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Dwarkin (formally known as Dwarkin & Sons but popular as Dwarkin), founded in 1875, was a pioneering Indianmarker enterprise for the sale of Western and Indian musical instruments, which attained a legendary status in the music world at Kolkatamarker (then known, in English, as Calcutta}, particularly with the development of the hand-held harmonium.

The founder

Dwarkanath Ghose (1847 1928), (nickname Dwarik Ghose), hailing from Sukdebpur in neighbouring 24 Parganas, founded the organisation. As a devoted and skilled worker of Harold & Co., he attracted attention of his superiors, who were Englishmen. On their advice, he opened his own shop on Bowbazar Street for selling musical instruments imported from England. Subsequently, he built his own workshop for manufacturing musical instruments and also established a printing press.

Ghose was adept in modifying musical instruments as per individual needs of users and is particularly remembered for modifying the imported harmony flute and producing the hand held harmonium, which has subsequently become an integral part of the Indian music scenario. Dwijendranath Tagore is credited with having used the imported instrument in 1860 in his private theatre, but it was probably a pedalled instrument which was cumbersome, or it was possibly some variation of the reed organ. Initially, it aroused curiosity but gradually people started playing it and Ghose took the initiative to modify it.

Harmonium

Man playing a harmonium.
He is pumping the bellows of the harmonium with one hand and playing the keys with the other.
It was in response to the Indian needs that the hand-held harmonium was introduced. All Indian musical instruments are played with the musician sitting on the floor or on a stage, behind the instrument or holding it in his hands. In that era, Indian homes did not use tables and chairs.Subsequently, the harmonium became an indispensable and popular accompanying instrument for vocalists. Among the different kinds of harmoniums in use are Coppler harmonium, box harmonium, harmonium with scale change facilities, harmonium with single bellow, and harmonium with double bellows.Ghose altered the design of the reed-board, key-board and the bellows and made the construction simpler, and easier to manipulate and repair.

Music related activities

Ghose was close to people in the Tagore family and took care of their demands for musical instruments. He was also friendly with Upendrakishore Ray Chaudhuri, an innovative and creative person. As a personal friend of Upendrakishore Ray Chaudhuri, he visited the Brahmo Samaj regularly but did not join the organisation formally. When Jyotirindranath Tagore compiled a book with songs and swaralipi (Bengali musical notations) of several composers, Dwarkin published it as Swaralipigitimala. In 1879, the organisation also published a magazine on musical matters, Binabadini, edited by Jyotirindranath Tagore. It is claimed to be one of the first such magazines in Bengali.

In the initial years Dwarkin sold western musical instruments such as piano and American organ. They also sold books and notations on western music. That was the mainstay of their shop in Dalhousie Square. Later they started manufacturing Indian musical instruments such as sitar, tanpura, esraj etc.

Successors

Ghose’s daughter, Kumudini Biswas and his nephew Jnanendramohan were well known in the music world. His grandson, Pandit Jnan Prakash Ghose, Padma Bhushan, was a great tabla player, who had played with most of the high ranking musicians in India.

References


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