Aftab-e-Mausiqui Ustad Faiyaz Khan


Today's offering: Faiyaz Khansaheb, honcho of the (alas! now-dilapidated) Agra Gharana. A singer who packed great precision and power in his art.

Rajan Parrikar
[ Originally posted on RMIC by Rajan Parrikar as part of Great Masters Series. ]

Ustad Faiyaz Khan
The various gharanas in Hindustani music constitute a rich heritage of artistic traditions, which has been transmitted to us orally through generations of great musicians. The Gwalior, Agra, Kirana, Delhi, Jaipur, Atrauli, Patiala and other gharanas have produced some of our greatest maestros such as Haddu-Hassu Khans, Tanras Khan, Ghagge Khuda Bux, Rahmat Khan, Alia-Fattu, Umrao Khan, Ghulam Abbas Khan, Nathan Khan, and so many others. Ustad Faiyaz Khan popularly called "Aftab-e-Mousiqui", was "the ultimate flowering of the genius of the Agra or Rangila Gharana." He summed up in himself the finest traditions of his gharana and was its greatest exponent in recent times. He belonged passionately to his age, "and yet, he belonged to an infinitely more glorious past of our music and its traditions".

Faiyaz Khan's musical lineage goes back to Tansen himself. His family is traced back to Alakhdas, Malukdas and then to Haji Sujan Khan (son of Alakhdas who became a Muslim.) Genius, musical ancestary, and training combined to give us this wonderful artist-one of the most reputed and respected exponents of Hindustani classical music in recent tirnes. He had the exceptional good fortune of receiving his talim in Dhrupad singing from his grand father, Ghulam Abbas Khan; and in Dhamar from his grand uncle, Ustad Kallan Khan, both of whom were leading musicians of the rangila gharana in the second half of the last century. Kallan Khan was the younger brother of Ghulam Abbas Khan and, therefore, the grand-uncle of Faiyaz Khan Sahib. Ghulam Abbas Khan was his maternal grandfather, and Rangeela Ramzan Khan his paternal great grandfather. Faiyaz Khan's uncle, Fida Hussain was a court musician in Tonk (Rajputana). Faiyaz was born at Sikandra near Agra in 1880 and he died in Baroda on 5th November 1950. As his father Safdar Hussain died very early, his grandfather adopted him and brought him up as his own son. Ghulam Abbas Khan, the son of the great Ghagge Khuda Bux and an intimate friend of Bairam Khan, not only imparted to the boy the authentic taleem of his gharana, but also took the promising young Faiyaz on a "pilgrimage of music", visiting all the important centres o f music, listening to great contemporary musicians, and bringing him practical experience in concert singing. By the time he was 18, Faiyaz Khan had become such a "polished" artist that he began to give recitals in places like Bombay, Calcutta and Gwalior. Once at Bombay, 24 year-old Faiyaz got a chance to hear the great Miyanjan Khan, a pupil of the great Fateh Ali Khan of Patiala. Immediately after him, Faiyaz was asked to sing. At first he copied Miyanjan Khan's Multani in the latter's style and then he demonstrated in his own style-both in such a masterly way that Miyanjan Khan embraced the young singer and exclaimed in genuine appreciation: "Tum hi ustad ho" (you are a true descendant of the masters of the art.) It was an age of gentlemen-musicians.
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