Over centuries, Kolkata has earned the title of "cultural capital of India", owing to its many strides in the fields of music, dance, storytelling, drama, etc. The music that has come out of Kolkata, especially, has been legendary. Many icons of Indian music have considered Kolkata home at one point because of the various sources of inspiration available. Here is a short history of classical music in Kolkata that has earned it worldwide fame.
Folk music from Kolkata and Bengal has had a special place in the hearts of many Indian musical geniuses. The term "Kolkata folk music" encompasses a staggering array of genres like Baul - sung by a specific sect of people called Bauls who lend their name to the genre; Kirtan - which is the narration or recitation of stories with religious or spiritual connotations and which is usually done in large groups and not one or a few performers; Bhatiali - sung by boatmen, usually in rhythm with the splashing of the oars; Ganasangeet - which was born during British rule and usually contains messages of social, cultural or political importance.
Rabindra Sangeet refers to music written by arguably Bengal's most famous son - Rabindranath Tagore, a name that cannot be omitted due to the sheer volume of fields he contributed to, especially to the musical heritage of Kolkata. He is credited with having written over 2000 songs, including the national anthems of India and Bangladesh. His literary works like plays and stories were lyricised, leading to the origin of Rabindra Sangeet. An accomplished polymath, he was the first non-European to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature.
This term refers to songs and poems written by Kazi Nazrul Islam. Also called Bidrohi Kobi, or rebel poet, for his works that staunchly opposed the British rule, he has over 4000 songs and poems credited to his name. A Muslim, he is praised for incorporating Persian and Urdu words into his works, a practice that was virtually unheard of at the time. He was awarded the title 'national poet of Bangladesh' in 1972, four years before his death.
There have been many additions to the music of Kolkata, with the advent of films made in Tollygunge and affectionately referred to as Tollywood and the music associated with them, Bengali rock which has seen a recent rise in both performers and fans. Independent music artists have also been much sought after in recent times. So come stay at Polo Floatel in Kolkata and get completely immersed in the bottomless musical culture of the cultural capital of India and attend a concert or five!