ST. LOUIS (CelebrityAccess) Ustad Imrat Khan, 83, famed star and surbahar player, died after a stroke and brief illness in his longtime home city of St. Louis Nov. 22, his son said.
Khan is part of a lineage of musicians dating back more than 400 years and the family is credited with developing the use of the surbahar, sometimes called the “bass sitar.”
He tour ed the world, performing at events like the Cannes Film Festival and toured Europe, North and South America, and East and Southeast Asia. He spent a portion of each year teaching classical Indian music and instructing sitar students at Washington University in St. Louis, where he has lived for more than two decades.
“He was my guru, mentor, teacher and father. He was a great philosopher, an evangelist for music. He really carried forward the heritage of Indian classical music all over the world to the very end of his life,” his son Nishat told PTI.
“My music has been the centre-stage of my life and I have put it on the highest pedestal with a lifetime of devotion to its art, refusing any form of corruption to its form and essence. I do not expect at this moment in my life that my devotion and contributions be diminished to a level lower than my followers, students and sons – by age or reputation,” Imrat Khan told PTI.
Khan caused a stir when he refused the Padma Shri honor last year, saying it was too little too late and diminished his accomplishments.
“Why should I compromise now when this award presented to me is not parallel to my worldwide reputation and contributions in the name of the pure arts and culture of India?” he asked.
Nishat said his father was heartbroken when he was announced as a Padma Shri winner.
“He was so disappointed that the award was being given to him when even my juniors were awarded with the Padma Shri,” Nishat told PTI. “He was really sad and heartbroken about it.
“It’s an ‘anyay (injustice) that the government could not see his contribution to Indian classical music,” Nishat said.