Monday, 28 January 2019

Kesarbai Kerkar - Rarest of the Rare - Vol. VI - Cassette released in India in 1985

This is part of a series of cassettes of live recordings by Kesarbai Kerkar. As far as I know, this was the first time that longer recordings by the artist were made available. As is well known, Kesarbai Kerkar was very particular and strict in never allowing anyone to record her performances. So these must have been recorded secretly without her consent. It is an enormous gift to music lovers, that recordings like these were done and survived. Otherwise we would have only the published 78 rpm records.
This is the only orginal cassette of this series we have. But we have some other volumes on privately made CDs which we will post next.

Friday, 25 January 2019

Keshar Bai (Kesarbai) Kerkar (1892-1977) - Heritage - Cassette released in India in 1999

We start now to post a couple of releases by the greatest female voice of India ever: Kesarbai Kerkar. She was a student of Ustad Alladiya Khan of Jaipur-Atrauli Gharana. We start with some rare archival recordings, published in the Heriatge series. This is the 4th and last volume from this series we have. For the other volumes see our recent posts.

See on her:
and especially the two book extracts at the end of this post.

From: Great Masters of Hindustani Music by Susheela Misra

Kesarbai Kerkar by Susheela Mishra

Although the legendary Kesarbai died on l6th September 1977, she had, of her own choice, faded out of public memory long before the final curtain was rung down on her long life of 87 years. Being a very fastidious and highly sensitive artiste she had voluntarily retired from the concert-stage the day she found her voice deteriorating due to old age. Consequently, when the grand old lady of Hindustani music died in 1977 there were only a few ripples of grief and a few tributes whereas in the case of other great contemporary musicians who died in the same decade, there was a flood of tributes and articles. Long ago, connoisseurs of music had placed her on a high pedestal, and there she stayed till the end, for, she had chosen to keep herself “contemptuously aloof from the rat race.” All her life she strove for perfection in her art, and such was her devotion to the musical traditions of her Gharana (the Jaipur-Atrauli or Alladiya Khan gharana) that she never cared to lower her lofty standards, not even to attract a large audience. Whereas the art of most of the great musicians of our times has been caught and preserved for us and for posterity through the highly-sophisticated L.P. Discs and tapes in AIR s priceless Archives, it looks as if Kesarbai was determined not to leave any trace of her grand music for posterity. Perhaps this apathy stemmed from her disillusionment at the deterioration in musical standards! She literally kept her brilliant musical flame hidden under a bushel so that for the majority of her contemporaries, Kesarbai’s music remained a rare musical curio, accessible to a few lucky fans only. Few heard of her, and fewer still had the good fortune to hear her grand music, her “rarely luminous and sonorous voice which could swoop down from a splendorous high taar-saptak to a deep resonant low mandra-saptak with incredibly uniform volume, and loud enough to be heard without a mike.”
In the prime of her life, Kesarbai had moved the hearts of poets and prime ministers through her music. To the end, she treasured the deeply touching note that Poet Rabindranath Tagore had written in 1938 after hearing her music. Acclaiming her as the “Queen of Melody” (Surashree), the poet had written :- “I consider myself fortunate in securing a chance for listening to Kesarbai’s singing which is an artistic phenomenon of exquisite perfection… The magic of her voice with the mystery of its varied modulations has repeatedly proved its true significance not in any pedantic display of technical subtleties mechanically accurate, but in the revelation of the miracle of music only possible for a born genius”.
Was it not a great pity that this divinely-gifted voice could not be heard actually by the majority of music-lovers scattered across the length and breadth of this vast sub-continent even though Kesarbai remained in excellent form for more than 20 years?
Out of the various Gharanas of Khayal-singing that are current today, one of the most difficult to appreciate and master perhaps is the Alladiya Khan Gharana. In Maharashtra, Alladiya Khan was called “Gaayan Maharshi” because more than 40 years of his life had been devoted to tapasya in the pursuit of this art, He jealously guarded his musical wealth, and apart from his brother Haidar Khan and sons Manji Khan and Bhurji Khan, very few outside his own family-circle succeeded in being accepted as his disciples. Only two “outsiders” measured up to Alladiya Khan’s exacting standards. They were Kesarbai Kerkar and Moghubai Kurdikar.
The story of how Kesarbai steadfastly stuck to her training under her Ustad despite the many difficulties she encountered, and how unwaveringly she pursued the single aim of her life, is remarkable. A real sangeeta-bhakta acquires his or her art through total dedication and “penance” (tapasya). Kesarbai devoted more than 20 years of the best part of her life to this sadhana, so that when she eventually emerged in public, the listeners were at once impressed by her remarkably trained voice, the polish and maturity of her performances, and her mastery over such a difficult style.
Born on July 10, 1890 in the small village of Keri (7 miles from Panaji) in Goa, Kesarbai’s intense love for music was evident even as a child. The devotional music in the temples was what drew her to music. In her own words:- “In those days, the only centre of music was the temple. One heard only Kirtans, Bhajans, and other devotional songs. I used to listen to these carefully, and back home I would try to hum them just as today’s boys and girls try to imitate film songs.”
Kesarbai’s maternal uncle, a lover of classical music, encouraged the little girl by taking her to the nearby Mangesh temple. But the Pujaris there could teach her only Bhajans and Kirtans. At the age of 8 her real music lessons began under Ustad Abdul Karim Khan in Kolhapur, but these had to be discontinued when she had to return to Goa a year later. The next 19 years or so were a period of frustrations and disappointments, because bad luck seemed to pursue her in all her attempts to learn music. She had to go from place to place to learn music ; but each time she started her lessons under a good and sincere guru, the latter would shortly be called away to a distant place by some rich patron.
