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BOOK REVIEW- Khan Saheb Abdul Karim Khan

"Sangeet Ratna:The Jewel of Music "- A Bio-discography.

Mr. Michael Kinnear has published this book from Australia recently.
Around 1973, Mr. Kinnear chanced to listen to Abdul Karim Khan's
gramophone records and was fascinated with the music. He then decided
to write a bio-discography of Karim Khan. This book is the outcome
of painstaking research that continued for over thirty years.

Khan Saheb Abdul Karim Khan (1873-1937) was a legendary Indian vocalist
of 20th century. Born at village 'Kairana', in North India, Abdul
Karim Khan learnt music from his father Kale Khan. He left his native
place in 1890 and never returned. He spent his entire life in Maharashtra.
Initially he served in Baroda State. He fled away with Tarabai Mane
who belonged to royal family, and settled at Miraj in Maharashtra.
He then established Music schools (Sangeet Vidyalayas) at Belgaum,
Miraj, Pune and Bombay. He also pioneered in organizing ticketed
shows of classical music that were mainly for collecting funds in
aid of the schools that he had established. He also served in Mysore
State where he was honored. This book traces back the life sketch
of Karim Khan and his efforts in teaching, popularizing and research
in Indian music. Half the book is devoted to his musical as well
as personal life. His wife Tarabai Mane left him in 1922 and worked
hard in setting up career of her five talented children viz. Abdul
Rehman (Sureshbabu Mane), Champakali alias Champutai (Heerabai Barodekar),
Gulab (Kamalabai Barodekar), Sakina alias Chottutai (Saraswati Mane
{Rane}) and Abdul Hamid alias Papa (Krishnarao Mane). This was a
big jolt to Karim Khan and although he continued his career, his
music changed totally with pathos and became full of sorrow. He
then married his disciple Bannubi Latkar and settled in Miraj. He
passed away on a railway platform in 1937 while returning from a
concert tour from South India.
Other half of the book describes his gramophone records (discography).
Khansaheb made recordings in two sessions - first in 1905 in Bombay
at S. Rose & Co. - a place near present Rhythm House opposite Jehangir
Art Gallery. He cut 32 songs for 90-150 seconds duration each and
this singing is quite forceful and exhibits his skills at very young
age. [About 22 songs were reissued by HMV in 1994 under 'Chairman's
Choice' series]. He then refused all the offers for recording. In
1932, Bai Sunderabai persuaded him to cut records for German Odeon
Company that was recording in Bombay. So, during 1932-36 he recorded
over 25 songs of 4-5 minutes duration each. These included Classical,
light Classical, Marathi Drama songs, Bhajans and Canarese songs
and also Been playing records. Micahel Kinnear gives a detailed
and scientific account of the records (discography) along with
the label photographs of the discs and of the test records that
were sent to Karim Khan for his approval prior to issuing in market.
This book also gives historical account and details of several important
events that took place in Karim Khan's period. We also have details
about life career and recordings of Tarabai and children, his brothers
Abdul Latif and Abdul Haque, his Uncle Abdul Wahid Khan, Rahimat
Khan Huddu Khan, Roshan Ara Begum and Saraswatibai Mirajkar (Bannubi Latkar)
The book is lavishly decorated with large number of black and white
photographs and maps and a nice portrait of Karim Khan on cover.
The back page contains Karim Khan in recording session for 'Odeon'.
In 1937, while celebrating his birth centenary Mr. Balkrishnaboa
Kapileshwari had published a 900-page book in Marathi. An English
translation was also published subsequently. However there was no
book issued on his life, music and records. Khan Saheb's several
records have been issued on LP's audiocassettes and on compact discs.
This book will provide the listeners with the life story of Karim
Khan and thus will add to their listening pleasure.
" Khan Abdul Karim Khan - A Bio-Discography ", Published in Australia,
(2003), 290 pages.
– by Michael Kinnear, Australia, ISBN 0 957735553 Paperback 22.5x16
cm Price Australian $ 65 plus postage.
- Suresh Chandvankar,
- Hon.Secretary, 'Society of Indian Record Collectors'
- 110, Parashara, Tifr Hsg. Complex, Navynagar, Colaba
- Mumbai- 400 005



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