's Fourth Symphony specifies the instruments as follows:

The work is scored for two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, four horns, two trumpets, three trombones, timpani, and strings.

This can be wikified by simply linking each instrument to its dedicated article, leaving us with:

The work is scored for 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, timpani, and strings.**
**A note on strings: For orchestral works, the word strings should be linked to the article String section, which details the orchestral string ensemble, rather than String instrument, which deals with chordophones in general and is less helpful in this context. Listing the string instruments separately (i.e. "first and second violins, violas..." etc.) is generally unnecessary, unless the composer has specified numbers or unusual formations.

This simple format is applicable to most works, even most of those calling for larger orchestras, more percussion, and doubling on auxiliary wind instruments. For example:

The symphony is scored for an orchestra consisting of 2 flutes (2nd doubling piccolo), 2 oboes (2nd doubling cor anglais), 2 clarinets (1st doubling E-flat clarinet), 4 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 2 cornets, 3 trombones, 2 ophicleides (usually replaced by tubas), 2 pairs of timpani, snare drum, cymbals, bass drum, bells in C and G, 2 harps, and strings.

However, for works employing particularly large orchestras, complex wind doublings, large percussion sections, offstage instruments, and the like, it may be useful to expand the above format, dividing the instruments into several (possibly bulleted) paragraphs, according to their respective families (woodwinds, brass, etc). One example of an acceptably expanded description can be found in this article.

Carefully formatted columnar tables may be appropriate for complex descriptions that include information on the use of various instruments in different movements. A good example of this format is the article Symphony No. 9 (Beethoven).

Tables, columns, and long multi-level bulleted lists should be avoided, except in the most extreme cases. It is advisable to consult other editors on the article's Talk page to obtain consensus for such arrangements.

Score order


Instruments should be listed in the order they appear in the score, from the top down. Conventionally that order is as follows:

  1. Woodwinds (in order: piccolo, flute, oboe, cor anglais, clarinet, bass clarinet, bassoon, contrabassoon);
  2. Brass (horn, trumpet, trombone, tuba);
  3. Percussion (timpani, then other percussion – if possible specifying both the instruments played and the number of players; pitched percussion (marimba, etc) is generally listed last);
  4. Keyboard/miscellaneous (celesta, harp, piano, organ);
  5. voices (soloists, then chorus; they are often placed between violas and cello/bass in the score, but do not adopt that order in Wikipedia);
  6. offstage instruments or voices;
  7. strings (1st violin, 2nd violin, viola, cello, double bass).

In concertos and similar works, the solo voice(s) or instrument(s) are generally listed first.

The above does however not apply for, for instance, Bach cantatas where the most prominent sources use a different order (vocal soloists; choir voices; brass and timpani; ... ending with Basso continuo whether or not the continuo is performed by a stringed instrument).


Classical music often gets reused in modern culture, thus forming part of its modern history. This reuse can often add to the popularity of the classical work being used, as well as providing further insights into the music being described. When writing about such reuse in articles about classical music, please observe policies and guidelines such as WP:INDISCRIMINATE, WP:TRIVIA and WP:BALASPS.



In general, recordings are included in a Discography section of the article on the artist, or on the work. If the artist's or work's discography is extensive, it can be split out to a separate article. If a recording is exceptional, you can add a description and critical reviews.

Titles of articles on recordings


Titles of articles on recordings of classical music should include the name of the album (if it has a name), the name of the performer, and the word "recording"; for example, Goldberg Variations (Glenn Gould recording). Do not include the name of the composer, unless the title would otherwise be ambiguous (for example, Beethoven Symphony number 5 (Chicago Symphony Furtwangler recording)).



References, notes and sources are all contained within one main section called 'References', or in separate sections (e.g. "==References==", "==Sources==", "==Further reading==" and/or "==External links==").

If a single section is used, there are a number of optional subheadings:

designating footnotes or direct in-line citations (using {{Reflist}} coding below the "Notes" subheading)
'''Cited sources'''
(including specific articles or books appearing in the notes)
'''Other sources'''
(including those that are not directly cited but provide further information)

Note that bold type for these headings should not be effected with the wiki markup ";" (semicolon) – for an explanation see H:DL. Using section header markup is discouraged because of cluttering the table of contents. On the other hand using a Notes subheader might get confusing when using separate lists for explanatory footnotes and references that are part of the WP:V logic. So it depends on circumstances which system works best.




  1. Becket 1981, p. 171
  2. Borchmeyer 2003, p. 9
  3. Kennedy 2006, p. 299

Cited sources

  • Beckett, Lucy (1981) Richard Wagner: Parsifal, Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0694835193 Parameter error in {{ISBN}}: checksum
  • Borchmeyer, Dieter (2003) "Drama and the World of Richard Wagner", Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0691114972
  • Kennedy, Michael (2006), The Oxford Dictionary of Music, 985 pages, ISBN 0-19-861459-4

Other sources

  • Gregor-Dellin, Martin (1983) Richard Wagner — His Life, His Work, His Century, Harcourt. ISBN 978-0151771516

Online research


See Guide to online research on WikiProject Composers.