Sorabji Resource Site (SRS)

About This Site

This page provides an introduction to the Sorabji Resource Site containing all relevant technical information. It concludes with a formal biographical note on the author.

The Site

Context: The Sorabji Resource Site, inaugurated on 11 August 2010, is the creation of Marc-André Roberge, retired professor of musicology (as of September 2018) at the Faculty of Music at Laval University (Québec City, Canada) {Google Maps}. Roberge has been studying the life and music of Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji (1892-1988) since 1983, or actually since 1976, when he discovered his music by reading the Guide to the Pianist’s Repertoire by Maurice Hinson (1930-2015) and bought some scores from Oxford University Press. The creation of this website was part of a sabbatical project (2008-2009). For more context on the author’s discovery of Sorabji, see the section “Discovering Sorabji” in the preface to his book Opus sorabjianum: The Life and Works of Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji, which can be downloaded from its page on this website.

Content: The Sorabji Resource Site, which can be used as a kind of Sorabji handbook, focusses on raw data: lists, compilations, tables, analytical charts, links, etc. It gathers most of the research data that I needed to collect and manage as part of the work on my critical biography published on 14 August 2013 on the occasion of the 121st anniversary of Sorabji’s birth, Opus sorabjianum: The Life and Works of Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji. Unlike the biography, the website does not make use of Sorabji’s extensive correspondence. Also, the visitor will not find interpretations, comments, critical insights, etc. In fact, the introductory paragraphs to the pages are usually short and factual. The focus is simply to make available to all, free of charge and without any of the hassles that are too common with websites, an extensive compendium of information gathered from the primary sources. It is hoped that this will serve as a sound basis for further research. Alongside the growing number of editions, performances, and recordings, this is how the groundwork admirably laid by Paul Rapoport with Sorabji: A Critical Celebration (1992, repr. 1994) will lead to a better understanding of the composer’s life and music. The frequent references to Rapoport’s book are always shown as SCC.

Size and printing: Although most topics are covered in one to ten pages, a few require as many as twenty. A full printout of the Sorabji Resource Site, which consists of 102 separate pages, would be approximately 560 pages in a legible font size (as of May 2015, as compared to approximately 350 pages when the site was launched). The website is therefore the equivalent of a large reference book. The print style sheet omits everything that is not essential in this context (e.g., banners, menu, logos). It is not advisable to print out the entire site in order to read it away from the screen, as the pages are corrected and updated almost daily.

When printing pages containing tables (which is most of the pages), it is advisable to start with a print preview and eventually reduce the view to a percentage that allows elegant printing, avoiding the problems that the browser may have in laying out the page on paper.

Dimensions and durations: The International System of Units is used for weights and measures, unless the Imperial System seems preferable for a particular item. Dimensions of books and works of arts are given as H × W (as opposed to standard page sizes such as 8.5 × 11 in, which use the opposite convention), followed by × D where appropriate. Durations are given in the format 00:00.

Tables and sorting of data: Where appropriate, data are presented in the form of tables, all of which can be sorted on multiple fields in order to view the data from different angles. The following message appears at the top of each sortable table.

Click on a column heading to sort, then shift-click on other headings to sort on multiple columns.
Surround strings with quotation marks for specific searches. Refresh the page to revert to the initial order.

All columns can be sorted, although in cases where they contain several titles, each on its own line, this feature will be of little use. It is implemented in case it may prove useful.

Format of titles: Throughout the Sorabji Resource Site the titles of Sorabji’s works are given (with some modifications) in the normalized form advocated by Rapoport in Sorabji: A Critical Celebration, followed (in parentheses) by the year of composition and the number of pages of the manuscript. The titles thus use forms free from the composer’s idiosyncrasies in matters of word choice and capitalization. Given the brevity of some of the composer’s works and the enormous length of several others, the indication of the number of pages is considered essential. It is essential that the reader be always aware of the dimensions of a given work to in order fully appreciate the context in which it is discussed. There is a huge difference between the works whose titles begin with the same word in each of the following pairs:

Colours: The banner at the top of each page has three stripes of colour (red, green, and golden brown) that are also used as the colours for the various headings. The basic idea was to match the colours of the covers of three of Sorabji’s published scores.

As exact matches would have caused the headings to deviate from the recommendations of the W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, best matches have been used.

Display font: The font used for the title of the Sorabji Resource Site in the banner and on the title page of Opus sorabjianum is Newfoundland, an equivalent of Neuland used by Curwen on the title pages of the Symphony [no. 1] for Organ (1924; 81 pp.) and Opus clavicembalisticum (1929-30; 253 pp.). Neuland, designed by Rudolf Koch (1876-1934) and cut by the Klingspor type foundry (Offenbach, Germany; 1906-56) in 1923, differs from Othello, an imitation cut by Monotype in 1928.

Photograph and quotation: The photograph of Sorabji used on the home page of the Sorabji Resource Site was taken in July 1988 by Clive Spencer-Bentley, one of the composer’s dedicatees (used with permission). The quotation from Harold Morland, another dedicatee, dates from no later than January 1975 and is taken from a poem that was to form the preface to The Tree of Life (used with the permission of the late Robert William Procter).

Technical specifications and limitations: The Sorabji Resource Site is developed using Adobe Dreamweaver CS6 and is designed for a screen resolution of 800 × 600 (currently used by less than 1% of users), which means that horizontal scrolling is never necessary.

Although it was developed initially with Internet Explorer as the primary browser (and now Chrome), it works correctly with Firefox, Opera, and Safari. Although text is displayed in a very legible font size, the display can be zoomed up to 125% without a horizontal scroll bar appearing. The site can be viewed on portable devices (ideally in landscape mode), although some aspects of the rendering will vary from browser to browser. The site does not create cookies or install software on the user’s system.

