With the decline of princely patronage to Hindustani music in the second half of the nineteenth century, many hereditary musicians and courtesans from north and central India made their way to Bombay and Calcutta, the two major colonial urban centres in northern India at the time. Several musicians from prominent lineages travelled to Bombay and made the city their temporary and later even permanent home.
Among these, Sher Khan (1805-1862), nephew and disciple of Ghagge Khudabaksh of the Agra lineage, was one of the earliest to have travelled to Bombay and taught many disciples there. Sher Khan’s son Natthan Khan lived in Bombay for a few years, and some of Natthan Khan’s sons were well known as significant teachers and composers in the city.
Unfortunately, none of the city’s public spaces are named after Sher Khan, his son or his grandsons. But thankfully, some public spaces are named after the disciples and grand-disciples of Vilayat Hussain Khan, one of the grandsons of Sher Khan and among the most revered vocalists and gurus.
Among the vocalists of the Sahaswan-Rampur lineage, Haider Khan is believed to have been the first to have come to the city. There is no public space in the city named after him, but it was heartening to see that a junction in Bandra was recently named after Ghulam Mustafa Khan, one of the foremost exponents of this lineage who was much feted over the past few decades. The maestro died last year after a long professional career as a performer and guru.
A disciple of his father Waris Hussain Khan, he also learnt from his paternal uncle Fida Hussain Khan, and from Nissar Hussain Khan, a venerated performer of the same tradition. A recipient of several awards, Ghulam Mustafa Khan also sang for films and presented different genres of music. Consequently, he was much sought after as a mentor by many well-known singers from the world of Hindi cinema.
The 17th episode of our series on public spaces named after Hindustani musicians focuses on the music of the Sahaswan-Rampur vocalist Ghulam Mustafa Khan. We begin with an interview conducted by Sameena for the Rajya Sabha television channel, in which the maestro speaks of his life and journey and with music.
The next track has a presentation of a vilambit khayal in the raag Darbari Kanada. There is no tabla and sarangi/harmonium accompaniment on this track as would be the case conventionally.
On the following track, the maestro sings two compositions in raag Puriya Dhanashree, the vilambit set to the 12-matra Ektaal and the drut to the 16-matra Teentaal. He is accompanied on the harmonium by Mashkoor Hussain, on the sarangi by Liaquat Ali Khan, and on the tabla by Ghulam Sultan Niyazi.
We end with a jugalbandi or duet featuring Ghulam Mustafa Khan and well-known sitar player Imrat Khan. They are accompanied on the tabla by Rashid Mustafa and Ghulam Sultan Niyazi, and on the harmonium by Mashkoor Hussain.
One of India’s leading tabla players, Aneesh Pradhan is a widely recognised performer, teacher, composer and scholar of Hindustani music. Visit his website here.