Taming iTunes 7 for Classical Music
(and Non-Classical Too)
Revised 13 Apr 2016
Revised 13 Apr 2016
Apple iTunes is great at handling files, but its support for so-called classical music is pitiful. This page explains my scheme to make iTunes and iPod work for my collection, which is mostly classical but includes some other genres. I’ve set things up to access classical and non-classical in the most natural ways that iTunes and iPod allow. You might not use my scheme as is, but I hope it will alert you to the choices and get you thinking about how to set up your own collection.
“Your solution, while still a kludge, is an elegant kludge that is about as perfect as you can get.” —Owen Mathews
Update: This document was written for iTunes 6 with an iPod 5G, and updates kind of lapsed after iTunes 7. It’s preserved here for historical interest, but for current information you want Taming iTunes & iPod for Classical Music.
See also: Converting CDs to iTunes Audiobooks
Copying: You’re welcome to print copies of this page for your own use, and to link from your own Web pages to this page. But please don’t make any electronic copies and publish them on your Web page or elsewhere.
“Classical music” isn’t really the right term. “Classical” is one period in the history of Western music. Calling it all “classical music” is like using “England” to mean the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland — people usually know what you mean, but it’s not accurate.
I’ve heard “concert music”, “serious music”, “art music”, and “Western art music", and any of them would be better. But human language isn’t logical, and so like everyone else I’ll continue using “classical music” as a catch-all term.
In November 2005 I bought myself my first iPod, the 60 GB model. (I bought the 5G or video iPod for capacity, figuring I need about 45 GB to store all of my CD library, but I plan to store only audio on it.)
Update, December 2006: It took about eight months to get all the CDs loaded and play every track through at least once. For some reason — probably the fault of my CD drive —about 10% of the tracks had a loud short burst of static 6 to 8 seconds in, so they had to be re-imported. Now on iPod I’ve got 720 discs in 393 albums. That’s about 763 hours playing time, or just over a month. It’s about 36 GB of storage, less than I thought it would be, but luckily still too much for the 30 GB iPod.
Initially I was happy with iTunes, especially with the fact that it would jump out to the Gracenote CDDB database and use it to fill in the tags. (I’m using iTunes 6 for Windows.) But I quickly noticed all was not well, and almost as quickly found it was faster to fill in the tags myself from the CD liner notes than to edit the horrendously inaccurate and inconsistent metadata downloaded from the CDDB.
What’s wrong with the iTunes and CDDB experience, for the collector of classical music? In a nutshell, they were designed for pop music, not classical. Here are some specific problems:
The coding is sloppy and inconsistent: there are lots of misspellings, and what information is there is likely to be in the wrong tag. At right you see one track from a randomly selected CD. Actually this one’s better than average, but note “Berloiz” in the Album tag, the missing Grouping, the random colons and semicolons in Artist, and the improperly checked Part of a compilation. (As it happens, my scheme doesn’t use the Grouping tag, but it would be needed with the Album tag as downloaded.)
The last straw for me was finding two piano concertos by the same composer with the same soloist, conductor, and orchestra: one of them had the composer in Artist, and the other had the composer in Composer. Without consistent tagging it’s difficult to impossible to do any searching or construct useful smart playlists. As I said, I found it was easier to enter the information myself from scratch than to edit what got downloaded.
There’s just one genre, “classical”. That might make sense if you’ve got 100 Metallica CDs and one Mozart for Lovers, but it’s pretty darn silly to tag all these the same: an Albinoni oboe concerto, Beethoven’s Rage over a Lost Penny, Brahms’ Double Concerto, Delibes’ Lakmé, Gade’s Novelletter, Haydn’s Nelson Mass, Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde, Schubert’s String Quintet in C, and Verdi’s Il Trovatore.
This is the one problem that’s easily fixable: iTunes lets you define a new genre by just typing it in the box. But it’s an extra step.
The iTunes database is organized by artist, not by composer. In classical music the composer is at least as important — more important, many of us would say.
