News from the Sorabji Archive

Recent editions

September 2016
Lukas Huisman has released a recording of Sorabji’s Symphonic Nocturne, for which he has prepared a new edition, and which he premièred in 2015. This new recording is issued by Piano Classics.
20 May 2016
Lukas Huisman gave the world première of Sorabji’s Symphonic Nocturne (1977-78) for piano in Ghent, Belgium last December and a second performance of it in s’Hertogenbosch, Netherlands in February this year; we are delighted to announce the availability of his typeset edition of this, the last of Sorabji’s truly large scale pieces (it plays for over two hours). A recording of it will hopefully be released soon.
14 March 2016
Fredrik Ullén continues his series of recordings of Sorabji’s 100 Transcendental Studies with Volume 5 (72–83). This new recording is again issued by BIS.
13 March 2016
Donna Amato will give the US première of Toccata Seconda, completed in 1934. This will be its first public performance since the composer himself premièred it almost 80 years ago in Glasgow in a concert that, as far as is known, marked his final public appearance as a pianist. This remarkable nine-movement work dates from a particularly fertile and intense period of Sorabji’s career as a piano composer; from his Fantasia ispanica of 1933 through to St. Bertrand de Comminges some eight years later, he devoted his entire creative energies to piano writing — around 24 hours’ worth of music, including his longest work of all, the Symphonic Variations.
8 February 2016
Anna-Maria Barth (violin) and Florian Steininger (piano) will perform an arrangement for violin and piano of Sorabji’s Vocalise. We believe that this will be the first time that any of Sorabji’s songs for voice and piano be performed in an arrangement for an instrument and piano. (There was, however, one occasion when the Benedizione di San Francesco d’Assisi was done with piano rather than organ as written.)
16 January 2016
Abel Sánchez-Aguilera’s second Sorabji edition — this time of Piano Symphony No.3 — is now complete and available from us — another stupendous achievement on which he is to be warmly congratulated! This represents another major milestone in the project to edit and typeset all of Sorabji’s piano music, much of which is already complete.
1 January 2016
Sorabji’s piano music: a note on progress of typeset editions
So much has been accomplished in recent years by a number of highly skilled and devoted editors that, as the new year begins, it seems an appropriate time to report on the current state of progress.
Scores not previously published
Editions of Piano Symphony No.3 and Symphonic Nocturne are anticipated very shortly.
Editions in progress are Variations & Fugue on Dies Iræ, Piano Symphony No.“0”, Symphonic Variations, Toccata No.4 and Passeggiata Arlecchinesca; upon completion of these, the only piano score remaining to be edited/typeset will be Piano Symphony No.2.
Scores previously published
The handful of works published up to 1931 are Two Pieces, Fantaisie Espagnole, Piano Sonatas 1, 2 and 3, Prelude Interlude and Fugue, Le Jardin Parfumé, Valse-Fantaisie and Opus Clavicembalisticum; of these, Le Jardin Parfumé has already been edited/typeset and Piano Sonata No.1 is in progress.
Summary
The current position therefore reflects a monumental achievement on the part of less than a dozen editors, for whom no thanks can possibly suffice. Whilst there remains no small amount of work still to be done, the vast majority of Sorabji’s piano music has now been edited/typeset; it is therefore not inconceivable that, by the close of this decade or soon afterwards, every known piano work by him will exist in this form, thereby leaving pianists with a good deal less excuse for not taking the trouble to prepare them for performance!
11 December 2015
Jonathan Powell announces completion of a recording of the whole of Sequentia Cyclica.
May 2015
Michael Habermann’s early recordings for MusicMasters, Musical Heritage Society and for Elan, already previously released on BMS in 2004, are re-released on Naxos. More details can be found on the Recordings page.
23 April 2015
The last of Sorabji’s works for voice and piano to receive its première — Vocalise: Movement (1927, rev. 1931) — will be performed in a recital at 3.00p.m. on 3 May in St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery, New York City; the artists are soprano Ariadne Greif and pianist Jason Wirth.
April 2015
Fredrik Ullén continues his series of recordings of Sorabji’s 100 Transcendental Studies with Volume 4 (63–71). This new recording is again issued by BIS.
31 March 2015
Frazer Jarvis’s new typeset edition of the piano sonata that has come to be known as Sonata No. “0” is now available. This work is of historical importance for at least two reasons. Firstly, it is the composer’s earliest known extant work for piano solo, dating as it does from 1917. Secondly, the two 24-page folios of its ms. parted company many years ago and ended up in different hands; it was only through the independent detective work of Chris Rice and Clive Spencer-Bentley that the two were briefly reunited so that a master copy of the whole could be made and it is from this merged document that Frazer has created the new edition.
The work was recorded by Soheil Nasseri in 2006 and issued on the American Centaur label the following year (CRC2894).
28 March 2015
It is our sad duty to report that the composer and pianist Ronald Stevenson has died.
11 February 2015
The archive is delighted to announce a new typeset critical edition of Sorabji’s Piano Symphony No. 1: Tantrik. Like its predecessor — the work that we now know as Piano Symphony No. 0 from several years earlier — this symphony is dedicated to Sorabji’s friend, the Scottish composer Erik Chisholm, for whose concert series the composer gave more public performances than for anyone else. It has not yet been performed; let us hope that this new edition will encourage its première!
