Treasures from the Past
Deb Kumar Banerjee
Deb Kumar Banerjee
Born in 1933, Pandit Deb Kumar Banerjee was initiated into Indian Classical music at a very young age. His teens were spent at the home of his maternal grandfather, Sangeetacharya Montu Banerjee where he had the opportunity of listening to and learning from some of the greatest musicians of that era like Ustad Allaudin Khan, Ustad Keramatullah Khan and Pandit Bhiswadeb Chatterjee. Formally trained by Pandit Montu Banerjee, he was also guided by Pandit Munneshwar Dayal.
As a flag bearer of Gaya gharana, Pandit Banerjee developed the art of harmonium playing through use of correct techniques, extensive training and proper riyaaz which gave the instrument an unmatched entirety. He introduced an elaborate gayaki ang on the harmonium by incorporating vocal influences, nuances and the vocal essence.
Equally able in performing both khayal and thumri ang, Deb Kumar's style of playing was often referred to as "singing" of the harmonium. Accompanied by legendary tabla maestros such as Pandit Samta Prasad and Ustad Allarakha Khan on a regular basis, he also encouraged many young tabla players of that time such as Bickram Ghosh, Shubhankar Banerjee and Tanmoy Bose, who used to come and practice with him regularly.
Ever since his first public appearance in 1951 with Montu babu & Ustad Allarakha, he performed in major music conferences such as Doverlane Music Conference, Sadarang Music Conference, All Bengal Music Conference, Srirampur Kalyan Samittee and Rajya Sangeet Academy amongst others. A documentary called "The Musical Black Box" was shot on him and was featured across the country.
Besides his wide-spread fame as a Harmonium player, Banerjee pursued a thriving professional career with Turner Morrison & Co., subsequent to which he also ran a successful printing business. Despite his professional engagements, his dedication to pursue and preserve his passion for music is what helped him attain such a height as a musician.
He passed away on 29th April 2002 at the age of 69, leaving behind a lineage that his grandson and other students are passionately trying to carry forward.
Following is an excerpt of his performance at the Doverlane Music Conference in 1993, where he was accompanied by Pandit Bickram Ghosh on the tabla.