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Detail of Biography - Ustad Amjad Ali Khan
Name :
Ustad Amjad Ali Khan
Date :
Views :
562
Category :
Birth Date :
09/10/2045
Birth Place :
Gwalior.
Death Date :
Not Available
Biography - Ustad Amjad Ali Khan
Not Available
[b]The Beginning of the Past[/b][br /]
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Quivering fingers and deep sparkling eyes of the baby born on October 9, 1945, into the illustrious Bangash lineage was named Amjad Ali Khan. He was the younger of the two sons of the famous sarod maestro Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan Sahib. Khan Sahib also had a son Mubarak Ali and a daughter from his first wife, who died young. Young Amjad was called Masoom Ali Khan. [br /]
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Masoom was born in the ancestral house at Gwalior, presented to Amjad’s great grandfather by the Gwalior royal family. A one-storeyed building with a mosque nearby that filled the air around with the soulful azzans (prayer).[br /]
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Masoom lived in a joint family with lots of paternal relatives. Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan was a tall, turbaned, imposing figure. But to the infant Masoom he was an awe-inspiring sight. To the young child, his 65-year-old father was more of a grandfather who later became his guru. Like any other child of a musical household, Masoom was immersed in music : Tanpuras being tuned, tablas being hammered and pulled to set, the strings of the tarab being adjusted etc. were the ambient sounds, he grew up with.[br /]
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It was probably at the age of five that he found himself playing the sarod and realized that it would be his life’s aim.[br /]
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The inevitability of fate was apparent when a saintly person visited Masoom’s home. The seven-year-old Masoom and his father performed for this long-bearded, saffron-robed figure who himself was a singer. Their performance moved him so much that he blessed Masoom by naming him Amjad. Childhood friends still remember Amjad Ali Khan as Masoom.[br /]
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[b]Change of Address[/b][br /]
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In 1957, Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan left his forefathers’ place Gwalior and arrived in New Delhi. This city became Ustad’s home for the rest of his life. Since Khan Sahib never made money from music, he hardly had any assets or property in Delhi. From feudal loyalties, royal responsibilities, pomp and pageantry, the family moved into an environment of periodic elections, futureless individuals and fear, etc. Some musical maestros managed to thrive in that atmosphere in Delhi.[br /]
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Once in New Delhi, Amjad began his formal education from the reputed Modern School. Twelve-year-old Amjad was probably the only student with a rich legacy. The school’s ambience differed from the discipline and glory of his family. It made him confident, polite besides being sensitive.[br /]
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During his school days, he did not fare well in mathematics, and rarely stayed back to play games. He usually rushed home to his father to play the sarod, who also would wait for his son’s return. Amjad was already on way to an extremely productive and creative life.[br /]
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He accompanied his father at various concerts even during his school days. He performed at various festivals and contributed to the family income. Amjad’s first performance at school was on the UN day in 1959. Amjad’s sarod soon came to be recognized.[br /]
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Amjad gave his first public performance in Bombay in 1961. In 1963, he was part of a delegation of artists, musicians and dancers sent to the US. The only teenager from Modern School to join the delegation. After that, there was no looking back.[br /]
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[b]The Married Man[/b][br /]
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Time passed and Amjad grew up into a handsome young musician. He married Subhalakshmi Borooah on September 25, 1976. Subhalakshmi came from a highly educated aristocratic Borooah family of Assam, where art and culture were part of life. Dance was her prime passion. A Manipuri dancer, she has won fame in northeast India. She later graduated in Bharatnatyam from Kalakshetra, Madras under eminent danseuse, Rukmani Devi Arundale. She gave her first performance in 1967 and traveled the world over as a cultural ambassador leaving audiences enthralled.[br /]
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Amjad was one of them. With their parents' consent Amjad and Subhalakshmi were married. Subhalakshmi knew that Amjad was a ‘twenty-four hour man’ and not the ‘nine-to-five working man’ and accepted it gracefully.[br /]
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Over the years she found less time for her dance and devoted herself to family life. The couple was blessed with their first son Amaan in 1977 and in 1979 was born Ayaan. Amaan and Ayaan are the seventh generation of the Senia-Bangash Gharana.[br /]
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The sons were naturally inclined towards the strings of the sarod. In today’s world, where musicians are experimenting and fusing various music styles, Amjad Ali Khan has trained his sons in the traditional classical style with ample insight into the present trends. He has tried his best to pass on his musical forte to his children.
