Ragas Maluka Kalyan & Nat Bhairav.
Masterworks from the National Centre Performing Arts (NCPA) Archives
Pt. Nikhil Banerjee
Pt. Nikhil Banerjee was born on October 14, 1931 in Calcutta into a conservative Brahmin family. Although Nikhil’s father and grandfather would play the sitar as a hobby they looked down upon music as a formal profession due to its associations with courtesans. Nikhil however heard his father practice one day and developed a fondness for the instrument and started to learn. His extraordinary talent was recognized by his family and so his father began to give him a formal training. At the young age of nine, Nikhil won an all India sitar competition and also began to broadcast on all India Radio the youngest person to ever broadcast on all India Radio.
Pt. Nikhil Banerjee learnt music from various legendary musicians who were within his father’s circle of friends such as surbahar exponent Mushtaq Ali Khan, dhrupad exponent and musicologist Birendra Kishore Roy Chowdhury and one of the most renowned music teachers of the early 20th century and sarod legend Ustad Ali Akbar Khan’s father Baba Allauddin Khan who had rubbished Nikhil’s broadcast performance but saw a hidden spark in his talents and offered to train him.
Baba Allauddin Khan had the distinction of teaching his students by singing and allowing them to find their own technique for execution on their respective instruments. Baba consciously steered Nikhil’s Music into a direction different from that of his other legendary disciple Pt. Ravi Shankar Allowing each one to develop their own distinctive styles.
Pt. Nikhil Banerjee was also inspired by great vocalists such as Amir Khan Omkarnath Thakur, Faiyyz Khan. In many ways Pt. Nikhil Banerjee’s raga vistaar bears remarkable instrumental resemblance to Ustad Amir Khan’s Vocal Vilambit.
In the 1980s. Pt. Nikhil Banerjee’s health suddenly began to deteriorate. On January 27, 1986 Pt. Nikhil Banerjee died of a heart attack at the age of 54. He had been awarded the Padma Shree in 1968 and was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1986 posthumously.
The NCPA Archives
Described as the Treasure trove of Indian classical music the NCPA archives has over 5000 hours of music of the who’s who of classical music both in the Hindustani and Carnatic Styles. Maintained for over 4 decades in the most ideal conditions of temperature and humidity and on the best recording formats the NCPA Archives preserves and protects India’s rich musical heritage.
According to the Artists themselves the work recorded on the Archives features some of their best works recorded at the prime of their careers. This wonderful ‘khazana’ is being presented to the music loving public for the first time.
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