Monday, January 24, 2011

Tribute to Anna: Pandit Bhimsen Joshi Profile Biography

My mother has always been a big fan of Pandit Bhimsen Joshi (as well as of Pandit Jasraj and Vishwa Mohan Bhatt) We have a number of their music audio cassettes (yes - there was a time when the humble rectangular audio cassette ruled the music world!). 

This article is a tribute to a music maestro who delighted my mother with his wonderful vocals. Thank you, Anna, for those delightful times.

Pandit Bhimsen Gururaj Joshi came from a humble background, his father Gururaj Joshi teaching in a school in the town of Ron. After his mother passed away, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi was brought up by his stepmother along with his siblings.

Pandit Bhimsen Joshi had a keen ear and was facinated by music at a young age. On listening to one of Ustad Abdul Karim Khan's thumris, he decided to seek out a music mentor, a Guru who could teach him the art of music. With this determined goal in mind, he left home at the age of 11, travelling to Bijapur, Dharwad and Pune by turns. Eventually he gained entry into the reputed Madhava Music School, set up by Gwalior's Maharajas. Pandit Bhimsen Joshi got admission to this school thanks to sarod player Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan. He later continued his travels, roaming many cities and town in the northern States of the country.  His father was to eventually locate his wandering son and take him back home.

The eagerness to have a Guru did not diminish, and eventually Pandit Rambhau Kundgolkar, better known as Sawai Gandharva, agreed to mentor him. Thus began the traditional Guru-Shishya sessions, with Pandit Bhimsen Joshi residing in his home to learn the finer nuances of music while performing household chores as an obedient shishya (student).

Later, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi became a radio artist, performed live on air at age 19 and had his debut album released at age 22. A music star had been launched! 

Pandit Bhimsen Joshi was no ordinary music star, though. He mesmerized audiences everywhere with his superb control of various rhythms as well as incredible voice control. Pandit Bhimsen Joshi's devotional music albums have always been a huge hit commercially, with plenty of buyers for his bhajans, whether it is in Marathi, Kannada or Hindi.

Since 1953, the Sawai Gandharva Music Festival in Pune, Maharashtra, first organised by Pandit Bhimsen Joshi as an homage to his guru, Pt. Sawai Gandharva, has been a big attraction for music lovers from across the globe.

Pandit Bhimsen Joshi leaves behind a beautiful music legacy, his most popular vocals being Piya milan ki aasJo bhaje hari ko sada - and who will ever forget those heart-stirring words Mile sur mera tumhara  in Panditji's voice!

That voice is now silenced forever. 

As per the news released today (Maharashtra News) Panditji passed away at the sprightly age of 88. 

We will miss you Anna.

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