Ustad Amjad Ali Khan
The Sarod Samrat
Born on October 9, 1945 in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, Amjad Ali Khan’s father Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan was a musician in the court of the royal family of Gwalior. Ustad Amjad started receiving training at a very young age from the descendants of Miyan Tansen, considered to be the greatest musician of all times. He gave his first soloperformance at the age of six.
Belonging to the Bangash lineage, originating from Senia Bangash School of Music, the Ustad’s ancestors have been accredited for modifying the sarod as an Indian classical instrument. The present day sarod has been derived by altering the ancient folk instrument of Iran known as ‘Rabab’.
Contributing immensely to the field of classical music, Ustad Amjad has composed many ragas like Kiran Ranjani, Haripriya Kanada, Shivanjali, Shyam Shri, Suhag Bhairav, Lalit Dhwani, Amiri Todi, Jawahar Manjari and Bapukauns.
“Music is the greatest wealth that I have inherited from my forefathers; one that I am constantly sharing with my disciples. Therefore, there isn’t an instant – coffee culture that I can follow! Only practice can work, not any kind of digital correction,” the maestro says in an interview.
In spite of his inheritance, Ustad Amjad approached sarod in a non-conventional manner and developed a style of his own. He plays the instrument with his finger nails instead of his finger tips and therefore produces a clear ringing sound. The technique evolved by the maestro is also the most difficult one to be applied on the sarod. Ustad Amjad believes that music is essential for a peaceful mind and body and if paid attention, music can restore subtle mental discrepancies.
It was this belief that has made him win honours and citations at a relatively young age. Ustad Amjad has received honorary citizenship to the States of Texas, Massachusetts, Tennessee and the city of Atlanta. He has also been a recipient of many awards like Padma Shri Award, Sangeet Natak Academy Award, Tansen Award, UNESCO Award, UNICEF National Ambassadorship, Padma Bhushan, International Music Forum Award, etc.
To name a few of his international exploits, this genius has also acquired international acclaim by composing for the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra followed by performances in Carnegie Hall, House of Commons, Mozart Hall in Frankfurt, Chicago Symphony Centre, Sydney Opera House and many more.
Amaan Ali Khan and Ayaan Ali Khan, the two sons of Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, are also promising sarod players, presenting the seventh generation of musicians in the family. Ustad Amjad’s wife Subhalakshmi Khan was also an exceptional Bharatnatyam dancer. Over the years, Amaan and Ayaan have received immense popularity not just in India but all across the globe. The father-sons trio has appeared together for the stage performances.
The amalgamation of these three people, separated by generations, provides a beautiful perspective on Indian classical music.