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  Hamare Kalakar - Pt Omkarnath Thakur

Birth: 24th June 1897 (Jahaaj)
Death: 29th December 1967
Genre: Hindustani Vocal
Guru: Pt. Vishnu Digamber
Gharana: Gwalior
Title(s): Padma Sri, Sangeet Prabhakar, Sangeet Martand, Sangeet Mahamahodaya, Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1963), Honorary Doctorates from BHU (1963) & Rabindra Bharati(1964).

After listening to Pandit Omkarnath Thakur's music once, Mahatma Gandhi is said to have remarked : "Pandit Omkarnathji can achieve through a single song of his, what I cannot achieve through several speeches."

Pt. Omkarnath Thakur used to say that his father was gifted with many miraculous Yogic powers. He had foretold the exact day and hour of his death (in 1910. Prior to shaking off his mortal coils, Pandit Gauri Shankar called his favourite son Omkarnath to his side blessed him with a betel-roll with which he wrote a precious "mantra" on the boy's tongue !

After the death of his beloved Guru Pt. Vishnu Digambar in 1931, Omkarnath went to Italy on an invitation to participate in the International Music Conference in Florence (1933). The story of how "he sang before Mussolini and cured him of his insomnia" was soon on everybody's lips. Thereafter, be travelled widely, giving music recitals, lecture demonstrations in Germany, Holland, Belgium, France, London, Wales, Switzerland etc. He sang before King Amanullah of Afghanistan.

Pandit Ji's work as a performer and musicologist led to the creation of a music college at Banaras Hindu University that emphasized both and he wrote books on Indian classical music and its history. Thakur's work is criticized in contemporary music literature as ignorant of the contribution of Muslim musicians, which he blamed for deteriorating classical music. Thakur performed in Europe until 1954 and received the Padma Shri in 1955 and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1963. He retired in 1963 and was awarded honorary doctorates from Banaras Hindu University in 1963 and Rabindra Bharati University in 1964.


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