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Gayan Samrat

Ustad Azmat Hussain Khan “DILRANG” was one of the top-most vocal artist of the millennium. The departure of Ustad Azmat Hussain Khan, from the scene of Indian Music…


Ustad Azmat Hussain Khan “DILRANG” was one of the top-most vocal artist of the millennium. The departure of Ustad Azmat Hussain Khan, from the scene of Indian Music, marked the end of an era, which had produced some of the greatest exponents of Indian Classical Music and Khayal Gayaki. Ustad Azmat Hussain Khan was a rarity among his contemporaries. He was a unique amalgam of a vocalist, poet, teacher and a sportsman. Ustad Azmat Hussain Khan was born on 5th March 1911 at Atrauli (Aligarh U.P.). 2011 will be the birth centenary year of this great music stalwart.

Ustad Azmat Hussain Khan belonged to the very prestigious families of traditional vocalists of Atrauli (said to be Jaipur) Gharana, Khurja Gharana and the Agra Gharana, which has given India such giants as Haji Ustad Altaf Hussain Khan, Ustad Allahdiya Khan, Ustad Vilayat Hussain Khan, Ustad Fayyaz Khan, Ustad Tanras Khan and many others.

The influence that shaped the: life and career of Ustad Azmat Hussain Khan, from very out-set, and the heritage which enabled him to master both music as well as poetry emanated from his family itself. His own Gharana can boast of such stalwarts as Sangeet Samrat Ustad Allahdiya Khan, Haji Ustad Altaf Hussain Khan, Ustad Zahoor Khan “RAMDAS”, Ustad Bade Karim Baksh Khan, Ustad Hande Imam Baksh, Ustad Khwaja Ahmed Khan and many others. Both music and poetry were inherited naturally by Ustad Azmat Hussain Khan and the legacy, which he has left behind to the world of Indian Music is invaluable. His most fruitful contribution to music consists of the disciples he has left behind. They are a legion and the most famous among them are Ustad Aslam Khan, Pandit Jeetendra Abhishekhi, Ustad Yunus Hussain Khan, Smt. Hansa Wadkar, Smt. Durgabai Shirodkar, Shirgaonkar Sisters, Ustad Shafi Ahmed Khan, Shri T.L.Raju, Smt. Sushila Nanjundiah, Shri T.M.M. Rao, Shri Namdeo Mistry, Smt.Marik Verma, Shri Datta Kerkar, Ustad Yaqub Hussain Khan, Vajahat Khan and Rafat Khan(his sons), T.M.M. Rao, Namdeo Panchal Mistry, G.G.Joshi, Mani Phaterpheker, Mr.Pillai, Intezar Bano, Shamshad Bano, Bhure Khan, Haji Usman, Mohammad Ahmed Banne, Datta Kerkar, Smt. Sushila Nanjundiah, Kamla Jhangiani, and many noted musicians and instrumentalists who very often learnt and referred him for known and unknown ragas, which he taught them willingly. Though many of them never ever acknowledged about it. Vidyadaan had been the mission of life and he taught music to his students, with open heart.

Sitting Left to Right : Ustad Azmat Hussain Khan ( 1911 to 1975 ) Ustad Allahdiya Khan (1855 to 1946), Ustad Nathan Khan (A rare photograph of stalwarts of Atrauli (Jaipur) Gharana of Daguri Bani)

Ustad Azmat Hussain Khan, received rigorous training in music from Haji Ustad Alfat Hussain Khan (his maternal uncle) of Khurja Gharana since his early childhood. Later when he came to Mumbai in 1930, he was very fortunate in receiving an intense training and huge treasure of classical Bandhishes, from his paternal uncle Ustad Allahdiya Khan, of the Atrauli (Jaipur) Gharana. He also learned a number of Ragas and classical compositions from the great Ustad Vilayat Hussain Khan (his brother-in-law) of the Agra Gharana. In his top form he created his own individual style and won the love and admiration of the people because of his own inherent quality of singing which was original at the same time traditional. His gayaki also possessed the impressions of great stalwarts like Ustad Shabboo Khan Sahab and Ustad Fayyaz Khan Sahab. His Gayaki represented a happy fusion of Khurja, Atrauli (Jaipur), Agra and Delhi Gharanas. His father Ustad Khairat Ali Khan Sahab was an ascetic as well as an accomplished Sitarist. Many of his ancestors were excellent Beenkars and Scholars in Urdu, Hindi, Arabic, Persian and Sanskrit. Khansahab’s Gayaki was a happy Fusion of three contem porary singing traditions that is Atrauli-Jaipur Gharana, Khurja Gharana and the Agra Gharana. After Ustad Bhurji Khan and Ustad Manji Khan nobody could take charge as a concert artist within the family. In that complex situation Ustad Azmat Hussain Khan took charge of vocal tradition of Ustad Allahdiya khan along with the other vocal traditions of the Khurja & Agra Gharanas, he was Trained in..

