Raff and his many publishers were usually assiduous in assigning opus numbers to his works but some of the 216 numbers were duplicated. In some straightforward cases this was because an earlier unpublished piece was lost or destroyed and the number was re-used when a later work was published. More confusingly, there are a number of surviving piano pieces which share an opus number. This is because when the publisher of some early works wanted to republish them after 30 years, Raff instead wrote completely new works in the same keys and with roughly similar titles. With these exceptions, though, the opus numbers in Raff's catalogue present a broadly chronological sequence.
71 works however, many of them major pieces, were not assigned opus numbers. In some cases this is because they were lost, were withheld from performance or publication in Raff's lifetime, or were arrangements carried out for other composers. About half, though, were published before his death and their lack of opus numbers is perplexing, given the care with which Raff ensured that the rest of his oeuvre was given them.
It is common practice for Werke ohne Opuszahl (works without opus number) or WoO numbers to be allocated posthumously to pieces in a composer's catalogue which lack opus numbers, and in 1999 Mark Thomas, for the German Joachim Raff Society, allocated WoO numbers to the 56 such works which were listed in the definitive catalogue of Raff's music: Arnold Schäfer's 1888 Chronologisch-Systematisches Verseichnis der Werke Joachim Raff's. In 2010 it was decided also to allocate WoO numbers to those other works by Raff which either exist but which were not listed in Schäfer, or which are now lost but for which enough evidence exists to be certain of their composition.
WoO numbers are allocated on a chronological basis, using the date of completion of the composition given by Schäfer as the benchmark. Schäfer gives at least the year of completion for all works in his catalogue, and frequently the month or season too. Müller-Reuter questioned the accuracy of this information and there are good grounds for doing so. Raff himself did not note composition dates in his manuscripts, most of which he did not retain in any event, and it is not known how Schäfer established them. However, he had been in extensive correspondence with Doris Raff whilst preparing his catalogue and it is possible that she may have known the composition dates, but there is no clue from his side of the correspondence in the surviving Raff papers which indicates that she was able to supply him with this information. Doris Raff's letters to him are lost. Schäfer's sources therefore remain unknown but, assuming that the information is not just conjecture based upon Raff's opus numbers, there is no other available basis for establishing a chronology of the compositions.
The hierarchy adopted for allocating WoO numbers is straightforward:
Month > Season > Year.
So, a work listed as being completed in "August 1870" would have a earlier number than one shown as being completed in "summer 1870", which in turn would be earlier than a piece just dated by Schäfer as "1870". In a couple of instances of works published in the same year that they were written, Schäfer's listing of the month the score was published has been used, where otherwise only the year of composition is given.
For the fifteen works not listed in Schäfer which have had additional WoO numbers allocated to them in 2010 and 2011, and any future discoveries, the same chronological basis has been adopted but a different numbering sequence has had to be used. As it is impractical to change already allocated WoO numbers to accommodate a "new" work, a sequential capital letters (A, B, C etc.) will be added to the WoO number of the work which comes before it on the list. So, a piece which chronologically comes after WoO.24 and before WoO.25, becomes WoO.24A. If other works come between the two they would be WoO.24B, 24C etc.
For the fifteen newly-added WoO works, the dating evidence is:
Paraphrase on Les Huguenots WoO.4A: In her biography of her father Helene Raff records both Liszt urging him in the summer of 1846 to make a piano arrangement of the opera's fourth act and Raff's subsequent abandoning of the work in the same year. Liszt's reminder was written in August, but the date on which Raff gave up the work is not given and is assumed to be later in the year.
Arrangements for Julius Schuberth WoO.10A-10D: Helene Raff's biography of Raff mentions his preparation for the Hamburg publisher Julius Schuberth in November 1849 of arrangements for violin or cello and piano of three Etudes and an Elegy (all for piano four hands) by Karl Vollweiler, two Romances for piano by Adolf Henselt and of songs by Louis Spohr and Carl Reisssiger. No record of these arrangements being published has been found, but as Raff was only employed by Schuberth for one month, their dating can be made with confidence.
