MLA News

Official News from the Music Library Association


Klassika is an online music encyclopedia focused on composers and their works. As a music reference source, it might best be described as an extensive guide to the works of both major and less well-known composers in the Western classical tradition. As such, it shows some of the inherent lack of diversity associated with many sources dealing with the “canon” of classical music. It is fair to note that site manager welcomes additional information where entries are incomplete or missing. The aim is to provide complete works lists for each composer with links to corresponding commercially available recordings and scores. It shares some similarities with MusicBrainz, a site that is perhaps more familiar to music librarians in North America. Klassika currently lists 6,458 composers and 116,100 works.

Entries for each composer consist of essential biographical dates and places, a catalog of works, links to authority records (usually from the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek and the Library of Congress) and Wikipedia articles (in various languages). When present, biographical information for each composer is limited to a brief overview. The list of works is perhaps the strongest feature of the entire site. When a thematic catalog exists for a composer, that numbering system is used. The works lists can be sorted conveniently by thematic catalog number, genre, title, and date of composition. Entry details provide basic bibliographic information including variant titles, genre, and date. Whenever possible, links are also provided to recordings and scores of each work.

The recordings links connect to Passion for Music, a German vendor with extensive offerings for classical and popular music. This site is available in both a German and English interface. Passion for Music is noteworthy in its own right. Descriptions for most recordings are very detailed including all the basic bibliographic information, track lists, reviews, and photographs of both the front cover and contents cover. Each track listing usually includes a brief streaming excerpt which makes it possible to preview the music and performance. Within Passion for Music, each entry offers links to related recordings of music by the same composer and recommended recordings released by the same label. Links to commercially available scores usually connect to the German vendor Notenlager.

While there is a focus on composers and their works, the site offers much more including references to conductors (with similar biographical information and links to recordings), librettists, lyricists, genres, and music terms. The entries for conductors function effectively as an online discography of major conductors. Klassika further provides a directory of opera house and concert hall websites and a current calendar of events. A box at the bottom of the home page provides a calendar or chronology of past music events that took place on the current date (like birthdays of composers included in the site). One special and perhaps unique feature is a guide to music related anniversaries, information not easily accessible online in such a well-organized fashion. The guide to anniversaries can be searched by birth date, death date, Jubilee year, and a chronological annual overview.

Klassika also serves as a limited bibliography of thematic catalogs. It currently lists about 200 titles. For every title included in the bibliography, links lead to a complete listing by thematic catalog number. These lists effectively interface with the biographical entries for each composer.

A final note: Klassika offers its own monthly recommendations for new CDs The site is well-maintained and there appear to be no dead links. This site is offered in German, but do not ignore it if you cannot read German. offer good, workable translations, and if you install the DeepL client on your computer, simply repeating the copy command twice will copy your selection and open it in DeepL for an immediate and useable translation.

David Day, Curator of Music Special Collections
Brigham Young University