History of Bishnupur Gharana
Bishupur Gharana is reputed to have been set up in the 13th century, even through there is no proper evidence in history to maintain this. During the reign of Mughal Emperor Aurangazeb, Islamic fanaticism was at its peak in the Mughal era, and thus many musicians moved to the court of the Maharaja of Bishnupur who was popular supporters of the skills. The well-known Dhrupad Singer Bahadur Khan of the Senia Gharana, successor of Tansen, fled to Bishnupur and made his Gharana admired and sought shelter in the court. Bhadur Khan was not only a singer or vocalist but could also effectively play on such instruments as the Veena, the Rabaab, and the surashringaar. Raghunath Singh Deo II, the king, made all possible arrangements to honour him as his court singer.
The Maharaja also announced that anyone having a sweet voice and also interested in music could learn from Bahadur Khan without charging any fees. He also bore the financial liability for poor students. In time, a good number of students became the disciples of Bahadur Khan. Historical evidence shows Pandit. Ramachandra Bhattacharya, a disciple of Ustad Bahadur Khan, as the founder of the Gharana. Therefore, Bishnupur Gharana has a strong connection to Betia Gharana through this constant relationship.
In the last part of 18th century and also towards the early and middle of 19th century, when music of various 'Gharanas' were slowly assimilating around the Khayal style, the Dhrupad style continued flourishing among the musicians of Bishnupur.
Bhatkhand desired to be a disciple of Radhika Prasad Goswami since he found the most authentic renditions of the ragas and the most exhaustive repertoire of songs in Bishnupur Gharana.
In the year 1921, when Prince Edward came to visit India, six artists of various gharanas were chosen to perform six Ragas for six Seasons. Three of them were from Bishnupur Gharana, namely Gopeswar Bandyopadhyay, Satyakinkar Bandyopadhyay and Khetra Mohan Goswami.
First maiden Gramophone record in khayal in 1902 "Tara Parameshwari" by Lal Chand Baral,who learnt under Ramprassanna Bandyopadhyay (Vide Sangeet Chandrika) published by Gramophone Concert and Nicole.
First Dhrupad record In 1902 "Naad Bidya Sabse Sera" Raag Darbari,Taal Choutal,by Surendranath Bandyopadhyay published by Gramophone Concert Kheyal started from Ramshankar Bhattachariya's age. His writings on kheyal are being found "Bramhamoyi Paratpara", on the Raga "Yaman Kalyan".
Ramprasanna Bandyopadhyay was the foremost Surbahar and Sitar Artist of India up to 1928(Vide: Sarojini Naidu's memoirs, Pramoth nath chowdhuries writings).
Bhatkhand first came across the Ustads of Bishnupur in a conference in Varanasi around 1921/2 and this conference was attended by Radhika Prasad Goswami, Gopeswar Bandyopadhyay and Satyakinkar Bandyopadhyay. They gave trio performance in Dhrupad (Since at that time Dhrupad Artists used to perform duets so in answer to that, they gave a trio performance).After this they gave individual performance.
Satyakinkar Bandyopadhyay also played Sitar in that conference and stood first along with Enayat Khan.
Style of Singing in Bishnupur Gharana
In this style, the artist excels in recitation the loveliness of the Raga through the alap. It is uncomplicated, devoid of heavy, awkward ornamentation. It is free from intricate play with the beat. Layakari is however allowed in Dhamar, another form of vocalization. The Khayal of the Bishnupur School is noted for its sweet, lilting tune. It is decorated with the standard ornaments, which append diversity to the harmonious arrangement of the Raga.
The dhrupad of the Bishnupur Gharana uses shuddha dhaivata in raga vasanta, a feel of komal nisada in the descending notes of Raga bhairava. It has abandoned kadi madhyam (proper centre) in raga ramakeli, and uses suddha dhaivata in raga puravi and Raga Lalita and komal nisad in raga vehaga. It has also developed its own character with regard to rhythm. It was this Gharana which invented the tradition of Sawal-Jabab in forms of Hindustani Music.
Its origins and the development have led to a great openness in the teaching and evolution within this Gharana.
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