News from the Sorabji Archive
- 17 March 2023
- Having already prepared engraved editions of several of Alistair’s piano works (including Piano Sonata no.2 and Variations & Fugue on a theme of Grieg, each of around an hour’s duration) William A.P.M. has recently turned his attention to his String Quintet. Scored for string quartet and double bass with a solo soprano in the last and by far the longest of its five movements, this was and remains Alistair’s most ambitious work in terms of scope and dimensions; its recording on the Altarus label (AIR-CD-9066) occupies 3 CDs and plays for 2 hours 50 minutes in total.
- This has been William’s most demanding project to date, but he has risen to its challenges undeterred and completed the entire project in a little over four months. He plans in due course to make an edition of the reduction for soprano and piano of the vocal sections of the finale that Alistair had made for rehearsal purposes in 1992 and then finally to prepare the string parts; neither of these will be a small task!
- 23 February 2023
- Having completed his virtual rendition of the Jami Symphony, David Carter has begun work on a similar rendition of the Messa Alta Sinfonica and has now completed the Kyrie.
- 30 September 2022
- We are delighted to announce that the new typeset edition of the original piano solo version of Sorabji’s Symphonic Variations is now complete and has been added to our catalogue.
- Although Frazer Jarvis has already prepared several editions of Sorabji’s scores, this immense project is far larger than all of them put together and has occupied him for some years (in between other professional commitments); this is hardly surprising, given that it has involved the preparation of a critical edition of a score that runs almost to 700 pages of A3 landscape format! Its duration is hard to estimate but is believed to be at least 10 hours, making it by far the longest work in the composer’s output, the nearest to it being 100 Transcendental Studies, Sequentia Cyclica super Dies Iræ and the second and third organ symphonies, each of which occupies between 8¼ and 8½ hours. Comprising a theme and 81 variations and divided into three volumes of 27 variations each, a live performance would have to be given over at least two days across three concerts, each encompassing one volume.
- At this stage, almost all of Sorabji’s works for solo piano have been edited/typeset; all that remains are Variations and Fugue on Dies Iræ, Piano Symphony No.2, Toccata No.4, Passeggiata Arlecchinesca and a handful of new editions of works published between 1921 and 1931 – and some of these are already in progress.
- 6 February 2022
- Having completed his virtual rendition
of Sorabji’s Jami Symphony, David Carter has embarked on a similar
rendition of the
of Sorabji’s Messa Alta Sinfonica, using the files from the typeset
edition of François Fabre. His has launched a new website,
Kaikhosru Sorabji’s Orchestral Music, documenting his progress on this project, and also
linking to his earlier work on the
of Sorabji’s Jami Symphony.
- November 2021
- David Carter has recently completed his
of Sorabji’s Jami Symphony from his typeset edition, which nevertheless
remains a work in progress. Whilst the results of this monumental achievement
on his part can never expect to offer what a live performance by the requisite
hundreds of performers could provide – as well David Carter realises, of
course – this realisation is the very best that we are likely to hear of
the symphony for the foreseeable future; the impression that it conveys is
perhaps most remarkable for the fact of its presentation of a sound world
markedly different to that to which we have over the years had the great good
fortune to accustom ourselves in his keyboard music. Many hundreds of hours of
diligent and dedicated labour has been invested in the production of this
edition and realisation; another step on the long road to a wider appreciation
of Sorabji’s unique creativity.
- 3 September 2021
- Another world première of a major Sorabji piano work is
always an exciting prospect. However, Abel Sánchez-Aguilera’s
first performance of Toccata Terza on 6 February 2022 at De Toonzaal, s’Hertogenbosch,
Netherlands is an event that could not even have been anticipated until
relatively recently. This 10-movement work of some 2 hours’ duration was
completed in 1955 but its manuscript seemed to have disappeared a few years
later and was long considered to have been lost – a most frustrating
circumstance, not least because completion of Sequentia Cyclica super Dies Iræ and commencement
of work on Piano Symphony no.3 (whose score Abel has edited/typeset) had been separated by a decade
in which his only other known large-scale piano work was
Piano Symphony no.2.
