Amjad Ali Khan

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Amjad Ali Khan
Amjad Ali Khan.jpg
Khan performing in 2008
Background information
Birth nameMasoom Ali Khan
Born (1945-10-09) 9 October 1945 (age 76)[1]
Gwalior, Gwalior State, British India
GenresHindustani classical music

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan (born 9 October 1945) is an Indian classical sarod player, best known for his clear and fast ekhara taans. Khan was born into a classical musical family and has performed internationally since the 1960s. He was awarded India's second highest civilian honor Padma Vibhushan in 2001.

Career and recognition[edit]

Khan first performed in the United States in 1963 and continued into the 2000s, with his sons.[1][3] He has experimented with modifications to his instrument throughout his career.[4] Khan played with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra and worked as a visiting professor at the University of New Mexico.[2] In 2011, he performed on Carrie Newcomer's album Everything is Everywhere. In 2014, along with his two sons, Ayaan Ali Khan and Amaan Ali Khan, he performed[5] 'Raga For Peace' in 2014 Nobel Peace Prize Concert.

Khan was awarded 21st Rajiv Gandhi National Sadbhavna Award. Khan received Padma Shri in 1975, Padma Bhushan in 1991, and Padma Vibhushan in 2001, and was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for 1989 and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship for 2011.[6][7] He was awarded the Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize in 2004.[8] The U.S. state Massachusetts proclaimed 20 April as Amjad Ali Khan Day in 1984.[9] Khan was made an honorary citizen of Houston, Texas, and Nashville, Tennessee, in 1997, and of Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 2007.[9] He received the Banga-Vibhushan in 2011.[10]

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan (1990), a Gulzar directed Indian documentary film on Amjad Ali Khan won the Filmfare Award for Best Documentary in 1990.[11]

Personal life[edit]

Amjad Ali Khan
Ustad Amjad Ali Khan performing at the IGNCA, Delhi.

Born on 9 October 1945 as Masoom Ali Khan, the youngest of seven children, to Gwalior court musician Hafiz Ali Khan and Rahat Jahan.[1][2] His family is part of the Bangash lineage and Khan is in the sixth generation of musicians; his family claims to have invented the sarod.[2][4][12] His personal name was changed by a sadhu to Amjad.[1] Khan received homeschooling and studied music under his father.[1] In 1957, a cultural organization in Delhi appointed Hafiz Ali Khan as its guest and the family moved to Delhi.[1] Hafiz Ali Khan received training from the descendants of Tansen, the magical musician, was one of the 'Nav-ratna' ( nine gems) at the court of the Mughal Emperor Akbar. Thus, Amjad belongs to the lineage of Tansen.[13] Friends of Hafiz Ali Khan convinced him of the importance of formal schooling for his son; as a result, Amjad was taken to meet the Principal of Modern School in New Delhi and admitted there as a day scholar. He attended Modern School from 1958 to 1963.[14]

As a young bachelor, Amjad had an affair with an older woman, who was a divorcée and a mother. The affair lasted eight years (1967–75), but the lady did not wish to marry him. Amjad's family disapproved of the relationship from the very beginning, and in the early 1970s, as his father's health deteriorated, they convinced him to let go of this relationship and marry a girl chosen by them. Amjad finally agreed to their wishes around the time of his father's death in 1972. However, although his wife came from similar background and was the same age as he, Amjad did not bond with her. On the other hand, he kept in touch with his previous lover and maintained a platonic friendship with her, which was not acceptable to his wife. Hardly a year after their wedding, Amjad and his wife had a daughter. However, the marriage broke down completely around the time of the birth of the child. The process of separation and divorce was painful for the couple and to their families. An unexpected outcome of the divorce was that, Amjad overcame his attachment to the divorced woman, due to differences in their thinking and mindset and this gave him a clearer understanding of his cultural moorings and priorities. He came out of the relationship with the divorced woman in 1975, and divorced his wife the same year. The daughter born of his first marriage was raised by Amjad's brother, Rehmat Ali Khan, who was childless.

