Founded By

The Marris College of Hindustani Music, Lucknow was established in July 1926. Originally, it was knows as the All India College of Hindustani Music and the name of Hindustani Music and the name of Sir William Marris was associated with it about six months later.

Efforts for the establishment of the College date back to the year 1917 when the scheme of establishing a school of Indian Music at Lucknow was presented by Rai Uma nath bali to the 2nd All-India Music Conference held at Delhi under the president ship of late His Highness the Nawab of Rampur, who supported the scheme, but unfortunately it did not find the favour of late Pandit Vishnu Narain Bhatkhande and late Raja Nawab Ali Khan, the two veteran leaders of Music in Northern India, as they were then busy establishing an All-India Academy of Hindustani Music at Delhi, the capital city of India.

Efforts were made again by Rai Uma Nath Bali at the 3rd All-India Music Conference at Banaras in 1918 to gain the favour of the two leaders but in vain as they were even then hopeful of establishing the Central Academy of Music at Delhi. Not only could the Academy not be established at Delhi, the All-India Music Conference could also not be held till 1924, though efforts were made to hold the conference at Bhagalpur, Patna, Calcutta and Indore. Rai Uma Nath Bali extended the invitation to hold the fourth All-India Music Conference at Lucknow in 1919 at the Banaras Conference but it was not accepted and the invitation of Bhagalpur was accepted.

Aggrieved and disappointed Rai Uma Nath Bali ventured to edit and publish a monthly magazine of Indian Music to popularize classical music and push through his scheme of establishing a school and started one in Hindi in 1919 by the name of Sangit Sudha which toiled for its existence for about a year with only 5 issues being published. This magazine also did not get the support of the two veteran leaders and its publication had to be stopped.

An Experiment

In 1920 Rai Uma Nath Bali ventured to make yet another experiment by undertaking a tour of India to enlist support for his scheme of establishing a college of music. He visited Gwalior, jaipur, Ajmer, Bharatpur, Alwar, Rewa, Dholpur, Rampur, Mathura, Bombay, Hyderabad, Patna, Calcutta, Delhi etc. and met Maharajas, Rajas and music-lovers as also musicians.

The encouragement and support he got on the tour were much to his satisfaction. In Bombay he visited Pandit Bhatkhandeji and had long conversations with him. Bhatkhandeji was rather disappointed at the slow progress of the scheme for an Academy at Delhi and at personal and petty quarrels among music-lovers which made it impossible to hold music conferences at Bahagalpur and patna and Indore, etc. He promised to visit Rai Uma nath Bali Daryabad on his way back from Banaras where he was to go the invitation of Shri Malaviyaji to organize music classes at the Hindu University, Banaras.

Pandit Bhatkhande visited Rai Uma Nath Bali in November, 1922, and stayed for full one month with him. He revised his scheme and drew up the curriculum of the College of Music. He agreed with Rai Uma nath Bali’s suggestion to hold the 4th All-India Music Conference at Lucknow and to pass a resolution establishing a music college. He invited Rai Uma Nath Bali to attend a meeting to the standing committee of the All-India Music Conference at Delhi on December 18, 1922 and there secured the permission to hold the 4th All-India Music Conference at Lucknow. The 4th All-India Music conference was, therefore held at Lucknow in December 1924 with great pomp and grandeur in which the representatives of almost all the Gharanas of musicians of Northern India participated. The conference that the resolution establishing an All-India College of Music was passed and secondly Bhatkhandeji was able to get the agreed consent of the assembled musicians for standardizing his theory of ‘thats’ and notes used in the rags of Northern India.

Mistakes Removed

To remove some technical mistakes in the resolution, the 5th All-India Music Conference had also to be convened at Lucknow in January 1926 and the College was established in 1926. the credit for the success of both the conferences goes to the untiring efforts of Rai Uma Nath Bali who acted as Honorary General Secretary. The appointment of Dr. Rai Rajeshwar Bali, O.B.E., Taluqdar of Daryabad, as Minister of Education in 1924 was most opportune. Interested as he was in the art of music himself, he gave all possible assistance in the establishment of the College. He also persuaded Sir William Marris, the then Governor of U.P., to allow his name to be associated with the College. He also acted as President of the Managing Committee from 1929 to 1943.

Pandit Vishnu Narain Bhatkhande, B.A., L.L.B., of Bombay the greatest scholar of music at the time, gave his fullest cooperation and came down to Lucknow to deliver lectures in music which attracted many students to the College. He prescribed a set notation system, prepared text books and advised generally on all technical matters. He used to visit the College twice every year till 1993. He died in 1936.

Raja Nawab Ali Khan, Taluqdar of Akbarpur, a great musician cooperated in the establishment of the College and acted, as the first President of the Managing Committee of the College till 1928.

Some of the Ruling Princes, like the late Nawab Saheb of Rampur, the Nizam of Hyderabad and late Maharaja of Patiala gave financial assistance. A number of music-loving Taluqdars also extended their helping hand by subscribing to the College in times of need.

Before the College came into existence, Music was considered low and unworthy of high society. As an art it was forgotten; it had lost its prestige and patronage. Within the period of 25 years of the College’s existence, a great change has taken place. Many music schools, music classes, music clubs and music societies have sprung up, the status of musicians has been raised and music has found its rightful place in society. The general awakening of musical sense and the revival of decent taste are indications enough of the achievements of the College.



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