Thursday, October 22, 2015
When the hype is justified
In yesterday's post I mused on how the title of 'musician who first brought Indian music to the West' is rather (raga?) meaningless; but if it is to be awarded, it should go to the sarod master Ali Akbar Khan, who, at Ravi Shankar's recommendation, visited America in 1955 - a year before Shankar's first visit. My reading today reminded me that there is another strong claimant to the title, the sitar master Ustad Vilayat Khan. He gave a recital in London's Royal Festival Hall in 1951; however somewhat surprisingly he did not visit America until 1978, although his reputation preceded him on disc. Indian music cognoscenti are divided in their view as to whether Ravi Shankar or Ustad Vilayat Khan was the greatest sitar player, in the same way as classical music cognoscenti are split between Toscanini and Furtwängler. But I follow the wise path of a young St. Thérèse of Lisieux; who when offered a handful of ribbons to choose from declared: 'I choose all'. As a reminder that the hype is sometimes justified, sample Ustad Vilayat Khan's art via the YouTube video from which the header screengrab was taken.
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