By Richard Weinstein, President & COO
Ocean Reef Community Foundation

We just finished orchestrating the 2023 All Charities Weekend.

Every orchestra has a conductor. This year we had three event chairs who helped create the memorable and fun experience for everyone, like a well-written piece of music, and we all danced to that music throughout the weekend. (The word “orchestra” comes from a Greek word that describes the area of the outdoor theater where the actors danced and played instruments.)

But it is not easy to select the right piece of classical music. First off, why is it even called “classical”? (That’s another word with Greek origins, meaning “of the highest order.”) And why is it that classical music titles don’t seem to make any sense? You hear a piece and think, “I really like that,” then wonder what it was called and the answer comes back as something like Sonata #11 in A Major K. 331 (which actually contains one of Mozart’s greatest hits, the Rondo Alla Turca, as its third movement). Or there’s Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125, also a well-known piece, made famous as the first symphony to incorporate a chorus as he wove in the poem Ode To Joy by Fredrich Schiller.

So how do these numbers and letters help in keeping track of the many works by each of these and the five other “great” composers? There is a hint in the modern title to help solve this. It seems that we are not alone in being confused and uncertain of which piece is which. In Mozart’s case, a man named Ludwig Von Kochel (who was just as confused as we are), catalogued all of Mozart’s works in chronological order and assigned a number to each; each one is now abbreviated as that number with the letter K for his (Kochel’s) name. So you can more easily identify the Sonata # 11 in A Major as simply “K 331.” The numbers would have been news to Mozart.

Solving that same problem in a different manner, Beethoven’s publishers decided to track his works by number according to the date they were published. They then added the word “opus“ (from the Latin word for “work”). Hence Beethoven’s 9th Symphony is also his Op. or Opus 125.

Of course, just when this starts to make sense along comes Bach and his catalogue, not created until the 1950s. It uses a numbering system with the initials BWV (for Bach Werke Verzeichnis), but this time instead of organizing them chronologically they are organized by theme (the first few notes of each piece)… which kind of gives us the key he wrote it in. At least we again have a single number to define the piece, and so, for example, you are very familiar with BWV 147 (Google it: you’ll recognize it!)

It does not get simpler with other composers. For example, Wagner, first catalogued in 1977, begins with WWV, then was updated in the early 2000’s, with L1 for the 1977 catalogue and L2 for the updates. Brahms is by opus number AND thematically, and Chopin’s works are chronologically by opus number.

Let’s go back to the root of “opus” — it’s from “operari,” the Latin verb “to work,” and its plural is “opera”…. That means an opera is, in a sense, many works of music, art, dance and vocals (which is, in fact, what the first opera was all about!)

Which brings us to cataloguing last month’s All Charities Weekend — by these guidelines , it would be AC 16. And it is probably written in the triumphant key of D Major for the weekend and joyously B Flat Major for the Gala itself. (Everyone has an opinion on those adverbs — here is an explanation).

While the 2023 Auction Catalogue has been put to rest and we are still working through the accounts, by all accounts this year, our AC 16, will be another in a long line of beautifully orchestrated classics.

And that is Music to everyone’s ears.