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Famous Musicians of India

Pt. Nityanand Haldipur – Silencing the mind

When I meet music lovers around, I always have one question ready for them. The question is, “Why do you listen to music?” Of course, every person has a unique answer. Some of them listen to music to forget their worries and hassles of the life. Some of them have approach of a learner- they try to learn and improve their own performance. If someone asks me this question, I have quite different answer. For me, music is a meditation. Not only playing music, but also listening to someone else’s music.

Pt. Nityanand Haldipur
Pt. Nityanand Haldipur

Can music help you to meditate?

Pt. Nityanand Haldipur is a unique flute player as far as meditative quality of music is concerned. Very few artists have this quality in their music as it is quite difficult to inculcate it in one’s music. I often face this question by many of the music lovers- what is meant by meditative music? How do we come to know if the music is meditative or not? I have a very simple answer for this question. The answer is, meditative music makes your mind silent. The activity of mind simply drops down. Many times, all of us find it very difficult to cut down the thoughts. During my talks, many students ask me this typical question- we sit silent for hours but we are never silent.  The fact is, it is always very difficult to separate ourselves from our thoughts, to cut the supply of energy going to thought process. Listening to some good music can always be useful.

As I mentioned earlier, Pt. Nityanand Haldipur carries this unique ability in his music. His music is like a constant flow. As soon as you start listening to it, you are dragged in it. Your mind just cannot function.  Almost all the masters who have ever walked on this earth, in some way or other ask us to silent our mind. Zen masters say, drop the mind. For hundreds of years, Indian Classical Music is being used as a gateway to god- in form of worshipping god and also in form of meditation.

If we go a step down, silencing mind is an outcome of breath stabilization. We need to stabilize our breath. So, when you listen to someone like Pt. Nityanand Haldipur, who plays flute with a steady and controlled breath, you are bound to be like him. I always keep on telling many of these students and friends to listen to such kind of music. Many of them report that it helps!

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Famous Musicians of India Kishori Amonkar Uncategorized

Kishori Amonkar concert at Gateway of India : Review

When you are into world of music, attending concerts makes a big portion of your life. It is the time when you can see the maestros performing. As elders say, you should never miss an concert irrespective of the artist who will be performing. But, some artists rarely perform. In case of such artists, the listeners strive for every single concert. Whenever they hear even a slight discussion that there is some concert by such an artist, they try their best to be there,to experience the magic of divine notes.WP_20140105_001

also, if a concert is written on your fate, you will never miss it. Ganasaraswati Kishori Amonkar is one such artist who performs rarely compared to other artists.  During my first four years in Pune, I attended concerts by all the famous musicians including Pt. Mukul Shivputra, who is considered to be most infrequently performing artist in the world of Indian Classical Music. But somehow, a concert by Kishori Amonkar was something which I had not experienced. Then I got an opportunity to listen her live for couple of times.

This particular concert on 5th Jan 2014 was quite special because it was arranged in Mumbai. This was my first experience with Mumbai audience. The venue and time were both spiritual. It was an early morning concert scheduled at 6.30 in morning in front of gateway of India, facing the endless sea. Kishori Amonkar, though I had listened to two of her concerts before,was quite an unfamiliar artist for me. I was sincerely looking for more of her concerts so that I could understand her music better. Existence created the opportunity. And yes,I did not miss it!

The audience of more than 2000 stood up to salute Kishori Amonkar
The audience of more than 2000 stood up to salute Kishori Amonkar

the performance started at 7 O Clock.Without wasting much time, the organizers  requested her to start the performance.  Kishori Amonkar started with Raga Bhairav,a morning raga. The composition was spiritual. The skies were spiritual and so was the artist. The tall and robust structure of Taj at back, pigeons flying in their internal rhythm were adding to the already spiritual atmosphere.

It took some time for her voice to open up. When it opened up, she was beyond all the limits. What strikes me most about performance of Kishori Amonkar is her devotion and her level of involvement in the music. Her voice carries a deep resonance. Another thing worth noting is the patience in her performance. Kishori Amonkar is never in hurry. She is always giving full attention to each and every note and nuances of the raga which she is playing. While listening to her rendition of Raga Bhairav, I met many phrases in Raga Bhairav which I had never realized while practising. It was as if you are meeting completely unexplored side of a person whom you know for years. The second Raga chosen for the concert was Lalat Pancham. Her voice was moving steadily and gracefully in all the three octaves.

