Mr. Amjad Ali Khan is a maestro of the sarod, a stringed instrument used in Indian classical music that demands exceptional performance technique. Very active both in India and abroad, Mr. Khan has won high acclaim as a musician.
The Khan family of musicians is part of the school of Tansen, the legendary musician who served at the Mughal court. The sixth generation of musicians in his family, he studied under the tutelage of his father, Haafiz Ali Khan, himself a noted performer. The elder Khan faithfully passed on to his son the techniques and forms of classical music that have been handed down for more than 300 years.
Mr. Khan also has added new forms to the existing repertory by creating new ragas (melodic patterns), as well as revolutionizing performance style and technique. Thus, he has breathed new life into the musical world of the sarod, and created his own musical culture.
Mr. Khan laments the current state of affairs in which classical music is generally supported by older people and is shunned by the younger generation, tradition is waning, and culture is in danger of becoming homogenized. Believing there is not essential difference between classical music and popular music, he intends to hand down and develop the tradition by conducting workshops at educational institutions both in India and overseas. He continues his active efforts to broaden the understanding of classical music among the younger generation. One aspect of these efforts has been his participation in the world music festival WOMAD (World of Music, Arts and Dance) held in various locations throughout the world. This has resulted in expanding the number of people who appreciate the music of the sarod.
Based on his belief that music transcends all, Mr. Khan became the first Indian musician to perform in Pakistan in 1981 in an effort to break a 25 year-long cultural hiatus between the two countries and create an opening for cultural exchange. In addition, he has used music to assume an important role in society, having been actively involved for many years in activities to help disabled children and serving as a UNICEF goodwill ambassador.
Mr. Khan has entranced audiences throughout the world, performing in such noted venues as Carnegie Hall in the United States, the Royal Festival Hall in Great Britain, and Suntory Hall in Japan.
He has greatly contributed to the preservation and development of classical Indian music through a musical sensibility that enables him to weave a rich tapestry of music transcending generations. Combined with his musical convictions and passion, this has enabled him to popularize the music of Asia and its spirit throughout the world. For this meritorious achievement, he is truly worthy of the Grand Prize of the Fukuoka Asian Culture Prizes.