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 Fuller Up The Dead Musician Directory 
 
Ustaad Allarakha Khan
Alla Rakha Quereshi
Ustad Alla Rakha
February 3, 2000
Age 80
Heart Attack 
 
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Editor's Pick:  The Ultimate in Taal-Vidya
 
 
 
 

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Music greats bid fare well to Ustad Allarakha 
News By A Staff Reporter Sports Diary Mumbai, (PTI): 
 
      When he moved from his village near Jammu to learn tabla from Mian Kader Bux 
      at the age of 11, he was a non-entity. In Bombay When he died yesterday, 
      Ustad Allarakha Khan, the country's leading tabla exponent of the Punjab gharana, 
      who raised the tabla to the status of a solo instrument, was perhaps the greatest 
      known exponent of the percussion instrument.  Born on April 29, 1919, at Phagwal 
      village of Jammu, Khan was fascinated with the sound of the tabla since the age of 
      12, when he was staying with his uncle at Gurdaspur.  He learnt 'Raag Vidya' (melody
      aspect) from Ustad Ashiq Ali Khan of the Patiala Gharana. He started his career as 
      an All India Radio Style staffer in Mumbai in 1940, and later composed music for a 
      couple of Hindi films from 1943-48. Khan made his first international stage appearance
      in Japan in 1958, along with Pandit Ravi Shanker. With Khan on the tabla and Ravi on 
      the First sitar, the jugalbandi created a rare blend of music, making waves internationally.
       In Mumbai, he taught students the finer aspects of the tabla at his 'Ustad Allarakha Khan 
      Institute of Music' at Shivaji Park.  Among his acclaimed disciples are his three sons - 
      tabla wizard Zakir Hussain, Fazal Quereshi and Taufiq Quereshi - and Mick Hart, a  
      US-based drummer of international fame.   Khan was honoured with the Padma Shri in 
      1977 and was the recipient of the Sangeet Natak Akademi award in 1982.  When he 
      felicitated Pandit Jasraj on the latter's 70th birthday at Shanmukhananda Hall in Mumbai 
      recently, he was asked to speak some lines. He responded with a series of tabla bols, 
      declaring, "This is the only language I know."
    
      BOMBAY, India (AP) - Allarakha Khan, the best-known player of the tabla, or Indian drum, died early Thursday, his family said. He was 81. 

       His family said the musician, who used only the name Allarakha, died shortly after learning of his daughter's death. Family members said he was shocked by the news and suffered a heart attack at his home. 

       He and his daughter Razia, 51, who had suffered from a heart ailment, will be buried Friday. 

       Allarakha made his international debut in Japan in 1964, playing with Indian sitar maestro Ravi Shankar. The duo helped popularize Indian music abroad and sold out concerts both in India and elsewhere. 

       Allarakha also composed music for popular Hindi films in the 1960s. Over the last few years, he taught music at an institute he set up in Bombay. 

       At his birthday party last year, Allarakha was asked to say a few words. He played the tabla instead. 

       ``This is the language I know,'' he told the audience. 

       Allarakha is survived by his wife, three sons and a daughter. One of his sons, Zakir Hussain, also is an internationally known tabla player and one of India's most successful recording artists.

 
NY TIMES
        
 Ustad Alla Rakha, 80, Master of Hindustani Classical Music 

          By JON PARELES 
 

                   Ustad Alla Rakha, the most important tabla drummer of his 
                   generation, died Thursday at his home in Bombay. He was 80.  

              He had a heart attack when he learned of the death of his daughter Razia 
              during cataract surgery, said a spokesman for Moment Records and 
              Zakir Hussain Management, which releases albums by Mr. Rakha and 
              his son Zakir Hussain, who also plays the tabla.  

              Alla Rakha, who was given the honorific Ustad as a master musician and 
              teacher, was a virtuoso of the complex system of talas, rhythmic cycles 
              that are central to Hindustani classical music, and he used his skill to 
              invigorate every musician who shared the stage with him.  

              "All life is rhythm," he once said in an interview. Sitting calmly, with his 
              hands a blur of speed above his drums, he traded smiles and dazzling, 
              incendiary improvisations with leading figures in Indian music, among 
              them the sitar players Ravi Shankar, Vilayat Khan and Ali Akbar Khan.  

              He was also the first tabla player to give solo concerts.  

              "The country has lost an accomplished maestro whose mastery over the 
              tabla created waves all over the world," the prime minister of India, Atal 
              Bihari Vajpayee, said in a statement. "He strode like a colossus on the 
              scene of Indian classical music."  

              Alla Rakha Qureshi was a farmer's son who grew up in a small village in 
              the Jammu region of Punjab. He was drawn to music and theater as a 
              child, and began studying music against his parents' wishes.  

