Sarod Maestro Ustad Ali Akbar Khan no more

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  1. Pintu

    Pintu New Member

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    Sarod maestro Ali Akbar Khan dies at 88

    Press Trust of India
    Posted: Saturday , Jun 20, 2009 at 0343 hrs IST

    Kolkata: Ashish Roy, late Ustad Ali Akbar Khan’s secretary in Kolkata, wouldn’t possibly forget the 2006 chapter of the Dover Lane Music Conference in the city. Not only because it was the last conference he performed at but also because that one evening summed up all that the late maestro embodied. “He was very unwell and had to go through dialysis thrice-a-week. We were not even sure if he could play that evening. But the moment he was on the stage and the sarod was handed over to him, every trace of pain disappeared from his face. In fact, if the audience was not told about his ailment, they wouldn’t have known that he was in severe pain,” says Roy.

    Khan (88) succumbed to a prolonged kidney ailment on Friday at San Francisco where he was based for the past several decades. Patrons, disciples and music lovers remember the legendary sarod player as someone who transformed music from art to a philosophy that defined the beauty, privations and inconsistencies of life itself.

    Hailed by violinist Yehudi Menuhin as ‘the greatest musician in the world’, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan had many a first to his credit in taking Indian classical music to the West. Khan was admired by both Eastern as well as Western musicians for his brilliant compositions and his mastery of the 25-string instrument. The illustrious son of Ustad Alauddin Khan, he was the first to cut a long playing record of Indian classical music in the US and to give a sarod recital on American TV. Khan was also the first Indian musician to receive the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 1991 and was nominated for Grammy Awards five times between 1970 and 1998.

    Born on April 14, 1922 in Shibpur village, now in Bangladesh, Khan took up music at the age of three, learning vocal music from his father and percussion from his uncle, Fakir Aftabuddin. A recipient of Padma Vibhushan and Padma Bhushan, Khan gave his first public performance in Allahabad at the age 13.
     
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  3. Pintu

    Pintu New Member

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    The Statesman

    King of music has played his last note

    When Ustad Ali Akbar Khan arrived in London for a fortnight on his way back home after a visit to the USA in 1955, The Observer carried an appreciative piece on him titled “Music of Kings”. In the years that followed, Khansahib ~ who passed away on Friday at his music centre in USA at 10 a.m. after a prolonged kidney ailment leaving behind wife Mary, three sons and a daughter ~ was considered a “national living treasure”, admired by musicians both in the West and in India. The late Yehudi Menuhin didn’t exaggerate when he called the sarod player “an absolute genius... the greatest musician in the world”.
    It was, in fact, at the request of Menuhin that Khan first visited the USA in 1955 to perform at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Besides his mastery of the sarod, Khan will be remembered for establishing the Ali Akbar College of Music in Calcutta in 1956. It was in 1965 that he started teaching students in America and two years later he founded the Ali Akbar College of Music in Berkeley (a year later it moved to San Rafael).
    Born on 14 April 1922 in what is now Bangladesh, it was at the age of three that he started studying music from his father, the legendary Ustad Allauddin Khan, and uncle Fakir Aftabuddin. After his father’s death in 1972, the maestro continued his father’s tradition, that of the Baba Allauddin Seni Gharana of Maihar and Rampur. At the age of 13 he gave his first public performance in Allahabad and some years later came his first recording ~ in Lucknow for HMV. Next, he became the court musician to the Maharaja of Jodhpur and remained there for seven years. It was the state of Jodhpur that bestowed upon him the title of Ustad.
    In The Dawn of Indian Music in the West, Peter Lavezzoli wrote: “Ali Akbar Khan continued to learn from his father Allauddin Khan; he passed away leaving such a staggering amount of material that Ali Akbar Khan feels that he is still learning from his father... According to Khan, music is the highest form of spiritual practice, as it involves the conscious creation of sound, the most powerful medium known to man.” Speaking to Lavezzoli, the Ustad said: “The real music, the real ragas, are food for your soul. You give everything to your body, eyes, nose, whatever you desire. But somehow you don’t give the soul what it really wants. You don’t know what you are doing. Peace is not there. Anger is there, revenge is there, jealousy, fighting, war is there. But some ragas and talas, some music is beautiful. Some energy, some thoughts ~ just like my father making a new instrument ~ is not only for you, but for everyone! This is the actual purpose. Sound. Sound is created by God. We may say music is created by a person, but no. Real music, these six ragas and 36 raginis and these 12 notes, He created from the heavens, and through the sound you can know how to use it.”
    The maestro is credited with the first Western LP recording of Indian classical music (Music of India; Morning & Evening Ragas on the Angel label), and the first television performance of Indian music, on Alistair Cooke’s Omnibus.
    Away from stage, the maestro’s contribution can be heard on several cinema soundtracks, starting with Chetan Anand’s Aandhiyan. Let’s not forget his contribution to the soundtracks of Householder (Ivory-Merchant), Khudita Pashan (for which he won the Best Musician of the Year award) and Satyajit Ray’s Devi, to name a few. The Ustad will also be remembered for his jugalbandi pairings with Ravi Shankar, the late Nikhil Banerjee and violinist L Subramaniam (Duet on Delos Records). Any music lover should have in his or her CD collection Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan In Concert (EMI/Parlophone). The recording was made at the Philharmonic Hall, New York, on 8 October 1972 and stands the test of time. Much like Khansahib will.
    Ali Akbar Khan was a recipient of the Padma Vibhushan and the National Endowment for the Arts’ prestigious National Heritage Fellowship.
     