In 1908, Kesarbai along with her mother and uncle, migrated to Bombay and for the next 6 years, she was able to take lessons from Barkatullah, a reputed Sitariya of the Mysore and Patna Darbars. For a year or so after discontinuing Barkatullah’s lessons, Pandit Bhaskarbua Bhakle (a disciple of Nathan Khan and Ustad Alladiya Khan) trained her, but Pandit Bhakale had to shift to Poona. Pt. Ramkrishnan Buva Waze was her next guru. Thus continued her interrupted training under different gurus until a time came when Kesarbai got quite tired of it all and resolved that she would learn only from Ustad Alladiya Khan and from no one else. But the Ustad bluntly refused. After much persuasion, however, he reluctantly agreed to teach her, but not before he had laid down a number of “conditions” about the lessons. The determined young pupil was not deterred by all these. In 1920 Kesarbai became Alladiya Khan’s serious disciple after a real Ganda-Bandh ceremony in which she had to pay him “a neat lump-sum. As for the Ustad, once he accepted her as his shagird, and realised her sincerity of purpose and love for the art, he began to devote most of his time for her taleem. He would spend 9 to 10 hours each day teaching and guiding her during her riyaz. He was an extremely fastidious, thorough, and unsparing teacher, and his first concern was her voice-culture. He would make her repeat each note- combination (palta) hundreds of times until she became “note- perfect”.
From 1920 to 1946, Kesarbai underwent all the arduous hours (“each day, more than 10 hours of riyaz”) of practice and training imposed on her by her Ustad, and in the course of a decade or two, attained the musical status desired by him. An important part of her training and one that gave her immense confidence and professional experience, was that Khan Sahib used to take Kesarbai everywhere and make her sing with him in all his concerts. The most memorable of these, according to her, was the Vikramaditya Conference in Bombay in January 1944 where she sang with her guru. The “gayanmaharshi” died in his nineties in 1946.
Kesarbai’s solo-concert career began after her Ustad’s death. Her fame spread far and wide, from Maharashtra to Delhi and Calcutta, and even to the South. Her very first recital that I heard was in a Madras Music Conference; later on, I was lucky to hear her in many a Calcutta Music Conference. Some of the important requisites for good classical music are a steady, trained voice, purity of ragas, good sahitya, clear intonation, proportionate embellishments, and feeling in presentation. Kesarbai’s chief asset was her firm, flexible, polished, well-trained voice. In a country where the supreme importance of voice-culture in music has not yet been fully realised, her voice stood out as an example of what voice-culture can be achieve ! From the lower octave (mandra saptak) to the higher (Taar saptak), her voice rang out in full-throated ease and uniform volume. The usual tendency among singers is to produce the higher notes in a squeaky falsetto voice. Kesarbai’s style faithfully reflected all the special features of the Alladiya Khan gharana – such as rendering the Khayal mostly in the Vilambit and medium tempo, systematic elaboration of words woven into carefully worked-out note-combinations set in variegated rhythmic patterns, open-voice (Akaar) production, and a preference for unusual and difficult ragas and raga-combinations.
Although Kesarbai believed in laying equal emphasis on Bhava (mood) and Artha (meaning) of the song, the real charm of her music lay not in emotional expressiveness, but in the perfect precision of her swaras, tal and bol combinations. The systematic and well arranged alaps, taans and bol-taans, all ending accurately on the mukhda (the repetitive opening-line of the song) reveal years and years of hard practice. Kesarbai’s carefully assembled clusters of note-combinations have been likened to “precious gems spread out against a velvety background”. Her variegated, forceful taans have been compared to “jets of water from a fountain”, and to “fireworks which shoot up high, and come down in a burst of colours”. She used to take special delight in rendering rare raga- combinations like Basanti-Kedar, Sawani-Nat, Nat-Bilawal, Sawani-Kalyan etc. With rare ease, she rendered varieties of a Raga such as those of Malhar, Nat, Kanada and so on with all their hairsplitting differences. Perhaps it was to this all-round excellence that Pandit Buwa Waze referred to when he compared her music to “a bouquet of fragrant flowers sprinkled with costly itter (scent)”.
The style and standard that Kesarbai had mastered after long decades of “passionate pursuit of perfection” were admired by everyone and hard to equal. She refused to make any compromises with her music, and in the process, lost rapport with the contemporary world of music-lovers. She remained allergic to broadcasting and aloof from AIR, the only medium that can take the greatest music to the masses. Except for her rare soirees and concert-appearances in Bombay and Calcutta, there was no chance to hear her. Apart from the fact that Kesarbai preferred to maintain the exclusiveness of her music, it was a style that hardly allowed any concessions for mass- popularity. Therefore, she remained essentially a musicians’ musician. Siddheswari Devi, Begum Akhtar, and M.S. Subbalakshmi have been among her ardent admirers.
Although she was one of the most rarely heard contemporary classical musicians, she was one of the most admired artistes and her name became almost legendary as one of the most dedicated sangeet-sadhaks of this century. Her music and her personality were alike dignified. It seems a great pity that posterity will have to judge this “musical aristocrat” merely on the basis of her few gramophone records, into the limited radius of which it is difficult to compress an elaborate style like hers. Throughout her career as a musician, Kesarbai maintained her dignity, prestige and high standards. As she said once :-“I have brought a certain amount of prestige and dignity to music as a career”. Smt Indira Gandhi, the Prime Minister, once remarked about Kesarbai: “Through the purity of her music and the dignity of her performance, she has moulded our standards of appreciation and has profoundly impressed other musicians.” Many laurels and awards came her way. Tagore hailed her as “Surashri.” She was the first woman to have received the Presidential Award in Hindustani Music (1953), and the first Rajya Gaayika of Maharastra (1969), and finally she was honoured with the Padma Bhushan in 1971. However, she rarely used these with her name. Her admirers in Bombay who were able to attend some of her exclusive soirees even in her old age, say that “there was no diminution in her august virtuosity, phenomenal breath-control and wide range of 3 octaves” all of which left her listeners breathless with wonder. The impact of her music continued to be intellectual and aesthetic at the same time. One wishes that at least Long- playing Commercial Discs would be soon m ade out of the rich treasures of her privately taped music.
As soon as Kesarbai began to feel that she could no longer give of her best in music, she sadly withdrew herself from the musical scene and became a recluse in her elegant home. In one of her last interviews when she had become an aged and ailing figure in her 82nd year, Kesarbai had told the interviewing music-critic : “I am ready for the final journey. But I have no regrets. I have the satisfaction of a good job well done. For 70 years I have sung for the gods, and if, incidentally, I have also delighted the Indian people, I am doubly happy”.

