Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Conference on Arabic Music in Cairo 1932

Original label from one of the 78 rpm's

Recordings from the
Conference on Arabic Music held in
Cairo 1932

The conference on Arabic music was held in Cairo 1932 on the initiative of baron d'Erlanger and under the presedency of King Fouad I in the presence of several great musicologists, composers and orientalists, uniting the best of the classical and popular music styles performing musicians of the Maghreb and Asia Minor. After recordings made under the direction of Béla Bartòk and Mansûr Awad in connection with the conference, the Gramophone Company published noncommercially more than one hundred sixty 78 rpm discs. That is more than 320 sides of approximately 3 minutes each.

Finally in the 1990's some reissues from this vast body of recordings made at the Cairo conference 1932, previously only accessible to a few specialized scholars was made available on CD for the enjoyment and scrutiny of a wider audience . The ones that I know of will be posted here. I have decided to make the long out of print reissues of these early 78 rpm recordings available again to a wider o a possibly wider group of listener than has been reached before. These recordings are too precious to be forgotten in some attics of institutions or remain rare precious unobtainable objects in private collections.

This is truly beautiful music that constantly is worthy of finding new listeners.

First out is this boxed 2 CD collection that was published with a very informative book in several languages. This edition a long out of print and there has to my knowledge not been issued again. It was hard to get a copy already in the beginning of the nineties. I hope you enjoy this effort and should you sit on any other material visual printed or audio please share it with me. See also the end of this post for a list of what will be forthcoming.

Congrès du Caire 1932 Vol.1-2
APN 88 - 9-10 - P.1988

(Institut du Monde Arabe et Phonotheque National du France)

APN 88 - 9

Disc 1

01 Abûdhiyya 4:45 Musique Savante de Bagdad / Irak
02 Maqâm Ibrâhîmî 20:50 Musique Savante de Bagdad / Irak
03 Pasta 5:54 Musique Savante de Bagdad / Irak
04 Taqsîm Santûr 3:02 Musique Savante de Bagdad / Irak
05 Taqsîm Jawza 3:00 Musique Savante de Bagdad / Irak
06 Taqsîm °ûd 2:59 Musique Savante de Bagdad / Irak

The Iraqi ensemble of Mohammad al-Qubbanji (1901-1989)
(as you see he died only one year after this re-issue so you see 
why there is no year given in the booklet.)

07 Mawwâl & Taqtûqa 5:35 Musique Populaire / Égypte
08 Chant De Mariage 5:27 Musique Populaire / Égypte
09 Air De Procession Des Pèlerins 2:45 Musique Populaire / Égypte
10 Samâ°î Bayyâtî Thaqîl 3:11 Musique Populaire / Égypte
11 Chant & Danse de Bedouins 3:32 Musique Populaire / Égypte
12 Zâr Sa°îdî 4:42 Musique Populaire / Égypte
13 El Zâr Nubien 4:50 Musique Populaire / Égypte

Disc 1 total time: 71:31

The Egyptian ensemble of Mohammad al Arabi (1885-1941)
are represented here with some of my favourite tracks.

APN 88 - 10

Disc 2

01 Tawshiya 6:01 Musique Citadine De Tlemcen / Algérie
02 Shughl Basît 6:01 Musique Citadine De Tlemcen / Algérie
03 Mawwâl Il Taghtiya 2:55 Musique Citadine De Tlemcen / Algérie
04 Inshâd Baytayn Taghtiya I 3:03 Musique Citadine De Tlemcen / Algérie
05 Hawfî 3:08 Musique Citadine De Tlemcen / Algérie
06 Batâ'ihî 3:08 Musique Citadine De Tlemcen / Algérie

The Algerian ensemble of the singer el Hajj al-Arabi Ibn Sari (1883-1965) 
who also played Ud, Rabab and Qanun.

07 Bughya Tawshiya 4:57 Musique Savante De Féz / Maroc
08 Shughl Basît 6:16 Musique Savante De Féz / Maroc
09 Mawwâl Il Taghtiya 2:55 Musique Savante De Féz / Maroc
10 Inshâd Baytayn Taghtiya I 2:43 Musique Savante De Féz / Maroc
11 El Inshâd Baytayn Il Taghtiya II 2:25 Musique Savante De Féz / Maroc
12 Mawwâl 2:29 Musique Savante De Féz / Maroc

The Moroccan Ensemble of Umar Faid al Juaydi (1873-1952)
that participated at the Cairo conference. 
The singer Muhammad al-Shuwayka (c 1890-1940) 
is the man with the rabab. Originating from Meknes
he also sang in the Fes tradition. There are only six tracks in 
this set but I will post a record with twenty tracks of this group later. 

