Question – The Sound of Music: Answer these questions in a few words or a couple of sentences each.
- How old was Evelyn when she went to the Royal Academy of Music?
- When was her deafness first noticed? When was it confirmed?
Answer – The Sound of Music:
- Evelyn was seventeen years old when she went to the Royal Academy of Music in London.
- Her deafness was first noticed when she was eight years old and it was confirmed when she was eleven.
- Who helped her to continue with music? What did he do and say?
- Name the various places and causes for which Evelyn performs.
- Percussionist Ron Forbes helped Evelyn to continue with music.
He began by tuning two large drums to different notes. He asked her not to listen to them through her ears but to try and sense the sound in some other manner.
- Evelyn, with a hectic international schedule, gives solo performances at regular concerts. Apart from these, she gives free concerts in prisons and hospitals. She also accords high priority to classes for young musicians.
Question: How does Evelyn hear music?
Answer: Evelyn does not hear music, she feels it. She senses the notes through different parts of her body. Initially, she was encouraged by percussionist Ron Forbes, who tuned two drums to different notes and asked her to sense the sound without using her ears. She realized that she could feel the higher drum from the waist up and the lower drum from the waist down. This exercise helped Evelyn to open up her mind and body to sounds and vibrations.
Evelyn explains that when she plays the xylophone, she senses the sound flowing up the stick and into her fingertips. She leans against the drums, stands barefoot on a wooden platform so that she can feel the vibrations. She says how her whole body including her hair is sensitive to her music and its resonances.
Question: Tick the right answer.
- The (shehnai, pungi) was a ‘reeded noisemaker.’
- (Bismillah Khan, A barber, Ali Bux) transformed the pungi into a shehnai.
- Bismillah Khana’s paternal ancestors were (barbers, professional musicians).
- Bismillah Khan learnt to play the shehnai from (Ali Bux, Paigambar Bux, Ustad Faiyaaz Khan).
- Bismillah Khana’s first trip abroad was to (Afghanistan, USA, Canada).
- The pungi was a ‘reeded noisemaker.’
- A barber transformed the pungi into a shehnai.
- Bismillah Khana’s paternal ancestors were professional musicians.
- Bismillah Khan learnt to play the shehnai from Ali Bux.
- Bismillah Khana’s first trip abroad was to Afghanistan.
Question: Find the words in the text which show Ustad Bismillah Khana’s feelings about the items listed below. Then mark a tick (√) in the correct column. Discuss your answers in class.
|Bismillah Khana’s feelings about||Positive||Negative||Neutral|
|1.||teaching children music|
|2.||the film world|
|3.||migrating to the U.S.A.|
|4.||playing at temples|
|5.||getting the Bharat Ratna|
|6.||the banks of the Ganga|
|7.||leaving Benaras and Dumraon|
|Bismillah Khana’s feelings about||Positive||Negative||Neutral|
|1.||teaching children music||√|
|2.||the film world||√|
|3.||migrating to the U.S.A.||√|
|4.||playing at temples||√|
|5.||getting the Bharat Ratna||√|
|6.||the banks of the Ganga||√|
|7.||leaving Benaras and Dumraon||√|
Question: Answer these questions.
- Why did Aurangzeb ban the playing of the pungi?
- How is a shehnai different from a pungi?
- Where was the shehnai played traditionally? How did Bismillah Khan change this?
- When and how did Bismillah Khan get his big break?
- Where did Bismillah Khan play the shehnai on 15 August 1947? Why was the event historic?
- Why did Bismillah Khan refuse to start a shehnai school in the USA?
- Find at least two instances in the text which tell you that Bismillah Khan loves India and Benaras.
- Emperor Aurangzeb banned the playing of the musical instrument called pungi in the royal residence because its sound was shrill and unpleasant.
- Shehnai has a better tonal quality than pungi. It is a natural hollow stem pipe with holes on its body and is longer and broader than the pungi. Shehnai is, in a way, an improvement upon the pungi.
