Kishori Amonkar

From Indpaedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Hindi English French German Italian Portuguese Russian Spanish

This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.


A profile

Anurag Tagat, Remembering Kishori Amonkar: Sought after as guru, Tai remained a devoted student of music, Apr, 04 2017: Firstpost

April 4, 2017: The Times of India

Born on April 10, 1932, Amonkar was recognised as one of the foremost singers in the Hindustani tradition and as an innovative exponent of the Jaipur gharana. A gharana is a community of musicians sharing a distinctive musical style.

Amonkar's mother was the well-known vocalist Mogubai Kurdikar, who trained under Alladiya Khan Saheb, the doyen of the Jaipur gharana.

Trained by her mother Mogubai Kurdikar of the Jaipur Gharana, Amonkar became the strongest and most well-known proponent of the Jaipur Gharana, building on tradition even as she learned from a varied group of tutors. While learning the finer points and techniques of the Jaipur gharana from her mother, Amonkar also developed her own personal style, which reflects the influence of other gharanas and was generally regarded as an individual variant of the Jaipur tradition.

Amonkar said in an interview to NDTV in 2000, “My mother wanted me to learn all the aspects of music. Different colours of music. She wanted me to learn a little bit of Marathi songs, a little bit of bhajans. For that, she had appointed some masters.”

Amonkar cultivated a deep understanding of her art, largely through extensive study of the ancient texts on music, and her repertoire was grand in its sweep. She was known primarily for her skillful singing of classical khayal songs set in the traditional ragas of Hindustani music, but also performed the lighter classical thumri repertoire, bhajan, devotional songs and film music. Regardless of musical genre, her performances were marked by vitality and grace. Throughout her career, however, Amonkar was both criticised and praised for her bending of the Jaipur tradition. As she prioritised the expression of emotion in her music, she frequently departed from the gharana's conventions of rhythm, ornamentation, and broader musical structure in order to intensify the impact of the music. She aimed to infuse the emotional appeal of the more popular styles into the comparatively rigid classical tradition.

Besides being a renowned musician, Amonkar was a popular speaker and traveled throughout India giving lectures, most notably on the theory of rasa (feelings, emotions) in music.

In 2010, she became a fellow of the Sangeet Natak Akademi, the national academy of music, arts, and dance.

‘Resistant Beauty

Amit Chaudhuri , Amonkar’s Resistant Beauty, April 7, 2017: The Times of India

Like Virginia Woolf, she saw the world as radiant and resented anything that interfered

Every time i'd see Kishori Amonkar in the last ten years ­ at a concert, or in an old photograph ­ i'd think of Virginia Woolf: of a very individual kind of artistry , an essential unease with the world, and a resistant, magisterial beauty . I began to confuse the two. If Woolf was not among us, it was surprising that her true counterpart in the contemporary world ­ reticent, difficult and transformative ­ should still exist.

Woolf was a student of historical discontinuity . `Human character changed in 1910,' she said. Given that break, Woolf felt she could no longer conceive of `character' in her fiction in the way , say, George Eliot had. She even wondered if the word `novel' was the right generic term for `To the Lighthouse'. Human character changed again in 1990, after the fall of the Berlin Wall. The market asserted its supremacy everywhere, and the interregnum that Woolf lived in ­ of modernity , with its peculiar affinity for the anarchic ­ appeared to draw to a close.In what way could she exist in our time?

The great difference between the two, of course, is that Woolf died by her own hand at 59; Amonkar was 84 when she reportedly died in her sleep this week.Woolf 's suicide was attributed to the bouts of depression and `mental illness' she was plagued by . Like other kinds of ailments, we're all occasionally susceptible to this one: an intolerance of the world. Artists who see the world as radiant, as Woolf did, will particularly resent ­ maybe feel dispirited by ­ whatever comes between them and that radiance.

For Amonkar, what was minatory ­ what had to be fought constantly ­ was what came between her and the raga. At first, it was her voice: she had to stop singing early in her career. The cracks in that extraordinary voice persisted later; she would take time to warm up. The warming up was a struggle against this flawed but singular vehicle, the voice, against the nit-picking consciousness of oneself and others, to enter into the meditative process we call a performance.

The performative mode is easy enough to approximate if one has, after a painstaking apprenticeship, acquired a degree of mastery; one executes it smilingly . But Amonkar wasn't interested in this. She wanted more. She needed to be alone with the raga, as the writer ­ who isn't really a performer ­ needs to be alone with their material, and finds everything else an intrusion. We in the audience became a witness to the drama of this struggle.

In our gossipy conversations, it became classified as `tantrums'. She asked for no spotlight to be trained on her on the stage. Lights were an augmentation of self-consciousness.Before beginning a recital at Rang Bhavan in Bombay in the late 70s to which i'd gone with my parents, she shocked the audience (usually blithely disrespectful in India) by saying that, if they had to leave, she'd prefer it if they did so before the concert began. Like all artists, like all of us who deal with the world, she must have been tempted from time to time by dissolution, as Woolf was. She fought to attain it in her music.

