Amjad Ali Khan (born 9 October 1945) is an Indian classical sarod player, best known for his clear and fast ekhara taans. Khan was born into a classical musical family and has performed internationally since the 1960s. He was awarded India's second highest civilian honor Padma Vibhushan in 2001.
Khan first performed in the United States in 1963 and continued into the 2000s, with his sons. He has experimented with modifications to his instrument throughout his career. Khan played with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra and worked as a visiting professor at the University of New Mexico. In 2011, he performed on Carrie Newcomer's album Everything is Everywhere.
Khan was awarded 21st Rajiv Gandhi National Sadbhavna Award. Khan received Padma Shri in 1975, Padma Bhushan in 1991, and Padma Vibhushan in 2001, and was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for 1989 and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship for 2011. He was awarded the Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize in 2004. The U.S. state Massachusetts proclaimed 20 April as Amjad Ali Khan Day in 1984. Khan was made an honorary citizen of Houston, Texas, and Nashville, Tennessee, in 1997, and of Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 2007. He received the Banga-Vibhushan in 2011.
Born on 9 October 1945 as Masoom Ali Khan, the youngest of seven children, to Gwalior court musician Hafiz Ali Khan and Rahat Jahan. His family is part of the Bangash lineage and Khan is in the sixth generation of musicians; his family claims to have invented the sarod. His personal name was changed by a sadhu to Amjad. Khan received homeschooling and studied music under his father. In 1957, a cultural organization in Delhi appointed Hafiz Ali Khan as its guest and the family moved to Delhi. Friends of Hafiz Ali convinced him of the importance of formal schooling for his son; as a result, Amjad was taken to meet the Principal of Modern School in New Delhi and admitted there as a day scholar. He attended Modern School from 1958 to 1963.
As a young bachelor, Amjad had an affair with an older woman, who was a divorcee and a mother. The affair lasted eight years (1967–75), but the lady did not wish to get married a second time, because of her previous bad experience with marriage. Amjad's family disapproved of the relationship from the very beginning, and in the early 1970s, as his father's health deteriorated, they convinced him to let go of this relationship and marry a girl chosen by them. Amjad finally agreed to their wishes around the time of his father's death in 1972. However, although his wife came from similar background and was the same age as he, Amjad did not bond with her, perhaps because in his mind, he had still not let go of the divorced woman. He kept in touch with that other woman and maintained a platonic friendship with her, which was not acceptable to his wife. Hardly a year after their wedding, Amjad and his wife were blessed with a daughter. However, the marriage broke down completely around the time of the birth of the child. The process of separation and divorce was painful to the couple and also to their families. An unexpected outcome was that the process of divorce cured Amjad of his attachment to the divorced woman, by showing him the difference in thinking and mindset between them, and gave him a clearer understanding of his cultural moorings and priorities. He finally bid goodbye to the divorced woman in 1975, and was divorced from his wife the same year. Amjad's first wife quickly got married a second time. The daughter born of this first marriage was raised by Amjad's brother, Rehmat Ali Khan, who was childless.
The following year, on 25 September 1976, Khan got married a second time. His bride was Bharatanatyam dancer Subhalakshmi Barooah, a Hindu woman hailing from Assam in north-eastern India. They have two sons, Amaan and Ayaan, both of whom are performing artists trained in music by their father.
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