Sorabji Resource Site (SRS)

Numbers with Patterns and Problems with Page Numbers

This page lists the works by Sorabji whose page numbering exhibits features of numerological interest or that manipulate the numbering by omitting or adding pages in order to maintain a total number that preserves his intentions.

The matter of Sorabji’s fascination with such numbers is discussed in Paul Rapoport, “Sorabji: A Continuation”, in SCC, 63-65, who writes “there are too many conflicting occult numerologies to be of help in sorting all this out”. Therefore, no attempt will be made here to offer interpretation for Sorabji’s decisions, and the table below is meant only to serve as a repository of data.

Column Pages gives the number of pages intended by Sorabji, who may have omitted or added pages in order to arrive at a specific result. The actual number is mentioned in column Comments when it differs from the number given as part of the title.

Column Type indicates the type of number using the following abbreviations for the number of pages given in column Pages.

  • Cb: Cube (e.g., 3 × 3)
  • Ml: Multiplication of factor (e.g., 10 × 12, 3  × 100)
  • Pl: Palindrome (e.g., 1001)
  • Rd: Repdigit (e.g., 333)
  • Se: Sequence (e.g., 24, 48, 456)
  • Sq: Square (e.g., 4 × 4)

Column Comments reports on the use of number with numerological features (in bold type to make them stand out from the text) in the number of sections in variations or passacaglias, preceded by the same code used in column Type. They are positioned at the top of the cells to enable sorting on this variable. The number of inaccuracies or manipulations in page numbering, often serving to obtain the desired number, are detailed in what is a second paragraph when data on numerological features is given first.

The pecularities of page numbering reported in column Comments are in a large part adapted from the “Comments” in Rapoport’s catalogue of works in SCC, 93-192. Page numbers with an appended [a] mean that a second page with the same number follows a first one without.

It may not always be possible to follow the peculiarities of page numbering in the photocopies available from the Sorabji Archive because the original numbering may have been replaced by an editorial one.

For a table showing the number of variations and passacaglias, several of which exhibit numerological features (as mentioned below), see page Variations, Passacaglias, and Fugues.

For some considerations on numerological features in Symphonic Nocturne for Piano Alone (1977-78; 113 pp.), see section “Performing the work” in the critical edition by Lukas Huisman.

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.

Title Pages (N) Type Comments
Title Pages (N) Type Comments
Hymne à Aphrodite (1916; 5 pp.)     No page 5 or 6, and one unnumbered page between pages 4 and 7 (second manuscript).
Concerto [no. 1] pour piano et grand orchestre (1915-16; 177 pp.)     Pl: The total number of bars (numbered ten by ten in the manuscript) is 484.
Concerto pour piano et orchestra da camera [no. 3] (1918; 100 pp.) 100 Sq Pl: The work consists of 40, 20, and 40 pages.

Two pages 35, no page 34.
Concerto pour piano et grand orchestre [no. 4] (1918; 100 pp.) 100 Sq Pl: The work consists of 40, 20, and 40 pages.
Sonata seconda for Piano (1920; 49 pp.) 49 Sq  
Symphony [no. 1] for Piano, Large Orchestra, Chorus, and Organ (1921-22; 300 pp.) 300 Ml  
Cinque sonetti di Michelagniolo Buonarroti (1923; 40 pp.) 40 Ml Two pages 11, no page 15.
Concerto per pianoforte e piccola orchestra, “Simorg-Anka” [no. 7] (1924; 100 pp.) 100 Sq Pl: The work consists of 40, 20, and 40 pages.
Symphony [no. 1] for Organ (1924; 81 pp.) 81 Sq  
Concerto V for Piano and Large Orchestra [no. 8] (1927-28; 344 pp.) 343 Pl Se: The third movement comprises a “Cadenza” in which there is a passacaglia with 48 variations.

One page 330a.
Toccata [no. 1] for Piano (1928; 66 pp.) 66 Rd Sq: The second movement is a passacaglia with 64 variations.
Toccatinetta sopra C.G.F. (1929; 8 pp.)   Rd The work comprises a passacaglia with 33 variations.
Opus clavicembalisticum (1929-30; 253 pp.)   Sq Sq: The sixth movement is a theme with 49 variations and the third part of the ninth movement is a passacaglia with 81 variations.

Two pages 252.
Symphony no. 0 for Piano Solo (1930-31; 333 pp.) 333 Rd Sq: The second section of the third movement is a theme with 64 variations.

