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Lesser-known Facts About the Classical Music Legend

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Published By: Nibandh Vinod

Last Updated: April 08, 2023, 07:20 IST

Kumar Gandharva was lauded as a musical prodigy since his childhood. (File photo)

Kumar Gandharva was lauded as a musical prodigy since his childhood. (File photo)

The Hindustani classical music stalwart not only introduced many new ragas and compositions but also trained a new generation of singers

KUMAR GANDHARVA 99TH BIRTH ANNIVERSARY: One of the most celebrated exponents of Indian classical music, Kumar Gandharva, has left an indelible impression in the hearts of music lovers across India and abroad. The Hindustani classical music stalwart not only introduced many new ragas and compositions but also trained a new generation of singers and musicians. Born as Shivaputra Siddharamayya Komkalimath, Kumar Gandharva was lauded as a musical prodigy since his childhood.

Well-known for his unique vocal style, Kumar Gandharva dared to create new ragas, new compositions and an entirely new tradition in Indian classical music during his active years.

Kumar Gandharva was born in Karnataka’s Belgaum on April 8, 1924. While he was active between1934 to 1992, his songs are still in high demand among the lovers of Indian classical music.

Today marks the 99th birth anniversary of the maverick vocalist. Let’s take a look at some of the lesser-known facts about Kumar Gandharva:

  1. The legendary singer was conferred the title of Kumar Gandharva due to his exemplary singing skills since his childhood.
  2. Kumar Gandharva was trained by a well-known classical singer Guru BR Deodhar, after which he went on to develop his own individual style of singing. After this, he refused to confine within a particular gharana, which earned him a reputation of being both a rebel and a pioneer.
  3. Even before Kumar Gandharva’s career took shape, he was unfortunately diagnosed with tuberculosis. Keeping the severity of his condition in mind, doctors even asked him to stop singing.
  4. Following the doctor’s advice, Kumar Gandharva shifted to Madhya Pradesh, hoping that the dry climate might help him in improving his condition. But, sadly nothing improved his chances of singing until 1952, when streptomycin, an antibiotic medicine to treat tuberculosis was introduced in India and it helped him to recover.
  5. As one of his lungs was severely damaged, the legendary musician had to eventually make some changes in his singing style. Therefore, he began experimenting with rags and also fused the already existing ones.
  6. It was in 1953 when he performed his first concert right after his recovery.
  7. While the maestro was lauded by the audiences for his distinct style, Kumar Gandharva was criticised by the traditional exponents of classical music for all the new experiments he introduced.
  8. Kumar Gandharva is known for introducing many new ragas, which are collectively called Dhun Ugam Raagas.
  9. Opting for a theme and then arranging a set of ragas and folk songs, Kumar Gandharva put them in precise order. Some of those themes are Geet Varsha, Geet Hemant and Ritu Raaj.
  10. In 1977, the legend was also felicitated with India’s third-highest civilian award, Padma Bhushan, for his contribution to the field of Indian classical music. Later in 1990, he was also honoured with India’s second-highest civilian award Padma Vibhushan.
  11. The legacy of Kumar Gandharva, who breathed his last on January 12, 1992, is being carried forward by his daughter Kalapini Komkali and son Mukul Shivputra, an accomplished classical singer.

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