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Books > Performing Arts > Carnatic > Bhimsen Joshi (A Passion for Music)
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Bhimsen Joshi (A Passion for Music)
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Bhimsen Joshi (A Passion for Music)
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From The Jacket

 

Pandit Bhimsen Joshi has always lived for music. As a boy of eleven, he can away from home in search of a guru. In later years, he underwent unimaginable hardships to emerge as one of the foremost classical vocalists of all times. Even today he calls himself a shagird, for his quest still continues. An impulsive, impetuous man, a musician with a unique style, a skilled driver and car mechanic, an avid sports-lover, footballer, swimmer and slow-cyclist, Panditji stands out as a man who has truly lived life to the hilt. Yet his passionate nature is tempered by an all-consuming dedication to his muse. And it is thus that has enabled him to successfully challenge overwhelming odds time and again.

Charitavali is a series of biographies dedicated to the legendary figures of India. The series presents the lives of great kings, freedom fighters, political thinkers, social reformers, pioneers of industry, eminent scientists, philosophers, artists, musicians, dancers and film stars, writers and sports people. These biographies have been written for the reader who is curious about the life, achievements and character of these legends. Full of fascinating stories and facts, written in an easy, story telling style, these biographies will make these great Indians and their times come alive for the reader.

 

Introduction

Pandit Bhimsen Joshi is in many ways an unconventional person. Perhaps nothings typifies it as much as the following episode. It occurred in the 1950's when the erstwhile state of Bombay was under prohibition. A slightly inebriated Panditji boarded a flight and sat on a seat reserved for Morarji Desai, the then Chief Minister. When the airline staff asked him to vacate the seat, he politely replied that he did not believe in VIPs. To avoid a fuss, Desai took the next seat. Worse, some time later, a shocked Desai noticed that the contents of the glass in Joshi's hand were distinctly spirituous. When he finally pointed this out, Panditji blithely replied, 'Prohibition is for the ground, not the skies.'

Impulsive, impetuous, passionate about fast cars (and a highly reckless driver as well), a person whose personal problems nearly made him an alcoholic, Panditji stands out as an individual who has truly life to the hilt.

His obsession for music led him to run away from home in search of taleem (tutelage) when he was only eleven. For years he wandered all over the country, learning for brief period from different maestros, travelling in trains without tickets, and doing menial jobs for a living sometimes even working as a domestic help. Finally, some sound advice made him return home and seek discipleship with the celebrated Pandit Sawai Gandharva. After his association with the latter ended, he resumed his wanderings, this time going to Rampur and Lucknow, where he slowly began establishing himself as a vocalist.

Panditji's natural iconoclasm shows prominently in his music. Rather than rigorously adhering to the Kirana tradition (to which he formally owes allegiance), he has crafted for himself a unique gayaki (musical style) by blending in the best features of diverse schools. In fact, many features of his style are things that he picked up from other artistes merely by listening to them. His music bears the stamp of maestros like Amir Khan, Kesarbai Kerkar and Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, all of whom he intensely admired but never actually learnt from. This is also true of much of his repertoire. By his own admission, his formal training was restricted to only a few selected ragas and composition. The rest he picked up mostly through listening to others and using his native intelligence.

Throughout his singing career, Panditji has been accused of resorting to shallow gimmickry. His collaborations with the Carnatic vocalist M Balamuralikrishna and the painter MF Hussain are often cited as examples of this. Even his whimsical stage manner, with its exaggerated facial contortions and expansive, vigorous hand-movements, has frequently evoked comment, not all of it charitable.

Panditji's early wanderings, his individualistic and idiosyncratic gayaki, his tempestuous private life, his consequent alcoholism, his predilection for fast cars, are all intrinsic aspects of his character. Taken in isolation, each of them can be individually dismissed as mere eccentricity. Doing so, however, would belittle the greatness of the man. On the other hand, taken together they reveal themselves as merely outward symptoms of deep underlying pattern. And what then emerges is the portrait of a man single-minded in his quest for the sublime.

