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|Born||14 October 1931|
|Died||27 January 1986 54)(aged|
|Genres||Hindustani classical music|
Pandit Nikhil Ranjan Banerjee (14 October 1931 – 27 January 1986) was an Indian classical sitarist of the Maihar Gharana. A student of the legendary Baba Allauddin Khan, Pandit Nikhil Banerjee was known for his technical virtuosity and clinical execution. Along with Pandit Ravi Shankar and Ustad Vilayat Khan, he emerged as one of the leading exponents of the sitar. He was a recipient of the Indian civilian honour of the Padma Bhushan.
Nikhil Banerjee was born on 14 October 1931 in Calcutta. His father, Jitendranath Banerjee, was an amateur sitarist and Banerjee was fascinated by his father's playing.[ citation needed ] Although he wanted to try his hand at an instrument as early as the age of four, he was discouraged by his father and grandfather. At the age of five, however, they relented and he acquired a small sitar, initially learning under his father. Banerjee grew into a child prodigy.[ citation needed ] He won an all-India sitar competition and became the youngest musician employed by All India Radio at the age of nine. Jitendranath approached Mushtaq Ali Khan to take Nikhil as a disciple, but only learned from this master for a few short weeks. Instead Birendra Kishore Roy Chowdhury, the zamindar of Gouripur in present-day Bangladesh, became responsible for much of his early training. He also had considerable training under Pt. Radhika Mohan Maitra, before he went under the discipleship of Ustd. Allauddin Khan.[ citation needed ]
Around 1946 Nikhil Banerjee met khyal singer Amir Khan through the master's teaching of Nikhil Banerjee's sister, and his enthusiasm for his music was reinforced by hearing him in concert a couple of years later. [ citation needed ]Amir Khan continued to have a significant influence on Banerjee's musical development.
In 1947, Banerjee met Ustad Allauddin Khan, who was to become his main guru along with his son, Ali Akbar Khan. Both were sarod players. Banerjee went to Allauddin Khan's concerts and was desperate to have him as his teacher. Allauddin Khan did not want to take on more students, but changed his mind after listening to one of Banerjee's radio broadcasts. Allauddin Khan was Banerjee's main teacher and after he left Maihar he also learnt from Ali Akbar Khan, the son of Allaudin Khan, for many years.
The discipline under Ustad Allauddin Khan was intense. For years, Nikhil's practice would start at four in the morning and, with few breaks, continue to eleven o'clock at night. [ citation needed ]Among others, Ustad Allauddin Khan also taught his son Ali Akbar Khan, grandson Aashish Khan, and nephew Bahadur Khan on the sarod; Ravi Shankar on the sitar; his daughter, Annapurna Devi, on the surbahar; Pannalal Ghosh on the flute; and Vasant Rai the sarod.
Ustad Allauddin Khan was passing on not only playing technique but the musical knowledge and approach of the Maihar gharana (school); yet there was a definite trend in his teaching to infuse the sitar and sarod with the been-baj aesthetic of the Rudra veena, surbahar and sursringar—long, elaborate alaap (unaccompanied improvisation) built on intricate meend work (bending of the note).[ citation needed ] He was also well known for adjusting his teaching to his particular students' strengths and weaknesses. Consequently, under his teaching, Shankar and Banerjee developed different sitar styles.
After Maihar, Banerjee embarked on a concert career that was to take him to all corners of the world and last right up to his untimely death. All through his life he kept taking lessons from Ustad Allauddin Khan and his children, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and Smt. Annapurna Devi. Perhaps reflecting his early upbringing, he always remained a humble musician, and was content with much less limelight than a player of his stature could have vied for. Even so, in 1968, he was decorated with the Padma Shri, and in 1974 received the prestigious Sangeet Natak Akademi Award.[ citation needed ]
Nikhil Banerjee frequently toured Europe and the USA.
Although he was often resident at the Ali Akbar College of Music in California he taught few pupils on a one-to-one basis, for his stated reason that he did not feel he had adequate time to devote to his students, as he was still learning and performing. He hoped that developing a proper disciple relationship with students would become possible later in his life, but, sadly, his early demise meant it did not happen. Nevertheless, a number of prominent sitarists have been influenced by his teaching and distinctive style.[ citation needed ]
Banerjee recorded only a handful of recordings during his lifetime but a series of live performance recordings continue to be released posthumously making sure that his musical legacy is preserved for posterity. He did not always enjoy recording within the confines of the studio, though his early studio recordings with EMI India such as Lalit, Purya Kalyan and Malkauns are now considered to be classic renditions of these ragas. The posthumous live albums, many of which were brought out around the turn of the 21st century by Raga Records in New York, and Chhandadhara of Germany, are widely considered to be the finest documents of his playing. Many of his unpublished concert recordings are available which are testimony to his musical thought.[ citation needed ]
Nikhil Banerjee was in failing health through the 80s, having survived three heart attacks. On 27 January 1986, on the birthday of his younger daughter, at the relatively young age of 54, Nikhil Banerjee died of a fourth heart attack. At the time of his death, he was a faculty member at the Ali Akbar College of Music in Calcutta. He was posthumously awarded the Padma Bhushan title by the government of India in the same year as his death.[ citation needed ]
He is survived by his wife Roma and two daughters. His elder daughter is married into the Tagore family. His younger daughter Devdutta is a supermodel and acclaimed actress. It is widely accepted knowledge that he did not enjoy teaching nor accept formal disciples.[ citation needed ]
In an interview Nikhil said he had been influenced by Allauddin Khan, Ali Akbar Khan, Amir Khan, and to a lesser extent by Omkarnath Thakur, Faiyaz Khan, Kesarbai Kerkar, and Roshanara Begum.
