Raga CDs of the Months (04/11): Magic in Music – A Tribute to Bhimsen Joshi
Posted by ElJay Arem (IMC OnAir) on April 11, 2011
Can you imagine India in 1933 ? – It was the year, when Gandhi stepped into hunger strike against caste discrimination. In the same year a small boy at the age of 11 years hit the road alone obsessed to find a music teacher. Bhimsen Gururaj Joshi was his name, member of a Brahmin family, son of a school teacher and the eldest with 15 siblings. Joshi’s mother died very early.
Bhimsen Joshi and his “Golden Voice” of 3 octaves should have a big influence onto North Indian classical music considerably till his death in January 2011. In the obituary of Indian Express one could read: “The voice of the last Titan of North Indian Classics now remains always muted, but his melodies will always continue.” IMC OnAir’s new radio show “Magic in music” is a tribute to this exceptional artist, to Bhimsen Joshi (02/04/1922 – 01/24/2011).
date of broadcasting …
Joshi at the age of 14 years found his master (guru). He was Rambhau Kundgolkar. We know this actor and singer of North Indian Classics (Hindustani) rather common as Pandit Sawai Gandharva. He lived from 1886 to 1952. The greatest merit of Pandit Gandharva is the popularization of the vocal style in the tradition of Kirana Gharana. Saway Gandharva had pupils like Bhimsen Joshi and the famous female vocalist . Herefore we refer to our radio show “Dr. Gangubai Hangal – Voice of Tradition“.
The majority of the singers of Hindustani traditionally belong to the Kirana Gharana. This music school was considerably created by Abdul Karim Khan and his cousin Abdul Wahid Khan and dominated till the 40th and 50th of last century. Abdul Karim and Abdul Wahid revolutionized the modern singing form of Khayal style. They added a slow tempo, Vilambit. So each note of a Raga scala, note for note can be defined by the singer in a performance.
Affected by the South Indian Classics (Carnatic) Abdul Karim Khan payed special attention to the ornamental art. The patterns are wavy and consist only of the note material of the Raga form itself (Sargam Taan). It is an attribute of vocals in Kirana Gharana style that the second note “Rishabh” is played/sung as “komal” which means neither diminished (flat) nor increased (major) and it’s intonation isn’t stressed (“soft corner”).
For his own artistic development Bhimsen Joshi had woven also style elements from other Gharanas (beside the Kirana Gharana) into his indiviual singing and interpretation style.
At the age of 31 years Bhimsen Joshi created the Sawai Gandharva Sangeet Mahotsav, in honours of his teacher Sawai Gandharva and as platform for the singing art of Kirana Gharana. Today the three days event is simply well-known as Sawai, which always takes place in December. It is one of the most important festivals, if not even that most important for Indian Classical music worldwide. Since 1953 the music festival Sawai Gandharva takes place annually in Pune and was led by Bhimseh Joshi himself for 49 years, until 2002. Today the Sawai is organized by Bhimsen’s son Shrinivas Joshi. For each new and upcoming generation of musicians of Indian Classics an invitation for the Sawai Gandharva is a guarantee for the beginning of a professional career.
Very late in the year 2008 Bhimsen Joshi received the “Jewel from India”, the Bharat Ratna. It is the highest civil order of India. The Bharat Ratna was assigned first time in the year 1954. With the Bharat Ratna artists, e.g. litterateurs and scientists are decorated for their social earnings/services. Beside Bhimsen Joshi received musicians the Bharat Ratna such as sitar legend Ravi Shankar (1999) or Lata Mangeshkar (2001) who is a female vocalist for Indian film (Bollywood).
The inheritance of Bhimsen Joshi will not only live on in the form of memories and honors. With an inauguration celebration in February 2011 the city administration of Pune designated a new art center in appreciation of Pandit Bhimsen Joshi as “Bharatratna Pandit Bhimsen Joshi Kaladalan“… and the Federal State government presented a music scholarship for classical music in memories of the legend Bhimsen Joshi.
Bhimsen Joshi sung duets (Jugalbandi) with great vocal maestros like Pt. Jasraj, Ustad Rashid Khan or
with Dr. Balamurali Krishna (BMK) in two different languages (Joshi in Hindi and BMK in South Indian languages)…