Writings about Music

Maihar Gharana

My Music My Life by Ravi Shankar remains for me the greatest book on music ever written, never imagining that twenty years after first reading it while in high school I would be studying with the person who actually recorded Ravi's words for the book, his senior disciple Harihar Rao. Both men are part of the legendary Maihar gharana (school), named for the small village where Allauddhin Khan lived and taught, other students including Ali Akbar Khan, Annapurna Devi, Hariprasad Chaurasia, Nikhil Banerjee, and Aashish Khan. In 2018, I was fortunate to learn of two Allauddhin Khan disciples who had previously eluded me: sitarist Indranil Bhattacharya and sarodist Vasant Rai. My discovery of Indranil came while visiting YouTube, finding the Homage to our Guru album, also featuring Aashish on sarod and Anindo Chatterjee on tabla. This recording on the superb Chhandra Dara label features an inspired realization of Raga Kirvani, the ravishing sweetness, ripeness, and liquidity of Bhattacharya's playing synergizing with the miraculous artistry we're accustomed to from Anindo and Aashish. 

Another exemplary Indian classical music label, Oriental Records, is where I discovered Vasant's Splendour of the Sarod album, revealing a spellbindingly glowing, exquisitely sonorous approach to sarod playing, here accompanied by none less than Alla Rakha. Allauddhin Khan, a key collaborator with Ravi Shankar's older brother, dancer/choreographer Uday Shankar, is remarkable for teaching individuals who went on to develop widely diverse musical personalities while becoming innovators themselves by developing his principal concepts, including the transformation of traditional instruments for musical ends, focus on the liberation of both tabla and musical rhythm in general, and mixing varying traditions together to create new forms, the recordings here bearing witness.

- Michael Robinson, December 2018, Los Angeles


© 2018 Michael Robinson All rights reserved

Michael Robinson is a Los Angeles-based composer and writer (musicologist)


This writing originally appeared in textura, a Canadian music publication.