Born On: October 9, 1945
Born In: Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh
Career: Classical singer
Ustad Amjad Ali Khan is a noted sarod player and one of the foremost classical musicians. He is a highly acclaimed Indian musician and composer, coming from a musical family that claims to have invented the sarod. He stands as the sixth-generation sarod player in his family. On successfully carving a niche for himself in the Hall of Fame of Indian classical music, Amjad has gained immense popularity, not just in India but also abroad, and has created a great fan following. With his forefathers are believed to have come from Afghanistan, Amjad has continued to keep the sarod alive, though with some modifications to improve the tonal quality and suit the likes of the listeners.
Amjad Ali Khan was born as Masoom Ali Khan in Gwalior, Central Provinces and Berar in British Raj, now Madhya Pradesh, to Hafiz Ali Khan and Rahat Jahan. His father, Hafiz was also an eminent musician in the court of the royal family of Gwalior. He belongs to the Bangash lineage and is in the sixth generation of musicians. He received his school education at home, while music was introduced to him by his father. He had the honor of receiving training from the descendants of Miyan Tansen, considered to be the greatest musician of all times. At the mere age of 12, Amjad Ali Khan gave his first solo recital.
Amjad Ali Khan had a special mastery and love for the instrument that he gave a new and yet timeless interpretation to it. Keeping to the tradition and yet being innovative, he created many enchanting new ragas of his own. He composed the ragas, Priyadarshini and Kamalashree, in memory of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. Some of the other melodies composed by him include Kiran Ranjani, Haripriya Kanada, Shivanjali, Shyam Shri, Suhag Bhairav, Lalit Dhwani, Amiri Todi, Jawahar Manjari, Bapukauns, and so on. He has even composed a piece for the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Yoshikazu Fukumora titled 'Tribute to Hong Kong', with guitarist Charley Byrd, Violinist Igor Frolov, Suprano Glenda Simpson, Guitarist Barry Mason, and UK Cellist Matthew Barley.
Ustad Khan has achieved immense popularity in India as well as abroad. He has the distinction of being the first north Indian artist to have performed in honor of Thyagaraja at the saint musician's Thiruvaiyur shrine. He has traveled widely and performed in several international music festivals in Pakistan, China, New Zealand, London, Rome, USA, Moscow, Germany, Japan etc. His chief innovations are his ekharataans complex high speed staccato passages, something which many sarod players find very difficult to do. Amjad Ali Khan has had a successful career spanning over 40 years and still continues to be one of the busiest classical musicians in India.
Ustad Amjad Ali Khan has composed many ragas of his own like Kiran Ranjani, Haripriya Kanada, Shivanjali, Shyam Shri, Suhag Bhairav, Lalit Dhwani, Amiri Todi, Jawahar Manjari, and Bapukauns. In 1977, he founded the Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan Memorial Society which organizes concerts and bestows an annual Hafiz Ali Khan Award on outstanding classical musicians in India and aboard.
Amjad Ali Khan has an arranged marriage which did not last long. Thereafter, he had a second marriage with Subhalakshmi, a Bharatanatyam dancer, on September 25, 1976. They have two children, Amaan and Ayaan, both renowned musicians. They often give performances with their father. The family currently resides in New Delhi, while their Gwalior home has been transformed into a musical center.
Awards & Recognition
UNESCO Award, 1970
Padma Shri Award, 1975
April 20 declared as Amjad Ali Khan Day in Massachusetts, 1984
Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, 1989
Tansen Award, 1989
Padma Bhushan Award, 1991
Declared an Honorary Citizen of Houston, Texas, and Nashville, Tennessee in 1997
Padma Vibhushan Award, 2001
Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize, 2004
Declared an Honorary Citizen of Tulsa, Oklahoma in 2007
1945: Born in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh
1957: Delivered his first solo recital
1975: Honored with Padma Shri Award
1970: Bestowed with the International Music Forum Award, UNESCO
1977: Established the Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan Memorial Society
1991: Conferred upon with Padma Bhushan Award
2001: Received Padma Vibhushan Award.