Ustad Nisar Hussain Khan was
one of the last gharanedar ustads of Hindustani classical music.
Born in 1906, in Badaun, Uttar Pradesh, his early training from the
age of five was under his famous grandfather, Ustad Haider Khan
whose ustad and cousin was Ustad Inayat Hussain Khan. Inayat Hussain
Khan, in his turn, had learnt from the rababiya, Bahadur Hussain of
the Senia gharana whose taranas were later popularised by Nisar
Hussain. However, the major part of Nisar Hussain`s training was
from his own father, Fida Hussain Khan.
Held as a phenomenon when he gave his first recital at the age of
11, Nisar Hussain Khan went on to receive a scholarship from the
maharaja of Baroda. His father was simultaneously appointed court
musician, enabling him to look after his son and put him through a
gruelling training schedule for many years thereafter. By the age of
18, he had become such a confident singer that the maharaja of
Baroda appointed him a court musician – a post which he held for
nearly three decades.
He received all his taleem within his family circle and inherited a
rich stock of ragas, bandishes, khayals, and taranas. Inspired by
the masterly sitar playing of Ustad Imdad Khan, he felt inspired to
enrich the tarana, borrowing from Imdad Khan’s sitar jhala. Nisar
Hussain`s Rampur-Sahaswan gharana was enriched also by contact with
musicians of the Gwalior and Agra gharanas. The former influence
came through Ustad Haddu Khan, who was the father-in-law of Inayat
Hussain Khan, who himself went on to become Nisar Hussain`s
father-in-law and the latter, through Ustad Faiyaz Khan, one of the
most revered court musicians of Baroda.
By the 1940s Nisar Hussain had become a very well-known broadcaster
and concert-artiste. After he left Baroda, he settled down in his
quiet birthplace Badaun in U.P from where he continued teaching,
performing and broadcasting for AIR. He had definite ideas about an
artiste`s life and art, and was strictly of the view that only an
artiste who leads a clean and disciplined life and has an upright
character, can become a high class musician.
his earlier disciples were his sons in law, Hafeez Ahmed Khan,
Ghulam Akbar Khan, his cousin Ghulam Mustafa Khan and his own sons,
Sarfaraz Hussain Khan and Zulfiqar Hussain Khan.
Nisar Hussain`s last years were spent in the security and comfort of
the ITC Sangeet Research Academy, Calcutta, where he had joined as a
senior resident guru in 1977. Here he groomed some of his disciples
including the now reputed Rashid Khan. Honours came to him in
abundance such as the U. P. and Central Sangeet Natak Akademi
Awards, a Doctorate from Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, Tansen Award from
the Government of M.P., the ITC Award, the Padma Bhushan and
invitations from Nepal and Afganistan.
Nisar Hussain Khan Saheb continued to perform till the end of his
days and will long be remembered for his rich, resonant voice
cultivated through years of arduous training, his robust and
forceful gayaki with its amazing virtuosity and his peerless tarana-renderings.
He died in Kolkata on July 16, 1993.