The towering persona of Rabindranath Tagore had explored a multitude of disciplines in his lifetime: spanning eight decades. While music was only one of those areas illumined by his incandescent vision, he was confident of the blessings of the muse. In his own estimation, whether or not some of his creative efforts would survive the ravages of time, music was one arena where he knew he would dei destiny to perpetuate his legacy; as bequeathed to his countrymen. That this was no empty boast, time has proven with the continued, unwavering popularity of his music; even after over six decades of his passing away.
The seeds germinated from the musical ambience at home in Jorasanko Thakurbari where music of all genres had a halcyon day. His early musical exposure was thoroughly diverse; not merely to the visiting classical maestros like Maula Box and Jadu Bhatta, but to servants reciting the epics, Kishori Chatteijee narrating the Dasharathi folksaga, Srikontho Babu singing Vaishnavite lyrics; and the eldest brother Owijendranath holding forth on both Kalidasa’s Meghadootam and own Swapnaprayan. With such eclectic upbringing, Tagore blossomed into a virtuoso composer when he was barely 14 and continued till death.
In Valmiki Pratibha and Kaal Mrigaya, two of his eadiest music experimentations, Tagore used from church-music; staccato, appropriate to energetic passages to express exhilaration, resolution and confidence; slurred intervals for gentler feelings; and slow largo and adagio for depressing emotions like grief or serene portrayals of reverence. Like Wagnerin Europe, Tagore gave the world of Indian music a new and perfect form of dramatic content. Having broken completely from older conceptions, according to which music had been a mere playground for melodies for the strong-lunged singers with scant attention paid to lyrics, Tagore like the German poet-composer-- intended music to interpret the poetry. Similar to Wagner’s Lieders, Tagore made his music express everything it is capable of; when united with exquisite poetic and dramatic Literature.
In his musical journey, Tagore initially used pure classical ragas; to express his characteristic individuality in the word-content and idea- content and established that music is not merely an elaboration of raga, but an inter-weaving of melody with words of the highest literary and spiritual quality. Facing a barrage of highbrow criticism from classical masters, Tagore averred Music shall not bear choining by the shackles of Somswati; not even f the shoe/des ore mode out of the strings of her own lyre!
There began a period of blending melodies form the coterie of select classical ragas, such as. inter- knitting of two evening ragas, Yaman-Puravi; another, such combination, Bhimpalas-Multani; now an interlacing of morning and evening ragas, Bhimpals-Multani-Bhairavi; or a unique creation, Sarang - Malhar- Kanada.
In the Swadeshi times of roving round in boats, Tagore was inspired not merely by the village Bauls, and the boatswains singing Bhatiyali and Sari tunes, but also by a gathering of folk and classical genres from Amritsar to Chennai, and even from abroad. All of them left lasting impressions on Tagore; often in a pure form or, at times, with a touch of classicism commingled with them. A cascading of creative oeuvre followed; beginning from Vedic hymns and Pali stotras, and getting into Vaishnava Padavali, the Sori Mainstyle of Tappa, rich Carnatic music from Chennai and Mysore, the eastern Keertan (with embellishments of Akhodo), --then combinations of Basil and Keertan, boatswain songs, Ramprasadi, and even Western tunes from the English and Italian shores. Finally came a creative upsurge completely new in the thousand years of Indian music heritage where all music from folk to classical was put into a melting pot-- to mix Keertan with Adana-Babar; Keertan with BaharPancham or raga Nata; Baul with Kalingra raga; or Keertan imbibing the style of narrative poetry. There came songs in an exuberant matrix of talas, - adding many refreshingly new combinations of rhythms. The life-giving sap of his 2000-plus songs christened collectively ‘Rabindra Sangeet’ since they all bear the stamp of his one-man virtuoso genius is today available together, neatly catalogued under titles of Puja (worship) Swadesh (Motherland) Prem (love), Prakriti (Nature) Vichitra (The Variegated) and Anusthanik (Ceremonial) apart from Geetinatya (Operatic Drama) Nrityanatya (Dance Drama) and other songs. This is if course besides the fact that much of his oveuvre transcends barriers of devotional prayer and celebration of Six seasons bears the burden of private agony and ecstasy of a poet’s sublime psyche.
The accompanying two DVD’s using standard classification attempt to provide an audio visual introduction to Rabindra Sangeet Culled from both old and recent recordings by highly esteemed artistes as held in the Doordarshan archives they provide a treasure trove of enduring value.
Vishwa Bharati Shanti Niketan
You reside in the realms of joy and benign radiance. O Lord of truth and beauty your benedictions permeate the infinite sky and the entire universe girdles round you bejeweled feet!
• Charan Dharite Diyo
Allow me to touch your feet do not please do not take them away…
Composed in May 1014 included in Parishodh dance drama raga Bhairavi tala Jhap.
• Gao Beena Beena Gaao Re (Kanika Bandyapadhyay)
Play on O Veena play on and sing his ambrosia sweet songs for the whole of mankind…
• Tomar Katha Hetha (Debarata Biswas)
Nobody here cares to talk about you but creates only false commotion sitting beside the ocean of nectar they are prone to drinking only poison…
• Oyi Asanataler Motir (Suchitra Mitra)
I will be down on the earth under your sacred seat to get emblazoned in the dust from your feet…
• Prano Bhariye Trisha Hariye (Debabrata Biswas)
Fill up my soul rid me of my thirst bestow profusely on me your elixir of life
• Vishwa Joda Phand Petechho (Suchitra Mitra)
Your Network spread eagles over the entire universe how can I possibly escape half of my being is already entrapped the other half is still left out…
• Keno Tomra Amay Dako (Debabrata Biswas)
Why do you all beckon me? My mind goes berserk and cannot find time to let my songs pour out…
• Paatrakhana Jaye Kadi Jak (Chinmoy Chattopadhyay)
Never mind if my receptacle gets broken down I posses my folded hands let me fill them up with your benedictions…
• Tumi Khushi Thako Amar Pane Cheye Cheye Debrbrata Biswas
I Beseech you to Keep looking at me indugently, when I roam around in your yards pouring forth my melodies
• Jeebone Amara Jato Ananda (Sagar Sen)
Whatever pleasures I have derived day and night in my whole life are all there only to remember you. O Lord of my soul amidst the milling crows…
• Jethay Tomar Loot Hotechee Bhubane (Dwijen Mukhopadhyay)
How can my spirit reach that universal space where you are uncaringly spreading you bliss to one and all…
• Chirobondhu Chionibhar (Vishwa Bharati Shanti Niketan)
My Lord you are my ever dependent eternal friend offering endless solace your abiding presence my friend reigns supreme in you cosmos offering for ever life and companionship