Salil Chowdhury


A composer, arranger, multi-instrumentalist (he played the flute, esraj, violin and piano and had a deep understanding of several other instruments), poet and writer,


Born on 19th November 1922 in a village called Gajipur in South 24-Parganas (West Bengal), Salil Chowdhury spent his childhood in the tea gardens of Assam where his father practised medicine. He grew up listening to his father's large collection of Western art/classical music and the folk songs of Assam and Bengal. This influenced him considerably and shaped his musical thinking.


Chowdhury graduated from Bangabaashi College in Kolkata. His political ideas matured along with his musical ideas during his university years. Living through the Second World War, the Bengal famine and the political situation of the 1940s, he became acutely aware of his social responsibilities. This is when he joined IPTA (Indian Peoples Theater Association) and became a member of the Communist Party.


IPTA, which went on to become one of the most dynamic performing art movements in India in the 1940s and 1950s, is known to have had rather modest beginnings in 1942, before it became like a magnet for the young and radical artists, actors, musicians and dancers of the period. The artists were not necessarily members of the Communist Party of India. But they had Left sympathies and asserted a kind of radical idealism that raised progressive political activism to a creative pitch.


During this period, Salil Chowdhury wrote numerous songs and with IPTA comrades took his songs to the masses. They travelled through the villages and the cities and his songs became the voice of the masses. They were songs of protest, which made people aware of the rampant social and political injustice that surrounded them. Chowdhury called these songs the 'Songs of consciousness and awakening'. These mass songs became a part of the independence movement and they are still performed all over Bengal after all these years. In a way they have now become an integral part of the Bengali heritage.

Salil Chowdhury died on September 5, 1995.


Based on information provided on the album cover


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