Recently I attended a Book launching programme – Deben Bhattacharya- PARIS to CALCUTTA- Men and Music on The Desert Road. I must admit I knew very little about him. He led a very interesting life which, to me, is only available in fictions.
One of my aims, here, is to make available to the public, in one place, some of the material and information on Deben Bhattacharya (1921–2001) who has made so many musical traditions known. He was a remarkable person who was responsible for preserving so much music mostly of the popular traditions from so many different countries but never neglecting the musique savante.
He came from an old Bengali Brahman family, settled in Varanasi (India) `for the last 170 years and received his education in a toll (a native Sanskrit school) there. A dhoti clad gentleman who later on migrated to England during 1949 and adapted himself to an anglicized living. A self taught and self made man, and during his life he won international recognition as an expert on ethnic folk music, dance and poetry. From 1955 on wards he produced documentary films, records, books, radio programmes and live concerts related to many aspects of his subjects of research. From 1967 to 1974 he produced educational films and concerts for schools and universities in Sweden under the sponsorship of ‘Rikskonserter’ – the Swedish state music educational institute.
He produced more than 20 films and 130 LPs of the musical cultures of thirty countries of Europe, Asia and the Middle East. He translated several sensitive books of poetry and made frequent contributions to periodicals. His works were published simultaneously in England, the USA and India. Much of his work was carried out under the auspices of UNESCO.
My tribute to him – a remarkable person.