Indeed, his music is the only thing that has really mattered to him. He has always brushed aside with mild irreverence anything that stood in the way of his Sadhana. This, however, is not to say that he is a rebel. Rebellion involves resistance to convention. Panditji's response to convention is simpler, more subtle, and at the same time far more devastatingly effective. As such he has affected. To conform to it; he has merely ensured that it did not interfere with his music. So all through his life, whenever it impeded or inconvenienced him, he simply ignored it and did exactly what he wanted to do.

When some deficiency in his formal training threatened to limit his repertoire, he acquired new ragas and compositions merely by listening to others, never considering it necessary to undergo the formality of taleem. If he felt constricted by the sedate stolidity on stage conventionally considered ideal for vocalists, he went right ahead with his usual pyrotechnics and facial contortions, convention be hanged. This is reflected in his passion for cars too. He has always driven very fast and very recklessly, oblivious to dangers, bumps, potholes and other trifles. And on the other hand, when alcoholism threatened to irretrievably ruin him, he overcame it with a superhuman effort of will that only he could generate.

So his life is significant because it tells us the story of a veritable colossus among men, a giant not because of his headstrong behaviour, but because behind every quirk and oddity lies an all-consuming passion for the ultimate, before which the prosaic, the conventional, the stultifying all fade into nothigness.

 

Contents
Acknowledgements 9
Introduction 5
Chapter One 10
The Early Years  
Chapter Two 18
Tutelage and After  
Chapter Three 24
At Home and in the World  
Chapter Four 34
The Kirana Gharana and Bhimsen Joshi's Gayakti  
Chapter Five 44
Innovations and Forays into Other Genres  
Chapter Six 52
Perpetuating the Lineage  
Chapter Seven 58
Bhimsen Hoshi the Person  
Chapter Eight 70
Panditji Today  
Select Bibliography 75
Acknowledgements 78

Sample Pages



Bhimsen Joshi (A Passion for Music)

Item Code:
IDI722
Cover:
Hardcover
Edition:
2004
ISBN:
8129103540
Size:
7.1" X 6.9
Pages:
78 (Black & White Illus: 37)
Other Details:
Weight of the Book: 300 gms
Price:
$16.50   Shipping Free
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From The Jacket

 

Pandit Bhimsen Joshi has always lived for music. As a boy of eleven, he can away from home in search of a guru. In later years, he underwent unimaginable hardships to emerge as one of the foremost classical vocalists of all times. Even today he calls himself a shagird, for his quest still continues. An impulsive, impetuous man, a musician with a unique style, a skilled driver and car mechanic, an avid sports-lover, footballer, swimmer and slow-cyclist, Panditji stands out as a man who has truly lived life to the hilt. Yet his passionate nature is tempered by an all-consuming dedication to his muse. And it is thus that has enabled him to successfully challenge overwhelming odds time and again.

Charitavali is a series of biographies dedicated to the legendary figures of India. The series presents the lives of great kings, freedom fighters, political thinkers, social reformers, pioneers of industry, eminent scientists, philosophers, artists, musicians, dancers and film stars, writers and sports people. These biographies have been written for the reader who is curious about the life, achievements and character of these legends. Full of fascinating stories and facts, written in an easy, story telling style, these biographies will make these great Indians and their times come alive for the reader.

 

Introduction

Pandit Bhimsen Joshi is in many ways an unconventional person. Perhaps nothings typifies it as much as the following episode. It occurred in the 1950's when the erstwhile state of Bombay was under prohibition. A slightly inebriated Panditji boarded a flight and sat on a seat reserved for Morarji Desai, the then Chief Minister. When the airline staff asked him to vacate the seat, he politely replied that he did not believe in VIPs. To avoid a fuss, Desai took the next seat. Worse, some time later, a shocked Desai noticed that the contents of the glass in Joshi's hand were distinctly spirituous. When he finally pointed this out, Panditji blithely replied, 'Prohibition is for the ground, not the skies.'