  4. F-14

    F-14 Global Defence Moderator Senior Member

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    :cray::sad:
     
  5. Singh

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    Should've been declared a day of national mourning, he was fakhar-i-hind. A sad day on earth, rejoicing in heavens.
     
  6. Singh

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    Obituary : Ustad Ali Akbar Khan


    Sarod virtuoso who brought Indian classical music to an international audience




    The sarod player Ali Akbar Khan, who has died aged 87 of a prolonged kidney ailment, was one of the greatest musicians of the Indian subcontinent. A man of few words, introverted, and never given to extravagant flourishes, he was completely absorbed in the music of the classical tradition that he inherited, and that he helped popularise in the west.

    Born in the village of Shibpore in the Comilla district of what is now Bangladesh, he took up the instrument that his father, Allauddin Khan, had developed and improved from the rabab of Afghanistan. Smaller than the sitar, the sarod has an unfretted fingerboard made of metal. Of the 25 metal strings, 10 are played, the rest are sympathetic. The strings are plucked with a coconut shell, and both father and son exploited its capacity for glissando effects.

    Allauddin had studied with the Rampur court musician Vazir Khan, a descendant of the legendary musician-composer Miyan Tansen, one of the "nine gems" of the Mughal emperor Akbar. Later, Allauddin was employed by the Maharaja of Maihar, and it was there that he started coaching Ali Akbar seriously, thus making him a part of the same musical lineage.

    "Baba", as the father was known, was a stern master who often lost his temper, especially when his son failed to concentrate. Another of his pupils was the sitarist Ravi Shankar, who records in his autobiography that Baba was particularly hard on his son while he, Shankar, was always treated most sympathetically. However, once, when Baba was unusually harsh with him, Shankar decided to pack his bags and leave. It was Ali Akbar, two years younger, who pursued him and brought him back. After a meal prepared by Ali Akbar's mother, Madina Begum, Shankar was persuaded to stay. He later married Annapurna Devi, Ali Akbar's younger sister, another gifted musician.

    As vocal music forms the basis of all Indian classical music, Ali Akbar was made to spend hours practising the sargams, sol-fa passages, and taans, musical figures. He was never allowed out of the room until his father was satisfied that he had got them right. Percussion and talas, time measures, he learned from his uncle, Fakir Aftabuddin. As Shankar wrote: "Ali Akbar told me he had been compelled to practise for 14 to 16 hours every day, and there were times when Baba tied him to a tree for hours and refused to let him eat if his progress was not satisfactory."

    I now realise why Khan was so inhibited verbally. On the few occasions that I met him, he was always the listener, never the authoritative speaker. And when I interviewed him for a BBC TV Asian programme many years ago, it was difficult to get him to speak out. However, when it came to demonstrating a particular raga, it was a different matter.

    He would put down his head, almost shut his eyes and concentrate on his instrument, and then produce the most enchanting and divine music. He had the rare genius to draw out the rasa, the colour and inner soul, of a raga, and his raga innovations often combined the characteristics of traditional melody archetypes. When he played he appeared to be oblivious of everything around him. He said that it was through his music that he communicated with the Almighty.

    In his early 20s, Khan became music director of All-India Radio in Lucknow. Then, as a Mumbai-based composer, he scored many films, among them Chetan Anand's Aandhiyan (Storms, 1952), Sayajit Ray's Devi (The Goddess, 1960), the Merchant Ivory production - their first feature film - The Householder (1963) and Bernardo Bertolucci's Little Buddha (1993).

    Khan recorded celebrated duets with Shankar, the violinist L Subramaniam, and the sitarist Vilayat Khan, as well as many western musicians. His long relationship with Yehudi Menuhin dated back to the Edinburgh Festival of the 1950s, and it was Menuhin who brought about Khan's debut at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1955. The following year, Khan established a college in Kolkata and started teaching in the US, where he settled. His San Rafael college in California later opened a branch in Basel, Switzerland. In 1971, he and Shankar formed part of the star line-up for the concert for Bangladesh at Madison Square Garden, New York, organised by George Harrison.

    Khan - often given the honorific of "master" as Ustad Ali Akbar Khan - was awarded the National Heritage fellowship of the US and the Padma Vibhushan of India. He is survived by his third wife, Mary; seven sons, of whom Aashish and Alam Khan are sarod players; and four daughters.

    • Ali Akbar Khan, sarod player and composer, born 14 April 1922; died 19 June 2009

    Obituary: Ali Akbar Khan | World news | The Guardian
     

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