KSS63 Gulistān

Piece details

  • Written for: Piano
  • Date composed: 1940
  • Dedicatee: Harold Morland
  • Approximate duration (minutes): 35
  • Manuscript pages: 28
  • Manuscript location: Sorabji Archive
  • Comments:

    Sorabji wrote a number of nocturnes, from the earliest stages in his development until his final years. These include some of his better-known works such as Le jardin parfumé and Djâmi. Several works — such as In the Hothouse of 1918 and the much later Villa Tasca, written 1979–80 — are not designated as nocturnes, but nonetheless occupy the same languorous, exotic atmosphere than characterises Gulistān, arguably his most succesful essay in the genre. The poet Sa‘dī of Shīrāz (ca. 1213–92) finished the extended Gulistān in 1258, after many years of travelling. Although Sorabji’s nocturne is not a programmatic work, that the poem had significant influence on the work’s composition is undeniable. This suggestion is strengthened by the fact Sorabji prefaced his score of Gulistān with two texts. The first is an extract from Sa‘di’s poem Fidelity, here translated by Charles Hopkins:

    “For some years I had travelled with a particular friend, and on many occasions we had shared bread and salt together. I say this to demonstrate the total intimacy of our friendship. One day, however, wishing to get the better of me, he allowed himself to cause me distress, and we became less close. Despite this painful episode we still remained friendly, and I later learnt that he had, in company, recited this qaṣīdah of my composition:
    “When my friend, smiling, crossed the threshold of my home he sprinkles salt on the open wound of my love. What should happen if a lock of his hair were to brush my forehead like the alms of a rich man dropping into the palm of one less fortunate?”
    Several of those present applauded the sentiment of this verse, and my old companion was especially effusive in his praise. He had been deeply saddened at losing my affection, and unhesitatingly accepted that he had been to blame … I realised that he was eager for a reconciliation and addressed the poem which follows to him as a mark of my forgiveness:
    “We were once true to one another. It was you who were unjust. I could not have foreseen that you would distance yourself from me, since I had given my heart to you … even though there were a good many others to whom I was close! Come back, and you will be loved again as never before!”
    The second text, actually designated as a preface by Sorabji, is taken from Norman Douglas’ South Wind:
    “What, sir, would you call the phenomenon of today? What is the outstanding feature of modern life? The bankruptcy, the proven fatuity, of everything that is bound up under the name of Western civilization. Men are perceiving, I think, the baseness of mercantile and military ideals, the loftiness of those older ones. They will band together, the elect of every nation, in god-favoured regions around the Inland Sea, there to lead serener lives. To those who have hitherto preached indecorous maxims of conduct they will say: What is all this ferocious nonsense about strenuousness? An unbecoming fluster. And who are you, to dictate how we shall order our day? Go! Shiver and struggle in your hyperborean dens. Trample about those misty rain-sodden fields, and hack each other’s eyes out with antediluvian bayonets. Or career up and down the ocean, in your absurd ships, to pick the pockets of men better than yourselves. This is your mode of self-expression. It is not ours.”
    (notes: Jonathan Powell)

Editions available from the Sorabji Archive

  • Typeset edition (Jonathan Powell), A3L. 30 pages.
    Price: £20 (paper), £10 (pdf)
    Right-click to download high resolution sample page: PDF PNG
  • New edition (Marc-André Hamelin), A3P. 57 pages.
    Price: £20 (paper), £10 (pdf)
    Right-click to download high resolution sample page: PDF PNG
  • Manuscript, A3L. 28 pages.
    Price: £12 (paper), £5 (pdf)
    Right-click to download high resolution sample page: PDF PNG

Recordings

  • Michael Habermann (piano),
    Elan Recordings CD 82264 (1995)
    Track 1 (29:32)
  • Charles Hopkins (piano),
    Altarus Records AIR-CD9036 (1995)
    Track 1 (35:24)
  • Michael Habermann (piano),
    British Music Society BMS427-429 (3CDs) (2004)
    Track 11 (29:32)
  • Jonathan Powell (piano),
    Altarus Records AIR-CD-9083 (2005)
    Track 4 (35:34)
  • Michael Habermann (piano),
    Naxos 8.571363-65 (2015)
    Track 11 (29:32)

