Kalam condoles Bismillah Khan's death | india | Hindustan Times
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Kalam condoles Bismillah Khan's death

india Updated: Aug 21, 2006 09:02 IST
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President A P J Abdul Kalam on Monday condoled the death of shehnai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan.

Kalam, who is currently on a visit to Bangalore, expressed shock over his death, a Rashtrapati Bhawan spokesperson said.

The 91-year-old Bharat Ratna awardee, who had been admitted to Heritage hospital in Varanasi on August 17 with age- related health problems, died of cardiac arrest early on Monday.

Bismillah Khan was born on March 21, 1916 into a family of court musicians and later trained under his uncle, the late Ali Bux 'Vilayatu,' a shehnai player attached to Varanasi's Vishwanath temple.

On India's first Republic Day, Khan had enthralled audiences with a sterling performance from the ramparts of the Red Fort.

During his long and fruitful career as an artiste, he regaled music lovers at performances across the globe.

Apart from his trips to Afghanistan, Europe, Iran, Iraq, Canada, West Africa, USA, USSR, Japan and Hong Kong, Khan had also visited almost every capital city across the world.

He was honoured with the Sangeet Natak Akademi award, the Tansen award as well as the Padma Vibhushan.

In 2001, Khan became the third classical musician to be awarded the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honour.

The Ustad has often been credited with taking the shehnai from the marriage mandap to the concert hall. His eminence assured him of a busy performance calendar as well as the highest fees.

But life for an ailing Khan was far from easy. He was not very well off in his last days as his joint family of 60 members literally lived off him.

Despite his fame, his lifestyle retained its old world charm and he continued to use the cycle rickshaw as his chief mode of transport till the end.

The shehnai maestro is survived by his five sons and three daughters.

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