Many composers cite J.S. Bach as a primary inspiration and it is not hard to see why, given that Bach’s considerable output often uses an almost mathematical, intellectual precision to paradoxically create some of the most sublime, heart-rending compositions in the musical canon. Bach’s unique balancing act of the mind and heart is an accomplishment seldom equaled by any other creator of music, and yet many composers may not readily acknowledge Bach’s influence until later in their development when fledgling preoccupations and immature inspirations have worn off and they begin to demonstrate a mastery of their own particular art.

Sorabji’s early influences owe themselves to Delius, and Scriabin, but we gradually see Bach’s spectre appear, even if it is initially by way of Sorabji’s contemporary idol, Busoni. Like Busoni, Liszt, Schumann and Bach himself, Sorabji himself began to use the B-A-C-H motto in respect to the master. This is no more apparent than in the third and final section of Sorabji’s 1934-35 work Sonata V (Opus Archimagicum). Movement 7, a preludio, features the B-A-C-H motto in large chords, juxtaposed with a similarly voiced motto, G-A-B-E (the Bromage motto). These mottos ring like tolling bells and continue on into Movement 8, the Preludio Corale on Dies Irae, sometimes even dwarfing the titular Dies Irae theme. In Movement 10, the B-A-C-H appears as the start of the second subject just as the Bromage motto begins the introductory notes of the first subject. At the end of the day, B-A-C-H wins out by concluding the entire piece in enormous chords that span the piano’s entire register.

Sorabji transcribed two Bach works for solo piano, Prelude in Eb, which was a favorite piece of his companion Reginald Best, and the Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue, re-titled by Sorabji as Transcription in the Light of Harpsichord Technique for the Modern Piano of the Chromatic Fantasia of J.S. Bach, followed by a Fugue. Sorabji used the Chromatic Fantasy again as fodder for his second to last Transcendental Study. It seems that in light of his entire life and compositional career, Sorabji ultimately grew to admire Bach over all other composers.