Khan, Ali Akbar

Khan, Ali Akbar älē´ ăk´bär khän [key], 1922–2009, Indian musician, b. Shivpur, East Bengal (now Bangladesh). A master of the sarod, a lutelike 25-stringed N Indian instrument, Khan was born into a family whose roots in traditional Indian court music extend back to the 16th cent. Trained by his father, Alauddin Khan, a famous musician and teacher, the younger Khan began performing at 13, was appointed court musician to the maharaja of Jodhpur, and became a well-known virtuoso. The violinist Yehudi Menuhin heard Khan play in Delhi in 1955 and invited the young musician to the United States. There he performed classical Indian music in concert and on television and made his first recordings, helping to spur the genre's popularity in the West during the 1960s and thereafter. Khan produced nearly 100 albums and performed frequently, sometimes with his brother-in-law, sitarist Ravi Shankar. He composed numerous ragas and wrote the scores for several films, e.g., Satyajit Ray's Devi (1960) and Bernardo Bertolucci's Little Buddha (1993). Khan founded colleges of classical Indian music in Kolkata (1956), San Rafael, Calif. (1967), and Basel, Switzerland (1985), and established (1994) a music foundation.

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