The story of the Western classical symphony orchestra in Mumbai, or, Bombay
as it was known back then, begins in 1920 with a gentleman named Edward
Behr. Bombay at the time had seen many smaller scale Western classical
music performances, usually consisting of songs from light operas or solo
instrumentalists, organised by various amateur musical societies and almost
entirely dominated by the city’s British residents.
Behr, a German citizen educated at the Royal College of Music in London,
was the conductor of the Governor’s Band and leader of several small scale
light opera productions in the city. In June 1920 he wrote a long and
detailed letter to the Times of India outlining his plan for the formation
of a full Symphony Orchestra, the first of it’s kind.
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