For Banerjee, music-making was a spiritual rather than a worldly path:
Nikhil Banerjee is revered for his mastery in both melodic and rhythmic aspects of Indian music. His unique style of sitar playing is considered to have completeness, emotion and depth. His interpretation of ragas was usually traditional, although he is credited with creating at least two new ragas. His usage of a completely "bandh" or "closed" jawari in the Maihar style sitar allowed for a much greater amount of sustain (since the strings are not buzzing against the bridge as much) as can be heard in his unique sound. Though his strings do not sound as "closed" as Ustad Vilayat Khan's sitar playing, it was only due to the technical differences in their physical sitars (and jawari was changed specifically for the Jor strings etc.) that the sitars sounded in "different" style.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle , Banerjee's "technique is a phenomenon, faster than cheetahs, more secure than the dollar." Music and Musicians observed that "his improvisations always sound completely natural and spontaneous." In an obituary the New York Times wrote "the extraordinary fluidity and assurance of his rhythmic ideas and phrasing set a standard that would have left the more international 'stars' of Indian music behind."
Today, he is commonly regarded as one of the three greatest sitarists of the 20th century, along with Ravi Shankar and Vilayat Khan.
The following is a summary of some recent CD issues. A more comprehensive discography can be found in the external links.
Ali Akbar Khan was an Indian Hindustani classical musician of the Maihar gharana, known for his virtuosity in playing the sarod. Trained as a classical musician and instrumentalist by his father, Allauddin Khan, he also composed numerous classical ragas and film scores. He established a music school in Calcutta in 1956, and the Ali Akbar College of Music in 1967, which moved with him to the United States and is now based in San Rafael, California, with a branch in Basel, Switzerland.
Ustad Amir Khan was a well-known Indian classical vocalist. He is considered one of the most influential figures in Hindustani classical music, and the founder of the Indore gharana.
Allauddin Khan, also known as Baba Allauddin Khan was an Indian sarod player and multi-instrumentalist, composer and one of the most notable music teachers of the 20th century in Indian classical music.
Anjan Chattopadhyay, the sitar player, born in a Bengali aristocratic family in Calcutta, India, was initiated to the art of sitar playing by his elder brother, a veteran Surbahar player, Pandit Gourisankar Chattopadhyay, a disciple of Pandit Birendra Kishore Roy Chowdhury. In addition to that he started taking further training from Vidushi Kalyani Roy, a reputed sitarist and one of the few disciples of Ustad Vilayat Khan. He also had lessons in vocal music from late Muktipada Datta, a representative of Agra Gharana. Anjan also learned tabla under the late Ustad Shaukat Ali Khan of Farukhabad gharana. Anjan lives in Calcutta.
Annapurna Devi was an Indian surbahar player of Hindustani classical music. She was given the name 'Annapurna' by former Maharaja Brijnath Singh of the former Maihar Estate (M.P.), and it was by this name that she was popularly known. She was the daughter and disciple of Allauddin Khan, the founder of Maihar gharana, and Madina Bibi and the first wife of the sitar player, Ravi Shankar. After her separation from Ravi Shankar, she moved to Bombay and never performed again in public. She remained a private person, yet continued to teach music for free. Her students include many notable disciples including Hariprasad Chaurasia, Nityanand Haldipur and Nikhil Banerjee.
Aashish Khan Debsharma is an Indian classical musician, a player of the sarod. He was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2006 in the 'Best World Music' category for his album "Golden Strings of the Sarode". He is also a recipient of the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award. Besides being a performer, composer, and conductor, he is also an adjunct professor of Indian classical music at the California Institute of the Arts, and the University of California at Santa Cruz, in the United States.
Ustad Bahadur Khan was an Indian sarod player and film score composer.
Pandit Budhaditya Mukherjee is an Indian classical sitar and surbahar maestro of the Imdadkhani gharana (school), recognizable by his intricate vocalic playing complemented by spectacular high speed playing. He holds a unique distinction of being the ever first artist in history to perform in the House of Commons, London. Famously proclaimed the "sitar artist of the century" by veena great Balachander, he has performed in thousands of concerts since the 1970s in India, America, Australia, the UAE, and almost all of Europe.
The Maihar gharana is a gharana or school of Hindustani classical music, a style of Indian classical music originating in the northern parts of the Indian subcontinent. The school was formed by Allaudin Khan in the princely state of Maihar, now lying in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, and hence the name. Allauddin Khan learnt music from Wazir Khan, an exponent of the Senia gharana. The Maihar gharana is therefore sometimes referred to as the Maihar-Senia gharana.