The inclusion of this important edition into the archive catalogue brings the total of edited/typeset Sorabji piano symphonies to four — and an edition of No.0 is already well under way; only nos. 2 and 3 remain to be edited/typeset.
Profound thanks are due to the editor, Prof. Abel Sánchez-Aguilera, for his labours in creating this remarkable addition to the ongoing series of Sorabji editions; another milestone has been reached!
16 October 2014
November 2014 is turning out to be a bumper month for Sorabji performances in America. Following on from Sequentia Cyclica in Seattle on 1 November, Jonathan Powell will be giving three performances in Colorado; the first two, in Arvada on 5 November and Boulder on 6 November, will feature Le Jardin Parfumé in a recital of works by Medtner, Grieg, Fauré, Chopin and Szymanowski and the last in Denver on 8 November will be another performance of Sequentia Cyclica. He then plays Le Jardin Parfumé in New York City on 10 November, and, finally, he will give his fifth performance of Sequentia Cyclica in Chicago on 15 November.
1 August 2014
Another Sorabji piano symphony edition is now complete; Alexander Abercrombie has now edited the Fourth Piano Symphony, so Sorabji’s last three piano symphonies have now all been edited and performed. This is a major milestone in Sorabji editing history and brings the total number of pages of score edited by Alexander Abercrombie to more than 2,600.
June 2014
Since completing his typeset editions of the scores of Sorabji’s three organ symphonies last year (see news item for 15 October 2013), Kevin Bowyer has now prepared a General Preface to them which will now be included with all copies of each of them; he has also completed editorial notes for all three, which will likewise be included with them. This has been another immense task; the preface runs to 23 pages and the notes occupy 50, 130 and 121 pages respectively, so the total page count for all three symphonies is now not far short of 1,100.
To date, Kevin is the only organist ever to perform, broadcast and record the first organ symphony and to perform and broadcast the second. He proposes to première the third sometime next year; no date is yet set for this, but as soon as it is, it will be announced here (so watch this space!).
May 2014
Having prepared an edition of the score and parts for Sorabji’s earliest known orchestral work Chaleur, Frazer Jarvis has now done the same for the composer’s other early and (relatively) short orchestral piece Opusculum; this is the first of two works that Sorabji dedicated to his then new friend the English composer John Ireland. We have pleasure in welcoming this new addition to the catalogue of Sorabji editions.
March 2014
The remarkable outcome of years of dedicated hard work, Alberto Vignani’s new edition of the full score of Sorabji’s Symphonic Variations in the version for piano and orchestra has now been completed. This 519 page score represents the realisation of one of the most ambitious Sorabji editing projects to date, along with the three organ symphonies (Kevin Bowyer), 100 Transcendental Studies (Alexander Abercrombie and others), Second Piano Quintet (Alexander Abercrombie) and the even larger Symphony No.2 “Jami” (David Carter) which has so far reached completed first draft stage. This phenomenal achievement has demanded the utmost patience and diligence; it stands as yet another testament to the labours of love that Sorabji’s music continues to inspire in his score editors.
Whilst the ultimate goal of The Complete Sorabji Edition remains quite some way off, the addition of this score to the catalogue is another major milestone on the path to it.
October/November 2013
Jonathan Powell gives the première of the Piano Symphony no.6, Symphonia Claviensis. The concert takes place at 12.30pm on October 27th 2013, at De Toonzaal, s'Hertogenbosch, Netherlands. Another performance follows on November 2nd 2013 at the Jacqueline du Pré Music Building, Oxford, with a talk at 2.30pm (see the forum for more details).
15 October 2013
Completion by Kevin Bowyer of his typeset editions of all three Sorabji Organ Symphonies.
First hatched in 1986 by the then editor of The Organ magazine, Douglas Carrington (1926-2012), The Sorabji Organ Project launched with a plan to première Organ Symphony no.1 as part of the 1987 International Congress of Organists; this performance was given in London in 1987 by Kevin Bowyer playing the outer movements and Thomas Trotter the middle one. In 1988, the year of Sorabji’s death, Kevin made a corrected version of the publication of that symphony and used it to record the entire work that year; he also gave the work its first performance by a single organist later in 1988 in Denmark; the composer was overjoyed and suitably astonished when he heard it. The recording, made in Bristol, was released within a month of Sorabji’s death and, in the interim, the middle movement was played from its master-tape at his memorial service.
Kevin had met Sorabji in January 1988 and at that time began to prepare his handwritten edition of Organ Symphony no.2; at the time of Sorabji’s death in October 1988, he had, curiously got to the same point in that edition as Sorabji had got in writing the work in 1929 when he put it to one side for a time to write Opus Clavicembalisticum and other works. Kevin completed this 396-page edition in 1991 on what would have been Sorabji’s 99th birthday.
By this time, Kevin had resolved to try to perform all three Sorabji organ symphonies and, having established himself as Glasgow University organist, The Sorabji Organ Project proper began to take shape, its aim being the preparation of typeset editions and the public performance, recording and broadcast of these works.
