Ustad Sultan Khan 2001

Ustad Sultan Khan

Ustad Sultan Khan is one of India’s leading musicians and is by far the topmost artist performing the difficult art of sarangi playing. He is renowned for the exceptional depth of his playing, and his extraordinary technical and melodic control over this difficult string instrument. He was born in 1940 in Sikar, Rajasthan, to a family where music has been passed down from generation to generation for centuries. Ustad Sultan Khan is the ninth generation sarangi player and his son is the tenth generation.
The Gharana or school of playing followed by Ustad Sultan Khan is the Indore Gharana. Most of his peers were outstanding performers on the sarangi, cultivating alongside the vocal tradition. Ustad Sultan Khan learnt his art from his grandfather Ustad Azim Khan and later from his father Ustad Gulab Khan, who still lives in Sikar and in his time was a well known sarangi player. It was this type of training which was passed on to Ustad Sultan Khan who mastered it with great care and understanding. He also spent some of his early years with some of the greatest musicians which included masters like Ustad Amir Khan and Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan.

Ustad Sultan Khan’s artistry is excellent as he performs systematic and lyrical notes with precision and clarity. His bowing technique is beautiful and the note production never fails to arouse the appreciation of his listeners. His command over his instrument is simply breathtaking. His collaborations with western musicians is immense. He has worked with Ornette Coleman, George Harrison, Duran Duran and countless other Classical jazz and pop musicians. He continues to play a leading role in melody and compositional work.

Sultan Khan is at the zenith of his performing career. Today he is in much demand for concerts, film music composing and as an artistic advisor on numerous projects. In his early years he played some of the finest sarangi pieces in Indian films specially in Muzaffar Ali’s Umrao Jaan as well as contributed to several soundtracks collaboration with tabla maestro Ustad Zakir Hussain. Most notable being Heat & Dust, In custody, Gandhi. Today he is contributing his earthy voice in films such as Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and others. He has also made an album called Piya Basanti which has done very well and is another shining example of his ability to adapt his voice to any style of music.

His most recent project is a tribute to Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, an album will be released on Navras Records called Pukaar – The Echo on 19th September at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London in which he has sung and played sarangi to complement the late maestro who was immensely fond of Ustad Sultan Khan. Ustad Sultan Khan was one of the last musicians to see Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan before he died here in London in 1997 and as such pays a magnificent tribute on this album.

Hanif Khan
Belonging to Ustad Sultan Khan’s family, Hanif Khan started playing tabla at a young age and has played extensively in the film industry in India. He has played in many prestigious musical concerts in India. This is his first tour of North America and has been getting good reviews regarding his sensitive accompaniment.

The sarangi is the most important bowed stringed instrument of North Indian classical music. It originated from an instrument originally produced by Lord Ravana called “Ravan Hatha”. The ravan hatha is still played today in parts of Rajasthan and Gujarat in India. The sarangi was originally called “Sau Rangi” which means “hundred colours”. This name reflects its unique ability to produce a wide range of musical styles and nuances. This makes the sarangi a highly adaptable instrument which can play a wide range of music be it classical, folk or even Western music. Sarangi maestro Ustad Sultan Khan has proven this on many occasions with his recordings and concerts with some of the top musicians of Western music.

The sarangi is one of the most difficult instruments to play. The difficulty lies with the playing technique itself, which involves stopping the gut strings with the cuticles of the fingers or just below the cuticles. This is probably the most sensitive part of the hand and is unique in it’s . It is beautifully sonorous and is regarded as the closest instrument to the human voice. It is hallowed from a piece of wood with skin cover on the resonator. Its most remarkable feature is the number of strings: three gut strings and no less than 36 sympathetic strings which give life to the sound. In the words of the late Sir Yehudi Menuhin: “The sarangi remains not only the authentic and original Indian bowed stringed instrument but the one which… expresses the very soul of Indian feeling and thought.”

Virasat Foundation would like to thank the following sponsors in helping with this event:-

  • Dr. Bob Shivji, Dental Mechanic, Surrey, Tel:- 604 588 5211
  • Dr. Parmjit S. Kang, 12312 72nd Avenue, Surrey, Tel:- 604 590 7121
  • Dr. Sawraj Singh, 3910 Thrall Road, Ellensburg, WA 98926. Tel:- 509 962 3652
  • First Heritage Delta Credit Union, Town Centre Branch, Abbotsford
  • Gaurav Video Shop, 9192 120 Street, Surrey, Tel:- 604 589 5570
  • G & B Woodcraft Ltd, 20-8528 123rd Street, Surrey, Tel:- 604 590-3413
  • Namdhari Sangat Canada Society B.C.
  • N S G Carpets, 2943 Kingsway, Vancouver, Tel:- 604 327 7070
  • Precision Kitchen Manufacturing Inc, 12355 83A Avenue, Surrey, Tel:- 604 572 0727
  • Raja Restaurant, 107-7028 120th Street Surrey, Tel:- 604 590 8821
  • Sharma & Associates C.G.A., 205-8388 128th Street, Surrey, Tel:- 604 597 5612


Virasat Foundation would also like to acknowledge the following enterprises for there support:-

AAA Movies Inc. Tel:- 604 324 8536, Alliance Consultants Tel:- 604 850 5467, Awaaz Tel:- 604 502 6100, Grover’s Video & Laser Tel:- 604 855 5250, Kamal’s Video Palace Tel:- 604 581 9777, Mann Music and Video Tel:- 604 321 6667, Punjabi Tribune Tel:- 604 584 5577, Riverside Palace Tel:- 604 244 7755, South Asian Review Tel:- 250 564 6606, The Video Shop Tel:- 604 321 1333, Ravi Video Tel:- 604 599 1110, The Link Tel:- 604 591 5160, TJ Video Tel:- 604 581 4475, Villa Copy & Stationary Tel:- 604 322 5105, Welcome Sweets Tel:- 604 543 8199.