Born on 21st September 1929, Jitendra Abhisheki hailed from Mangeshi in Goa. His father, Shri Balwantrao, was a temple priest and a kirtankar. He initiated his son into the world of classical as well as devotional music from a tender age.
Pt.Abhisheki had received training under three different gharanas : Gwalior,Agra and Jaipur. In addition to Ustad Azmat Hussain Khan, Abhisheki learnt from other great teachers like Girijabai Kelkar, Jagannathbuwa Purohit and Gulubhai Jasdanwala. He also learnt some rare ragas from Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. He was a thinker and did not believe in imitation. Considering the timbre of his voice, pitch, range and expressive capacity, he blended these styles to develop a characteristic style of his own.
Abhisheki joined All India Radio at Mumbai in 1949 for a brief but successful period. His stint with radio not only brought him in contact with several musicians, but also gave him the opportunity to harness his own musical talents by composing several pieces for various radio programmes. It was around this time that he started his training under the renowned teacher Ustad Azmat Hussain Khan.
He usually began his rendition of a raga in the Jod-Aalap or ‘Nom-Tom’ style and created a kind of foundation for his musical statements. His development of the khayal was a pleasing combination of intricate work and straight notes, bringing out a definite plan in the structuring of his raags and spontaneity in equal measure. He also paid attention to the text of the ‘Bandish’ and tried to invoke the right mood or ‘Rasa’ through different musical embellishments and appreciated its fluidity through different tempos.
One of the most gifted Hindustani classical vocalists, Pandit Jitendra Abhisheki was also an accomplished composer. His basic nature was that of a scholar and research worker. He had studied with a number of eminent Gurus and mastered the subtleties of their style. He had understood not merely the grammar of a Raga, but had also realized its personality. Secondly he had good acquaintance with Sanskrit, Hindi, English, Konkani and Marathi languages as also with literature. He composed for as many as 25 Marathi plays, about 100 Bandishes in different Ragas. Occasionally his name-de-plume ‘Shyam’ or ‘Shyamrang’ is found embedded in the text.
Pt.Jitendra Abhisheki’s musical repertoire also includes his light-classical compositions like Thumri, Dadra, Bhajans and his experiment with Sanskrit Shlokas, ‘Samveda’, and ‘Upanishadas’ in ‘Geeta’ and Rabindranath Tagore’s ‘Rabindra Sangeet’.
Pandit Jitendra Abhisheki had a remarkably wide-ranging repertoire. He was a classicist by nature, but he also had a deep understanding of the semi-classical , devotional and folk traditions in the glorious musical heritage of India. His outstanding contributions to music brought him many honors and awards , including the Padmashri and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award.
One of the exemplary qualities of Jitendra Abhisheki was the way in which he trained his disciples. Adhering to the Guru-Shishya tradition, he had his students with him round the clock and guided his students towards attaining perfection and individuality. Some of his disciples are leading vocalists of the present musical scenario namely Shri.Prabhakar Karekar, Shri.Raja Kale, Smt.Devki Pandit, Smt.Shubha Mudgal & son Shounak Abhisheki.
Pandit Abhisheki spent his last years in Pune, where he taught a number of disciples. He passed away at the age of sixty-five, on 7th November 1998.
Following is an excerpt of his performance where he was accompanied by Shri Nana Mulye on tabla and Shri Purshottam Walawalkar on harmonium.