Menu and table sorting: The JavaScript code for the drop-down menu system, which makes it easy to navigate throughout the site (which consists of 102 pages or subentries), is provided by Milonic Solutions Ltd. UK Registered Company #4406835 (license no. 210326). The table sorting script is Allan Jardine’s remarkable MIT-licensed very powerful table plug-in for jQuery. This JavaScript code was implemented in June 2015 in replacement of Dynamic Table, which had been of good service since the inauguration in August 2010. All tables can now be sorted on multiple columns by shift-clicking on additional columns after the first sort operation. A search box at the top of each table makes it possible to find data in an entire table. The number of entries displayed out of the total always appears at the bottom of each table. In all but a few cases, additional search boxes at the bottom enable searching within a particular column. In all cases, enclosing search strings in quotation will find exact matches.

Internal links: Internal links (i.e., references to other pages on the site) are found where appropriate. However, links to the biographical entries for the people mentioned (friends, dedicatees, authors, editors, etc.) are provided only in exceptional cases.

External links: The Sorabji Resource Site provides extensive links to documents found on external websites. Permalinks are used whenever available rather than long and complex strings full of elements that have no meaning to the user. A thorough semi-annual check of all cited URLs using the Xenu Link Sleuth utility reduces the likelihood of 404 (Page Not Found) error messages. Fixing broken links is a never-ending task, and a complete check can easily take two days of work. The sad reality is that many sites change their directory structure and naming conventions, delete files, or simply disappear. Libraries are increasingly updating their systems and databases and taking the opportunity to provide permalinks. In some cases, however, the links will only work (or at least not redirect to a generic or home page) if the visitor is logged in or has a valid subscription (as in the case of databases providing access to theses and dissertations).

Each page has a footer with the following statement: “The contents of this website dedicated to the English composer Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji may be freely used for documentary purposes in a research context provided that due credit is given but may not be mirrored on any other server. Links to external or third-party websites is not guaranteed to be, or remain, valid or persistent, and their contents is not guaranteed to be, or remain, accurate or appropriate.”

Acknowledgements: On 14 August 2009, on the day of the 117th anniversary of Sorabji’s birth, the Sorabji Resource Site was confidentially submitted for review and comment to Alistair Hinton, Curator/Founder of the Sorabji Archive, whose suggestions for corrections were incorporated. In fact, Hinton’s help has been essential and constant ever since I began work on Sorabji, and I can say that without his constant and tireless assistance hundreds of questions would have remained unanswered. I would therefore like to express my warmest thanks to him. Although the site was then basically ready for release, I preferred to spend another year fine-tuning it. I would also like to thank Jakub Eisenbruk and Poom Pipatjarasgit, whose sharp and watchful eyes have made it possible to correct several problems and inconsistencies. The former’s many suggestions led to the release of version 2.00.

The Author

Marc-André Roberge received his B.A. in music history and literature from the School (now Faculty) of Music at Laval University (Québec) in 1979. A third of his courses were in German (language, translation, literature, civilization) and Italian. He then obtained his M.A. in musicology from McGill University (Montréal) in 1981 with a thesis on Ferruccio Busoni’s Concerto for Piano, Orchestra, and Male Chorus. He received his Ph.D. in musicology from the University of Toronto in 1988 with a dissertation on the history of Die Musik, the most important German music journal of the first half of the twentieth century. Roberge joined the Faculty of Music at Laval University in 1987. Retired since 2018, he continues his research, mainly on Busoni and Sorabji, as an independent scholar.

In addition to music and musical life in German-speaking countries between 1850 and 1950, Roberge’s research interests focus on opera and virtuoso piano music by composer-pianists such as Alkan, Liszt, Busoni, Godowsky, Sorabji, etc. He has published extensively in scholarly journals such as American Music, Canadian University Music Review, Criticus musicus, The Musical Quarterly, The Music Review, Notes, Research Chronicle, and Revue de musicologie, especially on Busoni and Sorabji.

Roberge is the author of the first critical biography of Sorabji, entitled Opus sorabjianum: The Life and Works of Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji. He wrote the articles on Godowsky and Sorabji for the second edition of the German encyclopedia Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart (the latter much shortened by the editors; see a list of corrections and additions), and revised Paul Rapoport’s article on Sorabji for Grove Music Online (updated and revised 1 July 2014; subscription required). Since 1992 he has produced critical editions of twenty-seven works by Sorabji and two bibliographical compilations, all of which are available from the Sorabji Archive.

For nine years (1992-2001) Roberge was the French editor of the Canadian University Music Review/Revue de musique des universités canadiennes (now Intersections: Canadian Review of Music/Revue canadienne de musique) and copy editor for both languages. He used his editorial expertise to create the Guide des difficultés de rédaction en musique (GDRM), a website (launched in 2002) dedicated to the specific problems of writing about music in French, for which he received an award from the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF) in 2003.

A curriculum vitae (in French, his mother tongue) with a complete list of publications (in several cases with links to PDF versions) is available on his website.

Last modified: 2024-01-01
© Marc-André Roberge 2024
Sorabji Resource Site (SRS)
Faculté de musique, Université Laval, Québec

The contents of this website dedicated to the English composer Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji may be freely used for documentary purposes in a research context, provided that due credit is given, but may not be mirrored on any other server. Links to external or third-party websites are not guaranteed to be or remain valid or persistent and their content is not guaranteed to be or remain accurate or appropriate.

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