Ustad Vilayat Khan, one of India’s leading sitar players, has died. He was 76.
Khan died Saturday (March 13) in Bombay’s Jaslok Hospital. He had lung cancer, diabetes and hypertension, the Press Trust of India reported.
He was born into a family of musicians who trace their lineage six or seven generations back to the Moghul courts and ultimately to Miyan Tansen, the court musician of the Emperor Akbar of the late 16th century.
Khan was credited with creating his own style of playing sitar, a traditional Indian string instrument popularized worldwide by Ravi Shankar. Khan introduced a vocal style in sitar playing which gave the audience a sense that the instrument was singing.
He complained that his contribution to music wasn’t given due recognition by the government. He turned down national awards in 1964 and 1968, saying that members of the award committees were not competent to judge his music.
He made the United States his second home and was a frequent guest lecturer at Ali Akbar College of Music in San Rafael, Calif. He also composed music for Satyajit Ray’s classic film, “Jalsaghar” and Ismail Merchant and James Ivory’s English film “Guru.”
Though he told his pupils he was born in 1928, others say he was born as early as 1924.
He is survived by two wives, two sons and two daughters.
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