Sorabji Resource Site (SRS)

Interest in Occultism, Religion, and Eroticism

This page provides a chronological list of works by Sorabji that show an interest in, or a preoccupation with, such beliefs and traditions having to do with an awareness of spiritual matters.

The following abbreviations are used to identify the various categories; in some cases, more than one category (shown in alphabetical order) applies to a work.

  • E: Eroticism (including homoeroticism)
  • O: Occultism (including legend and mystery)
  • R: Religion

See the details for the musical and literary sources of Sorabji’s works and a listing of works grouped by categories.

Works whose number of manuscript pages or number of sections such as variations features various numerological features (e.g, replication, repeated digits, squares and cubes, etc., are presented on pages dealing with numbers with patterns and variations, passacaglias, and fugues.

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Title Type Comments
Title Type Comments
Sonata seconda for Piano (1920; 49 pp.) O The manuscript contains the inscription “Nec opus sit tibi null… credoni… malef… H. N. Sabbaticus” (May this work not be harmful to you, Unwilling Goat of the Sabbath).
Symphony [no. 1] for Piano, Large Orchestra, Chorus, and Organ (1921-22; 300 pp.) O The manuscript contains the inscription “... and in that darkness they come”.
Black Mass (1922; 0 p.) O The title of this work, which is not extant, is self-explanatory.
Concerto pour piano et orchestra da camera [no. 3] (1918; 100 pp.) R The manuscript contains an inscription that is partly illegible as a result of being stuck deep inside the binding: “ALLAH.AKBAR. / To Ganesa [recte Ga{with dot under}eśa] Glory-<Shiv>-Reverence / (<> <><>) and <> <>”.
Opusculum for Orchestra (1923; 36 pp.) O The manuscript contains the mysterious sentence “... a rite not to be spoken, a deed of high Black Magic”.
Le jardin parfumé: Poem for Piano Solo (1923; 16 pp.) E, O The work refers to the title of a manual of Arabian erotology by Sheik al-Nafzawī. Furthermore, the manuscript contains the inscription “here Satan is invoked to rend asunder all such as we hate —”.
Cinque sonetti di Michelagniolo Buonarroti (1923; 40 pp.) E The work sets to music poems by the homosexual artist expressing his love for his young Roman nobleman friend Tommaso de’ Cavalieri.
Concerto per pianoforte e piccola orchestra, “Simorg-Anka” [no. 7] (1924; 100 pp.) O The title refers to a fabulous bird found in Iranian art and literature.
Valse-fantaisie for Piano (1925; 16 pp.) R The manuscript contains the inscription “Deo gratias, et laudes. — To Ganès [recte Gan{with dot under}eśa] Remover of Obstacles / Salutations and Obeisances / To Allah praise —”.
Trois poèmes du “Gulistān” de Saʿdī (1926, rev. 1930; 16 pp.) E The texts are expression of a man’s love for his friend.
Tāntrik Symphony for Piano Alone (1938-39; 284 pp.) E The titles of the movements refer to tantrik and shaktic yoga.
“Quaere reliqua hujus materiei inter secretiora” (1940; 16 pp.) O The title is taken from a ghost story by M. R. James.
St. Bertrand de Comminges: “He was laughing in the tower” (1941; 16 pp.) O The title is taken from a ghost story by M. R. James.
Messa grande sinfonica (1955-61; 1,001 pp.) R The work is a setting of the Roman Catholic Mass.
Frammenti aforistici (Sutras) (104) (1962-64; 37 pp.) R The title refers to precepts summarizing Vedic teaching; also a collection of these precepts; a discourse of the Buddha.
Toccata quarta (1964-67; 149 pp.) O The fifth movement is subtitled “Of a neophyte and how the Black Art was revealed to him”, which refers to an illustration by Aubrey Beardsley for Sir Thomas Mallory’s Le morte d’Arthur.
Benedizione di San Francesco d’Assisi (1973; 2 pp.) R This work is the setting of a benediction by a saint.
Opusculum clavisymphonicum vel claviorchestrale (1973-75; 334 pp.) R The theme is based on a liturgical work.
“Il gallo d’oro” da Rimsky-Korsakov: Variazioni frivole con una fuga anarchica, eretica e perversa (1978-79; 93 pp.) O Sorabji wrote of the “necromantic suspense” brooding over certain scenes of Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera.
Opus secretum atque necromanticum (1980- 81; 48 pp.) O The work was inspired the composer’s “perennial interest and leanings thereunto”.
Due sutras sul nome dell’amico Alexis (1981, 1984; 2 pp.) R The title refers to precepts summarizing Vedic teaching; also a collection of these precepts; a discourse of the Buddha.
Last modified: 2021-05-21
© Marc-André Roberge 2021
Sorabji Resource Site (SRS)
Faculté de musique, Université Laval, Québec

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