More Music from Ramakrishnabua Vaze

Here are three more of the classic 78 rpm discs recorded by Pandit Ramakrishna Vaze (1871 – 1945). At some point soon I will post the long version of his Miyan ki Malhar, a classic recording from the AIR archives; it’s longer than the maximum allowed by YouTube, so I’ll be using Vimeo for that one.

The complex compound raga Khat

Deodhar tells some amusing stories of Vazebua’s eccentricity:

“In 1927 I requested Buwasaheb to pay a visit to my music school. He appeared in a loose shirt and haphazardly torn cap…Some of our boys and girls sang for him. After this I requested him to say a few words to the students. He started his address with these words, ‘I am a simple person. I do not like to dress up. I have a jacket — I even wear it sometimes. I say, Mr. Deodhar, come to my house and I shall show you my jacket. Very beautiful material. One cannot acquire learning by putting on fine clothes — can one now?’ Some of our girls could not help laughing at this. They put their hankies to their lips and giggled. I felt embarrassed. IN an attempt to change the subject I told Buwasaheb that our students were anxious to hear him sing…He duly appeared at the school as promised, and sang beautifully for our students.

(snip)

“Shri Korgavkar…decided to start a harmonium class in Belgaum…he sent a most courteous invitation to Vazebuwa to preside over the inauguration function. Vazebuwa agreed….Buwasaheb was requested to give his presidential address. Buwasaheb stood up. The audience was all attention. Buwasaheb started, ‘Friends…friends.’ But he was at a loss to find anything more to say. After an embarrassingly long silence he said, ‘Nothing…nothing,’ and sat down. After repeated clamour from the audience and entreaties from the organizers, Buwasaheb once again stood up and continued his speech, ‘Ladies and Gentlemen! Today we are inaugurating this harmonium class. This instrument is known as a harmonium. We call it bend-baja (a derogatory term usually associated with a mouth-organ). So from today anyone who wants to learn to play bend-baja can do so.’

B.R. Deodhar: “Pillars of Hindustani Music,” pp. 128-130

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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.
Link

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.

Enjoy!

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