Enayat Khan

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Ustad Enayat Khan
Born 1894
Uttar Pradesh
Died 1938 (aged 43)
Occupation Sitar player

Ustad Enayat Khan (Urdu: عنایت خان ‎) (1894–1938) was one of India's most influential sitar and surbahar players in the first decades of the 20th Century. He was the father of Vilayat Khan, one of the topmost sitariyas of the postwar period.[1]

Early life[edit]

Enayat Khan was born in Uttar Pradesh into a family of musicians.[1] His father was the great sitar maestro Imdad Khan, who taught him the sitar and surbahar (bass sitar) in the family style, known as the Imdadkhani Gharana or Etawah Gharana (school),[2][3] named after a small village near Agra called Etawah. He married Basiran Bibi, daughter of khyal singer Bande Hussain.

Performing career[edit]

He settled with his family in Calcutta, where, though he only lived to 43, he did much pioneering work on the sitar. For example, he standardised its physical dimensions and added the upper resonator gourd, which is very popular with today's players (though his own descendants have not kept using it). In a place rapidly developing into an important North Indian centre of the arts, at a time where interest in national culture was strong fuelled by the struggle for independence, he brought sitar music out from its narrow connoisseur circles to new mass audiences. Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore was a musical collaborator and personal friend. Some of Enayat Khan's recordings have been released on CD, on the Great Gharanas: Imdadkhani compilation in RPG/EMI's Chairman's Choice series.


Enayat Khan died young, with four children. His two sons, Vilayat Khan[4] and Imrat,[5] were trained in the Imdadkhani style by other members of his extended family. Vilayat learned the sitar and Imrat the surbahar; both were to become very famous classical musicians.


^ Before conversion, the family had been of Rajput lineage, and in an informal continuation of that tradition, Enayat Khan also had the Hindu name of Nath Singh. (Deepak Raja, booklet for Ulhas Kashalkar's Tribute to Vilayat Khan CD (India Archive Music IAMCD 1071, 2003), page 21.)


  1. ^ "Master of technique, creator of own style & sitar". The Telegraph. Retrieved 22 January 2012. 
  2. ^ "Seven strings to the rainbow". The Hindu. Retrieved 22 January 2012. 
  3. ^ "Renowned sitar player to perform at Skidmore". Saratogian. Retrieved 22 January 2012. 
  4. ^ "The master of sitar is no more". Rediff news. Retrieved 22 January 2012. 
  5. ^ "I Live Music". The Hindu. Retrieved 22 January 2012.