Allauddin Khan

Allauddin Khan, also known as Baba Allauddin Khan (8 October 1862 – 6 September 1972)[1] was a Bengali Indian sarod player and multi-instrumentalist, composer and one of the most notable music teachers of the 20th century in Indian classical music.[2][3][4]

Allauddin Khan
Khan at Burdwan House in Dhaka in 1955
Background information
Native name
আলাউদ্দিন খাঁ
Bornc.1862 – c.10
Shibpur, Nabinagar, Brahmanbaria, Bengal Presidency, British India
Died6 September 1972(1972-09-06) (aged 109–110)
GenresHindustani classical music
Occupation(s)Composer, sarodiya
InstrumentsShehnai, sarod, sitar, bansuri

Early life

Khan was born in Shibpur village in Brahmanbaria (in present-day Bangladesh). His father, Sabdar Hossain Khan, was a musician. Khan took his first music lessons from his elder brother, Fakir Aftabuddin Khan.[5] At age ten, Khan ran away from home to join a jatra party where he was exposed to a variety of folk genres: jari, sari, baul, bhatiyali, kirtan, and panchali.[5]

Khan went to Kolkata, where he met a physician named Kedarnath, who helped him to become a disciple of Gopal Krishna Bhattacharya (also known as Nulo Gopal), a notable musician of Kolkata in 1877.[5][6] Khan practiced sargam for twelve years under his guidance.[5] After the death of Nulo Gopal, Khan turned to instrumental music. He learned to play many indigenous and foreign musical instruments like sitar, flute, piccolo, mandolin, banjo, etc., from Amritalal Dutt, a cousin of Swami Vivekananda and the music director of the Star Theatre. He learnt to play sanai, naquara, tiquara and jagajhampa from Hazari Ustad and pakhawaj, mridang and tabla from Nandababu.[5]

Ali Ahmed referred Allauddin to veena player Wazir Khan.[6][7][8]


Khan became court musician for the Maharaja of Maihar.[6] Here he laid the foundation of a modern Maihar gharana by developing a number of ragas, combining the bass sitar and bass sarod with more traditional instruments and setting up an orchestra.[6] In 1935, he toured Europe, along with Uday Shankar's ballet troupe, and later also worked at his institute, Uday Shankar India Culture Centre at Almora for a while.[7] In 1955, Khan established a college of music in Maihar.[6] Some of his recordings are made at the All India Radio in 1959–60.[7]


Khan was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1958 and the Padma Vibhushan in 1971, India's third and second highest civilian honours,[9] and prior to that in 1954, the Sangeet Natak Akademi awarded him with its highest honour, the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship for lifetime contribution to Indian music.[10]


Khan's son Ali Akbar Khan, daughter Annapurna Devi, nephew Raja Hossain Khan and grandson Aashish Khan went on to become musicians. His other disciples include Ravi Shankar, Nikhil Banerjee, Vasant Rai, Shripad Bandopdhyay, Pannalal Ghosh, Bahadur Khan, Rabin Ghosh, Sharan Rani, Nalin Mazumdar, Jotin Bhattacharya, Rajesh Chandra Moitra and W. D. Amaradeva.

Personal life

Anecdotes about Khan range from throwing a tabla tuning hammer at the Maharaja himself to taking care of disabled beggars. Nikhil Banerjee said that the tough image was "deliberately projected in order not to allow any liberty to the disciple. He was always worried that soft treatment on his part would only spoil them".[11]



  1. Clayton, Martin (2001). "Khan, Allauddin". In Sadie, Stanley (ed.). The New Grove dictionary of music and musicians. 13 (2nd ed.). London: Macmillan Publishers. p. 563. ISBN 978-0-333-60800-5. He is believed by some to have lived to the age of 110, although the conjectural birth date of 1881 is more likely
  2. Lavezzoli, Peter (2006). The Dawn of Indian Music in the West. A&C Black. pp. 67–70. ISBN 978-0-8264-1815-9.
  3. Arnold, Alison, ed. (2000). The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music: South Asia : the Indian subcontinent. Taylor & Francis. pp. 203–204. ISBN 978-0-8240-4946-1.
  4. Broughton, Simon; Ellingham, Mark; McConnachie, James; Duane, Orla, eds. (2000). World Music: The Rough Guide. Volume 2: Latin and North America, Caribbean, India, Asia and Pacific. Rough Guides. p. 77. ISBN 978-1-85828-636-5.
  5. Islam, Sirajul (2012). "Khan, Ustad Alauddin". In Islam, Sirajul; Khan, Mobarak (eds.). Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
  6. Adnan R Amin (23 January 2016). "To burn a mockingbird". The Daily Star. Retrieved 11 July 2018.
  7. Massey, Reginald; Massey, Jamila (1996). The Music of India. Abhinav Publications. pp. 142–143. ISBN 978-81-7017-332-8.
  8. Ritwik Ghatak(Director) (1963). Ustad Alauddin Khan [Ustad Alauddin Khan] (Documentary). India.
  9. "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 November 2014. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  10. "List of Akademi Fellows". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016.
  11. Nikhil Banerjee (1992). "My Maestro As I Saw Him". Retrieved 11 July 2018.
  12. "Raga (2010 Remaster)". East Meets West Music. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  13. "Graphiti | Breaking new ground". The Telegraph. Calcutta, India. 27 July 2008. Retrieved 16 October 2011.

Further reading

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