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Balabhau Umdekar
GharanaKhayal - Gwalior
Balabhau Umdekar
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Balabhau Umdekar alias KundalGuru (1901 - 04/06/1968) was a doyen of Gwalior Gharana. He was born in Lashkar area in Gwalior in a Brahmin family of NanuBhaiya Umdekar. His ancestors came to Gwalior from Umade, a village near Hyderabad. His father too was a musician, but died when Balabhau was just five years old. He studied both – Sanskrit and English and was so well versed in Sanskrit at a level to compose in this ancient language. He was trained under Pandit Bala Guruji (disciple of Ust Haddu Khan of Gwalior), Ust Nissar Hussain Khan, Pandurang buwa Kshirsagar and Fida Hussain (all from Gwalior court). He had a training of Khayal, Tappa, Thumari and also Dhrupad in Gwalior tradition and his rendering of all these forms was appreciated by his contemporaries. He was court singer (Darbar Gayak) of Gwalior for 12 years.
He also took degree of Sangeet-Ratna in 1923 from Madhav Sangeet Vidyalay, Gwalior and then joined it as a Guru and served for nine years. He also contributed as a teacher (Guru) in various institutions, such as his own 'Chatur Sangeet Vidyalay' (founded in 1927), Nagpur University (as a visiting faculty and examiner), Indira Kala Sangeet Univeristy, Khairagadh.
In 1941, the degree of "Sangeet Maharshi" (from Kanpur Sangeet Samaj) and "Doctor of Music" (Indira Kala Sangeet University) was conferred on him.
A book of his bandishes called "Raag Suman Mala" was published in 1938 and it received award of a thousand rupees from Maharaja Jayajirao Sindhia of Gwalior. Later in 1989, his daughter Sangeeta Kathale (head of the department of music at maharani laxmibai kanya mahavidyalay, bhopal) re-edited and republished it. This book contains his Bandish-s in various forms such as Sargam, LakshanGeet, Bada and ChotaKhayal, Tarana, SurSagar or Bamayna Bandish, Hori, Tappa etc. in various common and uncommon Raag-s such as Janaranjani, Chittamohini, Kaamboji, DevRanjani, KamalManohari, Manohari, GopiKamboji, Saraswati, etc. BalaBhau introduced many Raag-s from Carnatic music to Hindustani music. His Bandish-s in Raag Chakradhar, Saraswati are made famous by Panditaa Malini Rajurkar by her powerfull rendering in many concerts and HMV record.
He trained his son Vasant and two daughters in Khayal and Tappa. His grand daughters, Shashvati Mandal and Radhika Umdekar are keeping his tradition of music alive.
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