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Copies of letters between C. M. Grieve and Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji

Identifier: Coll-1298

Scope and Contents

Three copies of manuscript letters from Christopher Murray Grieve (Hugh MacDiarmid) to Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji are dated 25 May 1926 from Montrose, 5 January 1932 from London, and 19 August 1955 from Lanarkshire.

The letter from 25 May 1926 had been sent to Sorabji through the New Age. Grieve writes that 'I should have written you long ere this, but for the Strike, which involved me in all kinds of difficulties and while it lasted completely monopolised my time and thoughts'. He refers to having received 'a copy of your great Organ Symphony'. Grieve goes on to say that he hopes 'that I may yet, either in London or Glasgow, be so fortunate as to have an evening or two with you on the piano'.

The letter from 5 January 1932 thanks Sorabji for 'so magnificent a dedication and presentation copy'. The item was 'a stupendous volume - marvellously printed'. Grieve goes on to say that 'Of the stupendous power of the compostion, and the certainty of its eventual recognition - as of your work and place as a whole - I am equally satisfied, albeit keen to see the latter expedited. You have had to stay far too long in the wilderness overshadowed by placemen and morons. But your day will come and surely cannot be long delayed now'. The letter was written at a time of trials for Grieve who is 'bogged in a mass of private troubles of all kinds (including a divorce suit ... which culminates this month'.

The letter from 19 August 1955 refers to Sorabji's 'words of appreciation, generous as ever, of my Joyce poem'. Grieve agrees with Sorabji' 'regarding English poetry which in the main I detest'. He again writes of how he knows 'no parallel to your case in sheer lack of due recognition'.


  • Creation: 1926-1955-


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Open to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance of visit.

Biographical / Historical

The English composer, music journalist and pianist Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji was born Leon Dudley Sorabji on 14 August 1892 in Chingford, Essex. He was the son of a Parsi father and an English mother.

As a composer Sorabji was self-taught. As a critic Sorabji was connected to the radical weekly New Age magazine which had been taken over by Alfred Richard Orage, and to New English Weekly. His music criticism was notable for its acerbity and wit, and also for championing - at the time - unfashionable composers such as Mahler and Szymanowski. His own works were of great complexity, and he played them in London and Paris in 1921 and in Vienna in 1922. Thereafter he discouraged public performance of his music until relenting in the mid-1970s. He remained something of a cult figure however.

His works included the Symphonic High Mass (1955-1961), the massive (four-hour), multi-movement Opus clavicembalisticum (1930), and the Etudes transcendantes (1940-1944).

Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji died at Winfrith Newburgh, near Dorchester, in Dorset on 15 October 1988. He had been a friend of the composer Alistair Hinton, who was the founder of the Sorabji Archive. In 1994 many of his original manuscripts went to the Paul Sacher Stiftung in Basle, Switzerland.


1 folder containing 3 letters

Physical Location


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Material acquired by donation April 2011. Accession no: E2011.12.

Related Materials

Also at Special Collections, Edinburgh University Library, 'Letters to Christopher Murray Grieve (1892-1978)', Gen. 2094; MSS 2942-2961.

Processing Information

Compiled by Graeme D. Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections.

Copies of letters between C. M. Grieve (1892-1978) and Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji (1892-1988)
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

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