Imrat Khan

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Imrat Khan (17 November 1935 – 22 November 2018) was an Indian sitar and surbahar player and composer. He was the younger brother of sitar maestro Ustad Vilayat Khan.[1]

Training and early career[edit]

Khan was born in Calcutta into a family of musicians tracing its pedigree back for several generations, to the court musicians of the Mughal rulers. His father was Enayat Khan (1895–1938), recognised as a leading sitar and surbahar player of his time, as had been his grandfather, Imdad Khan (1848–1920), before him.[1] His father died when Imrat was a child, so he was raised by his mother, Bashiran Begum and her father, singer Bande Hassan Khan. In 1944, the family moved with Vilayat Khan, Imrat's elder brother, to Bombay where both the brothers learned extensively from uncle Wahid Khan. In 1952 Vilayat and Imrat moved in together in Calcutta. They performed together for many years. From the 1960s onwards, Khan performed and recorded solo, playing both sitar and surbahar.[2]

Solo career and legacy[edit]

For decades, Khan recorded extensively on both his instruments. His full performance practice started with a surbahar alap in dhrupad ang (embellished with more romantic touches), followed by a shorter alap on the sitar leading into gat in traditional Imdadkhani style. (Sitar players such as Ravi Shankar and Nikhil Banerjee added bass strings to their sitars to achieve at least some of the surbahar's lower range on a single instrument).

Khan toured in Europe, the Americas, and East and Southeast Asia. He spent a portion of each year teaching classical Indian music and instructing sitar students at Washington University in Saint Louis.[3]

Imrat Khan was the senior performer of the Imdadkhani gharana, the school of sitar and surbahar performance named after his grandfather Imdad Khan.[4]

Khan had five sons, Nishat, Irshad, Wajahat and Shafaatullah, and Azmat Khan.[2]

In 1988 Imrat Khan received a Sangeet Natak Akademi Award from the president of India.[5][6]

In 2017, he was conferred with the Padma Shri, however he refused to accept the award stating "It is too little and came little too late"; which also sparked a pandemonium among his students and members of the fraternity.[7][8]


  1. ^ a b Farrell, Gerry (2001). "Khan, Imrat". Grove Music Online. Retrieved 14 March 2015 (subscription required for full text).
  2. ^ a b Harris, Craig. Biography: Imrat Khan.
  3. ^ Buse, Johnny (23 October 2012). "Ustad Imrat Khan keeps obscure instrument alive" Archived 20 July 2013 at the Wayback Machine. St Louis Beacon
  4. ^ James Sadler Hamilton (1994). Sitar Music in Calcutta: An Ethnomusicological Study. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 171. ISBN 9788120812109. Retrieved 14 March 2015 – via Google Books.
  5. ^ "Explore Music! India". Webster University. Retrieved 14 March 2015.
  6. ^ Craig Harris. "About Imrat Khan". MTV. Retrieved 14 March 2015.
  7. ^
  8. ^

External links[edit]