- [ADDED January 17th 2022 — This performance has been postponed, owing to Dutch coronavirus restrictions]
- [ADDED February 24th 2022 — This performance has been rescheduled to July 3rd]
- Numerous enquiries were made on several occasions to ascertain the fate of
this missing manuscript but all to no avail until, barely two years ago, it
was – to great surprise – discovered in a private collection,
along with an hitherto undocumented manuscript of the piano part of
Sorabji’s first orchestral symphony.
Both scores were then scanned and Abel, who had recently performed and recorded
offered to edit/typeset
and prepare it for performance; his critical edition was completed earlier
- Toccata Terza
contains movements of the kind with which we are familiar in his large-scale
multi-movement pieces, yet he has surprises in store for us; the almost
inevitable fugue is in the middle, not at or near the end and, at barely a
page long (just over a page in Abel’s edition), the Coda-Stretta is by
far the briefest that he ever wrote! The work unusually ends with a short
series of plain common chords, the only other Sorabjian example of which is to
be found at the close of
Organ Symphony no.3.
- Abel plans to record Toccata Terza later next year; it is to be hoped that he will secure more
performances of it as well.
- 21 August 2021
- We are delighted to announce a new typeset edition of Piano Sonata no.2 by William APM. Following on from his editions of three of Alistair Hinton’s piano works, this is William’s first edition of a Sorabji score.
- Attention has already been drawn to the fact that Sorabji’s early published scores are by no means free from errors and inconsistencies between them and their manuscripts; this sonata is arguably the worst of them all in these respects. Sources used were copies of the publication, the original manuscript and a copyist’s copy of the manuscript. It had long been assumed that the copyist’s copy was probably made for the benefit of the engravers but William has rightly concluded that this particular score was engraved from the original manuscript and the copyist’s copy made for and sent directly to the work’s dedicatee, Ferruccio Busoni in Germany (although no acknowledgement of its receipt has yet been unearthed). Busoni was already the dedicatee of Sorabji’s Piano Sonata no.1 (1919) and his Variations & Fugue on Dies Iræ (1923-26) was dedicated to Busoni’s memory.
- Piano Sonata no.2 was composed in 1920 and its première given by the composer in Vienna in 1922; Sorabji wrote to Schönberg inviting him to attend this performance but no response from him has been discovered and there sadly is no evidence that he did attend. The sonata plays for around 50 minutes and was recorded by Tellef Johnson in 1998 (Altarus AIR-CD-9049) following his performance of it as the second half of an all-Sorabji concert in New York that also included the world première of Piano Quintet no.1.
- 26 July 2021
- We are delighted to announce a new typeset edition of Piano Sonata no.3 by Ramer Davey Lee.
- From The Sorabji Archive’s early days, priority has been given to encouraging preparation of new editions of works that existed in manuscript only — i.e., most of them. Editing the 14 works published between 1921 and 1931 was put to one side in favour of dealing with the manuscript scores, because their engraved format does at least make them legible whereas the manuscripts are simply unsuitable as documents from which to prepare performances. These publications, however, are by no means free from errors and there are inconsistencies between them and their manuscripts; some are considerably worse than others in this respect. These shortcomings were not helped by the composer’s apparent lack of due care and concern when proof-reading.
- In recent years, inroads have been made into editing/typesetting these published scores. Two Piano Pieces (Ramer Davey Lee), Le Jardin Parfumé (Jonathan Powell) and Organ Symphony no.1 (Kevin Bowyer) have already been completed, Piano Sonata no.2 (William APM) is about to be released and Trois Poèmes, Piano Sonata no.1, Piano Quintet no.1 and Opus Clavicembalisticum are in progress; this leaves Fantaisie Espagnole, Trois Fêtes Galantes, Piano Concerto no.5 (published as “Concerto II”), Prelude Interlude and Fugue and Valse-Fantaisie to be edited (the first and last of which exist for the time being in the form of publication copies manually corrected by Chris Rice and Donna Amato).
