Ustad Bismillah Khan, who popularized the humble Shehnai with an unparalleled exploration of its musical capacity, was born on March 21, 1916. His ancestors were court musicians and used to play in Naqqar khana in the princely states of Bhojpur, now in Bihar.
His performance at all India music conference in Kolkata in 1937, established him as a major artiste and Shehnai as the major classical instrument. Ustad Bismillah Khan had the rare honor of performing at Delhi's Red Fort on the eve of India's Independence in 1947 and he also performed Raga Kafi from the Red Fort on the eve of India's first Republic Day ceremony, on 26 January 1950.
Today On 21st August 2006, at the age of 90, Ustad Bismillah Khan breathed his last after suffering a cardiac arrest. His Shehnai was buried with him in his grave at Fatemain burial ground, under a neem tree. A day of national mourning was declared by the Indian government and the maestro was sent off by the Indian Army with their trademark gun salute.
The maestro was awarded India's highest civilian honor, the Bharat Ratna, in 2001. To mark and recognized his achievements and contribution to the classical music India Post has issued a definitive stamp illustrating Ustad Bismillah Khan in 2016.
A secular artist, known for his simplicity and dedication to his craft, he remains unparalleled till date.
Image Source: Mintage World