Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Conferencing Congress Ishtyle

By 1910 classical north Indian music was no longer confined to Ustads and courtesans and their Gharanas who had jealously guarded their familial treasures and made this music available only at a price to the rich nobility of north India. Thanks to the tireless efforts of two Marathi men : Pt Bhatkhande and Pt V D Paluskar, music was now being taught both in schools and homes.
In 1916 the first All India Music Conference was held in Baroda to convert music into a carrier of patriotic ideas and a subject worthy of national attention. Music thus presented, acquired the overtones of a modern project aimed at democratising Pan Indian art and culture.
Not unsurprisingly therefore, Pt Bhatkhande who led the project, did not invent a new format but used the format popularised by Indian National Congress that to the average Indian stood as a symbol of anti colonialism and Indian nationhood.
Between 1916 and 1928, both Pt Bhatkhande and Pt Paluskar convened five music conferences apiece , at large venues . These conferences, like the INC sessions, were not restricted to musicians , critics, artists and musicologists alone . but also doubled up as ticketed musical recitals by them after the day's discussions . The public  came to these in droves . Like the Maharaja of Baroda , who hosted the first National Music conference, other princes also offered to host subsequent ones and even lent their court musicians for gracing the musical events.
Interestingly, like the INC sessions, the medium for exchange of information and papers was neither Hindi nor any other Indian language but mostly English . Some reports though, had appendices in Urdu or Hindi.
Participants in Paluskar's conferences ( which had a more local focus), spoke in Marathi and prayers were a significant part of his musical events. Princes with their circle of musicians remained largely absent from these.  


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