Arnab Chakrabarty is a Hindustani classical musician and sarod player based in Toronto, Canada.
Pandit Nayan Ghosh is an Indian Tabla and Sitar maestro. He is a tabla player from the Farrukhabad Gharana.
Rajeev Taranath is an Indian classical musician who plays the sarod. Taranath is a disciple of Ali Akbar Khan.
Pandit Shankar Ghosh was an Indian tabla player from the Farukhabad gharana of Hindustani classical music. He was an occasional Hindustani classical singer where he followed the Patiala gharana.
Abdul Halim Jaffer Khan was an Indian sitar player. Khan received the national awards Padma Shri (1970) and Padma Bhushan (2006) and was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for 1987.
Pt. Anindo Chatterjee is an Indian tabla player of the Farukhabad gharana school. He was born into a musical family. Chatterjee is a disciple of Pt. Jnan Prakash Ghosh. Gifted with an ability to summon crystal-clear melodies from his drums, he evolved into one of the world's greatest tabla players.
In Concert 1972 is a double live album by sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankar and sarodya Ali Akbar Khan, released in 1973 on Apple Records. It was recorded at the Philharmonic Hall, New York City, in October 1972, and is a noted example of the two Hindustani classical musicians' celebrated jugalbandi (duet) style of playing. With accompaniment from tabla player Alla Rakha, the performance reflects the two artists' sorrow at the recent death of their revered guru, and Khan's father, Allauddin Khan. The latter was responsible for many innovations in Indian music during the twentieth century, including the call-and-response dialogue that musicians such as Shankar, Khan and Rakha popularised among Western audiences in the 1960s.
Pandit Devabrata (Debu) Chaudhuri is a Sitarist and a teacher. He is the winner of the Padmabhushan and Padmashree awards. He is the writer of six books, composer of eight new ragas and numerous musical compositions. From 1963 he has appeared in numerous radio broadcasts, and he is a disciple of Mushtaq Ali Khan. He is considered a leading Sitarist of Post War era. He is regarded as one of the leading proponents of Senia Style. He is the former Dean and Head, Faculty of Music, University of Delhi. His music is noted for its sweet singing ringing tone. He currently stays with his son, daughter-in law and niece at Chittaranjan Park, New Delhi
Swara Samrat festival is a four-day annual mega festival of Indian classical music and dance held during the winters in Kolkata, India. This festival is the brainchild of Sarod maestro Pandit Tejendra Narayan Majumdar, his vocalist wife, Manasi Majumder and their Sarod player-son Indrayuddh Majumder. The festival is dedicated to Swara Samrat Ustad Ali Akbar Khan. Indian Classical Music and Dance Legends such as Pandit Shivkumar Sharma, Pandit Birju Maharaj, Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia, Pandit Jasraj, Ustad Zakir Hussain, Ustad Aashish Khan, Dr. Girija Devi, Begum Parveen Sultana, Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri, Guru Karaikudi Mani, Ustad Rashid Khan, Shankar Mahadevan, Pandit Budhaditya Mukherjee, Pandit Ulhas Kashalkar, Pandit Venkatesh Kumar, Pandit Ajoy Chakraborty, Pandit Anindo Chatterjee, Pandit Sanjay Mukherjee, Ustad Shahid Parvez, Ustad Shujaat Khan, Pandit Tejendra Narayan Majumdar, Pandit Kushal Das, Pandit Rajendra Gangani, Guru Sujata Mohapatra, Pandit Subhankar Banerjee, Pandit Yogesh Samsi, Pandit Bickram Ghosh, Pandit Tanmoy Bose and Kaushiki Chakraborty are some of the artists who have previously performed in this festival.
Ashutosh Bhattacharya was a noted Indian classical musician of Hindustani classical music from Varanasi, who was Tabla player and music educator, besides a practicing Ayurvedic doctor.
Pandit Nikhil Jyoti Ghosh was an Indian musician, teacher and writer, known his proficiency on the percussion instrument of tabla. He founded Sangit Mahabharati, an institution of music in 1956, and performed on various stages in India and abroad. A recipient of the Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan Award, his style was known to have been aligned with the Delhi, Ajrada, Farukhabad, Lucknow and Punjab gharanas of music. The Government of India awarded him the third highest civilian honour of the Padma Bhushan, in 1990, for his contributions to Music.
Banerjee's technique is a phenomenon, faster than cheetahs, more secure than the dollar. But he does not lean on that as most players do. It is there, at the ready, a strength to be called on when needed. It is his gentle playing that is so singular. The ease of it, highlighted by atypical (for Indian music) bits of literal reiteration create a kind of euphoric effect. The result is remarkably individual. One could spot a Banerjee performance on a radio broadcast or tape, a thing of great difficulty among Oriental musicians.
Manomanjari—a variation: some argue it's a blend of Kalavati & Marwa. In a 1979/80 [not verifiable] Calcutta concert [@Kala Mandir], as per the announcement, Mr. Banerjee played two ragas of his own creation—Manomanjari & Chandrakaushiki.