Which Composers Use K Before the Catalog Number?

K before the catalog number is a designation used by some composers to indicate that a work is intended to be a companion piece to another work.

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One of the most vexing questions for Schubertians is whether Schubert actually used “D. 934” to refer to his “Grand Duo.” The reason this is so important is that if Schubert did use “D. 934,” then scholars believe he must have prepared the work for publication and intended it as one of his opuses. However, if Schubert didn’t use “D. 934,” then it’s possible he simply jotted down a few thoughts for a work that was never completed and never meant to be performed or published.

Here are the facts: In December 1824, Schubert’s friendsthe violinist GiovanniBasevi and the composer Josef von Spaunjotted down some of Schubert’s recent compositions in a little green notebook they called the “Schubert Nachlass.” (This is the first time we have any mention of the “Grand Duo.”) Interestingly, before each work’s title, Basevi or Spaun wrote either the letter “K” or nothing at all. For instance, under Opus 10, No. 1, they wrote “K Piano Sonata in E[-flat].” But under Opus 11, No. 3 (“CapitalMarch”), they wrote nothing before the title; under Opus 20, No. 1 (“The Erlking”), they again wrote nothing; but under Opus posth., they wrote “K Symphony in C[-major].”

So what does the “K” stand for? Some believe it stands for “Komposition” (composition), others believe it stands for “Klavier” (piano), still others believe that in this particular notebook it has no specific meaning whatsoever other than to differentiate between works with opus numbers and those without them.

Why do some composers use “K” before the catalog number?

There is no universal answer to this question, as each composer may have their own system or reason for using “K” before the catalog number. Some possible reasons include:

-To indicate that the work is part of a larger series or collection
-To distinguish between multiple works with the same title
-To show that the work is a revision or arrangement of an existing composition

If you are unsure of the composer’s reasoning behind using “K” before the catalog number, it is best to consult secondary sources or ask the composer directly.

Examples of composers who use “K” before the catalog number

There are a few examples of composers who use “K” before the catalog number including:

Johannes Brahms – His works are identified with the catalogue published by Georg von Dadelsen in 1955, which lists his compositions in chronological order (Opus 1 to Opus 121). The variant “K” numbers were assigned by Alfred Einstein in 1952 when he published his Kritische Gesamtausgabe (Critical Complete Edition), which attempted to correct errors and omissions in Dadelsen’s catalogue.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – The Mozart Catalogue (Köchel-Verzeichnis) is a chronological catalogue of all compositions by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It was originally created by Ludwig von Köchel in 1862 and subsequently updated and expanded several times by others. The catalogue is often referred to as ‘K’, ‘KV’, or ‘K/6’ followed by the work’s number.

Skriabin – Alexander Scriabin used “Opus” for his earlier works and “Op.” for his later ones. In addition, he assigned a “WoO” (“without opus”) number to some 74 pieces which were unpublished during his lifetime. These were first published in the Complete Works edition prepared by Nikolay Grigoryevich Abramyan, Genrikh Helenovitch Altschuler, Max Vasilyevich Sokolov and Mikhail Vladimirovich Gnesin, between 1927 and 1949; the editors used Scriabin’s own “WoO” numbering scheme, but with slight modifications.

The benefits of using “K” before the catalog number

Did you know that some composers use “K” before the catalog number? The benefits of using “K” before the catalog number include:

-It helps to distinguish the work from others in the same genre
-It can help to identify the work as being by a particular composer
-It can help to date the work

The drawbacks of using “K” before the catalog number

The designation “K” before the catalog number is used to indicate a later, revised edition of a work. This can be confusing for music libraries, as well as for individual performers and collectors. In addition, use of the “K” designation is not standardized, and some composers do not use it consistently. For these reasons, it is generally best to avoid using “K” before the catalog number when cataloging music.

The history of using “K” before the catalog number

It has been generally accepted that Beethoven was the first composer to use “K” before the catalog number. He did this with his last set of string quartets, opp. 127-135, which were published in 1816-1817. It is believed that he got the idea from his close friend and colleague Johann Georg Albrechtsberger, who used “AG” (Albrechtsberger-Gesellschaft) as a prefix for his works. At first, Beethoven used “KG” (Kreutzer-Gesellschaft), but later settled on “K”; it is not clear why he chose this particular letter.

Other composers followed suit, sometimes using their own initials (e.g. Schubert’s “D”, Schumann’s “Op.”), and sometimes using a more general prefix (e.g. Haydn’s “Hob.”). Today, it is quite common for classical music works to be identified by their prefix and catalog number; for example, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 is typically referred to as “Op. 68”.

The future of using “K” before the catalog number

The use of “K” before the catalog number is a system that was put into place to help keep track of new compositions. It is a way of indicating that a piece is still in the process of being written and that it has not yet been given an official catalog number.

How to use “K” before the catalog number

If a composer is using “K” before the catalog number, it generally signifies that the composition is a later work. For example, Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 in G minor is his last work in that genre and is therefore signified by the “K” (“Kleine” or “little”) before the catalog number.


In conclusion, not all composers use K before their catalog number, but some do. If you are unsure whether or not a composer uses K before their catalog number, it is best to ask them or look it up.

Further reading

alphabetizing them by title.Works are often identified by their Köchel catalogue numbers, assigned by Ludwig von Köchel in 1862, though these numbers were not always originally published with the music; for example, some of Mozart’s works were first published posthumously, and so were not originally assigned Köchel numbers. The Köchel catalogue is now mostly used to identify specific compositions by Mozart, rather than as a way of

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