Besides the beauty of her appearance ­ a kind of beauty that marks the perpetually out-of-place ­ Amonkar was like Woolf in her sensitivity to the fact that history can't be replicated. Human character had changed, Woolf concluded; consequently , she had to rethink what the novel was. Amonkar, who learnt music mainly from her mother, the magnificent Mogubai Kurdikar, couldn't take for granted that history , or tradition, or the style of the Allidiya Khan gharana was merely to be reproduced by an act of the will, or by riyaaz.

Riyaaz was indispensible, but human character was changing, and the khayal had to be radically rethought. In this, she is like ­ and must have absorbed something from ­ Ustad Amir Khan, though her contribution to making the khayal a home for the unfamiliar is different from his. Amir Khan turned badhat, or the progression in the most imaginative part of the khayal ­ the alaap ­ into a lazily mesmerising advance up the scale. For Amonkar, the alaap was evasion, the avoidance of certain key notes, and the sudden return to them.She undertook this evasiveness almost uniquely through the meend, the glides from one note to another. In this way, through a mixture of observance and avoidance, she opened up the raga in a way that no artist had before. For Amir Khan, the raga occupies and stretches time; for Amonkar, it enlarges space.

I must have heard her first in 1978, when i was 16 and played the guitar and sang `Western' songs. I was growing up in Bombay , and for some reason had begun watching music programmes in Marathi. One Sunday morning, i saw her ­ though my Marathi was very limited ­ on a programme called `Pratibha ani Pratima'. At one point, she broke off to sing a line with no accompaniment. I was struck by the timbre of the voice and the spaciousness of her approach.

That moment is one of a small constellation of such decisive instances which made me turn that year from the guitar to learning Hindustani classical music. Since then, i've been in and out of touch with her singing. On the day she died, i was listening, for some reason, to her Sampurna Malkauns on YouTube.As unaware as she must have been of what was to come, i wondered again at her intelligence and fearlessness.


Ambarish Mishra, She blended tradition with innovation, April 4, 2017: The Times of India

Kishori Amonkar (84), who altered the tone and tenor of the Indian classical music with her deeply contemplative `gayaki', passed away on Monday evening. The legendary vocalist was ailing for a while, it is learnt.

Blending tradition with innovation, Amonkar blazed a new trail in the field of classical music, experimenting with `raags' with the passion of a rebel and adding fresh dimension to the narrative of `khayal gayaki' with the authority of a veteran.

Amonkar was initiated into music by her mother, the late Mogubai Kurdikar, one of the stalwarts of the Jaipur-Atrauli `gharana'.Rigorous `riyaaz' (training) and fierce devotion to music soon catapulted Amonkar to the country's top league of vocalists.

“No music festival would be complete without Kishoritai's participation.Her music had a touch of divinity,“ said noted connoisseur Shashi Vyas.

Singer Lata Mangeshkar, in a tweet, described Amonkar as an `exceptional' vocalist. Amonkar's death has created a void in the domain of classical music, Mangeshkar added.

Amonkar created a niche of her own with her inimitable style: elaborate unveiling of the raag and her scintillating `taan' patterns which left her countless admirers asking for more. Her sonorous voice could reach the high octave with grace and immaculate artistry, said noted litterateur Vrindavan Dandawate, former NCPA official.

Her compositions such as `Sahela re...' , `Ghat ghat mein' , and her devotional songs have become part of India's collective consciousness, said Arundhati Vaze, an ardent admirer of Amonkar. Honours poured in from time to time. She received the Sangeet Natak Akademi award in 1985, and Padma Vibhushan, the country's second highest civilian honour, in 2002.

Among her admirers she was known as `Gaan Saraswati'. She has authored a tome in Marathi on her tryst with Indian classical music. Amonkar dwelt on the discursive part of classical music with equal ease.

A journey on stage

Anurag Tagat, Remembering Kishori Amonkar: Sought after as guru, Tai remained a devoted student of music, Apr, 04 2017: Firstpost

Where she first received training from Anjanibai Malpekar from the Bhendi Bazar Gharana, she crossed over for lessons from masters of the Agra Gharana and Gwalior Gharana as well. That fluid approach was what Amonkar personified throughout her career, innovating upon the timeless barriers of the Jaipur Gharana. Thumris, ghazals, or just raga-based performances, Amonkar’s concerts were all soul.

And when she was proving herself on stage, she was wooed by the ever-present Bollywood music industry, singing for Waheeda Rahman on Geet Gaya Patharon Ne in 1964 as well as much later in 1990, singing four songs – both traditional and modern renditions – for Drishti. In a 2011 interview with IANS, she said that she would never sing in a Bollywood movie again. “I don’t think I’ll sing in films again because, for me, the language of notes speaks much more. It can take you to ultimate peace, it can give you a lot of knowledge of life. Adding that to words and rhythms lessens the power of a note.”