Concert Fantaisie on I Puritani WoO.12A: Helene Raff's biography mentions Raff's frustration that this work remained unfinished whilst he was in Hamburg in October and November 1849. It seems possible that it was completed during his relaxing time in Bad Eilsen the next month and so a December 1849 completion has been assumed. The work was rediscovered in 2010.
Fantasy on the song Dir zum angedenken WoO.12B: Helene Raff also mentions this piano work as being unfinished when Raff was in Hamburg. It is clearly contemporaneous with WoO.12A and so was probably completed when that work was, in December 1849 or shortly thereafter. However, it remains lost and so it is not known whether Raff finished it. The song is the second of his Two Lieder from the Rhine op.53.
Arrangement and orchestration of Liszt's Prometheus WoO.14A: it was performed in August 1850 and Raff only arrived in Weimar in January that year, so it can be dated with confidence to the first half of 1850.
Nocturne for piano WoO.14B: Helene Raff's biography of Raff prints excerpts from a letter written by him to Kunigunde Heinrich in 1850 in which he mentions having written a "Nocturne that isn't too bad". None of Raff's surviving works from the period is called, or has the character of, a Nocturne and so it is assumed that this 1850 work is lost.
Fantaisie WoO.15A: stylistic evidence, particularly the strong influence of Liszt and Chopin and the abundance of decoration, this time points to a date in the early 1850s, when Raff was heavily under Liszt's influence and had not yet distanced himself from him. The fact that it was discovered in Liszt's papers means that it cannot be later than 1856, when Raff left Weimar. That there are Liszt performance markings on the manuscript also make it likely that it's earlier than that because of the gradual souring of relations in the later years of Raff's stay there. Although a precise date is not possible, 1850-1852 seems a reasonable conjecture.
Orchestral arrangement of Liszt's Psalm XX: Domine salvum fac regum WoO.15B: this arrangement of Liszt's work for tenor, choir and organ was prepared at Liszt's request in preparation for its performance, along with Raff's own Te Deum WoO.16, in August 1853. Schäfer is explicit that the Te Deum was composed in July of that year. Helene Raff is not as specific for the date of this arrangement but the first half of the year seems a reasonable assumption. Raff's authorship of the arrangement is credited in the published score.
Fantasy in the form of a grand freely developed Overture WoO.16A: writing about 1853 in her biography of her father, Helene Raff mentions this work as having been written "around that time". It was based on a motto chosen by Raff from Part I of Goethe's Faust. Helene Raff records that "later on he apparently wasn’t satisfied with this fantasy in the form of an overture and he destroyed the manuscript himself". No performance is mentioned and the work is clearly different to the Festival Overture WoO.15. From the evidence it is not possible to be any more specific than a date of 1853.
Todte Liebe songs WoO.20A: Raff scholar Matthias Wiegant has used several pieces of contemporary evidence to date this aborted work to not later than 1855.
Accompaniment of six wind instruments for the Laudi Sion & Stabat mater of the church in Lachen WoO.30A: in her biography of Raff, his daughter records that in 1868 his friend Jakob Hegner asked him to harmonise two sequences, a Laudi Sion and a Stabat Mater which were in the archives of the church at Raff's birthplace, Lachen. This Raff did using six wind instruments. He returned the arrangements to Lachen where, according to Helene Raff, they may still remain. Thus, 1868 is taken as the date of composition.
Orchestration of Wagner's Huldigungs-Marsch WoO.34A: Raff wrote it when asked to do so by Wagner and Schott because Wagner was preoccupied with finishing Siegfried. That was in 1871 and Raff's arrangement was published in October that year. The first half of 1871 is a likely composition date.
Go to the catalogue for a complete list of all works with WoO numbers.
Trying to find a scores? Go to the Scores section, for the publisjers of modern editions and facsimilies and the library locations of original editions.
A definitive 314 page Catalogue of Raff's Music has been published by raff.org. It contains much more information than can be included on the website and can be ordered direct from the Raff Shop.