THE MU­SI­CAL MAHARAJA

Mysore’s last ruler Jay­achama­ra­jen­dra Wadi­yar helped sev­eral west­ern clas­si­cal mu­si­cians sur­vive. On his birth cen­te­nary, the maharaja’s fam­ily is cel­e­brat­ing his con­tri­bu­tions

India Today - - LEISURE - —Nikhil Sar­dana

that time to put the Phil­har­mo­nia Or­ches­tra (cur­rently one of the UK’s fore­most ensembles) on a sta­ble fi­nan­cial foot­ing. With this kind of aid, Legge was able to ap­point as con­duc­tor the great Herbert von Kara­jan. The young maharaja then made his mark on the Euro­pean art mu­sic scene by mak­ing it pos­si­ble for the or­ches­tra to carry out the dy­ing wish of leg­endary com­poser Richard Strauss, who wanted his Four Last Songs to be per­formed with a first-class con­duc­tor and or­ches­tra and sung by the great Wag­ne­r­ian so­prano Kirsten Flagstad.

Jay­achama­ra­jen­dra Wadi­yar had a rep­u­ta­tion of be­ing far-think­ing. The lit­tle-known com­poser Niko­lai Medt­ner, born in 1880 (Gre­go­rian cal­en­dar), whose com­po­si­tions were dense and com­pli­cated, slow to the point that they could al­most in­duce a trance-like state, is a case in point. Medt­ner’s re­fusal to bend to pop­u­lar opin­ion meant that he was never given his due. But his mu­sic found a re­sponse in the maharaja, per­haps be­cause of his deep un­der­stand­ing of the mu­sic of other tra­di­tions, namely Car­natic. He was largely re­spon­si­ble for bring­ing Medt­ner’s works to the con­cert hall and record­ing stu­dio, a debt that Medt­ner fi­nally re­paid when he ded­i­cated his ‘Third Pi­ano Con­certo’ to him.

The young prince formed The Medt­ner So­ci­ety in 1949 and con­tin­ued his mis­sion to spread aware­ness about the com­poser. In­evitably, one of the works to be per­formed at the cen­ten­nial con­cert is An­dantino from Medt­ner’s Pi­ano Quin­tet. The en­tire pro­gramme, in fact, is re­flec­tive of the maharaja’s eclec­tic mu­si­cal aes­thetic, with works from the tra­di­tional (Mozart’s Symphony No. 29), the ex­otic (Al­béniz’s As­turias), the mod­ern (Dag Wirén’s Ser­e­nade for Strings) and the highly un­usual (Karl Jenk­ins’ Air played on the bansuri). A high­light of the con­cert is set to be the vir­tu­osic vi­o­lin work, Pa­ganini­ana, by Mil­stein, that will be per­formed by SOI mu­sic di­rec­tor, Marat Bisen­galiev.

Com­poser Niko­lai Medt­ner ded­i­cated his ‘Third Pi­ano Con­certo’ to the maharaja

THE MU­SIC MAN (clock­wise from top) A por­trait of maharaja Jay­achama­ra­jen­dra Wadi­yar; the maharaja in his or­gan room; Marat Bisen­galiev; and a mu­sic ses­sion at the maharaja’s dur­bar

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