- Piano Sonata no.3 was completed in 1922 and published by J. Curwen & Sons, London in 1924, although it was not heard until its première was given in London by Yonty Solomon in 1977. Like its three predecessors but unlike its two successors, it is cast in a single movement (each of Sorabji’s piano sonatas is larger than the one before it). The sources used for this edition were copies of the manuscript and the publication. The sonata plays for around 80 minutes and was at the time of writing the composer’s most ambitious piano work. It has yet to be recorded commercially.
- 29 May 2021
- We are delighted to announce Abel Sánchez-Aguilera’s new typeset critical edition of Toccata terza, a work that was never expected to see the light of day (see entry for 24 September 2019) — another historic addition to the ongoing catalogue of new editions; Abel plans to give its première in due course (for details, watch this space!).
- January 2021
- The first part of Variation IV from Jonathan Powell’s recording of Sorabji’s Sequentia Cyclica super “Dies Iræ” ex Missa pro defunctis is released separately on a compilation Piano Variations vol.8 (download only) by Brilliant Classics. Further details are available on the recordings page.
- 12 January 2021
- The final installment of Fredrik Ullén’s recording of Sorabji’s 100 Transcendental Studies on the BIS record label is longlisted for the quarterly Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik.
- 8 January 2021
- Jonathan Powell announces preliminary plans for a recording of
Piano Concerto no.6 and
Piano Concerto no.7,
to take place in April 2022.
- 31 December 2020
- Whilst none of us needs reminding that 2020 has been an
annus horribilis for everyone, especially performers, it has also
been something of a bumper year for the dissemination of Sorabji’s work, with
the release of no less than 11 CDs, all recorded premières –
firstly, Jonathan Powell’s 7CD box set of Sequentia Cyclica and, most recently, the final two
volumes of Fredrik Ullén’s survey of the
100 Transcendental Studies, with Abel Sánchez-Aguilera’s 2CD box set of
Toccata seconda in between.
- 2020 will also end with a momentous and most unusual broadcast.
On New Year’s Eve, the Utrecht based Dutch radio station
De Concertzender will broadcast Toccata seconda not just once but twice! – a recording
of Abel Sánchez-Aguilera’s live performance in De Toonzaal,
s’Hertogenbosch on 4 October 2020 followed by his recording of it that
was released several months earlier on the Dutch Piano Classics label. For
details, see https://www.concertzender.nl/programma/the_night_contemporary_music_586807/?tijd=0:00:10.
- Let us hope for more good things for us all – and for
music and its performance in particular – in 2021, during which
Jonathan Powell will revisit
Il grido del gallino d’oro in Oxford in January (postponed) and perform
Sequentia Cyclica in its entirety in Heidelberg in April.
- December 2020
- The final 2 CDs of Fredrik Ullén’s recording of Sorabji’s 100 Transcendental Studies on the BIS record label have appeared. Further details are available on the web page for the CD, or on the recordings page.
- November 2020
- Kevin Bowyer’s recording of Sorabji’s Organ Symphony no.1 on the Continuum label, long unavailable, is re-released by the Heritage Records group.
- 23 October 2020
- Jonathan Powell will perform the Sequentia Cyclica super “Dies Iræ” ex Missa pro defunctis in a series of 5 concerts in Heidelberg, as part of the Heidelberger Frühling festival, between April 16th and April 18th 2021. Details are in the left-hand panel.
- 13 October 2020
- The release of Fredrik Ullén’s final 2CDs of Sorabji’s 100 Transcendental Studies on the BIS record label has been announced for December 2020.
- 25 September 2020
- Jonathan Powell completes an edition of Sorabji’s Piano Concerto no.7, the first new edition of a work for piano and orchestra since March 2014.
