About This Site
Context: The Sorabji Resource Site is the creation of Marc-André Roberge, (full) professor of musicology at the Faculty of Music at Laval University (Québec City, Canada) [Google Maps], who has been studying the life and music of Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji since 1983, or even 1976, when he discovered his music by reading Maurice Hinson’s Guide to the Pianist’s Repertoire and proceeded to purchase some of the scores from Oxford University Press. Creating this site was part of the author’s sabbatical project (2008-2009).
Content: The Sorabji Resource Site, which can be used as a kind of Sorabji handbook, puts the emphasis on raw data: lists, compilations, tables, analytical charts, links, etc. It gathers most of the research data that I needed to collect and order as part of my work towards my forthcoming critical biography, to be entitled Opus sorabjianum: The Life and Works of Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji (referred to on this site as OS). Unlike the biography, the site does not use Sorabji's extensive correspondence. Furthermore, the visitor will not find interpretation, comments, critical insights, etc. Indeed, the introductory paragraphs to the pages are usually short and factual. The focus is strictly on making available to all, at no cost and without any of the hassles too common on websites, an extensive compendium of information gathered from the primary sources. It will hopefully serve as a sound basis for further research. Besides the growing number of editions, performances, and recordings, this is how the groundwork admirably laid by Paul Rapoport with Sorabji: A Critical Celebration (1992, repr. 1994) will lead to a better understanding of the composer’s life and music. The frequent references to Rapoport’s book are always shown as SCC.
Size and printing: Though most subjects are covered in one to ten pages, a few need as many as twenty. A full printout of the Sorabji Resource Site would at least 350 pages in a legible font size. The site is thus the equivalent of a substantial reference book. Printing is achieved by means of a special print style sheet that omits all that is not essential in that context (e.g., banner, menu, logos). Though users could easily prepare a printout in order to read the site away from the screen, this is not recommended due to very frequent modifications and corrections.
Tables and sorting of data: Data are presented whenever appropriate in the form of tables, many of which can be sorted (unfortunately on one field at a time) in order to view the data from a different angle. The following message appears at the top of each table that can be sorted.
All columns can be sorted, though in cases where they contain several titles, each on its own line, this feature will be hardly meaningful.
Format of titles: Throughout the Sorabji Resource Site the titles of Sorabji’s works are given (with some modifications) in the normalized form advocated by Rapoport in Sorabji: A Critical Celebration, followed (in parentheses) by the year of composition and the number of pages of the manuscript. The titles thus use forms freed from the composer’s idiosyncrasies in matters of word choice and capitalization, a problem discussed in detail on a specific page. The indication of the number of pages is considered essential given the brevity of some of the composer’s works and the massive length of several others. The reader must constantly be aware of the dimensions of a given work to fully appreciate the context in which it is discussed. There is a huge difference between the works whose titles begin with the same word in each of the following examples:
Colours: The banner at the top of each page features three stripes of colour (red, green, and brown) that are also used as colours for the various headings. The basic idea was to match the colours of the covers of three of Sorabji’s published scores (see a separate page about the colours used for the covers).
Display font: The “wood-cut” font used for the Sorabji Resource Site’s title in the banner is Newfoundland, a computer equivalent of the Othello font used for the first two scores and of Neuland, a quite similar one, for the third. Neuland was designed by Rudolf Koch (1876-1934) and cut by the Klingspor type foundry (Offenbach, Germany) in 1923; Othello is an imitation of Neuland cut by Monotype. The font is readily associated with Sorabji for anyone who has seen the scores in his lifetime.
Photograph and quotation: The photograph of Sorabji used on the home page of the Sorabji Resource Site was taken in July 1988 by Clive Spencer-Bentley, one of the composer’s dedicatees. The quotation from Harold Morland dates from January 1975 at the latest and is is taken from a poem intended to form the preface to The Tree of Life. The full text will be found on a separate page.