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Today Amjad Ali Khan and his sons perform together. The sons have given solo performances and have taken the first step towards recognition.[br /]
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[b]Music & Life – The oneness[/b][br /]
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Amjad Ali Khan was born into a family with a legendary lineage of musical glory. Music was in his genes. He kept alive the musical tradition of the Senia-Bangash gharana, and passed it on to the next generation. Amjad’s growing into a musician of a distinctive nature came long before he could think effectively in words.[br /]
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The fact that Amjad was born to a celebrated musician of his time, Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan, and at such a late age, made things difficult for him. The Ustad had already reached the apex of recognition and realization but something saddened his heart. When Amjad was born, Ustad felt there was little time left for him to inspire his son and that it needed unremitting strain to build a musician he would have liked to leave behind.[br /]
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The Ustad knew that rare qualities like integrity of spirit and sacrifice were required to make a musician of depth and force. This gave Khan Sahib a deep sense of failure. This kind of despair also led to the fact that he did not want Amjad to follow his footsteps.[br /]
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The child Amjad seemed to have sensed this feeling of doom and felt that something in his father has been left uncommunicated. At the same time Amjad knew that he had the same dedication and drive.[br /]
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Amjad had heard the Ustad confide that he was a failure, but to young Amjad the details of his failure were insignificant. His father’s pain and suffering, the feeling of being left out in the cold with a ‘chilling desire’ to transmit the spirit and the esoteric art touched Amjad.[br /]
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On one occasion, when Amjad was travelling by train to Calcutta with his father, who was seated near the open window, a gust of wind blew.[br /]
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Amjad asked his father if he would like him to close the window. The Ustad replied, "Why prevent the dust from coming in when we all shall mix with this dust against which we are trying to protect ourselves." This not only showed the Ustad’s awareness of life’s stark reality but also proved that he lived with this bitter fact deeply buried in his heart.[br /]
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Amjad used to feel the abyss of time, experience and wisdom that separated the two. This required him to bring into his life, as soon as possible, all the passion, sustenance and endurance that he could make the best of the years he had with his father.[br /]
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Amjad does not recollect when he began to learn the sarod but remembers that around the age of five he found his fingers itching to play what mattered the most to his father – the sarod. Amjad, once remarked, "I was born old, even as a child I was only looking out on the world of those of my own age from somewhere else. I have never had a childhood in the animal sense of mindless play and frolic." It was this reason that Amjad was a quiet child and this ability to be still was the manifestation of a primary energy in the making of the musician.[br /]
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Amjad’s sarod training was based on Ustad’s singing. Ustad sang the ragas and Amjad reproduced what he heard. Thus Amjad studied by the ear and it required concentration, since the music was never written. He never missed even a single note because each note was captured and inscribed upon his heart. Amjad also learnt to sing formally under the guidance of Pandit Gune Saheb and learnt to play the tabla from Pandit Rakbar Dayal to master the rhythm.[br /]
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In Indian classical music the ragas were born from swaras and swara from the sound. Thus any raga was brought into its complete being when the instrument sang it. Thus, Amjad wanted the sarod to sing and not just play. Amjad dedicated himself to this task. He experimented and used a coconut shell as a plectrum, and that softened the tone of the Sarod. He also made use of the space between the nail and the quick to stop the strings. This often hurt him, nevertheless, he wanted to attain the necessary texture and color in his music which became his tonal signature over the years. Amjad also yearned to make his sarod move lightly and to speed along with the same smoothness of voice.[br /]
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The Ustad was aware about what troubled his son and also fathomed how deeply it affected his conviction. He was convinced that Amjad would turn the sarod’s deficiencies, into a major strength, thereby giving it a vocal quality. This effort to give the sarod a human voice was a mammoth task, a long and arduous one.[br /]
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[b]Concert Life[/b][br /]
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Amjad Ali Khan had begun to accompany his father at various concerts and festivals at a young age. He began his concert life by performing in his hometown Gwalior where he was adored as the ‘native son’. In 1958, he played for the Sadarang Music Conference in Calcutta, Benaras, Allahabad, Kanpur, Bareilly, Aligarh and Patna. In 1961, he gave his first solo performance in Bombay.[br /]