In iTunes the fundamental units are the “song” (a CD track) and the “album”. In Peter Nelson’s felicitous phrase, iTunes has "no intrinsic concept of movements". “Song” and “album” are the wrong organizing units for classical music, where a “piece” or “work” is what matters. Sure, sometimes one of these equals a “song”, but usually several tracks make up a work. Sometimes you’ll get one work per CD, but quite often you’ll have two on one CD (Dvorak’s 7th and 8th, for instance) or multiple CDs for one work (almost any opera written after 1800). In my set of Tchaikovsky symphonies, his Second Symphony spans tracks 5 and 6 of CD 1 plus tracks 1 and 2 of CD 2.
iPod can’t play tracks continuously (with iTunes 6). Because the “work” is the unit, but some are long, CD publishers tend to put track markers at key points even if there’s no pause in the music. iPod puts in a pause, and there’s no way in iTunes 6 to keep the track marker yet play continuously. This is terrible not only for the past two hundred years of opera, but for instrumental works where two movements are to be played continuously — standards like Beethoven’s “Emperor” piano concerto, Sibelius’ 5th symphony, and Saint-Saëns’ 3rd.
Update, November 2006: iTunes 7’s new feature “gapless playback” solves this problem, and the feature also works on 5G iPods with the 1.2 firmware (issued in September).
The database allows only one artist per “song”. But most performances have a conductor and an ensemble; many have one or more soloists as well. Logically I’d like to search for any of them.
There’s a way around this in iTunes: create a smart playlist using “Artist contains”. But to find everything conducted by von Karajan and (separately) everything with Alfred Brendel as soloist, that takes two playlists; there’s no way to sort the iTunes library by multiple artists. And there’s no way at all on iPod.
I could go on, but you get the point. Indeed, if you’re reading this page you already know the pitfalls as well as I do.
Given that I can do pretty much anything in iTunes with smart playlists, what can I do when I’m out on the road with iPod and want to play something I didn’t plan in a playlist? There are four relevant retrieval methods under:
That organization by album and by track number within album is the main problem we have to overcome.doesn’t help, because there’s no way even under to select a particular concerto or a particular opera in one operation.
A second problem with browsing is the narrow display on iPod. Even though late-model iPods will scroll horizontally in a menu list when you pause on an item, it takes time, and it’s irritating to pause and wait while scrolling vertically just to figure out where you are in a long list of “Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky Symphony Num...”
A second point will influence how to tag the music: The Now Playing screen shows the Name tag plus Artist and Album. The name scrolls, but artist and album don’t.
The iTunes browser (Ctrl-B, or Genre, Artist, and Album are in the top part of the browser, so only those fields are available for quick selection and searching.» ) lets you sort by almost any field, but only
Shuffle is a great idea, but only part of it is useful. You don’t want the movements of different works to be interspersed — not after you’ve tried it once, anyway — so shuffle by songs is useless for classical.
Shuffle by albums is a little better. On iPod it’s» » . In iTunes, select » » and you get the ability to shuffle by by album or by grouping, as well as by the useless “song”. (Near by, you see just the relevant part of that dialog.)
In my scheme, when I want to shuffle a playlist of classical music, I use iTunes shuffle by album. For playlists of other music or spoken word, I shuffle by grouping. This depends, obviously, on the way I code the Album tag and the Grouping tag.
This page presents my plan, but I’d welcome some standardization even if it was different from my plan.
Reader Owen Mathews tells me that the needed tags are already in the ID3 standard.
Reader Peter Nelson asks whether there are any organizations trying to develop a consensus scheme “friendly to classical music”, then convince CD and software publishers to use it. Kirk McElhearn wrote to me in January 2007 about The Well-Tempered Database, with plans to do just that. He seeks feedback and help from other classical-music fans, though unfortunately he gives no details on the Web site.
The iTunes browser (Ctrl-B or» ) is actually quite good at letting me make selections. And the plan that I’ll make with iPod in mind will also work happily with iTunes.
As far as iPod is concerned, I think the main thing is to be able to select a specific work as a whole in one step, so that iPod plays that work and then stops. I might want to do any of these:
(A) select a work by composer or songwriter — “Beethoven’s 5th”, “a George Gershwin song”
(B) select a work by genre — “I’m in the mood for some chamber music — how about the Romantics? — Brahms sounds good — how about the Brahms opus 25?"
You might prefer to select a piano quartet based on the performers. Unfortunately, with iPod you can select one way or the other, but not both. You’ll have to decide once and for all which way you want more, and then commit to the appropriate tagging for that choice.
(C) select a non-classical album, for instance a whole audiobook transferred from CD
Once I’ve got a playlist (plain or smart), I often prefer to
(D) play the works in random order while still keeping movements in order within a work.
