The most common use of the term “thematic catalogue” refers to catalogues of an individual composer’s complete works, which basically lists all of a composer’s work and provides detailed information about corresponding manuscripts and early editions. They are called “thematic” because most include musical incipits (the first few measures of a piece or a movement). Most thematic catalogues assign numbers to the composer’s works, which often become the standard reference number. (As just one example, all of Mozart’s compositions are identified with a “K” number, which refers to Ludwig von Köchel’s catalogue.) Also, thematic catalogues are often published in tandem with the scholarly edition of a composer’s collected works simply because the work required for both endeavors is so similar. In many cases, the bindings even match.
In addition to listing composer’s works and assigning numbers, most thematic catalogues include the following categories of information: title(s); musical incipits; premiere information; identification of librettists and other collaborating/influencing authors; instrumentation and specified performance forces; location of the autograph and other manuscript scores (often using RISM sigla); information of the first published edition and other editions influenced by the composer; volume correspondence for each work in scholarly editions of the composer’s works; limited bibliographies of research related to the sources for each work; indexes to other related thematic catalogues.
For thematic catalogues in foreign languages, the entries regarding a composition’s manuscripts and early editions may appear cryptic. The information usually proceeds as a chronological listing of known sources. Manuscripts are often accompanied by library codes while printed sources can often be identified by a title page transcription (often including city, publisher, and date, although it should be noted that music from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries is not often dated).
Thematic catalogues are typically assigned call numbers under the Library of Congress classification of ML 134.
Boissou, Slyvie. Jean-Philippe Rameau, catalogue thématique des œuvres musicales. Paris: CNRS éditions, 2003.
Deathridge, John, Martin Geck, and Egon Voss. Wagner Werk-Verzeichnis (WWV): Verzeichnis der musikalischen Werke Richard Wagners und ihrer Quellen. Mainz: Schott, 1986.
Deutsch, Otto Erich. The Schubert Thematic Catalogue. New York: W.W. Norton, 1951.
Hoboken, Anthony van. Joseph Haydn: Thematisch-Bibliographisches Werkverzeichnis. 3 vols. Mainz: B. Schott’s Söhne, 1957-78.
Holoman, D. Kern. Catalogue of the Works of Hector Berlioz. Hector Berlioz New Edition of the Complete Works 25. Kassel; New York: Bärenreiter, 1987.
Köchel, Ludwig von. Chronologisch-thematisches Verzeichnis sämtlicher Tonwerke Wolfgang Amade Mozarts. Leipzig: Breitkopf und Härtel, 1862. Reprint, Hildesheim; New York: G. Olms, 2006.
McCorkle, Margit L. Thematisch-Bibliographisches Werkverzeichnis. Mainz: Schott, 2003. (Robert Schumann)
Robinson, Michael F. Giovanni Paisiello, a Thematic Catalogue of His Works. Thematic Catalogues 15. Stuyvesant, New York: Pendragon Press, 1991.
Wehner, Ralf. Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy: Thematisch-systematisches Verzeichnis der musikalischen Werke. Leipziger Ausgabe der Werk von Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy. Serie XIII, Werkverzeichnis. Bd. 1A. Wiesbaden: Härtel, 2009.