Pandit Jasraj: My most memorable concert

One of India’s greatest vocalists Pandit Jasraj has passed away at the age of 90 following a cardiac arrest. The news came as his daughter Durga Jasraj told PTI that “Bapuji is no more.”

Pandit Jasraj was staying in the US during the coronavirus lockdown.

Later a statement was issued by his family, “With profound grief, we inform that Sangeet Martand Pandit Jasraj ji breathed his last this morning at 5.15 EST due to a cardiac arrest at his home in New Jersey, USA.”

“May Lord Krishna welcome him lovingly through the doors of heaven, where Pandit ji will now sing Om Namo Bhagwate Vasudevaya exclusively just for his beloved Lord. We pray that his soul rests in eternal musical peace. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers, Pandit Jasraj ji’s family, and the students of Mewati Gharana,” it said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to condole the maestro’s death. 

“The unfortunate demise of Pandit Jasraj Ji leaves a deep void in the Indian cultural sphere. Not only were his renditions outstanding, he also made a mark as an exceptional mentor to several other vocalists. Condolences to his family and admirers worldwide. Om Shanti,” the PM said.

andit Jasraj was born on 28 January 1930 in Pili Mandori, a village in the Hisar district of Haryana, in a middle-class Brahmin family to Pandit Motiram, a classical singer. Motiram died in 1934 when Jasraj was four, on the day he was to be appointed as the state musician in the court of the last Nizam of Hyderabad, Mir Osman Ali Khan.

Jasraj spent his youth in Hyderabad and travelled often to Sanand in Gujarat to study music with musicians of the Mewati gharana.

his interview was recorded by journalist Dr Vijay Rana in London in January 2004. Pandit Jasraj had come to participate in a concert called Tiranga, celebrating the 55th Republic Day of India.

The 3,000-seat Royal Festival Hall in London had a capacity crowd of NRIs who had come to listen to Pandit ji. Poet Javed Akhter, santoor maestro Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma, mandolin wizard Vidhwan U Shrinivas and world-famous tabla player Ustad Zakir Hussain also performed in that concert.

What really shocked and disappointed the people that the concert was over in just about 90 minutes and a major part of it was occupied by uninteresting speeches.

Just before the concerts, Pandit Jasraj recorded this interview. He talked about his early days and how he learned under his elder brother Pandit Maniram.

Pandit Jasraj initially wanted to be a Tabla player but soon he realised that accompanist musicians were not respected. He remembered that such humiliation in a concert in Lahore, he decided to become a vocalist.

He also remembers one of his most memorable concert.

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