There was a happy news and a sad one that eclipsed the happy one for Indian Classical Music fans yesterday.
The happy news was that the Music Academy, Chennai will be conferring the “Sangeetha Kalanidhi” title, considered one of the greatest awards that a carnatic musician can receive, on maestro Sri T.N.Seshagopalan (got this news from my friend KR). It was an award he should have been given long long ago. It is a case of better late than never for the academy.
But the sad news was that Bharat Ratna Ustad Bismillah Khan, the shehnai maestro, passed away. He was 90. Though I have not heard him play that much, except for the mangal dhwani on doordarshan for many years and a couple of concerts in Delhi, the respect and admiration he got from the music fraternity speaks volume about his music and about him as a person. Three greats from the music world have now passed away in quick succession leaving a great void that will take a lot of time to get filled – Sri Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer (in 2003), Bharat Ratna Smt. M.S.Subhalakshmi (in 2004) and Bharat Ratna Ustad Bismillah Khan (in 2006).
The response given by the Ustad to a question on the future of Shehnai after him (source: Rediff): “Shehnai mere saath nahi maregi, insha allah koi dusra Bismillah paida hoga ….. Bismillah se waise bhi sirf shuruvaat hoti hai (shehnai will not die with me. You will see many more Bismillah Khans in future. Bismillah anyways means ‘the beginning’)“