Madras Music Academy
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Madras Music Academy is one of the earliest established music academies in South India. Before the concept of infrastructure was introduced to India in the early 1920s, it was a gathering for elite musicians simply called (and is still more commonly referred to as) Music Academy (Tamil: சங்கீத வித்வத் சபை, sangeetha vidhwadh sabai ?)  It plays an important role in encouraging and promoting primarily the Carnatic Music Indian art form. It played a vital role in the revival of the Indian classical dance form of Bharatnatyam in the 1930s when it faced near extinction due to a negative connotation caused by conservative societal standards.
They also run a music school called the Teachers college of Carnatic Music which has many eminent musicians on its faculty. Eminent and Iconic musicians such as Tiger Varadachariar, Appa Iyer, Valadi Krishnaiyer and Mudicondan Venkatarama Iyer adorned the chair of Principal of the prestigious Teacher's College.
In 1927, the Indian National Congress held the All India Music Conference in Madras. At the end of the conference it was decided that an organisation be formed that helped the cause of music. The prime reason for this conference was E. Krishna Iyer who had played a vital role in reviving the south Indian dance art form—Bharatanatyam.
Lovers of music and other well wishers wanted to stimulate interest in Carnatic music in the South and develop a rich culture. The academy had sound planning from the start with an expert committee consisting of some of the leading musicians and scholars to advise the academy on all technical matters.
The Academy was formally inaugurated on 18 August 1928 by C. P. Ramaswami Iyer, in the Y.M.I.A. Auditorium before a large and distinguished gathering.
Since then the academy has endeavoured to provide various avenues to further the advancement of the science and art of Indian music.
Annual music conferences are held every December to collect all information regarding music, maintain the library and publish a journal. They also help to bring to public notice aspiring musicians and scholars by conducting competitions and other presentations.
For a decade, E. Krishna Iyer worked as the Secretary of the Madras Music Academy. The first Music Festival was held in December 1927 which is before the inauguration of the Music Academy. Since then, it had become a part of the Madras Music Academy's Activities to conduct several expositions and concerts on Carnatic Music every December. This later came to be popularly known as the Margazhi Season or is even referred to as the Music Season amongst Carnatic enthusiasts. This soon became the norm for all sabhas in Madras to conduct several concerts each day during the season. There were several sabhas before the formation of the Music Academy like the Parthasarathy Swami Sabha in Triplicane which was formed as early as 1900. However it was the Madras Music Academy that set the trend of conducting the music festival during December.
Dr U. Rama Rao was the founder President of the Academy and Basheer Ahmed Sayeed, the founder Vice-President. There have been six others in that post. The present President is Sri N. Murali. Before the present building (T. T. Krishnamachari Auditorium) was constructed the annual conferences, programmes where held in various locations around the city.
During the first few years, the Academy conducted its activities provisionally in George Town and later moved to Mylapore. In 1955, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru laid the foundation stone for the music academy building that exists today on TTK Road in Mylapore. On 20 December 1962, Maharaja Jayachamaraja Wodeyar Bahadur, the then Governor of Madras.
There are two buildings for the Music Academy:
- The T.T. Krishnamachari Hall
- The Kasturi Srinivasan Hall
The T.T. Krishnamachari Hall is the first building that was built in 1955. It has a seating capacity of 1600.
The Kasturi Srinivasan Hall was built in 1982. It houses a small auditorium for conferences and concerts, a library, a committee room and a recording and demonstration room. It was here that T. N. Rajarathnam Pillai's tapes and audio CDs were produced. Kasturi Srinivasan's nephew's son, N. Murali, the Joint Managing Director of The Hindu, is the present President of the Academy.
Awards, recognition and contributions
- Sangeetha Kalanidhi : The Music Academy, since 1929 has been recognising and rewarding people who contributed to the field of Carnatic music by honouring them with the title Sangeetha Kalanidhi. In 1968, M.S. Subbulakshmi was the first woman to receive the Sangeetha Kalanidhi award from Madras Music Academy. This year the award has been announced to S. Sowmya.
- Sangeetha Kala Acharya : It was later in 1993 that the academy also started giving out the Sangeetha Kala Acharya title. It is awarded to 2 or 3 senior musicians every year.
- Natya Kala Acharya: Since 2012, the academy has been recognising dancers with the Natya Kala Acharya title. A separate Dance conference is held in the first week of January. This award is now renamed as Nrithya Kalanidhi
- Spirit of Youth-festival of Dance and Music : During the October of every year nearly 40 young artists are projected by the academy for their Classical Music and Dance talent.
- Special TTK Award
- Special Life Time Achievement award: This award has been conferred on only 3 people:
- Best Artiste Award
- Music Welfare
- R.R.Talent Promotion Scheme : Two talented artists are selected by the Academy and are sponsored for coaching under an eminent musician chosen by the academy. At the end of the training period the artists get to perform in the Academy.
- Teacher's College of Music is a school run by the academy for offering certified courses on Vocal, Violin and Mridangam.
- Books : The Academy conducts research on Music and publishes their findings. Some of the academy's publications:
- The Ragas of Sangita Saramrta, a book written by King Tulaja I.
- Lakshana Gitas
- Raga Lakshanas
Music Academy received a donation of Rs. 1,00,000 from late Sri. S. Visvanathan in memory of Sri. K. R. Sundaram Iyer for the improvement of library activities. The library is now named as Sri K. R. Sundaram Iyer Memorial Library. It has rare books, manuscripts and tape recordings of the proceedings of the Expert Committee sessions. The students of the Teacher's College of Music, members, music students and research scholars. Books on both music and other general subjects donated by the families of late Prof. P. Sambamoorthy, Sangita Vidvan K. C. Thyagarajan, Dr. V. Raghavan, Mr. Venkatakrishnan, Dr. S. R. Janakiraman and other individuals.
Next to Acropolis Building.
- Janet O'Shea (2007). "Revival Era Dancers at Music Academy". At home in the world: bharata natyam on the global stage. Wesleyan University Press. p. 1975. ISBN 0-8195-6837-6.
- Music academy official website
- Sabhas - Music Academy
- The Music Academy
- The Inauguration of the Music Academy building - Article from The Hindu
- 75 years of dedication to Indian arts
- - Music Academy