The passing away of GaanaSaraswati Kishori Amonkar has left a void in the world of Indian classical music. As the news of her demise broke late Monday night, music lovers and the fraternity immediately took to social media to express their sorrow and pay their respects. Among those who tweeted out were Lata Mangeshkar and Shankar Mahadevan.
Music aficionados thronged the home of Kishori Amonkar in central Mumbai today to pay their tributes to the renowned Hindustani classical vocalist. The body of the 84-year-old vocalist will be cremated at the Dadar crematorium this evening, family sources said.
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The singing doyenne’s body has been kept at Ravindra Natya Mandir in Prabhadevi area to enable people to pay their last respects.
Born on April 10, 1932, in Mumbai, Amonkar was considered one of the foremost singers in Hindustani classical tradition, Amonkar is known for her contribution and innovation in the Jaipur-Atrauli gharana of music, and her distinctive style of khayal gayiki as well as thumri and bhajan.
Amonkar learnt music under the tutelage of her mother, the late, great Mogubai Kurdikar, who had herself trained under Alladiya Khan Saheb, the doyen of the Jaipur gharana. “Aai was so strict that she would sing the sthayi and antara only twice and not a third time. I had to get every contour of the piece in those two instances. That taught me concentration. The guru needs to be this good,” Amonkar had said in an interview to Indian Express in December 2016.
While learning the finer points and techniques of the Jaipur gharana from her mother, Amonkar also developed her own personal style, which reflected the influence of other gharanas and was generally regarded as an individual variant of the Jaipur tradition. Apart from training under her mother, Amonkar learnt music from Anwar Hussain Khan of Agra gharana, Anjanibai Malpekar of Bhendi Bazar gharana, Sharadchandra Arolkar of Gwalior gharana and Goa’s stalwart Balkrishnabuwa Parwatkar.
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.
The singer has been awarded the Padma Bhushan (1987) and the Padma Vibhushan (2002) for an exemplary career. She was also a recipient of the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1985 and the SNA Fellowship for 2009. In 1991, she was awarded the prestigious Dr TMA Pai Outstanding Konkani Award.
Regardless of musical genre, her performances were marked by vitality and grace. 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.
Besides being a renowned musician, Amonkar was a popular speaker. She travelled throughout India giving lectures, most notably on the theory of rasa (feelings, emotions) in music.