He assimilated their distinctive features to evolve a style that was uniquely his own.

Ustad Khairat Ali Khan Sahab (Sitarnawaz)
father of Ustad Azmat Hussain Khan (Atrauli – Jaipur Gharana)

For more than four decades, Ustad Azmat Hussain Khan regaled audiences all over India. Mahatma Gandhi and pt. Jawaharlal Nehru were very fond of his singing. In the year 1948, when the Govt. of India was celebrating the first anniversary of Independence, the All India Radio Delhi and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru invited Ustad Azmat Hussain Khan Sahab, for the inaugural program along with other musicians like Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan, Smt. Hirabai Barodekar and Ustad Ahmed Jan Thirakwa. In 1935 Ustad Azmat Hussain Khan, on a special invitation form Maharaja of Baroda Shri Sayajirao Gaikwad, gave a scintillating performance in the Baroda Maharaja’s Darbar and was honoured with the top-most reward, which was offered to seniors at that time generally. In the year 1953, Khan Sahab travelled extensively in South India. He gave a rare program at Trivandrum Music Academy. After the program famous South Indian vocalist Smt. M. S. Subbulakshmi Amma and Shri Semmangudi Srinivas lyer came personally to meet Khan Sahab. Later he also gave a concert at Smt. Subbulakshmi’s residence and also discussed elaborately the North Indian and South Indian Ragas and their common features. In the year 1948 Azmat Khan Sahab, visited Nepal for music concerts and in the year 1954, he was specially invited to perform at the Darbar of King Zahir Shah of Afghanistan.

This was one of his most successful music tours. During 1940 to 1955 he became so popular on the concert stage that Lata Mangeshkar and Smt. Hirabai Barodekar persued Khan Sahab to accept them as his disciples and this continued for several years, and due to Khan Sahab’s busy musical engagements he could not accept them as his students. Famous Music Director Shri Naushad Ali wanted him to sing for his film Baiju Bawra. During that period Khan Sahab had prolonged debates on music & exchange of new articles with Naushad Ali. Khan Sahab refused to sing for his film quoting a very high fees because Naushad Sahab wanted him to loose in the film duet in front of Pt. Paluskar which Khan Sahab did not accept. Naushad Sahab had composed famous Mughal-e-Azam “Panghat” song based on Khan Sahab recording “Thumri Panghat Vape” (78 RPM record). Naushad Sahab and Khayyam Sahab both praised and acknowledged the greatness and versatility of Ustad Azmat Hassain Khan Sahab saying “Azmat Khan Sahab served Indian Music with great dedication and was equally versatile and an aggressive vocalist like Bade Ghulam Ali khan, Amanat Khan, Abid Hussain Khan, and other contemporary performers. The film music was higly inspired with the traditional Gharana Bandishes.” One of the most memorable performances of his life was in the year 1944 organised by the Deval Club of Kolhapur. There, Khan Sahab sang his own Raga and composition. The Raag was Dutia (Devta) Bhairav and the words were ‘ja re kagwa piya ke des….’ After this performance Ustad Fayyaz Khan Sahab was to sing, but he was so overwhelmed and extremely happy with the performance of young Azmat Hussain [Raag Devta Bhairav is already recorded by Pandit Jeetendra Abhishek (Khan Sahab’s disciple)] that as a tribute he cancelled his item on that day and showered blessings and praises on him. Ustad Azmat Hussain Khan was such a great artist, who combined so many influences within himself, all of which were bounded together perfectly by his artistic perception and fertile imagination. He made the art of vocal music a memorable experience for listeners. His versatility was amazing as he sang Khayal, Dhurpad, Dhammar, Tappa, Tarana, Tirwat, Dadra and Thumri with equal ease. Besides, he took audiences by surprise sometimes with exquisite renderings of Marathi “Padas” and Rajasthani “Maands”. With no hint of dimunition, his broad sonorous and husky voice could swoop from a splenderous high taar-saptak to a deep sonorous low mandra – saptak with an incredibly uniform volume and loud enough to be heard without a mike. Each swara was as perfectly focused as a laser beam and he could hit any note right in the middle. As a musician he had an artistic expression and poetic imagination which was unique and distinct. The pada “Ugich ka kanta” was highly popularised by him. Ustad Azmat Hussain was a multifaceted personality and each facet had a charm of its own. At the tender age of twenty five he came under the influence of Allama Seemab Akbarabadi, an eminent Urdu poet at that time.