From: Down Melody Lane (1984) by G.N. Joshi

Kesarbai Kerkar

Goa is world famous for its scenic beauty as well as its mineral wealth. Besides this, it has given to the world extraordinarily gifted musicians, sculptors, painters, poets, writers and singers. From the beginning of this century the Goan wealth of artistry has flowed in a stream towards Bombay. Wealthy Gujaratis and Parsis vied with each other to welcome and patronize these artists. As a result Bombay has become a haven for many of the artists migrating from Goa.
Kesarbai Kerkar, from the village of Keri in Goa, was one of those who settled in Bombay. Gurudev Ravindranath Tagore honoured her with the title ‘Surashri’. The Indian government awarded her the Padmabhushan, and Maharashtra adorned her the title Maharashtra Rajya Gayika.
This brilliant singer died a few years ago at a ripe old age. It is indeed difficult to do full justice to her illustrious career in a brief account. She was the disciple of such eminent gurus as Ramkrishnabuva Vaze, Bhaskarbuva Bakhale and Ustad Alladiya Khan. She studied music under these masters for no less than 25 years, and became a proficient exponent of the gayaki of the Jaipur gharana. Her voice had a range of three saptakas, and she could move through the whole range with ease. Her presentations of khayals were models of graceful elaboration. She used to present all the facets of each raga in her deep, full throated voice. Her alap was always serene and dignified and it gave a fascinating outline of the raga which would follow in the bandish. The bandish was firmly rhythm- bound and one could also easily discern the salient features of the raga through it. The beauty of the long interwoven themes, taans and palatas held the audience spellbound. She became known through the length and breadth of India for her unique style of presentation. Kesarbai had a very dignified and regal personality. Perhaps that is why she was patronised by the royal houses of Kashmir, Baroda, Kolhapur, Jaipur and Jodhpur. She was fully aware of her talents and abilities and she always performed with self-confidence. This was why she was sometimes misunderstood to be conceited and proud. She was always very particular to ensure that she got the honour and homage due to her and which she fully deserved as an artist par excellence.
Whenever she came to our studio for recording we always treated her with the respect that was her due. Vases with beautiful fresh flowers adorned the studio, rose water was sprinkled all over, and she was given an elevated seat. These decorative surroundings added to the charm of her most enchanting music. True to her nature, she nearly always entertained Maharajas. She never sang for the ordinary public. She thus had made it a rule to sing for people of a certain class and calibre. At a period when other artists hankered after publicity and were always willing to perform on the radio, or cut records, she never cared for the media. Money and fame came to her without any effort on her part.
When we began making LP recordings I naturally wanted her to sing for an LP, but she refused to do so. There was an interesting reason for this refusal. Around 1954-55 she had recorded some 78 r.p.m. discs. In those days we used to get sample copies for approval and out of respect for the artist we always consulted him or her. Accordingly I sent Kesarbai the sample copies for her approval. Out of the ten sides she had recorded, she desired to re-record four because, in her opinion, they were not up to her standard, In deference to her wishes we held back the issue of the four sides and requested her to re- record them. When, for over 8 months, she did not do so on grounds of ill-health, my boss became very restive and wondered that Kesarbai, a mere artist should have the audacity to disregard the wishes of the world-famous gramophone company (HMV). One day he called me to his room and virtually ordered me to carry a message to her. ‘Make it clear to her’, he said, ‘that if she does not come for re-recording within a fortnight we will publish the records as they are. We cannot afford to wait any longer’.
I tried to make him realize that this was not the right way to deal with an artist of her stature. But the boss refused to see the wisdom of my reasoning, and in a fit of temper, told me to convey his exact words to her. This boss was the one Begum Akhtar had described as ‘Kudhon ke Badhshah’. The next day I went to Kesarbai’s residence and requested her to come and re-record but she again declined to do so on grounds of ill- health. I had no other alternative now but to give her the message in so many words. I said to her, ‘I am directed by my boss to carry a message to you. Before I do so I must make one thing very clear. When I give this message I am speaking in “my Master’s voice”‘. I hated myself for doing it but as I was working with HMV I had to give her the message.
It naturally made her furious and she went red in the face. For a minute or so she was quiet; then she said to me in a hard tone, ‘Go and tell that fellow that Kesarbai will never again enter the precincts of your studio’.
And true to her word, she severed all relations with the company. Luckily she was magnanimous enough to understand my position and did not blame me. My only fault was that I had been indiscreet enough to convey the fatal message to her. My relations with her remained very cordial till the end but the company suffered the irreparable loss of an artist of rare quality. In retaliation she wrote a letter to our company withdrawing from us the right to play her gramophone records from any station of All India Radio. Accordingly, AIR had to suspend the playing of her records. Her records, however, continued to be broadcast by Goa Radio. Goa was then Portuguese territory and she, having originally come from Goa had innumerable admirers there. After independence, the people of Goa, who now came under Indian jurisdiction, were deprived of the privilege of hearing her on the radio.
I have always regretted that we could not make even one LP with her. We tried to make up for this by issuing an LP of the 78 r.p.m. recordings of her which we had issued previously. Somewhere around 1942-44 Kesarbai honoured me with a visit to my house in Dadar. I was glad to see her and was pleasantly surprised when she told me the reason for doing me this honour. She had just come back after an engagement with the prince of Kashmir. While there, she was asked by the Maharani to sing a devotional song. She therefore requested me to suggest a suitable bhaktigeet. I sang a few bhajans I knew and one of these she liked very much. The story of the bhajan was this: Radha prays to god that she may be transformed into a flute so that she might get from Lord Krishna what as Radha she would never get. The bhajan then described how the flute was played morning, evening and night, and how she was rewarded by Lord Krishna. The tune I gave this bhajan was very appropriate and was also in perfect classical style. The mukhada was in Rag Tilang and the three antaras had the tunes of fitting morning, evening and night ragas. Kesarbai got the song written out and made me sing it several times. I unfortunately did not have the good fortune to hear her sing this composition in her incomparable voice and style. Maybe it was only heard within the walls of the royal palace in Kashmir.
A year before her demise she was completely bed-ridden. Sur Singar Samsad decided to honour her at her residence. I accompanied our president Mr. V.S. Page and director Mr. Brij Narayan to her residence and we paid our homage to this ‘Gantapasvini’ (a lady singer totally dedicated to her art). She very endearingly asked me to sit near her and sing to her one of my popular songs.
Soon after this, while I was away on a visit to America, Kesarbai breathed her last, and Indian Classical Music was left poor and forlorn. While extolling Kesarbai’s artistic genius, I have one regret. She kept her exemplary talents to herself alone. In her long life of nearly 90 years she did not have a single disciple who could carry further her inimitable gayaki and tradition of the Jaipur gharana. Maybe she did not come across a disciple worthy of receiving her art and blessings.


Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Lakshmibai Jadhav (1901-1979) - Private Double CD

Here a private double CD by Laxmibai Jadhav, containing a number of her 78 rpm records from the 1930s and two longer Ragas, probably from the archives of All India Radio.
The CDs were created, together with the covers and the booklet, by our friend KF. Many thanks to him for his generous sharing.

On her 78 rpm records see:

Raagam, the internet radio of All India Radio, broadcast over the last two or so years quite a number of recordings by the artist from their archives. A dear and very helpful friend created recently a YouTube channel containing all the recordings by great artists of the older generations from Raagam. Amongst them quite a number of excellent recordings by Laxmibai Jadhav. See:

Saturday, 19 January 2019

Bade Ghulam Ali Khan: Raga Adana & Raga Chhayanat & Lakshmi Bai (Laxmibai) Jadhav: Raga Lalit Bahar - Heritage - Cassette released in India in 1999

Here another cassette from the Heritage Series with beautiful archival recordings by two great singers of the first half of 20th century. Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan needs no introduction as he is very famous and we already posted five LPs and cassettes by him. See here.

Laxmibai Jadhav (1901-1979) is much less known. She was a legendary singer of the Jaipur-Atrauli Gharana and a disciple of Ustad Haider Khan (brother of Atrauli-Jaipur founder Alladiya Khan). She was contemporaneous with Kesarbai Kerkar and Mogubai Kurdikar and next to these two the third outstanding female singer of the Jaipur-Atrauli Gharana. 
See on her:

On the Jaipur-Atrauli Gharana:

Next we will post more by her. Between 2014 and 2016 the Indian label Meera Music released seven albums by her. They can be purchased as MP3-320 files on CD Baby.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan (1902-1968) - Ragas Kedar & Jaijaiwanti - Cassette released in India in 1996

Here some beautiful recordings from the archives of All India Radio (AIR). They were apparently published in 1995 or 1996 as an LP by HMV India in their PMLP series, quite beyond the end of the LP era. I never have seen the LP and there is only very little evidence in the internet that it existed.
We posted in 2017 four LPs by the great master. See here.

It can be that just the copyright for the LP was in 1996 (on the other cassette edition given as 1995) and that this cassette was released in 2003. The same recordings were also published in 1996 as:

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Jagannath Buwa Purohit (1904-1968) - Heritage - Cassette released in India in 1999

Here another cassette from the excellent Heritage Series. Jagannath Buwa Purohit was a legendary singer of the Agra Gharana and a prominent student of the great Ustad Vilayat Hussain Khan of our last post. Very few recordings of him exist.

See on him:
and especially the article below.

