We remember the 91st birthday of vocalist Bhimsen Joshi (Febr 4, 1922 – Jan 24, 2011)
Posted by ElJay Arem (IMC OnAir) on February 4, 2013
Bhimsen Gururaj Joshi (Kannada: ಭೀಮಸೇನ್ ಜೋಷಿ ) ( pronunciation (help·info)); February 4, 1922 – January 24, 2011) was an Indian vocalist in the Hindustani classical tradition. A member of the Kirana Gharana (school), he is renowned for the khayal form of singing, as well as for his popular renditions of devotional music (bhajans and abhangs). He was the most recent recipient of the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honour, awarded in 2008.
Joshi first performed live in 1941 at the age 19. His debut album, containing a few devotional songs in Kannada and Hindi, was released by HMV the next year in 1942. Later Joshi moved to Mumbai in 1943 and worked as a radio artist. His performance at a concert in 1946 to celebrate his guru Sawai Gandharva‘s 60th birthday won him accolades both from the audience and his guru.
Bhimsen Joshi‘s music was hailed by both the critics and the masses. His performances were said to have been marked by spontaneity, accurate notes, dizzyingly-paced taans which make use of his exceptional voice training, and a mastery over rhythm. The Hindu, in an article written after he was awarded the Bharat Ratna, said: Bhimsen Joshi was ever the wanderer, engendering brilliant phrases and tans more intuitively than through deliberation. Joshi occasionally employed the use of sargam and tihaais, and often sang traditional compositions of the Kirana gharana. His music often injected surprising and sudden turns of phrase, for example through the unexpected use of boltaans. Over the years, his repertoire tended to favor a relatively small number of complex and serious ragas; however, he remained one of the most prolific exponents of Hindustani classical music. Some of Joshi’s more popular ragas include Shuddha Kalyan, Miyan Ki Todi, Puriya Dhanashri, Multani, Bhimpalasi, Darbari, and Ramkali. He was considered a purist and has not dabbled in experimental forms of music, except for a well-known series of Jugalbandi recordings with the Carnatic signer M. Balamuralikrishna.
Apart from stalwarts of the Kirana Gharana, Bhimsen Joshi’s singing was thought to have been influenced by many musicians, including Smt. Kesarbai Kerkar, Begum Akhtar and Ustad Amir Khan. Joshi assimilated into his own singing various elements that he liked in different musical styles and Gharanas.
In devotional music, Joshi was most acclaimed for his Kannada, Hindi and Marathi Bhajan singing. His commercially successful CDs Daaswani and Enna Paliso included Kannada Bhajans, and Santawani included Marathi Abhangs.
Bhimsen Joshi was widely recognized in India due to his performance in the Mile Sur Mera Tumhara music video (1988), which begins with him. The video was created for the purpose of national integration in India, and highlights the diversity of Indian culture. Bhimsen Joshi was also a part of Jana Gana Mana produced by A. R. Rahman on the occasion of 50th year of Indian Republic.
Joshi sang for several films, including Basant Bahar (1956) with Manna Dey, Birbal My Brother (1973) with Pandit Jasraj, and Kannada films like Sandhya Raaga and Nodi Swami Naavu Irodhu Heege. He also sang for the films Tansen (1958) and Ankahee (1985) where latter fetched him National Film Award for Best Male Playback Singer.
Sawai Gandharva Music Festival
Joshi organized the Sawai Gandharva Music Festival as an homage to his guru, Sawai Gandharva, along with the Arya Sangeet Prasarak Mandal in 1953, marking Gandharva’s first death anniversary. The festival has been held ever since, typically on the second weekend of December in Pune, Maharashtra and has become not only a cultural event for the city, but an annual pilgrimage for Hindustani Classical Music lovers all over the world. Joshi conducted the festival annually since 1953, until his retirement in 2002.
Bhimsen Joshi was known for his powerful voice, amazing breath control, fine musical sensibility and unwavering grasp of the fundamentals, representing a subtle fusion of intelligence and passion that imparted life and excitement to his music. A classicist by training, and temperament, Bhimsen Joshi was renowned for having evolved an approach that sought to achieve a balance between what may be termed as “traditional values and mass-culture tastes” and as such he went on to have supposedly the largest commercially recorded repertoire in Hindustani vocal music. Pt. Joshi’s iconic status in the music world has earned him a whole generation of suni shagirds who by merely listening to him have picked up his style and not through any formal tutelage. His greatest endeavour in perpetuating his legacy could be the Sawai Gandharva Festival held at Pune. annually since the year 1953 which seeks to promote a certain music culture.
(Source: 01/2013 – Wikipedia.org)
Pt. Bhimsen Joshi… live at Savai Gandharva Music Festival (Pune)