Bismillah Khan : piper of Benares

Ustad Bismillah Khan (1916-2006) was perhaps single handedly responsible for making the shehnai a famous and popular instrument and bringing it into the mainstream Indian classical music. He was credited with having almost monopoly over the instrument as he and the shehnai were almost synonymous. Bismillah Khan was born in a small village called Dumraon in the state of Bihar, on November 21, 1916. His early childhood was spent in Benares, on the banks of the Ganga, where his uncle was the official shehnai player in the famous Vishwanath temple. His father was a musician for the Dumraon state.

He started his training under the guidance of his maternal uncle, Ali Bux, at the age of six. He often accompanied him to perform at marriage celebrations or music conferences. Bismillah Khan made a recording for the first time in 1930. However it was sold in the name of a relative, Vilayat Hussain, a more popular musician at the time. He made his first major public appearance in 1930 at the age of 14, when he played along with his uncle at the All India Music Conference in Allahabad. His second performance was at the Music Conference at the Lucknow exhibition, where he won a gold medal for his recital.

Bismillah Khan – Kajri Keharwa :  Download

Bismillah Khan – Chaiti Dhun :  Download

Bismillah Khan – Thumri Bhairavi – Aaye Na Balam :  Download

Bismillah Khan – Dhun (from the film ‘Goonj Uthi Shehnai’) :  Download

Bismillah Khan – Dhun – Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram :  Download

Bismillah Khan had the ability to produce intricate sound patterns on the shehnai which, till before his time, were considered impossible on this instrument. The Government of India bestowed on him the title Padma Shree in 1961, and later, the Padma Bhushan and the Padma Vibhushan. In 2001, he became the third classical musician to be awarded the Bharat Ratna, after M S Subbulakshmi and Pandit Ravi Shankar. Bismillah Khan died of cardiac arrest on August 21, 2006. He was 90. The Government of India declared one day of national mourning on his death, an event unprecedented for any musician.

indianraga

6 Comments

  1. Rakesh Singh said,

    June 9, 2010 at 1:14 am

    Great work … Thanks for posting it online.

  2. Sanjeev Kumar said,

    July 2, 2010 at 9:12 am

    He was a gr8 human being too. Such a gr8 personality. Its impossible to have someone like him.

  3. Chintan said,

    August 1, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    Ustad Bismillah Khan’s simplicity showed in his music.. had the honor of seeing him live first time when i was 12 years old.. in benaras.. followed him closely all through and when saw him last perform in nehru park in 2004 he was on a wheel chair but still playing.. the kajri he played on that day still rings in my ears. I was sitting there and crying unabashed knowing very well that i might never get a chance to see him play again.

  4. virendra singh verma said,

    August 12, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    SAW HIM PERFORM LIVE IN DEHRADUN,MY HOME TOWN.
    ASHIRWAD OF DEVI SARASWATI PENETRATES AN INNOCENT SOUL LIKE HIM
    SAINTS HAVE NO RELIGION . THEY ARE UNIVERSAL BEINGS
    THIS WAS MY EVERLASTING IMPRESSION OF HIM

  5. vinod mehra said,

    September 1, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    khan sahib me bagwan ka ansh diktha hai, in jese log yogo me peda hote hai parbu inke pariwar ko sukh shanti de

  6. V. Khawani said,

    February 19, 2012 at 9:15 am

    I have been fortunate enough to watch his performance live & meet him personally. He gave me his autograph too🙂


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