The Tagore Gold Medal has become the most coveted of all the awards at RCM since its inception in 1899. The Director of RCM personally thanked me for my contribution…writes Dilip Roy (Roy is a fellow of Royal Asiatic Society UK and a researcher on cultural subjects dedicates this piece to his grandson Dhyaan a third generation ROY)
Raja Sourindro Mohun Tagore (1840-1914) popularly known as Sir SM Tagore was born into one of Bengal’s richest families of senior branch of the Tagores of Pathuriaghata. Sourindro Mohan was the younger son of Babu Hara Kumar Tagore a man of considerable wealth. SM was born in Calcutta and educated there at the Hindu College, where he studied Sanskrit. He also received training in Indian as well as Western music, and this became the basis for his later work on comparative musicology. SM was also a champion and an outspoken nationalist who always strove for universal importance of Indian music and was constantly at the centre of many debates about the clash between Indian and Western music his works were in highly Sanskritised in notation. He was a staunch promoter Sanskrit language, culture and philosophy.
In many ways SM reflected comparable range of interests that as a composer, poet, scholar, educationalist and like his distant relation Rabindranath responded to Western cultural influences but maintaining a staunch Hindu identity and traditions. He also went on to establish and founded the Bengal Music School in 1871 and the Bengal Academy o Music in 1882. His scholarly contributions received wide range of international acclaim from various quarters of the world. He was awarded the honorary degrees in music by Philadelphia in (1875) and Oxford university in (1895) but before that he received his Knighthood from Queen Victoria in (1884). Sir SM also received Knighthoods from almost all major countries of Europe the list is huge to mention here.
Sir SM Tagore’s association with Royal College of Music spans well over two centuries when the institution was at its very infancy. In the year 1884 he donated Indian musical instruments along with full complements of his published books and writings to Royal College of Music. He also followed this up with further donation of four thousand Rupees to the director of RCM for the foundation of a gold medal in his name and thus resulted in setting up of the annual Tagore gold medal award in 1899 and in 1999 the centenary of the Tagore medal was celebrated at the foyer of RCM in South Kensington was organised where my very first article under the title “Sir SM Tagore Rajah of Music” published by RCM Annual magazine in 1997 was displayed as the main item for which I received lot of praise for bringing the awareness of SM Tagore to the students. The Tagore Gold Medal has become the most coveted of all the awards at RCM since its inception in 1899. The Director of RCM personally thanked me for my contribution.
PS: Incidentally members of both TAGORE families of Paturiaghata and Jorasanko have produced geniuses in the fields of Arts, Culture and Philosophy.
ALSO READ-Ancestral Tapestry of The Tagore