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Ananya, a unique music library | Bangalore

What you see - A three-storied building with narrow stairs in Malleswaram, Bangalore houses Ananya Sangraha, a unique library for Indian classical music that’s probably the first of its kind in Karnataka. Founded by industrialist and art patron, Dr. RV Raghavendra, it’s truly a labor of love and is open to those interested in Indian classical music from morning to evening.

What you get - If classical music, especially Carnatic, is your choice, then Ananya is a treasure trove. They have rare music recordings, as well as books related to music, several of these now out of print. There is a collection of 10,000 hours of music from live concerts, including recordings dating back as far as 1920s. The library has about 5,000 books, journals, biographies and magazines on music.

The rare recordings include those by Mysore Vasudevachar and Bidaram Krishnappa. There are also recordings by legendary artistes like Balagandharv, Dagar brothers, Hirabai Barodekar, Bismillah Khan, Gangubai Hanagal and Pt. Ravishankar among others. Most of the old recordings are in cassettes and LPs (Limited Press record albums) and Ananya is in the process of digitization and cataloguing these. Several have already been done and you can choose a recording based on the artist, composition, raga or tala. The meticulous detailing applies to cassettes waiting to be digitized too.

The library charges a very nominal membership fee of Rs. 250 a year and is used by students of music as well as classical music lovers in search of a rare raga they cannot find commercially anymore. You cannot however, borrow either books or the music but can listen to it here for as long as you want, much like the venerable National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) Music Library in Mumbai. Designed simply, this unassuming library has computers and headphones where music aficionados can listen to the digital collection and audio systems for the cassettes. Ananya also welcomes donations of books and recordings from music lovers.

Apart from this unique library, which is a complete individual effort by Dr. Raghavendra and his family, the Ananya Trust (chaired by Jnanpith award winner Dr. UR Anantha Murthy) is also involved in several musical activities and awards. They have an auditorium located nearby with excellent acoustics where small musical gatherings are held frequently. Apart from performances by established artists, their aim is to encourage young talent. They also publish Abhibhyakti, a monthly magazine on music in Kannada. However, one of their most laudable programs is Ananya Arogyadhara, which has 80 doctors on panel and provides financial aid to ailing musicians. Dr Raghavendra runs an industrial testing lab along with his wife and it is amazing how despite a busy career, he has been involved in these activities.
Our verdict - Big cities often hide special places that are quietly doing excellent work. Ananya, the music library, is one of those in Bangalore and is a must-visit for any music student or classical music lover in search of rare music. Parking space is available.

Anytime between - 10 AM - 6 PM

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