13 Istiftâh & Musaddar 4:27 Musique Citadine De Tunis / Tunisie
14 Abyât & Batâ'ihî 7:02 Musique Citadine De Tunis / Tunisie
15 Qasîda 3:01 Musique Citadine De Tunis / Tunisie
16 Muwashshah & Zajal 3:22 Musique Citadine De Tunis / Tunisie
17 Chant De Circoncision 2:43 Musique Citadine De Tunis / Tunisie
18 Danse De La Ghayta 2:52 Musique Citadine De Tunis / Tunisie

Disc 2 total time: 70:13

The Tunisian ensemble of Muhammad Ghanim (c 1880-1940)

Arabic front


There is some duplication on other releases with reissued material from this conference but I stronlgy recommend you to get this volume as well because of the very informative and nice accompanying trilingual (french, english and arabic) 200+ pages volume:
«Congres du Caire 1932 - La Musique Arabe Savante & Populaire» Paris.

After a preparation period from 15-27 March the conference on Arabic Music 
was held in Cairo from the 28th of March - 3'rd of April. 
As can be seen from the picture above, there were many illustrious participants.
One of the driving forces behind the Conference, held under the auspices of 
King Fouad 1 of Egypt,was baron Rodolph d'Erlanger, who in the end was unable to attend 
due to illness that was to take his life a few months afterwards.
Some of the participants and organisers were composers Bela Bartok, 
Paul Hindemith, Aloïs Haba, Henri Rabaud, music critic Emile Vuillermoz, 
musicologists Erich Morris von Hornbostel, Robert Lachmann, Curt Sachs, Egon Weilesz, 
and orientalists baron Carra de Veaux, Padre Xavier Colangettes, Henry George Farmer, 
Alexis Chottin,
In the picture above you can also find one (maybe two) 
of the few female participants.

For the rest of republished recordings from the conference known to me see this list. I will, in due time, post all those remaining volumes here as well. If you have information about any other reissues than the ones mentioned in the list please let me know. When done with the above I will also attempt to post some related material.

I will also add a bibliography and try to list all the recordings at a later date.
Anyhow more will come in due time.

Again, I have kept you waiting for what should have been a complete post.

My sincere apologies!

I am really truly sorry, this post went out of the house before it was ready! Again I was overly enthusiastic about the free time I might get on my hands but also again was overwhelmed by my workload to the point that I forgot that I had set a publishing date for this post that turned out to be premature! I had the best intention, I assure you, to supply links to all the music files and the accompanying book in pdf and to provide a lot more information to the post! I finally got it done this weekend. I hope you don't mind that I did not delete the post since a few kind people had already commented on it! Again, please excuse the once again prolonged wait. 

Now all the files are also here below! The optimized pdf will be here later but all the scans for the record in high resolution are already here! 

The scans is probably what always takes the longest time to prepare for most of the posts.

Anyhow here they are in a rather unnecessary high quality considering the original 78 rpm.
So also the non-lossy files are included should you prefer to make single channel mono in another tighter bitrate. All the documentation is included in each file below so the files are rather big. 
Maybe I should have separate files for the documentation only. 
Leave a comment if you have any problems with them,

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Music from Yemen Arabia • Samar

Music from Yemen Arabia 
• Samar
Lyrichord - LLST 7284

Side A

A1 Leish Teguig 5'20
A2 Al Sabah 6'55
A3 Keef Faish 11'15

Side B

B1 A'Zaffer 21'30

Hassan al Zabeede, ud - track A1, A3
Salim Ibrahim, derbooga - track A1, A3

In the evening, Yemeni friends gather to talk, listen to music, smoke tobacco, chew the narcotic leaf quat and drink scented water and ginger spiced coffee. They call this time Samar, the “delicious time”, “luxury time”, “the time when happiness becomes longer”.
North Yemen lies in the southwest corner of the Arabian peninsula facing the Red Sea. Apart from the humid coastal plain called the Tihama, it is a mountainous country with plateaux ranging from 4,000 to 9,000 feet. About ninety percent of the population are agriculturalists growing coffee, the narcotic quat, grain, fruit, and vegetables. Mountain Yemen was the site of the ancient civilizations of the Minaeans, Sabaeans, and Himyarites. The Queen of Sheba or Saba came from Yemen. Yemen adopted the Islamic religion in the 7th century AD. In the north there are the Zeidi Shia-Muslims, and in the south and the Tihama the Shafei Sunni-Muslims. North Yemeni society is almost entirely tribal and many of the wealthiest and most powerful men in the country are tribal leaders.

