Padma Vibhushan Pandit Kishan Maharaj passes away: 

In a career spanning more than fifty years, Pandit Kishen Maharaj dominated the world of Indian classical percussion as a true representative of the Banaras Gharana. One of the finest tabla players of our time, he was born on the auspicious day of Sri Krishna Janamashtami in the year 1923, in the holy city of Banaras. His father Pandit Hari Maharaj was his first teacher. After his fatherís untimely death, his training was taken over by his uncle, Pandit Kanthe Maharaj, one of the great old masters and himself a disciple of Pandit Baldeo Sahai, grandson of Pandit Ram Sahai, the founder of the Banaras Gharana.

Challenging the prevailing practice, his mission of taking the tabla to its well-deserved status of respect proved to be highly successful. His career began at the tender age of eleven years. Within a few years, he was sharing the stage with stalwarts of the time. His immense versatility in accompaniment, whether with instrumental music, different genres of vocal music or dance has been acknowledged the world over. His ability to play cross rhythms and produce complex calculations, particularly in tihai patterns, had made him one of the most respected and popular tabla players of our time.

His abilities had been recognized time and again. In 1969 he received the title of Sangeet Samrat from the Prayag Sangit Samiti. In 1972 the Uttar Pradesh Sangeet Natak Akademi honoured him. The Padmashri came his way in 1973, while in 1984 he received the Sangeet Natak Akademi award. The Hafiz Ali Khan Award came his way in 1986. In 2002, the President of India awarded him the Padma Vibhushan while in that year he was also the recipient of the second Ustad Inayat Khan Memorial award for his contribution to Indian classical music.

He had toured abroad extensively and had participated in several prestigious events. Evolving his own style, the highlight of which was his skilled layakari, he had trained several disciples in the Guru-Shishya Parampara, many of whom are top-ranking performers of today. He was regularly called upon to talk to aspiring musicians and share with them his principles and experiences. He unfailingly instilled self esteem and confidence, guiding them towards the ideals that he had lived by.
A veritable paragon of talent, Maharajji will be sorely missed by musicians and music lovers all over the world. He passed away a little before midnight on 4th May, 2008.


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