RIP, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan

ustad_ali_akbar_khanLegendary Sarod maestro Ustad Ali Akbar Khan breathed his last in San Francisco today, succumbing to a prolonged kidney ailment.
Born in 1922 in present day Bangladesh, Ali Akbar Khan gave his first public performance at 13 in Allahabad, and later was made court musician at Jodhpur whence he received the title of Ustad. At Lord Yehudi Menuhin’s request he visited the US in 1955 and performed a concert there. Subsequently he became the first Indian to the LP recording of Indian classical music, and give the first performance of Indian music on American television. He founded the Ali Akbar College of Music in Calcutta in 1956 and in the US in 1967.
Being the exceptional talent that he was, awards and recognitions came in plenty to Khansahib. The most prominent among them were Padma Bhushan in 1971, Padma Vibhushan in 1988 and five Grammy nominations. He also dabbled in film music, scoring music for movies like Chetan Anand’s Aandhiyan, Merchant-Ivory’s debut movie The Householder and Bernardo Bertolucci’s Little Buddha.
Quite ironically the great man drew the ire of Rahman fans early this year when he made certain contentious remarks about Rahman’s songs following his Golden Globe win for Slumdog Millionaire.
Music world has indeed lost a gem today in Khansahib. To carry his musical legacy forward however he has left behind his son Aashish Khan, who has already made his name as a Sarod player of repute, bagging a Grammy nomination in 2006 for his work with Zakir Hussain.

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