Discoveries and Acquisitions and Sales of Manuscripts
This page provides a chronology of discoveries of manuscripts (mostly of musical works but also of letters, and even an object) made mostly since Sorabji’s death in 1988, sometimes quite serendipitously. It also lists the acquisitions and sales of manuscripts that have taken place since 1928, when Sorabji himself gave six of his manuscripts to the Library of Congress.
Sales of copies of original editions of Around Music and Mi contra fa as well as of original engraved scores bearing inscriptions by Sorabji or ownership stamps are also listed when references are discovered on the Internet. For special editions of published works, see a separate page.
Links to the specific pages where items are located in libraries and archives are given whenever possible, but it should be kept in mind that URLs resulting from searches in library databases are often very long and complex and are subject to change. Permanent links (permalinks) are given whenever possible.
1970s: The manuscripts of several previously unknown early works are discovered to be part of a private collection, thereby putting to rest the legend spread by Clinton Gray-Fisk in his Musical Times article of April 1960 that Sorabji had burnt “a mass of juvenilia”:
Also part of this group are the first manuscript
of Fantaisie espagnole (1919; 23 pp.) and that of “Pantomine”
from Trois poèmes pour chant et piano (1918, 1919; 9 pp.).
1987: Alistair Hinton discovers the manuscript of the previously unknown Concerto pour piano et orchestra da camera [no. 3] (1918; 100 pp.); acquired in 1994 by the Paul Sacher Stiftung.
1988: Alistair Hinton receives from Christopher à Becket Williams’s daughter the score of the previously unknown Concerto for Piano and Orchestra [no.] III [no. 6] (1922; 144 pp.); acquired in 1994 by the Paul Sacher Stiftung.
1989: Clive Spencer-Bentley discovers in an antiquarian bookshop in southern England a previously unknown Sorabji letter of 1963 to that bookshop inserted in a copy of Mi contra fa. This leads Alistair Hinton to establish that pp. 1-24 of what would become known as Sonata no. 0 (1917; 30 pp.) had been acquired by a private collector in the early 1960s. Thanks to the instrumentality of the record producer Chris Rice, Alistair Hinton was asked to authenticate various manuscripts purchased in the 1970s in a street market by another private collector:
A fuller description of the events leading to the reassembling of the manuscript of Sorabji’s early sonata can be found in a posting by Alistair Hinton on the Sorabji Group (31 March 2003).
March 1991: Alistair Hinton receives from Harold Morland three manuscripts:
18 June 1999: Marc-André Roberge locates the manuscript of Opus secretum atque necromanticum (1980-81; 48 p.), which was reported as unknown in Paul Rapoport’s catalogue of works (SCC, 173), at Syracuse University (New York), where it had been since December 1982. Roberge also establishes that Sorabji, when he dedicated it to Kenneth Derus, had already dedicated the piece (formerly known only as Opus secretum) to Norman P. Gentieu.
Around September 2000: The manuscript
of a formerly unknown first version of Rapsodie espagnole de Maurice Ravel:
transcription de concert pour piano (1923; 16 pp.) is purchased by the Pierpont Morgan Library (New York) from Lisa Cox Music (Exeter, Devon).
11 May 2004 at the latest: The previously unknown Fragment: Prelude and Fugue on FxAxx DAxEx (1926; 3 pp.), a brief work written in 1926 as a wedding present for a friend named Frank G. Davey, is purchased by a private collector from the dealer Jonathan Gibbs (Malvern, Worcestershire), with a catalogue price of $832.26 (equivalent in American dollars of the price in British pounds).
19 September 2006: Marc-André Roberge locates the heiress to the English writer Robert Malise Bowyer Nichols and learns that the manuscript of the libretto The Rider by Night, written for Sorabji, had been for some time in the Manuscripts Department of the British Library, where it is still in an uncatalogued collection. The first edition of the libretto is now available as part of Roberge’s edition of Sorabji’s work (Sorabji Archive, 2008).
October 2006: Alistair Hinton learns
that the leather-bound manuscript of Chaleur — Poème (1916-17; 32 pp.), of which only a copyist’s copy was known, is in a private
collection. The work is offered for sale at Sotheby’s (sale L07408, 4 December 2007, lot 131 of 133) but fails to meet its
reserve price of £4,000. The manuscript is subsequently acquired by
the Paul Sacher Stiftung in 2008.
