If I am to speak about the All Bengal Music Conference of December, 1934, then I have to speak about the Allahabad Music Conference and the competition. Otherwise I won’t be able to make the connection. In 1931, Allahabad University organised a music conference and competition. One of the founders was Dakkhsinaranjan Bhattacharya – the Head of the Department of Zoology. He was aided by his friend and colleague Thakur Jaidev Singh – a professor at the Kanpur Government College, and Nani Motilal. Nani babu actually hails from Kolkata. He used to live near Bowbazar. He later shifted to Benares. He was a patron of music and an amateur sitar player. Many performers have graced his home in Benares. So, all these people were in-charge of the conference.
In 1933, Nani babu said to Hiru babu that Dakkhsinaranjan babu has invited him there to perform. Nani babu and Hiru babu were friends of my father’s. Hiru babu was like a guardian. At that time Dakkhsinaranjan babu had come and he had heard Hiru babu play. Hiru babu’s name was Hirendranath Gangopadhyay, but he was better-known and famous as Hiru Ganguly. So, he heard Hiru babu play and invited him to perform. Inayat Khan, the father of Vilayet Khan, also went. They were accompanied by the singer Ramkrishna Mishra. The three of them were supposed to perform together. Then Dakkhsinaranjan babu said, “We also hold a competition there, so you can take one of your students if you so wish.”
Phulu Mukherjee participated in the competition as Hiru babu’s student. Many students of Girija babu had participated in the competition – Jamini Gangopadhyay, Rathin Chattopadhyay, Shailen Bandopadhyay, Shantilata Bandopadhyay, Kripa Bandopadhyay, among others. And all of them were awarded either first or second place in their respective categories. And there was a tradition there that the guru with the maximum number of awarded disciples would win a cup. Girija Shankar Chakraborty won the cup that year in absentia. (UNCLEAR) So after these events, Dakkhsinaranjan babu said, “The university doesn’t give us a lot of money to organise this event. Organising a conference and a competition is quite expensive. There are many…”
– Which university is this?
Allahabad University. So…”it is very expensive. There are so many rich people in Kolkata, and music-lovers, so if some money could be arranged then it would be very helpful.” Hiru babu then invited Dakkhsinaranjan babu to his place and the latter accepted the invitation and arrived in June-July. He was taken to Bhupen Ghosh’s residence in Pathuriaghata. Bhupen Ghosh was a patron of music and many musicians would come and stay at his home. Vishnu Digambar Paluskar had stayed there for many days. Our Gyan babu – Gyan Gosai – also lived there for some time. Anyway, Dakksinaranjan babu was taken there. Present there were Pramathesh Barua’s father Rajah Prabhat Barua, Prafulla Thakur, Damodar Das, and Dhirendrakanta Lahiri Choudhury.
So when Dakkhsinaranjan babu explained the financial situation to Bhupen babu and expressed their hope of sponsorship to organise a good conference, everyone agreed readily. In that day and age, everyone present donated Rs.250/- and Bhupen babu donated Rs.500/-. They were all invited. Not everyone could make it, but Bhupen babu had gone to the programme. Others who went to the programme by invitation include Vismadev Chattopadhyay, Krishnachandra Dey, Shachindas Matulal, Anath Basu. When Bhupen babu went there, he saw that the famous musicians of India had come there to perform. The likes of Abdul Karim Khan sahib, Faiaz Khan sahib, Bhai Paramananda, Kriparam, Ahmed Jaan Thirakuya were performing there. A lot of reverence was shown for the artistes from Bengal. When he saw this he thought, “Why can’t we do something similar in Kolkata? Why can’t this happen in Bengal?” With this thought in his head, he returned. The Allahabad Music Conference was held at the time of Kali puja.
– In 1934?
Yes, in 1934. He managed to organise the programme within two months, and the conference was scheduled to be held in December. He wanted Hiru babu to be a member of the committe because he was educated. I received a lot of authentic news from him when I interviewed him.
A. Throughout this recording Jyoti Goho has addressed Pandit Bhimsen Joshi as Panditji. B. The incident happened after 15 days of ITC-SRA Music Program in memory of Ustd. Nisar Hussain Khan in 1994. – Editor