the-south-asian.com January 2003
JANUARY 2003 Contents
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Amjad Ali Khan
- celebrates half a century of sarod
- celebrates half a century of sarod playing
" There is no appropriate translation of the word 'music' in Hindi… music is much more than sangeet. … it is conversation, recitation, chanting, singing, rhythm , the best of everything put together....."
started playing professionally in 1952 at age six. His first international performance came in 1963 when he was 17. He has performed in virtually every country to thundering ovations. He is one of the most frequently recorded Indian musicians. His concerts in the Royal Albert Hall, Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Centre, Santury Hall in Japan and St. James' Palace are sell-outs. He has been composing symphonies for the Hong Kong philharmonic orchestra; ghazals for HMV (Vaada); and will soon be performing a jugalbandi with a cello player of the London Philharmonic orchestra!
He is perhaps among the few exponents of Indian classic music, who was, very literally, born into art,. He has developed a unique style of playing that has made the instrument appealing to the classes as well as the masses.
The maestro born on October 9, 1945 in Gwalior, is the youngest son of legendary Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan. His father was also his guru who handed him the skill under the strict discipline of the Guru Shisya Parampara.
Interestingly, his father was 60 when Amjad was born. " He could easily have been my grandfather," he says. " Though Ravi Shankar and I are contemporaries, he is really from my father's generation. They both shared the same guru."
At the age when he should have been playing with toys, Amjad Ali Khan was playing the sarod. As a young boy studying in Delhi's Modern School, he was already becoming famous for his performances. Wrote a critic of a show in 1962: " It was 16-year-old Amjad Ali Khan who stole the show with his polish, poise and confidence. His contribution was too good for his age."
The poise and confidence came from the time spent in riyaz to please his larger -than-life father who still looms over him from the gilt framed pictures in his house.
" My ancestors invented the sarod, which is the present day modification of the ancient rabab (an Afghan folk instrument)," says this sixth generation sarod player who traces his ancestry to the famed musician of Akbar's court, Mian Tansen.
Indeed, with such a lineage, Khan was expected to live up to the glorious past. Within the discipline of the classical tradition, his innovations have created change in the styles and technique and breathed a new life into an ancient form.
One of his important contributions is that he has introduced the khayal style on the sarod thus enlarging the creative range of the instrument. He has also kindled interest in classical music among the MTV generation. For this, he has made his sons Amaan and Ayaan Ali Bangash the young brand ambassadors of the sarod.
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