Kishori Amonkar carries a vision behind her every performance. One can find her constantly trying to materialize this vision through her performance. This striving, this struggle is so beautiful, so valuable! Her performance has nothing to show. It does not tell you how great the performer is. There is no effort done to show the greatness of the performance. It is like a waterfall, which flows for no reason. Perhaps this is what makes Kishori Amonkar one of the greatest artists ever….

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Related articles- 

Swararthramani- Autobiography of Ganasaraswati Kishori Amonkar

Kishori Amonkar concert in Pune: Review

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Famous Musicians of India

What did music teach me?

As far as I can remember my past, I find some place for music. The oldest memories which I have about myself, have a tint of music, a unique flavour of records of Pt. Bhimsen Joshi that my father used to play in our house. Those days are still clear in front of me, now. Then came the days when I started practising music. I remember those days when my friends used to laugh on me; saying why you waste the time which you get to play. I do not know the reason, but I always loved sitting alone and practising my music than playing in a crowd of kids.

Almost always it happens with music students that they loose their touch with music when they face their tenth standard board exams. Same happened with me also. But, rare thing is, the thread connecting me and music did not break. It was a temporary separation.  When favourable conditions came, the love for music sprouted up. The reason behind digging out all these things is, an interesting discussion with a friend. The friend very bluntly asked me to tell him what I got out of spending so much of time.

As for as I am concerned, the question makes no sense. We do not do all things because we get something. Rather, doing some things bring so much of joy with them that you do not need any other reason. But still, I can understand the mindset of my friend. He also needs an answer for his rational mind. So, I ask myself: leave the joy aside. What else did I get from spending so much of time on music?

The answer is quite big. There are many outputs, some minor, some significant but all of them are valuable. Playing flute taught me how to be stable. It taught me the art of being unaffected by the surroundings. Stability of breath makes one’s life stable in all the situations. Practising music taught me to sit silently at a place, without getting tired and distracted. I sit in front of my Guru, listening for hours what he teaches. Music has improved my concentration and awareness.

Through this passion, I came to know so many divine artists and could meet them. Each of them taught me something different. I have not met many artists; their music teach a lot even in their absence. Guruma Annapurna Devi teaches us highest level of dedication; towards Gurus, music and even one’s disciples. She is an goddess who takes us beyond all the material aspects, where music is pure, divine. Pt. Shivkumar Sharma taught me meditation. He is simply a yogi. Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia is a perfect incarnation of lord Krishna. His love and affection towards his disciples is phenomenal. Pt. Nityanand Haldipur teaches us to devote ourselves to our Gurus. It feels really blessed to be among all of them. The list does not end here. Pt. C.R. Vyas teaches us to manage day-to- day life and music together. His dedication, hard work, devotion are beyond imagination. Pt. Suhas Vyas teaches us how a Guru should be in changed scenarios where there are newer challenges in front of music learners.

The list is unending. There is so much to learn; lives will be insufficient to contain all this wisdom.  What music has taught me is beyond all the books and scriptures. It needs a blessed one to get all this.

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Famous Musicians of India music

Dr. Arvind Thatte : Harmonium revitalized

As a tender student of Indian Classical Music, I started studying both vocals and harmonium together. For some years, I kept on studying both the things parallel, progressing well in both of them. After some time, I reached a certain mindset where I believed that harmonium cannot have the grace which s required in Indian Classical Music. With this thought in my mind, I reduced practising harmonium day by day.

 

Around ten years after that, I see a small advertisement in newspaper declaring a free concert by Dr. Arvind Thatte, the famous harmonium player. The concert was scheduled in the evening in the auditorium of Garware College, Pune. I make it a point that this concert should be listened. I try to leave from my company before time so that I can reach the venue un time struggling in the Pune traffic. I and Dakshayani reach ten minutes late, which is before time as far as most of the concerts are concerned. When we reach, to our surprise, the auditorium is full with people occupying the isles and the stairs. We somehow managed to get some space on the railings of the staircase.

