Remembering: Ustad Amir Khan

Amir Khan

Fourteenth February 1974 was an ill-fated day for Hindustani music because it lost two great stalwarts on the same day. Pt. Srikrishna Narayan Ratanjankar succumbed to protracted illness. Ustad Amir Khan in the height of his form and fame, was tragically killed in a car accident. Although in his early sixties the Ustad was still a force to reckon with in North Indian music, and had it not been for that grievous accident, he might have easily gone on dominating the music world for another decade or so. The world of Indian music went into mourning on l3th February 1974, and there were public condolence-meetings in numerous cities. Programmes of tributes to the two departed maestros were broadcast from all the important Stations of All India Radio.


Born in April 1912 in Kalanaur, Amir Khan began his musical training as a sarangi- disciple of his own father Ustad Shahmir Khan, a noted sarangi player who had learnt his art from Chajju Khan and Nazir Khan of the Bhindibazar gharana. Amir Khan’s early grooming in sarangi was only the foundation of his musical edifice. He had a vision and imagination of his own for higher artistic flights. Being a reputed artiste and a warm friendly person, Shahmir Khan’s hospitable home was a veritable rendezvous of many great contemporary maestros like Ustads Allabande Khan, Jafruddin, Nasiruddin Khan, Beenkar Wahid Khan, Rajab Ali Khan, Hafeez Khan, sarangi- nawaz Bundu Khan, beenkar Murad Khan and several others. Thus, although Amir Khans’s early musical training commenced with sarangi, the impressionable and intelligent youngster was constantly exposed to the various vocal gharanas of the times. Gradually, Shahmir Khan himself began to devote more time to Amir Khan’s vocal training in which merukhand (or Khandmeru) practice and sargam-singing were specially emphasised. Moulded by the styles of three great giants of his younger days, namely, Ustads Bahre Wahid Khan, Rajab Ali Khan and Aman Ali Khan, Amir Khan evolved his own stylistic school, which came to be known as “the Indore Gharana.”


In fact, Amir Khan was a self-taught musician. He assimilated the distinctive features of the gayakis that appealed to his aesthetic sense and were in perfect accord with his voice. The style that he evolved was a unique fusion of intellect and emotion, of technique and temperament, of talent and imagination. His style was a synthesis of three different styles. He assimilated the colour and spirit of Wahid Khan’s style, (with its chastity of swara intonation and a richly soporific effect of melodic elaboration) so well that Ustad Wahid Khan blessed him. “Long shall my music live in you after I am gone”. The slow khayal is rendered in such a slow tempo that it has “the langour of unfinished sleep.” This style originated in the Merukhand style of the Bhindibazar-gharana. This generally strove to produce the permutations and combinations of a given set of notes. These are like mathematical exercises with little artistic effect in a concert. The development of the vilambit khayal was marked by deep serenity. The concept of an extra slow tempo with a slow and meticulous unfolding of the raga and the “cheez” was taken from Ustad Bahere Wahid Khan. His taans were clearly influenced by the eloquent ones of Ustad Rajab Ali Khan. In sargam-singing, he revealed his admiration for Ustad Aman Ali Khan. During his early sojourn in Bombay, Amir Khan had be come a close friend of Late Aman Ali Khan. Amir Khan always maintained that had Aman Ali Khan lived longer he would have been the former’s “confrere in the world of music”. This newly amalgamated “Indore” style of Ustad Amir Khan captivated and influenced a whole generation of younger musicians of all categories through the contemplative and reposeful beauty of his slow, leisurely badhat (elaboration) enlivened by the “exuberance of his proliferating sargams” and rushing taans. So tremendous has been the impact of his distinctive “gayaki” on the rising generation of young Hindustani vocalists that Amir Khan commanded a large following among the younger aspirants. He no longer remained as an isolated individual.


Read the whole article here.

front cover Ustad Amir Khan

Track Listing:

  1. Raga Yaman Kalyan
  2. Raga Kalashree
  3. Raga Darbari



5 thoughts on “Remembering: Ustad Amir Khan

  1. Sir. this is Great. this weekend i will spent a great way with Ustad Amir Khan’s song. thank you for your response.
    sir. one thing is the back side Album cover and Album number please be upload if possible.
    Thank you once again.
    Music is life, Life is music.
    with regards,


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