(M.J.E. / Composer Listings / Sorabji / Introduction)

Introduction to
Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji (1892 - 1988)

      I am not expert in the music of English composer Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji, and cannot provide a proper page about him on my web site; but I wish to provide the following information about him on this page. (Yes, in spite of his exotic-sounding name, the composer was English, but of Parsi, Sicilian, and Spanish descent.)

      In March, 1999, I purchased the score for Sorabji's monumental piano work Opus Clavicembalisticum. 248 large pages long, the work is remarkable for its length, complexity, and its intensive use of intricate multi-voiced counterpoint. It is literally the most complexly-textured piano score I have seen in my entire life, in which I've seen and heard a great deal of piano music from the last couple of hundred years, and the score is mostly written on at least 3 staves, often 4 or 5.
      It is many years since I actually heard any part of this work, but I recall it as being a totally enthralling work of great emotional intensity, with breathtaking climaxes along the way.
      After examining the score, I became convinced that the edition I had contained many hundreds of misprints. I am contact with a couple of people who have an interest in researching Sorabji's work, and I will keep on another web page a progressive list of the errors I believe I have found, mainly for those people to refer to.

      If anyone is interested in obtaining copies of Sorabji's work, or in finding out information about this enigmatic composer, I strongly recommend they visit the following web site belonging to the Sorabji Archive in England:


      The Sorabji Archive is the official channel for distributing scores of Sorabji's work, and owns the rights to all his compositions. Alistair Hinton does a great job maintaining the archive, and when I purchased my score, it was sent to me remarkably promptly. And he has always been prompt and thorough in answering any questions I've had about Sorabji and his work, and has always been interested to read any comments I have to make.
      If you're at all interested in the music of Sorabji, please set aside some time to read this interesting web site thoroughly; it's definitely the first port of call for anyone wanting to research Sorabji or wanting to obtain Sorabji-related material. Scores for most of Sorabji's compositions, and books about him, are available on order from the Sorabji Archive. If the prices for some of the scores seem excessive, just remember that many of those scores are truly huge - hundreds of pages, in fact - and the prices then look quite reasonable once you consider that.

      On this page, I can provide only this brief recommendation, plus the list of errors in the score I purchased: I do not have the expertise to write a proper Sorabji page, and could not provide anything not already covered more thoroughly by the Sorabji Archive web site given above. But I hope it makes at least a small contribution to helping Sorabji's fascinating music become better known.

      There are two recordings of Opus Clavicembalisticum that I am aware of, and neither is easy to obtain. The best-known one (very highly regarded critically) is by the late British pianist John Ogdon on the Altarus label, which is possibly still available, although maybe only on special order. It's on Altarus #9075, which is a 4-C.D. set.
      There is also a recording by Australian pianist Geoffrey Douglas Madge. I've been told several times it is not available, but one source (which I cannot verify) told me it is available. And I've just recently noticed on the BIS web site that this 5-C.D. set is listed as a September 1999 release. It's on BIS CD-1062/4, anyway, for whatever that is worth.

      The list of probable errors in Opus Clavicembalisticum itself now follows here.

Michael Edwards,
Victoria, Australia.

Monday, 10 April, 2000.

E-mail me about this music.

      Click here if you need an explanation for the strange appearance of the e-mail address which will appear when you click on the e-mail link, or if you don't know what you need to do to make the e-mail address work properly.

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This page created on Tuesday, 11 April, 2000;
last modified on Thursday, 20 July, 2000.