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Collection of Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji published writings and reproduced scores

Identifier: PIMS-0038

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of materials originally created between 1916 and 1981 and includes four volumes of collected published writings of Sorabji, in addition to many photocopies of his manuscript and published scores for piano, chamber ensembles, orchestras, organ, and voice. Most of the photocopied scores are bound and labeled in each box, while others have been placed in folders.


  • Creation: 1916 - 1981

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for use at the Peabody Archives. Contact for more information.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. Researchers are responsible for determining any copyright questions. It is not necessary to seek our permission as the owner of the physical work to publish or otherwise use public domain materials that we have made available for use, unless Johns Hopkins University holds the copyright. All requests for permission to publish or perform materials in this collection must be submitted in writing to the archivist of the Arthur Friedheim Library.

Biographical / Historical

Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji was a renowned English composer and pianist. Sorabji was born in Chingford, Essex, England, in 1892. His father was a Zoroastrian Parsi civil engineer and his mother English. From an early age Sorabji was privately educated and had a growing obsession with contemporary European and Russian music.

First considering a career as a music critic, Sorabji experimented with composition, resulting in a wave of musical creativity. Primarily a self-taught musician, Sorabji performed in London and Paris and in 1919 played his First Piano Sonata to an impressed Busoni, who wrote a glowing review. Sorabji made a few more concert appearances, his last one being in 1936. From then on he lived as a recluse, rejecting all public performances but continuing to compose.

Sorabji then went on to work as a critic for The New Age and The New English Weekly until 1945. In 1975 he allowed his four-hour multi-movement piece Opus Clavicembalisticum to be recorded.

Sorabji's compositions were notorious for their inordinate length and harmonic complexity. This is why so many of his works have rarely been performed. Most notably, the pianist John Ogdon and the organist Kevin Bowyer have been brave enough to learn and perform some of Sorabji’s compositions.


3.0 Cubic Feet (1 full-size letter box, 1 half-size letter box, 5 large flat boxes)

Language of Materials



Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji was a renowned pianist and composer whose complex music is rarely performed. The collection contains published writings as well as photocopied scores of Sorabji's music for piano, chamber ensembles, orchestra, organ, and voice.

Other Finding Aids

An index to Volume 1 of Sorabji's collected letters to the editor is available offline. Contact the Peabody Archives for more information.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Michael Habermann.

Processing Information

Processed by Brian Tracey in 2016.

Guide to the collection of Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji published writings and reproduced scores
Kerri Sheehan
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Peabody Archives Repository

Peabody Institute
1 E. Mount Vernon Place
Baltimore MD 21202 USA