Sorabji Resource Site (SRS)

Analytical Texts in Scores

This page lists, in chronological order, the works for which Sorabji provided material of a technical or analytical nature, such as:

  • table of contents
  • extensive remarks
  • analytical notes
  • schemata of voice entries in fugues

Many of these texts are reproduced in SCC, 179-92, as indicated by a bullet () in the third column.

Also taken into account are the analytical markings found in some of the fugues, whereby sections (e.g., expositions, strettos) are labelled and statements of the themes and of their various forms (e.g., cancrizans, inversus) as well as of the countersubjects are identified.

The short notes dealing with the symbols used to indicate octave transposition, are dealt with elsewhere. The inscriptions referring to the weather conditions prevailing at the moment of completion as well as the quotations from beloved authors that Sorabji inserted to voice his approval or disapproval of some idea or behaviour are not included here; they are reproduced in SCC, 179-92.

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Title Comments SCC
Title Comments SCC
The Poplars (1915; 3 pp.) Footnote about the character of the vocal line, which is a species of melodeclamation
Chaleur—​Poème (1916-17; 32 pp.) Lengthy introductory text describing the work’s programme
Concerto II pour piano et grand orchestre (1916-17; 49 pp.) Lengthy introductory text entitled “In the guise of a programme Note” about the piano reduction of the orchestral part and the absence of a programme
Concerto pour piano et grand orchestre [no. 4] (1918; 100 pp.) Remark about the need for the conductor not to drown the piano in the orchestral sound
Concerto for Piano and Orchestra [no. 5] (1920; 144 pp.) Introductory text insisting on the need for a “steady smooth extra-metrical flow” and on the inappropriateness of memorization
Sonata seconda for Piano (1920; 49 pp.) Note requiring a playing of the “strictest integrity”, drawing attention on the inappropriateness of memorization, and suggesting that the work be played as the first item of the programme owing to its difficulty.
Concerto per pianoforte e piccola orchestra, “Simorg-Anka” [no. 7] (1924; 100 pp.) Short note leaving the dynamic nuances to the performer’s taste
Variazioni e fuga triplice sopra “Dies irae” per pianoforte (1923-26; 201 pp.) Analytical markings in the fugue
Toccata [no. 1] for Piano (1928; 66 pp.) Listing of sections and “Thematic Table”
Sonata IV for Piano (1928-29; 111 pp.) “Analytical Note” (2 pp.) describing the work as meant to occupy an entire programme and providing a description of each section; “Distribuzione dell’Opera” (with indication of the number of themes for each section); “Schemata of voice entries in Fugues”. Analytical markings in the fugue.
Opus clavicembalisticum (1929-30; 253 pp.) “Constitution of the Work”; “Shortform-Analysis of Opus Clavicembalisticum” (7 pp.) consisting of an introductory text concluding with a note prohibiting separate performance of sections and emphasizing the work’s intellectual and technical difficulties and followed by a “Theme Table” reproducing the themes of the “Introito” and “Preludio corale” as well as the fugue themes in their different presentations. Analytical markings in the fugues (especially “Fuga I”). • (note only)
Symphony no. 0 for Piano Solo (1930-31; 333 pp.) Uses numbers in the first movement from the “Fantasia” onwards (pp. 11-110) to identify motives as well as in vars. 37 to 42 of the “Toccata variata” (pp. 234-308), each of which use a number of motives that is increased by one each time (e.g., 1, 1-2, 1-3, etc.).
Second Symphony for Organ (1929-32; 350 pp.) Uses numbers to identify motives in the “Introduction” (pp. 1-62) and in vars. 42-48 of the second movement (pp. 179-215); in the latter case the variations use a number of motives that is increased by one each time (e.g., 1, 1-2, 1-3, etc.). Analytical markings in the fugue.
Toccata seconda per pianoforte (1933-34; 111 pp.) Listing of sections
Sonata V (Opus archimagicum) (1934-35; 336 pp.) Analytical markings in the fugue
Symphonic Variations for Piano (1935-37; 484 pp.) Labelling of each section of the three-part theme and of the variations by the letters A, B, and C.
Tāntrik Symphony for Piano Alone (1938-39; 284 pp.) Uses numbers to identify motives in the first three movements (pp. 1-151). Analytical markings in the fugue.
Transcription in the Light of Harpsichord Technique for the Modern Piano of the Chromatic Fantasia of J. S. Bach, Followed by a Fugue (1940; 15 pp.) Contains an extensive “Prefatory Note” denouncing those who perform Bach’s work on the piano without “any substitution in pianistic terms” and who have never heard Wanda Landowska and explaining the choice of a different fugue
Sequentia cyclica super “Dies irae” ex Missa pro defunctis (1948-49; 335 pp.) Note explaining the comparative lack of expression marks, which are left to the performer’s intelligence.
Third Organ Symphony (1949-53; 305 pp.) Note denouncing the baroque organ and calling for an instrument of tonal splendour and magnificence
Second Symphony for Piano (1954; 248 pp.) Uses numbers to identify motives (pp. 1-9) whose recurrences in the first movement are also identified
Opus clavisymphonicum—​Concerto for Piano and Large Orchestra for Piano and Large Orchestra (1957-59; 333 pp.) Note (in the separate solo part) explaining how the work revolves around the piano as the solar system does around the sun and giving the soloist the widest latitude, with the conductor being guided in his direction by the soloist.
Third Symphony for Piano Solo (1959-60; 144 pp.) Uses numbers to identify motives (pp. 1-68, 85-88, 92-95, 141-42)
Fourth Symphony for Piano Alone (1962-64; 240 pp.) Uses numbers to identify motives (pp. 73-115, 196 ss.)
Toccata quarta (1964-67; 149 pp.) Uses numbers to identify motives (pp. 118 ss.)
Concertino non grosso for String Sextet with Piano obbligato quasi continuo (1968; 48 pp.) Uses music examples to associate motives with the names of the dedicatees (members of the Vicars family) and to show “Mervyn’s contrapuntal answer”
Benedizione di San Francesco d’Assisi (1973; 2 pp.) Short note asking for the piece to be conceived of as one paragraph, with no breaks between phrase marks.
Symphonia brevis for Piano (1973; 120 pp.) Listing of sections
Sixth Symphony for Piano (Symphonia claviensis) (1975-76; 270 pp.) Some analytical markings in the fugue
Last modified: 2021-05-21
© Marc-André Roberge 2021
Sorabji Resource Site (SRS)
Faculté de musique, Université Laval, Québec

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