Sorabji Resource Site (SRS)

Presentation Letters

This page reproduces the full texts, with lists of signatories, of the two so-called “presentation letters” offered to Sorabji in 1953 and 1987 by Frank Holliday and Alistair Hinton, respectively.

Frank Holliday’s 1953 Presentation Letter

The first presentation letter was the idea of Frank Holliday, who secretly wrote to several friends and admirers of the composer starting in December 1951, asking them for a contribution to the “K. S. Sorabji Fund”. The letter was calligraphed by an unidentified artist at the Royal College of Art on cream stock measuring 29.4 × 48 cm. The text and the signatures are in black ink, though six of them (Byngham, Morland, Petri, Quilter, Saurat, Richards) are in blue ink. The fund was closed on 3 March 1953 and a cheque given to Sorabji on 15 May with the letter.

The present transcription is based on the original. There also exists a typeset reproduction on heavy cream stock (5 × 8 in.) printed for private distribution at a later date entitled “Copy of Presentation Letter”. This version of the text is transcribed in SCC, 27, and reproduced in Sean Vaughn Owen, “Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji: An Oral Biography” (Ph.D. diss., University of Southampton, 2006, c2008), 333.

The pinted version consists of two paragraphs rather than four and features a few differences in matters of punctuation. The differences are as follows:

  • Comma missing after “undersigned” (par. 1)
  • “therefore” (par. 2)
  • “would” (par. 3)
  • All ampersands (&) replaced with “and”
  • Signature block preceded by “Signed:
  • Names separated by commas and laid out in three columns, with two names remaining (left-aligned) at the bottom, with a period at the end.


To Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji

We the undersigned, have long admired your achievements in the realms of composition & scholarship. We are familiar with your music via the printed page but we would very greatly appreciate the opportunity of hearing authentic performances of it.

We hope, therefore, that you will accept the enclosed gift as a mark of our esteem, both to you personally, & for your contribution to the art of music, & that you may see your way to record such of your works as you may consider best suited to gramophone reproduction. You would naturally have complete control over any records so made.

In sending you this slight expression of our warmest and most deep felt friendship & admiration, we imply no obligation whatever on you to record, but we do beg that you will see your way to accede to our request that you should do so.

We have taken the greatest care to restrict the knowledge of this letter to those we know to be your personal friends & admirers, as we know this would be your wish. We would, however, add that we are convinced that there is a much larger body of people who, like us, have a genuine desire to hear your music.

[Signatures, followed by the calligraphed names, laid out in two columns, with the last name spanning the two columns] York Bowen, Dion Byngham, Erik Chisholm, H. J. Cooper, E. Edroff-Smith, Clinton Gray-Fisk, Norman P. Gentieu, Frank Holliday, Paul Howard, John Ireland, Philip Mairet, / Harold Morland, Norman Peterkin, Egon Petri, Roger Quilter, Alec Rowley, Harold Rutland, Denis Saurat, Osbert Sitwell, George Richards, Bernard Stevens, Mervyn Vicars, / Frida Kindler-van Dieren

Alistair Hinton’s 1987 Presentation Letter

The second presentation letter dates from around March 1987, when Alistair Hinton invited close friends of Sorabji to contribute to the cost of a high-fidelity equipment that would make it possible for him to listen to music at the nursing home. The letter was written by Hinton and calligraphed by another person who had a studio in Queen Square Place, Bath, on material parchment measuring 36.7 ×119 cm. The initial word of each paragraph begins with a drop capital.

Maestro Sorabji

We share a boundless respect, admiration and love both for you and your work. Our unshakable faith in your genius as a composer is now being not merely rewarded but glorified through the opportunities you are at last giving us to hear some of your superb music.

Through these recent concert performances, broadcasts and recordings, many receptive and intelligent listeners have been delighted by your endless pianistic invention, awed by the ineffable logic and sense with which you control vast and complex forms, and deeply moved by the unique power and beauty of the Sorabji sound-world; these listeners have come to know you, as we have always known you, to be one of the supreme positive forces in twentieth-century music.

We are most saddened that you have suffered such a disturbing year as a result of your health, but equally astonished at the fortitude with which you have borne all your recent trials and tribulations, and relieved to know that you are now happily settled and well cared for.

We are aware that you wish to listen to music in the atmosphere of quiet privacy to which you have long been accustomed, and at times of your own choosing.

We make this presentation to you in deep gratitude for all that you are giving us, and in the hope that it will make possible many hours of fine listening, particularly to your own music, for many years to come.

[Names laid out in two columns] Martin Anderson, Anthony Burton-Page, Alastair Chisholm, Martin Cotton, Kenneth Derus, Dr. Cecil Ewing, Donald Garvelmann, Norman Gentieu, Michael Habermann, Alistair Hinton, Charles Hopkins, Geoffrey Douglas Madge, Jane Manning, / Harold Morland, C. Robert Montgomery, Edward Nairn, Anthony Payne, Paul Rapoport, Sir Sacheverell Sitwell, Ronald Smith, Yonty Solomon, Clive Spencer-Bentley, Ronald Stevenson, Mervyn Vicars, Ian Watson, Harry Winstanley

Last modified: 2021-05-21
© Marc-André Roberge 2021
Sorabji Resource Site (SRS)
Faculté de musique, Université Laval, Québec

The contents of this website devoted 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 cannot be guaranteed to be, or remain, valid or persistent, and their contents cannot be guaranteed to be, or remain, accurate or appropriate.

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