"Ustad Munir Khan (born 1926) belongs to a family of distinguished courtmusicians from Rajasthan that goes back many generations. Ustad Munir Khan had his musical eductaion in sarangi and vocal music under the guidance of his father Ustad Nazir Khan (1882-1975) and also became a disciple of Ustad Amir Khan with whom he studied for over forty years. Starting at a young age he participated in concerts with many great masters and he has always been much sought after for sarangi accompaniment by vocalists like Ustad Ashiq Ali Khan, Ummeed Ali Khan and Bibe Khan of Punjab, Ustad Alladiya Khan, Vilayat Hussain Khan, Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Amir Khan, Nissar Hussain Khan and Pandit Mallikarjun Mansur..."
from the booklet to the CD: Ustad Munir Khan - Ananda, PAN Records, 4016 (2003).
On friday the 5th of october Pandit Yashwantbuwa Joshi, one of the last great masters of a bygone era, passed away. Last year we had posted already two cassettes by him. See here and here. Now we present as a tribute to him a cassette published in 2001 in India.
Yashwant Buwa Joshi – “The basic requirement of music is a magical quality
Yashwant Buwa spoke to Deepak Raja on June 5, 2003
I was born and brought up in Pune. My father operated a couple of cabs in the city. He was untrained in music, but had a lovely voice and sang devotional songs very well. That is all I can claim by way of a family background in music. It was my uncle, Govardhan Buwa Naik, who was responsible for pushing me in this direction. He was an alumnus of the first batch (1901) of Vishnu Digambar’s Gandharva Mahavidyalaya (Music College) in Lahore under a nine-year apprenticeship in music. The only explanation for his having gone there was that lodging, boarding, and training were free. That was my grandfather’s way of ensuring that his family could survive on his income. Govardhan Buwa could not sing, but became a competent player on the Harmonium, Tabla and Dilruba (a short-necked, fretted, lute of the bowed variety). So, after graduating, he started a music school in Bombay. Because he had no children, he was keen that I should train as a musician and take over its management after him.
At my sacred thread ceremony, which took place when I was nine, my uncle invited the famous vocalist, Mirashi Buwa (Yashwant Sadashiv Mirashi). My uncle’s Guru, Vishnu Digambar, and Mirashi Buwa had studied together under Balkrishna Buwa Ichalkaranjikar. My uncle and Mirashi Buwa thus belonged to a close-knit gharana fraternity. Mirashi Buwa had just moved to Pune from Nashik, after serving a leading theatre company for 24 years. Over lunch, my uncle requested the stalwart to teach me, and he agreed. This is how it started. Every single day, after returning from school, I would go to Mirashi Buwa’s house and learn music. As luck would have it, my uncle died within a year of my starting music lessons. There was no longer a ready business awaiting me. But, I continued studying music.
The relationship was in the traditional mould, the only difference being that I
continued to live with my parents. I paid no fees, and spent all my time – other
than school – with my Guru. Initially, the teaching was by the “direct method” –
reproducing what the Guru sings. No questions were to be asked. No logic was to
be understood. Despite this, within five years, I found myself so intoxicated
with music that I could no longer concentrate on my studies. So, four years
short of graduation, I quit school in favour of music.
My training with Mirashi Buwa continued for 12 years. By this time, I
was 21, and had to start making a living. Music was all I knew. Those were
difficult days for musicians, particularly in Pune. I spent a whole year
contemplating my course of action. My childhood friend, and neighbour from Pune,
Ram Marathe, was by now in Bombay, making some headway as a professional singer.
So, in 1950, I decided to take on the world with his helping hand. Though I had
no experience, the only path open to me was teaching music. Fees were poor in
those days. Each student would pay Rs. 10 or 15 per month. With great
difficulty, I earned about Rs. 50 a month. But, living was cheap – my monthly
food bill was Rs. 30 -- I managed. Though I did not ultimately inherit a music
school, teaching was evidently my destiny anyway. For over 50 years now, I have
been teaching. I must have, by now, taught over 125 students. Several have
become successful vocalists. Some are just making a living as music teachers.
Some pursue other professions and enjoy music as a hobby. And, many have merged
into the faceless audience of Hindustani music.
Moving to Bombay widened
my horizons. Soon after I moved, Jagannath Buwa Purohit moved into our locality.
I was greatly attracted to his style. So, I studied with him for about six
years. In the same spirit, I studied with KG Ginde, SCR Bhat, Nivrutti Buwa
Sarnaik, Master Krishnarao Phulambrikar, Mallikarjun Mansoor, and the
Natyasangeet singer, Chhota Gandharva. In my childhood, I had heard Ramkrishna
Buwa Vaze, and his style had made a deep impact on me. So, in my singing, you
will find the glimpses of each of these stalwarts.
The philosophy of
I am conservative, but not orthodox. I have a strong foundation laid in
the Gwalior style. But, I was never a prisoner of the gharana. I sought out
every musician whose style attracted me, and learnt from him what I could.
Jagannath Buwa often told me that the basic requirement of music is that magical
quality called “Rang” (literally: colour). As a quality in music, “Rang”
transcends considerations of voice quality, grammar and communication of rasa
(emotional content). Public appeal is not my yardstick for validating my music.
I will not sacrifice the dignity of my art to charm audiences. I will not, for
instance, make a Thumree out of a Khayal, or start singing with my body. But, an
artist cannot be a mere scientist. If he wants to command an audience and also
command respect, he has to strike the tricky balance between the sanctity of art
and the listening pleasure of audiences. If he cannot do this, he can remain a
My recordings have been in the market for several years. I have
been performing on the radio since 1946, and also broadcast two National
Programmes over All India Radio. And, for a long time, nobody noticed. In the
last ten years, people suddenly realised that Yashwant Buwa can also sing.
