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Sorabji and the Computer

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 February 2010


This general dedication (a particular one to Hugh MacDiarmid precedes it) stands at the front of Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji's Opus clavicembalisticum as gates of warning to mere ordinary minds not to enter the edifice beyond. O.C. (for short) is a chiefly contrapuntal creation for piano solo, 248 large pages of music lasting nearly 3 hours, whose length is matched by its great difficulty, complexity, and intricacy of detail. Sorabji probably began it in 1929, with partial stimulus from Egon Petri's performances of Busoni's Fantasia contrappuntistica. That work seems to have been a structural model for O.C., although O.C. is no imitation of the Busoni, but a transcendent creative response to it.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1976

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1 For the quoted part, cf. Milton, , Paradise regained III, 5256 Google Scholar.

2 Chisholm died in 1965. The MS. is at the University of Cape Town but could not be consulted for the project described in this article.

3 O.U.P. have had the selling rights for some time. The score now retails at £4·00.

4 Thanks are due Professor John Melby, the University of Illinois research board and school of music's eletronic studio.

5 Field 13 really appeared on separate cards but for convenience is shown as here.