He is a faded entity
in the cultural capital Kolkata. A true disciple of
Ustad Ali Akbar Khan,
the legendary maestro and his illustrious father Ustad Allauddin
Khan, Birendranath Banerjee is a forgotten exponent of the famous
Any one visiting his residence at Shibpur, Howrah, can come across
this benign personality humming classical tunes -all by him if he
is not practicing. Hardly can it be deciphered that this man had
played solo interludes in the Carnegie Hall (New York) or Embassy
Theatre (U.K.) even before his guru Ustad Ali Akbar or Pundit
Ravi Shankar rendered their performances in these esteemed venues.
His days in Maihar : When
he saw his nephew was moved by a stellar performance of the renowned
maestro Shyam Gangopadhyay, his uncle Nipendranath introduced him
to sarod. It was he who introduced Birendranath to Ustad Allauddin
Khan, who came to Calcutta for a programme. This rendezvous was
a watershed in his life. Khan Sahib agreed by shear providence.
"While Ravi Shankar insisted me to rely only memory, Ali Akbar
stressed on inner feeling while playing a raga. Baba Allauddin had
his overall watchful eyes on us.
His association with Uday
Shankar :Legendary Uday Shankar selected
him for his magnum opus "Kalpana" in the role of
Nur Mohammed and later made him the music director of his
troop. Thus opened his door to the western world. He visited
Europe, America and Canada and performed with great élan.
Solo Performance :In
1973 he toured England, Italy, Germany and France for numerous
Solo programmes. He played for the BBC and Berlin radio on
his next visit to Europe two years later. In 1977 Berlin radio
broadcasted live his "Ahir Bhairav". Ten years later
he visited Russia. Among his memorable performances in the
country, one at Ra shtrapati Bhavan (1951) and a duet with
Ali Akbar Khan at All India Music Conference at Minerva Hall,
Calcutta are closest to his heart.
His advice to budding musicians
: "Classical music is to bring harmony and
discipline in this turbid society. It is not only a demonstration
of skill but also a quest for aesthetic values", his word of
advice to young artists. Birendranath Banerjee
has penned about eight books on music and poetry and contributes
in local dailies.
Contributing Author: Amitava Chakrabarty is a marine
officer and a freelance writer/journalist/poet. His poems are published
nationally& globally. He has published a book of poems entitled