When Abdul Rashid Khan sahab first joined ITC Sangeet Research Academy (SRA) in Kolkata as a guru and came to live there, I was a young girl trying to understand the ropes of classical music. Growing up in this idyllic institution, where everyone is like an extended family, the bond one has with teachers, musicians and their families is extraordinary.
I still remember the first time we all heared him perform. I hadn’t heard such a strong, sonorous voice — not just in terms of the throw but the voice travelled three octaves. It was uncommon, even for the youngsters, to have so much of power in a performance.
He was a great composer as well, he used to compose such amazing bandishs. The ease with which he would perform certain critical compositions from very uncommon ragas was exquisite. Some taranas were sheer brilliance. His diverse compositions in the SRA archives remain a great source of learning and inspiration for the students.
I still remember a concert, almost 12-13 years ago, which was titled “The Youngest and the Oldest”. Arshad Ali Khan, Mashkoor Ali Khan sahab’s nephew was the youngest while Khan sahab was the oldest. The concert was great fun and made me realise that he was a unique combination of a person who was a performer, teacher, and composer. At his age and taking his health situation into consideration, it’s an amazing life for us to be inspired by.
Many people feel he was a better teacher and composer than a performer. If someone is a great teacher, I think he contributes to the craft of music as much as a performer. Abdul Rashid Khan sahab enriched the tapestry of music with his immense contribution.
If you compare Ustad Alauddin Khan sahab and Pandit Ravi Shankar on the basis of performance then there is something seriously wrong in judging a musician. So we cannot take away any credit from Abdul Rashid Khan sahab, who enriched the tapestry of music with his immense contribution.
As told to Suanshu Khurana