- Traditionally, the shehnai was part of the naubat or traditional ensemble of nine instruments found at royal courts. Those days, it was played only in temples and weddings. Bismillah Khan changed this by bringing it onto the classical stage.
- Bismillah Khan got his big break in 1938 with the opening of the All India Radio in Lucknow. He started playing the shehnai on radio and soon became quite popular.
- On 15 August 1947, Bismillah Khan played the Raag Kaafi on his shehnai from the Red Fort. The event was historical because it was on the occasion of India’s Independence from British Rule.
- Bismillah Khan refused one of his student’s request to start a shehnai school in the USA because he would not live away from Hindustan, specifically, from Benaras, the River Ganga and Dumraon.
- In his initial years, Bismillah used to practice in the temples of Benaras and on the banks of River Ganga. Later, his love for India and Bernaras made him turn down the offer to head a shehnai school in the U.S.A.
Question: Look at these sentences.
- Evelyn was determined to live a normal life.
- Evelyn managed to conceal her growing deafness from friends and teachers.
The italicised parts answer the questions: “What was evelyn determined to do?”
and “What did Evelyn manage to do?” They begin with a to-verb (to live, to conceal).
Complete the following sentences. Beginning with a to-verb, try to answer the questions in brackets.
- The school sports team hopes __________ (What does it hope to do?)
- We all want __________ (What do we all want to do?)
- They advised the hearing-impaired child’s mother __________(What did they advise her to do?)
- The authorities permitted us to __________ (What did the authorities permit us to do?)
- A musician decided to __________ (What did the musician decide to do?)
- The school sports team hopes to perform better than the last time.
- We all want to go to the zoo.
- They advised the hearing-impaired child’s mother to take her to a specialist.
- The authorities permitted us to organize a charity event.
- A musician decided to take India’s music to the world.
Question: From the text on Bismillah Khan, find the words and phrases that match these definitions and write them down. The number of the paragraph where you will find the words/ phrases has been given for you in brackets.
- the home of royal people (1) __________
- the state of being alone (5) __________
- a part which is absolutely necessary (2) __________
- to do something not done before (5) __________
- without much effort (13) __________
- quickly and in large quantities (9) __________ and __________
- the royal residence
- thick and fast
Question: Tick the right answer.
- When something is revived, it (remains dead / lives again).
- When a government bans something, it wants it (stopped / started).
- When something is considered auspicious, (welcome it / avoid it).
- When we take to something, we find it (boring / interesting).
- When you appreciate something, you (find it good and useful / find it of no use).
- When you replicate something, you do it (for the first time / for the second time).
- When we come to terms with something, it is (still upsetting / no longer upsetting).
- When something is revived, it lives again.
- When a government bans something, it wants it stopped.
- When something is considered auspicious, welcome it.
- When we take to something, we find it interesting.
- When you appreciate something, you find it good and useful.
- When you replicate something, you do it for the second time.
- When we come to terms with something, it is no longer upsetting.
Question: Dictionary work
- The sound of the shehnai is auspicious.
- The auspicious sound of the shehnai is usually heard at marriages.
The adjective auspicious can occur after the verb be as in the first sentence, or before a noun as in the second. But there are some adjectives which can be used after the verb be and not before a noun. For example:
- Ustad Faiyaz Khan was overjoyed.
We cannot say: *the overjoyed man.
Look at these entries from the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (2005).
Consult your dictionary and complete the following table. The first one has been done for you.
|adjective||only before noun||Not before noun||Both before and after the verb be|
Use these words in phrases or sentences of your own.
|adjective||only before noun||not before noun||both before and after the verb be|
Some sentences using these adjectives are:
- She is indispensable for the successful completion of the project.
- Sunita was impressed by my singing.
- He is afraid of the dark.
- I enjoy the company of my paternal uncle.
- Gennie was showered with countless gifts.
- My grandmother gave me a priceless piece of advice.
Question: “If you work hard and know where you’re going, you’ll get there,” says Evelyn Glennie.
You have now read about two musicians, Evelyn Glennie and Ustad Bismillah Khan. Do you think that they both worked hard? Where did they want to ‘go’? Answer these questions in two paragraphs, one on each of the two musicians.
