Pt Hariprasad Chaurasia
Great Indian Flautist
An internationally acclaimed flautist from India, Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia is a very popular and eminent artist par excellence who is known for his outstanding contribution in popularising Indian classical music all over the world. His consummate artistry has distinguished him as the greatest living master of the north Indian bamboo flute, acclaimed both at home and abroad.
Unlike many other great Indian artistes, Pandit Chaurasia does not come from a family of musicians. Rather, music is a path he found for himself and struggled very hard to overcome all the hurdles that came his way to emerge out successful with his sheer grit, sincerity, hard work, devotion and dedication.
Born on July 1, 1938 in Allahabad, he began his musical pursuit at the age of 15, learning classical vocal technique from Pandit Rajaram. Within a year, however, he had switched to flute playing, after hearing Pandit Bholanath, a noted flautist from Varanasi. He tutored under Pandit Bholanath for eight years. In 1957, barely out of his teens, he became regular staff artist of All India Radio, Cuttack in Orissa, where he worked as performer as well as a composer. From here began his musical journey that took him all over the globe.
Transferred by All India Radio (AIR) Cuttack to Mumbai in 1960, he received further guidance from Surbahar player Shrimati Annapurna Devi, daughter of late Ustad Allaudin Khan and sister of Ustad Ali Akbar Khan.
As a musician, Pandit Chaurasia is a rare combination of an innovator and a traditionalist. He has significantly expanded the expressive possibilities of classical North Indian flute- playing through his masterful blowing technique and his unique adaptation of alaap and jod to the flute. He has composed music for many Indian films. The famous “Silsila” which he collaborated with Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma was a platinum disc in India and the musical duo Shiv-Hari went on to compose soulful music for many successful movies like Lamhe, Chandni, Faasle, Parampara, Sahibaan and Darr. Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia is married to a classical vocalist, Anuradha. The couple has a son named Rajiv.
In addition to his performance and compositions, Pandit Chaurasia also plays the role of a dedicated Guru (teacher). He has several dedicated and talented students not only in India but also around the world who are making their mark on the Indian Classical music front. When he is not touring and performing, he is busy teaching music in Mumbai, where he has built a Vrindaban Gurukul, an ashram where he teaches music in the traditional ‘Guru-Shishya Parampara’ (teacher-student tradition). For his students hailing from eastern and central zones, he has another school in the same Gurukul style in Bhubaneswar, Odisha. He also teaches music at the Rotterdam Music Conservatorium, where he is the artistic director of the Indian Music Department.
Pandit Chaurasia has been recognised and conferred upon with many national and international honours. Some of his achievements include The Maharashtra Gaurav Puraskar (1990), Padma Bhushan (1992), Konark Samman (1992), Yash Bharti Samman (1994), Kalidas Samman (1999), Padma Vibhushan (2000), Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan Award (2000), Master Dinanath Mangeshkar Award (2004), Officier in de Orde van Oranje-Nassau-Netherlands (2008), Ordres des Arts et Lettres – France (2008). He has also been felicitated with an Honorary Doctorate from North Orissa University-2008, Utkal University, Odisha- 2011 and IIT Kharagpur-2011. A recipient of the ‘Sangeet Natak Academy Fellowship Award’ in the year 2012, Pandit Chaurasia is known for his outstanding contributions to Indian music. He is one of those rare classical musicians who expanded the peripheries of classical music by taking it to the common masses.