Legendary classical vocalist Pandit Bhimsen Joshi passes away in Pune

Legendary classical vocalist Pandit Bhimsen Joshi passed away at a private hospital in Pune this morning after battling a variety of age-related medical problems for more than three weeks. He was 89.

File photo of the Addl. Secy., Ministry of Home Affairs, A. E. Ahmad presenting the Bharat Ratna to Pandit Bhimsen Joshi on February 10, 2009.
File photo of the Addl. Secy., Ministry of Home Affairs, A. E. Ahmad presenting the Bharat Ratna to Pandit Bhimsen Joshi on February 10, 2009.

Pandit Joshi was admitted to the Sahyadri Hospital in Pune on December 31 for treatment of multiple medical problems, including severe diarrhoea. He breathed his last at 0805 hours today, Dr Atul Joshi, his physician, told NetIndian over the telephone.

Pandit Joshi's health deteriorated in the past few days. He was put on respiratory support for about a week. The ventilator was withdrawn and then reinstated two days later.

On January 22, Pandit Joshi had become breathless and needed ventilatory support. His urine output had also dropped, necessitating dialysis.

The Kirana Gharana maestro was successfully operated upon for non-cancerous brain tumor in 1999, followed by a cervical spine surgery in 2005.

Panjit Joshi was conferred the Bharat Ratna, the country's highest civilian honour, in 2008.

He was renowned for the khayal form of singing as well as for his superb renditions of bhajans and other forms of devotional music.

Pandit Bhimsen Gururaj Joshi was born on February 4, 1922 into a Kannada Brahmin family at Gadag in north Karnataka. His father, Gururaj Joshi, was a school teacher.

His early musical training was under Pandit Rambhau Kundgolkar, alias Sawai Gandharwa, who was one of the main disciplines of Abdul Karim Khan, who along with his Abdul Waheed Khan was the founder of the Kirana gharana of Hindustani music.

It is said that Pandit Joshi had, as an 11-year-old boy, heard a recording of a thumri by Ustad Abdul Karim Khan, Piya Bin Nahi Aavat Chain, which inspired him to take to music. He left home at that age in search of a teacher and travelled to Dharwar, Pune and finally Gwalior, where he learnt at the Madhava Music School run by the Scindias.

He kept travelling and went to Delhi, Kolkata, Lucknow, Rampur and Jalandhar, where his father finally found him and brought him back home. In 1936, Sawai Gandharva took him on as his disciple and Joshi started staying at his residence in the "guru-shishya" tradition. Another renowned singer of the same gharana, Gangubai Hangal, was also a student there at that time.

In 1943, Pandit Joshi shifted to Mumbai and worked as a radio artiste. His first recording, comprising devotional songs in Kannada and Hindi, was released by HMV when he was 22.

Over the years, Pandit Joshi has delighted music lovers across the country and many other parts of the world with his spontaineity, the dizzy pace of his "taans" and his mastery of rhythm.

Apart from his live performances and many recordings, Pandit Joshi has also won many hearts for the Mile Sur Mera Tumhara music video, which begins with a piece y him. He has also sung for some films.


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