From: Rajan P. Parrikar (parrikar@ferrari.Colorado.EDU) 
Subject: Jagannathbuva "Gunidas" Purohit - Vamanrao's tribute Newsgroups: Date: 1999/01/08 
From "Between Two Tanpuras" by Vamanrao Deshpande Translation by Ram Deshmukh and B.R. Dekhney First published November 1967 Jagannathbuwa Purohit "Gunidas" by Vaman Hari Deshpande 
"Pandit Jagannathbuwa Purohit having completed sixty years is now in the sixty-first year of his life. He is a repository of a number of great qualities - exceedingly deep knowledge of music and willingness to impart it to others, devotion to his guru and deep affection for his own disciples etc. Several musicians have celebrated their entry into their sixty-first year. They were all greatly respected in their individual branches of music. However in Jagannathbuwa's case, there was no need to campaign for collection of contributions. As soon as news went round that there was going to be a celebration in his honour contributions came in pouring on an astonishingly large scale. I should not be surprised if this was the first celebration of its kind to bring in voluntary subscriptions on such a large scale. The very first thing that occurs to me while thinking about Buwa is that he is equally popular or respected throughout the various, sometimes discordant, layers of the world of music. He is equally at home in the company of scholarly music teachers like D.R. Deodhar and S.N. Ratanjankar, mehfil stars like Kumar Gandharva and Bhimsen Joshi, actor-singers like Suresh Haldankar and Ram Marathe or amateur singers like Baburao Joshi and G.N. Joshi. Besides, he is greatly admired by his numerous disciples spread all over in Bombay, Pune and Kolhapur. Obviously, he must be an artist of considerable stature. Naturally the persons belonging to these different layers make different demands on him. Some might be looking for a pleasurable conversation with him in which music figures prominently while others look for deep analysis of a particular raga. Some are collectors of bandishes of diverse origins. Some are fond of technical discussions. And disciples, of course, wish to continue to drink at the ever fresh fountain of his musical knowledge which does not dry up even after years of tuition. Unless a person has all the qualities expected of him he cannot achieve popularity in such diverse circles or, having earned it, retain it successfully. It is not enough to be a successful mehfil-performer - the person must be a capable artist and a capitalist in the sense of having a large fund of technical knowledge or a large repertoire of cheejs. In olden times 'capitalist' singers of this type were called Kothiwale (Literally those who have a large store-house of cheejs) singers. It is true that Buwa has an enormous stock of musical knowledge and cheejs made by different people at different periods. But in addition to that he has another special quality - his extraordinary creativity. The ragas and new compositions he has created are being enthusiastically learnt and taught. I wonder whether he has himself counted how many cheejs he has composed, in conventional ragas and ragas newly created by him, but I am sure they are at least 101. Why I say this is that sometime ago when some Kolhapur friends wanted to honour him, Buwa categorically told them that he would not attend any such function until he had composed at least 101 cheejs. Some of his compositions, e.g., Soogar bara payo (raga Jog-Kauns) or Sakhi mandarwa me (Bihagda) or Bega bega awo mandir (Ahir Bhairava) and many others have proved so popular that many renowned singers frequently sing them in Mehfils or they can be heard being sung on the radio every day. New compositions are not created merely because there is a will and an effort to create them-there must be inspiration behind them. A discussion of why or how such inspiration occurs would be out of place here. A number of cheejs never get completed because the composer does not know how to complete them. In some the sthayi (first part) is ready but the antara (latter or higher-key part) proves elusive for years. With some cheejs, the opening portion is composed but the rest of the cheej defies creation. All in all, the number of complete cheejs is rather small. Besides, the new composition must be neat and attractive; it must have a beautiful face, it must move attractively, its words and phrases must blend well with the rhythm and it must be playful and gay. It will be dear to a large number of singers only if it passes all these tests. Otherwise it would be consigned to some neglected and forgotten corner. All Buwa's musical offsprings, having passed through the various tests, not only vie with each other in beauty but they are also all chaste and have the classical ring. Their extraordinary popularity with singers is proof of their own attractiveness and it clearly establishes Buwa as a very successful composer. He was extremely particular in regard to his compositions - he did not regard a cheej as complete or teach it to his disciples unless he had himself sung it in mehfils and was convinced of its perfectness. The depth of his knowledge and extraordinary capability can be traced to his discipleship of great teachers in his youth. This training began in his early childhood and all his teachers were Muslims. Indeed Buwa had been so much under their influence that at first sight most people would be inclined to class him as a Muslim. He really belonged to a priestly Karhada Brahmin family; but since he was ten, he kept constant company with Muslim musician- teachers and indeed considered himself fortunate to be able to serve them. Buwa does not know where his priestly family originated or how many generations ago it emigrated to Hyderabad. But his entire childhood, youth and some of his middle age were spent in Hyderabad. He never married, so he never had any family ties. His mother died so early that he was too young to remember the event; his father died when Buwa was in his tenth year. While his father was still alive, Buwa received some elementary Marathi education, that is all! Otherwise he had no formal education whatsoever. For thirty or thirty-five years of his life, he had moved in purely Muslim circles; all his friends and acquaintances were Muslim musicians. It was but natural that he should have been steeped in Muslim culture. Really speaking, he should have been called 'Jagannath Khan,' rather than 'Buwa' or 'Pandit'. And truly he has the bearing of someone who was born in a family of a long line of respected Muslim musicians. it might be more appropriate to say that he belongs to an aristocratic Muslim mould. His only education was in music and that too not with ordinary singers - he was taught by several singers of great renown from the age of eleven or twelve until quite recently. The teachers included Mohamed Ali Khansaheb (Sikandara Gharana), Tanras Khan's son Umrao Khansaheb and his son Sardar Khan and nephew Shabbu Khan, Bashir Khan (Gudiyana Gharana), Ghulam Mohamed Khan (Tilwandi Gharana) and finally Vilayat Hussein Khansaheb (Agra Gharana). The list itself is so impressive that any singer would be overawed by it. This