              His first tabla teacher, Lal Mohamed, was a disciple of Mian Qader 
              Bakshi, a leading musician in the Punjab gharana, or school, of classical 
              music. When he was 12 he ran away from home to study with Mr. 
              Bakshi in Lahore, in what is now Pakistan.  

              He began performing on Lahore Radio, and in 1936 he moved to Delhi 
              to work for All India Radio, and then to Bombay. During the 1930's he 
              studied raga singing with Ustad Ashiq Ali Khan of the Patiala gharana.  

              He also married a cousin, Bavi Begum.  

              In 1943 he began working in the Bombay film industry as a music 
              director for Rangmahal Studios, and he provided music for two dozen 
              films in Hindi and Punjabi.  

              He performed with Mr. Shankar, who also worked for All India Radio, 
              in the 1940's, and their partnership carried Hindustani classical music 
              beyond India's borders.  

              He made a percussion album with the jazz drummer Buddy Rich, and he 
              performed with Mr. Shankar at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 and 
              at the first Woodstock festival in 1969.  

              Although he occasionally collaborated with Western musicians, he was 
              revered for his classical performances.  

              In recent years he had devoted much of his time to teaching. His three 
              sons -- Mr. Hussain, Fazal Qureshi and Taufiq Qureshi -- are all tabla 
              players, and he ran a music school, the Alla Rakha Institute of Music, in 
              Bombay. He estimated that he had hundreds of students.  

              In addition to his wife and sons, he is survived by another daughter, 
              Kurshid Aulia of London, and nine grandchildren. 

 
       
 

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All-Music Guide
 
 Alla Rakha Quereshi, born April 29, 1919, at Ratangarh, near Jammu in India, is one of the leading 
 accompanists and tabla soloists of Hindustani music. He is also vocalist, harmonium player and 
 composer. He rose to fame through his work as Ravi Shankar's accompanist in the 1960s and 
 1970s when Shankar's music was finding a new, international audience. Since record-keeping at the 
 time of his birth tended to be hit-and-miss affairs -- often little more than a season or in proximity to 
 a holy day -- his birth date is approximate, borne out by the fact that he celebrated his 75th birthday 
 in Bombay on January 15, 1994.  

 Quereshi's musical interests were fueled by the traveling theatrical entertainments that would pass 
 through the Jammu region, and eventually, he ran away from home to Lahore in present-day 
 Pakistan. There he lived with his uncle and eventually took formal tuition; fortunately, his skills were 
 recognized early on. Unusually, he studied under Mian Kadur Bukhsh for tabla and under Ashiq Ali 
 Khan for voice. He went to work with All India Radio (AIR) at its Delhi location in 1936 with the 
 famous broadcaster Z.A. Bokhari. He worked in other locations for AIR before leaving the 
 company in 1943 for the movie industry where he composed and performed music to meet the 
 insatiable demand for cinematic entertainment. In time he moved on to classical music. He was 
 especially known for his work with two of the subcontinent's finest sitarists, having worked with both 
 Vilayat Khan and Ravi Shankar. Alla Rakha went on to record extensively with Ravi Shankar. He 
 also made a mark as a world class percussionist with his early East-West collaboration with 
 American jazz drummer Buddy Rich on Rich à la Rakha (World Pacific WPS 21453) and the solo 
 Tabla! (WPS 21458). 

 He remains one of the supreme percussionists of Northern Indian music and like his sons, Zakir 
 Hussain and Fazal Quereshi, he has given birth to a new style of tabla playing which has elevated the 
 role of tabla player from the relatively lowly accompanist to soloist. Many listeners expect the 
 flamboyance and panache of their cross-rhythms and compare other players' styles unfavorably to 
 that of Alla Rakha and his sons. It is a relatively recent trend, fast becoming the norm. Exciting 
 musically and visually arresting, it has been carbon dated to the 1960s and the emergence of a new 
 wave of soloists bringing new levels of stagecraft to the concert podium. -- Ken Hunt, All Music 
 Guide

 
 
  
 
 

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HEAR OR BUY THE MUSIC
    • It is possible to hear the following cd's/songs by choosing from the links listed below. 
    • You can also purchase discounted cd's, tapes, vynyl, and videos from the same secure site.
      
    -- Ustad Allarakha Khan 
     
Other CD's

Concert for Bangla Desh-- with George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Ringo Starr 
Rolling Thunder -- with Mickey Hart, Grace Slick, Stephen Stills, Bob Weir, Jerry  Garcia  
In Celebration: The Highlights -- with Ravi Shankar, The London Symphony Orchestra 
West Meets East: The Historic Shankar/Menuhin Sessions -- With Yehudi Menuhin, Ravi Shankar 
 

Songs

Bangla Dhun - Ravi Shankar/Ali Akbar/Alla Rakah/Kamala Chakravarty from 'Bangla Desh 
Supaney Mein Aye -- From In Celebration.  
Ektaal Drut (10 Matras) -- Allarakha

 
 
 
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