Treasures from the Past

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Chidanand Nagarkar

Born in 1919 in Bangalore, Chidanand Nagarkar, began his training in music under Shri Govind Vithal Bhave. At a very young age he moved to Lucknow to pursue his chosen path under the guidance of Pandit S. N. Ratanjankar at the Marris College of Music, now known as Bhatkhande Vidya Peeth. A brilliant musician, Chidanand grew to become one of the foremost disciples of Pt. Ratanjankar and gained a wide repertoire that included Dhrupad, Dhamar, Khayal, tappa and thumri. He was known for his fast-paced concerts, wherein he combined his thorough training with a supremely confident, flashy style. He was a man of the world, able to mingle with the mighty on easy terms.

His assignment as Principal of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan`s school of music in Bombay in 1946 was initially to get the operation functional and self-supporting, and eventually to shape it into a musical institution of lasting impact. When K G Ginde arrived there in the summer of 1951, Nagarkar had started to assemble a faculty which a few years later would include S. C. R. Bhat, C. R. Vyas, Alla Rakha, H. Taranath Rao. Brilliant as he was mercurial, this institution grew to be a centre of musical activity in Mumbai during the 25 years of his leadership.

Although his highly creative and expressive music was often reminiscent of Ustad Faiyaz Khan, it had an unmistakable stamp of his own distinctive individuality. Combining his thorough training with a supremely confident and flashy style, he developed an uncanny blend of classical restraint and emotional freedom.

The multi-faceted Nagarkar, apart from being a vocalist par excellence, also played the harmonium and the tabla with practiced ease. He had taken lessons in Kathak dance from Pandit Shambhu Maharaj, one of the foremost Kathak exponents of his time. As a composer he left behind a treasure of Ragas like Kaishiki Ranjani and Bhairav Naat (now popular as Nat Bhairav) and popular bandishes.

Chidanand Nagarkar died in May 1971.