Early Life and Musical Training of Pandit Tulsidas Borkar
Pandit Tulsidas Borkar was born on November 18, 1934, in a village called Bori in the Indian state of Goa, presently the Borim census town. His surname is derived from his native place. He states that at the age of 6, he used to derive immense pleasure listening to the ‘bhajans’ at the Goddess Durga temple, to the accompaniment of the Harmonium, Pakhawaj and Tabla, particularly attracted to harmonium. At 10, he left Goa and moved to Mumbai and spent two years with a drama company enacting minor roles. He later settled in Pune. Initially having learnt lessons in music from his mother Jaishreebai Borkar, he started learning harmonium from Vishnupant Vashta and at the same time had the opportunity of being guided by Chhota Gandharva, the eminent vocalist in the art of Harmonium accompaniment. But the major part of his training in Harmonium was between 1957 and 1967, under the guidance of Harmonium maestro Pandit Madhukar Pednekar, accompanying in stage shows. In his quest for knowledge, Pt. Tulsidas Borkar got the opportunity of receiving valuable guidance from veteran vocalists, the likes of Pandit S. C. R. Bhatt, Pandit K. G. Ginde, Pandit Rajaram Shukla, Pandit Murli Manohar Shukla, Pandit Ram Marathe and instrumentalists like Pandit Devendra Murdeshwar in Flute and Pandit A. P. Pathak in Violin. From these vocalists, Pt. Borkar imbibed the intricacies of the Khayal tradition of North Indian (Hindustani) Classical Music.
Career and Musical Works of Pandit Tulsidas Borkar
Pandit Tulsidas Borkar gained initial fame as an Organ player in Marathi theatrical music. He accompanied several leading actor-singers of Marathi theatre during the period from 1950 to 1980. He also had the privilege of accompanying many stalwarts of Hindustani Classical Music, such as Pandit Mallikarjun Mansur, Pandit Firoj Dastur, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, Pandit Basavraj Rajguru, Pandit Y. B. Joshi, Pandit Jitendra Abhisheki, Pandit Ram Marathe, Pandita Gangubai Hangal, Pandita Kishori Amonkar, Pandita Shobha Gurtu and Dr. Prabha Aatre.
In addition to being an esteemed Harmonium accompanist, he has also been involved in intensive research on various aspects of the instrument and has been one of the few harmonium players responsible for popularising harmonium as a solo instrument in present times. Acclaimed as a soloist, his solo renditions are available on commercial releases. Realising the need to document and disseminate the results of his research amongst music lovers and students, Pt. Borkar has authored a book in Marathi entitled Samvadini Sadhana, which received an overwhelming response. He has groomed and passed on his mantle to a host of young harmonium players who have emerged as well-known accompanists and soloists. He has also been instrumental in designing a syllabus for Harmonium students that has been accepted and recognised by the Pune University (Lalit Kala Kendra) and the University of Kolhapur (Shivaji Vidyapeeth).
As a music composer, Pandit Borkar has composed music for theatrical productions like Sangeet Pandharpur, Bakul Phula and various other musical productions. In his illustrious career spanning over 6 decades, he has participated in most of the prestigious music festivals in the country and abroad, having toured extensively for concerts in the United Kingdom, Europe, Indonesia, the United States and Arabian Gulf countries. He has also designed a new model modifying the physical structure of the Harmonium, by raising the level of the keyboard that was designed and manufactured by Dashrath Bengude. He has extensively researched in the facets of improving the tonal quality, tuning and other technical aspects of Harmonium, thereby, giving different audio-visual dimensions to the instrument.
Awards and Recognitions received by Pandit Tulsidas Borkar
Pandit Tulsidas Borkar has been a recipient of numerous awards, some of which are highlighted hereunder: