S.Rajam’s (Music Appreciation notes)

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Nikhil Banerjee

14.10.1931 - 27.1.1986
Birthdays & Anniversaries

Nikhil Banerjee was one of the three outstanding sitar players dominating Hindustani music during the last 30 years. Pandit Ravi Shankar, the most wellknown of the three, became famous for first exposing the West to Indian classical music through his cotttact with George Harrison and the Beaties. Nikhil Banerjee was in fact Ravi Shankar's gurubhai; both artists were trained by the same teacher, the late Baba Allaudin Khan of Maihar. Ustad Vilayat Khan, the third sitarist of the trio, represents a long and distinguished gharana of instrumentalists from what is now Bangladesh.

At the invitation of the American Society for Eastern Arts, Nikhil Banerjee first came to the United States in 1967 to perform .on the college campuses and give instructional classes in sitar. In 1974 and '75 the Center for World Music sponsored the teaching programme, which in 1976 and '78 was organized by Musical Traditions, an offshoot of ASEA. Greeted by enthusiastic reviews wherever he went, Nikhil Banerjee saw his reputation soar at home and abroad. In 1968 he was awarded the distinction of Padma Shri by the Government of India, and he was given the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1974. Between 1967 and 1973 six long-playing records of his were released by the Gramophone Company of India (EMI).

In November 1985, Nikhil Banerjee fufilled a lifelong ambition when he performed in Carnegie Hall. Reviewer Robert Palmer of The New Yark Times wrote :

"The extraordinary fluidity and assurance of his rhythmic ideas and phrasing set a pace and a standard that would

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