Sorabji Resource Site (SRS)

Milestones in the Discovery of Sorabji’s Music

This page consists of a chronology of important events (publications, performances, recordings, meetings, etc.) in the discovery of Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji’s music over the last fifty-five years or so. Some entries document important events in the development of research seen from the point of view of the author of the Sorabji Resource Site. The list is organized by decade, as follows:

From 2000 onwards the list inevitably becomes more a chronology of events rather than a list of milestones, although some entries are actually milestones. Recent events are documented on the page News from the Sorabji Archive.


1960-04-00: Clinton Gray-Fisk publishes an introductory article on Sorabji in the April issue of the Musical Times that will often be quoted.

1962-05-05: Frank Holliday begins a series of private recordings of Sorabji at his piano, some of which were broadcast in 1969.

1965-07-00: Gambit: Edinburgh University Review publishes in its summer issue the transcript of a conversation between Hugh MacDiarmid, John Ogdon, and Ronald Stevenson under the title “Sorabji Symposium”.

1966-10-20: John Gates gives the first public performance of the Fantaisie espagnole (1919; 23 pp.) at Carnegie Hall, New York.

1969-11-12: Alistair Hinton discovers Sorabji’s music during a visit to the Central Music Library (Westminster).

1969-12-00: Publication of the Pastiche on the “Minute Waltz” by Chopin (1922; 7 pp.) as part of an anthology of arrangements of the piece under Donald M. Garvelmann’s own imprint, Music Treasure Publications. This is the first publication of any music by Sorabji since the release of Opus clavicembalisticum (1929-30; 253 pp.) in 1931.

1969-12-08: Broadcast in New York of a programme organized by Donald Garvelmann, consisting of Erik Chisholm’s text (“The Composer Sorabji”), edited, read, and introduced by Frank Holliday with excerpts from performances by Sorabji.


1970-12-13: The New York WNCN radio station broadcasts a three-hour programme on Sorabji produced by Donald M. Garvelmann.

1971-07-00: Paul Rapoport buys a copy of Opus clavicembalisticum (1929-30; 253 pp.) in London for GBP 2.10 and begins to study Sorabji’s music.

1972-08-21: Alistair Hinton visits Sorabji for the first time in Corfe Castle.

1973-07-12: Michael Habermann gives his first unofficial Sorabji recital in Glen Cove, NY.

1974-09-03: Paul Rapoport, using the Music 360 music-composition programme by Prof. Barry Vercoe of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology running on the IBM 360/75 computer at the University of Illinois, begins producing a computer realization of parts of Opus clavicembalisticum (1929-30; 253 pp.), totalling 35 minutes of music.

1975-00-00: Bruce Posner completes an honours thesis on Sorabji at Fordham University (New York), consisting mainly of a description, with several musical examples, of five sections of Opus clavicembalisticum (1929-30; 253 pp.). Despite its very limited availability, this academic work is the first scholarly examination of Sorabji’s music.

1976-02-27: Marc-André Roberge orders from Oxford University Press some scores by Sorabji, including Opus clavicembalisticum (1929-30; 253 pp.), for which he pays GBP 4.86, and begins to study his music.

1976-03-23: Alistair Hinton persuades Sorabji to allow Yonty Solomon to play some of his works in public.

1976-07-28: Sorabji gives Michael Habermann a letter giving him permission to perform his works.

1976-12-07: Yonty Solomon gives the first official Sorabji recital in London, Wigmore Hall, including the Fantaisie espagnole (1919; 23 pp.), the Two Piano Pieces (1918, 1920; 20 pp.), and Le jardin parfumé: Poem for Piano Solo (1923; 16 pp.).

1977-05-22: Michael Habermann gives his first official Sorabji recital at Carnegie Hall.

1977-06-11: A prerecorded London Weekend Television programme “Aquarius”, produced by Derek Bailey and hosted by Russell Harty, is broadcast in which Sorabji is interviewed (he was only photographed, not filmed live). Felix Aprahamian (music critic and writer), Peter Hall (theatre and opera producer), Alistair Hinton, Sacheverell Sitwell, and Yonty Solomon are also interviewed.

1978-05-15: Paul Rapoport and Alistair Hinton begin microfilming a substantial part of Sorabji’s musical manuscripts (filling four reels).

