Thursday, 17 April 2014

Balaram Pathak (1926-1991) - Sitar & Surbahar - Live in Amsterdam - Cassette published 1986 in Holland

Many thanks again to Danny for sharing this cassette.

Legendary Late Pandit Balaram Pathak

'This great musician was also a great man. His real simplicity and unaffected manners, his laughing and mischievous eyes from which a child-like purity filters out, are eloquent enough. In one word: he is a true Artist.'
Late Pandit Balaram Pathak is one of the most important sitar players of the former generation. He influenced many sitar players and got recognized by many great musicians for his unique style.
Pandit Balaram Pathak's family traces ancestral tradition to Gopal Nayak; Lt. Pt.Ramgovind Pathak, the renowned musician, sitarist and surbahar player.
His family was of refined musical stock, his Great Grand father Lt. Pt. Dinanath Pathak was a great Dhrupadi. Pt. Balaram Pathak is acknowledged as one of the greatest sitar players in Northern Indian music in India. He was born on November 5, 1926 in Balia, Uttar Pradesh. He learned the art of playing on sitar and surbahar in his early childhood under his talented father. From the age of ten he practised sitar and surbahar eighteen hours a day for the next sixteen years, learning Sur-singar (instrument) and vocal music. At the age of twelve he gave his first public performance at Murshidabad, West-Bengal.
Balaram Pathak's debut concert dates back to 1938. As a winsome boy in his early stages, he played with rare artistry creating unprecedented sensation and great impact on the master musicians.
At a very early age he became the court musician of Maharaja Kamla Ranjan Royin Kasim Bazar, Murshidabad, West-Bengal. His talent has been able to graft all the finer points and subtleties of Dhrupad and Khayal in the instrument.
Balaram Pathak's style consisted of a unique combination of the qualities of novelty and perfection in exposition of the Indian ragas. His alap, meends, mukris, gamaks, zamzamas, ulta zhala created an atmosphere of ideas and feelings which was at once serious and moving. Pathak's individual talent along with the tradition of this Gharana has produced a living legend. Based on his extensive and erudite research of the Carnatic (South Indian) and North Indian styles of music he had made immense contribution to classical music by way of his compositions and introductions of new Ragas like Latangi, Charukeshi, Sanmukh-priya, Amrit-versa, Bakra-madhama Tori, Mukhari, Lilawati, Ahiri etc.
Awarded of 'Sur Sadhak' title from Calcutta Conference, he had two discs to his credit. Pandit Pathak renders even rare and difficult ragas with commendable fluency, and will be held in high esteem in the minds of true music lovers.
After having been nominated for the head of the department in the Music faculty of Khairagar University in Madhya Pradesh for some years, Balaram Pathak shifted in 1980 from Calcutta to New Delhi. Balaram Pathak participated to the most prestigious annual music festivals of the country and has been regularly performing for All India Radio (A.I.R. Calcutta, A.I.R. Delhi).
Specially delegated by the 'Government of India', Pandit Pathak visited the European countries. He was awarded the prestigious Sangeet Natak Academy Award in 1989. He has a unique credit of inventing the 'Raag Bahadur Shastri', dedicated to our late Prime minister, Lal Bahadur Shastri.
Pandit Balaram Pathak expired on 15th February 1991, in New Delhi.
Patrick Moutal 1986 (Ocora LP 558 672-73)

Friday, 11 April 2014

Mushtaq Ali Khan (1911-1989) - Sitar - Cassette published in India

Many thanks again to Danny for sharing generously this cassette.

For more information on the great artist see:
See also the external links given there.

Bolingo had posted a while ago this LP:

For decades there were no recordings available by this great artist. Now at least three CDs have been published. They can be obtained from:

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Radhika Mohan Maitra (1917-1981) - Sarode & Mohan Veena - Cassette published in India

Many thanks to Danny for sharing this cassette.


