site updated: 12/05/04 - 4:30am

Home |  Contact |  Concert Schedule |  Reviews | 
Biography |  Discography |  Repertoire | 
Other Interests |  Misc. | 
Buy_CDs | 

Ms. Elizabeth Farnum's publicity photo from Sorabji Complete Songs for Soprano album cover
Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji
The Complete Songs for Soprano
CD Information Page

                            Elizabeth Farnum, soprano

Margaret Kampmeier, piano        Bruce Posner, lecturer

Here you will find the most current information about purchasing Ms. Elizabeth Farnum's vocal CD, Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji: The Complete Songs for Soprano.

The long-awaited world premiere release of ”Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji: The Complete Songs for Soprano.” (on Centaur Records, CRC 2613) was celebrated with a well-recieved concert/lecture on Nov. 14th, '02 at Merkin Hall in New York City.

Sorabji was a composer of Spanish-Sicilian and Parsi descent, most notorious for his transcendentally difficult and tremendously lengthy piano works. These previously unrecorded and mostly unperformed vocal works will now show another side of this unusual composer.

Four years ago, I embarked upon a recording project, “Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji - The Complete Songs for Soprano and Piano”. My intention at the time was to simply record the CD, period. However, as time has gone on, The Sorabji Project has grown to include a series of concerts as well, to take place over the next three to five years.

The Recording

Kaikhosru Shapruji Sorabji - The Complete Songs for Soprano and Piano

Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji (1892-1988) is known, and perhaps even notorious, for his lush and harmonically rich piano works of unheard-of length and olympian difficulty. He has, indeed, gained a cult following among virtuostic pianists and aficionados of piano repertoire. However, he also wrote a score of truly magnificent songs, and it is my belief that these songs have the potential to achieve widespread popularity and become classics in their own right. Most of these songs have lain in obscurity for over 60 years - none of the them have ever been released on a commercial recording, and some of them have yet to be performed. This CD is the first recording of the twenty songs that Sorabji wrote for soprano and piano. I am pleased to be the first to record them.

Varying in length from under two minutes to more than six, the songs are concise events unto themselves. Although they were all written in the early period of Sorabji’s output, they encompass a wide variety of styles, from simple and very tonal to dense, complex and somewhat atonal. Seventeen of the twenty songs are set in French, after texts of such famous poets as Verlaine and Baudelaire, and of lesser-known poets such as de Regnier and Tailhade; there are also two songs in English and one Vocalise. Sorabji has the ability to create moody musical landscapes by setting these texts with writing that can be fluid and amorphous, tonal and almost conversational, or at times angular and jarring. But whatever the style, every song displays great compositional craft, close attention to the driving emotion of the text, and a unique beauty that is always charged with musical and dramatic tension. This music pushes all boundaries, technical, musical and emotional, and the result is staggering.

As a modern music specialist, the challenge and unique character of these 20th-century songs truly appealed to me. As a lover of music, the pieces greatly affected me emotionally, from the rhapsodic tone of “Roses du Soir” to the angular, highly dramatic writing of “l’Irrémédiable” to the joyous abandon of “Hymne à Aphrodite”. This is some of the most musically challenging writing in terms of execution that I have encountered so far. But the end result is well worth it - I don’t think anyone could listen to this music and not be moved by it in some way.

Why have these songs never been recorded? There are many reasons for this, the most important being that, in the early 1940’s, Sorabji placed a restriction on performances of his own music, claiming that the executants of his time were not up to the task. He did not ease this until 1976, a full 35 years after the composition of his last songs. Secondly, the extant form of many of the songs presents a daunting task - at least half of the pieces exist only in manuscript form, which is extremely difficult to decipher. Sorabji was an incredibly prolific and rapid composer who scribbled page upon page of manuscript at a single sitting. The result is an almost illegible piece of music - this presented one of our greatest challenges in the process of recording the CD. Lastly, musicians and performers simply have not been aware of the existence of the songs. Sorabji’s reputation was built upon his piano works, and the many other pieces he composed have received much less attention. Additionally, only a handful of early published works were available for performance until the late 1980s.

