Pandit Bhimsen Gururaj Joshi was an Indian vocalist from Karnataka, in the Hindustani classical tradition. He is known for the khayal form of singing, as well as for his popular renditions of devotional music. Bhimsen Joshi belongs to Kirana gharana tradition of Hindustani Classical Music. Pt. Joshi is noted for his concerts, in fact no other singer in India has given so many concerts as Pt. Joshi, it is worth mentioning that in 1964, King of Afghanistan, Mohammed Zahir Shah, himself invited Pt. Joshi for a concert in Kabul. Between 1964 to 1982 Joshi toured Italy, Canada and USA, he was the first musician from India whose concerts were advertised through posters in New York city, United States. Bhimsen Joshi was instrumental in organising the Sawai Gandharva Music Festival annually, as homage to his guru, Pandit Sawai Gandharva. In 1998, he was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship, the highest honour conferred by Sangeet Natak Akademi, India's National Academy for Music and Drama. Subsequently, he received the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honour, in 2009.
He is known as the'God of Singing' or'God of Music'. Bhimsen Joshi was born on 4 February 1922 in a Kannada-speaking Deshastha Madhva Brahmin family to Gururajrao Joshi and Godavaribai at Gadag in Dharwad district of Karnataka, his father, Gururaj Joshi, was a school teacher. Bhimsen was the eldest among 16 siblings, he was raised by his stepmother. As a child, Bhimsen was fascinated with music and musical instruments like the harmonium and tanpura and would follow processions accompanied by music bands; this exercise tired him and he would curl up somewhere and sleep, forcing his parents to go to the police after efforts to trace him failed. Fed up, his father Gururajacharya Joshi came up with the solution, writing "son of teacher Joshi" on Bhimsen's shirts; this worked and those who found the boy sleeping would safely deposit him back to his house. His first music teacher was Channappa of Kurtakoti, who had trained with the veteran singer Inayat Khan. After learning Ragas Bhairav and Bhimpalasi, the one and only unique vigorous style of rendering he developed along with advanced trainings by other teachers is attributed to the basic training he received from Channappa.
Bhimsen Joshi next went to Pandit Shyamacharya Joshi, who hailed from Bagalkot and was a priest and classical singer. Pandit Shyamacharya taught him to sing as well as play the harmonium. Shree Shamacharya Joshi was a descendant of Great Haridasa Shree Mahipati Dasaru; as revealed by Shree Shyamacharya Joshi himself when he was alive, it was a turning point in Bhimsen Joshi's life that Shree Shyamacharya Joshi went to Bombay for recording his songs by HMV where Shree Bhimsen Joshi accompanied him and due to ill health Shree Shyamacharya Joshi returned to Bagalkot after recording few songs and asked Shree Bhimsen Joshi to render rest of the songs which Shree Bhimsen Joshi did and this proved to be a major breakthrough for Shree Bhimsen Joshi in the initial stage of his career. Joshi heard a recording of Abdul Karim Khan's Thumri "Piya Bin Nahi Aavat Chain" in Raga Jhinjhoti when he was a child, which inspired him to become a musician. During this time, he heard Pandit Sawai Gandharva at a performance in Kundgol.
In 1933, the 11-year-old Joshi left Dharwad for Bijapur to learn music. With the help of money lent by his co-passengers in the train, Bhimsen reached Dharwad first and went to Pune, he moved to Gwalior and got into Madhava Music School, a school run by Maharajas of Gwalior, with the help of famous sarod player Hafiz Ali Khan. He travelled for three years around North India, including in Delhi, Gwalior and Rampur, trying to find a good guru, he stayed for more than one year. His father succeeded in tracking him down in Jalandar and brought young Bhimsen back home. In 1936, Sawai Gandharva, a native of Dharwad, agreed to be his guru. Joshi stayed at his house in the guru-shishya tradition. Joshi continued his training with Sawai Gandharva Pt. Bhimsen Joshi first performed live in 1941 at the age of 19, his debut album, containing a few devotional songs in Marathi and Hindi, was released by HMV the next year in 1942. Joshi moved to Mumbai in 1943 and worked as a radio artist, his performance at a concert in 1946 to celebrate his guru Sawai Gandharva's 60th birthday won him accolades both from the audience and his guru.
Joshi's performances have been acknowledged by music critics such as S. N. Chandrashekhar of the Deccan Herald to be marked by spontaneity, accurate notes, dizzyingly-paced taans which make use of his exceptional voice training, a mastery over rhythm; the Hindu, in an article written after he was awarded the Bharat Ratna, said: Bhimsen Joshi was the wanderer, engendering brilliant phrases and tans more intuitively than through deliberation. Joshi employed the use of sargam and tihaais, sang traditional compositions of the Kirana gharana, his music injected surprising and sudden turns of phrase, for example through the unexpected use of boltaans. Over the years, his repertoire tended to favour a small number of complex and serious ragas; some of Joshi's more popular ragas include Shuddha Kalyan, Miyan Ki Todi, Puriya Dhanashri, Bhimpalasi and Ramkali. He was a purist who has not dabbled in experimental forms of music, except for a series of Jugalbandi recordings with the Carnatic singer M. Balamuralikrishna.
Joshi's singing has been influenced including Smt. Kesarbai Kerkar, Begu
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