Two variations 17, no variation no. 41 (for a total of 64).
Second Symphony for Organ (1929-32; 350 pp.) 350 Ml Sq, ML: Movement II has two variations no. 43 (the last variation is no. 49, for a total of 50).
Quintet II for Piano and String Quartet (1932-33; 432 pp.) 100 Sq The second section of the second movement is a passacaglia with 100 variations.
Toccata seconda per pianoforte (1933-34; 111 pp.) 111 Rp  
Sonata V (Opus archimagicum) (1934-35; 336 pp.) 343a Pl No page 194, two pages 196, no pages 292-99, one page 343a (for a total of 336).
Symphonic Variations for Piano (1935-37; 484 pp.) 484 Pl Sq: Var. 64 is a passacaglia with 100 variations.
“Quaere reliqua hujus materiei inter secretiora” (1940; 16 pp.) 16 Sq  
St. Bertrand de Comminges: “He was laughing in the tower” (1941; 16 pp.) 16 Sq  
Études transcendantes (100) (1940-44; 456 pp.) 456 Se Sq: The set comprises 100 etudes and the number of pages of the manuscript is 456. Etude no. 75 is a passacaglia with 100 variations.

Two pages 349, no page 351.
Transcription of the Prelude in E-flat by Bach (1945; 4 pp.) 4 Sq  
Sequentia cyclica super “Dies irae” ex Missa pro defunctis (1948-49; 335 pp.) 343 Pl Sq: Var. 22 is a passacaglia with 100 variations.

Two pages 229, no pages 231-39 (the final page is numbered 343).
Symphony [no. 2], “Jāmī”, for Large Orchestra, Wordless Chorus, and Baritone Solo (1942-51; 826 pp.) 824 Se No page 136, one page 140a, pages 241a-64a between pages 264 and 265, no page 333, one page 334a, no pages 340-63, one page 601a, one page 602a, no pages 719-28, two pages 780, two pages 781. {Following a thorough revision of the manuscript by Alistair Hinton and myself in 2011, the number of pages has been corrected from 824 to 826.}
Third Organ Symphony (1949-53; 305 pp.)     Sq, Ml: The passacaglia (second section of movement III) has two variations no. 5 (the last variation is numbered 49), thus a total of 50 variations. {The composer’s handwriting is not clear, and the edition by Kevin Bowyer has two variations numbered 6 rather than 5.}

Two pages 17, no page 21, two pages 104, two pages 105, two pages 220, two pages 221.
Un nido di scatole sopra il nome del grande e buon amico Harold Rutland (1954; 26 pp.)     No pages 22 and 23.
Second Symphony for Piano (1954; 248 pp.) 248 Se  
Passeggiata veneziana sopra la Barcarola di Offenbach (1955-56; 24 pp.) 24 Se  
Opus clavisymphonicum—​Concerto for Piano and Large Orchestra (1957-59; 333 pp.) 333 Rd Two pages 13, no page 17 (piano part).
Third Symphony for Piano Solo (1959-60; 144 pp.) 144 Sq Sq: Two variations no. 39 (for a total of 81).
Messa grande sinfonica (1955-61; 1,001 pp.) 1001 Pl Sq: The Gloria has no variation no. 35 (for a total of 49).
Fourth Symphony for Piano Alone (1962-64; 240 pp.) 240 Ml Sq: The fourth section of the second movement is a theme with 49 variations.
Frammenti aforistici (20) (1964; 9 pp.) 9 Sq Fragments numbered from 69a to 69u, omitting 69i.
Toccata quarta (1964-67; 149 pp.)     Sq, Ml: Movement I is a theme with 24 variations. The passacaglia that forms movement IV has two variations no. 88 and two no. 89 (the last variation is numbered 100).
Concertino non grosso for String Sextet with Piano obbligato quasi continuo (1968; 48 pp.) 48 Se  
Frammenti aforistici (Sutras) (104) (1962-64; 37 pp.)     Fragment no. 72a is unnumbered.
Symphonia brevis for Piano (1973; 120 pp.) 120 Ml  
Opusculum clavisymphonicum vel claviorchestrale (1973-75; 334 pp.)     Cu: The second movement is a theme with 39 variations, of which no. 21 is itself a theme with 27 variations. The ostinato (var. 21 of of movement II) has no variation no. 15 and two variations no. 22.
Sixth Symphony for Piano (Symphonia claviensis) (1975-76; 270 pp.) 270 Ml Sq: The fifth section of the second movement is a theme with 64 variations.

No pages 124-33, and a second group of pages 160[a]–169[a] between the first page 169 and page 170.
Symphonic Nocturne for Piano Alone (1977-78; 113 pp.) 111 Rp This work has two pages no. 62 and two no. 63 labelled 62, 63, 62[a], 63[a] (for a total of 111).
“Il gallo d’oro” da Rimsky-Korsakov: Variazioni frivole con una fuga anarchica, eretica e perversa (1978-79; 93 pp.)     Sq: Consists of 49 numbered variations plus four labelled nos. 7[a], 8[a], 10[a], and 11[a] (for a total of 53 variations).

The “Passacagliettina” that forms var. 18 consists of 17 variations rather than 16, as given in SCC, 172.
Passeggiata arlecchinesca sopra un frammento di Busoni (“Rondò arlecchinesco”) (1981-82; 16 pp.) 16 Sq  
Last modified: 2021-06-04
© Marc-André Roberge 2021
Sorabji Resource Site (SRS)
Faculté de musique, Université Laval, Québec

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