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Birendranath Banerjee - Maihar Gharana


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The Forgotten Strings

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 Maihar gharana.

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 "Solitude". [email protected]





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