Mohammed al Kawkabani, qanun - track A3, B1
Saad al Kawkabani, ud - track A3, B1

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Friday, July 1, 2011

Music from Yemen Arabia • Sanaani - Laheji - Adeni

 Music from Yemen Arabia
• Sanaani - Laheji - Adeni
Recordings from 1973 by Ragnar Johnson
Lyrichord - LLST 7283

Side A

A1 You Said That You Would Forget Me 12'30
A2 Wa Seed Ana Lak Min Al Khodan 6'45
A3 Ana Mush Areemak 6'45

Side B

B1 Tabal Samar 7'40
B2 Wa Mogarred Bi Wadi Aldoore 6'50
B3 Ya Sabooh al Enab  10'25

Hassan al Zabeede, ud - track A3, B1
Salim Ibrahim, derbooga - track A3, B1

Mohammed al Kawkabani, qanun - track A1, A2, B2
Saad al Kawkabani, ud - track A1, A2, B2

These records from Yemen (the second will appear shortly) have really captured that very feeling of time standing still without any particular need to struggle forwards. It is confident in itself and needs neither progress nor improvement. I post these records to satisfy a long standing request by a very special friend and hope that they shall find their way to his and and all others sensitive ears. There is much information about the songs on both record sleeves and the text below is only a brief intro. I hope you enjoy!

North Yemen lies in the southwest corner of the Arabian peninsula facing the Red Sea. Apart from the humid coastal plain called the Tihama, it is a mountainous country with plateaux ranging from 4,000 to 9,000 feet. About ninety percent of the population are agriculturalists growing coffee, the narcotic quad, grain, fruit, and vegetables. Mountain Yemen was the site of the ancient civilizations of the Minaeans, Sabaeans, and Himyarites. The Queen of Sheba or Saba came from Yemen. Yemen adopted the Islamic religion in the 7th century AD. In the north there are the Zeidi Shia-Muslims, and in the south and the Tihama the Shafei Sunni-Muslims. North Yemeni society is almost entirely tribal and many of the wealthiest and most powerful men in the country are tribal leaders.

read more on the sleeve

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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Hugh Tracey - Musical Instruments - 7 - Guitars 2

Hugh Tracey - The Music of Africa Series
- Musical Instruments 7 - Guitars 2
Kaleidophone - KMA 7 - P.1972

Side A

A1 Manwani kufiki wanda - Ilunga Patrice & Misobma Victor (Luba-Hemba, Kolwezi, Katanga, Congo) 2'44
A2 Kanelo - Ilunga Patrice & Misobma Victor (Luba-Hemba, Kolwezi, Katanga, Congo) 3'02
A3 Guabi, guabi - George Sibanda (Ndebele, Bulawayo, Rhodesia 2'48
A4 Kissicha moto-moto - J.P. Oden (Swahili, Kidumu, Kenya) 2'31
A5 Maza kilio-e  - Jean Bosco Mwenda (Swahili, Jadotville, Katanga, Congo) 2'53
A6 Shia bantwana aosela lagavia - Nomuswiti Citaumvano and Uvakutsiwo (Xhosho-Mpondo, Lusikisiki, Pondoland, Cap, South Africa) 2'56

Side B

B1 Masenga wa Bena Nomba - Ngoi Nono, Kabonga Anastase and friends (Luba-Songe, Kabongo, Katanga, Congo) 4'31
B2 Katikalepake, katikatobeke (About to snap, about to break) - Isac Matafwana and Sunkutu (Bemba, Mufulka, Zambia) 3'01
B3 Mpenzi wangu umepotea mjini - Lang Obierto and a group of Luo men (Luo, Yala in Gem, near Kisumu, Kenya) 2'54
B4 Safari ya baraka - Ombiza Charles with his wife (Swahili-Ngwana, Kisangani, Congo) 2'55
B5 Masenga - Ilunga Patrice & Misomba Victor and friends (Luba-Hemba, Kolwezi, Katanga, Congo) 2'53
B6 Nahawandi (Udi solo) - Bom Ambaron (Swahili-Nguja, Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania) 2'47