Impulsive, impetuous, passionate about fast cars (and a highly reckless driver as well), a person whose personal problems nearly made him an alcoholic, Panditji stands out as an individual who has truly life to the hilt.

His obsession for music led him to run away from home in search of taleem (tutelage) when he was only eleven. For years he wandered all over the country, learning for brief period from different maestros, travelling in trains without tickets, and doing menial jobs for a living sometimes even working as a domestic help. Finally, some sound advice made him return home and seek discipleship with the celebrated Pandit Sawai Gandharva. After his association with the latter ended, he resumed his wanderings, this time going to Rampur and Lucknow, where he slowly began establishing himself as a vocalist.

Panditji's natural iconoclasm shows prominently in his music. Rather than rigorously adhering to the Kirana tradition (to which he formally owes allegiance), he has crafted for himself a unique gayaki (musical style) by blending in the best features of diverse schools. In fact, many features of his style are things that he picked up from other artistes merely by listening to them. His music bears the stamp of maestros like Amir Khan, Kesarbai Kerkar and Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, all of whom he intensely admired but never actually learnt from. This is also true of much of his repertoire. By his own admission, his formal training was restricted to only a few selected ragas and composition. The rest he picked up mostly through listening to others and using his native intelligence.

Throughout his singing career, Panditji has been accused of resorting to shallow gimmickry. His collaborations with the Carnatic vocalist M Balamuralikrishna and the painter MF Hussain are often cited as examples of this. Even his whimsical stage manner, with its exaggerated facial contortions and expansive, vigorous hand-movements, has frequently evoked comment, not all of it charitable.

Panditji's early wanderings, his individualistic and idiosyncratic gayaki, his tempestuous private life, his consequent alcoholism, his predilection for fast cars, are all intrinsic aspects of his character. Taken in isolation, each of them can be individually dismissed as mere eccentricity. Doing so, however, would belittle the greatness of the man. On the other hand, taken together they reveal themselves as merely outward symptoms of deep underlying pattern. And what then emerges is the portrait of a man single-minded in his quest for the sublime.

Indeed, his music is the only thing that has really mattered to him. He has always brushed aside with mild irreverence anything that stood in the way of his Sadhana. This, however, is not to say that he is a rebel. Rebellion involves resistance to convention. Panditji's response to convention is simpler, more subtle, and at the same time far more devastatingly effective. As such he has affected. To conform to it; he has merely ensured that it did not interfere with his music. So all through his life, whenever it impeded or inconvenienced him, he simply ignored it and did exactly what he wanted to do.

When some deficiency in his formal training threatened to limit his repertoire, he acquired new ragas and compositions merely by listening to others, never considering it necessary to undergo the formality of taleem. If he felt constricted by the sedate stolidity on stage conventionally considered ideal for vocalists, he went right ahead with his usual pyrotechnics and facial contortions, convention be hanged. This is reflected in his passion for cars too. He has always driven very fast and very recklessly, oblivious to dangers, bumps, potholes and other trifles. And on the other hand, when alcoholism threatened to irretrievably ruin him, he overcame it with a superhuman effort of will that only he could generate.

So his life is significant because it tells us the story of a veritable colossus among men, a giant not because of his headstrong behaviour, but because behind every quirk and oddity lies an all-consuming passion for the ultimate, before which the prosaic, the conventional, the stultifying all fade into nothigness.

 

Contents
Acknowledgements 9
Introduction 5
Chapter One 10
The Early Years  
Chapter Two 18
Tutelage and After  
Chapter Three 24
At Home and in the World  
Chapter Four 34
The Kirana Gharana and Bhimsen Joshi's Gayakti  
Chapter Five 44
Innovations and Forays into Other Genres  
Chapter Six 52
Perpetuating the Lineage  
Chapter Seven 58
Bhimsen Hoshi the Person  
Chapter Eight 70
Panditji Today  
Select Bibliography 75
Acknowledgements 78

Sample Pages



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