Collection RC0063 - Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji collection

Title and statement of responsibility area

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Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji collection

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  • 1939-1994 (Creation)

Physical description area

Physical description

2.8 m of textual records, graphic material and sound recordings.
35 audio reels.
3 audio cassettes.
21 audio discs.
2 microfilm reels.

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Archival description area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji, composer, pianist, and music critic, was born Leon Dudley Sorabji on 14 August 1892 in Chingford, England, the son of a Spanish-Sicilian mother and a Parsi father. He adopted his Parsi names later in life. He was educated at private schools and self-taught as a composer. He composed orchestral works, chamber music, and works for piano, voice, and organ. For a long time he discouraged public performances of his music but relented in the mid 1970s. He died at Winfrith, Dorset on 15 October 1988.

Custodial history

Scope and content

There have been three accruals. The first and principal accrual of the collection was compiled by his close friend and admirer, Frank Holliday. During the 1960s the composer agreed to allow Holliday to tape record him playing his own compositions. Their correspondence over a forty year period as well as the audio reels and cassettes are the core of this collection. The reels have been reproduced on audio cassettes for use by researchers. The number of audio cassettes listed above refers only to original cassettes.

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Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

The first accrual was purchased from Frank Holliday via Bertram Rota in March 1988. The second accrual was acquired from Dr. Ewing via Professor Paul Rapoport in January 1998. The third accrual was acquired from Dr. Rapoport in June 2005.


The first accrual is arranged into the following series: Sorabji/Holliday correspondence; general correspondence; Sorabji's writings, scores, manuscripts, publicity, and photographs; audio reels and microfilm; formal photographs and audio discs. The second accrual (11-1998) consists of 26 letters and 9 cards written by Sorabji to Dr. Cecil Ewing (a disciple of Sorabji) between 1945 and 1983, 1 letter from Ewing to Holliday, and a periodical. The third accrual (12-2005) consists of material from two sources: Norman P. Gentieu, a science writer, jazz musician and editor, and Cedil Ewing. It is arranged into the following series: Gentiue's general correspondence; material related to Bernard John Van Dieren II, son of the music critic Bernard Van Dieren; material related to reproduction of Sorabji's works; Norman B. Gentieu's Sorabji's files; Ewing's general correspondence and Sorabji sound recordings.

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There are no access restrictions.

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The collection is supplemented by books belonging to Sorabji, two of them written by him, which have been catalogued for Research Collections.


Further accruals are not expected.

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