Answer: In my opinion, Evelyn Glennie and Ustad Bismillah Khan both worked hard to climb the ladder of success.
Evelyn turned deaf at a very young age. But her determination helped her fulfill her dream of not only becoming a successful musician but also of leading a normal life. Encouraged by the percussionist Ron Forbes, she learnt to feel the vibrations of music though her body. She made her way to the Royal Academy of Music. With her hard work and determination, Evelyn secured most of the awards in the Academy. In 1991, she was presented with the prestigious Soloist of the Year Award by the Royal Philharmonic Society.
Having born into a family of musicians, Ustad Bismillah Khan expressed his interest in music at a young age. He was trained by his uncle and inspired by the flowing waters of the Ganga. He practiced hard in solace of the temples of Balaji and Mangala Maiya. He improved and invented raagas that were earlier deemed to be beyond the scope of the shehnai. His contribution successfully brought the shehnai onto the classical stage. Bismillah Khan was awarded with several national awards including the highest civilian award of India, the Bharat Ratna. His accomplishments gave him worldwide recognition.
Question: Use your notes on Kishori Amonkar to introduce her to an imaginary audience.
You may use one of the following phrases to introduce a guest:
I am honored to introduce… / I feel privileged to introduce… / We welcome you..
Answer: I feel privileged to introduce to you all Padma Bhushan Kishori Amonkar. She has developed her own style that is a variant of Ustad Alladiya Khan’s ‘Jaipur-Atauli gharana’. She is highly inspired by the teachings of the ancient Vedic sages. And her careful research of the raagas has lead her to recreate subtle shades and emotions through her music. Her artistic capabilities have bestowed her with prestigious awards, which include the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1985), the Padma Bhushan (1987) and the highly coveted Sangeet Samradhini Award (1997). Our thanks to her for honouring us with her gracious presence.
(A model answer has been provided for students’ reference. It is strongly recommended that students prepare the answer using their own creativity and understanding.)
Read the passage given below and answer the questions that follow.
Question: Her mother remembers noticing something was wrong when the eight-year-old Evelyn was waiting to play the piano. “They called her name and she didn’t move. I suddenly realized she hadn’t heard,” says Isabel Glennie. For quite a while Evelyn managed to conceal her growing deafness from friends and teachers. But by the time she was eleven her marks had deteriorated and her headmistress urged her parents to take her to a specialist.
- What made Isabel suspect Evelyn’s hearing ability?
- Why did Evelyn’s headmistress advised her parents to consult a specialist?
- Find the word / phrase in the passage which means the same as “to hide”.
- Isabel had a doubt about Evelyn’s hearing ability when she did not move when her name was called to play on the piano.
- Evelyn’s headmistress advised her parents to consult a specialist when her marks deteriorated.
Question: As for music, she explains “it pours in through every part of my body. It tingles in the skin, my cheekbones and even in my hair”. When she plays the xylophone, she can sense the sound passing up the stick into her finger tips. By leaning against the drums, she can feel the resonances flowing into her body. On a wooden platform, she removes her shoes so that the vibrations pass through her bare feet and up her legs.
- How does Evelyn hear the sound of xylophone?
- Why does she remove her shoes on a wooden platform during her performance?
- Find a word from the passage that means “take off”.
- Evelyn hears the sound of xylophone through her finger tips.
- She removes her shoes on a wooden platform during her performance so that she can feel the vibrations of music through her feet to legs.
Question: She never looked back from that point onwards. She toured the United Kingdom with a youth orchestra and by the time she was sixteen, she had decided to make music her life. She auditioned for the Royal Academy of Music and scored one of the highest marks in the history of the academy. She gradually moved from orchestral work to solo performances.
- What did Evelyn decide when she was sixteen years old?
- How did Evelyn get right to the top ?
- Which word in the passage means the same as “gave a short performance so that the director could decide whether she was good enough”
- When Evelyn was sixteen years old, she decided to make music her life.
- Evelyn got to the top by hard work, motivation and determination.