Here is Guitar 2, to my knowledge the last of the Hugh Tracey series on Kaleidophone. I like these two volumes (the previous post and this one) very very much and they have gotten a lot of playtime over the years. To me much of this music seems very sweet and innocent and always puts me in a good mood. This is music for close by friends, played in a world where people are not full of pretence or deceitfulness. A lot of idealistic nonsense you say! Self deception! So what, I rather deceive myself that have other people doing it for me! Anyhow I will be posting many more records of African music, mostly field recordings and not always this sweet. Again, I hope you enjoy!

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Hugh Tracey - Musical Instruments - 6 - Guitars 1

Hugh Tracy - The Music of Africa Series
Musical Instruments 6 - Guitars 1
Kaleidophone - KMA 6 - P.1972

Side A

A1 Masanga - Jean Bosco Mwenda (Luba-Sanga, Jadotville, Katanga, Congo) 3'01
A2 Mama na mwana (Mother and child) - Jean Bosco Mwenda (Ngala, Jadotville, Katanga, Congo) 3'00
A3 Ayu welele wa Mhalaka (Alas for a bachelor) - Ngoi Noao, Kabongo Anastase, and friends (Luba-Songe, Kabongo, Katanga, Congo) 3'04
A4 Mama Josefina - Ilunga Patrice & Misomba Victor (Luba-Hemba, Kabinda, Kasai, Congo) 2'48
A5 Antoinette wa Kolwezi - Ilunga Patrice & Misoma Victor (Luba-Hemba, Kolwezi Copper Mine, Katanga, Congo) 3'07
A6 Muleka mwene ngole - Kaseba Anatole (Luba-Shankadi, Kolwezi Copper Mine, Katanga, Congo) 3'04

Side B

B1 Muleka Mwene Yombwe - Ngoi Nono, Kabongo Anastase, and friends (Luba-Songe, Kabongo, Katanga, Congo) 4'00
B2 Nyon anyona (Walk proudly) - Lang Obiero and Luo men (Luo, Yala in Gem, near Kisumu, Kenya) 3'03
B3 Pini ochama (I was without hope) - Lang Obiero and Luo men (Luo, Yala in Gem, near Kisumu, Kenya) 2'43
B4 Anagikafu ragitake - Deab Rizgala (Nubi, Mbale, Uganda) 2'38
B5 A Desayo - Morris Kalala and an Ngala girl (Ngala, Kinshasa Congo) 2'50
B6 Iuwale-o-Iuwale (Start, o start the song) - Mbasela Kunda & William Munyanda (Lala, Setenje, Zambia) 2'43

I promised this one long ago and finally I took some new better photos and made a new rip to go along with it. Gutar 2 will follow shortly Hope you enjoy.

Guitars 1

It is not certain when guitars were first imported into Central, Eastern, a Southern Africa. They are likely to have been introduced along the seaboard by Portuguese sailors and traders during the seventeenth century, and still earlier by Arabs down the east coast - where the typically Arabian instrument, the Ud (or lute) is still played today by those who claim part-Arab ancestry. The popularity of the guitar among African players became established with the development of industries and the consequent movement of large numbers of people into urban surroundings, away from the normal sources of supply for traditional instruments.

By 1950 the use of a guitar had become the hallmark of ‘town’ music, as opposed to the more familiar forms of country music; the songs for the most part being distant imitations of foreign material set to vernacular wads.

The ability of African musicians to master the instrument varies considerably in different parts of the continent. The majority of players in the south use only the thrumming styles, limited almost exclusively to a ground bass of the three common chords; while players in the Congo and in parts of East Africa have developed the more distinctive styles of contrapuntal playing. Most African players make constant use of a capotasto on the second, third, or fourth fret in order to avoid the greater fingering distances of the open strings.

The proliferation of factories producing simple and inexpensive guitars for the African market has brought the instrument into prominence during the last decade but has added little to innate musicality or to the craft of indigenous instrument making; the skill of the guitar players featured in this record is the exception rather than the rule.
from the original liner notes on the back sleeve by Hugh Tracey

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Omkarnath Thakur - Raga Lalit - In Concert

Omkarnath Thakur 
• Raga Lalit - In Concert
Music India - 2393950 - P.1983

Side A

A1 Raga Lalit - Raien Ka Sapna - Badha Khyal in Vilambit Ektaal

Panditji starts the Vilambit Khayal ‘Raien Ka Sapna’, unfolds the raga by aakapchari in the Poorvang and goes on to complete the Antra.