- 15 May 2020
- Jonathan Powell’s recording of Sorabji’s Sequentia Cyclica super “Dies Iræ” ex Missa pro defunctis (7CDs) on the Piano Classics label wins the Preis der Deutschen Schallplatten Kritik, following a string of excellent reviews.
- 13 March 2020
- Release of Abel Sánchez-Aguilera’s recording of Sorabji’s Toccata Seconda (2CDs) on the Piano Classics label. For more details, see https://www.piano-classics.com/articles/s/sorabji-toccata-seconda-per-pianoforte/.
- 31 January 2020
- Release of Jonathan Powell’s long-awaited recording of Sorabji’s Sequentia Cyclica super “Dies Iræ” ex Missa pro defunctis (7CDs) on the Piano Classics label. For more details, see https://www.piano-classics.com/articles/s/sorabji-sequentia-cyclica/.
- January 2020
- The release of Abel Sánchez-Aguilera’s recording of Sorabji’s Toccata Seconda (2CDs) on the Piano Classics label has been announced for March 2020.
- 21 December 2019
- Fredrik Ullén has completed his recording of the 100 Transcendental Studies; the remaining studies (84–100) are expected to be released on two CDs in the fairly near future.
- December 2019
- The release of Jonathan Powell’s long-awaited recording of Sorabji’s Sequentia Cyclica super “Dies Iræ” ex Missa pro defunctis (7CDs) on the Piano Classics label has been announced for January 2020.
- October 2019
- A new book, KAIKHOSRU SORABJI’S LETTERS TO PHILIP HESELTINE (PETER WARLOCK), edited by Brian Inglis and Barry Smith, has been published by Routledge.
- 7 October 2019
- The most recent in an ongoing series of typeset critical editions of Alistair Hinton’s works is Sieben Charakterstücke, a cycle of piano pieces composed over a period of several years from late in 1998 to May 2003. They were written to a private commission (with no deadline, which was perhaps just as well, considering the length of time over which their composition came to be spread) for seven character studies each of about seven minutes’ duration. The edition was completed in October 2019.
- Frazer Jarvis’s edition incorporates an earlier setting of the sixth piece by Jonathan Powell.
- 24 September 2019
- Toccata terza/Symphony for piano and orchestra
- After almost sixty years in which the location of the manuscript of Sorabji’s 1955 Toccata terza has remained unknown (and accordingly described in the catalogue as “lost”), it has at last surfaced, along with a previously undocumented copy in the composer’s hand of the solo piano part from his orchestral symphony completed in 1922. Master copies of each will now be prepared and these two items will then be added to the catalogue. This is the most important Sorabji manuscript discovery in many a year.
- The Toccata is in ten movements and, at 91 pages, is somewhat shorter that its 1934 predecessor Toccata seconda; Abel Sánchez-Aguilera, who has performed and recorded Toccata seconda (the recording is due for release early next year), has already undertaken to typeset it and prepare it for performance.
- 23 April 2019
- We are delighted to announce a new typeset edition of Two Piano Pieces, one of the 14 Sorabji scores that were published in the years up to 1931. This project has had to address the issue of the absence of any known ms. source, the only available text being the publication. This is the editor’s first work on a Sorabji score; it has been prepared by Ramer Davey Lee.
- 25 March 2019
- Within days of completing Opus Clavicembalisticum, Sorabji embarked on an even larger work, initially destined to be for piano and orchestra, vocal soloists and chorus but no evidence of it as anything other than a symphony for piano solo has survived; as such, the work as completed in 1931 is now known as his Piano Symphony no. “0”. Like his next symphony for piano solo, the Tāntrik (now designated Piano Symphony no.1), it is dedicated to Erik Chisholm. Some time ago, Alexander Abercrombie edited/typeset its massive first movement and Abel Sánchez-Aguilera (who has already edited/typeset the Tāntrik and third piano symphonies) has since completed the remainder — the “lion’s share”, indeed — of this work. We are delighted to add it to the ever burgeoning catalogue of new Sorabji score editions and, as of now, six of his seven piano symphonies are in edited/typeset form with only the second (work on which is under way) remaining to join them. Abel and Alex deserve our warmest congratulations on this wondrous joint achievement!