The following year, on 25 September 1976, Khan got married a second time. His bride was Bharatanatyam dancer Subhalakshmi Barooah, hailing from Assam in north-eastern India.[2][1][15] They have two sons, Amaan and Ayaan, both of whom are performing artists trained in music by their father.[1][16]

Khan cared for his diabetic father until he died in 1972.[1] Their family home in Gwalior was made into a musical center and they live in New Delhi.[17]


  • The Maestro's Musings (LP) (1986, CBS)
  • Swar Sameer (1991, Super Cassettes Industries Ltd., T-Series)
  • Serene Strings (1994, EMI, RPG Enterprises)
  • North India: Instrumental Music of Medieval India (1994, Ocora)
  • Ragas Bilaskhani Todi & Brindabani Sarang (1994, Navras Records)
  • The Rough Guide to the Music of India and Pakistan (1996, World Music Network) (contributing artist)
  • Sarod Maestro Amjad Ali Khan with sons Amaan Ali Bangash & Ayaan Ali Bangash (2001, Chhanda Dhara)
  • Music from the 13th Century (2005, Navras Records)
  • Moksha (2005, Real World Records)
  • Confluence (2005, Navras Records) (jugalbandi with singer Girija Devi)
  • My Inspirations (2006, Navras Records)
  • Romancing The Rains (2007, Navras Records)
  • Samaagam (2011, World Village) (with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra)
  • Masterworks From The NCPA Archives (2012, Navras Records)
  • Raga Bahar (2015, Sony music)


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Sawhney, Anubha (23 November 2003). "Amjad Ali Khan, unplugged (interview with him)". The Times of India. Times News Network. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e Bhatia, Shyam (1 October 2002). "The sound of sarod music". Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  3. ^ Ratliff, Ben (30 October 2006). "From India, a Sarod Dynasty Represented by Father and Sons". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  4. ^ a b Weisman, Steven R. (7 June 1988). "Traditionalist Reshapes India's Ancient Sarod". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  5. ^ "Amjad Ali Khan, sons perform 'Raga For Peace' at Nobel concert". The Indian Express. 10 December 2014. Retrieved 1 March 2020.
  6. ^ "SNA: List of Akademi Awardees – Instrumental – Sarod". Sangeet Natak Akademi. Archived from the original on 27 July 2011. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  7. ^ "Padma Awards". Ministry of Communications and Information Technology. Archived from the original on 25 June 2009. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  8. ^ "Amjad Ali Khan – The 15th Fukuoka Asian Culture Prizes 2004". Asian Month. 2009. Archived from the original on 7 July 2011. Retrieved 21 November 2009.
  9. ^ a b "Amjad Ali Khan honoured in the US". The Times of India. Press Trust of India. 11 April 2007. Archived from the original on 24 October 2012. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  10. ^ "State honours nine with Banga-Vibhushan". The Times of India. Times News Network. 26 July 2012. Archived from the original on 5 November 2012. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  11. ^ "Ustad Amjad Ali Khan (1990) - a documentary film by Gulzar". IMDb website. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  12. ^ Rockwell, John (24 February 1991). "Review/Music; Another Indian Master, This Time of the Sarod". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  13. ^ "Ustad Amjad Ali Khan".
  14. ^ Singh, Khushwant; Hameed, Syeda Saiyidain (1995). A Dream Turns Seventy Five: The Modern School, 1920-1995. Allied Publishers. p. 156. ISBN 978-81-7023-499-9.
  15. ^ "Zakir Hussain and Bangash brothers' ode to heritage". The Tribune. 13 December 2003. Archived from the original on 25 June 2009. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  16. ^ Narayanan, Lavanya (27 February 2020). "Ustad Amjad Ali khan on his memories of Rukmini Devi". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 1 March 2020.
  17. ^ Ramnarayan, Gowri (8 January 2006). "Commitment to tradition". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 10 January 2006. Retrieved 26 January 2018.

External links[edit]