Personalities associated with Music

Amir Khusrau

Personalities associated with Music

Figure: A miniature painting of Amir Khusro with Nizamuddin Auliya

    • He was a poet as well as a prolific musician
    • He was a devout follower of Nizamuddin Auliya
    • He composed in various languages- Persian, Turkish, Arabic, Braj basha, Hindavi
    • He is believed to have given rise to the musical forms of Khayal and Tarana
    • He invented sitar and table.

Miyan Tansen

    • He was a prominent figure of Hindustani classical music.
    • He began his career and spent most of his adult life in the court and patronage of the Hindu king of Rewa, Raja Ramchandra Singh (1555–1592), where Tansen’s musical abilities and studies gained widespread fame.
    • This reputation brought him to the attention of the Mughal Emperor Akbar, who sent messengers to Raja Ramchandra Singh, requesting Tansen to join the musicians at the Mughal court.
    • Akbar considered him as a Navaratnas (nine jewels), and gave him the title Mian, an honorific, meaning learned man.
    • Tansen is remembered for his epic Dhrupad compositions, creating several new ragas, as well as for writing two classic books on music Sri Ganesh Stotra and Sangita Sara.
    • The Tansen Music Festival is organised every year by Madhya Pradesh culture department in the memory of Tansen

Purandara Dāsa

    • He was a prolific poet-composer and mystic of Vijayanagar, introduced a music course that is followed to the present day. Since the 17th century, hundreds of rāga-s (melody types) has been distributed among the 72 melakarta rāgas (scales).
    • He is noted for composing Dasa Sahithya, as a Bhakti movementvocalist, and a music scholar. His practice was emulated by his younger contemporary, Kanakadasa, Purandara Dasa’s Carnatic music compositions are mostly in Kannada, though some are in Sanskrit.
    • He signed his compositions with the ankitanama (pen name) “Purandara Vittala”

Swami Haridas

Personalities associated with Music

Figure: A government stamp released in the honor of Swami Haridas

    • He was a spiritual poet and classical musician
    • He is credited with a large body of devotional compositions, especially in the Dhrupad style; he is also the founder of the Haridasi school of mysticism, still found today in North India.
    • He had many pupils, Tansen being one of them and one of Akbar’s nine gems
    • Most of his compositions sing praise of Lord Vishnu and Lord Krishna
    • There are around 128 compositions attributed to him, of which eighteen are philosophical (Siddhanta pada) and a hundred and ten devotional (keli mala).

Sri Shyama Shastri (1763-1827 AD.)

    • Sri Shyama Shastri was eldest among the Trinity
    • Almost his kritis are in praise of mother Goddess Kamakshi of Kanchi. Kritis are in Telugu as well as in Sanskrit
    • He has composed 9 kritis on Meenakshi of Madurai, known as Navaratnamalika.
    • He has used many rare ragas like Manji, Ahiri, Kalgada, Chintamani, etc
    • Shyamashastri is believed to have composed nearly 300 compositions.

Sri Tyagaraja (1767-1847 AD).

    • Sri Tyagaraya is believed to have composed more than 1000 kritis
    • He brought into usage hundreds of Ragas.
    • He was a devotee of Lord Rama. Majority of his Kritis are in Telugu, others are in Sanskrit.
    • He has composed several Samudayakritis (Group Kritis) such as Ghana Raga Pancharatna, kritis and also other Pancha ratna groups like, Kovur, Lalgudi, Tiruvattiyur and Srirangam Pancharatna.
    • He has also composed the groups of Utsava Sampradaya kritis, Divyanama Sankirtanas, Upachara Kritis, which easily lend themselves for congregational singing

Muthuswami Dikshitar (1775-1835 AD)

    • Dikshitar was the youngest of Trinity
    • He has composed on innumerable Shaivite and Vaishnavite deities, whom he visited during his pilgrimages.
    • All his Kritis are in Sanskrit and the literary content of his Kritis are of high standard and slightly difficult to understand for a layman.
    • The Kritis are brilliant with musical and literary beauties like swaraksharas, various Mudras, Samashti Charana, Madhyama Kala Sahityas, Yati-Prasas etc, Ragas of Asampurna Mela Paddhati of Venkata Makhi are existing through Dikshitar kritis, where in the composer has beautifully introduced the Raga mudras.

Swati Tirunal Maharaja (1813-1847 AD)

    • Swati Tirunal Maharaja was a prolific composer
    • His court was full of talented scholars, musicians and artists. He composed a variety of compositions like Varna, Kriti, Jawali, Tillana, Bhajans in many languages and North Indian musical forms like Dhrupad, Khyal etc.
    • He was a great scholar and composed musical operas like Kuchelopakhyana and Ajamilopakhyana.

