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Project Aims and Objectives

This project has three main objectives:

  1. To create the first critical edition of the complete organ music of K S Sorabji. A performing edition will be produced simultaneously.
  2. Dissemination of the music in public performances, lectures and articles.
  3. Commercial recordings of all three works.

The edition:

Sorabji wrote at great speed. Although there is much beauty and grace in his handwriting precise details of pitch and the positioning of accidentals are often rather difficult to determine. Other ambiguities appear from time to time and there are occasional errors in rhythm and other details. Over the course of the 750 or so manuscript pages occupied by these works many thousands of editorial decisions will consequently have to be made.
Several distinct elements will make up the new edition of each symphony. The elements will be as follows:

i. A facsimile of the manuscript

ii. A clarified clean score

iii. A clarified and fully annotated score

iv. A practical performing score with suggestions for registration (drawn from the stoplist of a hypothetical ideal instrument), manual changes and other editorial suggestions.

v. A clarified score of the fugue in each case, in addition to the version in ii. above. Sorabji wrote his fugues on up to seven staves per system, allowing voices to cross freely, rendering the task of reading almost insurmountable. In compressing the writing to three, or at most four, staves far greater ease of reading is achieved, albeit at the expense of visual clarity of line.

vi. Comprehensive editorial notes plus an introduction and essays relevant to the work.

vii. An introduction, incorporating the disposition of the hypothetical instrument from which the registration is drawn.

These elements will be drawn into two distinct versions in each case - a critical edition and a performing edition thus:

  1. Critical edition, consisting of i, iii and vi.
  2. Performing edition, consisting of ii, iv, v and vii. The presence of the clean score in addition to this performing score will enable individual players to make their own judgements with regard to specific performance decisions.

However, the individual elements will be available separately and interested parties will be able to purchase as many or as few as they require.

The Project begins in May 2008. There are six target dates:

  1. June 2009: World premiere of the Second Organ Symphony in the Glasgow International Organ Festival. This performance will be prepared from my 1988-91 hand written score of the work plus work in progress in the preparation of the new edition.

  2. June 2010: Completion of the new edition of the Third Organ Symphony (1949-54) from the 300 page manuscript.

  3. June 2012. Completion of the new edition of the Second Organ Symphony (1929-32) prepared from i. 350 pages of manuscript, plus ii. my own hand written performing score (1988-91).

  4. December 2012: Completion of the new edition of the First Organ Symphony (1923/4), prepared from i. 81 pages of manuscript, plus ii. the original 1925 Curwen print, plus iii. the composer's proof-read copy (none of the corrections was taken over into the print), plus my own Curwen print copy which includes about 1500 corrections already taken from i and iii.

  5. January 2013: A performance of the First Organ Symphony from the new edition.

  6. June 2013: World premiere of the Third Organ Symphony.

The performances will take place in the University of Glasgow.

All live performances will be recorded. In addition Altarus Records, who have a long association with the composer’s music, will undertake commercial recordings of all three works under studio conditions shortly following the live performance of each. Symphony 1 will be issued as a double CD set. Symphonies 2 and 3 will be issued as 5/6 CD sets each. Altarus will also issue a DVD charting the progress of the project, and incorporating excerpts from a video diary kept during the course of the work.

Lectures will be given prior to each performance, setting each work in the context of the composer's life and times.

Kevin Bowyer

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