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Amjad Ali Khan made his international debut in the US in 1963 as part of a delegation from India. Touring and playing, Amjad Ali Khan realized that he was the son of Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan, the torchbearer of a long and hallowed tradition. He realized that he deserved this musical inheritance and all he had to do was to understand and explore the glory and mystery of the art. [br /]
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He believed that in playing sarod, it had to be triggered by the very basic inspiration and his talent and inheritance would do the needful. This also reflects in the way he plays for his audiences. Amjad Ali Khan presents his raga straight, simply and in its pure form, never trying to trivialize it to suit an audience. There is no masking or artificiality in his playing.[br /]
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This basic philosophy of Amjad Ali Khan’s music and life is obvious when he abstains from playing sarod for popular cinema, with the exception of music he played in the Hindi film, Sparsh directed by Sai Paranjpe. This also happened when Amjad Ali Khan chose to remain in India in spite of lucrative offers to establish himself among the foreign audiences, not to say that he has never performed overseas. He has performed at various music festivals, with various artists around the world.
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[b]Unlimiting the Limits[/b][br /]
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When one tries to evaluate Amjad Ali Khan’s music or its relation to the art as a whole one realizes that it does not bear the slightest trace of defensiveness. Amjad Ali Khan is a man of few words. Among the musicians of today Amjad Ali Khan has contributed the largest number of ragas to Indian classical music.[br /]
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He has created over 20 ragas, each discovered through personal emotions and not just an amalgam of scales. His ragas have an emotional appeal rather than becoming just a statement of ‘grammatically correct’ scales.[br /]
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While listening to his raga Priyadarshini one wonders at its despair. It is a melody more grief stricken than the assassination of Indira Gandhi, the late Prime Minister, on whose death the raga was born.[br /]
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Similarly, raga Subhalakshmi, named after his wife, is a celebration of the power and strength of sacrifice of Indian womanhood. There are several others of varying feelings and emotions. All of these are genuine responses to life’s compelling predicaments.[br /]
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Amjad Ali Khan is an international celebrity today and not many places in the world are unfamiliar with his name. His travelling around the world are attempts to reach out to a larger audience, to interact and prove the worthiness of his music outside the ambience of his own culture, only to return to his motherland India.[br /]
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This quiet music maestro speaks through his sarod, and understands only one duty – of reviving, enriching, and passing on his glorious musical legacy to the next generation.[br /]
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He played a note in the symphony of silences,[br /]

Years of practice had done it to him[br /]

He was the chosen one.[br /]

His predecessors kept the spark alive[br /]

And gave it to him in blood;[br /]

His life, his music, his soul are one.[br /]
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Ustad Amjad Ali Khan is among the few distinguished and successful exponents of Indian classical music, whose name has become synonymous with sarod. He did not learn music, but was born with the art, literally. The story of Amjad Ali Khan’s life is like a pilgrim seeking the ‘Holy Place’ and traversing far into the horizon with the blessings of his forefathers, exploring and discovering new ragas on the way. In his search for spiritual attainment, he has won national and international acclaim, acceptance and appreciation.[br /]
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[b]Rooted In History[/b][br /]
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Indian musical history is a tangled web of parents, lineage, and miscellaneous streams of blood and loyalty. The life and music of Ustad Amjad Ali Khan can be fathomed only when we understand his lineage.[br /]
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Amjad Ali Khan’s great-great grandfather Gulam Bandagi Khan Bangash was a horse trader and a rabab player (an ancient instrument of Iran with a fingerboard of wood and strings made of fibre of skin). He left his native Afghanistan and joined the army of the Maharaja of Rewa (in India) as a soldier. The Maharaja, a music lover, had many musicians and singers in his court. When he found that the new soldier played rabab and was teaching his son, Gulam Ali Khan as well, he took the son under his patronage. Gulam Ali was quick to learn music under other rabab players, Ustad Pyar and Ustad Jafar Khan.[br /]
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Young Gulam Ali Khan then put a steel plate on the rabab’s fingerboard, removing the wooden one. He also replaced the whispering gut strings with steel ones. This double change altered the rabab’s looks and its sound. He called it ‘sarod’ which in Persian means ‘music’. This transformation was not just a random alteration but an act of deep musical perception.[br /]
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Gulam Ali Khan’s fame spread far and wide and he was invited to perform and teach in other royal courts and princely states. The Nawab of Lucknow invited him, and from there Gulam Ali Khan proceeded to Gwalior on invitation from Maharaja Scindia of Gwalior.[br /]
