Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavatar

  • Published By: The Sruti Foundation
  • Issue: 243

Special Feature
Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavatar

The year 1927 is noteworthy for two developments in the history of Carnatic music. The first was the decision to establish a Music Academy in Madras. The second was the beginning of the Anti Nautch movement. The All India Congress Session was held in Madras and as was the usual practice in north India, a music conference was to be held in conjunction with it. This was a tremendous success. A whole host of musicians participated though Bhagavatar did not. On 22 January 1928, a resolution was passed that "an Academy of Music be started at Madras". Events moved swiftly after that and on 18th August 1928, Sir C.P. Ramaswami Iyer formally inaugurated the Music Academy at the YMCA Buildings, Esplanade. The first conference was held in the Easter week of 1929.

Bhagavatar, according to T.V. Subba Rao [Studies in Indian Music, Asia Publishing House, 1962), "watched the progress of the institution from without" for the first two years of its life. Presumably he meant 1927 and 28, for Bhagavatar attended the first conference in 1929 and became one of the leading lights of the Academy from that year onwards. In the words of Subba Rao, "firmly convinced that its one aim was to promote the very cause that was so dear to him, he became a loyal supporter. It is said his attachment to the Academy was so intense and his loyalty to it so stern that he could never think of participating in the work of other institutions. In the work of the Academy I have had the good fortune to enjoy his confidence as few others have and I can say with authority that his unbounded affection for the Academy remains unsurpassed among the professional musicians."