Sarod maestro Ali Akbar Khan passes away

MUMBAI: Sarod maestro Ustad Ali Akbar Khan died in San Francisco on Friday following a prolonged kidney ailment.

He was 88 and is survived by his wife Mary, 11 children and an extraordinary musical legacy that includes the Ali Akbar College of Music in San Rafael, California.

The Minister for Information and Broadcasting Ambika Soni has expressed grief over the demise of the maestro. In her condolence message the minister noted that Ustad Ali Akbar Khan was one of the most accomplished of Indian musicians in the Classical tradition. "In the death of Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, the world of music has lost a legendary figure and the void left by his death can never be filled," she added.

Born on 14 April, 1922 in East Bengal (Bangladesh) Khan learnt how to play various instruments before he dipped into the sound of music. His father, Baba Allauddin Khan, was one of the great names of Hindustani music.
In his early twenties, he made his first recording in Lucknow for HMV. He then became the court musician for the Maharaja of Jodhpur where he worked for seven years.

In 1955, on the request of violin master Yehudi Menuhin, Ali Akbar Khan first visited the US and performed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
Responding to a wave of interest in the West, he began teaching and living in the US and, in 1967, founded the Ali Akbar College of Music in California, where he had been teaching since, along with tabla stalwart Ustad Zakir Hussain. Khansahib also opened a branch of his college in Basel, Switzerland, run by his disciple Ken Zuckerman, where he taught when on his world tours.

The late American violinist Yehudi Menuhin, who became one of his earliest champions in the West had said that he considered Khan "an absolute genius, the greatest musician in the world."

In 1991, Mr. Khan received a MacArthur Fellowship, widely known as the "genius" grant. He later received a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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