Remembering surbahar legend Ustad Imrat Khan, who shone vibrant regardless of being overshadowed by his celebrated brother Ustad Vilayat Khan
Point out the title Ustad Imrat Khan to any younger Indian classical music lover, and chances are high the reply might be, “Imrat Khan sahib? Oh sure, Ustad Vilayat Khan’s youthful brother, the surbahar participant.” However Ustad Imrat Khan was far more than simply the youthful brother of an iconic musician. He was additionally one of many best instrumentalists of his time, an innovator, composer, nice instructor, and the heir of the surbahar taking part in custom of the five-generation-old Imdadkhani gharana.
Largely forgotten by a youthful technology of listeners, he’s a musician whose affect might be discerned within the instrumentalists of at present. For one, the truth that he was as tremendous a sitar participant as surbahar participant was intentionally underplayed by his mom, Begum Inayat Khan, who was eager that the legacy of her late husband Ustad Inayat Khan be carried ahead equally by each her sons, Vilayat and Imrat. From an early age, Imrat was inspired to practise solely the surbahar, on which he was skilled by his uncle Ustad Wahid Khan.
Imrat was solely three when his father died, so his gurus have been his maternal grandfather, Ustad Bande Hasan Khan, uncle Ustad Wahid Khan, and brother Ustad Vilayat Khan. Within the early years, the brothers have been inspired to additionally current their music as a jugalbandi, with Imrat taking part in the a lot heavier, harder surbahar along with his brother Vilayat Khan on the sitar. A few of their immortal recordings, ‘Evening on the Taj’, ‘Mian Malhar’, and a non-public recording of Yemeni on YouTube, reveal Imrat’s musical prowess. Though Ustad Vilayat Khan was famed for his wonderful musicality, creativity and virtuosity, the jugalbandis reveal that Ustad Imrat Khan managed to carry his personal with elan.
Wanting on the legacy he left behind, foremost is his excellence as a guru. He was thorough, exacting, meticulous and inspirational. His sons and disciples, Nishat, Irshad and Wajahat, are well-known worldwide. Ustad Imrat Khan was additionally a tremendous composer — Satyajit Ray, who interacted with him carefully in the course of the making of Jalsaghar, apparently stated that although the title of the music composer was given as Ustad Vilayat Khan, it was Ustad Imrat Khan who handled the minute particulars. He created raags Chandra Kanhra, Madhuranjani, Geetanjali, Amrit Kauns, amongst others, however these by no means actually turned mainstream ragas.
Uncommon raags, his forte
Understanding that he needed to carve out a musical identification distinct from his extra celebrated brother, Ustad Imrat Khan revelled in taking part in uncommon raags; two that he popularised have been Kalavati and Abhogi Kanhra. His compositions too reveal an try at individuality — son Ustad Nishat Khan speaks of a ‘gat’ in raag Gaoti, which was ‘the smallest gat ever composed, during which the mukhda was in simply two matras. Says Nishat, “His compositions had a novel model; he used bolkaari (stroke work) in a particular approach,” a mode that was adopted later by different instrumentalists. His son Ustad Irshad Khan remembers how he performed compositions apart from in teen taal. “This was one thing his gharana was not identified for.”
The coaching on the surbahar gave him a command on the sitar that was superior, and the wazan of his proper hand, the fluid stroke work, and the intensive use of gamak taans on the sitar have been distinctly his personal. He most popular to encourage the then comparatively lesser-known tabla gamers, Ustad Lateef Ahmed Khan of the Delhi gharana and Pt. Mahapurush Mishra and Pt. Kumar Bose of the Banaras gharana.
But, dwelling within the occasions of these very good sitariyas, Ustad Vilayat Khan and Pt. Ravi Shankar, Ustad Imrat Khan by no means bought the acclaim that was his rightful due. He moved to the U.Ok. the place he taught on the Dartington School of the Arts, then to Europe within the mid-Nineteen Seventies, the place he taught on the Central Academy of the Arts, Berlin, then moved to the U.S. within the 80s, the place he taught at Washington College, St Louis. Within the course of, his concert events in India shrank, and a more moderen technology of listeners forgot his presence. Recipient of the Sangeet Natak award in 1988, the nation forgot him until his Padma Shri in 2017, which he declined as being too little too late.
The Ustad was a easy, large-hearted and fun-loving man. He cherished good meals and loved watching Hindi films. Most of his waking hours have been spent in music, whether or not taking part in, listening or instructing. He was technically proficient, and and was capable of tweak the jawari (the ivory tuning bridge) completely. A traditionalist, he turned down all presents for fusion concert events, saying there was sufficient to discover in Indian music. Immediately, 4 a long time after his prime, one is ready to recognize the extent of his mastery.
The Delhi-based creator writes on Hindustani music and musicians.