Technical specifications: The Sorabji Resource Site was coded with Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 and designed for a screen resolution of 800 × 600 (currently used by barely 1% of users), which means that horizontal scrolling is never necessary. Though it was developed with Internet Explorer 8 as primary browser, it works correctly with Firefox, Chrome, Opera, and Safari. The site neither creates cookies nor installs software on the user’s system; furthermore, it does not require any plug-in. Though text is displayed in a very legible type size, the display can be zoomed to 125% without causing a horizontal scroll bar to appear. The text can be also be read quite easily on mobile devices, but only in landscape mode.
The code of all pages (including the style sheet) meets the standards for interoperability of the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium).
Menu and table sorting: The code for the drop-down menu system, which makes it easy to navigate throughout the site (which consists of some eighty-five pages), was provided by Milonic Solutions Ltd. UK Registered Company #4406835 (license no. 210326). The script for sorting tables was written by Dynamic Table.
External links: The Sorabji Resource Site features extensive linking to documents found on external websites. A biannual thorough check of all URLs found in the pages makes it possible to delete links that are no longer active and update those that have been changed. It should be kept in mind that some links will work (or not redirect to a generic or home page) only if the visitor has logged into an account (as is the case of the Yahoo Groups) or has a valid subscription (as in the case of databases giving access to dissertations). Links to the location of specific documents in the catalogues of research libraries are sometimes completey overhauled (as for instance at the British Library). Making sure that everything is up-to-date and fully functional is a never-ending task.
Acknowledgements: On 14 August 2009, on the day of the 117th anniversary of Sorabji’s birth, the Sorabji Resource Site was submitted confidentially, for review and comments, to Alistair Hinton, Curator/Founder of the Sorabji Archive, whose suggestions for corrections were incorporated. In fact, Hinton’s help has been essential and constant ever since I started work on Sorabji, and I can say that hundreds of questions would have remained unanswered had I not benefited from his constant and unflagging support. I am thus pleased to offer him my warmest thanks. Though the site was then basically ready for release, I preferred to fine-tune it for a further year. I also wish to thank Jakub Eisenbruk and Poom Pipatjarasgit, whose watchful eyes has made it possible to correct several problems and inconsistencies.
Marc-André Roberge obtained his B.A. in music history and literature at the School (now Faculty) of Music at Laval University (Québec) in 1979. He then received his M.A. in musicology at McGill University (Montréal) in 1981 with a thesis on Ferruccio Busoni’s Concerto for Piano, Orchestra, and Male Chorus, and his Ph.D. in musicology at the University of Toronto in 1988 with a dissertation on the history of Die Musik, the well-known German music periodical of the first half of the twentieth century. He has been on the Faculty of Music at Laval University since 1987, where is he now a full professor.
Besides music and musical life in German-speaking countries between 1850 and 1950, Roberge’s research interests lie mostly in the field of virtuoso piano music by composer-pianists like Alkan, Liszt, Busoni, Godowsky, Sorabji, etc. He has published extensively in such scholarly journals as American Music, Canadian University Music Review, Criticus musicus, The Musical Quarterly, The Music Review, Notes, Research Chronicle, and Revue de musicologie, especially on Busoni and Sorabji. He is the author of Ferruccio Busoni: A Bio-Bibliography (Greenwood Press, 1991).
Roberge is currently completing the first critical biography of Sorabji, entitled Opus sorabjianum: The Life and Works of Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji. He wrote the articles on Godowsky and Sorabji for the second edition of the German encyclopedia Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart (the latter severely shortened by the editors; see a list of corrections and additions). Since 1992 he has produced critical editions of twenty-seven works by Sorabji and two bibliographical compilations, all of which are available from the Sorabji Archive (now in a second impression prepared in March 2009) and fully documented on their own page.
For nine years the French editor of the Canadian University Music Review/Revue de musique des universités canadiennes (now Intersections: Canadian Review of Music/Revue canadienne de musique), Roberge used his editorial expertise to prepare the Guide des difficultés de rédaction en musique (GDRM), a website (launched in 2002) devoted to the specific problems of writing about music in French, for which he received an award from the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF) in 2003.
A curriculum vitae (in French, his mother language), with a complete list of publications (with links to PDF versions in several cases), is available on his website.
The contents of this website 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.