A doyen of the Gwalior Gharana, Pandit Sharadchandra Arolkar was born in 1912 in Karachi. Even as a youngster, Panditji, showed a passion for music, which asserted itself in many ways. He tried his hand skillfully at the harmonium and the tabla, and seldom missed an opportunity to attend music concerts. The recordings of Rahimat Khan, the great mystic-musician, once made a profound impact on him and much against the will of his elders, young Sharad sought musical guidance from Pandit Laxmanrao Bodas, a local vocalist and disciple of Pandit Vishnu Digambar.
The young Arolkar soon moved to Gwalior, where he had the benefit of guidance from three acknowledged masters, Pandit Krishnrao Shankar Pandit, his uncle Pandit Eknath Pandit and Pandit Krishnrao Mulay, the famous beenkar, in his quest for excellence. Not many people know that Pandit Arolkar also played the veena with practiced ease.
Having assimilated the teachings of all his gurus over a lifetime of dedication, perseverance and disciplined scholarship. Pandit Arolkar moulded them into a style which, while retaining its pristine classicism, allowed ample scope for creative expression. In one of his rare interviews, he had said `What is the Gwalior Gharana but a mahanadi (great river) fed by many streams. When a style matures, it becomes a gharana.` He imparted his insights in the aesthetics of music to Pandit Sharad Sathe.
He had an extensive repertoire of 600 rare and authentic bandishes, ranging from classical dhrupad and khayal, to light classical tappa, thumri and dadra amd also about 350 self-composed themes.
Reclusive by temperament all his life, yet when he performed, his music came as a brilliant revelation. Among the various awards and honours this titan of the Gwalior gharana received were the Sangeet Natak Academy award in 1979 in recognition of his scholarly eminence in Hindustani music, the Maharashtra Rajya Gaurav Puraskar in 1989 and the Tansen Samman in 1992.
Pandit Arolkar died in 1994.