Finally, wherever I am in any playlist, I want to
(E) see what I’m listening to (composer, work, and movement) on the Now Playing screen.
For effective browsing, you need effective tagging — that’s the whole point of this article.
And it’s a lesson I had to learn the hard way. I have to admit, I had imported 6388 “songs” — about three fourths of my collection — with a growing sense of unease, when finally I faced the fact that there were some flaws in my tagging. I’d been doing it all myself, not relying on the CDDB, so I didn’t have problems with inconsistency. But I couldn’t do some of the searches I wanted to do on iPod. In particular, I couldn’t decide on the spur of the moment to play a particular work, and only that work.
At that point I stopped, did a lot of research and experimentation and a lot of thinking, and came up with the scheme I’m about to present to you. And I gritted my teeth and retagged those 6388 “songs” before importing any more. (It would have been even worse without the labor-saving tips shown below.)
So here’s my plan ...
Details are below, organized by tag. (The Contents lists the tags, or you can click on any item at right to jump to my recommendation. Depending on your Web browser, you may also be able to use the iTunes shortcuts shown in the figure, such as Alt-T or Command-T to go to the Track Number tag on this Web page.)
Are you importing tracks that should play continuously, without the 2-second gap?
In iTunes 6, you must join tracks when you import them. Select the first track in the group of continuous tracks, press and hold the Shift key, and select the last in the group. Then select» . Repeat for each group of tracks on the CD that must be joined.
In iTunes 7, this is much easier: iTunes itself recognizes which tracks are supposed to be played gapless, and it communicates this to your 5G iPod with 1.2 or later firmware. You keep the ability to jump right to a particular aria or section (assuming the original CD has a track marker there).
Gapless playback is always on for tracks from gapless CDs. You need not setmanually in — in fact, according to Apple’s description that setting has no effect at all when playing tracks on iPod, and no effect in iTunes unless crossfade is turned on.
See also: this article at iLounge forum — for much more, do a Google search for “gapless site:ilounge.com” (without the quotes).
Edit the tags before importing from CD. Since iTunes remembers your CDs, if you ever have to re-import a disc you won’t have to edit the tags again. iTunes is even happy to have different Album tags for tracks on a single CD. The exception is Track Number, which can’t be edited until after you’ve imported the CD.
Edit multiple tracks at once. Don’t type duplicate information in several tracks. Select all tracks that need the same edit, then edit the field(s) that are the same for those tracks. You can do this for CDs as well as tracks in the Library.
Following are three Windows procedures for selecting multiple tracks; the Mac procedures are similar but I don’t know the exact keys.
Once you’ve selected the tracks that need the same edit, press Ctrl-I or right-click and select.
Use keyboard shortcuts. A lot of people type in one field, them move a hand from the keyboard to the mouse to click in another field, then move the hand back to the keyboard and start typing. It’s a lot easier to use the shortcuts that are shown in the dialog, like Alt-L for the Album tag and Alt-G for Genre. And don’t neglect Alt-N and Alt-P for next or previous song. (Not shown, but useful, are Tab for next field and Shift-Tab for previous field in the same song.)
Use auto completion. In the Artist, Album, Grouping, Composer, and Genre tags, when you start typing something you’ve typed before, iTunes will automatically fill in the rest for you. You can use this to advantage.
For instance, if you’re importing the nine Beethoven symphonies with von Karajan and the Vienna Philharmonic, you only need to fill in Artist, Album, Composer, and Genre for the first one. After that, you can type just the first few letters and let iTunes fill in the composer, performers, and genre. (Playing the same game with the Album tag, you’ll have to edit the symphony number and key signature, but that’s easier than typing the whole thing.)
“Classical” — Movement marking
(or) Cuing (or) Full title
Other — Title
1. Allegro non troppo
II-4. Mon cœur s’ouvre à ta voix
I’ll be with you in apple blossom time
Hobbit 14. Fire and Water
Bearing in mind that the Album tag will hold the work title, what goes in the Name tag?
This does leave a problem: on iPod, a playlist shows only the Name tag. Since Name is just the movement or cuing in a larger work, it’s effectively impossible to select a particular work from the middle of a playlist. That doesn’t bother me, since I select specific works by Genre or composer (the Artist tag), but I mention it so you won’t be surprised.
Coding: composer in the Artist tag and performers in Composer
As mentioned above, to meet my goal A I have to lie to iTunes. (I first read this suggestion in the column Ask iLounge 9-16-05.)