Side B

B1 Raga Lalit - Raien Ka Sapna - Badha Khyal in Vilambit Ektaal
B2 Raga Lalit - Piyu Piyu Ratat Papihara - Chhota Khyal in Teentaal

Panditji continues the Vilambit Khayal with the Upaj-ang and goes on to make varied Taan patterns. He concludes his exposition with the Chhota Khayal ‘Piyu Piyu Rotat Papihara’ where he shows the varied aspects of Shuddha Madhyam - the main Nyas-swara of Lalit.

Pandit Omkarnath Thakur  (1897 - 1967)

17 years ago, a musical giant left for the heavenly abode leaving behind a rich treasure of his work and research in the field of Hindustani Classical Music. ‘Sangeet Martand’, ‘Padmashree’, late Pandit Omkarnath Thakur occupies a position of rare eminence amongst the classical musicians of India.

His years of research on Maharishi Bharat's ‘Nat ya-Shastra’ along with a thorough study of varied systems prevalent in the North Indian as well as Carnatic music, led him to propound thought provoking theories and write volumes of authoritative books on the subject. A worthy disciple of a great scholar-musician Pandit Vishnu Digambar Paluskar, Omkarnathji made it his life's mission to propagate India's musical heritage amongst the classes and the masses alike.

Panditji was a musician with a difference. A strict disciplinarian, Panditji was known as much for his arrogance as for his musical genius. Keeping in tradition with the norms of the majestic gayaki of the Gwalior Gharana, Panditji evolved a style uniquely his own. His Regal Persona, his marvellous command over Sanskrit and Urdu alike, his thorough insight into every raga-exposition and his unique ability to communicate with his audience through his emotionally packed renditions left the listeners spellbound. His concerts were invariably reflective of his interpretation of the ‘Nav-Rasa’. In fact, he would often demonstrate different Rasas in the cheez (song) by singing one phrase in several other ways.

Not many of Panditji's works are available to the musical ear anymore. Music India has excavated a rare recording to share with aficionados of classical music. On the occasion of his 17th death anniversary, we pay our humble tribute to Panditji and take immense pride in releasing on this record his full rendition of Raga Lalit sung sometime during the early sixties. Opportunities to hear rare recordings of this nature are few to come by.

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Monday, June 27, 2011

Narendra Bataju • Sitar and Surbahar 1980

Les Sitar et Surbahar de Narandra Bataju
Disques Espérance - ESP 165532 - P.1980

Side A

A1 Raga Bhairagi Bhairau Alâp 18'50
A2 Composition - Chautâla 5'40

Side B

B1 Râga Madhuvanti - Alâp Suivi De 2 Gat Tintâlâ 26'43

Narendra Bataju, born in Katmandu, Nepal 1944

Narendra Bataju is a Surbahar and Sitar player from Nepal now living in Paris. Ravi Shankar was so impressed by his "natural talent, his sense of musical emotion and virtuosity as a sitar player" that he took him as a disciple.

Born in Kathmandu in 1944, and blind from birth, Narendra Bataju early interest in music strated from when he was about eight years. He began learning the sitar with a Master in Kathmandu where he was born. At ten, he sought to improve his knowledge at the Conservatory of Music Lucnow (India), where he studied with the masters Narayan Prassad Shrestra, Yussef Ali Khan and Khan Illias. Ten years later he leaves with a degree in Master and with his first Grand Prix and in 1964 the city of Delhi awarded him a second one.

He then taught his art at a college in Kathmandu, and gave regular concerts for the Nepalese royal family, as well as public concerts and radio broadcast. It was then that he also began teaching classes for many European and American students. In 1972, he decided to come to Europe to teach and moved to Paris where he has been since then, continuing to teach sitar and singing and giving performances throughout Europe. He has also made several records and CDs with his ensemble.
Edited from his website here

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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Pandit Omkarnath Thakur • Todi, Malkauns from 78 rpm plates

Pandit Omkarnath Thakur 
• Raga Todi — Raga Malkauns. 
EMI Columbia - 33ECX 3252 - P.1964

