Archival Sources for Letters and Other Documents

This page provides a list (organized alphabetically by country) of libraries and archives where Sorabji-related source documents, mainly letters, can be found. A brief description of the collections’ contents is given; links to items are provided with as much precision as the library catalogues allow, that is, using permanent links whenever possible.

This compilation does not systematically cover the musical manuscripts located in public collections.

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.

Substantial collections of photocopies of manuscript scores and of editions as well as of recordings will be found in the following research libraries, some of which also have extensive holdings of the scores published under the composer’s supervision. The list gives the number of records found as of 25 February 2015 with Sorabji as author. See also the list of links for Library and Archives Catalogues.

In addition, the legal deposit libraries of the United Kingdom (British Library, National Library of Scotland, National Library of Wales, Bodleian Libraries, University Library (Cambridge), and the Library of Trinity College (Dublin) are supposed to have PDF copies of the material published by the Sorabji Archive. These items appear not to be listed in their catalogues.

I am indebted for finding references to various letters in online catalogues to Mikaël Francœur, a doctoral student in musicology at Laval University who performed the first part of 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.) at Laval University on 19 March 2010.


The University of Adelaide: The Rare Books & Special Collections at the University of Adelaide houses The Leopold Godowsky – Paul Howard Collection under no. MSS 0193 (see Series 4, 4.1, xiii). The collection was donated in 2015 by Paul Howard's youngest son, Emeritus Professor Peter F. Howard, who taught geology at Macquarie University (Sydney). The collection contains three letters to Sorabji and seven from him as well as what may be a photocopy of the Godowsky chapter in Mi contra fa, biographical notes (not further identified), and the booklet Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji by Clinton Gray-Fisk and Splendour upon Splendour: On hearing Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji play by Frank Holliday (said to have been inscribed to the Howard family by Godowsky, which is impossible since the pianist-composer died in 1938 and the brochure dates from 1960). There is also a copy of Mi contra fa catalogued separately from the Rare Books & Special Collections.

Austria and Switzerland

Alban-Berg-Stiftung: The Alban-Berg-Stiftung (Vienna) owns a set of proofs of Opus clavicembalisticum (1929-30; 253 pp.) that came into Alban Berg’s hands.

Laureto Rodoni: This private archive, which operates an extensive site devoted to Ferruccio Busoni, owns a collection of letters of Busoni to Egon Petri and Rosamond Ley (1882-1969, English translator of Busoni’s letters and essays), originally the property of the Burra Moody Archive, in which can be found a letter from Sorabji to Ley (date not specified).

Paul Sacher Stiftung: The Paul Sacher Stiftung (Basel), where a large number of manuscripts of works by Sorabji are now located, has letters to George Richards, the husband of the architect Elisabeth Whitworth Scott, and to Gordon Watson, an Australian pianist who was a pupil of Egon Petri and who played several works by Humphrey Searle.

Arnold Schönberg Center: The Arnold Schönberg Center (Vienna) owns one letter from Sorabji to Schoenberg.


Library and Archives Canada: Library and Archives Canada (Ottawa, Ontario), formerly known as the National Library of Canada, owns various Sorabji-related documents.

McMaster University: The Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji Collection at McMaster University (Hamilton, Ontario) houses an extensive collection of consisting of three accruals:

University of Toronto: The Edward Johnson Music Library at the University of Toronto two items:


Médiathèque Musicale Mahler: The Médiathèque Musicale Mahler, 11 bis, rue Vézelay, F-75008 Paris, owns some correspondence between Sorabji and Alfred Cortot. See the document Lettres et correspondances dans les fonds d’archives (K à Z).

Great Britain

British Library: The British Library (London), in addition to the manuscripts of Concerto [no. 1] pour piano et grand orchestre (1915-16; 177 pp.) and Music to “The Rider by Night” (1919; 54 pp.), filed under Add. 65183 and Add. 57966 ff. 29-45v, owns various letters by Sorabji. The text for Music to “The Rider by Night” can be found in an as yet uncatalogued collection of Robert Malise Bowyer Nichols’s works filed under Dep. 10190.

Cambridge University Library, Deryck Cooke Archive: The Deryck Cooke Archive, currently being processed, appears to contain correspondence between Sorabji and the British musicologist and broadcaster (1919-76).

Cambridge University Library, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives

Edinburgh University Library

National Library of Scotland: The National Library of Scotland (Edinburgh) owns the papers of the composer and pianist Ronald Stevenson. The collection, filed under Acc.11567 Ronald Stevenson Musicological correspondence (section 24), consists of the following items (selective list).

Royal Academy of Music: The Royal Academy of Music (London) owns two Sorabji-related items in its York Gate Collections (located using the Apollo database). Both items were given in 1999 by the concert agent Norman McCann, who studied singing at the Royal Academy of Music from 1948 to 1952.