Here a very detailed article about the great artist in 5 parts:

See also this DVD about instruments from Radhika Mohan Maitra's collection of instruments:

"Das Spektrum der vorgestellten Instrumente neben der populären Sarod ist gleichermaßen erstaunlich und faszinierend. Die Sursringar verbindet das bundlose Metallgriffbrett der Sarod mit dem horizontal geschnittenen Kürbisresonator, der Holzdecke und der flachen Brücke der Surbahar. Sie kommt ohne Resonanzsaiten aus und war, ähnlich wie die Surbahar, von Mitte des 19. bis Anfang des 20. Jahrhunderts beliebt für die Interpretation von Alap im Dhrupad-Stil. Die Sur Rabab gleicht baulich weitgehend der Sursringar, hat aber statt der Holzdecke eine Ziegenhautbespannung und einen schmalen Steg wie die Sarod. Die Mohan Vina wiederum gleicht einer Sarod, hat aber statt der Ziegenhautbespannung eine Holzdecke mit breiter Brücke. Sie ist eine Erfindung von Radhika Mohan Maitra aus den 1940er Jahren und nicht zu verwechseln mit der von Vishwa Mohan Bhatt im letzten Viertel des 20. Jahrhunderts entwickelten modernen Mohan Vina, einer modifizierten Slide-Gitarre - mehr dazu hier. Letztes der fünf Instrumente ist die Dhrupadiya Rabab, neben der afghanischen Rabab eines der Vorläuferinstrumente der modernen Sarod. Sie hat ein bundloses Holzgriffbrett, Darmsaiten und eine Hautbespannung und war im 17. und 18. Jahrhundert neben der Rudra Vina das verbreitetste Melodieinstrument der Dhrupad-Musik."

After been neglected for a long time by record labels there are now at least six CDs on the market by this great artist. They can be obtained from:

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Sursringar - A Rare Instrument from India - Recordings by Ustad Allauddin Khan & Pt. Radhika Mohan Maitra from AIR

Ustad Allauddin Khan playing the Sursringar

Sursringar is a very rare instrument from India used in the past as an instrument for Dhrupad style Alaps. It got forgotten and nearly extinguished in the second half of the 20th century. Nowadays there a number of younger artists, basicly Sarod palyers, who occasionally play this in strument, but almost always like a Sarod.
Here we present two older recordings by two great masters. Both have strong Dhrupad backgrounds, the first through his teacher, the Beenkar Ustad Wazir Khan of the Senia Gharana (direct descendant of Tansen), the second through one of his teachers, the Beenkar Ustad Dabir Khan, grandson and student of Wazir Khan. These recordings we found a while ago in the internet. Many thanks to the original uploaders: the first one I don't remember unfortunately, the second one being Abhimonyu Deb from Kolkata. A note about the pictures: normally the Sursringar is hold against the left shoulder, but because of Ustad Allauddin Khan being lefthanded he holds it to his right shoulder.

1. Ustad Allauddin Khan 
Raga Nat (31:02)
A recording from All India Radio


Ustad Allauddin Khan playing the Seni or Dhrupad Rabab

2. Pt. Radhika Mohan Maitra
Raga Jaunpuri (30:26)
A recording from All India Radio

Pt. Radhika Mohan Maitra playing the Sarod


Another instrument that appeared in Hindustani music in the early years of the nineteenth century was the Sursringar, which was analogous to surbahar.
Sursringar is a modified version of the Seniya rabab. The instrument rabab had some limitations. Its gut strings and skin parchment upon the resonator make the slow passages of alapchari, impossible unlike the been. Moreover, due to the dampness in the monsoons, the sound of rabab used to deteriorate so much that the notes played on it could not even be discerned. In Sursringar, the skin parchment of the resonator had been replaced by a wooden sound board, the gut strings by those of steel and the wooden fingerboard was covered with a thin iron sheet. With these modifications Sursringar became a distinct improvement over the rabab with regard to the tonal quality and for the alapchari of dhrupad anga. These modifications, in the rabab were carried out by a descendant of Tansen's named Jaffar Khan.
Sursringar was well-suited for vilambit (slow) alap, and the techniques of both veena and rabab playing could be incorporated in it. The melodious effect of Sursringar was so overpowering that it could even outshine the veena in its vilambit alap. Thereafter, it became a tradition amongst the Rababiya gharana to play the Sursringar during the rainy season.
The instrument was well received in the world of music and became popular in a very short time in northern India.
Sursringar and surbahar, both these instruments were meant for playing the dhrupad anga alap in an elaborate manner. Sarod players used to play alap on the Sursringar before playing gat toda on sarod in the same manner as sitar players used to play on the surbahar before playing gat toda on the sitar. Therefore, it was customary to learn the Sursringar along with the sarod till the early years of the twentieth century. Gradually, when the sarod and sitar were modified and became well equipped with greater range of expressiveness, the popularity of the Sursringar and surbahar ebbed and these became obsolete in the latter half of the twentieth century.

