Born in Calcutta on October 14, 1931, Nikhil Banerjee`s first teacher was his father, Jitendra Nath Banerjee, a noted sitarist. Young Nikhil grew into a child prodigy, and at age 9, becoming the youngest musician employed by All-India Radio. Jitendranath approached Mushtaq Ali Khan to take the boy as a disciple, but was turned down, instead Birendra Kishore Roy Chowdhury, the zamindar of Gouripur in present-day Bangladesh, was responsible for much of Nikhil`s early training.
In 1947 he became a disciple of the revered guru, Baba Allauddin Khan. At first, Baba Allauddin did not want to take on more students, but changed his mind after listening to one of Banerjee`s radio broadcasts. Giving up his concert career, Nikhil Banerjee spent the next seven years studying under Allauddin Khan at Maihar. He was also taught by Baba Allauddin Khan`s son, the famous sarod maestro, Ali Akbar Khan.
Nikhil Banerjee`s first appearance, after this retreat, at the Tansen Music Conference in Calcutta in December 1954, was enthusiastically received. Numerous foreign tours followed from 1955 onwards. Pandit Nikhil Banerjee`s total mastery over all the nuances of sitar playing, his ability to flawlessly analyze each raga and apply it in his music and his incredible command of his instrument was recognized throughout the world of Indian music. His stunning technical virtuosity was balanced by a meditative, introspective, and lyrical approach that, owing to his dedication, reached a depth of expression rarely achieved by others. In India, his performances are especially known for the purity of his classical style and the intense vitality of his improvisations.
In 1968 he was awarded the Indian Government title Padma Shri and in 1974, the Sangeet Natak Akademi (the National Academy of Performing Arts) Award. His last public performance was in Calcutta on Friday 24th January 1986. The world of music lost one of its greatest artistic geniuses when Nikhil Banerjee died of a heart attack on January 27, 1986. In recognition of his greatness, he was posthumously given one of the Indian government`s highest civilian awards, the Padmabhushan.