Nad Bramha - Eternal Voice Vol 1 (2002)

Pandit Bhimsen Joshi

About this album

Pandit Bhimsen Joshi was born on February 4th 1922 at Gadag in the Dharwad district of what was then known as the Bombay Presidency (the district is now part of independent India's southern state of Karnataka). He thus belongs to the distinguished group of Southerners who have risen to prominence in the field of Hindustani (or North Indian) music during the 20th century. It is interesting to note that quite a few of them, such as the Late Pandit Mallikarjun Mansur, Smt. Gangubai Hangal and of course Pandit Bhimsen's own Guru, the illustrious Sawai Gandharva, came from this same district. This is no mere coincidence, for there are sound historical reasons why Hindustani music should have established itself in this very corner of the South.

From the latter years of the 19th century, many noted Hindustani musicians began to migrate to the southern area of the Bombay Presidency and to the adjacent Mysore State, where they soon found recognition from local music-lovers and patronage at the courts of several princely states. While the Hindustani artistes would travel back and forth, taking residencies in various princely courts, stopping on the way to give recitals or to teach, they began to acquire not only admires but also musical disciples among the people of the area.

Nowhere was this more so than in the Dharwad district returned to his home district where he was destined to find his main guru in the person of none other than Sawai Gandharva, the most outstanding disciple of Ustad Abdul Karim Khan. To quote the eminent Hindustani music critic Mohan Nadkarni, 'It was significant that for one who went crazy after hearing the recorded music of Abdul Karim Khan, he should have at last found his Guru in the chief disciple of the Ustad'.

After five years of intensive studies with his Guru, Bhimsen came back to his home-town where he stayed for a year, practicing on his own and giving private recitals. He then went north again, his sojourn in Bombay proving particularly fruitful in that it introduced him to the art of such luminaries as Rasoolan Bai and Siddheshwari Devi of Benaras, Begum Akhtar of Lucknow and Mushtaq Hussian Khan of Rampur. Their music made such a profound impact on his mind that, after giving his first-ever public concert in Bombay, he traveled first to Rampur, where he studied with Ustad Mushtaq Hussain Khan for six months, and then to Lucknow where Begum Akhtar helped him get a job as a staff artiste of All India Radio.

Having returned to Bombay late in 1942, he secured a similar job on the Bombay station of All India Radio and started broadcasting from there in February 1943. His radio appearances soon made him popular among the music loving public but, according to him, his real big break came in January 1946 when he took part in a concert marking the 60th birthday of Sawai Gnadharva, in Pune. There, in front of a capacity audience in which his honored Guru was being paid tribute by many other great masters, irrespective of their gharanas, Bhimsen established himself as a major talent through a magnificent rendition of raga Miyan ki Malhar, the main raga on this album as well, whose profound character he managed to convey with amazing maturity.


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