Citations of the Dies irae

This page lists the works in which Sorabji used the well-known medieval sequence Dies irae by Thomas of Celano (d. ca. 1250).

 

Title Comment
Music to “The Rider by Night” (1919; 54 pp.) The melody is featured as part of the dark introduction.
Variazioni e fuga triplice sopra “Dies irae” per pianoforte (1923-26; 201 pp.) Sorabji sets the entire melody (minus its repetitions). The first nine of the sixteen phrases correspond to tercets 1, 3, and 5 of the chant. Stanza 17 (“Oro supplex et acclinis”) is skipped, and phrases 10-16 correspond to the rest of the sequence, including the “Amen”.
Sonata V (Opus archimagicum) (1934-35; 336 pp.) The “Preludio-corale sopra ‘Dies irae’” (pp. 253-80) consists of three statements of the entire Gregorian melody, which is made up of sixteen phrases (pp. 253-59, 259-66, 267-80). The second fugue (pp. 300-309) uses a variant of the melody with some faster rhythmic values.
“Quaere reliqua hujus materiei inter secretiora” (1940; 16 pp.) The first page states a fragment of the melody, at the words “in favilla”.
St. Bertrand de Comminges: “He was laughing in the tower” (1941; 16 pp.) The opening segment of the melody is quoted in two instances.
Sequentia cyclica super “Dies irae” ex Missa pro defunctis (1948-49; 335 pp.) Sorabji sets the entire melody, though without its repetitions. The first nine of the fifteen phrases correspond to tercets 1, 3, and 5 of the chant. Stanza 17 (“Oro supplex et acclinis”) is skipped, and phrases 10-15 match the rest of the sequence, including the “Amen”. Var. 22, which is a passacaglia with 100 variations, uses the melody as its theme. Only the five initial notes of the theme of the first fugue have a link to the melody.
Third Organ Symphony (1949-53; 305 pp.) Sorabji quotes the entire first verse of the melody in the pedal part (p. 84) in the second part of the work. It is also used for a chordal statement at the end of the “Toccata” in the third part.
Symphonic Variations for Piano and Orchestra (1935-37, 1953-56; 540 pp.) The first six notes are heard in the horns and viola in var. 17.
Toccata quarta (1964-67; 149 pp.) The melody is used in the “Intermezzo secondo. Of a neophyte and how the Black Art was revealed to him.”
Passeggiata arlecchinesca sopra un frammento di Busoni (“Rondò arlecchinesco”) (1981-82; 16 pp.) The melody is quoted on p. 9 of the manuscript (p. 18 of the edition).
Last modified: 2014-10-29
© Marc-André Roberge 2014
Sorabji Resource Site (SRS)
Faculté de musique, Université Laval, Québec

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