- 18 February 2019
- Abel Sánchez-Aguilera will also perform Toccata Seconda on 14 March 2019 in Madrid, at the Auditorium of the Conservatorio Teresa Berganza. The performance will begin at 11.30am.
- 8 January 2019
- Written in 1994 as a belated tribute to Sorabji at the request of Donna Amato, who premièred it, Vocalise-Reminiscenza’s raison d’être is the apparent obsession with Rachmaninoff’s famous Vocalise, op.34 no.14, that Sorabji developed during his final months (although he had known and loved it from the time when it was first published); it seems as though, had he been physically able, he might himself have written a piece based around it, perhaps along the lines of his Passeggiata Veneziana from more than three decades earlier. Vocalise-Reminiscenza has since been performed by other pianists including Marc-André Hamelin, Shota Ezaki and Haruka Shibuya. Whilst Sorabji was its motivation, Vocalise-Reminiscenza makes no attempt to speculate upon how he might have approached this task.
- The present typeset score is the most recent in Frazer Jarvis’s ongoing series of editions of Alistair Hinton’s scores, along with the Improvisation for Violin, Op.12, A Birthday Paraphrase for Ronald Stevenson, Op.20, Scottish Ballad, Op.21 and Fantasiettina Crittogrammatica, Op.25.
- 4 December 2018
- We regret to announce the death, aged 64, of Sorabji’s friend Anthony Burton-Page while on vacation with his wife in Jerez, Spain on 21 November 2018. A schoolmaster and oboist, Tony befriended Sorabji almost 40 years ago and was the dedicatee in 1981 of his penultimate completed work, Fantasiettina Atematica, for flute, oboe and clarinet, one of only two works that he wrote without a keyboard part in an almost 70-year composing career. He will be sorely missed.
- 5 November 2018
- Sorabji day at the Jacqueline du Pré Building in Oxford on January 27th 2019!
- A momentous event to include songs by Sorabji and other composers who influenced him, as well as piano works by Sorabji, Marx and Hinton and culminating in the first UK performance of Sorabji’s Toccata Seconda since the composer himself premièred it in Glasgow in 1936 on the occasion of his final known public appearance as a pianist.
- The songs will be sung by soprano Betty Makharinsky with Jonathan Powell who will also play various piano works; Toccata Seconda will be played by Spanish pianist Abel Sánchez-Aguilera.
- Jonathan Powell of course requires no introduction to Sorabji devotees, having performed and recorded far more of his works than any other musician in history as well as preparing a number of fine typeset editions of his scores.
- Abel Sánchez-Aguilera will also perform Toccata Seconda on 12 January 2019 in Léon in his native Spain; he has prepared critical typeset editions of Sorabji’s first and third piano symphonies and is working on an edition of his Piano Symphony no.0 in collaboration with Alexander Abercrombie, from whose edition of Toccata Seconda he has prepared his performance.
- A date for the diary; not to be missed!
- 28 October 2018
- Publication of Alistair Hinton’s Après un autre rêve?..., op.49 by Shota Ezaki’s Muse Press, following Ezaki’s première of the work in Tokyo.
- May 2018
- Shota Ezaki recently commissioned Alistair to compose a piano transcription of a song of his choice, to be published by his own Japan-based publishing house Muse Press on the date that he gives its première in Tokyo — 28 October 2018; Shota will also typeset the score. The programme on this occasion will also include Shota’s fifth performance of Alistair’s Vocalise-Reminiscenza, piano works by Marc-André Hamelin and others as well as various French songs with soprano Fuyu Saito. Alistair has responded to this commission with Après un autre rêve?...; this is based around Сон (Dream), the fifth of Six Romances, Op.38, Rachmaninoff’s penultimate song for voice and piano. Like Vocalise-Reminiscenza, however, it is a musing on ideas in Rachmaninoff’s song rather than a straight piano transcription of it (there is already an exquisite piano transcription of it by Earl Wild).
