Remembering a Beloved Musician of India on His Death Anniversary – Ustad Bismillah Khan

Shehnai maestro Ustaad Bismillah Khan, born Qamaruddin Khan, was one of India’s most well known and loved musicians. He was a recipient of numerous awards, among them the Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan, Padma Shri and the Bharat Ratna. He was also known the world over for his melodious tunes that left all mesmerised and in awe. Today, August 21, we remember him on his death anniversary and take a look at his life. Also Read – Google Doodle Honours Shehnai Maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan on His 102nd Birth Anniversary

Bismillah Khan was born on March 21, 1916 in Dumraon, Bihar into a family of court musicians. His father Paigambar Bux Khan was a court musician at the Dumraon Estate of Maharaja Keshav Prasad Singh. At the age of 6, he moved to Varanasi to learn to play the Shehnai from his maternal uncle, Ali Bux ‘Vilayatu’ Khan. Also Read – Kejriwal visits Bismillah Khan’s tomb in Varanasi

Early Life:

Ustaad Bismillah Khan accompanied his uncle, who was a Shehnai player at the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, to the Allahabad music conference at the age of 14. When he was 16-years of age, his marriage was arranged with a cousin of his, and he had five daughters and three sons with her. Also Read – Lok Sabha Elections 2014: Top 5 news on AAP you must read on April 29

In The Limelight:

When India gained its Independence from the British on August 15, 1947, Ustaad Bismillah Khan was the first Indian to greet the nation with his Shehnai from the Red Fort in Delhi. He also played the Shehnai at the first Republic Day celebration in 1950, and it has continued ever since.

Apart from that, Ustaad Bismillah Khan also had a brief association with movies, playing the background score for some. For the film Sannadi Appanna, a Kannada movie, he played the Shehnai for the character Apanna played by Rajkumar and it became a blockbuster in 1977.

Unfulfilled Dream:

Ustaad Bismillah Khan, who attributed his talent to the blessings of Lord Vishwanath, had a long-cherished desire to perform at India Gate in New Delhi in memory of martyrs of World War-I. His last wish to pay tribute to the martyrs was to be fulfilled in July 2006, but it never bore fruit.


Ustaad Bismillah Khan’s health started to deteriorate on August 17, 2006 and he was admitted to the Heritage Hospital in Varanasi for treatment. He suffered a cardiac arrest and died on August 21, 2006 at the age of 90. He was buried at Fatemaan burial ground of old Varanasi along with a Shehnai.

(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); = id; js.src = “”; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’));

(function(d, s, id) {
var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];
if (d.getElementById(id)) return;
js = d.createElement(s); = id;
js.src = “”;
fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);
}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’));