legendary shehani maestro, a man of tenderness, a man
who believes in remaining private and who believes that
musicians are supposed to be heard and not seen. The
legend was born on 21 March 1916. His ancestors were
court musicians in the princely state of Dumraon in
Bihar and he was trained under his uncle, the late Ali
Bux `Vilayatu’, a shehnai player attached to Varanasi’s
Vishwanath Temple. It was Khan Sahib who poured his
heart out into Raga Kafi from Red Fort on the eve of
India’s first Republic Day ceremony.
Where others see conflict and contradiction between
his music and his religion, Bismillah Khan sees only
a divine unity. Music, sur, namaaz are the same thing.
His namaaz is the seven shuddh and five komal surs.
Even as a devout Shia, Khan Sahib is also a staunch
devotee of Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of music.
His honorary doctorate from the Benares Hindu University
and Shantiniketan bespeaks of his fame. He has been
bequeathed with the Sangeet Natak Academi Award, the
Tansen Award of the Madhya Pradesh government and also
the prestigious Padma Vibhushan.
He has played in Afghanistan, Europe, Iran, Iraq, Canada,
West Africa, USA, USSR, Japan, Hong Kong and almost
every capital city across the world.