Granted, this is controversial — maybe the only controversial section on this page. It’s obvious from the metadata in the CDDB that some people go one way and some go the other. Whether you follow this recommendation or not, you’ll gain some things and lose some things, as shown in the table below.
It all comes down to how you prefer to work. I search iPod (within a genre) by composer more often than by artist, and I browse iTunes by composer more often than by artist. I want to code things to make composer searches easier, and therefore I have to code the composer in the Artist tag and the artist(s) in Composer. If the performers are more important to you than the composers, you’d do it the other way.
|How do you search?|
|More often by composer||More often by artist|
|How to enter metadata||Put composer in the Artist tag and artist(s) in Composer||Put artist in Artist and composer in Composer|
|Browsing iTunes library||Middle column is composer (called “Artists”) — still possible to select everything by one artist but takes extra steps||Middle column is artist — still possible to select everything by one composer but takes extra steps|
|Browsing iPod by genre||See composer within genre (e.g. oboe concertos → Albinoni)||See artist within genre (e.g. string quartets → Guarneri)|
|Browsing iPod by artist||Uselist||Uselist|
|Browsing iPod by composer||Uselist||Uselist|
|Now Playing screen on iPod||Line 2 shows composer; artist(s) not shown||Line 2 shows artist(s); composer probably part of album title (line 3)|
Haydn, Franz Joseph (1732-1809)
Composer tag: Alfred Brendel; Claudio Abbado, Berlin PO
In the Artist tag, the composer’s last name needs to come first: this is essential for browsing in iPod’s menu and for using the iTunes browser. I add the composer’s dates, since I only have to type them once.
|Abbreviations for performers|
|ASMF||Academy of St-Martin-in-the-Fields|
|RSO||Radio Symphony Orchestra|
In the Composer tag, I list the conductor and orchestra, separated by a comma. (I use the abbreviations shown at right for performing ensembles.) When there’s a soloist, I list the soloist first, separated from conductor and orchestra with a semicolon. If there are several soloists, I put the principal one or two in the Composer tag and the rest in Comments, and I use the abbreviations shown below to distinguish multiple soloists.
Logically, the performer(s) should also be entered last name first. But I use first-last order for two reasons. First, it’s easier to read when there are multiple performers. Second, even with last-first order I still couldn’t browse by performer, not effectively anyway. Why? There are multiple performers for almost every work (conductor and orchestra, vocalist and accompanist, etc.). So Abbado will come first when he’s conducting a pure orchestral work, but not when he’s conducting a concerto. As a practical matter, the only way to find all of his performances — whether I list him as “Abbado, Claudio” or “Claudio Abbado” — is with a smart playlist, “Composer contains Abbado”.
For non-classical music, I follow the same pattern. Otherwise I’d have Gershwin and Bernstein and others as Artist for their “serious” music and Composer for their popular songs. The consequence is that if I want everything performed by Glenn Miller, I have to look him up as Composer and not as Artist.
If I know the year the work was composed, I put it here; otherwise I leave this tag blank. If the year of performance has some special significance, I put it in the Album tag.
|Abbreviations for works|
|Abbreviations for instruments and voices|
“Classical” — Composer Work “Subtitle” (Date Performer)
Other — see next section
Bach Brandenburg cto #1 F (Pinnock, English Concert)
Beethoven Sym #1 C (1963 von Karajan, Berlin)
Brahms Q5-p op34 f (Eschenbach, Amadeus)
Corelli Cto grosso op6: 7 D (Marriner, ASMF)
Grofé Grand Canyon suite (Bernstein, NY)
Mahler Sym # 1 D "Titan" (Walter, Columbia)
Mendelssohn Cto-v-p in d (Kremer, Argerich, Orpheus)
Rossini Barbiere di Siviglia (Callas, Alva)
Schubert Son-p D959 A (O'Conor)
Coding album titles for “classical” works is complicated, because there are so many variations. But you have to do it, not only for works with several movements but for one-movement works; see below for the reasons.
Here are the parts of my Album tag:
For standard categories of works like symphonies and quartets, I use the abbreviations at right, followed either by a # sign and the work number or the catalog number, then the key signature.