Dr. Arvind Thatte accompanying Pt. Rajan and Sajan Mishra at Ramkrishna More Auditorium, Chinchwad
Dr. Arvind Thatte accompanying Pt. Rajan and Sajan Mishra at Ramkrishna More Auditorium, Chinchwad

The musical atmosphere inside was even superior than the physical. Hundreds od listeners paying attention to Jod in Raga Puriya Dhanashree. Dr. Arvind Thatte has a doctorate in mathematics. He is very studious person. It is rare to find the person who is both studious and artistic. Dr. Arvind Thatte is the perfect blend. The evening was colored so well by the notes of Puriya Dhanashree; the color still appears in front of my eyes. I was watching and listening to Dr. Arvind Thatte, who had taken the harmonium beyond all the limitations.

I learned a big lesson that day. It is okay if your instrument has some limitations; you should not have them. Dr. Arvind Thatte is a perfect example of the same.

This was the only solo concert of Dr. Arvind Thatte that I could attend live. Apart from this, we have seen him accompanying many great artists such as Pt. Rajan and Sajan Mishra, Malini Rajurkar etc. Listening to his accompaniment always highlights that accompanying artist is never inferior to the main performing artist of the concert.

I know Dr. Arvind Thatte personally. He is one of the most humble persons you can find out. He is not an ordinary artist who will sell his art. In his eyes, you can see the fire of studious personality, always researching, improvising. He is very simple and hence, very outstanding. Again, I consider myself fortunate and blessed that I could see him performing, could meet him and talk to him for long.

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Famous Musicians of India Pt. Rajan and Sajan Mishra

Pt. Rajan and Sajan Mishra- making music alive

Indian classical music- situation today

After attending many concerts, given by many different and famous musicians of India, I and Dakshayani always discuss that the situation of Indian classical music, especially that of vocal music is quite disappointing. This disappointment is not because of lack of exposure or organisors, but it is out of our experience- what did we feel after attending each concert. The sad truth is, we are losing the masters day by day. Indian classical music might have reached a state of fame and popularity but many of the artists of today’s generation are not successful in making their music alive.

Pt. Rajan and Sajan Mishra- performances in Pune

The feelings which I expressed above become denser when we listen to some performance of these old masters.  Pt. Rajan and Sajan Mishra are the god fathers as far as making music alive is concerned. We are fortunate that we could listen to many of their concerts in Pune,all of them were masterpieces. The music is perfect with all the elements which are necessary for a good performance. One more thing about Pt. Rajan and Sajan Mishra which separates them out from others is the justice which they do to the being of raga they sing. They never overpower the raga they sing; rather they allow the raga to flow through the music.

Indian classical music- what makes it special

Another great vocalist from present period, Pt. Suhas Vyas was explaining us one day that great music comes out of a surrendered being. I liked this statement a lot, also it matches with our own experience. To be a good musician, the musician has to be a surrendered being. I will need help from famous saint Kabir to put this in words. In one of his divine dohas, Kabir says,

Prem gali ati sakri, ta me do na samay

Ya tum, ya hari.

(In narrow lane of love, either you exist or the god.)

In same way in the lane of music, the musician has to disappear. The divinity cannot enter his music unless and until he disappears. These old masters including Pt. Rajan and Sajan Mishra, Pt. Suhas Vyas and many more musicians have surrendered themselves to their gurus, surrendered themselves music. The quality and aliveness in music comes out of this seurrender.

Indian classical music – What’s wrong today?

It can be seen that this submissive tendency is missing in many or rather most of today’s musicians. There are always exceptions. New generation artists like Rakesh Chaurasia and Ritesh and Rajnish Mishra give listeners a glimpse of this alive music.

The way ahead

This makes me think on the question- What makes Indian classical music distinct from other forms of music? Is it skills or practice or creativity? I think what separates Indian classical music is the difference in the attitudes. The correct attitude is the one where artists look at notes as something to be worshipped and not conquered. The attitude, where music is not a medium of being famous but a way to go in, a way towards serrenderedness. Realisation of this fact can revitalize the music, making it alive. I think we should always keep our ears open to what the masters in old days have sung and practiced.

 

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Famous Musicians of India

Annapurna Devi – So far, so close

Life is really strange. I am always fascinated about Indian Classical Music performers. I always attend the concerts, listen to the records and am submerged in the world. As the years passed, this affection moved to a higher state. I entered a state where I wanted to meet the artists and talk to them.