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The fourth generation, Nanne Khan, son of Gulam Ali Khan, continued this glorious tradition. He studied sarod in the tradition of Dhrupad and became the principal musician of the royal household of Gwalior. His son, Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan (Amjad Ali Khan’s father) left Gwalior, after his father’s death and studied the Beenkar tradition under Wazir Khan of Rampur. Here he learnt to play sur-singar, a sarod-like instrument, and thus joined stream with the legendary Miyan Tansen.[br /]
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Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan was temperamentally a singer; his instrument was his voice. He first had a song in his head, then his fingers and plectrum would search and find a responsive chord on the sarod. He also learnt the art and technique of ragas from various singers of great acclaim. He traveled to various towns having different traditions of music and returned to Gwalior to keep the Senia-Bangash gharana of Sarod alive and to serve his next generation in a pilgrimage which he did not discontinue until he set his son Amjad’s feet on the path to eternal music. Amjad Ali Khan is the sixth generation of this dedicated sarod tradition and his sons Amaan and Ayaan are the seventh generation to continue this tradition.[br /]
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[b]October 9, 1945 [/b]
The birth of Ustad Amjad Ali Khan in Gwalior.[br /]
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[b]1957[/b] Amjad Ali Khan’s family moved from Gwalior to New Delhi.[br /]
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[b]1959 [/b]Performed for the first time at school on UN day.[br /]
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[b]1961 [/b]Gave his first public performance.[br /]
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[b]1963 [/b]Was included in the delegation of artists and performed in the US for the first time.[br /]
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[b]1976 [/b]Married Subhalakshmi.[br /]
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[b]1977 [/b]First child Amaan born.[br /]
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[b]1979 [/b]Birth of his second child, Ayaan.[br /]
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[b]1996 [/b]Converted his ancestral house at Gwalior to the Sarod Ghar.[br /]
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[b]For now and forever[/b] The maestro enchants the world with his sarod.[br /]
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• There is no essential difference between classical and popular music. Music is music.[br /]
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• One need not be equipped with theoretical knowledge of music nor is there a need to be awestruck. The uninitiated can respond as well as the experts to the melody, the combination of notes and the beauty of the raga.[br /]
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• Every raga has a soul and every musical note is the sound of God.[br /]
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• The meaning of Indian classical music is freedom within discipline.[br /]
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• Music should be felt and experienced.[br /]
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• Music satisfies the soul.[br /]
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• Music can be appreciated without knowing it.[br /]
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• Life is music and music is life.[br /]
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• Music is the celebration of life.[br /]
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• Music is a unique and precious gift to mankind.[br /]
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• The wonderful truth of any music, from anywhere in the world is based on the same seven notes.[br /]
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• Music is one of the most important ‘food’ for the intellect.[br /]
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• Instrumental music transcends all barriers of lyrics and language.[br /]
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• Through music we can convey our innermost feelings.[br /]
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• People today need more than ever to cope with tensions, distress, depression and struggle to find peace and relaxation.[br /]
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• It is understandable to adopt and adapt to a modern way of life and merely seek to achieve technical virtuosity but this does not mean that we forget the most essential values of our tradition and culture.[br /]
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• Music is the greatest wealth that I inherited from my forefathers.[br /]
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• I belong to every religion. I belong to every country. I belong to every system of music.[br /]
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• It is better not to live on music, it would be more satisfying to live for music.[br /]
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• Any fusion which is appealing is acceptable and any music which is not appealing is not acceptable.[br /]
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• When I'm performing, in search of perfection and excellence with eyes closed, I feel connected to cosmic power from where I receive the message which my audience experiences.[br /]
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