Veteran musicologist and critic Mohan Nadkarni passes away

23 Jul,2014

By A Correspondent


Mohan Nadkarni, one of India’s most well known Hindustani musicologists and perhaps the most published author on the subject, passed away yesterday (Tuesday, July 22) in Auckland, New Zealand. He was 91.


Mr Nadkarni was the music critic of The Times of India for over 50 years, having reviewed thousands of concerts between 1948 and 2000. He was also a columnist with mid-day in the 1990s. He has authored over 4000 articles mostly on Hindustani music, but also on Marathi and Sanskrit theatre and other cultural topics in leading publications all over India and abroad. He has had the rare privilege of reviewing the earliest concert performances of such legendary musicians as Pandit Ravi Shankar, Ali Akbar Khan, Fazal Qureshi’s father Ustad Alla Rakha and brother Zakir – and Fazal himself, besides several others, too numerous to mention here.


In those years, he also consulted with recording companies like HMV helping produce the early LP records of many of these artistes in terms of repertoire and promotional notes that appear on the record covers. In the process, he developed lifelong friendships with musical luminaries of three generations and had fond memories of his discussions, arguments and the rare camaraderie he shared with them at different times in their successful careers. He has touched upon many of those experiences in the eight major books on Hindustani music that he authored, including the bestselling biography of Pandit Bhimsen Joshi that continues to be a fast seller on and which has been translated into several Indian languages.


Mr Nadkarni has won several awards including the Karnataka State Government’s Kalashree award for lifetime’s contribution to music and the Shreshtha Sangeet Sadhak Award from the prestigious Bhatkhande Institute, again, for lifetime achievement. He is a permanent member of the Sangeet Research Academy, Kolkata, which continues to produce such talented artistes as Ustad Rashid Khan. He has lectured and held workshops on Hindustani music in several cities in India as well as in Switzerland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom among other countries. He addressed the World Music Forum in Rotterdam in the Netherlands in 1995.


Mr Nadkarni moved to New Zealand eight years ago to live with his only son and before migrating donated his entire musical library comprising thousands of articles and rare photographs, about 1200 rare LP and 78RPM records and thousands of cassettes to the music department of the SNDT University in Pune, where a musical library has been set up in his name.


Mr Nadkarni would have turned 92 on September 22. Is survived by his lifelong collaborator, his wife Suniti, who assisted him with every piece of his writing by typing the manuscripts in real time while he dictated, his son Dev and his family.


RIP, Mohan Nadkarni


Photographs: Courtesy Dev Nadkarni


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