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Classical in the city

The guard at the gate of Gandharva Mahavidyalaya practises his bols before rushing off for a tabla lesson. Such is the pull of music at this 70-year-old institution that even he didn’t let the chance of learning music pass him by.

Written by Suanshu Khurana |
April 5, 2009 3:21:00 am

As the Gandharva Mahavidyalaya celebrates 70 years,its principal Madhup Maudgalya traces the institute’s musical legacy

The guard at the gate of Gandharva Mahavidyalaya practises his bols before rushing off for a tabla lesson. Such is the pull of music at this 70-year-old institution that even he didn’t let the chance of learning music pass him by.

“I have been working here for five years. You can’t be untouched by swar and laya at a place where music is worshipped,” says Ashok Mishra.

The institute has taught many in the city—well-known students include Shubha Mudgal and Kailash Kher. Set up by Vinaya Chandra Maudgalya in 1939 with a shoestring budget,the Gandharva Mahavidyalaya has been much more than just a centre of learning. From the time when Maudgalya,fondly called Bhaiji,went around town on his bicycle urging parents to send their children,especially girls,to learn classical music,to turning away 3,000 applications every year now because of lack of seats,the institution has come a long way. But Maudgalya’s son,vocalist Madhup Maudgalya who is at present the principal of the institute,says there’s a lot to be done still. “There is a lot more to do. My father was driven by an ambition that was much more than that of just promoting classical music. People did not consider learning music respectable enough,especially in Delhi,which was a cultural desert as far as music was concerned. His work changed all that,” says Maudgalya.

The vidyalaya was set up to commemorate the doyen of Hindustani classical music,Pt Vishnu Digambar Paluskar,and to popularise Indian classical music among the people.

The school,he adds,initially ran out of their home in Connaught Place. In 1974 the government granted them some land and a Mumbai industrialist gave them Rs 3 lakh and the institute shifted to its present address. “Musicians were generous in giving financial assistance. For instance,vocalist Siddheswari Devi contributed Rs 500 at that time. Each student paid 50 paise for the building fund,” says Maudgalya.

The school now charges students Rs 500 a month. “Children from all walks of life are a part of the institution. You can find a bureaucrat’s child learning alongside an auto rickshaw driver’s child,” says Maudgalya.

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan held a sarod concert here when he was just 12 and sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar has performed here on several occasions. Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma and Pandit Jasraj have also given their first major recitals here. “There is hardly a name on the Hindustani music firmament that has not performed here since artistes see the jayanti as a chance to pay homage to Vishnu Digambar Paluskar,the maverick musician who rendered the original Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram,” says Maudgalya.

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