is the secret of Buwa's successful music career. This is not a biographical treatise and I have no intention of going into its details. But it must nevertheless be said that very few people are so fortunate as to have received training for so many years from so many outstanding masters of music. He learnt accurate intonation from some; he picked up alapi from someone; he learnt bol-upaj from someone; kheencha-tani from someone else and adi-didi i.e., fast fractional movement, from yet another. And from everyone he picked up cheejs of different composers and different types. The surprising point is that all those renowned maestros were kind enough to impart them to him. Buwa, astonishingly enough, picked up all this knowledge despite his abject poverty. Buwa amassed all these riches on the strength of his ability to serve his preceptors. He possessed this quality in abundance and still does. In Buwa's youth, Hyderabad had a large number of talented artists such as the ones mentioned above except Vilayat Hussein Khan. (Buwa's father too was apparently a music-lover. Buwa recollects his father leading him by his finger to the mehfils of these Muslim singers as a child. The father must have really been fond of music otherwise why should be, an orthodox Brahmin belonging to a priestly family, frequent Muslim houses?) One thing Buwa knew was to render personal service to the Khansahebs. He had to do everything that goes with domestic service such as running errands, washing clothes etc. and also do all the 'bandobast' where his masters' predilections were concerned. Buwa had to become an expert in procuring cannabis, hashish, opium, other narcotics, toddy, liquor etc. whenever called for, and the rest of the paraphernalia. Buwa's expertise in these matters is sound enough to train any young hopeful who may be inclined that way. The only astonishing thing is that Buwa himself remained completely untouched by these vices. A server is all the more trustworthy and popular if he is himself free from vices. The credit for not falling a prey to these vices goes not so much to Buwa as to the Vedic orthodoxy of his family background. The important point is that although he had to handle liquor and things like that every day, he had full control over his own palate and his mind. Even his worst enemy cannot accuse him of having any vices. Being able to provide such services selflessly made him popular with his teachers and he could pick up everything they had to give. It is worth mentioning that the name 'Gunidas' (under which pen-name he composes his cheejs) was not chosen by him but by his Muslim masters. They used to say - "You are really a Gunidas - a worshipper of merit!" And the name stuck. Buwa, too, began to use it in his compositions. Buwa and I became acquainted about twenty years ago at Kolhapur when one evening Govindrao Tembe introduced us. On that occasion I had given a fair rendering of Jaitashri. I was also somewhat conscious of my musical prowess and the rigorous training I had taken. There was also a priggish inner feeling that I was way out of Buwa's class. ("What is he going to sing after my performance?"). It was Buwa's turn to sing next and in the very first rhythmic cycle of his Maru Bihag he completely floored me. Even today, I consider the manner in which, in that particular raga, he vaulted from sa to ri, to be debatable. That apart, I was enchanted by the design of the cheej, skill of presentation, alapi in which words of the cheej figured and by his boltan. Even today I find his boltan very beautiful. To arrive at the climax purely through the boltan, i.e., without having resort to emotional voice modulation and an ascending pattern of notes, seems to be a special feature of his style. We became friends in this first meeting and I also had the occasion to enjoy his hospitality. In the meetings that followed he sang for me numerous cheejs from little known ragas and he even passed on some of them to me by way of keep-sakes. Out of these I vividly recall a dhun (tune) from raga Shubhri Gouri to this day. Apart from the journeys he had to make for appearances in mehfils Buwa frequently moved his residence from place to place - Hyderabad, Pune, Kolhapur and finally Bombay. He has considerable experience of the film industry having worked in the music departments of Chhatrapati Cinetone, Hans Pictures, Shalini Cinetone and other film companies. In Atre's film Brahmachari, he even sang an arati 'Satrane uddane' along with the now famous G.D. Madgulkar. He was on terms of great intimacy with Govindrao Tembe and in many of his films he liked officiating as his deputy or to conduct rehearsals of the music staff, help Govindrao in composing songs, attend the recordings and participate in music practice with him. It was Govindrao who introduced Buwa to the Court of Yuvraj of Mysore and took him along when the Prince and his retinue went on tours of England, France and other European countries. These trips broadened the sum-total of Buwa's experience and gave him a new outlook. I have, of course, no personal knowledge of Buwa's early life at Hyderabad spent in the company of his great Muslim teachers. But during the last twenty or twenty-five years (counting from the time when Govindrao introduced us) I have met him fairly frequently. This was his 'Vilayat Hussein Khan period' which was noted as much for his own fulfilment as for a model of relationship of teacber-disciple tradition in the world of music. The saint poets wrote devotional songs for their deity: Buwa used his own medium for the worship of his guru. In terms of intensity I, at any rate, cannot see any difference between the two types of devotion, except that saints worshipped their God and Buwa equally devotedly worshipped his guru. In the former case, the devotion was expressed in abhangas or ovis (Metric form used principally for devotional purposes), in the latter it was expressed in a bandish, i.e., in a musical form. One has a literary value, the other a musical one. Buwa devotedly showered bandishs on Vilayat Hussein Khansaheb as one showers flowers; in the same way, Khansaheb pleased by the devotion of his disciple, blessed him by composing bandishs of his own. The tradition was handed down from Buwa to his disciples and they began to compose bandishes dedicated to Buwa. The bandishs came from the same mould as Buwa's own. Indeed had they not carried the names of the disciple-composers they could have been easily mistaken for Buwa's creations. Buwa's disciples showered him with bandishs and Buwa, pleased with his disciples' devotion, returned the offerings with bandishes of his own. I give below a few samples without any further comment. Buwa becomes restless, anxious on hearing that Vilayat Hussein Khansaheb is ill at Agra. He is particularly anxious because there is no letter from Khansaheb. He does obeisance to God and offers a prayer in the form of a composition: Raga: Abir Bhuirava Tala: Ektal Sthayi: Tero jiya sukha pawe Nisa dina mere gunavanta/ Antara: Binati Prabhuse 'Dasaguni' ki Juga juga jiyo mere pran // What the composition means in brief is that - "I, Dasaguni, i.e., Gunidas (Buwa's nom de guerre), pray to God that my 'Pran' (Pranpiya is Khansaheb's nom de guerre in bandishes) recover and live for countless years." Having said as much, Buwa is convinced that Khansaheb is better and prays to Khansaheb in the same raga: "You are well now, so let me see you soon." Raga: Ahir Bhairava Tala: Jalad Ektal Sthayi: Bega bega awo Mandir Bahut dinana beete/ Antara: Soojhat kachhu nahin mohe Nisa dina ghari pala chhina 'Gunidas' ko daras deeje O Pranpiya // The meaning is - "I am restless day and night, every minute, every second, etc. You are well now, so 0 Pranpiya, come and see me soon." I do not want to give too many examples - one should be enough. I did not select it deliberately - it was a random sample. Most of Buwa's compositions come from the same mould. Now let us take a look at Khansaheb's return gretings: Raga: Patadeepak Tala: Ektal Madhya laya Sthayi: Saach gurunanaki sewa Karat wohi pawe samadhan Antara: Prembhakta 'Pran' kahat Sun ho 'Gunidas' Ya dowu jaga me prabhu Fohe deta badho nam Briefly the meaning is as follows: "I, Pranpiya, say this to you Gunidas; listen - one who serves his guru he alone gets real satisfaction. Similarly it is my wish that you get increasing fame in both the worlds." (There is no third-nether-world among the Muslims.) Another cheej of the same sort (which I cannot recall now) was sung by Buwa on the radio at Bombay when Khansaheb was ill. Khansaheb heard Buwa sing it. When Buwa called on him, Khansaheb, until then completely confined to his bed, suddenly stood up. The two met in a hearty embrace. The eyes of the guru and the disciple were filled with tears; neither was able to speak. Finally Khansaheb, unable to control himself, said, "Buwa! Even my own sons did not do what you have done for me." With that Khansaheb once again broke into tears. I shall now give a sample of a cheej composed on Buwa by one of his disciples [the composer is C.R. Vyas "gunijAn" - RP] Raga: Malav Tala: Jalad Ektal Sthayi: Toohi rangila mera Karat jo hoo ranga Gunidas tumahi so paya/ Antara: Gane mein rasapran ko tumahi apanaya soN diya Janaguni ko barnee na jaya anmol tihari maya // Meaning: "You alone are my Rangila. Whatever little 'rang' I have acquired is, Oh Gunidas, through you. That 'rang' you obtained from your guru, i.e., Vilayat Hussein Khansaheb and gave it to us. No one can describe your great compassion and affection. It is priceless." This is what the disciple writing under the pen-name of Gunijan (in ordinary life C.R. Vyas) says. Another composition from Vyas: Raga: Nata Bhairava Tala: Trital Sthayi: Suraj chanda jab tak phire Saban tore nam sumiran kare/ Antara: Gunidas tum kiyo Amar dhun sach sapta surana me Sunat sab log Janguni mana hare // Meaning: "As long as the Sun and the Moon shine in the sky people will remember the immortal tunes you have composed. i.e., Oh Gunidas, you have composed such tunes in seven notes (i.e., in music) as captivate the hearts of music lovers as they do the heart of Gunijan (i.e., me) too." Buwa returns the compliment by a composition offered as blessing to his disciple: Raga: Jog Tala: Rupak Sthayi: Mora ladala, nahin gunan mome Kahe karat mose neha/ Antara: Kahat Gunidas suna ho Gunijan Jawo vahin jahan vidyadhana payo Tero sacho guru 'Rajaram' // Meaning: "My dear disciple, why do you love me so much when I have no great merit? I, Gunidas, say this to you: Oh Gunijan - one who gave you so much wealth of learning for so many years, viz., Rajaram (i.e., Rajarambuwa Paradkar) is your real guru." That is enough of these samples. There is no end to this exchange of compositions and musical dialogue between Buwa and Vilayat Hussein Khan and Buwa and his disciples. Note: After reading about the musical conversation between guru and disciple in the above article, readers should not reach the mistaken conclusion that the meaning of cheejs has any great significance in music. A cheej is not literature or poetry, it is a bandish. When a bandish is sung the expression of musical quality pushes the verbal meaning into background; it is drowned by music and rightly so. It was the same in Buwa's music. The verbal meaning of a cheej at the most establishes a certain mood; once that happens its only function is to step back into the wings and let music hold the stage. The writer thought it necessary to add this note lest anyone felt that what he has said here contradicted statements made by him on this subject elsewhere, Finally, on this auspicious occasion while offering my best wishes to Buwa, a thought occurs to me which I shall share with you before I close. Most of the well-known singers, male and female, who are under forty, are Buwa's disciples. The list includes a galaxy of musicians like Ram Marathe, Suresh Haldankar, Jitendra Abhisheki, C.R. Vyas, Balakram, Jitendra Dhanal etc. who vie with each other in excellence. Similarly there are female musicians like Manik Varma, Malati Pande, Poornima Talwalkar etc. All these disciples have enhanced Buwa's fame. Buwa really started his music career as a tabaliya (percussionist). He had received training from the late Thirakawa Saheb and Amir Khansaheb and had made a name for himself as a tabaliya. He has a host of disciples in the percussion field as well. Out of these, Gaitonde and Nana Mule are in the limelight. Prof. B.R. Deodhar happened to make an observation the other day which is rather pertinent in this context. He said the teacher's artistic talent draws inspiration through the instruction he gives to capable disciples - it is really they (the disciples) who make their guru great. There is no doubt that Buwa's disciples have added to the knowledge and fame of their preceptor and inspired him. But there is a further stage beyond this. A careful observer can easily see that Buwa is gradally moving towards it. This last stage is particularly arduous and difficult to reach. It involves being accepted as a guru by all other contemporary singers. Every era has to have a great singer who is treated with the respect due to a guru by all top performers in mehfils of that period whether or not they have received training from him. This ultimate guru is rather like a Reserve or Central Bank which guides other banks and comes to their rescue in times of need, in as much as he acts like a guidepost to all contemporary singers. He can only do this if he has a rich experience of countless mehfils, an immense collection of cheejs and a sound judgement with which to analyse the nature of ragas and other qualities. It is only if a person possesses all these qualities that he can perhaps attain such supreme position and that too after he has crossed sixty or sixty-five years of life. In my knowledge the late Alladiya Khansaheb adorned such a position of the guru of all singers. After him Faiyaz Khansaheb held this honoured position and later Vilayat Hussein Khansaheb. Buwa is moving in the same direction and he is undoubtedly endowed with the necessary knowledge, talent and analytical ability. Before closing my congratulatory piece I, therefore, express the hope that Buwa, in the evening of his life, may acquire such a position at an early date."

