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Music: Instructions for Printed Recital Programs

Instructions for music students to use in formatting their recital programs, including a guide to researching the program content.

Song Groupings

  • If multiple songs are to be performed with only brief pauses (performer not leaving the stage), separate the groupings with an extra line between them.
  • If two or more consecutive songs in a grouping are by the same composer, omit the composer's name after the first song.


  • Song titles in English are in title case, unless specified otherwise by the composer.

                              Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair

  • Foreign languages have other capitalization schemes.

             In German, capitalize the first word and all nouns.                             

                                        Der Vater mit dem Kind                  

            In Romance languages,  capitalize the first word and proper nouns only.

                              Après un rêve

                              Le manoir de Rosemonde

                                    but:   Serenata napoletan

Formatting Titles

  • Keys and opus numbers are typically not included in individual song titles
  • Include proper accents and other diacritics for foreign words. Add diacrital marks by using the Word "insert symbol" function. Avoid copying and pasting other sources to prevent inconsistencies in spacing and font type or size. 

  • The Opus number and name of the larger work from which the song comes are used if performing more than one song from a collection.
  • Titles of song cycles use italics.  The cycle title should be listed first, and the names of the individual songs should be indented and listed underneath. If performing incomplete selections from a song cycle, indicate that by stating “from” before the song cycle title.
  • The name of the poet may be included in parentheses after the song title.
  • Arias from operas, oratorios, and  cantatas are displayed in regular font and in quotation marks. The title of the parent work should be in italics and should be listed on the line below the selection title preceded by the word "from".  
  • Capitalize the titles of arias as you would write it in a sentence.  Capitalize the title of the parent work following title case within the conventions of the language.
  • If this is the first performance of a piece, include the date of composition in parentheses followed by an asterisk. On the last line of the program, include the following explanation: * first performance.

  • If performing an aria with a recitative, the recitative title should be separated from the aria title with an ellipses ( . . . ). Include a space on each side of the ellipsis.
  • Be aware that a music composition may be designated on a particular edition under any one of several variants or formats. Consult the Research tab of this guide for advice on reconciling discrepancies and establishing the clearest, most accurate title.



Brahms: Two songs for alto with viola and piano, op. 91

Schubert: Erlkönig

Schubert, Franz, 1797-1828. Erlkönig . Erlkönig : autograph manuscript, 1815 Oct.?  The Morgan Library.