Gopeshwar Banerjee
Bishnupur, Bankura, Bengal Presidency, British India
Died28 July 1963 (aged 82–83)

Family - Ganesh Chandra Banerjee( Son)

        Bishwaranjan Banerjee (grandson)
        Dev Ranjan Banerjee (grandson)
        Swaraj Ranjan Banerjee (grandson)
        Nikhil Ranjan Banerjee (grandson)
        Indraneel Banerjee (grandson)
        Krishna Adhikary (granddaughter)
        Archana Maitra (granddaughter)
death_place = Bishnupur, Bankura, West Bengal
GenresHindustani classical music
Occupation(s)vocalist, musicologist
Instrumentssurbahar, sitar
Years active1895–1963
LabelsGramophone Company of India

Gopeshwar Banerjee or Gopeshwar Bandopadhyay (1880–1963) was an Indian classical singer and musicologist, belonging to Bishnupur gharana of Hindustani music, which originated in Bishnupur in West Bengal.[1] He was known for his khyal and dhrupad renditions, besides Rabindra Sangeet. He also sang thumri, and most notably the thumri, Kon Gali Gayo Shyam, in Raga Mishra Khamaj, which he popularised.[2] As a musicologist, he published several books of rare compositions with musical notations, including dhrupad and Rabindra Sangeet.

He started his career as a court musician of the Maharaja of Burdwan in 1895, and worked there for 29 years till 1924. Thereafter he shifted to Kolkata. Towards the end of his career, he was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship in 1962, the highest honour conferred by Sangeet Natak Akademi, India's National Academy for Music, Dance and Drama.

Early life and background

Born in 1880, in Bishnupur, Bankura in Bengal[3] He was the second son of his father Anantalal Banerjee (anglicised version of Bandopadhyay), who was court musician in of Ramkrishna Singhadev of Bishnupur. He was disciple of Ram Shankar Bhattacharya,[4] later became the first teacher of the residential music school of Bishnupur, Bishnupur Sangeet Vidhyalaya, later renamed Ram Saran Music College.[5] All his three sons, Ramprasanna Banerjee, Gopeswar Banerjee and Surendranath Banerjee were all singers and also musicologists. They did valuable documentation and music notation work in the field of Indian classical music.[4][6] The eldest, Ramprasanna Banerjee wrote, Sangeet Manjari (1935), which contained theoretical treatise on musical concepts, besides favoured practices in vocal recitals, and notations of various genres, like dhrupad, khyal, thumri, and tappa.[4]

His younger brother Surendranath Banerjee was also a noted musicians and one of the pioneers of the Bishnupur gharana. Later remained Principal of the Ramsaran Music College in Bishnupur. He died on 28 July 1963 in Bishnupur.[7]

He received his music training from musicians of Betiya gharana of Bihar, as did another contemporary singer of the Bishnupur gharana, Radhika Prasad Goswami.[8]


Early in his career, in 1895 he was appointed a court singer, by the Maharaja of Burdwan, here he worked here for the next 29 years, till 1924. This turned out to be most fruitful period of his career. He devoted his time in the research of the theory and history of Indian music.[9] He travelled across India with the Maharaja and became acquainted with several noted musicians of the time, which expanded his knowledge of various musical traditions and genres.[10] He also learnt to play surbahar from Sayed Mohammed working at the court of Maharaja Jatindramohan Tagore, thereafter he also learnt sitar from Imdad Khan. His surbahar recital along with Khan, where even commercially recorded.[10] While still in Burdwan, he published Sangita Chandrika in two volumes, an early and important study of musicology in India.[11] It also included a collection of Bengali and Hindi songs set to music.[12] His other books on musicology include Geet-Darpan, Geet-Praveshika and Sangeet-Lahari, all in Bengali language.

Once his term as Burdwan came to end, he shifted to Calcutta, where he spent his next 20 years, till 1943.[13] By now from singing, in time, he had become an eminent musicologist. He along with his cousin Surendranath Banerjee, compiled a large number of Dhrupad compositions, complete with their musical notations. Later, he not just sang,[14] but also reproduced some of the well known Rabindra Sangeet songs, that is songs composed by Rabindranath Tagore, especially those in the Dhrupadanga.[15] Prior to 1917, Banerjee had published the first volume of Sangeet Chandrika, which included the notations for Tagore's composition, Patha ekhan kela alasita anga.[16]

Today, he is amongst the few singers from Bengal of the period, who performed the dhrupad-genre of singing, besides Radhika Prasad Goswami, Gopal Babu and Aghor Chakravarti.[17]

His son Ramesh Banerjee also became a singer, while his notable disciples include Rita Ganguly.[18]

In 1962, he was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship the highest honour conferred by Sangeet Natak Akademi, India's National Academy for Music, Dance and Drama.[19]




  1. ^ Gowri Kuppuswamy; Muthuswamy Hariharan (1979). Readings on Indian music. College Book House. p. 126.
  2. ^ M. Ganguly (7 May 2008). "Sweet tributes to music". The Telegraph. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
  3. ^ Sangeet Natak, Issues 11–14. Sangeet Natak Akademi. 1969. p. 64.
  4. ^ a b c Indian Musicological Society (1986). Journal of the Indian Musicological Society. Indian Musicological Society. p. 56. Retrieved 20 July 2013.
  5. ^ Samira Dasgupta; Rabiranjan Biswas; Gautam Kumar Mallik (2009). Heritage Tourism: An Anthropological Journey to Bishnupur. Mittal Publications. pp. 110–. ISBN 978-81-8324-294-3. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
  6. ^ Amal Das Sharma (1993). Musicians of India: Past and Present : Gharanas of Hindustani Music and Genealogies. Naya Prokash. pp. 176, 213. ISBN 978-81-85421-18-6. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
  7. ^ "Obituary". The Indian Express. 30 July 1963. p. 5. Retrieved 25 April 2017.
  8. ^ Chetan Karnani (2005). Form in Indian music: a study in Gharanas. Rawat Publications. p. 20. ISBN 978-81-7033-921-2. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
  9. ^ Sangeet Natak, p. 67
  10. ^ a b Sangeet Natak, p. 68
  11. ^ Narendra Kumar Bose (1960). Melodic types of Hindusthān: a scientific interpretation of the rāga system of Northern India. Jaico Pub. House. p. 160.
  12. ^ "Sangita Chandrika". National Library of India. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
  13. ^ Sangeet Natak, p. 69
  14. ^ Ghosh, p. 108
  15. ^ Indian Literature. Sahitya Akademi. 1973. p. 20. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
  16. ^ Ghosh, p. 222
  17. ^ Viney K. Agarwala (1966). Traditions and trends in Indian music. Rastogi. p. 24.
  18. ^ Sruti,Issues 196–207. P.N. Sundaresan. 2001. p. 15.
  19. ^ "SNA: List of Sangeet Natak Akademi Ratna Puraskarwinners (Akademi Fellows)". SNA Official website. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016.
  20. ^ a b c Michael S. Kinnear (1 January 1994). The Gramophone Company's First Indian Recordings, 1899–1908. Popular Prakashan. pp. 131–. ISBN 978-81-7154-728-9. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
  21. ^ Indian Institute of Advanced Study (1996). Cultural reorientation in modern India. Indian Institute of Advanced Study. p. 341. ISBN 9788185952376.