Sankha Chatterjee

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Pandit Sankha Chatterjee is one of the foremost Tabla-maestros of India. Born in a highly cultured family of musicians, he inherited music from his father Dr. Jogendra Nath Chatterjee, a distinguished medical practitioner and a vocalist. In childhood Sankha had been very eager to play with musical instruments like Tabla and Harmonium – more than normal toys, and could imitate singing and Tabla playing exactly when he was only 3 years old. And soon he started singing and playing Tabla brilliantly with reputed musicians in concerts and received numerous prizes.

Later Sankha has studied under the tutelage of great maestros like Late Ustad Maseet Khan, Late Ustad Karamatulla Khan and Late Ustad Allarakha Khan in Guru-Shishya Parampara tradition.

His high reputation as a performer, composer and teacher stems from his mastery over three leading Gharanas (schools) of Tabla: Farukabad, Delhi and Punjab.

He was awarded a scholarship for the talented artists by the Government of India in 1969 and stood 1st class first in the honours degree Exam. (B.Mus.), in 1961 was awarded a gold medal.

Since then he has been invited to perform both as a soloist and to play with most reputed musicians in major music conferences all over India, where he was accompanied most of the great musicians which includes: Ustad Bade Golam Ali Khan, Ustad Vilayat khan, Ustad Ameer Khan, Ustad Nissar Hussain, Ustad Mohamed Hussain Sarang, Imrat Khan, Nikhil Banerjee, Pandit V. G. Jog, Bhimsen Joshi, Jasraj, Parween Sultana, Sunanda Patnaik, Manik Verma, Laxmi Shankar and many others.

The great Sitar maestro Ustad Vilayat Khan introduced him to European and American audiences. Sankha is well known all over Europe through his concerts with Ustad Vilayat Khan and Imrat Khan and many other renowned Indian and Western musicians.

Among his memorable concerts are the concerts at the Westminster Abbey, Royal Festival Hall (London), Congress Hall (Berlin) and a two hours Tabla-Solo inaugurating a new studio of RIAS (radio) Berlin in 1975.

Sankha has the distinction of being the first Indian musician to be invited by DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) in the Berliner Kunstlerprogramm and started a teaching course of Indian music at the Hochschule der Kunste (Fine Arts University), Berlin – setting a precedent.

Since 1979 he has been conducting a course of Indian music at Musikschule Neukölln Berlin, Instituto Interculturale di Studi Musicali Comparati-Venice and seminars organized by cultural organizations of Italy, Germany and Holland creating hundreds of music lovers and students. Sankha participated and conducted Indian music sections of all the META music festivals (Berlin 1974 – 1978), Pro Musica Antiqua (Bremen), Parampara-Festival-Berlin also organized festivals of Indian music with the collaboration of RIAS and DAAD in Berlin, with great success.

Since 1975 Sankha has been working with composers and performers of Europe and America, and made compositions in rhythm and melody creating a new style bringing together the brilliance of Western and Indian music; performed together with Western musicians like Peter Michael Hamel, Albert Mangelsdorf, Chico Freeman, Djamchid Chemirani and many others – thus contributing to the cross cultural dialogue between the artistes of Europe (specially Germany) and India.

In addition to his performing career and position with All India radio and Television – Sankha has taught at Rabindra Bharati University, Calcutta for 30 years and is now an external examiner of the University. His fame as a teacher has spread far beyond the borders of India because of his traditional method of teaching and has created a large number of students all over India, Europe, America and Canada.

Sankha has developed a new style of Tabla playing – a synthesis of three Gharanas and his own creative thinking, which has been well praised by master musicians and critics alike. His reputation rests not only on this unique style but also on the sweet and melodious rhythm, which he brings forth from the Tabla and he is as popular among his fellow musicians as he is with music lovers.

Early life[edit]

Born into a musical family in Calcutta, India. His father was a doctor and musical enthusiast, exposing him to formal tuition early in life under Ustad Maseet Khan of the Farukhabad Gharana of Tabla. He Studied under Ustad Maseet Khan, Sankha subsequently learnt from his son Ustad Keramatulla Khan and later from late tabla maestro Ustad Alla Rakha Khan of the Punjab Gharana.


Sankha Chatterjee's style is a blend of three leading Gharanas (schools), the Farukkabad, Punjab and Delhi Gharanas. He still performs and teaches. He divides his time teaching in Berlin and India as his bases and holds workshops across Europe and the United States. In 1984 he taught and performed at the Istituto Interculturale di Studi Musicali Comparati in Venice alongside sitar player Budhaditya Mukherjee.

His leading students are amongst some of the leading virtuosos of the younger generation of tabla players such as Gouri Shankar Karmakar, Subhojyoti Guha, Amit Chatterjee, Mihir Kundu, Friedemann Zintel and Federico Sanesi.

Personal life[edit]

His elder daughter Vidushi Sangeeta BandyopadhyayGIMA nominated, is a leading classical vocalist of the Lucknow, Patiala and Indore Gharana of Indian classical sangeet.


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