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A maestro who was reluctant to take up music

Ustad Rashid Khan's death brings to an end a distinguished career that had won him the admiration of not just music lovers but also maestros such as Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, who had heard him and said Indian classical music was in safe hands.
Last Updated 09 January 2024, 21:45 IST

Bengaluru: Ustad Rashid Khan, who was just 55 when he passed away on Tuesday in Kolkata, was initially not too keen on learning music.

Born into a musical family, Rashid Khan, one of India’s most renowned classical vocalists, later took to it with passion.

His death brings to an end a distinguished career that had won him the admiration of not just music lovers but also maestros such as Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, who had heard him and said Indian classical music was in safe hands.

He was the great-grandson of Ustad Inayat Hussain Khan, who founded the Rampur Sahaswan gharana. His grand-uncle Ustad Nissar Hussain Khan trained him, insisting that he wake up early and practise just one note for hours.

This was a method Rashid Khan would continue to follow well after he had become an accomplished performer.

Rumi Harish, the Bengalurean singer, saw Rashid Khan from close quarters at the Sangeet Research Academy in Kolkata, where she was a resident student and he was on the faculty. In fact, Rashid Khan was groomed at the academy, a modern-day gurukul, before he became a guru. “He had the patience to work on just one note, and would slowly slip into a raga after a long stretch of just gazing at it from all perspectives.” He feels Rashid Khan was a rare singer who felt he had ‘truly found his voice’, and ‘could romance it’.

Rashid Khan was also mentored by Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan (in recent years, A R Rahman learnt from him). He was widely recorded, and his discography covers not just classical music but also Hindu devotional music.
He sang occasionally for films, specialising in raga-based songs.

Khan’s renderings of raga Marwa are regarded as outstanding. He was very fond of Kirvani, a raga Hindustani music borrowed from Karnatik music, and often sang a composition in praise of Krishna (Tore bina mohe chain nahi). YouTube features a concert where he sang ‘Krishna nee begane baaro’, the popular Kannada composition in raga Yaman Kalyan, in a jugalbandi with singer Hariharan.

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(Published 09 January 2024, 21:45 IST)

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