Question: For quite a while, Evelyn managed to conceal her growing deafness from friends and teachers. But by the time she was eleven, her marks had deteriorated and her headmistress urged her parents to take her to a specialist. It was then discovered that her hearing was severely impaired as a result of gradual nerve damage. They were advised that she should be fitted with hearing aids and sent to a school of the deaf.
- Why did headmistress urge her parents to take her to the specialists?
- At what age were symptoms of deafness noticed in Evelyn?
- Trace the word that means “damaged”.
- Evelyn’s school’s headmistress urged her parents to take her to a specialist because she had a hearing problem.
- At the age of eleven the symptoms of deafness were noticed in Evelyn.
Question: Rush hour crowds jostle for position on the underground train platform. A slight girl, looking younger than her seventeen years, was nervous yet excited as she felt the vibrations of the approaching train. It was her first day at the prestigious Royal Academy of Music in London and daunting enough for any teenager fresh from a Scottish farm.
- Who is the ‘girl’ in the above lines?
- Where was she going?
- Find the word from the extract that means “frightening”.
- Evelyn Glennie.
- She was going to the prestigious Royal Academy of Music in London.
Question: When was Evelyn’s deafness first noticed? When was it confirmed?
Answer: Isabel had a doubt about Evelyn’s hearing ability when she did not move when her name was called to play on the piano. At the age of 11 it was confirmed when she was taken to a specialist.
Question: When and how did Evelyn loose her power of hearing?
Answer: Evelyn lost her power of hearing due to gradual nerve damage. At the age of 8 it was noticed and then at the age of 11 it was confirmed that Evelyn had lost her hearing ability.
Question: Why was Evelyn nervous while going to Royal Academy of Music?
Answer: Evelyn was nervous while going to the Royal Academy of Music as she was just 16 years old and was fresh from the Scottish farms, to add to her nervousness.
Question: How did Evelyn’s deafness come to light?
When did Evelyn’s mother notice that something was wrong with her hearing?
Answer: At the age of 8 when her name was announced to play on piano, she did not respond. At the age of 11, her marks deteriorated. The headmistress urged her parents to take her to a specialist and her hearing impairment was discovered.
Question: Who helped Evelyn to continue with music? What did he do and say?
Answer: When Evelyn wanted to pursue her career in music, everyone discouraged her. It was a Percussionist Ron Forbes who helped and encouraged her to listen to the music and feel the music through her body.
Question: How did Evelyn hear music despite being deaf?
Answer: Evelyn could sense music through her body. While playing on the xylophone, she could sense music through her fingertips and would learn against drums to sense. On the wooden floors, she used to remove her shoes and sense music through her feet moving of the legs.
Question: What is Evelyn’s secret of success and what message does she give to achievers?
Answer: Evelyn’s secret of success was strong determination and hard work. The message that she gives to the achievers is that work hard and get what you want.
Question: How has Evelyn Glennie inspired handicapped people?
Answer: When the handicapped people used to see Evelyn Glennie, they used to say, “If she can do it, I can”,And so, she resulted in inspiring them.
Question: Write down Evelyn’s message for the people.
Answer: Evelyn’s message to the people is that—Strong determination and hard work with sincerity / honesty leads to success. Aim for your goal and try to reach your goal with full determination and concentration.
Question: How did Evelyn Glennie fight with her physical disability?
Answer: Evelyn Glennie was a very brave girl. She learnt to open her body and mind to the sounds and vibrations. She used to feel as if music was flowing through her body. So she joined an orchestra and later the Royal Academy of Music. She did not want to be deprived of the joy of music that made her happy. She later even gave solo performances on stage in many countries and became famous.
Question: In spite of her towering success Evelyn Glennie does not accept any hint of heroic achievement. Explain.
Answer: Evelyn Glennie had a hearing loss and was discouraged by most of the teachers but she did not give up. Ron Forbes guided her to listen through her body not ears. Eventually, Evelyn learnt to open her body and mind to sound and vibrations. She scored the highest marks in the history of Royal Academy of Music. She also captured many top awards and brought percussion to the front of the orchestra. She has given pleasure to millions and in spite of this towering success she does, not accept any hint of heroic achievement and is a very simple person.