With that much insight, it’s no surprise that Amonkar considered herself as much of a permanent student even as she became a sought-after guru, training the likes of Manik Bhide, the mother of Jaipur-Atrauli Gharana proponent Ashwini Bhide-Deshpande. Music writer Vibha Purandare noted in a 1988 profile on Amonkar, “Like a sincere hard-working student, she still gets up early in the morning to study and interpret the texts and spends or invests some time with the textual notes. Then after an interval of some kitchen work, she turns to and becomes one with her musical notes. The journey from the world of words to the universe of 'sa-re-ga-ma' is as smooth as the sliding of the finger from one string to the other of her tanpura.”

Admittedly a contradicting personality at times, when she was the most sought-after singers right until yesterday for concerts, Amonkar did not sing for entertainment. “People have to understand that music isn't entertainment. It is not to be sung to attract the audience, which is why I never play to the gallery,” she told The Indian Express in 2016.

It was perhaps this intrepid attitude towards performing music that gained her fans in the likes of tabla maestro Zakir Hussain, who held her renditions of Bhoop raga in high regard. “These are landmark performances that take place over hundreds of years and you will talk about it for the rest of your life and for centuries to come,” Hussain said in the Government-commissioned documentary on Amonkar, Bhinna Shadja, in 2011, co-directed by Amol Palekar.

Even as the praises ran and continue to exalt Kishori Amonkar as a virtuoso, she was quick to tell one TV journalist what she thinks when people term her a genius. “I only know that I’m a devotee of music. I treat my music as a divine path.” She said in a 2011 TV interview. She told Purandare back in 1988, “When I sing, I want everything to be beautiful — my notes, my rhythm and myself too. My desire is so intense that on the stage you have beauty personified, not Kishori looking beautiful."

A purist from Alladiya Khan’s Jaipur gharana

The Times of India, April 4, 2017

Kishori Amonkar, Photo- Raghu Rai; The Times of India, April 4, 2017

The singer who initiated the rasika into the journey of an in-depth swara and laya is no more-at Kamani Auditorium to come into the auditorium and wait for the melody called Gana Saraswati Kishori Amonkar was to be in the pathway of the rite of passage and taste the beauty of a raga as a living being.

On January 31st 2003, she was conferred the ITC Award during the three-day ITC Sangeet Sammelan. After her concert, I had to interview her and she happily said she would travel in my humble amabassador all the way from Kamani Auditorium to ITC Maurya where she was staying. Our conversation at 9.45pm that night traversed hills and valleys of vilambhit and taans and toras and alaaps.

To listen to Kishori’s Raag Bageshri is to abandon oneself in an ocean of immortal musical phrases, for her the journey of a raga is to delve into the celebration of abstractions between notes ; to encounter the “oceanic feeling” of philosophers of the past . At once the emotive, though intricate, music wraps you into an indissoluble bond of melodic postulates. Her mezzo soprano indentations woven into ingenious renditions become the swansong of her compositions. Kishori the purist followed the sanctity of the eight prahars very strictly ,she belonged to the lineage of Jaipur gharana founded by Ustad Alladiya Khan, guru of legendary singers like Kesarbai Kerkar, Dhondutai Kulkarni and Mogubai Kurdikar. “The great sages of the past revered music for its experience,” said Kishori, “ they often spoke of the experience of the subtle changes in nature and time. They propounded a theory of seasonal and time-based melodies, which if sung or played as per the theory, is expected to create a very positive and serene effect on life,” she said explaining the concept of prahars .

“ Our music is the fifth Veda. We are taught Brahma Vidya by the Vedas. It cannot be learnt from a machine. In a raga we have to surrender ourselves to the journey-it is a contemplation and meditation upon the divine art, when we reach the ultimate destination of a note – we achieve the state of Brahma. All these years I have tried my best to reach that.” She orders vegetable biriyani with yoghurt on the side. The vegetable biriyani is an artistry of perfect aroma and the hint of delicate flavours. Between dainty morsels of biryani and yoghurt Kishori states: “ I believe there should be a perfect balance between intellect and heart-one cannot overtake the other. We call it sayyam in Indian religion. It leads us ultimately to moksha. It happens only when we have tremendous self control. I am learning to control myself. ” When I tell her that I love Subhalakshmi’s Thyagaraja kritis she talks of the oneness of Indian music. “The two systems – Hindustani and Carnatic – are more the result of practical tradition, influenced by environmental cultural forces. It is a world of notes and devoted discipline. The principles of Indian classical music, are about bringing peace to the rasika !” “The journey of music is unending. I feel I have just begun. Music must emerge from one’s inner being. I am still working on my command over the sur . Because sur is air, and on my own I am nothing. When the sur comes out of my inner being, my body will disappear. I pray to God that I die that way. There is nothing else to see except the beauty of nature, the eternity of one note.” “ When we surrender to the journey of music we lose ourselves in the notes of perfection. It is like talking to your soul. It is an inner communion which you are trying to communicate … in the process, naturally it will diminish in value.” I drive back at 12.00 that night savouring the conversation that milked the notes of vilambhit and Hindustani Music. This morning as I read the TOI news of her passing away in her sleep her words come back. “ Ultimately for me all music is for that Paramatma. I sing for Him, who resides in all.”

Personal tools