- March 2018
- Japanese pianist Shota Ezaki (b. 1992) now has Alistair’s Vocalise-Reminiscenza in his repertoire and gave a performance of it on 13 March 2018 in a student concert in the Conservatoire Royal de Liège in Belgium. He will play it again on 25 March 2018 in Lierneux, Belgium and in his native Japan in a recital in Tokyo on 5 August 2018 to include works by Ronald Stevenson, Shota himself and others.
- Added April 30th: Another performance will take place on 20 May 2018 in Liège, at the Salle des Chiroux, as part of the Concerts-Apéritif Deliège.
- Added June 13th: Shota will perform this piece also at his graduation recital, at Espace Pousseur, Conservatoire de Liège, Belgium on 14 June 2018.
- Shota has several works by Stevenson in his repertoire including the monumental Passacaglia on DSCH and is working on a typeset edition of Sorabji’s Variations and Fugue on Dies Iræ (1923-26) whose completion is anticipated towards the close of 2018.
- 21 November 2017
- In December 2004, François Fabre began work on a typeset edition of Sorabji’s largest work (at least in terms of page count), the Messa Alta Symphonica. Just as the One Thousand and One Nights is a part of Sorabji’s heritage, so this score comprises one thousand and one pages, both in the composer’s original manuscript and in the new edition on which M.Fabre worked slowly and painstakingly until the summer of 2016, between his other professional commitments. He has since carefully checked his score and corrected it as and where necessary and we have great pleasure in announcing that it is now available and has been added to our catalogue. M.Fabre is to be roundly congratulated on his determination, persistence and patience with the immense task of creating a major addition to the collection of editions of Sorabji scores.
- November 2017
- On 23 February 2018 (postponed from 19 January), Kevin Bowyer will give a performance of the Toccata from the finale of Sorabji’s Organ Symphony No.2 in the Memorial Chapel of the University of Glasgow. This account of the relatively short (a mere one-fortieth of the whole) but searingly difficult and well-nigh intractable prelude to what is undoubtedly by far the largest and most ambitious fugue that Sorabji ever composed (a triple one that extends to around two hours – e.g. some three times the size of the massive quadruple fugue that closes Opus Clavicembalisticum) will be a kind of prelude to what will be the fourth public performance of the entire symphony that is scheduled to take place on Sunday 20 May 2018 in Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg. This is an event not to be missed and will take place in what is now widely recognised as one of the finest recently built concert venues in Europe.
- Added: May 2018: This latter performance has unfortunately been postponed.
- 1 October 2017
- The film “Sorabji in Iowa” received its première at the “Interrobang Film Festival” at the State Historical Museum Theater in Des Moines, Iowa. It runs at 35 minutes 25 seconds.
- 30 March 2017
- Kevin Bowyer recently gave the US première of Sorabji’s Organ Symphony no.2 at the University of Iowa where he had been invited to inaugurate its concert hall’s new Klais organ following a disastrous flood in 2008 that destroyed the venue and its previous organ. Kevin’s performance of this massive three movement work, more than eight hours in duration, was received with great enthusiasm.
- Kevin devoted thousands of hours over many years to the preparation of the world première that he gave in Glasgow, Scotland, in 2010. He has since created magnificent typeset critical editions of all three Sorabji organ symphonies, of which copies are available from The Sorabji Archive, along with all of Sorabji’s other scores and literary writings.
- A crowd-funded film documentary about the organ symphonies project, with especial reference to the second symphony, is being made in Iowa, by Sabine Gölz and Oleg Timofeyev: “A remarkable story rich with cinematic potential: the deluge of 2008, the effort to rebuild, the musical palace that rose forth, the remarkable organ placed at its heart, the magician (Kevin Bowyer) called upon to give it life, and the 8 1/2 hour Sorabjian incantation.”
- Today the crowd-funding target was reached, and we look forward to the film!
