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# opus number

An opus number is a number attached to a particular musical composition or set of compositions by a publisher to denote the order of publication by the given composer. Theoretically, opus numbers would give musicologists a simple means to chart the growth of a composer chronologically, to make statements to the effect that there is a direct correlation between such and such composer’s handling of a particular musical technique and the opus numbers.

In practice, however, many factors contribute to making the opus numbers for certain composers less than useful, such as their being assigned by the composer rather than the publisher. Antonín Dvořák, for example, tried to fool publishers in an effort to get the best deal, and thus often gave misleadingly low or high opus numbers to his compositions. The confusion with Carl Nielsen’s opus numbers arose not from any wheeling and dealing, but from his not having an exclusive publisher and not keeping track of which opus numbers he hadn’t used (see sequence A113529 in Sloane’s OEIS for a listing of opus numbers skipped over by Carl Nielsen).

Other composers just never had any opus numbers given to their compositions by either publishers or themselves; musicologists then sometimes try to create a catalog with numbers named after themselves. In the case of Mozart, the Köchel numbers by Ludwig von Köchel are almost universally accepted, but in the case of Domenico Scarlatti, three different musicologists came up with three different catalogs, leading to many of Scarlatti’s sonatas to be known by three different numbers. The lack of opus numbers is not a problem for composers whose repertory works consist of less than a dozen of large-scale works (e.g., Bruckner and Mahler).

# References

- 1 Schönzeler, H. H. Dvořák London: M. Boyers (1984): 220 - 239

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## Comments

## How far are we going to go with this?

First there was the Kochel numbering of Mozart's compositions, now here's the Opus numbers, and then what? BWV (Bach Werke Verzeichnis)of Bach, RV (Ryom Vivaldi) of Vivaldi? The Deutsch listing of Schubert's works? Are we supposed to accept "all entries", even those that are remotely related to math?

## Re: Mathematicians and classical music

I have the perception, I don't know if it's true, that most mathematicians (professionals and amateurs alike) tend to like classical music. I even heard one fellow say that when computer programmers feel on the verge of burning out, they turn to musical composition to recharge their batteries, so to speak.

As for "how far" rants, the ranters hardly ever to stop to think about the fact that it's an issue that has been considered long ago and that the particular selection has been found worthy by respected professional mathematicians.

## Re: Mathematicians and classical music

I am just ranting because I don't think it's appropriate, and it's a personal opinion, which may not be shared by "respected professional mathematicians". Before long, every imaginable integer sequence will appear in PM. And there are uncountably many of them!

Please name some of these professional mathematicians... they may think it's amusing to discuss topics regarding the numbering of Haydn's string quartets. But is that appropriate for PM? How do you know they think it's appropriate for PM? Maybe it's your perception that they think it's appropriate? Maybe we should put a biography of Mozart here, because at one point in his life, he's interested in math....

## Re: Mathematicians and classical music

Please name some of these professional mathematicians...

Neil Sloane and Clifford Pickover.

## Re: Mathematicians and classical music

So it is your perception then.

## Re: Mathematicians and classical music

> Neil Sloane and Clifford Pickover.

Clifford Pickover is not a professional mathematician.

## Re: Mathematicians and classical music

I still disagree with all this tendency to add "anything" to planetmath if it is of interest for some mathematicians/math enthusiasts/etc.

Maybe those who think like I do are a minory (I really don't know), but my idea of planetmath is that it should contain math. Either very basic math or very advanced math, I don't care, but math after all.

Even if you're right about most mathematicians liking classical music, how is that relevant? It is my perception (and I'm serious) that most mathematicians like pornography. Should we add an entry about the numbers used to classify porn movies? That's completely irrelevant to this site.

You may say that my comparison is ridiculous, but if you do so, pelease let me know why.

## Re: Mathematicians and classical music

It sucks when you're the only one who knows where to draw the line. For example, when you know that there are infinitely many numbers but no one else does. They write an entry on 42, but they don't know that there's 43, or 44, or 45, etc.!

Actually, the numbering of Haydn's string quartets is interesting. Why is it that the record companies have accepted Hoboken's catalog for the symmphonies but not the string quartets?

## Re: Mozart bio at PlanetMath? No.

Maybe we should put a biography of Mozart here, because at one point in his life, he's interested in math....

If I can field this one: PM ought to have an entry on the so-called "Mozart effect" (the students who listened to Mozart before taking a math test and performed better). A biography of Mozart, that's really stretching it.

In fact, a stronger case could be made for PM to have a bio of Hitler! Hitler had an easily measurable impact on the lives of so many 20th C. Jewish mathematicians. He probably had some strong ideas about what the content of pure Aryan mathematics: nothing about interest rates, perhaps.

## Re: Mathematicians and classical music

You're right, man, most mathematicians and aficionados do like classical music. You're an odd one among aficionados for not sharing this predilection. But it might not be too late. I could e-mail you an Amazon list for you to explore this music in greater detail.

It's not like the fact (mentioned to me at the Slovene Wikipedia) that you have such a strong interest in number theory yet have no Slovene ancestry. You can't do anything about that.

## Re: Porn classification

There are porn classification numbers? That's news to me. The only numbers I see are durations, and those tend to be inflated. An "all-new 4-hour compilation!" might just barely have two hours, and half of one hour is wasted by the girl talking about how she doesn't like the way her hair looked in the scene she just did.

## Re: Mathematicians and classical music

Well, I suppose that deflates my argument. Oh well. At my age being right just isn't a priority.

## Re: Mathematicians and classical music

> Well, I suppose that deflates my argument. Oh

> well. At my age being right just isn't a priority.

It's unfortunate that you apparently misread my

counterexample as being an attempt to ``deflate'' your

argument.

The problem with your argument isn't that some of your

examples of professional mathematicians aren't

professional mathematicians. The problem with your

argument is that just because a professional

mathematician does something, that doesn't make it

mathematics. For example, G\"odel was a professional

mathematician, but he became convinced that he had used

mathematics to give a rigorous proof of the existence

of God. Kepler was an astrologer. Teichm\"uller was a

fervent Nazi who forced Edmund Landau out of Germany.

And so on. All of these mathematicians are dead, but

strikingly similar remarks could be made about living

mathematicians.

## Re: Mathematicians and classical music

Good points, excellent logic.

Mathematicians do study things they like mathematically, however. Thus one of them notices that there's an arithmetic correlation between Mozart's age and the Kochel numbers and another one calculates the best camera angles to maximize the apparent size of certain human features (to take Koro's porn example).

## Re: Mathematicians and classical music

> It sucks when you're the only one who knows where to draw

> the line. For example, when you know that there are

> infinitely many numbers but no one else does. They write an

> entry on 42, but they don't know that there's 43, or 44, or

> 45, etc.!

>

Again, you are making an assumption that I am the only person drawing the line. Of course, it may be true. But it may be that many people choose not to voice their opinions.

> Actually, the numbering of Haydn's string quartets is

> interesting. Why is it that the record companies have

> accepted Hoboken's catalog for the symmphonies but not the

> string quartets?

It is interesting but does not belong to the discussion or encyclopedia of mathematics.