He was a colossus among musicians, loved for his humility and simplicity as much as his mesmeric voice and talent. In a career spanning over six decades, he took the Kirana gharana and Hindustani music to a new high and earned fans among connoisseurs and ordinary folk alike. One of the most beloved and versatile musicians of our times has sung his last note. Bharat Ratna, PanditBhimsen Joshi passed away in Pune on Monday, the 24th January, 2011 after struggling with a brief illness. He was 88 years old.
“..he was an extremely affectionate man, simple and very good-natured. He was particularly encouraging of younger musicians. I remember a train journey from Kolkata to Mumbai in 1966. We were traveling together and out of the blue he turned around and told me: When I look back at those who are following in my footsteps, I see only you. For a young musician it was an overwhelming pat on the back. I met him the last time in December last year. I had sung at the Sawai Gandharva Festival he hosts in Pune and went to meet him the next morning to pay my regards. You did well last night, he said. I asked for and got his blessings. Then he said, I am tired, I want to sleep..”
~ Pandit Jasraj
“..among the many aspects of his life that come to my mind is his alcoholic phase. Occasionally, he would come to my place at 2 a.m. saying he had run out of a drink and I would push him out. But he had the constitution of a horse. He would never allow drinking come in the way of his singing. He would drink to a concert, collapse and emerge from it, singing again. He had fantastic physical fitness and his dedication to singing was total. More than collapsing, it would, perhaps, be accurate to say he would drink and come and sleep off on the stage on which he was meant to sing. He would be in deep sleep when the concert was to begin. The next day, he would wake up and sing to glory. Drink he may have had, but he never disappointed a soul, and no soul ever went back disappointed. Bhimsen would work hard on his singing and voice, going on for hours on end in the very early morning. He would work so hard it would frighten even the great Gangubai Hangal. She, in fact, said one day she was very scared by his practice..”
~ Girish Karnad
Presented in this post are a few gems from some of the most renowned artists of Indian classical music. These songs were picked up by me from various music forums and sites. A couple of these songs have been specially uploaded on visitors’ requests. If your requested song is not here, please wait for the next Random Songs post.
Bhimsen Joshi – Thumri Bhairavi – Babul Mora Naihar :
The name of this school of music derives from Kirana or Kairana, a village in Haryana state of central India. It is the birthplace of Ustad Abdul Karim Khan (1872-1937), who was one of the most important musicians of this Gharana and of Hindustani music in general in the twentieth century, and considered by some to be the real founder of the Kirana Gharana. A frequent visitor to the Court of Mysore, Ustad Abdul Karim Khan was influenced by Carnatic music.
Much to the credit of Abdul Karim Khan, today most Hindustani musicians from Karnataka and Maharashtra are exponents of KiranaGharana and it has imbibed many of the features of the Carnatic tradition. Common traits of Kirana Gharana include systematic elaboration of a Raga, improvisation in the vilambit laya, and slow spacious alaps employing meendkari. The style is renowned for its melody and sweetness. The lineage of this Gharana includes Beenkars and Sarangi players. Influence of Sarangi is clearly noticeable in the style of many exponents.
Abdul Karim Khan – Jhinjhoti – Piya Bin Nahin Awat Chain :
Bhimsen Joshi – Bhairavi Thumri – Jamuna Ke Teer :
Firoz Dastur – Zila Kafi – Gopala Mori Karuna :
Roshanara Begum – Jaunpuri – Rang Gori :
Besides the above mentioned artists, famous names of KiranaGharana include Hirabai Barodekar, Sawai Gandharva, Gangubai Hangal, Basavraj Rajguru, Channulal Mishra, Prabha Atre and many more. As with other Gharanas, the list is long.
Here are some more songs of my choice and liking. A few gems from my favourite playlist. All the vocalists are renowned names. Firoz Dastur (1919–2008) was a well known, and probably the most successful, Hindustani classical singer from the Parsi community.
Firoz Dastur – Thumri Kafi – Bawre Dam De Gayo Kanha :
Bhimsen Joshi – Thumri Tilang – Kahe Ko Neha Lagaye :