On Sunday, March 23, 2014
Nikhil Banerjee (Bangla: নিখিল ব্যানার্জী) (14 October 1931–27 January 1986) was one of India’s most prominent sitar players of the second half of the 20th Century. He never achieved the glamour of Vilayat Khan or his gurubhai Ravi Shankar, but Nikhil Banerjee did win great critical acclaim and the hearts of many music lovers. He is remembered as a musician’s musician.
Along with Ravi Shankar, Vasant Rai, and Ali Akbar Khan, he was trained by “Baba” Ustad Allauddin Khan of the Maihar gharana (school).
Nikhil Banerjee was born in Calcutta into a Brahmin family, where music as a profession was discouraged, although his father, Jitendranath Banerjee, an amateur sitariya, taught him to play the instrument. Young Nikhil grew into a child prodigy, won an All-Bengal Sitar Competition at the age of 9 and soon was playing for All India Radio. At the time, his sister was a student of khyal great Amir Khan, who became a life-long influence. Jitendranath approached Mushtaq Ali Khan to take the boy as a disciple, but was turned down; instead Birendra Kishore Roy Chowdhury, the zamindar of Gouripur in present-day Bangladesh, was responsible for much of Nikhil’s early training.
In 1947 Banerjee met Allauddin Khan, who was to become his main guru.
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