Faiyaaz Khan: Aftaab-e-Mausiqi

Raga Darbari Kanada


Ustad Faiyaz Khan is so far the best known exponent of Agra Gharana in Hindustani classical music. He was the master khayal vocalist of his time. Born at Sikandara near Agra in 1886 (contested as 1888, 1889)[1], he was the son of Shabr Hussain, who died three months before his birth. He was brought up by his maternal grandfather, Ghulam Abbas (1825?-1934), who taught him music, up to the age of 25. He was also a student of Ustad Mehboob Khan Darspiya, his father-in-law and was a for short time a disciple of Ustad Jagadguru Mallick of Calcutta who had the famous sarodiya Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan and the renowned sitarist Ustad Enayet Khan in his tutelege.

An extraordinary performance of Raga Desh.


The vocalist and historian Susheela Misra writes:

Faiyaz Khan’s musical lineage goes back to Tansen himself. His family is traced back to Alakhdas, Malukdas and then to Haji Sujan Khan (son of Alakhdas who became a Muslim.) Genius, musical ancestary, and training combined to give us this wonderful artist-one of the most reputed and respected exponents of Hindustani classical music in recent times. He had the exceptional good fortune of receiving his talim in Dhrupad singing from his grand father, Ghulam Abbas Khan; and in Dhamar from his grand uncle, Ustad Kallan Khan, both of whom were leading musicians of the rangila gharana in the second half of the last century. Kallan Khan was the younger brother of Ghulam Abbas Khan and, therefore, the grand-uncle of Faiyaz Khan Sahib. Ghulam Abbas Khan was his maternal grandfather, and Rangeela Ramzan Khan his paternal great grandfather. Faiyaz Khan’s uncle, Fida Hussain was a court musician in Tonk (Rajputana). Faiyaz was born at Sikandra near Agra in 1880 and he died in Baroda on 5th November 1950. As his father Safdar Hussain died very early, his grandfather adopted him and brought him up as his own son. Ghulam Abbas Khan, the son of the great Ghagge Khuda Bux and an intimate friend of Bairam Khan, not only imparted to the boy the authentic taleem of his gharana, but also took the promising young Faiyaz on a “pilgrimage of music”, visiting all the important centres of music, listening to great contemporary musicians, and bringing him practical experience in concert singing. By the time he was 18, Faiyaz Khan had become such a “polished” artist that he began to give recitals in places like Bombay, Calcutta and Gwalior. Once at Bombay, 24 year-old Faiyaz got a chance to hear the great Miyanjan Khan, a pupil of the great Fateh Ali Khan of Patiala. Immediately after him, Faiyaz was asked to sing. At first he copied Miyanjan Khan’s Multani in the latter’s style and then he demonstrated in his own style-both in such a masterly way that Miyanjan Khan embraced the young singer and exclaimed in genuine appreciation: “Tum hi ustad ho” (you are a true descendant of the masters of the art.) It was an age of gentlemen-musicians. Link


The canonical chiz in Raga Chhayanat, Jhanana jhanana.


While people used to admire his flawless diction in Urdu, Hindi, etc, they used to be amazed at his graceful and fine pronunciation of Braj-Bhasha in which a large number of Khayals, Dhamars, etc, are couched. This was because Faiyaz Khan spent his early years in the Braj-Bhasha areas like Mathura, Agra, Atrauli, etc. His father-in-law, Mahboob Khan of Atrauli, was none other than the reputed composer Daras Piya whose khayals in ragas like. Jog, Anandi, etc, are still so popular. Another relation–Suras Piya- was a wellknown composer who lived a recluse’s life in Mathura.

The song Man Mohan Brij ko Rasiya (in Paraj) which Faiyaz Khan has made famous, is a sample of Saras Piya’s compositions. Faiyaz Khan himself composed many songs under the penname Prem Piya.

In his youthful “halcyon days” Faiyaz Khan sat in the company of great artists like Moizzuddin, Bhaiya Ganapatrao and Malkajan. That was how he had imbibed the romantic Thumri style and could render Dadras and Ghazals so imaginatively. Many a time I have witnessed Faiyaz Khan rendering the Bhairavi Thumri “Babul Mora” and drawing tears out of the listeners’ eyes. Faiyaz Khan used to say that Malkajan’s Bhairavi-Thumris were peerless. And Malka even in her obscure later years never missed the Ustad’s concerts in Calcutta. Unlike some highbrow musicians, Faiyaz Khan never looked down on light classical types of songs. He used to say:- “It is not a child’s play to sing a Thumri or a Ghazal. The essence is the bol-but one has to be very imaginative and original.” Even into a simple Dadra he could pour a lot of genuine emotion. Link


Another “Payal baaje” bandish, this time the classic in Nat Bihag.


Ramkali: Un sanga laagi ankhiyan. His layakari is very enjoyable.

Ustad Faiyaz Khan would render a full scale ‘Nom-Tom’ alap and follow it up with khayal compositions, thus blending dhrupad and khayal and giving his gayaki more flexibility. His bol-banawo, bant, layakari, and his inimitable style of reaching the sam are unmatched even today. He was a great composer himself, his pen name being #145;Prempiya’. His compositions in raga Jaijaiwanti, Jog etc. are treasured by Agra singers to this day. In fact, Faiyaz Khan’s Agra gayaki became so famous that most of his students and followers would actually copy him to the very last detail, imitating even his voice.


Baju band khul khul jaaye in Raga Bhairavi. One of the pivotal renderings of a timeless classic. Enjoy his layakari and occasional tappa-ang taans in the laggi section.

Another Bhairavi, Banao batiyaan. This wonderful dadra performance is packed with emotion. Note his heartfelt pukaras as he approaches the top Shadja; nobody can evoke emotion like this anymore, alas. Also notice his inclusion of vernacular, “speechy” utterances like “Aare haan” (“Oh, yeah!”) in the course of his rendering, rather like a contemporary bluesman.

Please can you tell me what do I need to learn raagas

Everything either came from WIKI or from the ITCSRA website. No original prose included!

“and was a for short time a disciple of Ustad Jagadguru Mallick of Calcutta who had the famous sarodiya Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan and the renowned sitarist Ustad Enayet Khan in his tutelege.”

You didn’t get this bit out of Kumar Mukherjee’s “Lost World”, did you?


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