As mentioned in the two previous episodes, birth and death anniversaries of noted Hindustani musicians have brought together performers and teachers across gharana boundaries to pay tribute to the life and work of such personalities. Continuing this theme, today’s column highlights an occasion when the 75th birth anniversary of Munir Khan, one of the most respected tabla gurus of all time, was celebrated in Mumbai.
This column has previously included a discussion about the contribution of Munir Khan to the art of tabla playing, but today we look at the manner in which his legacy was sought to be propagated after his demise. In its edition dated October 8, 1950, The Bombay Chronicle includes an article on the programme held to celebrate the anniversary and the long-term goal that the organisers wished to achieve in keeping the legacy of the maestro alive.
According to some sources, Munir Khan was born in 1863. However, as per the 75th birth anniversary celebrations mentioned in the article, it appears that the organisers had concluded that he was born in 1875.
Spread over two sessions in a single day, the programme included vocalists, instrumentalists and a Kathak dancer. Being a function commemorating a tabla maestro, it is not surprising that many tabla solo recitals were also featured. These were presented by disciples and grand-disciples of the maestro. Here is a list of the performers on this occasion:
Gaffar Khan of Mirzapur (tabla solo)
Bitton Bai “Jaunpuri” (Kathak) accompanied by Phathan Khan on tabla
Sudhangshu Dasgupta (sitar)
Nikhil Ghosh (tabla solo)
Latafat Hussain Khan (vocal)
Abdul Halim Jaffar Khan (sitar)
Amir Hussain Khan (tabla solo)
Khadim Hussain Khan (vocal)
Pandharinath Nageshkar (tabla solo)
Sharafat Hussain Khan (sitar)
Baby Ahmedi (vocal)
Ghulam Rasool Khan (tabla solo)
Ahmed Ali Khan (sarod)
Azmat Hussain Khan (vocal)
Ramrao Parsatvar (jaltarang)
Pannalal Ghosh (bansuri)
Ahmed Jan Thirakwa (tabla solo)
BR Deodhar (vocal)
Vilayat Khan (sitar)
Ghulam Hussain Khan (tabla solo)
Vilayat Hussain Khan (vocal)
We will continue with more information about this programme in the next part of this column. But for now, here are a few tracks featuring some of the artists mentioned above.
The first is a short excerpt of Nikhil Ghosh playing a rela, a compositional form from tabla solo repertoire. This rela has been composed in the 16-matra Teentaal by Amir Hussain Khan, nephew and disciple of Munir Khan and one of Ghosh’s gurus.
The next track has a madhya laya or medium paced composition created by Agra gharana maestro Faiyaz Khan in the raag Barwa. Set to Teentaal, it is sung by Latafat Hussain Khan accompanied on the tabla by Ahmed Jan Thirakwa, a disciple of Munir Khan.
The final track today is a sitar recital by Abdul Halim Jaffar Khan accompanied by Faiyaz Khan on tabla. The sitar exponent plays a vilambit gat or slow instrumental composition set to Teentaal in the raag Jaijaivanti.
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.