Seemab was impressed by the youthful lyrics of Ustad Azmat Hussain and accepted him as his disciple. The poetic inclination of Ustad Azmat Hussain found expressions in Ghazals, Poems and Poetic drama, which he wrote under the pen name “Maykash Atraulvi”. Like all truly great masters he contributed to and enriched his great musical heritage. Under the pen – name of Dilrang he composed more than 150 Bandishes in various Ragas such as Todi, Shree, Marwa, Puriya Dhanshri, Malkauns Kedara, Malsri, Devgiri – Bilwal, Bairagi, Bilhagda, Bhoopali, Hindoli “Chandrajog”, “Devta Bhairon” (the last two are his own creations). His compositions stand out for their lyrics and beauty of form. Khan Sahab had been acknowledged as the greatest exponent of Khurja, Atrauli (Jaipur) Gharana, after Ustad Allahdiya Khan and Haji Ustad Altaf Hussain Khan. Time cannot obliterate the memory of his innumerable performances each of which was a gem of purest ray serene. Indeed, his masterly expositions of rare Ragas, breathtaking Taans and bewildering Laayakari recalled to the minds of listeners Shakespeare’s descriptions “Age cannot wither her nor custom stale her infinite variety.” The individually unique style of Khan Sahab’s Gayaki won him the titles of “Tankapatan”. ‘Gayan Samrat’ and ‘Sangeet Sartaj’.

Ustad Azmat Hussain Khan Sahab in concert 1950
Shafi Ahmed and T.L. Raju seen on Tanpura

Ustad Azmat Hussain Khan stood out distinctly among most men because of his varied interest which included such diverse things as Urdu Poetry, hunting, fishing and the culinary art. His versatility made a profound impression upon those, who came in touch with him while his geniality and warmth conquered them. Self-respect and dignity occupied the foremost place in his scheme of values. His simplicity was almost ascetic and he was endowed with an indomitable spirit which enabled him to face vicissitudes of life in the manner of stoic. His faith in ALLAH was proverbial, as he always used to say “Allah jo kuchh bhi karega achha hi karega”. He also lattributed all his success to peer Ashfaq Ali shah Ashrafi in whom he had implicit faith.

Like his illustrious relatives Ustad Allahdiya Khan and Ustad Vilayat Hussain Khan, Ustad Azmat Hussain Khan made Maharashtra his home and played a significant role in spreading and popularizing north Indian music in the state. After his felicitation which was held on 30th April 1973, Presided by Nawab Ali Yavar Jung (Governor of Maharashtra, then), the Govt. of Maharashtra granted him a life long pension. The Bombay Municipal Corporation, also paid a grand tribute to the Ustad by renaming a road in South Bombay as the “GAYAN SAMRAT USTAD AZMAT HUSSAIN KHAN DILRANG MARG”. The people of Maharashtra perpetuated the memory of an artist, a staunch patriot, who devoted more than 50 years of his life to the task of popularising Indian classical music, and a yeomen service to the whole nation. Ustad Azmat Hussain Khan, also served All India Radio Bombay and New Delhi, as a Music producer and adviser for more than twenty five years. There are number of his unofficial students, who learnt and benefitted from his deep knowledge and versatility, during that period. He used to part his knowledge, happily to those who wished to learn. Ustad Azmat Hussain Khan, died in Bombay on 26th July 1975, after a brief illness. A great musician and a scholar, a good man and a poet, who left his mark, leaving behind a trail of disciples, friends, admirers and well wishers. The word “AZMAT” means ‘greatness’ in Urdu and that is how Ustad Azmat Hussain Khan, struck all those who came in touch with him.

Will the art of Ustad Azmat Hussain Khan, survive only in archives of All India Radio, N.C.P.A. and other institutions? The question has been disturbing the minds of all the admires of Khan Sahab. The Ustad has at least 20, 78 RPM records, released by then Columbia Co. The Gayaki of this great artist has to be preserved by all means. It should also be released on cassettes and L.P. records, for the sake of posterity. Of the four sons of Ustad Azmat Hussain Khan Sahab, Vajahat Hussain Khan and Rafat Khan, are prospering in vocal music and Sitar respectively. However his real successor is Ustad Aslam Hussain Khan for whom Ustad Azmat Hussain Khan Sahab was not only a guru but also a mentor, friend and benefactor. Ustad Aslam Hussain Khan was his close associate for more than 20 years. Ustad Aslam Hussain Khan is the chief disciple of Ustad Azmat Hussain Khan Sahab, and has made remarkable progress in projecting the image of his Ustad. The great tradition must go ahead successfully “Aameen”. Soon Ustad Aslam Khan Sahab and Vajahat Hussain Khan are going to record many classical bandishes of Ustad Azmat Hussain Khan Dilrang.

A Patriotic Song

Requested by Shri Narendra Sharma (December 1971)

Gazals 1

Gazals 2

Gazals 3

Gazals 4

Gazals 5

Gazals 6

Gazals 7

Gazals 8

Gazals 9

Gazals 10

Gazals 11

Gazals 12

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