Alla Rakha Qureshi
Alla Rakha in 1988
|Birth name||Alla Rakha Qureshi|
|Born||29 April 1919|
Phagwal, District Samba Jammu, Jammu and Kashmir.
|Died||3 February 2000 (aged 80)|
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
|Genres||Hindustani classical music|
|Associated acts||Ravi Shankar, Zakir Hussain, Aditya Kalyanpur|
Ustad Allarakha Qureshi (29 April 1919 – 3 February 2000), popularly known as Alla Rakha, was an Indian tabla player, who specialized in Hindustani Classical music. He was a frequent accompanist of sitar player Ravi Shankar and was largely responsible for introducing Tabla to the western audience.
Personal life and education
Ustad Allarakha Qureshi (29 April 1919 – 3 February 2000) was born in Ghagwal Village (in today’s district Samba) Jammu, Jammu and Kashmir. His mother tongue was Dogri. Growing up on a farm, Ustad Allarakha was always in awe of music, praising the traveling musicians he would occasionally have the opportunity to witness. At the age of 11, Ustad Alla Rakha ran away from home to stay with his uncle in the nearby Gurdaspur to pursue music. Finding little chances for grooming and appreciation, the determined young lad ran away from home, became a disciple of tabla, began studying it with Mian Kader Baksh of the Punjab gharana of tabla players. Sabir Rakha, a brother, also played the tabla.
He studied voice and Raag Vidya under Ashiq Ali Khan of the Patiala gharana. His regimen of practice and dedication were legendary: hours upon hours of hard, disciplined practice, that would later pay off.
He was married to Bavi Begum and their marriage produced three sons, Zakir Hussain, Fazal Qureshi and Taufiq Qureshi; two daughters, Khurshid Aulia née Qureshi and Razia; and nine grandchildren. They all survived him except Razia; it was the news of her death the day before that is thought to have caused his fatal heart attack.
Ustad Allarakha Qureshi (29 April 1919 – 3 February 2000) began his career as an accompanist in Lahore and then as an All India Radio staffer in Bombay in 1940, playing the station's first ever tabla solo and elevating the instrument's position in the process. Soon after, he composed music for a few Hindi films from in the 1940s and the early 1950s under the name A.R.Qureshi.
However, he still played as an accompanist, for soloists like Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Allauddin Khan, Vilayat Khan, Vasant Rai, Ali Akbar Khan, and Ravi Shankar. The venerable master achieved world renown as Shankar's chief accompanist during his apex in the 1960s, delighting audiences in the West with his percussive wizardry, not only as an uncanny accompanist with flawless timing and sensitivity but also as a soloist where he was a master of improvisation, a prolific composer and an electric showman. The partnership was particularly successful, and his legendary and spellbinding performances with Shankar at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 and the Woodstock Festival in 1969 served to introduce classical Indian music to general Western audiences.
Rakha popularised the art of tabla, playing across the globe, elevating the status and respect of his instrument. "Abbaji" (as he was affectionately known by his disciples) also bridged the gap between Carnatic music and Hindustani music by playing with both renowned Carnatic musicians and other Hindustani stalwarts.
Leading American percussionists in rock n' roll, such as the Grateful Dead's Mickey Hart, admired him and studied his technique, benefiting greatly even from single meetings. Hart, a published authority on percussion in world music, said: "Allah Rakha is the Einstein, the Picasso; he is the highest form of rhythmic development on this planet." Rakha also collaborated with jazz drummer Buddy Rich on their 1968 album Rich à la Rakha.
Rakha was part of the ensemble accompanying Ravi Shankar during George Harrison's Concert for Bangladesh shows, held in New York City in August 1971. The success of the live album and concert film from this event presented Indian classical music to a wide audience in the West.
Ustad Allarakha Qureshi (29 April 1919 – 3 February 2000) died on 3 February 2000 at his Simla House residence on Nepean Sea Road following a heart attack, which he suffered on learning of the death of his daughter, Razia, the previous evening.
- "Alla Rakha". 5 February 2000 – via www.theguardian.com.
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- "Roohi Bano lives a life of recluse wreck Lahore - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 26 January 2019.
- LahoreJuly 25, P. T. I.; July 25, 2013UPDATED; Ist, 2013 19:39. "Ustad Alla Rakha's daughter Roohi Bano is broken and alone in Pakistan". India Today. Retrieved 26 January 2019.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
- Mundler, Liz. "BBC - Music - Review of Buddy Rich & Allah Rakha - Rich a la Rakha".
- "Padma Awards". Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (India). Archived from the original on 21 May 2009. Retrieved 16 May 2009.
- "Sangeet Natak Akademi Awards – Hindustani Music – Instrumental". Sangeet Natak Academy. Archived from the original on 19 May 2009. Retrieved 16 May 2009.
- "Google doodle marks Ustad Alla Rakha's 95th birthday". NDTV Gadgets 360. 29 April 2014. Retrieved 28 March 2020.
- "Ustad Alla Rakha, 80, Master Of Hindustani Classical Music". The New York Times. 6 February 2000. Retrieved 28 March 2020.
- Inlay notes to A Life Story of a Genius compilation CD set (Saregama India Ltd, 2006)
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