1978-12-05: Paul Rapoport publishes a chapter entitled “Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji and His Opus Clavicembalisticum” in his book Opus est: Six Composers from Northern Europe (ISBN 978-0-900707-88-7, 978-0-8008-5844-5; library locations at WorldCat; available for loan on Internet Archive). This is the first time that Sorabji and his music have been discussed in book form by a musicologist.

1979-00-00: Publication of a reprint of Around Music by Hyperion Press (New York).


1980-02-02: The first ever performance of an orchestral work by Sorabji, the Cinque sonetti di Michelagniolo Buonarroti (1923; 40 pp.), takes place at the University of Toronto’s Walter Hall as part of the New Music Concerts thanks to the substantial collaboration of Paul Rapoport.

1980-11-00: Musical Heritage Society releases Michael Habermann’s first Sorabji recording. This is the first commercial recording of any of Sorabji’s music.

1982-05-03: The Delius Society, Philadelphia Branch, organizes a concert on the occasion of Sorabji’s 90th birthday, including the first performance of a specially commissioned work by Norman Gentieu, Il tessuto d’arabeschi (1979; 32 pp.), the only commission he ever fulfilled.

1982-06-11: Geoffrey Douglas Madge gives the second complete public performance of Opus clavicembalisticum (1929-30; 253 pp.) at the Holland Festival (Utrecht, Muziekcentrum Vredenburg). The first performance had been given by Sorabji himself in Glasgow on 1 December 1930.

1983-04-00: Marc-André Roberge publishes an article entitled “Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji, compositeur sui generis” in Sonances, revue musicale québécoise. This is the first substantial discussion of Sorabji in French.

1984-11-09: Geoffrey Douglas Madge performs Opus clavicembalisticum (1929-30; 253 pp.) in Montréal. Marc-André Hamelin, one of the two page turners (he turned — or rather slid — the pages for parts one and three; the pages for part two were turned by Véronique Robert), and Marc-André Roberge meet for the first time (an event that was to have far-reaching consequences for the reception of both Alkan’s and Sorabji’s music); the latter also meets Paul Rapoport for the first time (an important meeting for Sorabjian research).

1985-00-00: Nazlin Bhimani completes her M.A. thesis at the University of British Columbia (Vancouver) on Sorabji’s critical writings on British music in The New Age and Michael Habermann completes a D.M.A. dissertation entitled “A Style Analysis of the Nocturnes for Solo Piano by Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji, with Special Emphasis on Le jardin parfumé” at the Peabody Conservatory of Music.

1985-03-09: Paul Rapoport, on the day after Ronald Stevenson’s performance of his Passacaglia on DSCH at McMaster University (Hamilton, Ontario), asks Marc-André Roberge to compile of a list of performances of Sorabji’s works for the symposium book he is planning (Sorabji: A Critical Celebration). He also gives Roberge a private copy of his initial list of Sorabji’s works so that he can begin his research with reliable data. This marks the actual beginning of his scholarly involvement with Sorabji’s music.

1986-00-00: Publication by Da Capo Press (New York) of the reprint of Mi contra fa, with an introduction by Donald Garvelmann.

1987-02-00: Alistair Hinton, at the suggestion of Paul Rapoport, phones Marc-André Roberge to ask him for a copy of the list of performances of Sorabji’s works he is preparing for Sorabji: A Critical Celebration.

1987-07-25: Kevin Bowyer and Thomas Trotter give the first complete performance of the Symphony [no. 1] for Organ (1924; 81 pp.) at the 1987 International Congress of Organists (London, Holy Trinity Church, Sloane Street). This is the first time organ music by Sorabji has been performed since E. Emlyn Davies’s (partial) performance of the work on 17 May 1928.

1987-11-00: Publication of Ronald Stevenson’s edition of the Fantasiettina sul nome illustre dell’egregio poeta Christopher Grieve ossia Hugh M’Diarmid (1961; 10 pp.) by Bardic Edition (Aylesbury). This is the first publication of a work by Sorabji since the release of Donald M. Garvelmann’s edition of the Pastiche on the “Minute Waltz” by Chopin (1922; 7 pp.).

