Last Saturday, London’s Nehru Centre hosted the Sarod Maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan with his wife Subhalakshmi Khan and sons Amaan Ali Bangash and Ayaan Ali Bangash. The event was to mark the launch of a book penned by Khansaheb, titled Master on Masters. This book regales its readers with fascinating anecdotal and historical details on 12 of India’s greatest music legends in the world of Classical and Light Classical Music. The book makes for easy reading and provides intimate portraits of these legends from the vantage point of close and personal association and interaction with Ustad Amjad Ali Khan.
Amjad Ali Khan’s career spans a period of over six decades, incredible in itself given he is only 73, and that has presented him with a unique opportunity to transcend at least three generations of Music greats. Coming from a lineage of seven generations of Rabab and Sarod maestros hailing from Afghanistan he is the foremost exponent of the Sarod today representing the Bangash Senia Gharana (tradition) with its very unique style of playing that closely mimics the singing or gayaki effect which leaves a mesmerising impact on his audience.
The choice of Masters covered in this book by the Ustad was informed by the extent of his own personal interaction with them and influenced by their path breaking legacies. Many of them are household names for even those not deeply initiated into classical music scene. The great musicians featured include Instrumentalists Ustad Bismillah Khan (shehnai), Pandit Ravi Shankar and Ustad Vilayat Khan (sitar), Vocalists M S Subhalakshmi, Kesarbai Kerkar, Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Ustad Amir Khan, Pandit Kumar Gandharva and Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, Percussionists Ustad Alla Rakha and Pandit Kishan Maharaj and the doyenne of Ghazals Begum Akhtar. Khansaheb has mingled with them intimately not least owing to his own legendary father Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan but also sharing the stage at same events himself with many of the above.
At the event at Nehru Centre, Ustadji was joined by acclaimed Western Classical Music Conductor Dr David Murphy who has notably collaborated with Indian classical music legends like Pandit Ravi Shankar and Ustad Amjad Ali Khan.
There ensued reading of extracts from the book by Dr Murphy followed by conversation between the two musical luminaries drawing out some of the anecdotes and topics relating to evolution in the performance style of classical music over the era. The event ended with a number of questions from members of the audience who filled the auditorium. Khansaheb was feted by the Indian High Commissioner Mrs Ruchi Ghanshyam.
Khansaheb provides fascinating insights into a music era and the legends that made it which will be recorded for posterity. The book can be obtained on the Amazon platform.