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Popular Hindustani vocalists  
 
Ustad Amjad Ali Khan
  Ustad Amjad Ali Khan

A distinguished maestro in the field of playing Sarod, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan is popularly known as the "Sarod Samrat". He is the sixth generation Sarod player in his renowned family. The credit of modifying the Sarod as a classical instrument goes to his ancestors of the Bangash lineage originating from Senia Bangash School of Music. The present day Sarod has been derived by modifying the ancient folk instrument of Iran known as Rabab. Ustad Amjad Ali Khan has come to this stage of life after much determination and hard work. Read his life history in this short biography of Amzad Ali Khan.

Amjad Ali Khan was born on 9th October, 1945 at a place called Gwalior
 
located in Madhya Pradesh. His father Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan was a musician in the court of the royal family of Gwalior. He received training from the descendants of Miyan Tansen, who is considered to be the greatest musician of all times. Amjad Ali Khan was the youngest son in his family. His first tutor was his father and he began playing at a very young age. At the mere age of twelve years, Amjad Ali Khan gave his first solo recital. The rest as they say is history. It was his love for the instrument and passion for music that made him famous and recognized as one of the greatest Sarod players.

Amjad Ali Khan has contributed immensely in the field of classical music. He plays the Sarod with his finger nails instead of finger tips. This gives a clear ringing sound and is also the most difficult technique to apply on the Sarod. This innovative genius has composed many ragas of his own like Kiran Ranjani, Haripriya Kanada, Shivanjali, Shyam Shri, Suhag Bhairav, Lalit Dhwani, Amiri Tidy, Jawahar Manjari and Bapukauns. He has also acquired international acclaim by composing for the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra. It was titled "Tribute to Hong Kong". The other musicians involved with this project were guitarist Charley Byrd, Violinist Igor Frolov, Suprano Glenda Simpson, Guitarist Barry Mason and UK Cellist Matthew Barley.
 
   
   
Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan
  Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan

One name that truly epitomizes the 20th century Hindustani classical music tradition is that of Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. Often touted as the Tansen of 20th Century, this music maestro has blended the best of classical music and created a unique style of his own. His style of music had an effervescent melodic quality with a sense of enthusiasm. He had one of the most flexible voices, which could easily master the flow of words and deliver the real essence of the song. This great musician has contributed immensely in his short career span. Read his life history in this short biography of Bade GhulamAli Khan.

Bade Ghulam Ali Khan was born in the year 1902 in the great musical
 
lineage from Kasur, located in Western Punjab. He blended the best of the four traditions of music: Patiala that was own, the elements of Dhrupad, the delicacy of Jaipur and the embellishments of Gwalior. Bade Ghulam Ali looked beyond the "Bol-banav" tradition of Thumri. He wanted to break the age old tradition and wanted to play with the notes with greater abandon and less restraint. This kind of Thumri is now well established by the efforts of Bade Ghulam Ali Khan.

The career span of Bade Ghulam Ali Khan was relatively short. He made his mark in Calcutta in the year 1938 and All India Music Conference in Bombay in the year 1944. He was titled the Master in each and every field of music that he explored. But, he breathed his last at the age of 66, much to the shock of his fans and music lovers. On 25th April, 1968 he breathed his last, depriving the world of much more priceless treasure that he could have given.
 
   
   
Bhimsen Joshi
  Bhimsen Joshi

One of the most prominent and legendary Hindustani vocalist living today is of course Pandit Bhimsen Joshi. He can very easily be called a living legend and someone who has not just earned true fans but has also won over critics. Born on 4th February, 1922 in Karnataka, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi is the descendant of Kirana stream of Hindustani classical music. He is famous for the "Khayal", a form of Hindustani classical.

He found the apt teacher for him very close to his house. Under the tutelage of Savai Gandharva he learnt many ragas and perfected his tone, pitch and the best of Kirana gharana. His sheer determination and hard work has made him what he is today. In the last five decades, his popularity has
 
increased manifold because of the intensity and passion he brings in his songs. Other concert artists truly appreciate his style and the passion that he gets into his songs. His first public performance was at the age of 19.

His most memorable performance that is remembered till date is of course the national integration song "Mile Sur Mera Tumhara". His golden voice appealing to Indians to come together and stand as one nation is an evergreen number that is hummed by one and all even today. He has collaborated with many other renowned musicians like Hariprasad Chaurasiya, Pandit Ravi Shankar and Dr. Balamuralikrishna and has come out with many albums. He is a living legend who continues to weave magic with his unique voice even today.
 
   
   
Ustad Bismillah Khan
  Ustad Bismillah Khan

Ustad Bismillah Khan was undoubtedly a gem that India is proud of. This Shehnai maestro of India was a Bharat Ratna awardee and also has been awarded all the top four civilian awards namely Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan along with the Bharat Ratna. Born on 21st March, 1916 in Dumraon, Bihar, he was the second son of Paigambar Khan and Mitthan. His family had a musical background and his ancestors were musicians in the court of the princely states of Bhojpur. Read about the life history of this blessed soul in this short biography of Bismillah Khan.

Bismillah Khan was named Qamaruddin to sound like his elder brother's name Shamsuddin. However, when his grandfather Rasool Baksh Khan
 
saw him as a baby he uttered the word "Bismillah" and hence he came to be known as Bismillah Khan. His father used to be a shehnai player in the court of Maharaja Keshav Prasad Singh of Dumraon. Despite the fame that he achieved, Bismillah Khan always remained where his roots were. He never accumulated wealth and other materialistic possessions and lived in humble surroundings in the holy city of Benares.

