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Biography, Autobiography, Journal and Anecdotes

Part II - Autobiography

England, 1912 - 1913

I went to England in 1912 from America, and there I saw the difference between England and America.

First I met with some musicians, among them Cecil Scott and Percy Grainger, to whom I was introduced by my friend Mr. Strecker of Augener & Co. I met with Dr. King of Brighton, who became very much interested in my ideas. Also I saw Mr. August Holmes of the Royal Academy of Music. I was introduced in literary circles by Miss Beatrice Irwin at a reception given at Monico by the Port's Club; especially Lord Dunsany, who was in the chair on this occasion, was very much interested in the symbology of Sufi poetry. I met there a great many poets and writers, among them Sir Henry Newbolt and Mr. Smith. Rabindranath Tagore was in England in those days, and hearing that I had just come from America, he called me to meet his friends. We went to see the London Conservatory of Music of which Dr. Trotter is the head, who has introduced a new musical system in England. There we met Mr. Fox Strangways who was then writing a book on Indian music, whom I told that it is not much use writing books on Indian music; what would be really worthwhile would be to practice and get a fuller insight into Indian music, only by this could one give the true benefit of the music of the East to the West.

I met in England Miss Maud Macarthy and was astonished to see how keenly interested she was in Indian music, and the simple folk songs from the South of India, which she sang, indeed took me home. She made me a present of her vina. I also saw Mrs. Kumar Swami, about whom so much has been spoken, and who professed to be the first European artist who performed Indian music. But in her case it was an imitation of the Eastern art rather than real. I gave a lecture on music at the Indian Club in Cromwell Road. Most of the officials of the India Office, the gentry of India and students were present. Very little could I do in the way of my mission at that time, although I was really impressed by the English character. In music I found there little response. Mr. Strangways to whom I supplied informations about Indian music for his book, said to me: "Our people do not go in much for art; in art the French are the foremost, you will find much interest in your music in France."