Today, I have admirers not only in our home state of Maharashtra, but also in
Calcutta, Delhi and a few other cities. Several institutions have bestowed
honours on me for my services as a teacher and performer. At 75, I can still
hold an audience for two hours. I have no regrets. But, had recognition come
when I was younger, people would have heard better music from me.
pursuit of music – then and now
Our times were tough. The status of musicians
in society was low. There was no support for music either from government or
from private benefactors or institutions. There was no ‘career’ in music, except
for the greatest. Audiences were small. The Guru was the only source of musical
inputs for students. There was radio, and there was the gramophone; but not many
people could afford either. There were concerts; but mainly for invited
To begin with, finding a Guru was tough. We did not pay fees,
but rendered all manner of services in lieu of training. The relationship was
totally one-sided, and often oppressive. He taught the way he wanted to, and
there was no appeal against it. There was no notation, no possibility of
recording training sessions, no grammar, no logic. You could encounter musicians
who could sing a raga very well, but go blank if you asked them the scale of the
raga. Learning was primarily by reproducing what the Guru sang. From studying
music, to making a career, it was struggle, struggle, and struggle. The positive
aspect of this was that, because of the price they had paid for their success,
the survivors conducted themselves, and practiced their art, with dignity. They
treated that passage between the stage and the audiences as sacred.
situation today is exactly the reverse. Anyone can learn music if he can afford
it. Good Gurus are, of course, more scarce than they were in our times, and
locating them can take a lot of trial and error. Recorded music is so accessible
that it is possible to become a reasonable vocalist even without a Guru. The
relationship between the Guru and his disciple is now a commercial one. A
student can demand an explanation of the logic and get it. He can record
training sessions for revision. Career opportunities are plenty, and the money
is good for the successful. Society, government, and institutions encourage
Most important is the emergence of a market, with audiences
willing to pay for music. For creating a substantial class of connoisseurs, we
have to thank the educational efforts of the two giants, Bhatkhande and Vishnu
Digambar, and their followers. Glamour and money have now made music a rat race
that everyone with half a chance wants to join. The journey is still tough. But,
it is a struggle, which takes the dignity of the art as its first casualty. It
makes art cross the frontier between the musician and the audience to plunge
into pockets. And, yes, many bright kids now get money and fame ahead of
maturity, get bloated heads, stagnate, and fall by the wayside. The demands of
success are changing, as they inevitably will. Despite these anxieties, I am
optimistic about Hindustani music for several reasons – today’s kids are
intelligent and talented, studying music is no longer difficult, and there are
ample opportunities for building a career in it.
"Yashwantbua Joshi, now 76 ( in 2004), is one of the leading exponents of
the khayal gayaki of Gwalior and Agra gharanas. Yaswantbua had extensive
training in Pune from Pt. Mirashibua. Around 1950, he moved to Bombay where he
came under the tutelage of Pt. Jagannathbua Purohit “Gunidas”. He was also
influenced by the gayaki of stalwarts such as Gajananbua Joshi and Chhota
His gayaki combines the romanticism of swara with the discipline
of laya, making his mehfils unparalleled in quality. He is an old-school artist
at heart, preferring the Tilwada or Jhumra (not the ati-vilambit kind) for his
khayals. The khayal is usually followed by multiple bandishes (or, rarely,
taranas) in the same raag. The khayal presentations are full and leisurely. The
badhat and the chhota khayals are peppered with a variety of taans and very
sophisticated layakari. He has a huge repertoire of bandishes, from which he
summons the choicest of compositions and presents them with panache. While his
concerts are dominated by khayal, he also enjoys singing the occassional
natyageet or bhajan.
Yashwantbua has been honoured with a number of awards,
including the Maharashtra Government Gaurav Puraskar in 1993 and, most recently,
the Sangeet Natak Academy Award."
Buwa Joshi (born: 1927) is an unusual musician who has spent most of his adult
life as a modest teacher, and gained recognition as a performer only after the
age of sixty. Yashwant Buwa’s career has flowered (“Buwa” is a suffix commonly
used in Maharashtra to signify a respected, elderly gentleman) in the sunset
years of his life, thanks to the incredible vitality of his performances which
have earned him nationwide popularity, and the growing rarity of his brand of
music. He has performed on All India Radio since 1946, and currently occupies
the top grade amongst empanelled musicians. Since the mid-1990s, he has also
established a substantial presence in the commercial recordings market and collected
his share of honours.
studied first with Mirashi Buwa (Yashwant Sadashiv Mirashi) of the Gwalior
tradition, and switched thereafter to the Agra style (Jaganatbuwa Purohit). The
switch did not, evidently, quench his thirst for musical ideas. He therefore
went on to study with several other vocalists (KG Ginde, SCR Bhat,
Nivrutti Buwa Sarnaik, Master Krishnarao Phulambrikar, Mallikarjun Mansoor, and
the Natyasangeet singer, Chhota Gandharva), representing an eclectic mix of styles. Today, he is respected
as the last surviving pioneer of the Gwalior-Agra stylistic confluence in
Another wonderful LP by the great master of Azerbaijani Tar, the only one published in Europe. Later republished on CD as part of the Unesco Collection from Auvidis/Naive, but no longer available for many many years. As accompanist you can hear him here.