Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The patriarch

Founded in 1928, The Music Academy was conceptualized as an institution to promote the study, practice and performance of Carnatic music around the area of its birth. The idea arose at the All India Music Conference of 1927. Now the All India Music Conference itself began as a sideshow of the Indian National Congress' annual sessions, so when it was Chennai's turn to host the Congress session, S.Sathyamurthy wanted the Music Conference also to be conducted with it. At the end of the Conference, one of the resolutions that were passed was a request to "organise a Music Academy in Madras for the purpose of improving and encouraging Indian Music and to consider the various problems concerning the theory and practice of Indian Music". Probably this was the influence of a paper presented by Mr. Ramachandran, titled "The Need for an Academy of Music".

Formally, The Music Academy came into being on August 18, 1928, when it was inaugurated by CP Ramaswamy Aiyer. Dr. U.Rama Rau was its Founder-President and so, the office of the Academy began functioning out of his dispensary at 323, Thambu Chetty Street. Mandated to hold annual music conferences and other music conferences whenever convenient, the newly formed academy always struggled to find suitable venues. The first few conferences (annual or otherwise) were held at various parts of Chennai: behind the Ripon Building; at 'Funnels', on General Patters Road, at Woodlands, Royapettah, at the University's Senate House and even at Dr. Rama Rau's dispensary. Tired of such itinerant conferences, TT Krishnamachari and Kasturi Srinivasan worked hard to come up with this permanent complex for the Academy, and are remembered through the names of the auditoria in the complex.

Somewhat surprisingly, it took seven years fom the time the foundation stone was laid by Jawaharlal Nehru to the day when Sri Jayachamaraja Wodeyar declared it open. Thankfully, the time taken seems to have been worth it!

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