- February 2017
- Eiji Nishimura has released a CD Homage to the Composer Pianists, containing a recording of Sorabji’s Pastiche on the Hindu Merchant’s Song from “Sadko” by Rimsky-Korsakov. For more details, see http://www.nanasawa.net/1019/jncd-1019.html.
- December 2016
- Since the world première of Organ Symphony no.1 almost 30 years ago, Sorabji’s works for organ solo have been associated almost exclusively with just one name – the extraordinary virtuoso organist Kevin Bowyer.
- Sorabji’s organ music comprises just three symphonies, each cast in three movements, the first of relatively modest proportions (a mere bagatelle, indeed, at a whisker under 2 hours!) and the other two of a monumentality rare even for Sorabji, their durations being at least 8 hours apiece!
- So far, Kevin has recorded Organ Symphony no.1 (released in 1989 and broadcast on BBC Radio 3 in 1991) and performed it on seven subsequent occasions in as many countries; he has also given two complete and several partial performances of Organ Symphony no.2, with a third complete performance scheduled for 10 February 2017 in University of Iowa, US.
- Kevin’s remarkable critical typeset editions of all three symphonies are a tremendous contribution to the project to edit all of Sorabji’s scores; however, the prospect of preparing performances of the second and third of them remains uniquely daunting. Kevin’s concern about the risk that this will keep them outside the mainstream of organ repertoire is matched by his desire – which many surely share – to hear at least something of this music played by other organists and to encourage them to take up this challenge; in his own words:
- I’d like to produce new editions [of short extracts from Organ Symphony No. 2] – with detailed learning notes – I think it’s important that they be issued separately so that it doesn’t look like yet another huge piece. So there’d be 8 small volumes, each with detailed rehearsal notes and suggestions as to how to deal with specific problems. I may in future re-edit them on three staves to make them look more “normal”. I’m sure there’d be lots of interest and am equally sure that they will be played. I’m also sure that this will be the biggest step so far in seeing KSS deservedly integrated into players’ awareness of the history of organ music in the 20th century.
- Kevin’s aim is to persuade organists to prepare these items as standalone pieces for inclusion in recital programmes, with the additional hope that some might be selected by juries of international organ competitions as test pieces for candidates.
- The first stage in this project is the brilliantly effervescent celestial firework display that is the Toccata which closes the opening section of the finale of Organ Symphony no.2. 14 pages in length, it is a coruscating virtuoso display piece of the highest order that transcends all expectations of an organ toccata. This is already available separately; please visit the catalogue of works on this website for information as to how to obtain it.
- Watch this space for the addition of more such extracts in 2017 (these will be taken from the symphony’s massive middle movement Theme and Variations).
- We wish the very best of success to all intrepid organists who take up this viscerally exciting challenge!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!).
- 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.
- Alexander Abercrombie and Abel Sánchez-Aguilera have completed an edition of the Piano Symphony no.0.
- François Fabre has completed an edition of Messa Alta Symphonica.
- Frazer Jarvis has completed an edition of Symphonic Variations.
- Ramer Davey Lee has completed editions of Two Piano Pieces and Piano Sonata no.3.
- William APM has completed an edition of Piano Sonata no.2.
- Jonathan Powell has completed an edition of Piano Concerto no.7.
- Abel Sánchez-Aguilera has completed an edition of the Toccata terza.
- Hinton editions
- An edition prepared by Frazer Jarvis and Luke Pratt of Alistair Hinton’s Piano Sonata no.5 op.30 is now available.
- An edition prepared by Frazer Jarvis of Alistair Hinton’s piano cycle Sieben Charakterstücke op.35 is now available. The sixth piece was typeset earlier by Jonathan Powell.
- Editions prepared by William A.P.M. of Alistair Hinton’s Piano Sonata no.1 op.1 (a 2020 completion of the 1962 work), Piano Sonata no.2 op.5, Little Suite op.17 and String Quintet, op.13 are now available.