I am not sure if this is going to do anything better for me; still, I like to meet all these artists. I was quite successful at this. I could meet almost all of these artists. Indian Classical Musicians are magical. They carry a grace with them. Many times, the artist is not a famous artist, but still I meet him because fame does not define an artist.

While being on this journey, I came to know about Guruma Annapurna Devi. Annapurna Devi is the highest peak in the world of Indian Classical Music. I have not been fortunate enough to listen to her performance. But, I am fortunate enough to listen to and also understand the music of her disciples like Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia and Pt. Nityanand Haldipur.

I remember those days when I was honestly trying to know more about Guruma Annapurna Devi. Though I could not meet Guruma, because of this thirst, I could know more about three beautiful persons on this earth- Pt. Nityanand Haldipur, Pt. Suhas Vyas and Prof. Roohikumar Pandya. At that time, I had taken tremendous efforts to find out the place of Annapurna Devi. I went to her apartment and was fortunate enough to meet Prof. Rooshikumar Pandya.

Today, I have my house at a distance of ten minutes walk from her place. My apartment faces the same sea. When I go to Mumbai, I cross her apartment twice a day. Guruma Annapurna Devi is so close. The tall Akashganga Tower is so close. But still, Guruma is far away, inside her apartment.

Every time, when I pass from  Akashganga. I sadly laugh on this coincidence relating to Annapurna Devi. So close, and still, so far. I am trying to reduce the distance from my side. I know, there is no distance created from Guruma’s side. I am the reason for the distance. It will vanish some day, I am sure.

Click there to read more about pt. Nityanand Haldipur

Click here to read more about pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia

 

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Kumar Gandharva

Pt. Kumar Gandharva : Famous Musicians of India

Lady Gaga, in her concert in India had said that she reads books by Osho and also she likes the concept of Rebel put up by Osho.  Lady Gaga also said that her journey has been that of a rebel. I am not right person to tell if Lady Gaga really had a rebellious journey or not; but if someone asks me about Indian musician, who was genius and also, who was a rebel, the name which will come to my mind is Pt. Kumar Gandharva.

Pt. Kumar Gandharva

Among all the famous musicians of India, certainly, Pt. Kumar Gandharva had a different fabric. One realizes this fact every time he listens to Pt. Kumar Gandharva. According to me, he was a real rebel. Pt. Kumar Gandharva , with his talent beyond all the limits, challenged, modified and renewed many conventions. Pt. Kumar Gandharva was certainly not a blind singer. He was a genius with highest level of awareness. He developed his own style to suit his voice, his musical thought. Pt. Kumar Gandharva can be said to be a ocean in himself.

I am not fortunate enough to see him performing. But yes, we have many of his concert recordings. Each of them is a masterpiece. One more thing which I like about Pt. Kumar Gandharva is that his music is for patient listeners. If you are not patient, you cannot listen to him. But for patient, aware listeners, his music is like ocean of insights, beauty and eternity.

I am also touched by the simplicity of Pt. Kumar Gandharva. He is an artist without most common attitude problems which artists have. Among all the famous musicians of India, certainly, Pt. Kumar Gandharva has created a unique place which is very distinct from other artists.

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Famous Musicians of India Pt. Mukul Shivputra

Pt. Mukul Shivputra and Pt. Kumar Gandharva

There is an old proverb that no new tree can grow under a giant tree. This proverb is often used to describe the situation of families of musicians. Many times, it happens that sons and daughters of legends find it very difficult to keep themselves up to the expectations of listeners. Most of the times, the son or the daughter tries to imitate the parent artist and their entire life goes being just an imitation.

Pt. Mukul Shivputra

On these lines, it is very difficult for a son or a daughter to come with his/her own style of performing  which is so evolved that listener just forgets to compare it with the parent performer. But there are definitely some genius artists who have achieved this herculean task. All these thoughts came to my mind after a realization that I never compared Pt. Mukul Shivputra with Pt. Kumar Gandharva.

It was really surprising not to compare the son with the father. But, Pt. Mukul Shivputra is in a way incomparable performer. Pt. Kumar gandharva is for sure one of the most innovative and profound artist we had. If you are a son of Pt. Kumar Gandharva, comparison is inevitable. But, Pt. Mukul Shivputra stands above all the comparison.

