IMSLP:Composer Names

This page details the guidelines by which the standardized form of a personal name is determined on IMSLP, as well as the general hierarchy of sources for other basic biographical data.




When available, one or more standard sources are consulted to find information on a composer. It is recommended to perform a search on, a compilation of the data in many countries' national libraries. If possible, the United States Library of Congress should be used as a standard for both the form of a composer's name (use the name given in the header) and, in most cases, other basic information on the composer (such as dates of birth and death, etc.). If the Library of Congress does not have an entry for a particular composer, or if their entry lacks detail, it is recommended to use the French, German, or Spanish national libraries for information.

When using Library of Congress entries, please do not include the portion of the header after the text '|c'. This generally is reserved for honorary titles, and should not appear in IMSLP's composer category names. (The only permissible exception is detailed below in the section 'Families'.) Also, if the LC header gives the full name only in parentheses (e.g., 'Smith, J.X. (John Xavier)'), please use the full name without the abbreviation (in this case, 'Smith, John Xavier').

For dealing with Russian names, please see the corresponding section below.

Other Sources

If one has access to Grove Online, that should also be consulted. Grove is considered the single most reliable biographical dictionary of music available, and it may provide information not available elsewhere. In addition, it usually helps to consult, a database of dozens of biographical dictionaries. MusicSack includes a large amount of information of varying accuracy, and sources it all; as a general rule, the most recent major source (Baker, Grove, Opernlexikon, etc.) should be used for date and nationality information. Note that the MusicSack database does not support special characters, and therefore cannot be used as a reliable naming source.

If nothing has so far turned up, Wikipedia should be searched (ideally in both English and German); if nothing turns up there, then a general web search should be resorted to. There may be other, smaller websites (such as, that have reliable information where none exists in the major sources.

Last Resort

If nothing at all can be found on a composer, then one is advised to search for one of his/her works on Many WorldCat entries include the full form of a composer's name, which may help if only a partial name is available. WorldCat can also be useful in establishing years of activity (floruit) if no actual birth or death dates can be found.

Note that floruit dates are preferable to circa dates as they are more specific.


If a reliable source can be found, the composer name should seek to duplicate exactly as it appears in the source (note exception above in the 'Libraries' section), with priority given to the Library of Congress, other national libraries, Grove, and Wikipedia (probably in that order). If no source can be found, the name should be the one that appears on the majority of scores uploaded to the category.


Please follow the standard English naming conventions - do not create pages in ALL CAPS or all lowercase letters (e.g., 'Ravel, Maurice' rather than 'RAVEL MAURICE', etc.). Alternate names should not be given in parentheses in the category name, but belong instead in either the 'Alternate Names' field in the text of the composer page or in the title without parentheses.


In the case where there is more than one composer of the same name, and a father/son relationship can be established between the two, the two should appear with the appellation 'Jr.' and 'Sr.' (respectively). If there are three or more composers related in this way, then 'I', 'II', 'III' (etc.) may be added to their names instead.

Russian Names

General rules

In the case of a transliteration from Russian, please observe the following rules when deciding on the correct form of the name (with particular attention to LC's headers):

  • Change first or last names ending with -i or -ï, to -y endings
Example: Andrey (not Andrei or Andreï)
Example: Sergey (not Sergei or Sergeï)
  • Change first or last names ending with -ii, -iï, iy, ïy or -yi, to -y endings
Example: Dmitry (not Dmitriy, Dmitrii or Dmitriï)
Example: Valery (not Valerii, Valeriï or Valeriy)
Example: Zhukovsky (not Zhukovskii, Zhukovskiï or Zhukovskiy)
  • Always omit the ' symbol (representing the soft sign ь)
  • Change the letter "E" at the start of a word to "Ye" (NB: except in the cases of Eduard or Emil, which start with the Russian letter Э rather than Е)
  • Change the letter "e" to "ye" if it follows a vowel or a soft sign in the middle of a word
Example: Yevseyev (not Evseev or Evseyev)
Example: Yevgeny (not Evgenii or Evgeniï)
Example: Yegorovich (not Egorovich)
Example: Vasilyev (not Vasil'ev or Vasil'yev)
Example: Vasilyevich (not Vasil'evich or Vasil'yevich)
Example: Ilyich (not Il'ich or Ilich)
Example: Emil (not Yemil or Emile)
Example: Eduard (not Yeduard or Edward)
  • Change the letter "I" at the start of a word to "Y" if it's followed by a vowel
  • Change the letter "i" in the middle of a word to "y" if it's followed by a, e, i or u
Example: Yakovlev (not Iakovlev)
Example: Yurasovsky (not Iurasovskiï or Iurasovsky)
Example: Vissarion (not Vissaryon)
Example: Mariya (not Mariia or Maria)
  • Change the letter "ë" to "yo" in the middle of a word
Example: Fyodor (not Fedor or Fëdor)
Example: Pyotr (not Petr or Pëtr)
  • Use "ks" instead of "x" where it occurs in the middle of a word
Example: Aleksey (not Alexey or Alekseï)
Example: Aleksandr (not Alexander or Alexandr)
Specific Exceptions

There are six exceptions to the above rules for six well-known composers whose names have become firmly established in English:

Example: Mussorgsky (not Musorgsky, Musorgskii, or Musorgskiï)
Example: Prokofiev (not Prokofyev)
Example: Rachmaninoff (not Rachmaninov or Rakhmaninoff)
Example: Scriabin (not Skryabin or Skriabin)
Example: Tchaikovsky (not Chaykovsky)
Example: Tcherepnin (not Cherepnin)

... or whose surnames are not of Russian origin:

Example: Goldenweiser (not Gol'denveizer or Goldenveyzer)
Example: Medtner (not Metner)
Example: Rubinstein (not Rubinshteyn)
Example: César Cui (not Tsesar Kyui)
Example: Reinhold Glière (not Reyngol'd Glier)

The Russian middle name, or patronymic (usually ending in "-ich' for males, or '-na' for females) should be omitted:

Example: Anton Rubinstein (not Anton Grigoryevich Rubinstein)
Example: Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov (not Nikolay Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov)


If a source explicitly identifies a composer's nationality, that is how the nationality will appear on IMSLP. If it is not stated in any source, then one should consider the place of birth and where the composer spent most of his/her life.

Special Cases

If the place of birth has changed countries since the composer's time, the nationality should be given as both the country the composer was born in and the country the place of birth is in today.

Soviet composers should be identified both as Soviet and as a national of the country in which they were born, according to today's boundaries.