Organ Symphony no.2 proved to be the toughest challenge of Kevin’s life to date; plans to give the entire work in performance were abandoned more than once as a consequence. The world première scheduled for 2008 was of the first movement only and that planned for 2009 was of the third movement only; the first performance of the symphony in its entirety was given in 2010.
On the day of the 25th anniversary of Sorabji’s death, Kevin finally completed his typeset editions of these three seminal organ works and the project is destined to complete next year with the première of Organ Symphony no.3 on a date yet to be announced.
14 August 2013
Ronald Stevenson’s description of Opus Clavicembalisticum as a vast compendium of complex counterpoint relieved only by transcendental virtuosity came to mind when announcing with immense pleasure that, after many years of gestation relieved only by copious and diligent research, fastidiousness of approach, unremitting hard work and saintly patience, Marc-André Roberge’s long awaited and eagerly anticipated volume on the life and work of Sorabji, Opus sorabjianum, finally saw the light on 14 August 2013, the composer’s 121st anniversary; it would be hard to imagine a finer and more fitting birthday present!
Marc-André Roberge has most generously made this work available on the internet for free download; further details and a link to the text itself will be found at http://www.mus.ulaval.ca/roberge/srs/07-prese.htm.
The author is, of course, one of the contributors to Sorabji: A Critical Celebration, so his Sorabjian pedigree is a long one indeed; his work on the composer has, however, embraced not only musicological research but also the preparation of no less than 27 typeset critical editions of his scores.
Paul Rapoport’s symposium Sorabji: A Critical Celebration, also long in the making, first appeared almost 21 years ago and, between then and now, the world of Sorabji research has been graced by a number of distinguished authors, most notably in the valuable work of Simon Abrahams and Sean Vaughn Owen. Opus sorabjianum represents a major milestone in this field and The Sorabji Archive is delighted heartily to congratulate its author and to commend it warmly and unreservedly to anyone and everyone interested in the composer.
April 2011
Donna Amato’s new recording of Sorabji’s Symphonia Brevis (Piano Symphony no.5) is issued by Altarus. It is issued on a 2CD set.
11 August 2010
Marc-André Roberge announces his new Sorabji Resource Site, full of valuable information regarding Sorabji’s life, compositions, and much else.
18 June 2010
Jonathan Powell gives the first complete performance of Sequentia Cyclica in Glasgow University Concert Hall, starting at 2.30pm.
6 June 2010
Kevin Bowyer gives the first complete performance of Organ Symphony no.2 in Glasgow University Memorial Chapel, starting at 1.00pm. There will be a subsequent complete performance in Amsterdam (see the list below, and the forum for more details).
26 September 2008
It is our sad duty to report that the pianist and Sorabji pioneer Yonty Solomon has died. His Sorabji performances included world premières of the Toccata, Piano Sonata no.3, Gulistan, St Bertrand de Comminges, Concerto per suonare da me solo and Rosario d’Arabeschi, as well as the first broadcast performances of the Trois poèmes pour chant et piano and Trois fêtes galantes de Verlaine with Jane Manning.
His contribution was also marked by a beautiful recording of Le Jardin Parfumé.
Announcement from the Royal College of Music
22 April 2008
Kevin Bowyer announces details of The Sorabji Organ Project, a vast 5-year project to produce new critical typeset editions of Sorabji’s three mammoth organ symphonies, to give performances of each, along with commercial recordings of them. The project is funded by The Glasgow University Trust. More details can be found at the link above, and at Kevin Bowyer’s webpage.
26 November 2007
Sean Vaughn Owen announces the completion of his PhD thesis on Sorabji’s life, with substantial genealogical findings that alter previously accepted biographical details.
21 July 2007
It is our sad duty to report that the pianist, scholar and translator Charles Hopkins died on 21 July.
Read a tribute to Charles Hopkins by Alistair Hinton.

Recent editions available from the Archive

Recent Sorabji editions
Alexander Abercrombie has completed his edition of the Fourth Piano Symphony.
Kevin Bowyer has completed his editions of Organ Symphony no.1, Organ Symphony no.2 and Organ Symphony no.3.
Lukas Huisman has completed editions of Fragment (Prelude and Fugue), 4 Frammenti Aforistici and Symphonic Nocturne.
Frazer Jarvis has completed editions of Sonata 0 and Opusculum.
Jonathan Powell has completed his editions of Gulistan, Le Jardin Parfumé and St Bertrand de Comminges.
Marc-André Roberge has completed editions of Benedizione di San Francesco d’Assisi and Passeggiata Variata.
Abel Sánchez-Aguilera has completed an edition of the First Piano Symphony and Piano Symphony no.3.
Alberto Vignani has completed his edition of Symphonic Variations in the version for piano and orchestra.
Hinton editions
An edition prepared by Elizabeth Bowden of Alistair Hinton’s Soliloquy for ’Cello, Op.10 is now available.
An edition prepared by Frazer Jarvis of Alistair Hinton’s A Bouquet for DavidandJenifer, Op.46 for solo violin is now available.