Ustad Rais Khan (Urdu: رئیس خان; 25 November 1939 – 6 May 2017) was a Pakistani sitarist. At his peak he was regarded as 'one of the greatest sitar players of all time'. He continued to perform until the end of his life. He moved from India to Pakistan in 1986. In 2017, Khan was awarded Pakistan's third highest civilian honour, the Sitara-i-Imtiaz.
ustad Rais Khan
Khan performing in 2013
استاد رئیس خان
|Born||25 November 1939|
Indore, Madhya Pradesh, British India
|Died||6 May 2017 (aged 77)|
|Genres||Hindustani classical music|
|Years active||1948 – 2017|
|Pride of Performance Recipient|
|Presented by||Pervez Musharraf, President of Pakistan|
Rais Khan was born on 25 November 1939 in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, British India. He grew up in Bombay. His training began at a very young age, on a small coconut shell sitar. In 1986 he moved to Pakistan, seven years after marrying his fourth wife - a Pakistani singer named Bilqees Khanum. In 1979, the two met for the first time in a programme by the Sabri Brothers in Karachi. They have two sons together - Farhan Khan and Huzoor Hasnain Khan. Rais Khan has four sons: Sohail Khan, Cezanne Khan, Farhan Khan and Huzoor Hasnain Khan.
Rais Khan belonged to the Mewati gharana (classical music lineage), which is connected to Indore gharana and the "beenkar baz gayaki ang" (singing style combined with rudra veena approaches) carried out by Rais Khan's father Mohammed Khan, a rudra veena player and a sitarist. "Belonging to the Mewati gharana which goes back to the Mughal period, it produced famous singers Haddoo, Hasso and Nathu Khan, and later singers such as Bare Ghulam Ali Khan, as well as sitarists and sarod players."
"The famous Indian sitar player Ustad Vilayat Khan is his maternal uncle who came to live with them when Vilayat's father died. Rais Khan denies there is any friction between them, contrary to the rumours that exist even today. He praises Ravi Shankar, said to be a rival too, as a brilliant musician who has introduced the sitar to the world."
Despite his extensive meend work and the gandhar pancham sitar style he used, Rais Khan's alapi, gatkari and gamaki work was different in approach, pacing, and even technique, from the Etawah style. Amongst the khayal and dhrupad doyens, Rais Khan's gharana had the classical music lineage containing the masters Haddu Khan, Hassu Khan, Nathan Khan, Bande Ali Khan, Babu Khan, Wazir Khan, Waheed Khan, Murad Khan, Latif Khan, Majid Khan, Nazeer Khan, Amanat Khan and Rajab Ali Khan of Dewas.
As Rais Khan's mother was a singer and his father was a beenkar (veena player), a unique combination of khyal (the most popular classical vocal style), dhrupad (the older and more orthodox classical form) and thumri (lyrical semi-classical form) – 'angs' (approaches) developed in his playing.
He gave his first public concert at Sunderbai Hall in the presence of the then Governor of Bombay Sir Maharaja Singh. In 1955, Khan was chosen to represent India in the International Youth Festival in Warsaw, where 111 countries took part in the string instrument conference. He has also performed at the Kennedy Center. While in India, he played film music for Lata Mangeshkar, Mohammed Rafi and Asha Bhosle. In India, he played a key role by his association with film composers like Madan Mohan which resulted in many super-hit songs. He had toured extensively throughout the world.
He was also a vocalist and was the first sitar player to record the super-hit song 'Ghungroo toot gaye' for BBC London in 1978 as an instrumental song with the sitar. This song was originally written by Qateel Shifai, music by Nisar Bazmi for a Pakistani film Naz (1969). Like his uncle Vilayat Khan, he often sang and demonstrated compositions on the sitar. Rais and Bismillah Khan (shehnai player) used to collaborate and perform together in live concerts as a duo, like the one at India Gate in New Delhi on 23 November 2001.
For sometime, Rais Khan stopped performing, but returned in the 1980s and was invited by Ali Akbar Khan to perform in California.
Rais Khan sometimes performed with his son Farhan, as he did in a 2009 performance for Pakistan Television (PTV) produced TV show 'Virsa- Heritage Revived', accompanied by Tari Khan on tabla. In 2012, he performed at the Nehru Centre in Mumbai. In 2014, he performed Hans Dhuni in Coke Studio Pakistan (season 7).
Death and legacyEdit
After a prolonged illness, Rais Khan died on 6 May 2017 in Karachi at the age of 77. In 2012, one major Pakistani English-language newspaper commented about his declining health, "He proudly says that his decades old habit of smoking 115 cigarettes a day, which is the reason for his declining health, came to an abrupt end four years ago when the doctor ordered him to stop."
On his death, Urdu writer Anwar Maqsood remarked that “God had given him a rare gift. His fingers had that rare touch.” In a tweet, Indian singer Lata Mangeshkar called Khan “sitar ke jaadugar” (lit. magician of sitar).
His son Farhan Khan is also a sitarist.
- Adnan, Ally (2 May 2014). "Indus Raag". The Friday Times. Retrieved 31 December 2018.
One of the greatest sitar players of all times, Rais Khan is hands-down the most melodic sitar player in the world today.
- Kumar, Kuldeep (13 January 2012). "A tale of two recitals". The Hindu (newspaper). Retrieved 31 December 2018.
Rais Khan who in his heyday was considered among the most skilful sitar players in the country.
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- Hamilton, James Sadler (1994). Sitar Music in Calcutta: An Ethnomusicological Study. Motilal Banarsidass Publisher. pp. 26–28. ISBN 9788120812109. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
- Amit Adiecha – "History of Sitar," and the CD "Melodious Sitar of Rais Khan" – Chhanda Dhara 1993
- Manuel, Peter Lamarche (1989). Ṭhumrī in Historical and Stylistic Perspectives. Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 9788120806733. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
- Rais Khan profile Retrieved 31 December 2018
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- "A superb recital by sitar maestro". The News International (newspaper). 30 March 2009. Retrieved 31 December 2018.
- S, Surekha (20 January 2012). "Strike a chord with 'chocolate' Ustad". mid-day.com. Retrieved 31 December 2018.
- "Sitar maestro Ustad Raees Khan passes away". Geo News (TV channel). 7 May 2017. Retrieved 31 December 2018.
- "Pakistani sitar maestro Ustad Raees Khan dead at 77". Firstpost. Indo-Asian News Service. 7 May 2017. Retrieved 31 December 2018.