-yes, he used to play, he was a renowned Pakhawaj player he used to accompany with Dhrupad. There was also Subodh Chandra of Janai, who had the nickname of Kebol Babu. I can’t remember now whether he was called Subodh Bannerjee or Subodh Mukherjee.yes, Subidh Chandra Mukherjee, he also used to play Pakhawaj.
It was in this very house where Durlabh Babu died in?
Yes, He died while he was playing the instrument. The condition was perhaps called Apoplexy. He got a cerebral stroke while playing the instrument- when suddenly his fingers had become still. He was most probably playing by the side of Dhrupadiya ,Mahim Mukherjee. When he was sick that day, he was brought here to lie down. He couldn’t be taken to a hospital for treatment even. He was treated for three or four days at this home. He drew his last breath after the third day and he died here.
When did it happen? During fifties?
No, this happened way before the fifties. I have with me the biography of Durlabh Bhattacharya, which had come out in a magazine. The magazine itself dated back to 1939, so we can naturally induce that he died in the 1930s. In either 1938 or 39, some newspaper had printed a special edition on his life and his biography was in that newspaper. His grandson is still alive, Chanchal Bhattacharya.
A lot of people used to come to Radhikaprasad to take music lessons. For example, there was Girija Shankar Chakraborti, Yogendranath Bannerjee who was a famous Dhrupad singer, Amarnath Mukhopadhyay who too was a Dhrupad singer. I have seen him in person and have also heard him sing. There was also Mohini Mohan Mishra, father of Nirmala Mishra, who used to be frequent at our house. He used to play the Veena. Have you ever seen a Veena? How could you even… But you must know Nirmala Mishra? I had met her just a few years back. I knew Mohini Mohan to be a very irate person, though he always interacted with us in a friendly manner. So I asked him once, whether his father was a man of temper, and he replied in affirmative to it. His older brother, Murari Mohan Mishra, who died very young, also was a brilliant singer. It was after him, that the Murari Sangeet Sammelan would be held in this very house. Here, we used to have a picture of him, and unfortunately I have no clue now about where it is now.
Once, Nirmala Mishra said to me that there is a picture of her brother, and she wished to see it.
I wasn’t aware that the picture had already been destroyed by then, and I said, “Yes. But don’t you too have a picture of him at your place?”
“No, actually I have never met my own brother and have never come across a picture of him even. No, there is no picture of him at our house.”
In shock, I said, “What! He was your own brother, and you don’t have a picture of him at your household?”
I could not show her the picture, though I remembered that I had seen the picture. He used to sing really well. He died so young, and in his memory, the Murari Sangeet Sammelan continued, which I too have attended. Later, it was reduced to a very private program. But I have heard, that when it had started, renowned artists of Kolkata also used to come to the Murari Sangeet Sammelan.
Someone by the name of Nalin Chandra Malakar had come with Pandit Jnanendra Prasad Goswami. I have met him a lot of times. He lived a long life too. In the decade of the 1980s, he died. He used to come almost every day.
Whatever incidents happened here, he was a witness to everything. He used to sing, and was a disciple of Pandit Jnanendra Prasad Goswami. He also served his Guru, as was the rule of those days. He used to live in this house with Pandit Jnanendra Prasad Goswami and his wife Radhika Prasad Goswami and also serve them.
Radhika Prasad Goswami brought his nephew Janendra Prasad Goswami in this house. Rabindranath Tagore came to this house often, stayed here and sometimes put tunes to his lyrics. He was very respectful of Radhika Prasad. Later he took him to Shantiniketan with him. But Janendra Prasad Goswami remained here after his uncle left for Shantiniketan. Earlier Radhika Prasad Goswami lived in Raja Manindra Chandra Nandi’s house in Kashimbazar. Before that I don’t remember the name of his residence. But he took his nephew from Bankura and returned here to live.
On 9th December 1934 All Bengal Music Conference started. Ustad Alauddin Khan came with his Maihar Band. There was also Pandit Timirbaran and Faiaz Khan perhaps. I couldn’t remember whether Pandit Omkarnath Thakur came that year or not but the inaugural song was Vandemataram. In later years whenever the conference started the inaugural song was sung by Pandit Omkarnath Thakur. The full song was sung by him and there was a CD of his voice singing the full song. Now the part of it is regarded as the National Song. Later when he could not come or sing his disciple Bijanbala Ghosh Dastidar would sing the song. She had a sweet voice and she sang kheyal.
Afterwards Pandit Binayak Rao Patbardhan sang the inaugural song. Binayak Rao stayed in this house many times. Anyway, it was a tradition to sing Vandemataram as inaugural song in the conference and someone had to sing it. I couldn’t remember all their names. But it was a tradition to start the programme with Vandemataram.
The programme always started with Dhrupad. There were many great Dhrupad singers then. Ustad Nasiruddin Khan sang once, I remember. Ustad Abdul Karim Khan came just before the year he passed away. He departed this life in 1937, so it must be in 1936 that he came. He was invited the next year but unfortunately, he passed away. This was his sole visit to Calcutta.
Nasiruddin Khan was the father of great Dagar brothers Ustad Mainuddin Khan and Ustad Aminuddin Khan. He was himself a great Dhrupad singer. But he also performed just once because he passed away after that. Alladia Khan Saheb came here to perform once. He was very old then. It was common gossip that he was almost a centenarian then. The organizers who invited him was in constant fear whether they could send him back to his place safe and sound. I heard it from Bhupendra krishna. I didn’t know how he performed at his age. But he was a great musician. He was the Guru of Moghubai and Kishori Amonkar’s mother’s. Moghubai sang here but not Kishori Amonkar. I don’t remember the year when Moghubai performed. Alladia Khan Saheb, Nasiruddin Khan Saheb and Abdul Karim Khan Saheb all visited and sang only once in the music conference.
Pt. Santosh Banerjee’s Residence , Kali Temple Road, Kolkata
About the speaker
Renowned Sitar Player, Formerly a Member of Faculty at the Department of Instrumental Music, Rabindra Bharati University. One of the prime disciples of Ustad Dabir Khan.
Dabir Khan, Rampur Sahaswan Gharana, Wazir Khan, Allauddin Khan, Mustaque Hussain Khan, Rampur, Kolkata, 1935, Kesto Babu, Krisna Chandra Dey, Jorasnako Rajbari, Bardhwan Rajbari, Sagir Khan, Rippon Street
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.
Note:- In this recording Jyoti Goho has referred to his Guru Pandit A.T.Kanan as Guruji. Here he has also mentioned A.N.Haksar (Ajit Narain Haksar) as a Director of ITC Sangeet Research Academy. Actually Mr. A.N. Haksar was the Chairman of ITC Sangeet Research Academy – Editor