Ali Akbar Khan
is one of the most distinguished Indian classical musicians
. His composition
s and his virtuostic sarode
-playing have received numerous accolade
s from all over the world (a list is given below). The extraordinary violinist
Lord Yehudi Menuhin
described Ali Akbar Khan as "an absolute genius--the greatest musician in the world."
The family of Ali Akbar Khan traces back to Mian Tansen, a 16th century court musician of Emperor Akbar. Ali's father, Padma Vibhusan Acharya Dr. Allauddin Khan, was considered the greatest North Indian musician of the 20th century.
Ali Akbar Khan was born in 1922 in Bangladesh. He began studying music at age three. He learned vocal music from his father and drum-playing from his uncle. After learning several instruments, Ali's father made him concentrate on vocals and the sarode. For over twenty years, he practiced 18 hours a day!
Ali Akbar Khan performed in public for the first time at age thirteen in Allahabad. In his early twenties, he made his first recordings for the HMV label. Soon afterward he became the court musician to the Maharaja of Jodhpur. Upon the Maharaja's death seven years later, the state of Jodhpur bestowed upon Ali Akbar Khan his first title--Ustad, which means "Master Musician."
In 1955, at the request of Yehudi Menuhin, Ali Akbar Khan toured the United States. His first US performance was given at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. That year he made the first Western LP recording of Indian classical music and gave the first Indian classical music performance on Allistair Cooke's Omnibus. These performances helped spark the wave of popularity of Eastern music in the 1960s.
Ali Akbar Khan founded the Ali Akbar College of Music in Calcutta in 1956. In 1965, he began teaching Indian classical music in the United States. In 1967, he founded the Ali Akbar College of Music in Marin County, California, just north of San Francisco. This college has grown since its inception and its students give numerous performances in the San Francisco Bay Area. Many musicians from India, including the famous Ravi Shankar, have taught at the California college. Ali Akbar Khan has also opened a branch of his college in Basel, Switzerland.
Ali Akbar Khan's popularity in the West has grown significantly since his arrival in America. He tours all over the world and composes and records music for numerous films. Below is a chronological list of Ali Akbar Khan's awards, titles, and accomplishments.
I obtained all of this information from the program for an Indian classical music concert in San Rafael, California on April 13, 2002. The concert was a tribute to Ali Akbar Khan in honor of his 80th birthday. The performers were students at the Ali Akbar College of Music.