ALI AKBAR KHAN Biography - Musicians


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Name: Ali Akbar Khan                                                                 
Born: 14 April 1922                                                                   
Ali Akbar Khan was born on April 14, 1922 in the village of Shibpur, Comilla, in     
present-day Bangladesh (then East Bengal), to Baba Allauddin Khan and Madina         
Begum. Khan began his studies in vocal and instrumental music at very early age       
under his father. He also studied drums from his uncle, Fakir Aftabuddin.             
Allauddin Khan trained him on several instruments, but decided finally that he       
must concentrate on the sarod. After years of rigorous training he gave his           
debut performance in his mid-teens. Khan became the court musician of the royal       
family of Jodhpur at the age of 22.                                                   
Khan performed all over India to great applause and rave critical acclaim, and       
also traveled the world extensively in the West. In 1956, Khan founded the Ali       
Akbar College of Music in Calcutta, with the mission to teach and spread Indian       
classical music. Two years later, he founded another school of the same name in       
Berkeley, California; it moved to its present location in San Rafael, California     
in 1968. Khan has been based in the United States since the foundation of the         
San Rafael school, although he tours extensively. However, ill health in recent       
times has curtailed this. In 1985 he founded another branch of the Ali Akbar         
College of Music in Basel, Switzerland.                                               
He is a past master at outlining a melody with great economy of stroke, which         
has stood him in good stead in his short 78 rpm records in the middle of the         
last century. His long concert performances progress from the meditative (alap,       
jod) to the exhilarating (gat, jhala) in a highly structured build-up in the         
Senia beenkar style. He is also a fine exponent of "sawal-jawab", a dialogue         
between two instruments (usually one melodic and one percussion). Of late, ill       
health has reduced the frequency of his concerts and affected his physical           
dexterity on his instrument.                                                         
Khan has participated in a number of classic jugalbandi pairings, most notably       
with his fellow-student and former brother-in-law Ravi Shankar, the late Nikhil       
Banerjee and the violinist L. Subramaniam. A few recordings of some spectacular       
duets with Vilayat Khan also exist. He has also collaborated with many well-known     
Western musicians.                                                                   
Khan has been awarded the Padma Vibhushan in 1989, one of the highest civilian       
awards in India, as well as a plethora of other awards and honours. In 1997,         
Khan received the National Endowment for the Arts' prestigious National Heritage     
Fellowship, the United States' highest honour in the traditional arts. This           
followed a MacArthur Genius Grant in 1991. Khan has also received several Grammy     
Khan's son Ustad Aashish Khan (Grammy nominee of 2007) is also a reputable sarod