TRIBUTES - A cerebral musician by N. RAMANATHAN
In December 1968, during the annual conference of the Music Academy, Madras, M.R. Gautam, Reader and Head, Department of Vocal Music, Banaras Hindu University, delivered an illustrated talk on the subject of ‘Gharanas in Hindustani Music’. I was just about to complete an under-graduate course in Carnatic music and frantically looking for universities in the north that would offer a post-graduate course, as there were none in the south then. I timidly walked up to Gautam, standing outside the pandal (the Kasturi Srinivasan mini hall had not come up), and enquired if I could pursue higher studies at the Banaras Hindu University. “Not in Carnatic music, but you could take up a study of Masters in Musicology, at the Department of Musicology and for that, please write to the Head, Dr. Premlata Sharma, a very erudite and able scholar,” was his reply.
This personal anecdote has an impersonal allusion. At the Banaras Hindu University, I discovered that the Music Faculty had three departments – vocal, instrumental and musicology – each one headed by an eminent and distinguished academician. The three did not have cordial personal relations with one another. Thus for me, later, it was a surprise that Gautam never mixed his personal dislikes with academic relations and had spoken highly of Premlata Sharma and strongly recommended my pursuing higher studies there. This admirable quality I found present in all the other Heads too. They never involved the students in their own personal animosities.
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