Ustad Vilayat Khan's Death Anniversary
Ustad Vilayat Khan was one of India's well known sitar maestros. He was one of the great pioneers of his generation to introduce Indian Classical Music to the West, along with Ravi Shankar, Ali Akbar Khan, Nikhil Banerjee and his younger brother Imrat Khan. Widely regarded by many as the greatest sitarist of his generation, he recorded his first 78-RPM disc at the age of 8, and gave his last concert in 2004 at the age of 75.
Vilayat Khan was born in Gauripur, British India to Enayat Khan, a sitar maestro. His family of musicians trace their pedigree back to the court musicians of the Mughals. His father, recognised as a leading sitar and surbahar (bass sitar) player of his time, as had been the grandfather, Imdad Khan, before him. He was taught in the family style, known as the Imdadkhani Gharana or Etawah Gharana, after small city close to Agra where Imdad Khan lived.
However, Enayat Khan died when Vilayat was only nine, so much of his education came from the rest of his family: his uncle, sitar and surbahar maestro Wahid Khan, his maternal grandfather, singer Bande Hassan Khan, and his mother, Bashiran Begum, who had studied the practice procedure of his forefathers. His uncle Zinde Hassan looked after his riyaz (practice). As a boy, Vilayat wanted to be a singer; but his mother, herself from a family of vocalists, felt he had a strong responsibility to bear the family torch as a sitar maestro.