Sunday, December 5, 2010

About! Pandit Krishna Mohan Bhatt

Pt. Krishna Mohan Bhatt’s performances of Hindustani ragas have won the admiration of audiences in India, Asia, Europe and North America. His innovative style of music combines a rich blend of Gayaki (vocal) and Tantrakari (instrumental) techniques and musical compositions. His music is noted for its virtuosity, originality and depth of feeling that is conveyed to the listeners.
Krishna Bhatt was born into a family of musicians, poets and Sanskrit scholars who for five generations upheld their tradition in Rajasthan. His forefathers migrated from the south of India to Rajasthan (northwest), a princely state then, to seek employments in the "Gunijankhana" (department of learned scholars) of the Maharaja of Jaipur. Krishna was introduced to the musical traditions of Senia school by his father, who was a distinguished sitarist of his time, the late Pt. Shashi Mohan Bhatt. 

In his teens, Krishna’s musical grooming was further enhanced by many years of study under the tutelage of his Guru Pt. Ravi Shankar, and legendary musicians Pt. Nikhil Banerjee and Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, who had a strong impact on Krishna's musical growth. While developing his own individual style, Krishna’s music was greatly influenced by twentieth century stalwarts such as the vocalists Amir Khan, Bade Gulam Ali Khan, Abdul Karim Khan, Begum Akhtar, Shobha Gurtu as well as renowned folk singers of Rajasthan. Krishna’s repertoire in performance includes a wide variety of rare and old traditional compositions from these masters of music.

He has performed in major festivals on three continents. In India, his concerts include appearances in the prestigious Saptak Music Festival in Ahmedabad, Haridas Sangeet Sammelan in Bombay and the Desert Festival in Jaiselmer. His performances in Europe include concerts in Berlin, London, Paris, Brussels, Luxembourg, and appearances at the Venice Bienale, Lugano Music Festival, Zurich’s Reitberg Museum, Guitarra International in Cordoba, Spain and I Suoni Del Tempo in Cesena, Italy. He recently had the honor of being the first Indian musician invited to participate in the avant-garde Music of Extended Duration Festival in Prague Castle in the Czech Republic. In America, his performances include concerts at the Herbst Theater and the Great American Music Hall, San Francisco; Carnegie Hall, Symphony Space and the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York.

A prolific composer and cultural ambassador who bridges the gap between East and West, Krishna has collaborated with Western and Indian musicians since the early 1980s. He has recorded with Ali Akbar Khan, Zakir Hussain, the Kronos String Quartet, and Rajasthani folk musicians among others. His work with Terry Riley on the soundtrack for Alain Tanner's film "No Man's Land," a beautiful blend of eastern and western traditions, has become a favorite among music lovers.

Krishna's music has been celebrated since he burst onto the music scene at the age of 17, when he won the All-India Radio Music Competition. His performances are broadcast regularly on Indian radio and television and he is the recipient of several awards and titles including the Sur-Mani (Gem of Melody), AIIS Senior Fellowship Award, and honors by the Rajasthan Sangeet Natak Academy. His collaborative work with saxophonist George Brooks and Zakir Hussain, “Lasting Impression”, a CD of Indo-Jazz fusion, was nominated for a Grammy. Most recently he was presented and honored as the best musician for 2002 in the Rajasthan Virasat (Heritage) Music Festival in Jaipur.

In recognition of his pioneering research into the folk origins of North Indian classical music, the Rajasthan Tourism Ministry sponsored several gala concerts featuring Krishna Bhatt with Manganiyar folk musicians in Rajasthan and Gujarat. In addition, Krishna has discovered previously unrecognized Rajasthani ragas and established their structures. He is now in the process of recording these ragas, and is also preparing an ethnomusicological study of the regional singing style called Maand.
In an interview, Krishna expressed his attitude toward music: "The truth is, one learns from many people in a lifetime. I am still learning. Music keeps our lives in balance. Music heals. It teaches us about deep emotions such as joy, sorrow, compassion and passion and shows us a way to express them. Music is the language of the heart. It gives us peace, and inspires devotion and love that we all need. It brings people together. I think I am doing good work."
(Source Pictures + Text at

WKCR 89.9FM - Raga Live on the radio!
Hosted by Ashok Ilankovan.
Live recording of Pt. Krishna Mohan Bhatt accompanied by Nitin Mitta on Tabla.
Concert recorded by WKCR at Reflections Yoga in May 2010 in NYC. 
To listen on the radio: 89.9FM or on

Raag Patdeep Part 4 - "Tribute to John Coltrane"
Pt. Krishna Mohan Bhatt on sitar & Zakir Hussain on tabla.
This performance was recorded in Berkeley, California on July 16th, 1983. On the spur of the moment, Krishnaji created a special gat-composition in drut tintaal (fast rhythmic cycle of 16 beats) in dedication to jazz legend John Coltrane. Krishnaji then introduces a second theme based on a traditional vocal composition in Raag Patdeep, ending with a climactic jhalla-finale.
Dana Pandey - Tanpura & Sally Davis - Swarmandala

Pt. Krishna Mohan Bhatt on sitar & Pt. Anindo Chatterjee on tabla,
Rāg Charukeshi part 1
This the alap (solo) portion of a concert recorded on February 4, 2007 in Calcutta. This first section of a rāga performance--known as alap--is where the notes and mood of the rāga are slowly revealed. In addition, Krishna Bhatt is introducing the swarmandala for drone accompaniment, an instrument normally only heard in vocal performances. The swarmandala is being played by Ehren Hanson.

Rendition of Basant Mukhari, a morning raga performed by Pt. Krishna Mohan Bhatt. 
This is the alap (solo) part of the performance. The concert was recorded on March 9th, 1991 in Bern Switzerland. Krishnaji is accompanied on the tabla by Jatindra Thakur, and on tanpura by Gunther Becker.

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