Question: Evelyn’s determination to overcome her disability has made her source of inspiration for deaf children. Comment.
Answer: When Evelyn became deaf, she was determined to lead a normal life. She was encouraged by her percussion teacher. She learned to sense music through different parts of the body and opened her mind and body to vibrations. She could feel higher drum from waist up and xylophone music through fingertips. She used to remove her shoes on the wooden floors. She was the master of a thousand instruments and most sought after as a multi – percussionist.
Question: How is Evelyn Glennie helping other with her popularity and skill?
Answer: Inspite of Evelyn’s deafness she joined the prestigious Royal Academy of Music and won the “Soloist of the Year” award. Evelyn used to practice for hours learning languages such as Japanese and French. She earned a lot but was kind at heart. She used to give free performances in prisons and hospitals and also proved a personal example of tireless hard work and firm determination.
Question: How did Evelyn succeed in pursuing her interest in music?
Answer: Evelyn decided not to give up. It was Ron Forbes who recognized her potential and supported her. He advised her not to listen through her ears but to open her body and mind to the vibrations. She mastered the art of interpreting different vibrations of sound on her body to different notes. She could feel the higher drum from the waist up and the lower one from the waist down. After the practice she could sense music in different parts of her body. And by this, Evelyn succeeded in pursuing her interest in music.
Question: “A problem is only as big as we make it.” This thought has been very beautifully brought out in the lesson. Discuss.
Answer: Evelyn Glennie is profoundly deaf and cannot hear a word. Thus, she overcame this difficulty and learnt to listen music from her body. She not only scored highest marks in the history of the Royal Academy of Music but also became a renowned musician. She is an idol for a lot of people and a source of inspiration for. them. Her sfory tells us that no problem is so great that it cannot be overcome.
Read the passage given below and answer the questions that follow.
Question: The young boy took to music early in’life. At the age of three when his mother took him to his maternal uncle’s house in Benares (now Varanasi); Bismillah was fascinated watching his uncles practice the shehnai. Soon Bismillah started accompanying his uncle, Ali Bux, to the Vishnu temple of Benares where Ali Bux was employed to the play the Shehnai. Ali Bux would play the shehnai and Bismillah would sit captivated for hours on end.
- Where did the young boy spend his life at the age of three?
- What fascinated the young boy?
- Who was Ali Bux and where was he employed?
- At the age of three, the young boy spent his life at his maternal uncle’s house in Benares.
- Shehnai and the practice of shehnai by his uncles fascinated the little boy.
- Ali Bux was Bismillah Khan’s maternal uncle. He was employed at the Vishnu Temple of Benares.
Question: Awards and recognition came thick and fast. Bismillah Khan became the first Indian to be invited to perform at the prestigious Lincoln Centre Hall in the United States of America. He also took part in the World Exposition in Montreal, in the Cannes Art Festival and in the Osaka Trade Fair. So well known did he become internationally that an auditorium in Tehran was named after him. Tahar Mosiquee Ustaad Bismillah Khan.
- What special recognition did Bismillah Khan achieve?
- Bismillah Khan promoted Shehnai to international level. How?
- The word in the passage means “prominent”.
- The special recognition that Bismillah Khan achieved was to be the first Indian to perform at
Lincoln Central Hall.
- Bismillah Khan promoted Shehnai to international levels by participating in the World Exposition, Cannes Art festival and Osaka Trade Fair.
Question: When India gained independence On 15th August, 1947, Bismillah Khan became the first Indian to greet the nation with his* Shehnai. He poured his heart out into Raag Kafi from the Red Fort to an audience which included Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, who later gave his famous “Tryst with Destiny” speech.
- How did Bismillah Khan greet the nation?
- Who delivered the speech “Tryst with Destiny”?
- Find a word from the passage that means “gathering of persons for the purpose of hearing a speaker”.
- Bismillah Khan greeted the nation by playing Raag Kafi on his Shehnai.