Spacing: Usually I butt the number against the # or “op” or catalog designation, but I always consider how an alphabetical list will appear. Thus Beethoven’s first is #1 because his last symphony is number 9, but Mahler’s first is # 1 because his last symphony is number 10. In the Corelli example, opus 6 number 7 is coded as op6: 7 because the numbers within opus 6 go above 9, and I don’t want opus 6 number 2 to sort after opus 6 number 10. (If my Corelli concerti grossi had opus numbers higher than 9, this one would be op 6: 7.)
Key signatures: Capital letters mean major keys and lower-case letters mean minor; I use # and b for sharp and flat. I omit the word “in” after an opus number or other identifying number — compare the Mahler and Mendelssohn examples.
Capital letters take up more room than lower case, so I capitalize only the first word of the title, as in the Corelli example. Proper nouns are still capitalized, as in the Grofé and Rossini. I omit articles (The, An, La, Un, etc.), as in the Rossini example.
For a double or triple concerto, I don’t use those words but simply designate the instruments, as in the Mendelssohn example. In a similar way, a piano quintet is distinguished from a string quintet by adding a -p suffix, as in the Brahms example. The abbreviations for instruments shown at right are derived in part from my memories of the program guide issued in the 1970s by the Cleveland FM station WCLV.
You might be wondering where to code the actual title of the album. If the album title actually matters to you — and for art music I don’t really think it does — you can always put it in the Comments tag. I decided that I really don’t care about the original title of an album, in general. I never want to listen to the album Brahms Fourth Symphony and Tragic Overture as a unit, even though that’s how the CD came.
My goals A and B are to be able to select a specific work to play. As you saw above, the only groupings iPod lets you select are an artist, a composer, a playlist, or an album. You can select an album within artist or composer, but playlists are presented in one long unstructured list. So once again I have to lie to iTunes and code each work as an album.
This might seem like overkill: you might prefer to leave the Album tag blank for any short work, one that is a single track. But I recommend you always fill it in, for easier browsing in iTunes or on iPod:
“Classical” — see
Other — Performer Album
Clooney Sings Johnny Mercer
For non-classical music and spoken word, I put the actual album title, prefixed if necessary with the performer’s last name. For these types, the album title is likely to have some significance, though not always — the publisher or artist has usually arranged the songs on CD for some purpose. This lets me listen to an album like Michael Feinstein’s Over There (World War I songs).
For Broadway shows and movie soundtracks, I code just the name of the show, not the performers. If I had a particular show both from Broadway and from the movie, I’d add (Broadway) or (movie) to the title.
I renumber the tracks of almost every “classical” work; the main exception is operas, where the libretto is keyed to the disc and track numbers.
For example, in my set of Tchaikovsky symphonies, number 3 is on tracks 3-4-5-6-7 (of 7) on disc 2 (of 4). I renumbered those to tracks 1-2-3-4-5 (of 5) on disc 1 (of 1). While it’s true that file names are slightly shorter with disc 1 of 1 than with a multi-disc album, my main motive is to keep the movements in order while coding the total number of movements.
For non-classical music and spoken word, I keep the original track numbers. With these types of music, the order of the program on an album is often significant.
“Classical” — always blank
Other — see below
Since the work is identified in the Album tag, there’s no need to use the Grouping tag for art music. (In any event, iPod don’ know nothin’ ’bout no Grouping tag. Either this is just an entry in the iTunes database, or it’s a real tag but iPod doesn’t give you any way to view it, much less search on it.)
An alternative view: Reader Owen Mathews suggests that the Grouping tag can have a use even for classical music. He points out that shuffle by grouping is fairly new in iTunes, and therefore there’s hope that it will be added to iPod before too long. He proposes the idea of strong and weak groupings. A strong grouping would be the movements of a symphony, and a weak grouping would be the Brahms Libeslieder waltzes.
He proposes matching the Grouping tag to the Album tag for strong groups, but leaving the Grouping tag empty for weak groups. The effect is that he can shuffle by grouping (in iTunes) to keep each symphony together but randomize the waltzes, or shuffle by album (in iTunes or iPod) to keep the symphony and the waltzes together in original album order.
This approach has much to recommend it, and it’s similar to what I do for other genres; see immediately below.
For non-classical music and spoken word, how I code the Grouping tag depends on whether the order of tracks on the album is significant. If it is, I make Grouping match Album; if the order is not significant, I leave the Grouping tag blank. For instance, the order is significant in cast albums and soundtracks, as it is in audiobooks imported from CD.
