Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Music hall

That's not really a fitting description of this building currently. But when it was opened in 1953, it was meant to be the premier hall for music concerts. The Music Academy was more a wandering minstrel rather than a court musician in those days, the inauguration of its permanent home almost a decade away. In the meantime, Raja Muthiah Chettiar was consolidating the musical legacy of his father, Raja Sir Annamalai Chettiar; a legacy that was based on bringing Tamizh music to the level of the Carnatic stage. The Raja was passionate about it, and had even started a college for Tamizh music as far back as 1929.

In 1943, he founded the Tamil Isai Sangam; given that his house was farther to the south, it might today seem somewhat surprising that the 62-year old Raja chose to base his Sangam in the Esplanade area. But in those days, there were still enough lovers of classical music in George Town and further north. Plus, the concentration of Carnatic music fans in the south of the city might have prompted the Raja to get as far away from them as possible. In 1953, when this building was inaugurated, it became the headquarters of the Tamil Isai Sangam.

Raja Annamalai Mandram, as this builiding was named, is but one of the several reminders of the enormous influence of a giant of Madras. It is a pity this building does not get its share of public mindspace as a temple of music!


LVISS said...

We had many halls when plays were a craze with people.

Shantaram said...

@ lviss: There still are several around, but with lesser seats, I guess.