1988-09-00: Alistair Hinton sets up the Sorabji Music Archive (renamed the Sorabji Archive in January 1991) to provide easy access to the composer’s musical and literary output.

1988-11-00: Continuum releases a recording of Kevin Bowyer’s playing of the Symphony [no. 1] for Organ (1924; 81 pp.).

1989-00-00: The William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections, Mills Memorial Library, McMaster University (Hamilton, Ontario, Canada), acquires Frank Holliday’s collection of materials relating to Sorabji. This is the largest public collection of material relating to Sorabji.

1989-05-00: Release of John Ogdon’s recording of Opus clavicembalisticum (1929-30; 253 pp.), made in 1985 and 1986, on the Altarus label, which was to release many other recordings of music by Sorabji in the years to come.

1989-06-00: Marc-André Roberge, in conversation with Paul Rapoport, says that he would have many problems to solve in writing a biography of Sorabji. Rapoport replies: “That will be your job!” This suggests to Roberge that he should take on this enormous project, which he later mentions to Alistair Hinton, who replies: “Loud cheers! I’ll give you all the help I can.”


1990-01-00: As part of his ongoing research on Sorabji, Marc-André Roberge hires André Garneau, a saxophonist and music copyist from Québec City, to transcribe the musical text for critical editions of shorter works using NoteWriter II from Passport Designs, Inc.

1992-04-00: The Sorabji Music Archive publishes the first of Marc-André Roberge engraved editions of shorter works and songs, each accompanied by a historical and analytical introduction and a critical report.

1992-06-20: Marc-André Roberge meets Alistair Hinton for the first time (after having corresponded with him since 1987) and spends a week exploring the contents of the Sorabji Music Archive.

1992-08-14: The centenary of Sorabji’s birth is marked by an exhibition organized by Alistair Hinton at the British Music Information Centre (in September).

1992-03-09: Marc-André Roberge spends a few days at the William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections at McMaster University and studies the Frank Holliday Collection of Material Relating to Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji.

1992-12-03: The long awaited collective volume edited by Paul Rapoport, Sorabji: A Critical Celebration([xv], 512 pp.; ISBN 978-0-85967-923-7, library locations at WorldCat; limited preview on Google Books), is published by Scolar Press (later Ashgate, Routledge since 2016). Finally, a complete and accurate catalogue of works is available, with countless details that lift the veil on their unique musical and literary characteristics. The book was reprinted with corrections in 1994, in which form it still appears to be available again in hardback format after an absence. Routledge reissued it as a VitalSource eBook on 5 July 2017 (ISBN 978-1-31-508780-1), and in paperback format on 30 August 2017 (ISBN 978-1-13-826050-4).

1994-00-00: The Paul Sacher Stiftung (Basel) acquires from Alistair Hinton all the Sorabji manuscripts in his possession since Sorabji’s death.

1996-02-00: Erica N. Schulman, a scientific programmer with a Ph.D. in Physics from Columbia University, creates a website for the Sorabji Archive, hosted on a server at McGill University (but no longer maintained) thanks to arrangements made by Joel Wapnick, a professor of music education who had discovered Sorabji’s music a few years earlier.

1998-12-06: Christopher Berg organizes a Sorabji concert at Merkin Concert Hall at the Abraham Goodman House in New York. The programme includes the first performance of the Quintet no. 1 for Piano and Quartet of Stringed Instruments (1919-20; 72 pp.) and the American premières of the Sonata seconda for Piano (1920; 49 pp.) by Tellef Johnson, and of the Trois fêtes galantes de Verlaine (ca. 1919; 11 pp.) by Felicity La Fortune and Christopher Berg.


2001-00-00: Simon Abrahams publishes the first of several editions of (mostly) piano works, setting high standards for layout.

2001-02-17: Erica Schulman Kane sets up a discussion group on Yahoo! that does not become active until 6 August 2001.

2001-03-01: Jonathan Powell gives the first of several recitals devoted to (mostly) first performances of Sorabji’s works.

2002-00-00: Jonathan Powell publishes the first of several editions of extensive piano works, edited in view of, and in the light of, his own performances and recordings and, like Simon Abrahams, setting high standards of presentation.

2002-11-14: Elizabeth Farnum (soprano) and Margaret Kampmeier (piano) give in a recital in New York devoted to Sorabji’s songs, many of them first performances, to coincide with the release of their recording on the Centaur label.

