The Maharaja and Musical Modernism

A Celebration of Patronage and Legacy – Maharaja Jaya Chamaraja Wadiyar of Mysore

Bangalore will play host to pianist Karl Lutchmayer and Soprano Béatrice de Larragoïti as a tribute to Maharaja Jaya Chamaraja Wadiyar of Mysore on his birth centenary year.

An Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) of Goan parents, in recent years Karl has focussed much of his time and attention on nurturing the burgeoning Western Classical music scene in India, his family home. While helping young musicians and music teachers to fulfil their potential, he has also been involved in audience creation projects in many of the major cities. It was for this work that he was awarded the Bharat Gaurav (Pride of India) Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015.

Speaking on Wadiyar’s legacy Karl Lutchmayer, says: ‘The legacy of Maharaja Jaya Chamaraja Wadiyar in bringing little-known music to public attention cannot be overestimated. Indeed, as a student, it was the recordings that he sponsored that led me to discover music by Scriabin, Bartok, Busoni, and, perhaps most importantly, Medtner, which have been cornerstones of my repertoire ever since. As such, it is with utmost gratitude that I have prepared this lecture-recital which, in one concert, can only touch on that extraordinary legacy. Central to the programme are works by Medtner, including the rarely performed Sonata Vocalise for soprano and piano, which celebrate his single-handed promotion of the last and perhaps most subtle of the pre-revolutionary Russian composers. The Maharaja’s sponsorship of the Philharmonic orchestra is remembered through his patronage of the world premiere of Strauss’ Four Last Songs, whilst his broad vision of Modernism is recalled in the music of Busoni. But of course, in addition to the patron of the arts, we must remember the performer, and programming Rachmaninov we can recall his meeting with the great pianist, and the fact that, had it not been for his duties of state, he would surely have been celebrated as a great performer.”

Karl Lutchmayer is equally renowned as a concert pianist and a lecturer. A Steinway Artist, Karl performs across the globe, has worked with conductors including Lorin Maazel and Sir Andrew Davis, and has played at all the major London concert halls. He has broadcast on BBC Television and Radio, All India Radio and Classic FM, and is a regular chamber performer. A passionate advocate of contemporary music, Karl has also given over 90 world premieres and had many works written especially for him. 

Karl’s London lecture-recital series, Conversational Concerts, has garnered critical and public acclaim, and following his landmark recitals celebrating the Liszt and Alkan Bicentenaries, he has received invitations from four continents to give lecture-recitals. Karl also held an academic lectureship at Trinity Laban (formerly Trinity College of Music) for 15 years, and is a regular guest lecturer at conservatoires around the world, including the Juilliard and Manhattan Schools in New York.

Karl studied at the Junior Department of Trinity College of Music, then at the Royal College of Music and undertook further studies with Lev Naumov at the Moscow Conservatoire. His research interests include the music of Liszt, Alkan, Busoni and Enescu; The Creative Transcription Network; reception theory; and the history of piano recital programming.

Karl Lutchmayer

For the last two years Karl has been undertaking research at New College, Oxford, but he usually resides in London, where he is sometimes spotted in his alternative incarnation as keyboard, percussion and theremin player in the prog rock band The Connoisseur.

Shaping a distinctive career driven by a versatile artistry and wide-ranging performances, French-Brazilian soprano Béatrice de Larragoïti has been lately hailed for her ‘particular, dense and dark voice’ (Le Temps Tunisie), with ‘considerable resonance in the lower register’ (Seen and Heard International), as well as for her ‘sensitive, authentic and sensual’ stage presence (Operaportal), and ‘refreshing femininity’ (Early Music Today). Béatrice has performed on various stages, festivals and concert platforms across Europe, America and the U.K., including Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall, Grimeborn Festival, Oxford Lieder Festival, Saint Martin-in-the-Fields, Opéra de Baugé and Opéra en Plein Air, working under conductors such as Vincent Dumestre, Alexandre Piquion, Philip Sunderland, Jessica Cottis and Oliver John Ruthven. 

The concert is being partnered by The International Music and Arts Society founded in December 1974 by Rani Vijaya Devi Kotda-Sangani on a suggestion by her brother, Maharaja Jaya Chamaraja Wadiyar of Mysore, to augment Bangalore’s existing cultural landscape by providing an international forum for Indian and foreign musicians and artistes. Designed by the English artist-dramatist-teacher, the late David Horsburgh, the Society’s logo embodies the spirit of the arts both East and West. Over the last forty-five years, the Society has worked in collaboration with other organisations such as the ICCR and USIS, and foreign embassies and cultural centres.

This effort has enabled a wide audience to enjoy the works of some of the finest international exponents of the performing and visual arts of our time. An important objective of the Society has been its work, through the medium of music and dance, to provide a platform for young and upcoming artists.

An important objective of the Society has been its work, through the medium of music and dance, to provide a platform for young and upcoming artists.

The early formative years of Rani Vijaya Devi Kotda-Sangani were spent in the palace where the family’s rich cultural atmosphere left a deep impression on her. The young princess grew up steeped in Carnatic music and dance, and became proficient in playing the veena. At the age of six, she also commenced formal piano lessons at the palace, and progressed through to the fellowship examination of the Trinity College of Music, London under the tutelage of Dr. Alfred Mistowski, professor of Trinity College.

After her marriage to the Thakore Saheb of Kotda-Sangani in 1941, Rani Vijaya Devi continued studying the piano in India. Later, during her husband’s posting in New York, she studied with Professor Edward Steuermann of the Juilliard School of Music. An accomplished concert pianist, she recorded for radio and television, and appeared in concerts in Hong Kong and India.

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