Sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan has some enlightening observations on music. He believes the universe has two parallel worlds — of language and that of sound. And though language rules the world, it is sound through which we feel a connection with the Almighty.
“I’m not good with language...I couldn’t even complete (reading) any book in my life. But the sarod is my connection with the world,” says Khan, who has been mesmerising the world with his music.
This book is my tribute to all the great masters because I miss them today.
However, he has written many books, his latest being Master on Masters, which encapsulates the life and times of 12 eminent Indian musicians of the 20th century, including Bade Ghulam Ali Khan and Begum Akhtar. “It’s my tribute to all the great masters because I miss them today… Now performing at music festivals without them is so difficult,” says Khan.
If I played at one concert for six hours, next day (Pandit) Ravi Shankarji used to play for seven hours! That challenge was very inspiring and something to work on. I always admired Ravi Shankar and he always had that feeling of hitting back, at any age. He was 92 when he passed away but he used to accept a challenge whether you announce it or not.
“I grew up listening to these artists and spending time with them. From my younger days, whichever festival I performed at, they were with me. It was a big challenge for me to match up to these names. Like, if I played at one concert for six hours, next day (Pandit) Ravi Shankarji would play for seven hours! That challenge was very inspiring and something to work on. We all admired each other and were aware of each other’s work,” says the 71-year-old maestro, who started performing when he was just six years old.
It wasn’t easy for Khan to pen down this nostalgia. An anecdote in his book mentions that in 1989 after his concert, Bismillah Khan told him that he didn’t go for his morning namaaz because he was moved by the sarod player’s rendition, saying, “Sangeet bhi toh ibadat hai.”
The Padma Vibhushan (2001) recipient credits his family for providing emotional support. “My wife (Subhalakshmi Barua Khan), (sons) Amaan and Ayaan, all helped me. They gave me courage to pen the book and have been sincere friends of mine. Now our focus is on my grandchildren, Ayaan’s twin boys,” adds the sarod maestro.
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