So, I was invited to host a mini piano and orchestra concert at my school despite having a little knowledge of classical music. I have some problems with the naming conventions of some musical pieces, like Beethoven's Piano Sonata No.6 in F Major Op.10 No.2. How exactly do I pronounce "Op.10 No.2"? Does "opus ten number two" sound awkward? And is it okay to just skip that part and just say "Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 6 in F Major"?

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    Put the full details in the printed program - and then you won't have to repeat what 's written in the program, so you might instead relate some anecdote about the performer, or the composer or the piece, or the first performance of the piece, or what was going on in the world when the piece was written. Use your imagination. Just relaying the library details of the piece can be a bit dry. Apr 20, 2019 at 17:34

2 Answers 2


"Opus ten, number two" doesn't sound awkward, but I'd recommend just omitting it. Those numbers are good to have when searching in some sort of catalog, or if someone (like Bach) wrote 100 pieces called Prelude and you need to distinguish between those. So if there would be a prelude from Bach on the list, it makes sense to say "now you will hear Bach's prelude in D minor, BWV xyz". But, in the case of the Beethoven piano sonata, the "Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 6" fully identifies the piece, so I think you could say just that. Adding the fact that it's in "F major" can help because it may stick in some people's minds better than the number 6.

(And imagine yourself sitting in the audience and hearing someone say that "Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 6 in F major Op. 10 No. 2" will be played. How long would you remember the "Op. 10 No. 2" part? I personally wouldn't even pay attention to it.)

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    Hi, thanks for the answer. So in that case, Chopin’s Etudes, Op. 10 No. 3 in E Major can be said as “Chopin’s Etudes in E Major”?
    – Tina
    Apr 20, 2019 at 16:24
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    @Tina: I would say that. If I were in that concert, I would take away that it was some etude, it was from Chopin and it was in E major. Perhaps when I would like to hear that again on YouTube, I would find out that Chopin wrote several etudes in E major, but it would be easy to pick the correct one anyway.
    – Ramillies
    Apr 20, 2019 at 16:30
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    @Tina, note if it's just one étude, then omit the '-s' which makes it plural. "Chopin's Etude in E Major". Apr 20, 2019 at 19:04
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    I'm fully agree with @Ramilies and luser droog. Nevertheless, considering the audience (children? classical educated audience? meloman? etc.) "opus" is sometime very significant. When you talk about op. 10 or op. 25 by Chopin, every musician or meloman knows what we talk about.
    – user59242
    Apr 21, 2019 at 5:50
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    Also: the piece has sometimes a name. You can use it significantly. "Moonlight sonata", and so on.
    – user59242
    Apr 21, 2019 at 5:52

I would actually drop the number 6 instead and keep the opus. Opus numbers are the composers own numbering, while the ordinal number are more the view of an accountant. Ordinal numbers are also not as stable: Some symphonies of Schubert and Dvorak have two established numbers, and the pecularity of Bruckner with a 0th and even 00th symphony appear also wierd.

Popular names (like moonlight sonata) help the auditory, but are frequently invented by an early publisher. So they may may given as addional hint, but not on their own.

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    Yes, this make a lot of sense. Different editions might number things, like Beethoven's piano sonatas, differently. "Sonata in F major Opus 10 number 2" is definitely better here
    – JimM
    Apr 21, 2019 at 18:48
  • This is true and more correct, but it's easier (and more common) to remember Beethoven's 5th rather than Beethoven Op. 67 Apr 23, 2019 at 7:27
  • @Shevliaskovic: I admit that, but I still claim that Domenico Scarlatti Sonate #412 does not help much. As far as I understand, the question concerned announcement and I prefer to have that unambiguous. The programme leaflet may of course list additional details.
    – guidot
    Apr 23, 2019 at 9:42

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