Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji

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Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji
Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji (born Leon Dudley Sorabji; 1892–1988: he changed his name to demonstrate his strong identification with his Parsi heritage.) was an English composer, music critic, pianist and writer. He was one of the 20th century's most prolific piano composers.

He was born in Chingford.[1] His father was a civil engineer of Parsi parentage from Bombay. His mother was English.[2] and is said to have been a singer, pianist and organist, but no evidence has been found to support these claims.[3] Little is known of hie searly life.

As a composer and pianist, Sorabji was largely self-taught, and he distanced himself from the main currents of contemporary musical life early in his career. He developed a highly idiosyncratic musical language, with roots in composers as diverse as Busoni, Debussy and Szymanowski, and he dismissed large portions of the established and contemporary repertoire.

A reluctant performer, Sorabji played a few of his works in public between 1920 and 1936, thereafter "banning" performances of his music until 1976. Since very few of his compositions were published during those years, he remained in public view mainly by writing essays and music criticism, at the centre of which are his books Around Music and Mi contra fa: The Immoralisings of a Machiavellian Musician. He had a tendency to seclusion, and in the 1950s he moved from London to the village of Corfe Castle, Dorset, where he spent most of the rest of his life quietly.

Private life

For a long time, it was difficult to discover many details of Sorabji's life, as he was extraordinarily private. He almost always refused requests for interviews or information, often with sharp messages and warnings not to approach him again. This has led to numerous misunderstandings, such as that he lived in a castle, because he lived in the Dorset village of Corfe Castle.[4] Since he had independent financial means, he felt no need to be tactful in his dealings with the public, critics and musicians interested in performing his works.[5] "The Eye", Sorabji's home in Corfe Castle, had a sign at the gate stating: "Visitors Unwelcome".[6]

Sorabji was homosexual, and in the early 1920s he consulted Havelock Ellis, about it. Ellis held progressive views on the subject, and Sorabji expressed high admiration for him, dedicating his Piano Concerto No. 7, Simorg-Anka (1924), to him as an expression of gratitude.[1][7] Although Sorabji experienced racial harassment in his youth, his homosexuality caused him greater trouble; he wrote to Holliday that he had once been blackmailed over it.[8]



Adapted from a Wikipedia article

  1. 1.0 1.1 http://www.mus.ulaval.ca/roberge/srs/02-biogr.htm Marc-André Roberge, "Biographical Notes" Sorabji Resource Site
  2. http://proquest.umi.com/pqdlink?Ver=1&Exp=05-25-2013&FMT=7&DID=1417800651&RQT=309&attempt=1&cfc=1 Sean Vaughn Owen, Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji: An Oral Biography (PhD). University of Southampton. ISBN 978-0-549-29073-5 (subscription required), pp. 33–34
  3. http://www.sorabji-archive.co.uk/articles/hinton-songs_1.php Alistair Hinton, "Sorabji's Songs (1/4)". The Sorabji Archive
  4. Owen, p. 12
  5. http://www.grovemusic.com Paul Rapoport, "Sorabji, Kaikhosru Shapurji", Grove Music Online, ed. L Macy (subscription access)
  6. "Sorabji, Kaikhosru Shapurji", in The Concise Edition of Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, 8th ed. Revised by Nicolas Slonimsky. New York, Schirmer Books, 1993. ISBN 0-02-872416-X
  7. Owen, pp. 46–48
  8. Rapoport, p. 70
  9. Rapoport, p. 208