Posted by: Radha | April 16, 2009

A Musical Evening

This Sunday, I had the privilege of watching Padma Vibhushan Ustad Amjad Ali Khan perform live. The concert was arranged by the Ramaseva Mandali as a part of the Ramanavami celebrations. We found seats pretty close to the stage and had a neat view. Pardon me for saying this, but the first thing that hits you about the Ustad is his striking good looks and a very charming smile. He was accompanied by the brilliant Vijay Ghate on the tabla and Jagannath on the tamburi.
The performance began with the evening Raaga Kamalashri followed by Raaga Mishradhara. Two bhajans followed next – Vaisnava Jan To and Raghupati Raghava. His rendition of Vaishnava Jan To is beautiful and hugely popular, which showed in the audience reaction too.
The Ustad narrated an incident about his father, Hafiz Ali Khan’s meeting with the then President Rajendra Prasad. When his father received the Padma Bhushan, the President asked him if he could do anything for him. The musician could have asked the President for money, titles or property, but he asked him to protect the Raaga Darbari as some unprofessional musicians were making changes to it. He didn’t want Tansen’s legacy to be ruined. Such was the innocence and dedication of the musicians of that age, he said.
The Ustad also gave examples of the two different schools of playing the Sarod – one where the strings are stopped by the fingertips and the other where the strings are stopped by the fingernails. The Ustad practices the latter style, due to which you will see him file his nails in the middle of the concert.
He then played the Raaga Darbari and the highlight of the evening, Raaga Shivakalyani. The ascending and descending crescendos of this Raaga were lilting and gave us goosebumps. The audience was then treated to a tabla solo by Vijay Ghate. The performance was so powerful and peppy that I just wanted to jump up and start dancing.
The Ustad then played a composition he has created as a dedication to his wife, Raaga Subbalakshmi. It was mellow, subtle and beautiful. The evening ended with a rendition of Rabindranath Tagore’s folk music composition, ‘Ekla Chalo’. He played the Bengali version and the Assamese version, which is slightly faster.
Through the evening, I couldn’t help but notice how the Ustad enjoys his music. Oblivious to his surroundings, you can make out that for him, its just him and his music. He smiles constantly and thoroughly enjoys playing the Sarod. His involvement and passion for the music he makes speaks a lot for his achievements. For, when you say Sarod, you can only think of Ustad Amjad Ali Khan. And someone who can make music like that is divine for me.



  1. Lucky u radha!!!!

    I have never got a chance to watch him perform live. I do have quite a few collection of his but watching and enjoying live always gives you the warmth of Hindustani music.
    Vijay Ghate is the man. He can do wonders with his tabla. I still remember the classical music concert I attended in mudabidri which had the music stalwarts—

    Pandit Vijay ghate in Tabla, Pandit Suramani Pravin Godkhindi in bansuri, Pantit Salil Bhat on the Satvik Veena, Pandit Sandeep Chatterjee on the Santoor, Ustad Rafiq Khan (s/o Ustad Abdul karim khan) on the sitar….

  2. Oh wow.. that’s a great ensemble of artists Praveen šŸ™‚ am sure you had a great time.. I am yet to watch Praveen Godkhindi live.. There was a concert two weeks ago, but on a weekday.. Hope to see one soon..

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