Ustad Ali Akbar Khan

    • He was composer, virtuoso sarod player, and teacher, active in presenting classical Indian music to Western audiences.
    • In 1955 the violinist Yehudi Menuhininvited him to New York City, and thereafter he often performed and recorded in the West, frequently in collaboration with his brother-in-law, the composer and sitarist Ravi Shankar.
    • Khan was the first Indian musician to record the long, elaborate manifestations of Indian music performances; among his many albums are The Forty-Minute Raga (1968) and Journey (1990)
    • He founded music schools in Kolkata (Calcutta; 1956). He founded music schools in Kolkata (Calcutta; 1956)

Hariprasad Chaurasia

    • He was born on July 1st, 1938 in Allahabad; he began his musical pursuit at the age of 15, learning classical vocal technique from Pandit Rajaram.
    • He is a world-renowned exponent of the bansuri or bamboo flute.
    • Pandit Chaurasia has been performing nationally and internationally, winning acclaim from varied audiences and fellow musicians like Yehudi Menuhin, Jean-Pierre Rampal, among others.

MS Subbalakshmi

    • Her name is synonymous with Carnatic music in our country
    • She is the first singer to be presented with India’s highest civil honor, the Bharat Ratna.
    • Her expertise was not just limited to Carnatic music but also extended to Hindustani music
    • S delivered her first public performance at the famous Rockfort Temple in Tiruchirappalli when she was just eleven years old.
    • The performance was backed by popular musicians like violinist Mysore Chowdiah and Dakshinamurthy Pillai, a well-known Mridangam player.
    • Some of her most famous works include ‘Suprabhatam’ (Early Morning Hymns), ‘Bhajagovindam’ (composed by Adi Shankaracharya praising Lord Krishna), ‘Kurai OnrumIllai’ (composed by Rajagopalachari), ‘Vishnu Sahasranamam’, ‘Hanuman Chalisa’ (Prayers to Lord Hanuman), etc.

Bismillah Khan

    • The legendary Shehnai player, Ustad Bismillah Khanwas one of India’s most celebrated classical musicians
    • Bismillah Khan has been credited with taking the shehnai from the marriage mandap to the concert hall.
    • He was awarded India’s highest civilian honor, the Bharat Ratna, in 2001, becoming the third classical musician after M. S. Subbalakshmi and Ravi Shankar
    • While the shehnai had long held importance as a folk instrument played primarily schooled in traditional ceremonies, Khan is credited with elevating its status and bringing it to the concert stage
    • Sangeet Natak Akademi, New Delhi, instituted the Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskarin 2007, in his honor. It is given to young artists in the field of music, theatre and dance.

Ravi Shankar

    • He was an Indian sitarist and composer.
    • Shankar was awarded India’s highest civilian honor, the Bharat Ratna, in 1999.
    • Shankar developed a style distinct from that of his contemporaries and incorporated influences from rhythm practices of Carnatic music
    • His performances begin with solo alap, jor, and jhala(introduction and performances with pulse and rapid pulse) influenced by the slow and serious dhrupad genre, followed by a section with tabla accompaniment featuring compositions associated with the prevalent Khayal style.
    • Shankar often closed his performances with a piece inspired by the light-classical thumrigenre
    • Pandit Ravi Shankar has made a major contribution in popularizing Indian classical music in the West through his association with The Beatles (especially George Harrison).

Zakir Hussain

    • He is an Indian tabla virtuoso, composer, percussionist, music producer and film actor. He is the eldest son of tabla player Ustad Allah Rakha
    • He collaborated with western musicians and remained that way throughout. He mostly worked with American bands. His partnership with the famous band, ‘The Beatles’ deserves a special mention.
    • Zakir Hussain has composed music for many movies like ‘In Custody’, ‘The Mystic Masseur’, ‘Heat and Dust’ etc.
    • Some of the other films, for which he has worked on the musical score include, ‘Apocalypse Now’, ‘Little Buddha’, ‘Saaz’, ‘Mr. and Mrs. Iyer’ and ‘One Dollar Curry’.
    • He showed the world that Tabla, which was considered a mere percussion before his era, could be used as a main instrument at concerts.

Bhimsen Joshi

    • He was one of the greatest Indian vocalists from Karnataka, in the Hindustani classical tradition.
    • He belongs to the Kirana gharana tradition of Hindustani Classical Music.
    • In devotional music, Joshi was most acclaimed for his Hindi and Marathi and Kannada Bhajan singing.
    • He has recorded Bhakti songs in Marathi, Santavani, kannada Dasavani.
    • Bhimsen Joshi was widely recognised in India due to his performance in the Mile Sur Mera Tumhara music video (1988), which begins with him and which was composed originally by him
    • Bhimsen Joshi was renowned for having evolved an approach that sought to achieve a balance between what may be termed as “traditional values and mass-culture tastes” and as such he went on to have supposedly the largest commercially recorded repertoire in Hindustani vocal music.

Gangubai Hangal

    • She was an Indian singer of the Khayal genre of Hindustani classical music from Karnataka, who was known for her deep and powerful voice
    • She belonged to the Kirana gharana
    • She sang bhajans, or Hindu devotional songs, light Marathi-language songs, and semi-classical songs known as thumris, as well as Khayal classical songs.
    • Hangal’s vocal quality, sensitivity to pitch and melody, and technical proficiency were among the most remarkable features of her style.