Ustad Imrat Khan

The Gharana

Ustad Vilayat Khan - The Dazzling Brother

Ustad Vilayat Khan was in thrown into the limelight of India's musical world from the age of twelve when he lost his father Ustad Inayat Khan. In a time when there were very few grand masters of sitar, the country looked to him to carry the torch of his family's musical excellence. Already a talented young prodigy of his father, the young Vilayat was also a child and loved to play truant from his practice. His mother took on the role of disciplinarian and she would actually chain him to a room so he would practice. The strict guidance paid dividends and from his teen years he outshone any other musician of his time. At the age of fifteen Vilayat Khan moved to Delhi to earn his living by playing for All India Radio. In Bombay, Ustad Vilayat Khan received rave reviews as a young, brilliant, charismatic, dazzling sitar virtuoso. He became famous for his lightening fast touch on the sitar, dizzying taans and mind blowing jhala. Playing his father's and grandfather's compositions to begin with, he was soon developing classic compositions and an immediately recognisable style of his own.

Under Ustad Vilayat Khan's guidance, Ustad Imrat Khan emerged as a worthy partner and the two of them were able to create musical history on the sitar and surbahar. The lasting contributions made to Indian classical music during this time were the development of the gayaki ang of their gharana and a classic modification of the string setting on the sitar. This setting resulted in such a beautiful sound that other sitarists have followed suit and many sitars today are made with this setting. At about the same time, in the 1950s, Pandit Ravi Shankar and Ustad Ali Akbar Khan emerged as a highly successful duet pairing and the comparative publicity began that would follow them all for the rest of their careers.

Countless Recordings and world famous performances are testimony to the fact that until the time he passed away in 2004, Ustad Vilayat Khan remained the most charismatic and outstanding musician of India.