March 23, 2004 by

Vilayat Khan


Categories: Musicians

Ustad Vilayat Hussain Khan, one of India’s leading sitar players, was born into a musical family. He could trace his lineage back six or seven generations to Miyan Tansen, the court musician of Emperor Akbar of the late 16th century.
Khan gave his first public performances at six, and began recording his own music two years later. A determined child prodigy, he sometimes practiced until his fingers bled.
Khan was credited with creating his own style of playing the sitar, and performed in venues all over the world. He twice received the Padma Shri and Padma Vibhushan, but rejected these honors because he said the awards committee was too incompetent to judge his artistic abilities.
Khan had a second home in New Jersey. He frequently lectured at Ali Akbar College of Music in San Rafael, Calif., and was scheduled to give a performance this spring at Zankel Hall in New York City. He also composed music for the films, “Jalsaghar” and “Guru.”
Khan died on March 13. Cause of death was not released. He was 76.

12 Responses to Vilayat Khan

  1. Sonia Barba

    I want to know about the Vilayat Khan sons.
    Are playing in this moments? Is it possible to contact with them?.
    Thans you very much.
    Sorry for my bad English.

  2. Anonymous

    Yes…Older son Shujaat Khan is 45 and is a well known sitar player…there is a lot of stuff on the net about him and the younger son, Hidayat Khan who is in his late 20s is also a a pretty good sitar player but not as well known as shujaat

  3. ramprapanna bhattacharya

    A TRIBUTE TO ABBA (USTAD VILAYAT KHAN)My respected & beloved Abba,My heart is continuously bleeding for you, and blood of my heart is overflowing as my tears. Still 15 days have been passed; I cannot even imagine your physical absence from us. My heart began to realize that your rare appearance by choice has now become a no-show hereafter. You are the person who has made this world so colorful to me, and thanks to my father, who had introduced me with your divine music, and thanks to the Almighty who has created such a wonderful genius in the world of melody.I still remember I fall in love with music so deeply when I was only 7 years old, when for the first time I listened your Yaman. I have made the journey of my life so comfortable, soothing and filled with pure joy and love by decorating it by your music from that day.Then you used to live in Deradun, the childlike nature of my mind imagined to be sited in front of you getting the eternal joy of your heavenly music. Till then I thought you to be a living legend, an epoch-maker, the greatest of musicians.Thanks to my mother who made the initiatives to let me be one of your nearests.When I met you and talked with you, I felt that you are much more than that I had imagined. For the first time I met a person who speaks music. I would not believe if I would not meet you that one can make the environment so pleasant and full of tune to others only by his presence. I am not ashamed to confess that I have a lot of recordings only of your voice while you were talking with others along with your concert recordings and they are equally precious as your music to me. Your gracious presence, the royal yet mischievous look, the humility, and the joy on your face at the audience


    i am a dvout fan and worshipper of Ustadji”s music and would request anyone who has VCDs of his performances to kindly contact me.

  5. Vijay

    I was lucky to listen to a live Sitar concert played by Ustad Vilayat Khan in Hyderabad, India. I dont think I will will ever get to listen to such a great musician as Vilayat Khan was. His sudden death is a great loss to Indian music.

  6. Daniel

    There is no doubt in my mind that this man was perhaps the greastest musician of the 20th century. I studied with his nephew and knew the “vibe” of the family overall. I must say they are dedicated and sincere. My favorite recording of his would have to be Raag Saazgiri. If you ever get the opportunity to listen to it you will know the grasp he had on an overall ability to express the most sublime aspects of the human soul. It is my most ardent wish, since I am American, that the youth of India put modern music aside and dedicate themselves to the restoration of Hindustani Sangeet. I am sad because it has just dawned on me that I will never get to witness another concert by Khansahib. Resquiat in pace.

  7. Joel R. van Lennep

    Ustadji Vilayat Khansaheb was one of the greatest musicians who ever lived. His music enormously enriched my life. Although I had the good fortune of hearing him perform only once, in c.1977 with Shujaat, in Boston, I shall always remember that concert (which continued until 11:00 PM or so!), as the most wonderful musical performance I have ever heard, among hundreds, in my life. I am so grateful to him, and grateful too in the knowledge that his sons, Shujaat, himself a master and a musician of greatness, and the younger, Hidayat, will keep this wonderful tradition alive.
    The world is poorer for losing this great creative genius. We shall miss him!

  8. souravbrata

    ustad vilayat khan was the pioneer of modern sitar baaz.every one playing sitar tries to follow him by
    hook or crook.he is the pioneer to create thumri on sitar. his father marhoom enayat khan sahab used to
    play tantrakari thumri.ustadji madeit more impressive by mixing the ang of benaras agra kirana patiala etc. very few knows that definite ang.khan saheb popularise that enoremousely to the his sitar he could play dhrupad as well as khayal ang. if anyone listens his recitl with open mind and
    concentrarion he will realize the beauty ofa rag.ustadji’s son shujat is one we are seeing has that creative spell .

  9. Rubina

    He was one of the kindest men I have ever met. Our families became very close when I was only about 15 and have remained close though Dada is no longer with us. The news of his death hit our family very hard. We received the call when he was dying in the hospital by Shujat Uncle and we sat down and prayed for him. His son, Hidayet, is still close to me and whenever we hang out, I always say to him, “I can’t believe Dada is not with us.”
    My most treasured belonging is a signed copy of Dada’s album from the Royal Albert Hall which he gave to me as a birthday present when he decided to ‘drop by’ as a surprise. It was from his own personal collection and he apologized for not being able to go out and get me something ‘pretty’. I was stunned. Pretty??? That album was priceless (and no, not in a I’m going to sell it and make a dime off it, that will be given to my children one day). Everyone else was in awe but he was Dada to me and a treasured member of my family.
    I respected him, was often myself in awe of him for his music (which I had numerous opportunities to listen to just when he was hanging out in our basement or vice versa doing riaz) but the man himself was amazing. I saw a side of him that I do not believe many did see. He was a jokster, a theologin, a great musician and I shall always, always miss him.
    Allah apko jannat naseeb kare Dada.

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