Side A

Raga Todi

A1a Kadam Ki Chhaya -pt 1 - (Desi Todi)
A1b Kadam Ki Chhaya -pt 2 - (Desi Todi)
A2a Garwa Mai Sang -pt 1 - (Todi)
A2b Garwa Mai Sang -pt 2 - (Todi)
A3 Mitwa Balamua Ja (Nilambari)
A4 Mai Kanth Mora - (Sughrai)

Side B

Raga Malkauns

B1a Pir na jani -pt 1 - (Malkauns-Vilampat)
B1b Pir na jani -pt 2 - (Malkauns-Vilampat)
B2a Pag Ghungru Baandh -pt 1 - (Malkauns)
B2b Pag Ghungru Baandh -pt 2 - (Malkauns)

Here is another great album with early 78 rpm "plates" of Omkarnath Thakur. This was first released in 1934-35 (Todi, Nilambari, Sughrai), 1940-41 (Todi) and 1948 (Malkauns) and reissued on this LP in 1964. I hope you enjoy! More to read in my previous post. There is no information except for the tracklist on the backside of the sleeve.

Omkarnath Thakur  (1897 - 1967) 

Pandit Omkarnath Thakur was a maestro whose music baffled hardboiled listeners even while he held his lay audiences spell-bound. I have nostalgic memories of his monumental voice, with its amazingly wide tonal range, depth and volume, all of which seemed to blend perfectly with the dignity of his bearing. With four tanpuras to back him and two accompanists to lend him sangat, one would be tempted to liken the ensemble to the saptarishi constellation.

A large segment of cognoscenti found something elusive about Panditji's music. He was a gate crasher to some, and a romanticist to others. Still others thought him to be an iconoclast, or an avant grade vocalist. The fact is that he was all these put together, and that is what compelled attention from his admirers as well as critics.
Private collection of Mohan D. Nadkarni/Kamat's Potpourri
Omkarnath Thakur in concert
Notice the absence of harmonium and the august presence of Sarangi

Panditji himself, steeped in the old shastras, vehemently claimed that he was orthodox in his vocalism. Even while he firmly believed in the miracles and mysteries of music, he chose to evolve a style of his own which embodied even flourishes like shakes and tremolos features of western music. His use of his devices, he asserted had the full sanction of the Indian tradition. To prove his point, he would proceed to quote chapter and verse from the shastras right in the midst of his performance!

Memories of my meetings with him, first in 1948 and then a decade later, come crowding to my mind as I write these lines. He advocated two contrary approaches to raga music during these meeting. Baffled by his advocacy of both the concepts at the two encounters with him, I cautiously requested him to dispel my gnawing doubts. The maestro was visibly rattled and shouted at me to go away, branding the whole fraternity of newspaper men (including, of course, music critics) as “nindaks” (detractors). Yet, while he shunned publicity, he maintained a love-hate relationship with the press.

Pandit Omkarnathji's rise to fame was dramatic. His forbears were military men, but he was born in penury in far-off Gujarat village and orphaned at 14. He earned his living first as a cook and then as a mill-worker. The vicissitudes of life hardly dampened his energy, and his burning passion for music asserted itself in many ways. He tried to learn music from people as diverse as street-singers and temple musicians, till a wealthy, music-loving Parsi gentleman, Seth Doongajee, discerned his musicianly potential and placed him under the tutelege of Pandit Vishnu Digambar Paluskar.

It is difficult to say who among the old maestros besides Pandit Paluskar himself - influenced his music most. In reply to my question, he told me that he was initially influenced by two "eccentric musicians"-- Karim Baksh, a musician from Kashmir, and Rehmat Khan, a luminary of his own Gwalior gharana. But Panditji acknowledged Vishnu Digambar as his foremost guru.

Both at home and abroad, public recognition came naturally to him in profusion before and after independence. He was possibly the only Indian musician who had gone to the west as far back as the early thirties, and won plaudits in international soirees in several world capitals. Believe it or not, he had announced his retirement from active musical life more than once and, that too, for political reasons! During the freedom struggle, his “Vande Mataram” was integral part of the annual sessions of the Indian National Congress. In this, he followed in the wake of his mentor.

