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Imrat Khan

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Ustad Imrat Khan is one of the world's greatest players of the surbahar, a deep-toned, sitar-like stringed instrument that was developed by his great-grandfather, Ustad Sahabdad Khan, and Ustad Imdad Khan. With its four-octave range, the instrument is used to play the ultra-strict dhrupad style of Indian classical music. Still young when his father died, Imrat Khan was taught to play the surbahar and to sing in the highly ornamental classical vocal style of khyal by his mother, Bashiran Begum, and his maternal grandfather, Ustad Bandeh Hassan. Forming one of the first sitar-and-surbahad duos with his older brother, Vilayat Khan, Imrat helped to pioneer the unique gayaki ang ("vocal manner") approach to Indian instrumental music. In 1956, the two brothers were invited to accompany the first Indian cultural delegation to the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Although they elected to go their separate ways, Imrat and Vilayat have both continued to play major roles in the evolution of Indian classical music. Teaching at Dartington College of the Arts in England from 1968 to 1970, Imrat became the first Indian classical musician to perform at the Royal Albert Hall in London, England, in 1971. He received a prestigious Sangeet Natak Akademi Award from the president of India in 1988. During the '90s, Imrat performed many shows and recorded with his four sons: Nishat (sitar), Irshad (sitar), Wajahat (sarod), and Shafaatullah (tabla). Imrat composed and/or performed on Satyajit Ray's Jalsaghar (Le Salon de Musique), and the soundtracks of such films as James Ivory's The Guru and the Michael Caine/Sidney Poitier-starring movie The Wilby Conspiracy. ~ Craig Harris

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Years Active:

'80s, '90s