Manuscripts with Peculiarities

Incomplete or Fragmentary Manuscripts

Complete manuscripts exists for the two works whose titles are identified by a bullet (•). There is still hope that the incidental music to The Rider by Night could one day come to the surface.

Le mauvais jardinier (1919; 1 p.) {breaks after one page; the remaining pages may have been lost, unless Sorabji did not complete the song}
Music to “The Rider by Night” (1919; 54 pp.) {pp. 21-40 are lacking}
Trois poèmes du “Gulistān” de Saʿdī (1926; 16 pp.)• {one is a fragmentary and later manuscript}
Introduction, Passacaglia, Cadenza, and Fugue (1929; compl. Alexander Abercrombie, 2004; 79 pp.) {originally consisted of 41 pp.}
Toccata seconda per pianoforte (1933-34; 111 pp.)• {one is fragmentary, being limited to pp. 57-98 of the complete one}

Lost or Unknown Manuscripts

The works with “0 p.” are known to have existed or to have been written up to a certain point; their existence is usually documented through references in letters. The fate of the manuscripts of the five works published under the composer’s supervision, and identified by a bullet (•), is unknown. When he gave the manuscripts of six of his published works to the Library of Congress, he wrote to the Librarian, Carl Engel, on 17 March 1928, that he had destroyed the manuscripts of his other published works. Given the fact that several previously unknown manuscripts have come to light since his death, it may be safer not to take this statement too seriously.

Transcription of “In a Summer Garden” (1914; 0 p.)
Vocalise no. 2 (1916; 0 p.)
Medea (1916; 0 p.)
The Reiterated Chord (1916; 0 p.) {only sketches survive}
Trois fêtes galantes de Verlaine (ca. 1919; 11 pp.)•
Trois poèmes pour chant et piano (1918, 1919; 9 pp.)• {except for “Pantomime”}
Two Piano Pieces (1918, 1920; 20 pp.)•
Concerto for Piano and Orchestra [no. 5] (1920; 144 pp.)• {solo piano part extant, but not in the composer’s handwriting}
Black Mass (1922; 0 p.)
Prelude, Interlude, and Fugue for Piano (1920, 1922; 17 pp.)•
Music for “Faust” (ca. 1930; 0 p.)
The Line (1932; 0 p.)
Toccata terza (1937?-38?; 0 p.)
Le agonie (1951; 0 p.)
Fantasiettina sul nome illustre dell’egregio poeta Christopher Grieve ossia Hugh M’Diarmid (1961; 10 pp.) {lost after Ronald Stevenson had made a copy of it in August 1962}

Works with Multiple Manuscripts

In the case of three of his early songs, Sorabji prepared two manuscripts, the first one of which is written in a less careful autography.

The Poplars (1915; 3 pp.)
Vocalise pour soprano fioriturata (1916; 3 pp.)
Hymne à Aphrodite (1916; 5 pp.)
Fantaisie espagnole (1919; 23 pp.)
Rapsodie espagnole de Maurice Ravel: transcription de concert pour piano (first version, 1923; 16 pp.)
Trois poèmes du “Gulistān” de Saʿdī (1926; 16 pp.) {one is a fragmentary and later manuscript}
Movement for Voice and Piano (1927, 1931; 9 pp.) {extant manuscript could be a revision}
Toccata seconda per pianoforte (1933-34; 111 pp.) {one is fragmentary, being limited to pp. 57-98 of the complete one}
Fragment Written for Harold Rutland (1926, 1928, 1937; 2 pp.) {three different versions}
Rapsodie espagnole de Maurice Ravel: transcription de concert pour piano (second version, 1945; 26 pp.) {actually an entirely rewritten version of the work listed above}
Benedizione di San Francesco d’Assisi (1973; 2 pp.)

Copyist’s Copies

During his early years as a composer, Sorabji hired a copyist named A. J. [Alfred James] Collins (b. Dublin, ca. 1873 [aged 38 in 1911]).

Chaleur — Poème (1916-17; 32 pp.) {before 2007 known to exist only in this form}
Quintet no. 1 for Piano and Quartet of Stringed Instruments (1919-20; 72 pp.) {only known original}
Concerto for Piano and Orchestra [no. 5] (1920; 144 pp.) {solo piano part only; manuscript of full score is unknown}
Sonata seconda for Piano (1920; 49 pp.) {made for presentation to Ferruccio Busoni}
Pastiche on the “Minute Waltz” by Chopin (1922; 7 pp.)

Solo Piano Parts

The existence of solo piano parts for four of the eleven works for piano and orchestra, including a late one from the 1950s, suggests that others could eventually turn up on the auction market. A solo piano part for Concerto pour piano et grand orchestre [no. 4] (1918; 100 pp.) was discovered to be part of a public collection in 2008.

