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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Ustad Imdad Khan (1848-1920)

"The founder of the Etawah gharana of sitar playing, Ustad Imdad Khan was one of the greatest sitar and surbahar players of his time. He was a pioneering artiste who performed widely all over the Indian subcontinent and it is said that he even played for Queen Victoria during her visit to India."

"Imdad Khan sahib learnt from his father Sahabdad Khan, a trained vocalist and sitar player. As Imdad Khan's musical journey progressed, he developed a technique and style that were very unique. Imdad Khan was also trained by the legendary beenkar Bande Ali Khan, a disciple and son-in-law of Ustad Haddu Khan (of the brothers Haddu-Hassu Khan). He had two sons who became central figures in the world of Indian instrumental music, Ustad Enayet Khan and Ustad Wahid Khan."

"The most famous story we have heard of Ustad Imdad Khan was that he was a fanatic as far as practising was concerned, to the point that when he travelled by train he would get off at the next station when it was time for him to practise. We also heard from our father and Ustad Vilayat Khan that since they did not have watches back then, they timed the level of an artiste's practice with large, thick candles. An artiste would play until the candle burned out. So they would say that Ustad Imdad Khan is 'a four candle practised artiste'!"

(Amaan Ali Khan and Ayaan Ali Khan in '50 Maestros, 50 Recordings,' p. 79 Harper)

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