2003-00-00: Original editions of books and scores of works by Sorabji begin to appear regularly on the used book market, notably on the website, fetching increasingly high prices.

2004-00-00: The growing practice of illegally distributing copyrighted music on the Internet by means of anonymous postings on discussion groups devoted to the piano and on websites with no identifiable authorship begins to affect the rights of legitimate copyright holders of Sorabji-related materials.

2004-00-00: Alexander Abercrombie publishes the first of his editions of large-scale piano works, setting high standards of excellence, as have Simon Abrahams and Jonathan Powell.

2004-00-00: Marc-André Roberge, who had not published an edition of music by Sorabji since 1994, resumes his editorial activities with further editions of works by Sorabji for the Sorabji Archive using the Sibelius notation software.

2006-00-00: BIS Records releases the first of seven discs of Fredrik Ullén’s recording of the complete Études transcendantes (100) (1940-44; 456 pp.).

2006-02-00: Sean Vaughn Owen completes a Ph.D. in musicology at the University of Southampton with a dissertation entitled “Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji: An Oral Biography” (372 pp.), which provides substantial biographical evidence about Sorabji’s mother, finally putting to rest the legend of her “Spanish-Sicilian” background.

2006-07-26: Announcement of the creation of the Sorabji Archive’s website.

2007-02-23: Creation of a Sorabji Forum hosted on the Sorabji Archive’s website.

2008-04-22: Alistair Hinton announces the launch of Kevin Bowyer’s Sorabji Organ Project (website no longer active; <>).

2008-08-21: Alistair Hinton announces the move of the Sorabji Archive from Bath, Somerset, to Eaton Bishop, Herefordshire.

2009-05-02: Alistair Hinton announces the completion of his project to scan his collection of master copies of music manuscripts and editions of Sorabji’s music.


2010-06-08: Kevin Bowyer gives in Glasgow the first complete performance of the Second Symphony for Organ (1929-32; 350 pp.). At nine hours, it is the longest work by Sorabji ever performed. Reports of this event are available on the Sorabji Forum.

2010-06-18: Jonathan Powell gives the first complete performance of the Sequentia cyclica super “Dies irae” ex Missa pro defunctis (1948-49; 335 pp.) in Glasgow. At just over seven hours, it is the longest piano work by Sorabji ever performed.

2010-08-11: Marc-André Roberge announces the inauguration of the Sorabji Resource Site on the server of the Faculty of Music of Laval University in time for the 118th anniversary of Sorabji’s birth.

2012-07-00: The Sorabji Archive announces that all of Sorabji’s scores (both manuscripts and editions) and published literary writings are now available electronically in PDF format rather than only as photocopies, as has been the case since its inception, thereby significantly reducing costs and making them more readily available.

2013-03-18: The Sorabji Archive announces that the catalogue entries for the scores of Sorabji’s music (see page Compositions) now come with a sample page (PDF, PNG) in all available formats (manuscript and handwritten or engraved editions).

2013-08-14: On the very day of Sorabji’s 121th anniversary, Marc-André Roberge announces the publication of his long-awaited book Opus sorabjianum: The Life and Works of Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji, the full text of which, together with sound files for the musical examples, can be downloaded free of charge from this website.

2019-09-24: Alistair Hinton announces that the manuscript of the Toccata terza, previously thought to be lost, has been found, together with a previously undocumented copy in the composer’s hand of the piano part of the Symphony [no. 1] for Piano, Large Orchestra, Chorus, and Organ (1921-22; 300 pp.).


2020-02-07: Piano Classics releases Jonathan Powell’s complete recording (on seven CDs) of the Sequentia cyclica super “Dies irae” ex Missa pro defunctis (1948-49; 335 pp.). This is followed on 28 February by the release of Abel Sánchez-Aguilera’s recording of the Toccata seconda per pianoforte (1933-34; 111 pp.) on the same label.

2021-10-15: The Sorabji article on Wikipedia is published as “Today’s featured article” on the 33rd anniversary of the composer’s death.

Last modified: 2024-03-05
© Marc-André Roberge 2024
Sorabji Resource Site (SRS)
Faculté de musique, Université Laval, Québec

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