I have an one and half hour long recording of Raga Malkauns by Pt. Kumar Gandharva. A few days before, I got an chance to listen to Raga Malkauns sung by Pt. Mukul Shivputra. He was playing the same composition which was recorded by Pt. Kumar gandharva. This composition can be said to be the highest peak of Malkauns. Pt. Mukul Shivputra has also sung the same Bandish but in a very unique way. This Bandish also goes to the same peak but it takes a very different way from that of Kumarji. I guess, this is Pt. Mukul Shivputra- reaching same height but in totally different sky.

One more article which talks about Mukul Shivputra can be found here.

Read more about Mukul Shivputra

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Famous Musicians of India Pt. Mukul Shivputra

Pt. Mukul Shivputra- The grace continues

Listening to Pt. Mukul Shivputra has always been like God’s grace. It comes and it goes. When it is there, you enjoy without bothering about anything else. Then suddenly, it goes. Then you pass on the days in the remembrance of the grace. Then again, you start receiving it and you are submerged in it. The concert by Pt. Mukul Shivputra in Pune gave everyone a feel of this grace. Then for next few months, Pt. Mukul Shivputra was showering this grace through his different concerts.

Then one day, he just left Pune. The grace had stopped and we were living on the remembrance of his concerts, listening to the recordings again and again. But the grace again comes back. One morning, I found a great link to high quality recordings of Pt. Mukul Shivputra. Without even thinking on it, I downloaded all the links. The very first note of Pt. Mukul Shivputra gave the unique experience, as if you are taking grace of god. All the Ragas which are sung by Pt. Mukul Shivputra, I have heard them from Pt. Kumar Gandharva. It is very difficult job to sing same Bandishes and Ragas as sung by Kumar Gandharva and create your own image.

Pt. Mukul Shivputra holds this responsibility very successfully and many times, what the listener feels is, Mukul Shivputra has added many unexplored intricacies to the performance by Pt. Kumar Gandharva. I have no idea, when Pt. mukul Shivputra will again perform live and I will be able to attend the concert. But one thing is for sure, when Pt. Mukul Shivputra was singing; I was there, being a part of the divine music.

Update: 

After writing this post, Mukul Shivputra almost stopped giving concerts. Yes, there was one concert of his organized at Tilak Smarak Mandir, but he could not perform there. After that, for almost one year, there was no news about him. In the month of March, 2015, a concert which was followed by dinner was organized on the occasion of Mukul Shivputra completing 60 years. I attended the concert and enjoyed the dinner along with the maestro. Here is the review of this concert.

Read more about Mukul Shivputra

Visit our page featuring Pt. Kumar Gandharva

 

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Famous Musicians of India

Pt. Nityanand Haldipur : a realization

I don’t know actual year when this event took place. It was some ten years ago. I had gone to Mumbai to enjoy my vacations. My aunt lives at Chembur, in Mumbai. It was a normal rule for all of us; study for the year and then go to Mumbai in vacations. This vacation, I was alone there because all of my cousins were out of India. I used to sleep for the days and nights.

Pt. Nityanand Haldipur

One evening, my aunty introduced me to one of her guests who was learning vocal music from Ajit Kadkade. When he came to know that I was also learning music, he gave me a free pass for a concert featuring three artists which starting from the next day in Chembur itself. At that time, I was very choosey about the music I listened. Still as there were no other things to do I decided to go for the concert. I do not even remember the names of other persons who performed in the concert but I still remember Pt. Nityanand Haldipur. I had no big understanding of music at that time so I used to attend concerts just as a formality. But something happened after the performance of Pt. Nityanand Haldipur and hence though I cannot remember what he played that day I can very easily remember Pt. Nityanand Haldipur.

Pt. Nityanand Haldipur was going to conclude the concert. One man was sitting beside me attending the entire concert. From his appearance it was sure that he had come from some faraway place. Pt. Nityanand Haldipur was performing for almost one and half hour and this man near me was totally submerged in the magic of flute while I was seating like a dumb. When this performance by Pt. Nityanand Haldipur was over, the man stood up and joined his hands. He was a man in his sixties. With his hands joined he said, “He is such rare person, at least I could see him” At that time it was beyond my capability to understand what kind of man Pt. Nityanand Haldipur is. Two days before, while listening to Raga Shuddha Sarang performed by him, I was totally lost. Suddenly I fixed an appointment to meet him. I will be meeting him on this Sunday, 10-02-2013

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