Bade Ghulam Ali Khan

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Bade Ghulam Ali Khan
بڑے غلام علی خاں
Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan.jpg
Born(1902-04-02)2 April 1902[1]
Kasur, Punjab, British India (present-day Punjab, Pakistan)
Died25 April 1968(1968-04-25) (aged 66)[1]
Other namesSabrang
CitizenshipBritish Raj British Indian (1902–1947)
Pakistan Pakistani (1947–1957)
India Indian (1957–1968)
  • Musician
  • Singer
  • Composer
Years active1923–1967
HonoursPadma Bhushan (1962)
Sangeet Natak Akademi Award
Musical career

Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan (Urdu: بڑے غلام علی خاں‎; 2 April 1902 – 25 April 1968) was an Indian Hindustani classical musician and vocalist from the Patiala gharana.[1][2]

Early life and background[edit]

Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan was born in Kasur, of the erstwhile Punjab Province, British India. Following partition of India in 1947, Kasur District was allocated to Pakistan. His father, Ustad Ali Baksh Khan was a singer who belonged to the Patiala gharana (vocal school) of Punjab.[1]

At the age of five, Bade Ghulam began training in vocal music from his paternal uncle Kale Khan, and later from his father. He had three younger brothers namely Barkat Ali Khan, Mubarak Ali Khan and Amanat Ali Khan.

Singing career[edit]

Bade Ghulam Ali Khan on a 2003 stamp of India

Though he started his career by singing a few compositions of his late father Ali Baksh Khan and uncle Kale Khan, Bade Ghulam amalgamated the best of three traditions into his own Patiala-Kasur style: the Behram Khani elements of Dhrupad, the gyrations of Jaipur, and the behlavas (embellishments) of Gwalior. Many of his raga expositions were brief, contrary to convention and while he agreed that the beauty of classical music lay in leisurely improvisation, he believed that the audience would not appreciate long alaps, particularly considering his tendency towards singing for the masses and therefore, changed the music to what the audience wanted. He excelled at more light-hearted ragas such as Adana, Bhupali, Hameer, Jaijaiwanti and Jaunpuri. Under the pen name of Sabrang he created many new compositions. Unlike his younger son Munawar Ali Khan, who had an open-throated voice, Khan Sahib's voice was slurred.

After the partition of India in 1947, Bade Ghulam went to his hometown Kasur in Pakistan, but returned to India later to reside permanently there in 1957. With the help of Bombay Chief Minister, Morarji Desai he acquired Indian citizenship and moved to a bungalow at Malabar Hill in Mumbai. He lived at various times in Lahore, Bombay, Calcutta, and finally Hyderabad.

For a long time, he stayed away from singing in films despite requests and persuasions from well-known producers and music directors. However he was coaxed and convinced by film producer K Asif to sing two songs based on ragas Sohni and Rageshri for the 1960 film Mughal-e-Azam with the music directed by Naushad. He demanded and received an extremely high price, reportedly to the tune of ₹25,000 per song, when the rates of popular and star playback singers such as Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammed Rafi was below ₹500 per song at that time.[3]

He was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, and in 1962 the Padma Bhushan Award.[citation needed]

He died in Bashir Bagh Palace in Hyderabad on 25 April 1968 after a prolonged illness had left him partially paralyzed in the last few years of his life. He continued to sing and perform in public with the support of his son, Munawar Ali Khan, until his death.[4]

In 2017, the Bade Ghulam Ali Khan Yādgār Sabha founded by his disciple Malti Gilani helps keep his music and memory alive.[5]

The main street at Basheerbagh is named Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan Marg in his honour.


  1. ^ a b c d Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, India Today
  2. ^ Bade Ghulam Ali Khan: Remembering the legend, The Times of India, 4 April 2017
  3. ^ "बड़े गुलाम अली खान: जिन्होंने गाने के लिए रफी और लता से 50 गुना फीस ली". Firstpost Hindi.
  4. ^ Beat Street, The Hindu, 16 November 2005
  5. ^ On ragas and riches, The Hindu, 22 August 2008

External links[edit]