23 April 2008: Marc-André Roberge, while browsing the Sorabji entries in the on-line catalogue of Northwestern University, discovers citations for two manuscripts, thus identifying the owner of the first work and bringing to light the existence of the second one.
November 2010: The bookseller Colin Coleman Music (Redhill, United Kingdom) offers for sale (£2,220) on AbeBooks.com (no longer listed as of 26 September 2011), under the title “From an Imaginary String Quartet”, a fragment written as a gift “for my very good friend Francis George Scott”. The existence (but nothing more) of a such musical manuscript received by Scott in October 1926 was known from a letter from the gift’s recipient to Sorabji, dated 30 December 1926.
Before 30 March 1928: The Library of Congress (Washington, D.C.) receives six manuscripts as a gift from Sorabji:
After 1945 (date unknown): The Jagger Library at the University of Cape Town acquires the manuscript of Opus clavicembalisticum (1929-30; 253 pp.).
29 and 30 November 1966: A copyist’s copy of the piano part for Concerto for Piano and Orchestra [no. 5] (1920; 144 pp.), from Alfred Cortot’s collection, is sold at auction for 280 DM. The score was advertised in Autographen aus verschiedenen Besitz. Auktion am 29. und 30. November 1966 in Marburg, Kurhotel Ortenberg — Katalog 577 (Marburg: J. A. Stargardt, 1966), 182, with a price tag of 180 DM.
16 June 1973: The British Library
acquires the manuscripts of the Music to “The Rider by Night” (1919; 54 pp.) from Philip Heseltine’s son, Nigel; filed under Add. 57966.
1977: The manuscript of Le jardin parfumé: Poem for Piano Solo (1923; 16 pp.) is sold to Northwestern University (Evanston, Illinois) by H. Baron (London), after having been in their hands for probably several years. The score was advertised in the firm’s Catalogue 100 (“Around the Piano”) with a catalogue price of $560.
1 August 1978: The British Library
acquires from Raymond Monk the manuscript of the previously unknown Concerto
[no. 1] pour piano et grand orchestre (1915-16; 177 pp.); filed under
March 1988: The William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections at McMaster University (Hamilton, Ontario) acquire from Frank Holliday, a former friend of Sorabji, via Bertram Rota (London), a large collection of letters and memorabilia. This collection forms the first accrual of the Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji Collection.
1989: The Paul Sacher Stiftung (Basel) acquires at a Sotheby’s auction sale the manuscript of the work now known as Introduction, Passacaglia, Cadenza, and Fugue (1929; compl. Alexander Abercrombie, 2004; 79 pp.). The score was advertised in Music, Continental Manuscripts and Printed Books, Science and Medicine, including the Autograph Manuscript of Turgenev’s “Fathers and Sons”, London, Thursday 18th and Friday 19th May 1989, 255 (item 507), with a reserve price of £600-800.
3 and 4 December 1992: Northwestern
University (Evanston, Illinois) acquires the manuscript of the Third Symphony
for Piano Solo (1959-60; 144 pp.) from Sotheby’s.
The score was advertised in Continental Printed Books, Manuscripts and
Music, comprising Printed Books, Autograph Letters and Manuscripts...,
307 (item 623). The score of the Second Symphony for Organ (1929-32; 350
pp.), advertised as item 624 and offered at a reserve price of £4,000-5,000, finds no
buyer; it was to be acquired in 1994 by the Paul Sacher Stiftung.
1994: The Paul Sacher Stiftung (Basel) acquires the collection of Sorabji manuscripts owned by the Sorabji Archive (Bath). A basic catalogue is available as Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji: Musikmanuskripte, Inventare der Paul Sacher Stiftung, no. 15, compiled by Felix Meyer and Sabine Hänggi-Stampfli (Winterthur: Amadeus Verlag, 1995), 16 pp.
1994: Philips, de Pury & Company (New Bond Street, London) offer a copy donated by Dr Robert Simpson of Sonata III for Piano (1922; 75 pp.), “with the composers markings in purple ink”. Outcome of sale unknown.