Panditji reportedly trained a large number of students in vocal music, besides writing authoritative books on musicology and aesthetics. It would seem that he did not care to groom shishyas worthy of him. The only exception is that of the South Indian exponent of Hindustani music, violinist N. Rajam, whom he groomed as a ganda-bandh shagird.

by Mohan Nadkarni
First Published in: The Times of India, 

Bombay Edition, on December 27, 1992

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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Omkarnath Thakur • Desi-Todi, Bhajans - 1971

Pandit Omkarnath Thakur
• Sangeet Martand, Desi-Todi, Bhajans
EMI Columbia - 33 ECX.3301 - P.1971

Side A

A1 Mare Dere Ajo - Desi Todi 17'24.aif

Side B

B1 Main Nahin Makhan Khajo - Bhajan (Surdas)  20'48

Here is a very good record by a remarkable artist who I appreciate very much. I have only a few more records by him that I will post shortly. Look out in the following days for at least two more recordings with him! Hope you enjoy

Omkarnath Thakur (1897–1967) 

Omkarnath Thakur was an Indian educator, musicologist, and Hindustani classical singer. He is famously known as "Pranav Rang", his pen-name.
Thakur was born 1897 in a village in the Princely State of Baroda into a poor military family. The family moved to Bharuch in 1900 and in circa 1909 Thakur and his younger brother began to train in Hindustani classical music in the Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, a music school, under classical singer Vishnu Digambar Paluskar. Thakur and his brother were sponsored by a wealthy Parsi and Thakur became an accomplished singer in the style of the Gwalior gharana.

Thakur was made the principal of a Lahore music school of Paluskar's Gandharva Mahavidyalaya in 1916, became acquainted with the Patiala gharana, and started his own music school in 1919. During the 1920s Thakur worked for the non-cooperation movement of Mahatma Gandhi on a local level and in the 1933 became one of the first Indian musicians to perform in Europe, which included a private concert for Benito Mussolini. Thakur's wife Indira Devi died the same year and he began to concentrate exclusively on music.
Thakur's work as a performer and musicologist led to the creation of a music college at Banaras Hindu University that emphasized both and he wrote books on Indian classical music and its history. Thakur's work is criticized in contemporary music literature as ignorant of the contribution of Muslim musicians, which he blamed for deteriorating classical music. Thakur performed in Europe until 1954 and received the Padma Shri in 1955 and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1963. He retired in 1963 and was awarded honorary doctorates from Banaras Hindu University in 1963 and Rabindra Bharati University in 1964.

snipped from the Wikipedia here

It is now four years since the sweet roar of the giant amongst vocalists of Indian classical music was stilled forever. Those who had the good fortune to listen to him in person will forever remember his Regal Personality and his inimitable style. Disciple of Late Pandit Vishnu Digambar Paluskar, his profound knowledge and scholarship won him high praise and tributes not only in India but even in foreign countries. He, like his great Guru, catered classical music to masses. While performing, he poured his very personality in his exposition, thereby transferring his emotionally packed rendering on to the listeners, and holding them spellbound in a celestial trance. Lovers and followers of his music are spread far and wide. On this disc is presented a very rare and scintillating performance of the great maestro.

In bringing out this number on the solemn occasion of his 4th death anniversary, we pay our humble homage to his great memory and hope connoisseurs will listen to the performance with nostalgia.

Side I - Desi—Todi

This is a morning melody and it has a mood of fervent appeal. The burden of the composition 'Mare Dere Aao' - 'Please, come to my abode' — an invocation by a beloved to her lover-sets the artiste in the proper frame of mind-of entreaty-appeal — and he goes on weaving the melody into diverse and attractive musical patterns. While doing so he scrupulously conforms to the traditional norms of exposition of a Raga. The rhythm employed is Ek Taal - consisting of 12 beats.

Side II - Main Nahin Makhan Khayo

This is the Piece De Resistance. It narrates a story — an episode in the colourful life of Lord Krishna in his childhood. He is accused by the milkmaids of Brindaban of stealing their butter. Caught red handed, his chubby face smeared with the loot, the culprit boy is taken to his mother by the offended milkmaids. A court of enquiry is held. The presiding judge is Yashoda — the divine mother of Shrikrishna — the accused.

The dramatic trial opens — with the denial of the charge by the accused ‘Maiyya-Main Nahin Makhan Khayo’— He did not have any legal luminary to represent him — so he decides to defend himself. His defence is presented on this skie in a musical form by the maestro in such a convincing manner that, towards the close, Shri Krishna is acquitted honourably and absolved of all the charges levelled against him.

This entire drama is musically enacted by the maestro with a virtuosity which he alone was capable of.

Repertoire By Courtesy: Vijay V Porecha.
quoted from the backside of the record sleeve

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