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Vilayat Khan

Vilayat Khan, one of the greatest Hindustani musicians of the 20th century, was born in Gouripur in East Bengal (later Bangladesh) in August 1922. (Various other dates are strewn throughout the literature but that is the date that he confirmed in 1993.) His grandfather, Imdad Khan (1848-1920) and his father Enayat Khan (1894-1938) -- Vilayat Khan gives the spelling Inayat Khan -- were famed musicians in their lifetimes and Vilayat and his younger brother Imrat Khan inherited their musicality. Their gharana is known as the Imdadkhani gharana after their grandfather.

He studied initially with his father. On his father's death in 1938 his training became the responsibility of his mother, Bashiran Begum, his grandmother, Bande Hussain Khan, and his maternal uncle, Wahid Khan. Around the same period Vilayat Khan began recording 78s. Peculiarly it is reported that he had to cope with odious comparisons with his father. Gradually he developed a style which, while acknowledging his kinsfolk's contribution, spoke with his own distinctive voice. His most outstanding contribution to his gharana's tradition is the evolution of what is known as a vocal style or gayaki ang on sitar. To some degree this is a term of convenience. Other contemporary musicians were striving to develop instrumental styles which more closely resembled the human voice -- it was after all the goal of all instrumentalists to mimic as far as possible the human voice -- and Vilayat Khan did not have a monopoly in this endeavor whatever some commentators claimed. That is not to detract from his achievement which was considerable and caused a sensation.

Vilayat Khan's strides in compensating for the sitar's shortcomings were immense. His career was marked by a regally consistent musical quality. An outspoken critic of low standards, he maintained levels of personal integrity that on occasion earned him the disfavor of the establishment. Little of his work was in any context other than the strictly classical one although he worked with Satyajit Ray on the soundtrack to the film Jalsaghar and the Ismail Merchant/James Ivory film The Guru. He might be summed up as a keeper -- not a quencher -- of the flame. ~ Ken Hunt, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Raga Bhairavi

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Track List: The Best Of Vilayat Khan

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Track List: Ustad Vilayat Khan: Raga Darbari Kanada

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Track List: Ustad Vilayat Khan: Sitar

Comments

In the world of Appalachian mountain banjo playing Mr. Khan sounds like he is double thumbing while he's frailing, albeit on sitar. Absolutely wonderful!
lllanismarzo
Thank you for this information, songofone
songofone
I wondered also and no bio I have ever read gives that information directly. It is interesting that this Vilayat Khan is from a musical family as was Hazrat Inayat Khan. Also that his mother, Bashiran Begum, has the same last name as Hazrat Inayat Khan's wife's maiden name. Regardless of direct lineage underlying synchronicit i e s certainly exist.
trishcaruana
I was wondering about a Sufi connection as well!
lllanismarzo
Does anyone know if Vilayat Khan is descended from the Sufi musician, Hazrat Inayat Khan?
Remember this tune from decades ago... still great!
one of the best. I love it.
very very good
Bliss trip.
twenty years ago I used to listen to a Ravi Shankar tape a girlfriend gave to me. loved it then, but lost the tape and never replaced it. Thanks Pandora for letting me rediscover this beautiful genre.
There is no such thing as THE BEST, no way to exclude one champion from another in this genre. Thank you for bringing heaven to earth.
udayan5
Without disrespect to artists like Nikhil Banerjee, Imrat Khan etc - Vilayat Kahn is the BEST satarist I have ever heard.

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