I believe that, as more and more people hear this CD, there will be much interest generated in the vocal music of this neglected 20th century composer. Many singers who hear these songs will be eager to perform them, and any musician with a previous knowledge of Sorabji will hear a new and unexpected side of this gifted composer. Music lovers who listen to the songs will have an opportunity to hear some totally new repertoire, with its own style and unique flavor. There is a great dual appeal with this recording - there is, on one hand, the fascination with the complexity of the music and technical demands made upon the performers, and on the other hand, there is the appeal of the sheer beauty and charm of the songs. Because of this duality, I believe that the recording will appeal to a great many people, from Sorabji connoisseurs to the general music appreciator. My ultimate goal for The Sorabji Project is to expose as many people as possible to these incredible songs that have remained unknown for so long."

slow-loading .bmp album cover mock-up of Sorabji: The Complete Songs for Soprano

Look for Ms. Farnum's Sorabji CD release
on Centaur Records
in store everywhere.

Sorabji CD Selections

Trois Poemes (1918-19)
1. Correspondances
2. Crepuscule du Soir Mystique
3. Pantomime

4. Chrysilla (1915)

5. Roses du Soir (1915)

6. The Poplars (1915)

7. l’Heure Exquise (1916)

8. Vocalise (1916)

9. I was not Sorrowful (1917)

10. l’Etang (1917)

11. Hymne a Aphrodite (1916)

12. Apparition (1916)

(Trois Chants) (1941)
13. Le Faune
14. Les Chats
15. La Derniere Fete Galante

Trois Fetes Galantes (1919?)

16. l’Allee
17. A la Promenade
18. Dans la Grotte

19. l’Irremediable (1927)

20. Arabesque (1920)

Total time: 56:01

          Recorded Aug.-Nov. 1999 and Aug. 2000 at: Patrych Sound Studios, Bronx, NY
          Produced by: Joseph Patrych & Kenneth A. Farnum, Jr.
          Engineered/edited by: Joseph Patrych (

          Piano: Hamburg Steinway CD 147
          Piano Technician: Kenneth A. Farnum, Jr. (

               The Sorabji Archive: Alistair Hinton, Curator
                               Easton Dene
                                Bailbrook Lane
                                BA1 7AA
                       Trois Poemes (1918-19) publ. London & Continental Music Publishing Co.
                       Trois Fetes Galantes (1919?) - publ. J. Curwen & Sons

               Photo Credits:
                      Elizabeth Farnum photos:          Leonard Lewis
                      Margaret Kampmeier photo:     Robin Holland

         Elizabeth Farnum would like to acknowledge and thank the following people for their support and input:
         Christopher Berg, the late Donald Garvelmann, Marc-André Hamelin, Charles Hopkins, Beverly Myers,
        Bruce Posner, Marc-André Roberge and Howard Stokar.

        Thanks to Margaret Kampmeier, for being an extraordinary accompanist and colleague.

        Thanks to Joe Patrych, who went the extra mile (or six) as producer/engineer, and did so with great skill and enthusiasm.

        Many thanks to Alistair Hinton, curator of the Sorabji Archive, for continuing advice and support
        from the time of this project's inception to its completion, and for writing superb liner notes.

        And a special, heartfelt word of thanks to my husband Ken, for unwavering faith in this project and involvement in every stage of          it,including co-producing, editing, coaching, providing piano tuning services, and for suggesting the recording in the first place.
        This project would not have been possible without your constant support and gentle encouragement.
        Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

          For most current information: and

Please periodically check this site for further information concerning booking and tour dates for the Sorabji lecture/recitals and also advance CD purchase details.

Directory of Sorabji Links

The Sorabji Project

Additional Links and Information

The Sorabji Project  |  Home Page

Sorabji Project Directory Page  |  Collection of many popular K. S. Sorabji web links

Songs of Sorabji Concert-Lecture Tour | Booking Information

World premiere Sorabji vocal CD  |  Information on Centaur CD “K. S. Sorabji: The Complete Songs For Soprano”

K. S. Sorabji Project Biographies  |  Performers' biographies for Concert-Lecture Tour and World Premiere CD

Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji  |  Biographies, essays and other information

Other Sorabji Web Resources

Google: "Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji, piano"  |  Google Search for "Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji, piano"

Pictures of K. S. Sorabji  |  Google Image Search for "Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji"  |  The Sorabji Archive: Alistair Hinton, Curator  |  The “All Piano” internet radio station of run by Mr. Mark A. Thomas

Home  |  Contact  |  Concert Schedule  |  Reviews  |  Biography  |  Discography  | 
Repertoire  |  Other Interests  |  Misc.  |  The Sorabji Project  | 

Any comments, problems or additional info regarding this site, please contact