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Hindustani Vocal Music - Agra Gharana - Ustad Vilayat Hussain Khan (1895-1962) & Ustad Sharafat Hussain Khan (1930-1985) - Private CD said to be a limited edition published in India in 1992

A very dear friend, a great collector of classical Indian music and a frequent visitor to our blog, was so kind to share with us this recording. It is part of a series. Here what he said about this CD: 
"These were all definitely CDs. They are still in my family's & family friends collection back in India. I have not seen the LPs, but our family friend who was an executive with AIR, and helped us procure these CDs told us that the CDs were LP reissues."
I personally think that this is another of these CDs done by an Indian collector who made out of these recordings from AIR a private CD and created covers for it. This person seems to take a great pleasure in creating covers and to let them look like real ultra rare releases. Which is sort of funny and sympathetic. And looks nice. But can create some confusion amongst music lovers and collectors.
By both of the artists we had posted in the past already quite a number of recordings. See for Vilayat Hussain Khan and for Sharafat Hussain Khan by klicking on the links.


As a visitor to our blog was so kind to mention in a comment, the first Raga on this CD should definitly be Raga Lankadhan Sarang.

Monday, 7 January 2019

Ustad Faiyaz Khan (1886-1950) - Heritage - Cassette released in India in 1999

Here some other wonderful archival recordings by the great Ustad. The Raga Todi on the first side is in Dhrupad format: first an Alap and then a Dhrupad composition in Chautal.
In the near future we will post more volumes from this Heritage Series with archival recordings, most times from private collections.

Friday, 4 January 2019

Ustad Faiyaz Khan (1886-1950) - Great Master Great Music - Raga Bhankar & Raga Des - LP released in India in 1971

Here one of my most favourite LPs with recordings - from the archives of All India Radio - by the great Ustad Faiyaz Khan. In 2011 we had already posted by him a cassette and an LP.
This was the first time that longer pieces by the artist were published. I bought this LP on my first trip to London in the huge HMV shop on Oxford Street. That might have been in 1974 or a year earlier.
I was completely blown away by the sheer beauty of these recordings, very close to Dhrupad, and the majestic architecture of the pieces. In effect, Ustad Faiyaz Khan was the towering figure in the first half of the 20th century and with his death a whole era came to a close. Never again afterwards such majestic and dignified music was created again.

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Ganesh Ramchandran Behre known as Behrebua (1890-?) - Recordings from All India Radio from the 1950's and 1960's

We present here some recordings by the legendary singer Behrebua, who was a direct disciple of Ustad Abdul Karim Khan and of whom one says that his music reminds listeners of the sad, doleful and very emotional air with which Ustad Abdul Karim Khan could sing. These recordings were boradcast in the 1950's or 1960's by All India Radio.
He was also known under the name Ganpat or Ganpatrao Ramchandra.
The Indian label Meera Music released a couple of years ago two CDs with recordings by him. Nowadays it is nearly impossible to get these CDs. But they can be downloaded as MP3-320 files from CD Baby Music Store.


Here another great recording by the legendary Behrebua, a long Raga Bihag, recorded by All India Radio on 03.11.1962. Unfortunately the sound is quite distorted in the first minutes of the recording, but then it gets much better.

Our friend DM made out of these recordings many years ago two private CDs. Many thanks for sharing them so generously.