Concerto pour piano et grand orchestre [no. 4] (1918; 100 pp.)
Concerto for Piano and Orchestra [no. 5] (1920; 144 pp.)
Concerto V for Piano and Large Orchestra [no. 8] (1927-28; 344 pp.)
Opus clavisymphonicum — Concerto for Piano and Large Orchestra (1957-59; 333 pp.)

Two-Piano Scores for Piano Concertos

The existence of two-piano scores for the earliest two piano concertos suggests that such scores could also exist, at least for nos. 3-8, written between 1918 and 1928.

Concerto [no. 1] pour piano et grand orchestre (1915-16; 177 pp.) {untraced}
Concerto II pour piano et grand orchestre (1916-17; 49 pp.) {known only in this form}

Orchestral Works with a Supplementary Score

Five works come with a supplementary score, of a much smaller format, required to accommodate (mostly) percussion instruments that do not fit in the main score. The smaller scores contain as many pages as the main scores; they are meant to be read together. More details on the orchestral forces used in these supplementary scores will be found elsewhere.

Symphony [no. 1] for Piano, Large Orchestra, Chorus, and Organ (1921-22; 300 pp.)
Concerto V for Piano and Large Orchestra [no. 8] (1927-28; 344 pp.)
Symphony [no. 2], “Jāmī”, for Large Orchestra, Wordless Chorus, and Baritone Solo (1942-51; 826 pp.)
Symphonic Variations for Piano and Orchestra (1935-37, 1953-56; 540 pp.)
Opus clavisymphonicum — Concerto for Piano and Large Orchestra (1957-59; 333 pp.)

Works for Piano Solo Left without the Intended Orchestral Part or Partially Orchestrated

Sorabji wrote seven large-scale works for piano solo (and also three for organ solo) entitled “Symphony”, a word normally used for works involving the orchestra. The work formerly known as Symphony II for Piano, Large Orchestra, Organ, Final Chorus, and Six Solo Voices (1930-31; 333 pp.), now renamed Symphony no. 0 for Piano Solo (1930-31; 333 pp.), never went past the stage where Sorabji, after writing (as he used to) the piano part first, added the orchestral parts. The work thus remained a work for piano solo.

Another major work, the Symphonic Variations for Piano (1935-37; 484 pp.), is also for piano solo despite the word “Symphonic”. A version for piano and orchestra of this work, though limited to the contents of the first volume (vars. 1-27, preceded by an “Introitus”), was later written as Symphonic Variations for Piano and Orchestra (1935-37, 1953-56; 540 pp.). The “Introitus” and vars. 1-4 had been orchestrated in the 1930s; vars. 5-27 were scored in the 1950s.

Symphony no. 0 for Piano Solo (1930-31; 333 pp.)
Symphonic Variations for Piano (1935-37; 484 pp.)

Multi-volume Manuscripts

The size of the following manuscripts dictated that they be divided into several bound volumes. Details for dimensions and weight are given when known.

Études transcendantes (100) (1940-44; 456 pp.) {4 volumes}
Symphony [no. 2], “Jāmī”, for Large Orchestra, Wordless Chorus, and Baritone Solo (1942-51; 826 pp.) {3 volumes; 35.5 × 50.5 × 11.5 cm and 6.3, 2.7, 6.8 kg for the main score; 18.0 × 50.5 × 6.0 cm and 2.7 kg for the small score, for a total of 18.5 kg}
Messa grande sinfonica (1955-61; 1,001 pp.) {3 volumes; 27.0 × 50.3 × 14.5 cm and 6.3, 5.9, 5.9 kg, for a total of 18.1 kg}

Bindings

The following four pieces were bound in one volume entitled “Four Short Piano Works”. Several of Sorabji’s works, especially the larger ones, were bound by highly skilled professionals at Zaehnsdorf (established 1842, now owned by Shepherds Bookbinders (Sangorski & Sutcliffe. No list of bound volumes exists at this moment; to prepare one would require work at the Paul Sacher Stiftung (location of a large number of manuscripts), and the resulting list would only take into account the manuscripts they own.

Fragment Written for Harold Rutland (1926, 1928, 1937; 2 pp.)
Transcription in the Light of Harpsichord Technique for the Modern Piano of the Chromatic Fantasia of J. S. Bach, Followed by a Fugue (1940; 15 pp.)
“Quaere reliqua hujus materiei inter secretiora” (1940; 16 pp.)
“Gulistān” — Nocturne for Piano (1940; 28 pp.)

Last modified: 2018-06-08
© Marc-André Roberge 2018
Sorabji Resource Site (SRS)
Faculté de musique, Université Laval, Québec

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