Bhimsen Joshi (1922-2011)
Pt Bhimsen Joshi was a renowned Hindustani Classical vocalist. He was poplar for the “khayal gayaki” and for singing bhajans and abhangs. He was one of the most prolific exponents of the Hindustani classical music. Pt Joshi was a member of the Kirana Gharana. The legendary Kirana vocalist would call himself in jest “the high commissioner of music”. He ruled as the sun in the Indian musical constellation for several decades and was unsurpassed in his brilliant interpretations and renditions of the Kirana repertoire. He was widely recognized due to his performance in the music video “mile sur mera tumhara”
, created for the purpose of national integration. He was also a part of the “Jana gana mana”
produced by AR Rehman.
Life of Bhimsen Joshi:
Bhimsen Joshi was born on February 4, 1922. He was born into a Kannadiga family in Karnataka. He was born to Gururaj Joshi was a school teacher. His mother died when he was very young. As a child Bhimsen Joshi was keenly interested in music. He was deeply influenced by his mother, whose bhajans he loved to hear. He was very fond of the “Tanpura”. He heard a recoding of Abdul Karim Khan’s thumri “piya bin nahi aavat chain” which inspired him to become a musician. He neglected his studies and pursued music instead. A wanderer both in life and music he would often go missing from his home.
He got his first training in music from Chinnappa. He was later trained by Sawai Gandharva. He stayed in the house of Sawai Gandharva in the traditional guru-shishya tradition. He continued his training under Sawai Gandharva till 1940. He was fond of fast cars and drinking. Bhimsen died on January 24, 2011 following prolonged illness. He died at the age of 89 years.
Career of Bhimsen Joshi:
Pt Joshi was a member of the Kirana Gharana. The legendary Kirana vocalist would call himself in jest “the high commissioner of music”. He ruled as the sun in the Indian musical constellation for several decades and was unsurpassed in his brilliant interpretations and renditions of the Kirana repertoire.
His music was hailed by both the critics and the masses. His performances were marked by spontaneity, dizzyingly-paced “taans” and a mastery over rhythm. He was known for his powerful voice and musical sensibility. His iconic status in the music world has earned him a whole generation of “suni shagird” who by merely listening to him have picked up his style and not through any formal tutelage.
Pt Joshi was a versatile singer. He was an expert in khayal singing. He was also adapt in the presentation of thumris, songs from plays or devotional compositions. His lilting thumris and his innumerable popular abhangs composed by the saints of Maharashtra are instances in this point.
He performed live first in 1941. His debut album, containing devotional songs was released in 1942.He also worked as a radio artist. In 1946 he performed at a concert to celebrate the birthday of his guru earned him accolades. Some of his popular ragas include “Bhimpalasi”, “Miyan ki todi”, “Shuddha kalyan”, “Puriya dhanasri”, “Multani”, “Bhimpalasi”, “Darbari” and “Ramkali”.
In devotional music he was most acclaimed for his Kannada, Hindi and Marathi bhajan singing. His commercially successful CDs “Daaswani” and “Enna paliso” include Kannada bhajans and “Santawani” include Marathi abhangs.
He was widely recognized due to his performance in the music video “mile sur mera tumhara”, created for the purpose of national integration. He was also a part of the “Jana gana mana” produced by AR Rehman.
He lent his voice for several film songs also. He sang for the film “Basant bahar”, “Birbal my brother”, “Sandhya raaga”, “Nodi Swami Naavu Irodhu Heege”, “Tansen” and “Ankahee”. For the film “Ankahee” he received the national film award for best male playback singer in 1985.
Pt Joshi organized the Sawai Gandharva music festival as homage to his guru in 1953 marking Gandharva’s first death anniversary. The festival has been held ever since in Pune and has become a cultural event for the city. It has also turned to be an annual pilgrimage for Hindustani classical music lovers all over the world.
Many renowned musicians have been taught by Joshi. Notable among them are Madhava Gudi, Pt Vinayak Torvi, Srinivas Joshi, Anand Bhate, Pt Upendra Bhat and so forth.
Awards and Recognitions of Bhimsen Joshi:
Pt Bhimsen Joshi was awarded the Bharat Ratna in 2008. He was awarded the Padmashree in 1972 by the government of India. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1985. The government of India honoured him with the Padma Vibhushan in 1999. He was awarded the Sangeet Natak Academi award in 1976. He was the recipient of the national film award for best male playback singer in 1985 for the film “Ankahee”.
He received the lifetime achievement award by the Delhi government in 2009. He was the recipient of the Karnataka Ratna in 2005. He received the Maharashtra Bhushan in 2002.