I’ve scoured the internet for help, but my search bore no fruit and left me very frustrated. I’m currently proof reading a novel I plan to publish soon and I’ve run into a little snag. So my character sits down at a piano to play two pieces:

Schubert’s Impromptu No. 3 in G-Flat Major, Op. 90


Schubert’s Ständchen, D. 957, No. 4.

Trouble is, I’m not sure how to properly format them. My questions are, should Impromptu and Ständchen be italicized or should I use quotations? What should or shouldn’t be capitalized?

Any help would be greatly appreciated. :)

2 Answers 2


I believe the expected form is to quote short titles like "Rocket Man" and to italicize long titles like Schubert's 18th Opus in Vibrato Major

As the author, details like this aren't important. Pick a style and be consistent. When you finish your novel and it is done and you are happy with the story, then you worry about cleaning up these details.

Since it sounds like you are self-publishing your novel, that makes you the editor; and you have every right to decide what is short and what is long. It's entirely the province of the publisher -- which is you if you are self-publishing.

If you are selling your novel to a publisher, their editors will handle these details as part of the traditional publishing process.

  • Thank you so much for your reply. It puts my mind at ease. Apr 13, 2023 at 18:41

In formal programs, papers and other materials, the composer's name is usually not used as a possessive before the title. Typically, the composition title is followed by the composer:

Violin Concerto in D, Op. 35 by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

The Lark Ascending (A Romance) by Ralph Vaughn Williams

Eine kleine Nachtmusik (Serenade No. 13 for strings in G major), K. 525 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 

However, if you are using compositions in novels or speech, it's perfectly acceptable to switch the format, for example "Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto".

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