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A Tribute to Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, the Maestro of Indian Classical Music


Ali Akbar Khan, maestro of Indian Classical Music, passed away at the age of 88 in California, USA. Despite his matured death, his absence will always be felt by his millions of fans, both in the East and the West.

Hailed by violinist Yehudi Menuhin as 'the greatest musician in the world,' Khan had many firsts to his credit in taking Indian classical music to the west. He was admired by both eastern and western musicians for his brilliant compositions and his mastery of the 25-string instrument.

The illustrious son of Ustad Alauddin Khan was the first to cut a long play record of Indian classical music in the U.S. and to give a sarod recital on American TV.

The Ustad was also the first Indian musician to receive a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 1991. He was nominated by the Grammy Awards five times between 1970 and 1998.

Born on April 14, 1922 in Shibpur village of Comilla district, now in Bangladesh, Khan took up music at the age of 3, learning vocal music from his father and percussion from his uncle, Fakir Aftabuddin.

His father trained him in several other instruments too, but he decided to concentrate on sarod and vocals.

Khan gave his first public performance in Allahabad at the age of 13 and made his first gramophone recording in Lucknow when he was in his early 20s. He became the court musician of the Maharaja of Jodhpur and continued for seven years until his patron's death. The state of Jodhpur bestowed upon him the title 'Ustad.' At the request of Menuhin, Khan visited the U.S. in 1955 and performed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

He founded the Ali Akbar College of Music in Kolkata in 1956. In 1965, he began teaching in the U.S. and later opened a branch of his college there and in Switzerland.

In 1971, during the Bangladesh Liberation War, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan organized a concert in New York to raise money for millions of Bengali who took refuge in India fleeing the atrocities of the then Pakistani Army.

In this program, his cousin Mubarak Hossain Khan, a former Director General of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, pays his profound respects and deep tributes to the greatest sarod player of all time.

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