Continued from part 1

In 1942, a wandering organization with no premises of its own, despite its impeccable credentials and high ranking patrons, approached the RR Sabha to hold its annual conference at the Sabha’s Sundareswarar Hall. Permission was granted and a grateful Music Academy, in its souvenir of 1943 recorded that the programmes for the previous season were held at the spacious premises of the Sundareswarar Hall. Interestingly, the Sabha and the Music Academy both continue to use the same logo, a rather stylized image of Goddess Saraswathi, playing the Veena. It must be remembered that the RR Sabha, like most other Sabhas of the city at that time, did not conduct programmes in December. There were only three major players in the December Season, namely the Music Academy, the Indian Fine Arts Society and the Tamil Isai Sangam till the 1960s. The Academy thus made the Sabha’s Sundareswarar Hall its home for a number of years. The inauguration of the Annual Conference, the Sadas and concerts were held at the Hall while he morning theory sessions were held at the Prayer Hall of the Lady Sivaswami Iyer Girls School. It was at the Sundareswarar Hall that the Music Academy’s historic Sadas of 1942 was held when all the previous presidents of the Annual Conference, along with Mazhavarayanendal Subbarama Bhagavatar, the incumbent, were awarded the birudu of Sangita Kalanidhi. ND Varadachariar, the “Emden Vakil” was to record the event in his diary in the following words : “Jan 1, 1943. A very pretty function took place at the Music Academy Conference, held at the Rasika Ranjani Sabha, when titles, Sangitha Kalanidhi were conferred on leading music experts who have presided over the Conferences. They called it a Convocation, but as far as possible, in its homeliness, informality, colour and warmth, it was a really oriental gathering – a sadas. In the evening, a very beautiful performance by Brinda, Muktha and Abhiramasundari, full of most pleasant musical expressions”. That was also the year of the Tamil Isai controversy and the Academy used the Sabha’s hall for firing its salvos at the Tamil Isai lobbyists.

Much of the Academy’s history was written at the RR Sabha premises. It was here that T Chowdiah was called upon to defend his seven stringed violin against a total ban, in 1948. It was also here that GNB faced censure for his attempting Sruti Bhedam. Both musicians emerged successfully from the ordeal. The Academy also honoured a woman for the first time in 1950 at the RR Sabha premises – C Saraswathi Bai. It was at the RR Sabha that in 1950, TT Krishnamachari, then a Union Cabinet Minister, in response to a request made by KV Krishnaswami Iyer, President of the Music Academy, for Government funds to build an auditorium on new acquired property on Lloyds Road, stated that the Academy must make its own efforts to get funds besides looking at the Government for support. What followed is well known. The Music Academy actively began a fund collection drive and in 1955 had the foundation stone laid for its new auditorium at its present location. In 1962, the Academy bid goodbye to RR Sabha and moved on.

In the meanwhile the RR Sabha itself continued to grow. A Music School was set up in 1940 with ten students in all. Ariyakkudi Ramanuja Iyengar was made the first principal with Musiri and Semmangudi being vice principals. In course of time, the school’s rolls swelled to 200. In 1941, K Raja Iyer, lawyer and later Judge, became the President. A second generation of stalwarts had joined the Sabha and were taking active interest. In the 1940s, members such as TL Venkatarama Iyer, K Chandrashekharan and M Subbaraya Iyer were part of the Governing Body. By 1947, the Sabha’s annual income was Rs 65000. TL Venkatarama Iyer became President of the Sabha in 1954. By then he was a Judge of the Supreme Court and had also been awarded the Sangita Kalanidhi by the Music Academy. TLV was to remain President of the Sabha till his passing away in 1971. He was also concurrently the President of the Music Academy.

Continued here