- Jawaharlal Nehru.
Question: His first trip abroad was to Afghanistan where King Zahir Shah was so taken in by the maestro that he gifted him priceless Persian carpets and other souvenirs.
- Bismillah Khan’s first trip abroad was to which country?
- What did Zahir Shah present Bismillah Khan?
- Find word from the passage which has the same meaning as “momenta”
- Bismillah Khan’s first trip abroad was to Afghanistan.
- Zahir Shah presented Bismillah Khan priceless Persian carpets and souvenirs.
Question: When India gained independence on August 15, 1947, Bismillah Khan became the first Indian to greet the nation with his shehnai. He poured his heart out into Raag Kafi from Red – Fort to an audience which included Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.
- When did India gain Independence?
- Which Raag did Bismillah Khan play from Red Fort?
- What do the words “poured his heart out” here refer to?
- India gained independence on 15th August, 1947.
- Bismillah Khan played the Raag Kafi from the Red Fort.
- Played from the depth of his heart
Question: How did ‘pungi’ transform into a Shehnai?
Answer: ‘Pungi’ a musical instrument was banned because of its shrill and unpleasant sound. But a nai modified and perfected it and played it for the first time an Shah’s chamber, thus it came to be known as ‘Shehnai’.
Question: Who had brought shehnai to the classical Stage ? What was he honored with?
Answer: Shehnai was brought to the classical stage by Ustad Bismillah Khan. He started picking up the finger nuances of Shehnai under the guidance of his maternal uncle Ali Bux. He had been honored with Padma Bhushan, Padmashree and Padma Vibhushan.
Question: Why did Bismillah Khan refuse to start a Shehnai school in the USA?
Answer: Bismillah Khan refused to start a Shehnai school in the USA because he could not live outside India. He was in love with Benares and Dumraon and missed it whenever he was in abroad.
Question: Why did emperor Aurangazeb ban the playing of Pungi in the royal residence?
Answer: Aurangazeb banned the playing of the Pungi in the royal residence because of its shrill unpleasant sound. It was regarded more as a noise maker than a musical instrument.
Question: What is the difference between a Pungi and a Shehnai?
Answer: The difference between a Pungi and Shehnai can be noticed by the difference in their shapes and the sound produced by them. A Shehnai is longer than a Pungi. The latter has a shrill, unpleasant sound whereas, the former has a soft, melodious sound.
Question: Why did Bismillah Khan refuse to start a Shehnai school in the USA?
Answer: Bismillah Khan refused to start a Shehnai school in the USA because he was a true patriot and loved India a lot specially the banks of the river Ganga.
Question: How do we know that sound of Shehnai is considered auspicious?
Answer: We know that the sound of the Shehnai is considered auspicious because it is played in temples, and is a must for all happy occasions like marriages.
Question: What were the recurring themes of Bismillah Khan’s music?
Answer: The recurring themes of Bismillah Khan’s music was the relationships between the human beings and the flowing waters of the Ganga. He thought that Benares and Dumraon were the most wonderful towns of the world.
Question: How did “Pungi” get its new name? What was it?
Answer: Pungi was modified and perfected by a barber which was very much appreciated by the emperor. Since, it was played for the first time in Shah’s chamber by a Nai, it came to be known as ‘Shehnai.’
Question: What place did Shehnai have in the past? What place has it now?
Answer: In the past, the Shehnai was a part of the traditional ensemble of nine instruments found at royal courts. Then, it was used in temples and weddings but now it is used also in the classical concerts.
Question – The Sound of Music: When and how did Bismillah Khan get the break?
Answer – The Sound of Music: Bismillah Khan, at the age of 14, accompanied his uncle to Allahabad Music Conference where Ustad Fayaz Khan patted his shoulder. He got encouraged and worked hard and got a big break from the All India Radio in 1938.
Question: Where did Bismillah Khan play the Shehnai on 15th Aug 1947? Why was the event historic?
Answer: Bismillah Khan was the first Indian to greet the nation with Shehnai and played ‘Raag Kafi’ from the Red Fort. The event was historic because the audience included Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, who gave the famous speech – Tryst with Destiny.
