Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Tribute to Ustad Asad Ali Khan

Yesterday, on the 13th of June, 2011, as the sun set, a shining star of Hindustani classical music was lost in the unknown horizon. The sudden demise of Ustad Asad Ali Khan, the illustrious Rudra Veena maestro left all of us in shock. This is the tragedy not only for all his near and dear but it is a great loss to the Indian music. He was amongst the very few exponents of Rudra Veena, an instrument that is on the brink of collapse. Presently, when the great tradition of Rudra Veena is on the verge of extinction, I think I should attract the attention of the readers to this wondrous instrument and one of its very rare exponents, who tried his level best and in every possible manner to preserve, protect and spread the tradition.

Ustad Asad Ali Khan belonged to the 12th generation of Beenkaar Jaipur gharana (family or school) of the Indian classical music. His great grandfather Ustad Rajab Ali Khan Beenkaar, grandfather Ustad Musharraf Ali Khan Beenkaar and father -- also his tutor -- Ustad Sadiq Ali Khan Beenkaar were court musicians in the princely state of Alwar, where Ustad Asad Ali Khan was born. His father later moved to the princely court of Rampur where his father undertook to teach him music and for the next 15 years he learnt to play the Rudra Veena, practicing 14 hours a day.

For continuation of gharana, he successfully guided and trained his son and successor Ali Zaki Haider, who is going to carry Guru-Shishya Parampara further.

Although he is physically no more with us, his diligence and devotion have now placed him among tile top galaxy of Indian classical musicians. In India Ustad Asad Ali Khan was venerated for his superb musical skill and knowledge and received recognition and awards galore:

• Indian Civilian honor, Padma Bhushan in 2008 from President of India.

• Senior fellowship from ministry of cultural affairs, India in 2007-08.

• ITC Award from Sangeet Research Academy, Calcutta in 2007.

• Tansen Award from Madhya Pradesh Government in 1994

• Award of the Sangeet Natak Academy, Lucknow(U.P.) in 1985

• Award of the Sangeet Natak Academy, Delhi in 1977

• Veena Visharad, the highest music degree, from the Banaras Hindu University.

He is a top-grade artiste of the All India Radio and participates in Radio sangeet sammelans (i.e. music conferences), national programs and musical performances all over India. He has also been a professor of music in Delhi University.

He has given concerts in Afghanistan, Australia, Holland, Italy, New Zealand the United Kingdom, the United States of America and other countries.

May his soul rest in peace and may God give his family the power to bear with the tragedy.