The Greatest Icons Of Hindustani Classical Music
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Best 13 Legends Of Hindustani Music

Explore More: The Greatest Icons Of Hindustani Classical Music

Hindustani Classical Music has gifted us the legends of music, not only in the 21st century but also in the 1900s. The Ustads, the Gurus and the Pandits (music honours) have embellished Indian Classical Music with their talent for years and will continue to do so for many to come. In the age of rap and hip hop, the base of Indian music is still alive in the form of these legends and their work.

Here are the greatest icons of Hindustani Classical Music which have brought, not only India, but South Asia, as a whole, to the forefront of international music.


1. Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia

(1st July, 1938- Present)

Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, the internationally acclaimed flautist, hails from Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh. He embodies the excellence of music through bamboo flute, or bansuri, which he has been adorning since he was a child. Having no family background in music, he made his way into the Hindustani Classical Music on his own and has made a mark on it to be remembered forever.


2. Ustad Bismillah Khan

(21st March, 1916- 21st August, 2006)

Ustad Bismillah Khan, also known as the Shehnai Maestro has dedicated his entire life to the tunes of music through shehnai. In 2001, he became the third classical musician to be awarded with the Bharat Ratna. His love for music can be accorded from the fact that he made a traditional folk instrument, like shehnai, reach the stages of magnificent concerts.


3. Ustad Ali Akbar Khan

(14th April, 1922- 18th June, 2009)

Belonging to the Maihar Gharana, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan was, not only a phenomenal sarod player, but also an acclaimed raga composer of the Hindustani Classical Music. He received his training in music from his father, Ustad Allauddin Khan, and after years of dedication and excellence in classical music, he established his music school called Ali Akbar College of Music in Calcutta in 1956 which later became Ali Akbar College of Music in 1967.



4. Pandit Ravi Shankar

( 7th April, 1920- 11th December, 2012)

Pandit Ravi Shankar, the sitar maestro, studied music as a disciple from Ustad Allauddin Khan. As a young boy he used to tour with his brother’s dance group. He left dancing in 1938 to turn his attention towards learning and excelling in playing sitar. He was the one to later popularise sitar in the western culture through his various tours in Europe as well as America.


5. Ustad Zakir Hussain

( 9th March, 1951- Present)

A child prodigy, Ustad Zakir Hussain had started learning the intricacies of playing tabla from his father, Alla Rakha (another legend of Hindustani Classical Music), at the age of 3. At the age of 11, he was already touring around with his talent. He was just 18 when he received a PhD in Music from the University of Washington. Thereafter the number of concerts he did in a year were close to 150!


6. Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma

( 13th January, 1938- Present )

Recipient of the Padma Shri and Padma Vibhushan awards, Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma belongs to Jammu and is the son of Pt. Uma Dutt Sharma. He was trained in santoor, a very little known instrument in those times, by his father. Having given his first public performance at the age of 18, Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma has not only decorated Hindustani Classical Music with his notes but also Bollywood music of the 80s and 90s.


7. Pandit Bhimsen Joshi

 ( 4th February, 1922- 24th January, 2011 )

Pandit Bhimsen Joshi belonged to Karnataka and was known for his Khayal form of singing. He was awarded with the Bharat Ratna award in 2009. His love for music began as a child when he would follow musical processions and even forget to go back home. He became a renowned singer of devotional music including bhajans and abhangs.


8. Ustad Amjad Ali Khan

 ( 9th October, 1945- Present )

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, the famous sarod player, belongs to the Bangash lineage. He was taught the intricacies of music by his father, and Gwalior court musician, Hafiz Ali Khan when he was only 6 years old. His family is known to be the inventors of sarod. Today, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan is internationally acclaimed and has been touring all over the world for his concerts.


9. Ustad Allauddin Khan

 ( 1862- 6th September, 1972 )

Ustad Allauddin Khan, the renowned sarod player and composer has been the guru of a number legendary Hindustani Classical Music maestros. He established the Maihar Gharana after touring Europe for some years. Also known as Baba Allauddin Khan, his influence over Hindustani Classical Music is irreplaceable.


10. Ustad Vilayat Khan

 ( 28th August, 1928- 13th March, 2004 )

The legendary sitar player, Ustad Vilayat Khan has been contributing towards Hindustani Classical Music since he was just 8 years old, all the way up till the age of 75. He was one of the musicians who created the gayaki ang in sitar playing. Born in what is now Bangladesh, he belonged to the Imdadkhani Gharana.


Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan


2nd April, 1902- 23rd April, 1968

Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan belonged to today’s Lahore and hailed from the Kasur Gharana. He was a renowned Hindustani classical vocalist and had learnt music from his paternal uncle. A legend forever, he was approached by various filmmakers of his time to sing songs for their films but refused everytime. He was later convinced to sing for the movie Mughal-e-Azam.



Pandit Jasraj


28th January, 1930- Present

Pandit Jasraj belongs to the Mewati Gharana of Hindustani Classical Music. After his father died, when he was just 4 years old, he was supposed to be the state musician in the court of Osman Ali Khan. He has been the recipient of the Padma Vibhushan and the Padma Bhushan awards. He is, today, one of the greatest vocalists of India and Hindustani Classical Music, touring for concerts all over the world.



Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt


27th July, 1950- Present

Hailing from Jaipur, Rajasthan, Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt is a Grammy winner for his excellence in playing the mohan veena. Mohan veena is a slide guitar which was developed by Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt himself as a hybrid and it is now added to the list of Indian classical instruments. Apart from the Grammy which he received in 1993, he has also received the Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan honours.


Hindustani Classical Music would not have been what it is today without the enormous contribution of these maestros. Their influence on the classical music scene of India has been one of importance and is sure to live on for centuries to come through their melodies and compositions.


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