Kaikhosru Sorabji

Autograph: Kaikhosru Sorabji Colorful, enigmatic Parsi composer and journalist (1892–1988) best known for keyboard works of labyrinthine complexity and protracted length, some lasting hours. Notorious for his reclusiveness and prickly manner, Sorabji imposed a decades-long moratorium on performances of his works, relenting only in his final years. Five detailed and absorbing TLSs signed “Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji,” various lengths, all to W. McNaught, editor of the Musical Times, 1941. Sorabji writes on a number of musical and editorial matters, making handwritten corrections throughout. A few excerpts: “I have your letter of the eleventh. It is a blend of subterfuge and irrelevance…. I contend that the arpeggio decoration in the Third Rachmaninoff Concerto is no more nor no less of the ‘stuff’ of the music than in the two works of Bach and Beethoven I mentioned…. I myself have come to regard the work of Elgar with a steadily increasing aversion, but I do not ascribe that to any fault of this great musician, no to [sic] I try to find or forge any such faults. Your very cheap sneer that I point out your ‘obscure position’ ‘from what altitude I am unaware’ was so obvious and so ready to hand that you were bound to make it. If the estimation in which my work is held in a world rather wider than that bound by Wardour Street, Langham Place and Petticoat Lane, if the high opinions of my work expressed by me like Busoni, Delius, van Dieren, Szymanowsky, Berg, Heseltine and Prof. Tovey and the superlative terms in which leading Continental music periodicals have been kind enough to speak of it…that has been indeed no guilt or fault of English musical journalism…. It really is high time a halt were called to the totalitarian insolence and impertinence of the lesser fry among the English musical journalists in the matter of that very great artist and great creative musician Sergei Rachmaninoff…. You have now gone on to dragging Delius, Busoni and Mahler into the discussion! Given time you will doubtless drag in the music of interstellar space as well…. It is becoming wearisome to follow you in all your tergiversations [sic]…. Here obviously we soar far out of the reach of ascertainable fact into the cloud-cuckoo-land of musical critical transcendental poppy-cock…. The charge from you of all people that every one of my letters contains abuse is so humourless (and so English) that it becomes comic when I remember a notice from you upon a certain notorious occasion, of a work of mine, of such venomous scurrility and wanton malice that it moved a very distinguished critic to place upon record his disgust as he put it at its tone ‘so Boeotian and so malicious.’ Your pretence in the matter of the doctored press-notices to which I referred in my last will hardly deceive a mentally defective hen….” Accompanied by a related printer’s proof of a review, a TLS from McNaught to Sorabji, and an unsigned carbon of a letter ([evidently from McNaught] to Sorabji). In fine condition overall, with scattered light soiling, toning, and handling wear, intersecting folds, and light water staining to one letter (slightly affecting signature). RRAuction COA.