Sursringar: Making way for sarod ?

is the popularity of sarod responsible for elbowing out sursringar from circulation, asks richa bansal unlike most other instruments in hindustani classical tradition, sursringar, which falls in the category of stringed instruments, can be dated back to a specific time. it was devised, according to traditional accounts, by the great rabab player jafar khan in or around the year 1830. organologically, a cross between rabab and surbahar but with a distinct sound and string system, sursringar is fast declining in the modern age. sursringar consists of a large semi-spherical gourd sounding box covered with wood fitted to a hollowed tapering wooden stem. the stem has a steel plate attached to it with steel and brass wires stretched across the plate. in its present form sursringar has six main strings and three subsidiary strings. it is played with a stiff wire plectrum called 'java'. the traditional style or baaz of sursringar is extremely difficult and is slowly dying out. the instrument was mainly used for playing alaap in the complex dhrupad system. it has a marvellous tone and depth of sound and is held upright like a been or sitar during a performance. pyar khan, jafar khan and bahadur sen khan were some of the great exponents of sursringar. in bengal, ustad allauddin khan, kumar birendrakishor roychwdhury, shaukat ali khan and pandit radhika mohan maitra were the noted sursringar players. trained under ustad ali akbar khan and shri dhyanesh khan, anindya banerjee is virtually the only practising exponent of sursringar in its traditional style in india today. anindya banerjee, who is originally trained in sarod, "fell in love" with sursringar when he heard a recording of ustad allauddin khan playing the instrument sometime in the 1970's. it was much later in the 80's that he decided to revive it and his ensuing efforts since then deserve high praise. "i was the first to take this instrument abroad and use it in ballet music in the dhrupad festival in uk organized by amc in 1992," said banerjee. "i have also used it in the background music of some kolkata tv serials," he added. he has even taught music in canada in 1984 and is scheduled to leave for uk in coming november. invited to various other prestigious music festivals both in india and abroad, banerjee's cd's are expected to be released fairly soon by an american as well as a french company. banerjee feels that sursringar has declined primarily since ustad allauddin khan incorporated the different styles of rabab, sarod and sursringar into sarod alone. this made sarod so versatile that gradually sursringar and rabab lost their popularity. besides, he explains that the instrument, being very large in size, poses difficulty in transportation. the sitting style of sursringar is verasan is extremely difficult to learn. lastly, it is not an easily affordable instrument priced between rs 30-50,000. "while five years is the maximum time a student requires to learn sursringar it is much easier for a sarod student to learn it," feels banerjee drawing on his own experience. anindya banerjee owns a relatively new sursringar instrument made from tunkat with its tabli recently replaced with 200-year-old teakwood. "initially sursringar was made from teak but nowadays only tunkat is used," he said. "the main maker of sursringar in kolkata today is hemen and company with instruments ranging from rs 30,000 onwards," he added. essentially a connoisseur's delight,sadly enough, sursringar is now hardly played in front of mass audiences. however, banerjee feels that with proper instruction, it will be possible to play this instrument alongside sarod and sitar on the concert stage some day. strongly maintaining that classical music still has its select audience, even banerjee could not help but agree with the fact that the quality had deteriorated immensely over the past years. and sursringar is no exception to this rule.

See also this note about Anindya Banerjee and a recording hopefully to get published one day:

Monday, 24 March 2014

Java - L'Art du Gamelan - LP published in France in 1974

Another beautiful recording of Gamelan music done by Jacques Brunet.
For more information on this series and Jacques Brunet see:
For our other posts from this series see:

Side 1:
1 - Gending WedikengserYogyakarta (RRI)24/08/1970
Kuntul Wiranten (Kyahi)RRI Yogyakarta22'25

Side 2:
2 - Gending BabadYogyakarta (RRI)07/09/1972
Sadat Pengasih (Kyahi)RRI Yogyakarta22'20