A Blast from the Past: Ramakrishnabua Vaze (1871-1945)

One of the greatest voices of pre-Independence India, Pt. Ramakrishnabua Vaze was born in 1871:

…in a small village in Maharashtra…Vaze Bua lost his father soon after and was brought up by his mother. He studied for only a few years in school, his passion for music overtaking his interest in studies. With his mother’s help, he spent the next few years, moving around, taking lessons in music from several teachers. He was twelve when he was summoned home to get married and take up his duties as a householder. The newly married Vaze felt it improper to depend upon his mother for financial support and decided to take off on foot, with no particular destination and only the pursuit of music on his in mind.

Note that at age twelve, he decided it was improper to depend on his mother…so he presumably left his wife (who was presumably even younger) at home and went out a-wandering.

At the time, all roads led to Gwalior, where the young man eventually became a disciple of Ustad Nissar Hussain Khan (note: this is not the Nissar Hussain Khan of Rampur-Sahaswan fame). The typical spate of privations, indignities and unswerving dedication eventually led to a level of musicianship and artistry that continues to amaze and inspire.

“His performances were always lively and intellectually stimulating. His layakari was flawless , his taans had clarity and force and he would leave his audience spellbound. He was responsible for bringing many little known ragas to light and as a composer, his specialty was bandishes in fast tempo.” Link

Here are a few of Vazebua’s wonderful short recordings, made during the heyday of 78 rpm discs in India. I’ll add more as I get around to it.


Raga Bhairav Bahar:

Raga Khambavati:

Raga Bhatiyar:

Raga Jaunpuri:

Raga Mian ki Malhar:

Raga Todi:

What an outstanding musician! This is pure joy to listen to …. the original Gwalior style in the voice of a master. I wish there was more … much much more. Thanks you for these recordings.

Dear Rajeev,
PL. call My number is 8888847802.Sorry for using this blog for contacting you.

Truly your friend
Kedar Mahajan

24 Mar 2010, 10:18am
by Rajeev Vaze

Dear Warren – Thanks for acknowledging my note. I would like to elaborate on couple of things in line with my comment that ‘Bua was much ahead of his times’. He was one of the first musicians and possibly the only one, who published books on many compositions with notation, which he acquired from his Gurus by way of extreme hard work. The idea behind this was to throw open his stores to every follower of music. There are many books written by estiblished musicians thereafter but all those are without notations and the students can not gain anything except the literature.
You will also realise that not many stalwarts were mentally prepared to cut records under the pretext that their music will become common and thereby loose its value. Realising the importance of documentation and it’s usefulness for generations to come, Buwasaheb not only mastered the art of modulating his voice so as to suit the recording machines available in those days but tried to present different facets such as Thumari, Tarana, Bhajan along with the khyal on the number of records being cut.
Unfortunately, all his deciples died at a very young age and most of them such as Master Deenanath, Keshaorao Bhosale, Bapusaheb Pendharkar belonged to Theatre. His work is not known to present generation. I’ve seen many people sing / like compositions from dramas such as ‘Sanyasta Khadga’, ‘Shah Shivaji’ etc with a wrong presumption that these are composed by Master Deenananth. This is incorrect as all these and many more are composed by Buwasaheb. There are many songs composed by Pt Hridaynath which are based on the original compositions of Vazebua and the listeners are still enjoying.

Dear Rajeev – If you read what I’ve written and what I’ve quoted, you will see nothing that is not completely respectful. I quoted Deodhar’s comments in “Pillars of Hindustani Music” because they shed some light on Buwa’s personality, and give a different perspective than Ashok Ranade’s musicological remarks. At any rate, to describe someone as “eccentric” is not an insult, it is a compliment. I am a great admirer of Buwa’s music and would be pleased to know more about him and his life. If you wish to have some of your material posted here I would be glad to do it for you.

22 Mar 2010, 1:38am
by Rajeev Vaze

I’m great grandson of Buwasahab and deeply hurt by the contents posted on this web site. Buwasaheb was much ahead of his times in many ways, not only as a professional musician but also as a human being. Calling him vimzical is an injustice to his personality & humour. Those who are interested in knowing more about buwasaheb can write to me on my e-mail address.


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