This causes iTunes shuffle to work in a sensible way for all types of recordings; please refer to the description above.
Coding: see below
(see musical periods below)
|AC/Violin/period||Violin and/or cello concerto|
|AC/*/period||Concerto for other solo instruments|
|AS/Violin/period||Solo violin and/or cello|
|AV/Choral/period||Secular choral work|
|AV/Lieder/period||Secular song for solo|
|AV/Sacred/period||Sacred solo or choral work|
|A/Humor||Humor and parody (classical)|
|B/Humor||Humorous songs (non-classical)|
|B/NA Mixed||New Age instrumental|
|B/NA Piano||New Age piano solo|
|B/Pop||Traditional pop, including swing and show tunes|
|B/Pop Europe||European pop|
|B/Rock||60s&70s rock ’n’ roll|
|B/Shows||Broadway and filmed musicals|
|S/Fiction||Novels and stories|
You’ll notice there are three humor categories. A/Humor is “classical” music humor: Anna Russell, for instance. B/Humor is popular song humor, from Flanders & Swann to “Monster Mash”. S/Humor is purely spoken.
I tag “classical” music both for type of music and for musical period (see below) — after all, a C.P.E. Bach flute concerto is quite a different listening experience from a Nielsen flute concerto. With smart playlists it’s easy to select all romantic music, or all piano concertos, and so forth.
From the list above you’ll notice that every genre of art music starts with A. I have a smart playlist, “Art Music”, to select all the art music genres.
Let me emphasize that I made up this list of genres to match my own collection and tastes. It may not be suitable for you as is, but you can use it for ideas about how you want to categorize your music, bearing in mind what sorts of searches you’ll want to do and what playlists you’ll want to create.
There is no perfect list of musical periods. Not only do musicologists disagree, but many composers straddled two or more periods chronologically or stylistically.
Also, one’s own taste has a lot to do with it. For instance, I lump anything before the Baroque into one period because it’s not my primary interest, even though in college I learned to distinguish several periods.
For what it’s worth, here is my personal list of musical periods: Antique, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Romantic Late, Twentieth [Century]. I don’t always use the most natural name, but my list has the virtue that alphabetical order matches chronological order.
Donald Jay Grout, in A History of Western Music (Norton, 1960), calls the late 19th and early 20th centuries “The End of an Era” and traces three main streams: the post-Romantic idiom of Germany after the establishment of the second empire in 1870; the new nationalist schools of Bohemia, Russia, the Baltics, Scandinavia, Spain, Italy, Hungary, England, and the US; and the “new school of composition in France”. He lists these composers, paying attention to style and not mere chronology:
Coding: always unchecked
Since each “album” is a work, by definition no album is a compilation.
What’s this tag for, anyway? I’m probably missing something obvious, but I never did find a clear definition of “compilation” in an iTunes context. After research failed, I tried experimentation, and here’s what I found:
|Checked or On||Unchecked or Off|
|iTunes» » »||
In the Browser, “Compilations” is added at the top of thecolumn.
Artists whose only tracks are in a single compilation are removed from thecolumn. An artist who has songs in multiple albums is listed, and if you click on that artist then the column shows all albums containing that artist, regardless whether they’re compilations.
Artists are all listed, and the pseudo-artist “Compilations” doesn’t appear.
In themenu, is added. It’s not added to the list of artists.
Artists whose only tracks are in a single compilation are removed from thescreens. An artist who has songs in multiple albums is listed, and if you click on that artist then the next screen shows all albums or songs with that artist, whether or not they’re in compilations.
is removed from the menu. All artists are listed on the screens.
This setting controls whetherappears in the main menu. But iPod ignores this setting for the purpose of listings on the screen; only » affects which artists are listed.
Update, July 2008: There’s a helpful description of the Part of a compilation tag in the 13 June 2008 edition of Ask iLounge. Based on that I corrected a a misstatement in the table above.
This is actually covered in the The Album tag (classical). By coding the key performers in parentheses, I distinguish between different performances. Thus I have album titles “Brahms Cto-p #1 (Brendel)” and “Brahms Cto-p #1 (Serkin)”. As it happens, I don’t have any case of multiple performances of the same work by the same performers, but if I did I could add a year: “Beethoven Sym #7 (von Karajan 1963)” and “Beethoven Sym #7 (von Karajan 1954)”.
Updates and new info: http://oakroadsystems.com/genl/