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Harmonium maestro Appa Jalgaonkar dead

Harmonium maestro Appa Jalgaonkar (87),who accompanied the likes of Bharat Ratna Pt Bhimsen Joshi,died here on Wednesday morning.

Written by Express News Service | Pune |
September 17, 2009 1:49:14 am

Harmonium maestro Appa Jalgaonkar (87),who accompanied the likes of Bharat Ratna Pt Bhimsen Joshi,died here on Wednesday morning.

Jalgaonkar is credited with elevating the status of harmonium. He had even received the Sangeet Natak Akademi award,which is rarely conferred on a harmonium artiste.

Jalgaonkar,who was not keeping good health for the past 11 years after suffering a paralysis,died in his sleep. While his wife Leela had died 11 years ago,he is survived by disciples Hanumant and Suresh Phadtare.

Several artistes,including veteran tabla artiste Chandrakant Kamat,Pt Suresh Talwalkar,singers Sanjeev Abhyankar,Arati Ankalikar-Tikekar,Shrikant Deshpande,harmonium artiste Arvind Thatte,Pramod Marathe and MLC Ulhas Pawar were among those who paid tributes at Vaikunth Crematorium where he was cremated.

Jalgaonkar was born in a farmer’s family in Jalgaon village in Jalna district on January 1,1922. His real name was Sakharam Prabhakar Jalgaonkar,but he was fondly called Appa in the music circles.

He was adopted by another family when he was two years old. He did his schooling till class V. The medium of language for school education in Jalna was Urdu after class V. His adopted father didn’t want him to take education in Urdu and he asked him to leave the school and learn some art.

Appa started taking singing lessons from classical vocalist Balkrushnabuva Chikhalikar in Dhrupad-Dhamar gayaki. But he could not pursue singing after he reached puberty,when his voice started cracking. He began playing harmonium and excelled in it.

Appa came to Pune in 1947 with keertan performer Mathutai Phadke. He met tabla artiste Joshi and started accompanying him for vocal recitals. Joshi introduced Appa to legendary singer Manik Verma. Verma was impressed with him and after that Appa didn’t look back. He went on to accompany the maestros in Hindustani classical singing,including Bade Ghulam Ali Khan,Aamir Khan,Pt Bhimsen Joshi,Hirabai Badodekar,Roshan Ara Begum,Gangubai Hangal,Vasantrao Deshpande,Kumar Gandharva,Kishori Amonkar and Pt Jasraj.

He also used to accompany dancers and tabla artistes in their solo performances. Those whom he accompanied include tabla artistes Thirakwa Khan,Allarkha Khan,Kishan Maharaj,Samta Prasad and Zakir Hussain and dancers Rohini Bhate and Pt Birju Maharaj.

He had accompanied these artistes in all important music festivals across the country and even on foreign tours. His mastery over laya and taal was impeccable and even the singers used to acknowledge this during live mehfil. He started his solo performances in 1970s. His speciality of creation of Mindh and Shruti while playing harmonium was unmatched.

He was honoured with Sangeet Natak Akademi,ITC Sangeet Research Academy and Swar Laya Ratna awards.

All the vocalists,tabla artistes and dancers were big admirers of Appa Jalgaonkar because of his unique quality of accompanying an artiste by matching his playing to the style of the artiste. “Appa gives the most melodious and graceful harmonium recitals. There is no equal to his grace and clarity,” sitar maestro Pt Ravi Shankar had said.

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