What is IMSLP's definition of a collection?

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Zeyar Shwe
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What is IMSLP's definition of a collection?

Postby Zeyar Shwe » Fri Oct 13, 2017 4:47 am

Can an admin please explain to me what the IMSLP's definition of a collection is?

I am in the process of uploading works by Philippe Joseph Hinner and am really perplexed by the way that some of them were put under the collection and some under the compositions.

His 4 Harp Sonatas, Op.6 was put under the collection. For me this would belong to the compositions rather than collection. For me a collection means works by different composers or collection of the same composer from several Op. numbers. The works with the Op nos like 4 Harp Sonatas, Op.6 belong to the composition.

Or IMSLP treats the work containing more than 2 or 3 sonatas as a collection rather than a composition? At the moment the classification of ' the collection' appears to be a bit arbitrary and there is no consistency. It is really odd to see his 4 Harp Sonatas, Op.6 under the collection and his 4 Harp Duets, Op.10 under the composition.

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Re: What is IMSLP's definition of a collection?

Postby Davydov » Fri Oct 13, 2017 6:55 am

A "Collection" on IMSLP consists of two or more "Works" in a single published edition. The collection pages were introduced because it isn't always possible to split a printed edition into its constituent parts, or there is some value in keeping an important edition intact.

So the ambiguity really lies in what constitutes a "Work". A song cycle or group of small piano pieces, written at the same time and published together would normally be treated as a single work. But Beethoven complicated matters because some of his piano sonatas were published together (e.g. the famous "Moonlight" sonata (No. 14) was published with No. 13 as Op. 27. It was found to be more convenient to have each sonata on a separate page. So our definition of "Work" was tweaked to allow these exceptions for multi-movement works like the Beethoven sonatas.

This obviously muddies the waters in cases like the "6 Harp Sonatas, Op. 6" you mentioned. My own view is that if the composer intended them to be published as a collection, then we should treat them as a single "Work" -- the only exception being if the constituent sonatas formed part of a longer, numbered series, like the Beethoven sonatas. (The fact that the Beethoven sonatas were numbered long after his death doesn't matter, because the numbers are so universally used).

In short, I would say that if the items within a collection don't qualify for their own individual workpages on IMSLP, then it isn't really a collection :)

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Re: What is IMSLP's definition of a collection?

Postby Zeyar Shwe » Fri Oct 13, 2017 7:22 am

Thanks. I am still confused. Why should 4 Harp Duets, Op.10 classified as a collection, whereas '4 Harp Duets, Op.10' and '3 Sonatas for Harp and Violin, Op.5' classified as composition ?

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Re: What is IMSLP's definition of a collection?

Postby Davydov » Fri Oct 13, 2017 4:15 pm

In Hinner's case the situation is confusing because there are other items without opus number, such as "9 Romances and 3 Harp Sonatas" and "6 Harp Sonatas" which may or may not constitute collections, and also a rogue "Harp Sonata in E-flat major" which could belong to one of the other opus sets (if so, it should be moved there).

I agree that "4 Harp Sonatas, Op.6" should be treated as a work rather than a collection, so I've moved it accordingly. If the original editors of that page have additional information which led them to treat it as a collection, they're welcome to weigh in here.

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Re: What is IMSLP's definition of a collection?

Postby Notenschreiber » Fri Oct 13, 2017 8:19 pm

That´s strange. Following Carolus´ argumentation, the 4 harp sonatas are a collection, because each of them could be performed as a single work.
We should really clarify this issue.

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Re: What is IMSLP's definition of a collection?

Postby Zeyar Shwe » Sat Oct 14, 2017 5:47 am

I also think that IMSLP should have clear guideline for what constitutes a collection. If we have to try and guess whether the composer meant it to be a collection or a work, we are than going into the land of ' conjecture' rather than actual fact and different admins will have different interpretations.
IMSLP needs to be consistent and not arbitrary, in my opinion.

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Re: What is IMSLP's definition of a collection?

Postby Carolus » Thu Dec 07, 2017 1:45 am

It really boils down to whether or not the items are intended to be performed as one unit or not, rather than opus numbers. Until late in Beethoven's lifetime, nearly everything except larger works (symphonies, operas, etc.) were issued in collections - even more so in Haydn and Mozart's day and before. This has a lot to do with printing press technology and the manufacture of paper (and its relative expense, which was pretty high back then). From the onset of music publishing in the late 1400s, opus numbers generally referred to publications rather than to works. This remained the case well into the 19th century. There were significant improvements in both printing and paper manufacture starting late in Beethoven's lifetime, which is why the later sonatas and quartets were issued as individual works (with opus numbers) in contrast to the 6 String Quartets of Op.18 and the 3 Piano Sonatas of Op.2. (With the later issues, like Op.131, the work happened to coincide with the publication). There are some things which kind of fall between the two categories, like the Chopin Etudes (Opp.10, 25). These were obviously ordered in a very deliberate fashion in groups of 12 each and indeed are often performed as one concert. They are also studied and performed as individual pieces and stand perfectly well as such. Bach's WTC is s similar case. Fortunately we have BWV #'s for all 48 of those so we can have individual pages as well as the pages for the 2 books of 24.


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