Question: Why did Bismillah Khan regularly go to the nearby Bihariji temple in his childhood and what did he earn?
Answer: At the age of 5, Bismillah Khan would regularly visit the Bihariji temple to sing Bhojpuri “Chaitya”, For his melodious singing he used to earn a laddu weighing 1.25 kg. from the local Bhojpuri King.
Question: “There is always a teacher to bring out the latent potential of a pupil /’ Justify with reference to the role played by Ron Forbes and Ustad Faiyaz Khan in the lives of Evelyn Glennie and Bismillah Khan.
Answer: Teachers craft us to become better individuals both personally and professionally. Ron Forbes understood Evelyn’s passion for music. He taught Evelyn the nuances of hearing music not through her ears but through her body. He taught her to feel the vibrations in her hands and parts of legs to get the pitch. So, he crafted her to be more musical and confident.
Bismillah Khan’s teacher and mentor was his maternal uncle Ali Bux. Bismillah used to be transfixed when Ali Bux used to play Shehnai. As a child, Bismillah used to accompany his material uncle to Vishnu Temple of Benares where Ali Bux was employed to play Shehnai. Bismillah picked up the finer nuances of Shehnai and practiced for hours on the banks of river Ganga. He attained perfection only because of his uncle and mentor.
Question: Give a brief character sketch of Ustad Bismillah Khan.
Answer: Ustad Bismillah Khan was a Shehnai master of great national and international fame. He was a great musician. Ali Bux, his maternal uncle perfected him in music. Shehnai was brought to the classical stage by Ustad Bismillah Khan. He practiced for hours and worked very hard to attain perfection. It was his melodious music that made him the first Indian to greet tire independent India. Ustad Bismillah Khan created many new rags. He was given many awards and he even received the “Bharat Ratna”. He was a true patriot who declined many offers to settle aborad. He was a true artist but a simple man. He had great regard for Hindustani Classical Music.
Question – The Sound of Music: How did the young Bismillah develop his interest in Shehnai?
Answer – The Sound of Music: Bismillah was fascinated watching his uncle practice the Shehnai when he was only three. He was deeply fascinated by the music of Shehnai. Soon Bismillah started accompanying his uncle Ali Bux, to the Vishnu Temple of Benares where Bux was employed to play Shehnai. Bismillah picked up the finer nuances of Shehnai and practiced for hours on the banks of river Ganga. The themes of his music deeply affected by the sounds of flowing water of the Ganga. At the age of 14, Bismillah accompanied his uncle to Allahabad music conference where Ustad Fayaz Khan patted his shoulder which inspired and encouraged him to work harder.
Question: How was Bismillah Khan’s music recognized internationally?
Answer: Bismillah Khan was not only renowned in India but also internationally. He promoted Shehnai to international levels of participating in the world exposition, Cannes Art festival and Osaka Trade Fair. He became the first Indian to be invited to perform at the prestigious Lincoln Central Hall in the United States of America. So well known did he become internationally that an auditorium in Tehran was named after him, “Tahar Mosiquee Ustaad Bismillah Khan.”
Question – The Sound of Music: Why did Bismillah Khan refuse to start a Shehnai school in the USA?
Answer – The Sound of Music: Bismillah Khan was exceedingly fond of Benares and Dumraon. They were the most wonderful towns of the world for him. The students promised to recreate the atmosphere of Benares, but he asked if they would be able to transport River Ganga as well. Whenever, he was in a foreign country he yearned for Hindustan. In Mumbai also he thought of only Benares and the holy Ganga. Thus, here fused to start a Shehnai School in the USA.
Question – The Sound of Music: Do you think Bismillah Khan had very pure and deep feelings for India?
Answer – The Sound of Music: Yes, Bismillah Khan had very pure and deep rooted feelings for India especially for the banks of River Ganga and Benares. His love was so profound that he even refused to go to the USA to start up a school. He did not even enjoy in Mumbai as he found the life to be very artificial. He was deeply connected to the banks of River Ganga and Benares.