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Kumar Gandharv

Kumar Gandharva is a phenomenon in Hindustani Classical Music. He has the distinction of having achieved profound innovative musicianship and compositional skills. His contribution to contemporary Indian Classical music is unique and of far reaching consequences.

Born on April 8, 1924 at Sulebhavi in Belgaon District of Karnataka, Shri Shivputra Komkali, as a child prodigy in music, was affectionately nicknamed "Kumar Gandsharva" reminiscent of the ever youthful celestial musician Gandharva of the Hindu mythology.

In his childhood Kumar displayed exceptional grasping abilities to reproduce the renderings of the old masters of music like Abdul Karim Khan, Om karanath, Vazebuwa, Faiz Khan, Kesarbai, etc. This enabled him to develop further and Systematically his musicianship under "Prof. B.T.Deodhar", whose catholic outlook and encouraged him to take inspiration from the other contemporary musical idioms.

It has taken long arduous years for Kumar to evolve a musical style of his own. It required courage, born out of musical sensitivity characteristic of unusual perception, to provide a different profile to a number of traditional ragas and to conceive of some new ragas to suit his aesthetics. It is rightly believed that of all the Indian Arts, Indian Classical music has preserved the authentic Indian Spirit the most and its genuineness has the sanction of classical texts and uninterrupted oral tradition, which has a good measure of lineage pride and cultivated prejudices. In such a milieu, Kumar has disturbed some sacred cows, attracting both, bricks and bouquets. In fact our raga music which has a tradition of some 2000 years has the inner vitality to permits devotees to realize its beauties from their peculiar perceptions. Kumar has shown his choice and persistently he draws our attention to it through every genre of music he handles be it a convention raga or a raga designed by him or a thematic songs or a bhajan or a folkutune. It is the internal musical design revealed through tonal colors of Kumar´s voice that makes the distinction.

The traditional fare does provide scope for creative abilities, but it can hardly yield a new experience, which Kumar does offer, it may either by through a bandish composed by him it may be through his own rag composition, like Saheli Todi, Malavati, Lagna Gandharav, Bhihad Bhairav or Sanjari. In Kumar, we find assimilation and resurrection of divergent musical styles an alchemy of all that he found worth his inspiration one attractive feature of his style. Is the conscious use of unusual accentuation in utterance of Bol-S raga phrases, coupled with sudden flights of tanas; these feature of Kumar´s style have remained inimitable.

In Indian Classical Music today no other Musician other than Kumar Gandharav exhumes in greater measure the spirit of the modern times the spirit of experimentation and deliberate innovation based on inner conviction and commitment of a genius. Norms of tradition religiously followed by classical musicians, particularly in the vocal art music have received a different handling in Kumar Gandharav. The tradition bound musicians and listeners are sometime rudely shaken. Musical orthodoxy looks askance at the innovations of Kumar.

Year Award/Honour
2nd Feb. 1966 Honors from Khetia kala Mandal
12th Oct. 1962 Honorary D. Muse award from Akhil Bahrtiya Gandharva Mahavidhalya
11th Feb. 1973 Honorary D. Lit. award from Vikram University, Ujjain.
10th Aug. 1973 State Honor from M.P. State Govt.
6th Dec. 1974 National Honour from Kendriya Music Ntak Academy, New Delhi
1977 PADAM BHUSHAN from Indian Government
1982-83 Shikhar Samman from Madhya Pradesh Govt.
8th Apr. 1984 Honor and an amount of one and half Lac rupees from Gandharva University, Delhi on his Sixtieth Birthday
1985 Kalidas Samman
1989 Fellowship from Sangeet Natak Academy and President Award
1990 PADAM VIBHUSHAN from India Government.