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The musicians

The Mughal period
The transmission
The legacy of Bande Ali Khan

during the marriage
of Prince Shah-Shuja,
attributed to Bhola,
towards 1635,
The Royal Collection

The transmission

Other musicians such as Jivan Shah and his brother Pyar Khan, descendants - legend has it - of the great Naubat Khan, were also renowned bin players during the second half of the 18th century.
Employed in the court of the Maharaja of Benares, their influence proved to be strong, and Pyar Khan, it seems, played a significant role in the style of sitar playing that developed in Benares and Lucknow.
Umrao Khan, grandson of Jivan Shah, taught several sitar players outside the family circle, thus adding his bit to preserving the bin tradition.
The two sons of Umrao Khan, Amir Khan (who died around 1876) and Rahim Khan became binkar in the Rampur court after the political upheavals of 1857. Both – like their father – passed on a part of their musical knowledge to sitar and sarod players.
Amir Khan’s son, Wazir Khan (1861-1926), bin and rabab exponent taught Allauddin Khan, the renowned sarod player, who was also the father of Ali Akbar Khan and Ravi Shankar’s mentor.
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Wazir Khan’s grandson, Dabir Khan (1907-1972) was the last descendant of this illustrious line of binkar.
In Rajasthan, the towns of Jaipur, Udaipur, Jodhpur and Alwar became important musical centres during the nineteenth century.

Dabir Khan

The Maharaja of Jaipur, Sawai Ram Singh II (reign: 1835-1880) learnt to play the bin from one of his musicians Rajab Ali Khan. The latter, who had sojourned earlier at the court of Alwar, taught the art of the bin to Amiruddin Khan as well as to his nephew Musharraf Khan whose magnificent instrument is still preserved at the Government Museum of Alwar.
Musharraf Khan was probably the first binkar to travel to Europe: he gave a recital in London in 1886.
One of his sons, Sadiq Ali Khan (1839-1964) kept up the family tradition and after a stay at the Alwar court; he entered the court of Rampur where he remained for thirty-five years.
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Sadiq Ali Khan and his son Asad Ali Khan, accompanied on the pakhavaj by Ayodhya Prasad
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Asad Ali Khan was born in Alwar in 1937 but it was in Rampur that he received his musical education from his father Sadiq Ali Khan. He is today the last repository of this line of binkar.

Asad Ali Khan

Amiruddin Khan’s son, Jamaluddin Khan (credited 1859-1927) was employed in the service of the Maharaja of Jaipur before serving in the court of Baroda where he had the honour of teaching the surbahar to Maharani Chimnabai Gaikwad.
The distinguished vichitra-vina player Abdul Aziz Khan was also a disciple of Jamaluddin Khan.
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Jamaluddin Khan, accompanied on the tanpura by his son Abid Hussain Khan, around 1922

His son Abid Hussain Khan (below left, on the photo) was trained as a binkar and as a singer. He stayed in the Baroda court until about 1938 and then spent roughly fifteen years with the Nawab of Janjira, near Bombay before retiring, and moving to Indore where he lived until his death in 1978.
Since the end of the 15th century, the city of Gwalior had been a favoured spot for music. It was during the reign of Raja Man Singh Tomar (reign : 1486-1511) that the dhrupad genre appeared. The greatest musicians of the age lived here and the tradition continued until the beginning of the twentieth century.

Bande Ali Khan (credited: 1826-1890), who was indisputably one of the most influential binkar of the 19th century, started his career here and it seems was highly inspired by one of the court musicians, Baba Dixit. It was at Gwalior that he taught the bin to Eknath Pandit and Balvant Rao Bhaaiya before moving to the court of the Raja of Indore. He then spent some time at the court of the Nizam of Hyderabad before retiring to Pune.

Bande Ali Khan, around 1860

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