Interactions between Northern India and Bengal: Challenging Assumptions about Nineteenth Century Music
Amlan Dasgupta
THE SCATTERED COURT: HINDUSTANI MUSIC IN COLONIAL BENGAL by By Richard David Williams University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Chicago Studies in Ethnomusicology, 2023, 267 pp., $35.00
July 2024, volume 48, No 7

Nawab Wajid Ali Shah arrived in Calcutta on May 6, 1856, on the way to London to present his case for the recovery of his kingdom to the Queen. A house was rented for him in a quiet and affluent suburb known as Muchikhola or Matiyaburj. The journey to London did not come about and soon adjoining properties were acquired to house his vast entourage. The arrangement lasted only for a few months, as the outbreak of violence in Awadh and the suspicion that the Nawab was rallying forces against the British led to him being interned in Fort William. It was not until 1859 that he was allowed to return to Matiyaburj. For the next three decades or so, Wajid Ali Shah ruled over his miniature kingdom, re-creating the occupations and pastimes that had been dear to him in Lucknow. Relieved of all political responsibilities, his pursuits appear to have been largely cultural and artistic. Poetry, music, dance and drama thrived in Matiyaburj under his attention.

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