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April 3, 1997

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Ustad Ali Akbar Khan

Ustad Ali Akbar Khan "For us, as a family, music is like food. When you need it, you don't have to explain why, because it is basic to life." - Ustad Ali Akbar Khan

One of the most accomplished of Indian musicians in the Classical tradition, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan has been designated a 'Living National Treasure' in India - not to mention the fact that he is the object of much admiration in the rest of the world for his absolute mastery of the 25-stringed sarod.

The Ustad's Ali Akbar Khan's family traces its musical lineage to the legendary Mian Tansen, court musician to the Mughal emperor Akbar. His father, Ustad Allauddin Khan, was acknowledged as the greatest figure in Hindustani music this century.

Born in 1922 in the village of Shivpur in East Bengal (Bangladesh), Ali Akbar Khan began his studies in music at the age of three, first taking up vocal music under his fatherís guidance, graduating to percussion under his uncle, Ustad Fakir Aftabuddin and finally moving on to the sarod, again under his fatherís aegis. Ustad Ali Akbar Khan has spoken of his intense sessions of practise, spanning 18 hours per day, under his fatherís ever watchful eyes.

Ali Akbar Khan first joined his father on stage at age 10, and performed his first solo at age 13. At Yehudi Menuhin's request in 1955, Ali Akbar Khan performed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Ustad Ali Akbar Khan A year later, he founded the Ali Akbar Khan College of Music in Calcutta. In 1965, he extended the scope of his teaching to the US and, in 1967, set up the Alam Madina Music Productions in Marin County, California, where he has been teaching for the last 30 years.

Besides his classical performances, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan has composed music for several award winning films including Satyajit Rayís Devi.

Awards and recognitions have come apace -- he also has the honour of having been nominated twice before for the prestigious Grammy, in 1970 and 1983. Like his father and brother-in-law Pandit Ravi Shankar, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan also holds the Padma Vibhushan, one of Indiaís highest civilian award.


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