Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia
In my past there is a Krishna. In my dreams I dream of recreating a huge college of flautists, a veritable Vrindaban in which students will arrive to learn and study with satchels full of flutes, live in mud huts, eat at a common langar. A modern Vrindaban from which a thousand flutes will ring out everyday. For what else is there? When my breath is gone and I cannot play anymore what do I leave behind? Some dedicated students! When you leave nothing behind, you cry at the point of death, but I still dream, I dare to dream that through my playing and through my students my flute will be left behind as the memory of Krishna. -- Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia
Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, the internationally renowned exponent of the bansuri or bamboo flute, surprisingly does not come from a long lineage of flautists. His father was a famous wrestler who had aspirations of his son following in his footsteps.
The younger Chaurasia had an early love of music, however, and by the age of 15 was taking his first steps toward a lifetime as a performer by studying classical vocal with Pandit Raja Ram of Benares.
Soon after, he heard a flute recital by Pandit Bholanath and was so impressed he changed his focus to studying the flute. When he was just 19, he got a job playing for All India Radio, Cuttack, Orissa, and within five years he was transferred to their headquarters in Bombay. There he got the additional exposure of performing in one of India's cultural centers and also studied with Shrimati Annapurna Devi, daughter of Ustaad Allauddin Khan of the Maihar School of Music.
There he established the creative peak of his career, developing a style that was respectful of tradition, yet full of innovation. Over a lifetime of performances, Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia has become one of India's most-respected classical musicians, earning several awards, including the National Award of the Sangeet Natak Academy, which he won in 1984.
In 1992, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan and the Konarak Samman and in 1994, he was bestowed the Yash Bharati Sanman. He has collaborated with several western musicians, including John McLaughlin and Jan Gabarek, and has also composed music for a number of Indian films. He has performed throughout the world winning acclaim from varied audiences and fellow musicians including Yehudi Menuhin and Jean Pierre Rampal.
He heads the World Music Department at the Rotterdam Music Conservatory.