Collected works in music publish the a specific composer's entire catalog in a series. Most of these sets cover repertoire of Western Europe from the late Renaissance to the early twentieth century. Often referred to as "the M3s" because of where they are shelved in many music libraries, collected works are tricky to navigate because they are published intermittently and most sets are not completed, and is can be difficult to find contents information for volumes in different series. This guide is designed to help students navigate collected works more easily, as well as provide information about how different sets were started and their contemporary condition.
Each collected works series has a unique title that is separate from the works it contains. For example, the Mozart series is called Neue Mozart Ausgabe, the Beethoven series is the Beethoven Werke.
Many collected editions have been in publication for decades, and in some cases, have changed publishers. Links will take you to information on past publishers, or items for sale on the current publisher's website.
Collected editions are usually produced (if not directly published) by cultural organizations, such as libraries or museums. Often historical information on the composer, music manuscripts, critical editing scholarship, and the formation of the series.
One of the trickiest things to navigate for collected works are the contents of a particular edition. It can be difficult to find a list of the planned volumes for a particular series, to identify which volumes have been published, and to find a list of what works are in which volumes. The contents link will point to the most comprehensive list available.
Most composers with a collected works series have a thematic catalog that is used to track and organize their works. If you're not familiar with a composer's catalog, here's where you can locate that information.