A Critical History of Music: Beyond Nostalgia
Hirabai Barodekar, daughter of a Muslim ustad and granddaughter of a princely court baiji, was the voice of Indian classical music’s future. She chose auditoriums and modern recording technology over princely courts. She gave her first public performance at Paluskar’s GMV conference against the wishes of her teacher, a gharana ustad with whom she completed her music training. Sangeet natak and film appealed to her, but she was untouched by any taint of scandal. In music circles, she was known by her familial nickname, Champutai. Hirabai was sister, mother, wife, grandmother, and nationally famous musician by the end of her life. Gendered respectability, devotion, and professional music had come together in Hirabai, but in the course of becoming a performer of national repute, her parents’ histories were taken over and sidelined by reformists and nationalists who sought to cleanse them from the public cultural sphere. In choosing Hirabai as the last historical figure discussed in this book, I have picked a woman performer in whose life story culminate all the different histories I have told so far.
Each chapter of this book has told a single history that has moved toward the end goal: the creation of Indian classical music and its history, pedagogy, and institutions. While the individual chapters all follow a single trajectory,