23 Nov 2018
Noted classical musician Ustad Imrat Khan dies at 83
Classical music stalwart, Ustad Imrat Khan, who dedicated his life to propagating the sitar and the surbahar worldwide, has died in the US after a brief illness, his son said today. He was 83.
He breathed his last yesterday in a hospital in St Louis, a city in Missouri and his home for over two decades, after a stroke, his son Nishat Khan said.
Imrat Khan suffered a stroke last night, says Nishat
"He (Khan) had developed pneumonia and was in the hospital for a week. He had not been keeping well for the last few months. He died of a stroke last night," Nishat, said before leaving for the US. The funeral will take place tomorrow.
Illustrious! Imrat's father was Inayat Khan, brother was Vilayat Khan
Imrat Khan belonged to the illustrious Etawa Gharana, or the Imdadkhani Gharana, named after his grandfather Ustad Imdad Khan.
His elder brother was Ustad Vilayat Khan.
The Gharana, one of India's oldest with a musical legacy of over 400 years, traces its roots to Agra.
The family later moved to Etawa before finally settling in Kolkata with Ustad Inayat Khan, Imrat Khan's father.
Imrat Khan had performed at Cannes Film Festival in 1970
The family is credited with developing the musical instrument surbahar, a stringed instrument that's sometimes called the 'bass sitar'.
Imrat Khan toured the world with his music and performed at the Cannes Film Festival in 1970 for a Merchant-Ivory partnership. He was also a regular at various festivals in India.
Nishat said his father is one of the greatest surbahar players of his time.
Imrat Khan refused Padma Shri saying it was too late
One of the big disappointments of Imrat's life was not being recognized for his musical contributions by the government even when his students, juniors were given the Padma awards.
He turned down the Padma Shri last year saying the recognition had come too late and diminished his achievements.
Refusing the title wasn't a matter of self-aggrandizement but "an issue of propriety", he had said.
'I refuse any form of corruption to my music'
Having performed with stalwarts like his brother Ustad Vilayat, Ustad Bismillah Khan, and Ustad Amedjan Thirakwa Khan, Imrat said he didn't want to compromise this legacy by accepting the Padma award.
"My music has been the center stage of my life... I've put it on the highest pedestal with a lifetime of devotion..., refusing any form of corruption to its form," he had said.
It was injustice that government couldn't see his contribution: Nishat
Imrat said he had never compromised in his life.
"Why should I compromise now when this award presented to me isn't parallel to my worldwide reputation and contributions?" he had asked.
Nishat said his father was "heartbroken" when his name was announced as a Padma Shri winner.
"It's an 'anyay' (injustice) that the government couldn't see his contribution to Indian classical music," Nishat said.