Vol. 5 Num 106 Wed. September 08, 2004  

Remembering themusical legend Ustad Alauddin Khan

So varied was his talent and understanding of classical music that there were only a few instruments which he could not play. He introduced the musical heritage of Indian subcontinent into the realm of world music and transcended the difference between the Muslim and Hindu cultures. He is none other then the legendary maestro of classical music Ustad Alauddin Khan.

On the occasion of the great musician's 32nd death anniversary, the Bangla Academy organised a commemorative discussion. Descendants of Alauddin Khan, Mobarak Hossain Khan a music exponent and the Chairperson of the Trustee Board, Nazrul Institute, and renowned musician Sheikh Sadi Khan spoke on the Ustad. Professor Mansur Musa gave the introductory speech.

'Artistes enrich the world and Alauddin Khan's contribution to the music world is enormous. So dedicated to music was he that sometimes he didn't even have the time for his family and social rituals,' Mansur Musa said.

Sheikh Sadi briefly narrated the maestro's life. 'Alauddin Khan ran away from home at 10 and joined a jatra party where he was exposed to a variety of folk musical genres and later he created a new gharana called Alauddin Sangeet Gharana or Maihar Sangeet Gharana. Alauddin Khan had the rare talent of creating notations of any songs and at the same time he created numerous ragas and raginis,' he said.

Alauddin Khan became a disciple of Gopal Krishna Bhattacharya, popularly known as Nulo Gopal. From then on, Alauddin turned to musical instruments and learnt indigenous as well as foreign musical instruments such as the sitar, flute, piccolo, mandolin and banjo. He also learnt the violin in the western style from a Goanese bandmaster named Lobo. Besides, he learnt shehnai, naquara, tiquara, jagajhampa, pakhwaj, mridanga and tabla. As a court musician of the zamindar of Muktagachha, Alauddin took lessons on sarod from Ustad Ahmed Ali Khan for five years and mastered the Seni Gharana from Ustad Wazir Khan.

'As a teacher Alauddin Khan was very strict but deep down he was affectionate, down to earth, decent and religious,' said Mobarak Hossain Khan. Alauddin was a spiritual musician who practised music as a medium of devotion to God.

'Alauddin Khan was also a visiting professor at the Visva Bharati University and once, while he was leaving the university compound, Tagore called the famous sculptor Nandalal Basu to make a sculpture of the great musician. That sculpture is still there,' said Mobarak.

'But unfortunately Alauddin Khan didn't get the due recognition in the country where he was born. Today is his death anniversary but except Bangladesh Betar, no other media are holding any programme. Even Shilpakala Academy isn't holding any programme to commemorate this legend,' rued Mobarak.

The speakers, Mobarak Hossain Khan and Sheikh Sadi Khan, said that the family had carried on the tradition of classical music for five generations.

After the discussion a classical instrumental recitation was presented. Renaat Fauzia in raga Bhopali on the sitar, Sheikh Sadi Khan on the violin, and Shahadat Hossain Khan on the sarod performed. Muhammad Moniruzzaman played the flute.

The endeavour was appreciable. However, empty chairs at the auditorium of Bangla Academy reminded of the fact that we have not paid due respect to this great musician.

(L-R) Mansur Musa, Mobarak Hossain Khan and Sheikh Sadi Khan at the discussion session