Ustad Amjad Ali Khan

Born in Gwalior on 9th October, 1945, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan was taught by his father and guru, Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan of the Senia gharana to continue the musical tradition of Mian Tansen. Today, he is the youngest top-ranking sarod player in the country. While keeping the classical tradition and technique of the sarod alive he has further enriched it by introducing several innovations previously unattempted.

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan has always been closely associated with student bodies and has made a significant contribution towards promoting and popularising Indian classical music among youth.

He has performed in several international music festivals in Pakistan, China, Hong Kong and London and has several long playing records by HMV.

In the course of his musical career, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan has won several titles, honours and decoration, including the Sarod Samrat, UNESCO award, Padmashree and Kala Ratna.

He played a note in the symphony of silences,
Years of practice had done it to him
He was the chosen one.
His predecessors kept the spark alive
And gave it to him in blood;
His life, his music, his soul are one.

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan is among the few distinguished and successful exponents of Indian classical music, whose name has become synonymous with sarod He did not learn music, but was born with the art, literally. The story of Amjad Ali Khan? life is like a pilgrim seeking the ?oly Place?and traversing far into the horizon with the blessings of his forefathers, exploring and discovering new ragas on the way. In his search for spiritual attainment, he has won national and international acclaim, acceptance and appreciation.

Rooted In History

Indian musical history is a tangled web of parents, lineage, and miscellaneous streams of blood and loyalty. The life and music of Ustad Amjad Ali Khan can be fathomed only when we understand his lineage.

Amjad Ali Khan? great-great grandfather Gulam Bandagi Khan Bangash was a horse trader and a rabab player (an ancient instrument of Iran with a fingerboard of wood and strings made of fibre of skin). He left his native Afghanistan and joined the army of the Maharaja of Rewa (in India) as a soldier. The Maharaja, a music lover, had many musicians and singers in his court. When he found that the new soldier played rabab and was teaching his son, Gulam Ali Khan as well, he took the son under his patronage. Gulam Ali was quick to learn music under other rabab players, Ustad Pyar and Ustad Jafar Khan.

Young Gulam Ali Khan then put a steel plate on the rabab? fingerboard, removing the wooden one. He also replaced the whispering gut strings with steel ones. This double change altered the rabab? looks and its sound. He called it ?arod?which in Persian means ?usic? This transformation was not just a random alteration but an act of deep musical perception.

Gulam Ali Khan? fame spread far and wide and he was invited to perform and teach in other royal courts and princely states. The Nawab of Lucknow invited him, and from there Gulam Ali Khan proceeded to Gwalior on invitation from Maharaja Scindia of Gwalior.

The fourth generation, Nanne Khan, son of Gulam Ali Khan, continued this glorious tradition. He studied sarod in the tradition of Dhrupad and became the principal musician of the royal household of Gwalior. His son, Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan (Amjad Ali Khan? father) left Gwalior, after his father? death and studied the Beenkar tradition under Wazir Khan of Rampur. Here he learnt to play sur-singar, a sarod-like instrument, and thus joined stream with the legendary Miyan Tansen.

Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan was temperamentally a singer; his instrument was his voice. He first had a song in his head, then his fingers and plectrum would search and find a responsive chord on the sarod. He also learnt the art and technique of ragas from various singers of great acclaim. He traveled to various towns having different traditions of music and returned to Gwalior to keep the Senia-Bangash gharana of Sarod alive and to serve his next generation in a pilgrimage which he did not discontinue until he set his son Amjad? feet on the path to eternal music. Amjad Ali Khan is the sixth generation of this dedicated sarod tradition and his sons Amaan and Ayaan are the seventh generation to continue this tradition.