Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tribute! Pandit Sawai Gandharva

Sawai Gandharva 
Abdul Karim Khan

Rambhau Kundgolkar (1886 - September 12, 1952), popularly known as Sawai Gandharva , was a well known Hindustani vocalist. He was a disciple of Ustad Abdul Karim Khan and helped popularize the Kirana Gharana. Sawai Gandharwa was born in Kundgol, twenty km south of Hubli, in Karnataka in 1886. Although not from a musical family, he developed a keen interest in music. He started his training in classical music under the tutelage of Ustad Abdul Karim Khan. Rambhau did not complete his musical education.
His father, Ganesh Saunshi, was a local clerk employed by Ranganagowda Nadiger, a landlord. Early on, Pt. Gandharva did not show interest in academics by progressed in school through the admiration his teachers had for how "sweetly" he sung poems. Later, he was admitted to Lamington High School in Hubli which he would travel to everyday by train. Pt. Gandharva's father found it increasingly difficult to fund his son's education and eventually his schooling stopped.
After discontinuing his education, Pt. Gandharva's father put him under the tutelage of Balwantrao Kolhatkar who found himself in Kundgol. From Kolhatkar, Pt. Gandharva learned 75 Dhrupad compositions, 25 compositions, a hundred other compositions and a mastered a few TaranaTaals. Kolhatkar passed away in 1898, leaving Pt. Gandharva's tutelage incomplete and without guidance.

To Listen: Raag Miya Malhar by Saway Gandharva:

In traveling to high school every day to Hubli, Pt. Gandharva would actively participate in the daily cultural events in Hubli, where he spent his time watching Nataks and listening to music. Once, he found himself listening to a young Utd. Abdul Karim Khan and was immediately captivated. From then onwards, Pt. Gandharva wished for the Ustad's tutelage. After Balwantrao Kolhatkar's passing, Utd. Abdul Karim Khan began touring Karnataka, where he often stayed with the Nadiger family, Pt. Gandharva's father's employer, whom Pt. Gandharva was staying with.
It was a time when Abdul Karim Khan, the founder of Kirana Gharana,was touring Karnataka. He would often stay with the Nadigers for days on end. On such a trip, Ramchandra hovered around Abdul Karim Khan, humming jamunaa ke teer, the Ustad’s Bhairavi cheez. It caught Abdul Karim Khan’s ear who asked, "Kaun hai yeh ladkaa? Galaa achchaa hai". Rangangowda Nadiger pounced upon this opportunity: " Ustadji, he is our clerk’s son. He wants to learn music from you". "Yeh baath hai tho chalo hamaare saath". Fortune smiled on Ramchandra. This was in 1901. Abdul Karim Khan did not want his name to be spoilt by disciples learning haphazardly. He made a contract with them that they would learn from him for at least 8 years.
Rambhau did not complete his musical education. Against the wishes of his teacher, he joined a drama company and became popular as a singer in Marathi theatre. He worked for Govindrao Tembe's Shivraj Natak Mandali for some time, becoming famous for playing female roles. Although he became a well known classical vocalist, his most enduring legacy is that he trained great artists who would carry on the name of the Kirana Gharana, like Gangubai Hangal, Bhimsen Joshi, and Feroze Dastur. (

Sawai Gandharva, rare song "TILANG"

The Sawai Gandharva Music Festival 2010
will be organized at Ramanbaug New English School ground from December 9 to 12. The Sawai Gandharva Sangeet Mahotsav (informally, Sawai Gandharva) is one of the most prominent and sought-after Indian classical music festivals in India. Held in the city of Pune since 1952, this festival was founded by the Arya Sangeet Prasarak Mandal and was led and organized each year by Pt. Bhimsen Joshi until 2002. Since then, Pt. Joshi’s son, Shrinivas Joshi, and disciple, Shrikant Deshpande have had a major hand in organizing this event. The festival commemorates the life, legacy, and achievements of Pt. Sawai Gandharva. Arya Sangeet Prasarak Mandal, which organises the festival, said that music lovers from across the world were expected at the event as this was the 125th birth year of Pt Bhimsen Joshi’s guru Rambhau Kundgolkar alias Sawai Gandharva. For full program:

Sawai Gandharva, Raag Puriya Dhanashree

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