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Asad Ali Khan

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Asad Ali Khan
Asad Ali Khan performs in 2009
Background information
Born(1937-12-01)1 December 1937
Alwar, Indian Empire
Died14 June 2011(2011-06-14) (aged 73)
New Delhi, India
GenresHindustani classical music
Instrument(s)rudra veena

Asad Ali Khan (1 December 1937 – 14 June 2011) was an Indian musician who played the plucked string instrument rudra veena. Khan performed in the style dhrupad and was described as the best living rudra veena player in India by The Hindu.[citation needed] He was awarded the Indian civilian honor Padma Bhushan in 2008.[1]

Life and career[edit]

Khan was born 1937 in Alwar in the seventh generation of rudra veena players in his family.[2][3] His ancestors were royal musicians in the courts of Rampur, Uttar Pradesh, and Jaipur, Rajasthan in the 18th century.[4][5] His great-grandfather Rajab Ali Khan was head of the court musicians in Jaipur and owned a village land holding.[5][6] His grandfather Musharraf Khan (died 1909) was court musician in Alwar, and performed in London in 1886.[5][7] Khan's father Sadiq Ali Khan worked as a musician for the Alwar court and for the Nawab of Rampur for 35 years.[7][8] Khan grew up in a musical surrounding and was taught the Beenkar gharana (stylistic school of rudra veena playing) of Jaipur and vocals for fifteen years.[3][5][7]

Khan was one of a few active musicians who played the rudra veena and the last surviving master of one of the four schools of dhrupad, the Khandar school.[4][5][9] He performed in many countries, including Australia, the United States, Afghanistan, and Italy and several other European countries, and conducted music courses in the United States.[9][10] Khan worked at All India Radio, taught the sitar in the Faculty of Music and Fine Arts at the University of Delhi for 17 years, and continued to train students privately after his retirement.[8][9][11] Students of Khan who perform include his son Zaki Haidar, Carsten Wicke, Bikramjeet Das of Kolkata, Jyoti Hegde, and the vocalist, Madhumita Ray.[12][13] Dr. Keshav Sharma from Shimla, India was also his disciple for many years who learnt Sitar and Dhrupad. Khan criticized the lack of willingness among Indians to study the rudra veena and had more foreign than Indian students.[10] He was involved in preserving the playing of the instrument, which he believed to be created by the deity Shiva, and performed for SPIC MACAY, promoting Indian classical music to young Indians.[3][5][9] Khan was a Shi'a Muslim.[14]

Khan received several national awards, including the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1977 and the civilian honor Padma Bhushan in 2008, which was awarded by Indian President Pratibha Patil.[4][15][16] He was described as the best living rudra veena player in India by The Hindu and lived in Delhi.[7][17]


Khan died on 14 June 2011 in the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi.[12]


  1. ^ "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 October 2015. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  2. ^ Kinnear, Michael S. (1985). A discography of Hindustani and Karnatic music. Greenwood Press. p. 26. ISBN 0-313-24479-0.
  3. ^ a b c Tandon, Aditi (26 April 2005). "Preserving the fading tradition of rudra veena". The Tribune. Archived from the original on 11 February 2009. Retrieved 21 March 2009.
  4. ^ a b c Massey, Reginald (1996). The Music of India. Abhinav Publications. p. 144. ISBN 81-7017-332-9.
  5. ^ a b c d e f "Artiste profiles" (PDF). Nagaland University. June 2008. Archived (PDF) from the original on 26 March 2009. Retrieved 21 March 2009.
  6. ^ Miner, Allyn (2004). Sitar and Sarod in the 18th and 19th Centuries. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 132. ISBN 81-208-1493-2.
  7. ^ a b c d Bor, Joep; Bruguiere, Philippe (1992). Masters of Raga. Berlin: Haus der Kulturen der Welt. p. 28. ISBN 3-8030-0501-9.
  8. ^ a b "While my veena gently weeps". The Financial Express. 1 October 2006. Retrieved 21 March 2009.
  9. ^ a b c d "Profound notes". The Hindu. 18 February 2006. Archived from the original on 6 December 2007. Retrieved 21 March 2009.
  10. ^ a b Sharma, S.D. (29 October 2006). "Sole exponent of Rudra Veena". The Tribune. Retrieved 21 March 2009.
  11. ^ Mohan, Lalit (17 May 2005). "Protect art of making Rudra veena: Ustad". The Tribune. Retrieved 21 March 2009.
  12. ^ a b "Rudra veena exponent Ustad Asad Ali Khan passes away". Daily News and Analysis. Press Trust of India. 14 June 2011. Retrieved 14 June 2011.
  13. ^ Bhatia, Ravi (20 April 2008). "Artist's passion for female faces". The Tribune. Retrieved 21 March 2009.
  14. ^ Naqvi, Jawed (16 June 2011). "Battling the cultural Taliban". Dawn. Retrieved 18 June 2011.
  15. ^ "Padma Awards". Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (India). Retrieved 18 June 2011.
  16. ^ Sengupta, Debatosh. "Image Number: D-2488". National Informatics Centre. Archived from the original on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 21 March 2009.
  17. ^ Pratap, Jitendra (20 January 2006). "Where are the songs of strings?". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 19 December 2006. Retrieved 21 March 2009.

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