Royal Conservatoire of Scotland: The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Archives & Collections (Glasgow), in January 2016, received from Dr. Morag Chisholm the papers of her father, Erik Chisholm, GB 2607 EC/1-12 (16 boxes). The letters from Sorabji (originals and typewritten transcriptions by Phyllis Brodie, Chisholm's sister-in-law and Secretary of the South African Music College) are filed under EC/2 (Sorabji Correspondence). See Stuart A. Harris-Logan, “Scotland’s Forgotten Composer: The Archive of Erik Chisholm”, Archives Hub at the Centre of Great Research, 1 September 2016. See also the entry for the University of Cape Town.

Royal Northern College of Music: The Royal Northern College of Music (Manchester) owns the papers of the pianist John Ogdon, which contain the following items.

St Andrews University Library: The Library at St Andrews University owns three letters from Sorabji written between 7 and 23 November 1967 in addition to a set of proofs for Opus clavicembalisticum (1929-30; 253 pp.). These items are found in the papers of Cedric Thorpe Davie (MSS 37754-37758) and are listed in Cedric Thorpe Davie (1913-1983): Catalogue of Works and Index to Correspondence (University Library, St Andrews, 1988), 111.

Sorabji Archive (Sorabji Music Archive until January 1993): The Sorabji Archive (housed in Alistair Hinton’s home at Easton Dene, Bailbrook Lane, Bath BA1 7AA [Google Map] from its foundation in September 1988 up to 14 August 2008, when it moved to Warlow Farm House, Eaton Bishop, Hereford, HR2 9QF [Google Map]) houses the largest collection of letters to Sorabji as well as photocopies of letters by Sorabji.

Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance, The Jerwood Library of the Performing Arts: The Library at the former Trinity College of Music owns several valuable items, including three manuscripts given by Miss Anne Cassal (the catalogue does not make it possible to provide direct links):

University of Bradford, Special Collections, J. B. Priestley Library: The papers of the Serbian philosopher, social critic, and activist Dimitrije Mitrinović (1887-1953), who fled to England in 1914 and contributed to The New Age, contain a number of items of correspondence involving Sorabji. His name is mentioned under five headings in the finding aid by Emma Burgham published as New Atlantis Foundation Dimitrije Mitrinović Archive: Catalogue:

Victoria Library (Westminster Music Library): The collection of autographed letters and original music scores of the Central Music Library, whose basis is the large collection that formerly belonged to the music critic Edwin Evans (1871-1945), houses items relating to Sorabji under System ID CML/1/172 (items 1-19, shown after the final slash in the entries below), among which the following letters are to be found:

These data can also also be accessed (in a less detailed format) through the Library Catalogue of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

Brian David Williams: This resident of Glastonbury, who retired from the ministry in 2001, has posted his diaries as All the Days of My Life. The entry for 9 December 1978 reproduces the text of a letter from Sorabji dated 4 December 1978.

South Africa

University of Cape Town, UCT Libraries: The Manuscripts & Archives division of the UCT Libraries owns the papers of Erik Chisholm under number BC129. An extensive finding aid (127 pp.) used to be available; it had disappeared when the link was checked on 27 May 2013. Relevant items will be found in:

The collection also features pp. 1, 2, 15, and 16 of one of the two manuscripts of Trois poèmes du “Gulistān” de Saʿdī (1926; 16 pp.), a very poor copy of the entire score, and a bound version of Opus clavicembalisticum (1929-30; 253 pp.).

The papers of Colin Taylor, under number BC76, include correspondence with Philip Heseltine, and could yield interesting bits of information.

See also the entry for the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

United States

Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin: The Sacheverell Sitwell Collection at the Harry Ransom Center contains correspondence from Sorabji in box 71, folder 1, found in the category “II. Correspondence, 1912-1988”. The composer’s name is listed as “Sorabji, Kaikhosru Shapruji” in Sacheverell Sitwell: An Inventory of His Collection at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center.

Indiana University: The papers (call number LMC 1954) of the Dublin-born English music critic Desmond Shawe-Taylor (1907-95) contain letter(s) by Sorabji in box 2.

International Piano Archives: The International Piano Archives at the University of Maryland (College Park, Md.), house the papers of one of Sorabji’s American admirers, Donald Garvelmann. In addition to the manuscripts of Three Pastiches for Piano (1922; 17 pp.) and Frammenti aforistici (Sutras) (104) (1962-64; 37 pp.), it contains Sorabji’s letters to Garvelmann.

Library of Congress: The Performing Arts Reading Room at the Library of Congress (Washington, D.C.) has five collections featuring Sorabji-related material.

Yale University: The Alan Pryce-Jones Papers at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University (New Haven, Conn.), contain under call number GEN MSS 513, box 23, folder 11831, a letter of 18 October 1953 by Sorabji to Alan Pryce-Jones (1908-2000), editor of the Times Literary Supplement in the 1950s.

Last modified: 2019-03-01
© Marc-André Roberge 2019
Sorabji Resource Site (SRS)
Faculté de musique, Université Laval, Québec

The contents of this website devoted to the English composer Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji 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.

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