Resonances of the Raj: India in the English Musical Imagination, 1897-1947

Citation metadata

Date: Dec. 2015
From: Notes(Vol. 72, Issue 2)
Publisher: Music Library Association, Inc.
Document Type: Book review
Length: 2,007 words
Lexile Measure: 1200L

Document controls

Main content

Article Preview :

Resonances of the Raj: India in the English Musical Imagination, 1897-1947. By Nalini Ghuman. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014. [xv, 345 p. ISBN 9780199314898 (hardcover), $49.95; (e-book), various.] Music examples, illustrations, bibliography, index, companion Web site:

In Resonances of the Raj, Nalini Ghuman examines the role of English rule in India as it influenced musicians during its final fifty years. To that end, she includes six chapters spanning the period, which need not be read in order. She includes a broad range of musicians: Maud MacCarthy (1882-1967), Edward Elgar (1857-1934), Gustav Holst (1874-1934), Amy Woodforde-Finden (1860-1919), Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji (1892-1988), and John Foulds (1880-1939). Ghuman includes a short introduction, but no conclusion. She explains "I have chosen to focus on musical case studies involving six figures who, I believe, are both representative of the era and significant in their own right" (p. 3). Resonances of the Raj is a welcome addition to a growing body of literature on oriental influences on British music. Other recent books include Music and Orientalism in the British Empire, 1780s-1940s, edited by Martin Clayton and Bennett Zon (Aldershot, Hampshire, Eng.: Ashgate, 2007), and Bob van der Linden's Music and Empire in Britain and India (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). Each has a chapter about the musicians Ghuman includes in her book.

Four of the six chapters are revisions of Ghuman's 2003 dissertation from the University of California, Berkeley (Anna Nalini Gwynne, "India in the English Musical Imagination, 1890-1940" [Ph.D. diss., University of California, Berkeley, 2003]). The two new chapters on Maud MacCarthy and John Foulds, the first and last, respectively, are among the strongest of the book. Little has been written about MacCarthy as an individual or on her collaborations with her husband, Foulds. For example, there is no entry in Grove Music Online on MacCarthy, and she is only mentioned in the article about her husband. Ghuman's contribution in the first chapter focuses on MacCarthy's work as an ethnomusicologist in India from 1907-9 (before she met Foulds) and her lecture recitals on Indian music presented in England and Paris from 1910 to 1930.

In the last chapter of her book, Ghuman focuses on the final years of Foulds's life (1935-39) when he lived in India and worked as Director of European Music at All India Radio in Delhi. The compositions considered include Gandharva-Music, Three Mantras, Essays in the Modes, and pieces written for his Indo--European Orchestra. Ghuman outlines Foulds's struggles in getting his music published, performed, and broadcast; his motivation for moving to India; his untimely death from cholera in 1939; and his possible influence on later musician Ravi Shankar. Previous work on the couple includes a chapter in Bob van der Linden's Music and Empire in Britain and India, which focuses on theosophy as an influence on MacCarthy and Foulds.

Perhaps the strongest chapter of the book is dedicated to Amy Woodforde-Finden's Four Indian Love Lyrics (London; Boosey & Hawkes, 1902). Here Ghuman studies both the music and the texts by...

Source Citation

Source Citation   

Gale Document Number: GALE|A435717490