Musical Rivalry in Muhammad Shah's Court

Nawab Muhammad ‘Abd ul-Rahman Khan of Jhajjhar entertained by members of the Delhi kalāwant lineage (1849, British Library Add.Or. 4680)

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The Rivals: Anjha Baras Khan, Adarang, and What Happened to Muhammad Shah’s Court

Anjha Baras Khan (d. 1760s) was the last of Tansen’s direct line to inherit the position of chief musician to the Mughal emperors - in this case, Muhammad Shah 'Rangila' (1720–48). However, it is not Anjha Baras, but Sadarang and Adarang who are remembered today as the greatest musicians of the century.

The musical rivalry at Muhammad Shah’s court was just the harbinger of a more tumultuous drama that played out c. 1739–1803. What happened to Delhi’s musicians throughout this period, and the music they carried with them, is copiously documented in a genre new to writing on music at this time: the biographical compendium or tazkira. In this lecture, Katherine Butler Schofield will be looking at musicians’ biographies 1739–1847 as both a product of upheaval, dispersal, diversification, and innovation; and as a record of these things. Both views give us unusual access to the history of elite artisans on the move in late Mughal and early colonial India.

Katherine Butler Schofield is Senior Lecturer in Music at King’s College London, and a historian of music and listening in the Mughal empire and the colonial Indian Ocean. She is currently a British Academy Mid-Career Fellow. In 2018, she will hold six public lectures and conversations at the British Library on 'Histories of the Ephemeral: Writing on Music in Late Mughal India, 1757-1858.'


Name: Musical Rivalry in Muhammad Shah's Court
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