Haafiz Ali Khan
Hafiz Ali Khan on a 2000 stamp of India
Hafiz Ali Khan on a 2000 stamp of India
Background information
Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh
Died1972 (aged 84)[1]
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
GenresHindustani classical music
Occupation(s)Composer, Sarod player

Hafiz Ali Khan (1888–1972) was an Indian sarod player.[2] A fifth-generation descendant of the Bangash gharana (school or style) of sarod players, Hafiz Ali was known for the lyrical beauty of his music[clarification needed] and the crystal-clear tone of his strokes. The occasional critic[who?] has, however, observed that Khan's imagination was often closer to the semi-classical thumri idiom than the austere dhrupad style prevalent in his times. He was a recipient of the civilian honour, the Padma Bhushan Award, in 1960.[3]

Early life and background

A son of the sarod player Nanneh Khan, Hafiz Ali grew up in a community of sarod players, and it is likely that he studied with his father and a number of his proximate disciples.[4][1] He later took lessons from his cousin Abdulla Khan, nephew Mohammad Amir Khan, and finally the beenkar Wazir Khan of Rampur. Wazir Khan was supposedly a direct descendant of the legendary Tansen, through the lineage of the latter's daughter. Notably, Allauddin Khan of Maihar was also a pupil of Wazir Khan in Rampur in the same period. It said that Hafiz Ali later studied dhrupad and thumri with Ganeshilal Chaubey in Mathura and Bhaiya Ganpatrao, respectively.[1]

Performing career

Hafiz Ali's regal appearance and electrifying charisma made him one of the most sought-after musicians of his time, which was no mean feat for an instrumentalist in an era largely dominated by vocal music. Old-timers who have seen him in concert recall his stage presence and musicianship with reverence and awe. While still a court musician in Gwalior, he would undertake numerous trips to Bengal, where he performed at major music festivals, and taught a number of disciples. Khan's music found generous patrons in two Bengali aristocrats, Raychand Boral and Manmatha Ghosh, both of whom studied with him at various points. Haafiz Ali Khan was also appreciated in the Viceregal firmament of colonial India for his unique, stylized renditions of "God Save The King" on his sarod.[1]


Hafiz Ali died in 1972, at the age of 84 in New Delhi.[1] A road in his name was inaugurated by the Chief Minister, Smt. Sheila Dikshit on 10 February at PWD Road. This is the 2nd entry road to Nizamuddin Railway Station. This is the only road named after an artist after Tansen and Thyagaraja in the capital city. This road is about 300 metres long.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e Profile of Hafiz Ali Khan on SwarGanga.org website Retrieved 26 January 2018
  2. ^ Brick, mortar & false notes Dawn (newspaper), Published 29 April 2010, Retrieved 26 January 2018
  3. ^ "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  4. ^ "Cultural crossover". The Hindu (newspaper). Chennai, India. 24 March 2012. Retrieved 26 January 2018.

Further reading

McNeil, Adrian (2004). Inventing the Sarod: A Cultural History. Calcutta: Seagull Books. p. 174. ISBN 81-7046-213-4.