Pandit Bhimsen Joshi: Hindustani Classical Doyen

♦ Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, a brilliant Hindustani classical vocalist was legendary in the khayal form and devotional music. His spontaneity and fast-paced taans (improvised fast-tempo musical notes) have enriched the Kirana Gharana with his own distinctive stamp.

♦ He enthralled innumerable Indians with his music over seven decades, not to forget ‘Mile Sur Mera Tumhara’, in which he featured along with Balamuralikrishna and Lata MangeshkarHe is also known as the ‘God of Singing’ or ‘God of Music’.

♦ Born on February 4, 1922, in the Dharwad district of Karnataka to school teacher Gururaj Joshi and Godavaribai, he was the eldest of 16 siblings. Joshi’s early exposure to processions of bhajan singers that passed in front of his residence or that of azaan from a nearby mosque, all made an impact on him. Gradually, he developed a fondness for instruments such as the harmonium and tanpura (a string instrument).

♦ The recording of Abdul Karim Khan’s Thumri Piya Bin Nahi Aavat Chain served as the turning point in the life of the budding artist who, on hearing the classic piece, resolved to become a musician.

♦ No other singer in India has given so many concerts as Pt. Joshi. It is also worth mentioning that in 1964, King of Afghanistan, Mohammed Zahir Shah, himself invited Pt. Joshi for a concert in Kabul. Between 1964 to 1982 Joshi toured Italy, France, Canada and USA. He was the first musician from India whose concerts were advertised through posters in New York city, United States.

♦ In 1953, he began an annual classical musical festival called the Sawai Gandharva Music Festival in memory of his guru. Held in Pune every December, it is the largest Indian classical concert.

♦ HMV brought out a slew of albums each of which highlighted his distinctive style and mastery over rhythm. In 1984, one of his records went platinum, making Joshi the first Hindustani vocalist to earn the distinction.

♦ In 1998, he was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship, the highest honour conferred by Sangeet Natak Akademi, India’s National Academy for Music, Dance and Drama.

♦ Such was his legacy that he was conferred with India’s highest civilian honour, the prestigious Bharat Ratna, in 2008 — he was the first Hindustani classical vocalist to be chosen for the award.





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