1994: Sotheby’s, as part of a sale of “Continental Manuscripts and Music”, offers a collection of letters (number unknown) to Colin Scott-Sutherland, the biographer of Arnold Bax, by Sorabji. An excerpt of a letter about Bax, Harriet Cohen, Ireland is reproduced verbatim.
1998: The National Library of Scotland (Edinburgh) acquires the papers of the composer Ronald Stevenson (Acc. 11567), comprising 87 items of correspondence between Sorabji and Stevenson.
November 1998: The William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections at McMaster University acquires from Dr. Cecil Ewing, a professor of ophthalmology who had befriended Sorabji, a collection of letters forming the second accrual of the Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji Collection.
26 June 2000: The manuscript of a formerly unknown first version of the Rapsodie espagnole de Maurice Ravel: transcription de concert pour piano (1923; 16 pp.) is purchased by the Pierpont Morgan Library (New York). The score was advertised in Catalogue 38 (Autumn 2000) of Lisa Cox Music (Exeter, Devon) with a catalogue price of £1,500.
8 December 2000: Sotheby’s offers for sale one or two letters by Sorabji to Ernest Newman, dated “11-20 November 1958” (11 and 20?) as part of sale L00209 (lot 101, identified as “Howells, Herbert. Seven autograph letters by Howells, Sorabji and Bush”). Current location unknown.
2002: Christie’s, as part of a sale of “English and Continental Furniture, Tapestries and Works of Art”, offers an “Edwardian travelling ivory Staunton pattern chess set in a fitted rosewood box”, inlaid with a plaque inscribed with the name Kaikhosru Sorabji MCMXXVI. Accompanied by a letter by Sorabji, saying that the box and board were “made to commission”. Outcome of sale unknown.
June 2005: The William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections at McMaster University acquires from Paul Rapoport the collection of Norman P. Gentieu, an American friend of Sorabji, a large collection of letters. This collection forms the third accrual of the Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji Collection.
23 May 2007: Sotheby’s, as part of a sale of “Printed and Manuscript Music” (lot 165), offers five letters by Sorabji in defence of Rachmaninov, dated 26 February to 1 November 1941. Also includes a page-proof of a letter by Clinton Gray-Fisk to The Musical Times, one letter from William McNaught and one unsigned carbon copy of another letter. Hammer price with buyer’s premium: £660. Current owner unknown.
2009: RR Auction (Amherst, NH), as part of as sale entitled “RR Auction Monthly Autograph Auction #352” (lot 708), offers five detailed letters to William McNaught, editor of The Musical Times, dated from 1941. Accompanied by a printer’s proof of a review, a letter from McNaught to Sorabji, and an unsigned letter (by McNaught) to Sorabji. Excerpts are quoted in the sale’s documentation. Outcome of sale unknown.
19 October 2009: A copy of the published score of Concerto for Piano and Orchestra [no. 5] (1920; 144 pp.) bearing an inscription to the conductor Walther Straram (1876-1933), is offered for sale by Alde (Paris) in its catalogue Musique: Vente aux enchères publiques. Le lundi 19 octobre 2009 à 14 h 00..., 90 (no. 388); see also a description on Artfact. Now in a private collection.
1 December 2010: The manuscript of Il tessuto d’arabeschi (1979; 32 pp.) is sold at auction by Sotheby’s (hammer price with buyer’s premium: £2,750) as part of a sale of Music, Continental and Russian Books and Manuscripts (sale L10406, lot 85 of 140); see also a description on Artfact.
May 2011: Travis & Emery (London) offers for sale on AbeBooks.com a copy of Opus clavicembalisticum (1929-30; 253 pp.) bearing the ownership stamp of Edmund Rubbra. Outcome of sale unknown.
April 2012: Jonathan Gibbs Books (Worcestershire, United Kingdom) offers for sale on AbeBooks.com a postcard dated 27 May 1972 to a Mr. Wright about Medtner records.
June 2012: Travis & Emery (London) offers for sale on AbeBooks.com a copy of Trois poèmes pour chant et piano (1918, 1919; 9 pp.) signed by the composer and inscribed to Francis George Scott.
April 2013: Travis & Emery (London) offers for sale on AbeBooks.com a copy of Mi contra fa bearing the inscription “To my dear friend Erik with love from K.” (with three corrections in Sorabji’s hand).
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