Pandit Bhimsen Gururaj Joshi

 

Pandit Bhimsen Gururaj Joshi, (February 4, 1922 – January 24, 2011) was an Indian vocalist in the Hindustani classical tradition. A member of the Kirana Gharana (school), he is renowned for the khayal form of singing, as well as for his popular renditions of devotional music (bhajans and abhangs). He was the most recent recipient of the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honour, awarded in 2008.

Joshi was born in Gadag district of northern Karnataka, to a Kannada Madhwa Brahmin family. His father, Gururaj Joshi, was a school teacher. Bhimsen was the eldest in a family of 16 siblings. Some of the siblings still live in their ancestral home in Gadag. Bhimsen lost his mother when he was young, and his stepmother then raised him. His parents lived initially with his grandfather as tenants of a Kulkarni household, but then moved to Gadag District.

Bhimsen Joshi's music was hailed by both the critics and the masses. The Hindu, in an article written after he was awarded the Bharat Ratna, said: Bhimsen Joshi was ever the wanderer, engendering brilliant phrases and tans more intuitively than through deliberation. Joshi occasionally employed the use of sargam and tihaais, and often sang traditional compositions of the Kirana gharana. His music often injected surprising and sudden turns of phrase, for example through the unexpected use of boltaans. Over the years, his repertoire tended to favor a relatively small number of complex and serious ragas; however, he remained one of the most prolific exponents of Hindustani classical music. Some of Joshi's more popular ragas include Shuddha Kalyan, Miyan Ki Todi, Puriya Dhanashri, Multani, Bhimpalasi, Darbari, and Ramkali. He was considered a purist and has not dabbled in experimental forms of music, except for a well-known series of Jugalbandi recordings with the Carnatic singer M. Balamuralikrishna.

 
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