Performances

  • 22/11/1977 Yonty Solomon (piano)
    Wigmore Hall, London, UK
  • 08/10/1993 Michael Habermann (piano)
    Ward Hall, Music Building, Catholic University of America, Washington DC, USA
    American Liszt Society Festival
  • 10/11/2000 Jonathan Powell (piano)
    Conway Hall, London, UK
    Planet Tree Festival
  • 08/03/2002 Jonathan Powell (piano)
    Holywell Music Room, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  • 10/01/2003 Jonathan Powell (piano)
    Johanneskirkko seurakuntasali, Helsinki, Finland
  • 28/01/2003 Jonathan Powell (piano)
    St. Cyprian’s Church, London, UK
  • 01/02/2003 Jonathan Powell (piano)
    Muziekcentrum Vredenburg, Utrecht, Netherlands
    “Rondom Kaikhosru Sorabji”
  • 26/04/2003 Frank Abbinanti (piano)
    Home of Maureen West, Tarzana CA, USA
    House Concert, Echo Performing Arts Concerts
  • 24/07/2005 Jonathan Powell (piano)
    Salle Pasteur, Centre Corum, Montpellier, France
    Montpellier Festival
  • 02/09/2010 Jonathan Powell (piano)
    Schott Recital Room, London, UK
  • 05/10/2012 Jonathan Powell (piano)
    Philharmonia Hall, Kirovograd, Ukraine

Broadcasts etc.

  • 08/12/1969 Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji (piano) [x]
    WBAI (radio), New York NY, USA [+B]
    “The Composer Sorabji” (Erik Chisholm): illustrated talk read by Frank Holliday
  • 13/12/1970 Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji (piano)
    WNCN (radio), New York NY, USA [+B]
  • 13/12/1970 Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji (piano), Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji (piano) [x]
    WNCN (radio), New York NY, USA [+B]
  • 12/12/1971 Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji (piano)
    WNCN (radio), New York NY, USA [+R]
  • 12/12/1971 Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji (piano), Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji (piano) [x]
    WNCN (radio), New York NY, USA [+R]
  • 10/12/1972 Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji (piano)
    WNCN (radio), New York NY, USA [+R]
  • 10/12/1972 Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji (piano), Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji (piano) [x]
    WNCN (radio), New York NY, USA [+R]
  • 08/11/1973 Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji (piano)
    KPFA (radio), Berkeley CA, USA [+R]
  • 08/11/1973 Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji (piano), Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji (piano) [x]
    KPFA (radio), Berkeley CA, USA [+R]
  • 19/02/1975 Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji (piano) [x]
    WMUK (radio), Kalamazoo MI, USA [+R]
  • 19/06/1976 Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji (piano) [x]
    Minnesota Public Radio (broadcast over KSJR/KSJN/KCCM/WSCD/KRSW/KLSE), Collegeville MN, USA [+R]
  • 03/06/1979 Yonty Solomon (piano)
    BBC Radio 3, London, UK [B]
  • 25/08/1982 Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji (piano)
    WUHY (later WHYY) (radio), Philadelphia PA, USA [+B]
    90th birthday tribute
  • 06/02/1984 Yonty Solomon (piano)
    BBC Radio 3, London, UK [R]
  • 26/07/1988 Yonty Solomon (piano) [x]
    Cleveland Lodge (home of Lady Susi Jeans), Dorking, UK [+]
    Organists’ Summer School: Illustrated Lecture
  • 26/07/1988 Yonty Solomon (piano), Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji (piano) [x]
    Cleveland Lodge (home of Lady Susi Jeans), Dorking, UK [+]
    Organists’ Summer School: Illustrated Lecture
  • 29/10/1992 Yonty Solomon (piano) [x]
    École de Musique, Salle Henri-Gagnon Université Laval, Québec, Canada [+]
    Sorabji centenary lecture (Marc-André Roberge)
  • 14/08/2001 Michael Habermann (piano)
    WNYC, New York NY, USA [+B]
    “Evening Music” with David Garland
  • 05/03/2003 Jonathan Powell (piano)
    NPS (Nederlandse Programma Stichting), Hilversum, Netherlands [B]
    “NPS in de Middag” (broadcast of part of concert given on 01/02/2003)
  • 07/08/2004 Michael Habermann (piano)
    KCSC/KBCW, Edmond OK, USA [+B]
  • 21/11/2005 Jonathan Powell (piano)
    Radio France, France Musique, Paris, France [B]
    Montpellier Festival (broadcast of part of concert of 24/07/2005)