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Boatwright Memorial Library

What goes into a program list



Determining the correct title of a musical composition can be tricky.  Below are some general guidelines.  You can get additional help from the "Style Guide" tab above or by asking Dr. Fairtile.

  • If a title is based on the work's genre or form (ex: Sonata, Nocturne, Prelude, Rhapsody, etc.), use the following examples as a guide.  Note the use of roman type and the specific application of upper and lower case:

                                            Etude in E Major, op. 10, no. 3       

                                           Sonata No. 13 in B-flat Major, K. 333

  • If the work has a well-known nickname, add this to the end in quotes and parentheses:

            Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp Minor, op. 27, no. 2 ("Moonlight")

  • If a title is unique, it is usually given in the original language, in italics.  Be sure to observe the capitalization rules of the original language and include any required diacritical markings:

                  Lieder ohne Worte                                    Don Quichotte à Dulcinée

                  Children's Corner (although Debussy was French, he titled this work in English)

  • If you are performing a piece with separate movements, give the main title on one line and list the movement(s) that you are performing on additional, indented lines.  Foreign movement titles are italicized.

           Le Tombeau de Couperin
  • For a multi-movement piece without actual movement titles, it's customary to use the tempo markings as default titles.  Foreign tempo words are italicized.

          Sonata in A Major for Violin and Piano
                 Allegretto ben moderato
                 Ben moderato: Recitative-Fantasia
                 Allegretto poco mosso
  • If you are performing one or more songs from a cycle, give the title of the cycle on one line and list the song(s) that you are performing on additional, indented lines.  In this case, although the name of the cycle is italicized, the titles of individual songs are not.

           Frauenliebe und -leben, op. 42
                Seit ich ihn gesehen
                Er, der Herrlichste von Allen
  • If you are singing a selection from an opera, oratorio, cantata, musical, etc., give the title of the main work (in italics) on one line and the name of the aria/duet/song (in roman) on the next line:

          L'incoronazione di Poppea
                Pur ti miro
  • Jazz or popular works are listed in standard title format:

          Well, You Needn't

          Foggy Mountain Breakdown




Every composer's name should be given in its proper form, correctly spelled, and with birth and death dates.  If a composer appears more than once on your program, use only his/her last name (with no dates) after the first appearance.

Resources to help you find composers' names and dates:

Oxford Music Online: Includes Grove Music Online, the Oxford Dictionary of Music, and the Oxford Companion to Music

Composer websites: all nationalities and eras

Biographical dictionaries and encyclopedias: the Music Library has a number of reference books with data about thousands of composers

U.S. Copyright Catalog: sometimes this is the only place to find a composer's dates


  • My composer is still alive

           Use the letter "b" followed by a period and space (the abbreviation for "born") and
            his or her birth year: (b. 1957)

  • I don't know if my composer is still alive

           Try some of these resources: Music Sack, All Music Guide, WorldCat

  • Different sources give different dates for my composer

           Go with the source that is the most reliable (library reference book or database
           over a website, unless it's clearly "official").  When in doubt, check with Dr. Fairtile

  • My piece is traditional; it has no composer (or it only has an arranger)

            If you cannot identify the arranger (or it has none), just use "Traditional" for the
            composer.  If you know the arranger's name, use this format:

                                                               arr. Moses Hogan