Puja (devotional song) – Obeisance to Musical Thought

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Bohlman – “In Praise of Musical Thought”

The John F. Larchet Memorial Lecture

University College Dublin, 4 April 2012

In Praise of Musical Thought

Philip V. Bohlman

Puja (devotional song) – Obeisance to Musical Thought

I arrive in Dublin only after a long journey, which led me last week through India – Kolkata and Santiniketan – where I participated in the final events celebrating the 150th anniversary of the birth of Rabindranath Tagore, the polymath Nobel Prize winner for literature, the founder of a university that integrated the arts into higher education in India, a painter of renown, whose works currently hang in a special exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago, and the creator of a system of musical thought so remarkable in its scope and its capacity to generate a modern musical notation and music theory for Bengal that it continues to bear his name for the musical repertories it encompasses, rabindrasangeet. As I prepared this Larchet Memorial Lecture, I began to realize that 2012 was auspicious for other reasons, for it was one hundred years ago, in 1912, that Rabindranath Tagore published his Gitanjali (Song Offerings), the work for which he received the Nobel Prize and would be championed by William Butler Yeats, who wrote the preface for the English translation.

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