Omkarnath Thakur

As a child, well-known vocalist Omkarnath Thakur (1897-1967), had to cope with poverty and hard work. His musical talent prompted Seth Shahpurji Mancherji Dungaji, a generous philanthropist from Bharuch, to arrange for him to learn music in Mumbai at the Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, founded by educationist and vocalist Vishnu Digambar Paluskar. He spent approximately six years learning music from his guru V.D. Paluskar. In 1916, Paluskar appointed Omkarnath Thakur as Principal, Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, Lahore. After the death of his wife, Omkarnath Thakur migrated to Mumbai, where he started a music school called Sangeet Niketan. Author of such works as the Sangeetanjali series and Pranav Bharati, he composed under the pen-name "Pranav" or "Pranav Rang". The Government of India conferred him with the Padma Shree award in 1955. He was also a recipient of awards like Sangeet Prabhakar and Sangeet Martand (Kolkata, 1940), and Sangeet Mahamahodaya (awarded by the ruler of Nepal in 1930). He was the guiding spirit behind the Sri Kala Sangeet Bharati in Banaras Hindu University from the year of its inception in 1950 until his retirement in 1957. He was recorded by gramophone companies and the All India Radio. He traveled to Italy in 1933 to participate in the International Music Conference at Florence, and is also said to have performed in the presence of the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.   Susheela Misra, Great Masters of Hindustani Music, Hem Publishers Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi, 1981. Biographical note prepared by Aneesh Pradhan

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