Shehnai is made of small wood musical instrument like the Oboe but Ustad Bismillah khan its turns to an unique instrument of Indian classic music. He used its’ sounds to express the Raags a melodic modes of traditional south Asian music.
Its journey was started when Bismillah was a six years child. He was born in 21st March 1916, Bumraon,Bihar,British India in the musician ancestors family. Later, he moved to Varanasi is the one of seventh holy place of Hinduism and Jainism for receiving music training under his uncle, The late Ali Baksh during 1922.
Bismillah khan had been hearing a rhythm, melody of Music from every street of Varanasi, Temple, Mosque, Noise of people, Flowing sounds of the river Ganga.
He told an interview ‘’when children playing marble they using a song, a tune and when Muezzin call to prayer,unconsciously they use the Raag and this tradition has been flowing in Asian continent from thousands of years.’’
Bismillah loved Ghats a riverfront steps leading to the bank of the river Ganga in Benares. He believed only place in the earth where he could able to bath in the ghat of Ganga then goes to the mosque after finishing prayer ,he can start music learning practice in temple.
In 1937, Bismillah Khan first time played the Shehnai in the conference of All India Music. And he established the Shehnai is an unique musical instrument in Indian classic music.
Newly formed British free India in 1947, the firs Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru invited Him to perform live at the Red Fort in Delhi for celebration of Indian Independence
Again, He was invited to perform live at the Red Fort to celebrate Republic Day of India 26th January 1956. That time he played the Raag Kafi kind of Indian classic musical melody by the Shehnai and Hundreds of audience was impressed . Bismillah Khan’s fame and wave of Shehnai spread out to Afghanistan, Europe, Iran, Iraq, Canada, Wes Africa, United stated, Soviet Union, Japan, Hong Kong and He performed most of capital cities in the worlds.
He was awarded Bharat Ratna (2001), Fellow of Sangeet Natak Akademi (1994), Talar Mausiquee from Republic of Iran (1992), Padma Bhusan (1980), Padma Shri (1961), Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1956) Tansen Award by Govt.of Madhya Pradesh, Three medals in All india Music Conference,Calcutta (1937), ‘’Best Performer’’ in All India Music Conference, Allahbad 1930.
Up to His last breath in 21st August 2006, He lived in Varanasi with his joint family of nearly 60, including five sons, three daughters and their children.
When he was on the bed of death, the India government offered to move New Delhi for better treatment but he refused and replied to Indian media “when others came to die in Varanasi, he should leave the city to die somewhere else”
–By AHS Mohammad