His concert in All India Music Conference (1937) in Calcutta brought shehnai into limelight and was hugely appreciated by music lovers. He monopolized shehnai recital in the post independence era and kept the legacy of classical music alive with his recitals. He can be truly called a pure artist who always believed that music will survive even if the world perishes. He believed in Hindu-Muslim unity and spread the message of brotherhood through his music. He always announced that music has no caste.
 
   
   
Pandit Kumar Gandharva
  Pandit Kumar Gandharva

One of the most famous classical musicians in India was undoubtedly PanditKumar Gandharva. His real name was Shivaputra Siddharamayya Komkali.Pandit Kumar Gandharva was born on 8th April, 1924 in a place called Dharwad located in Karnataka. The most unique thing about him was that he refused to be tied down by any kind of Gharana and believed in being innovation and trying out his own new styles. The life history of Pandit Kumar Gandharva is truly fascinating. Read this short biography of Pt. Kumara Gandharv.

Though his voice was affected after the illness, he developed his own style of singing. Though he may not have reached the same heights as his
 
contemporaries like Bhimsen Joshi, his style won him appreciation and accolades from one and all. His style of pronunciation was unmatched and he believed that words, if pronounced properly with the correct feel can be very powerful. His style of singing also included many dramatic gestures and smiles, which was thoroughly enjoyed by his audience.

He also experimented with other genres of music like devotional songs known as "Bhajans", folk songs, etc. His unique style and creativity made him compose songs in the same Raga in both fast and slow pace; this was something rarely done by a north Indian musician. Though he refused to follow the tradition of a Gharana, he never rejected completely the rich tradition of music. The great legend passed away on 12th January, 1992, leaving behind disappointed fans but a rich legacy of classical music.
 
   
   
Pandit Ravi Shankar
  Pandit Ravi Shankar

Pandit Ravi Shankar is a living legend who is a genius Sitar player. Born on 7th April, 1920 in Banaras, his family was a Bengali Brahmin family who named him Ravindra Shankar. Shyam Shankar, his father, was a barrister. He had an elder brother Uday Shankar who was a famous Indian classical dancer. In his younger years, Ravi played Sitar the dance troupe of Uday Shankar, especially with Anna Pavlova. In 1938, he studied under his guru, Allaudin Khan. The dedication and determination shows in the fact that Ravi Shankar's career span extends over six decades and has been recorded in the Guinness World Record as the longest international career. An account of his fascinating life history is given here as the biography of Pt. Ravi Shankar.
 

In the year 1965, George Harrison, a member of the band The Beatles began experimenting with the Sitar. Consequently, the two musicians met and their interest in the Sitar made them really good friends. Ravi Shankar's career got instant boost as he came to be known as Harrison's mentor. He got many opportunities to showcase his skill as a classical musician in events like Monterey Pop Festival, California (1967) along with the tabla maestro Ustad Allah Rakha. Ravi Shankar also performed an opening act during George Harrison's U.S tour in the year 1974. George Harrison fondly calls him the Godfather of World Music.

Ravi Shankar has composed two symphony masterpieces for Sitar and orchestra; Violin and Sitar composition for Yehudi Menuhin. He has also composed music for flute maestro Jean Pierre Rampal, Japanese flute player Hozan Yamamoto and Koto (Japanese stringed instrument) player Musumi Miyashita. He has composed the musical score for movies like Charly, Chappaqua, Apu Trilogy and Gandhi. He even got nominated for an Academy Award for his composition in this movie. His recording named "Tana Mana" (1987) skillfully infuses the traditional instruments with electronics. He also composed the Sitar part in Philip Glass's composition "Orion".
 
   
Ustad Zakir Hussain
  Ustad Zakir Hussain

Popularly known as Tabla Maestro, Ustad Zakir Hussain is the son of the renowned tabla player Ustad Allah Rakha. He was born on 9th March, 1951 and showed much interest in tabla since a very young age. This child prodigy started touring by the time he was twelve and started to perform at concerts and gain much recognition and fame. He went to in St. Michael's High School in Mahim and did his graduation from St. Xavier's Mumbai. In his twenties, he started to tour the United States frequently and performed in not less than 150concerts per year. Read the fascinating life history of the famous musical genius in this biography of Zakhir Hussein.

Zakhir has performed with many artists and has created brilliant works of
 
fusion. His partnership with the famous band The Beatles truly deserves a special mention. He also recorded with the American psychedelic band called "Shanti" in the year 1971. In 1975, he worked with John McLaughlin in the band "Shakti". This band had John McLaughlin, Zakir Hussain, L. Shankar, T.H. "Vikku" Vinayakram and R. Raghavan. It was disbanded by late 70's. However, the band was reunited a few years later by the name of Remember Shakti with some new members. The new band has released many albums like Saturday Night in Bombay, The Believer and 38th Montreux Jazz Festival.

Zakhir Hussain also released his first solo album "Making Music" in the year 1987, which was proclaimed to be one of the most inspired East-West fusion albums ever. He was awarded the "Padma Shree" by the Government in the year 1988, thus making him the youngest percussionist to ever receive this award. Zakir Hussain has also received the National Heritage Fellowship (1999) which the most prestigious honor for a master in traditional arts in U.S. He has also been honored with Sangeet Natak Akademi Award by the President of India in the year 1991. He was also awarded the Grammy for the album "Planet Drum" which was produced and created by Zakir Hussain and Mickey Hart.
 
   
 
 
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