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Haafiz Ali Khan (1888–1972) was an Indian sarod player. He was a tall figure in twentieth-century sarod music. A fifth-generation descendant of the famous Bangash Gharana of sarod players, Haafiz Ali was known for the lyrical beauty of his music and the crystal-clear tone of his strokes.The occasional critic has, however, observed that Khan’s imagination was often closer to the semi-classical thumri idiom than the austere dhrupad style prevalent in his times. He was a recipient of the civilian honour of the Padma Bhushan.
Son and disciple of the sarod superstar Nanneh Khan, He grew up in a community of sarod players, it is likely that he studied with his father and a number of his proximate disciples. He later took lessons from his cousin Abdulla Khan, nephew Mohammad Amir Khan, and finally the beenkar Wazir Khan of Rampur. Ustad Wazir Khan was a direct descendant of the legendary Tansen, through the lineage of the latter’s daughter. Notably, Allauddin Khan of Maihar was also a pupil of Wazir Khan in Rampur in the same period. It said that Khansahib later studied dhrupad and thumri with Ganeshilal Mishra and Bhaiya Ganpatrao, respectively.
Khansahib’s regal appearance and electrifying charisma made him one of the most sought-after musicians of his time, which was no mean achievement for an instrumentalist in an era largely dominated by vocal music. Old-timers who have seen him in concert recall his stage presence and musicianship with reverence and awe. While still a court musician in Gwalior, Haafiz Ali would undertake numerous trips to Bengal, where he performed at all major music festivals, and taught a large number of disciples. Khan’s music found generous patrons in two Bengali aristocrats, Raychand Boral and Manmatha Ghosh, both of whom studied with him at various points. Apart from his formidable command over traditional sarod compositions, dhrupad and thumri, Haafiz Ali Khan was particularly appreciated in the Viceregal firmament of colonial India for his unique, stylized renditions of “God Save The King” on his sarod. This tradition of performing sacred, religious and official state hymns on the sarod is kept alive by his illustrious son, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan as well as grandsons Amaan and Ayaan.
Haafiz Ali Khan died in 1972, at the age of 84 in New Delhi. A road in the name of the monumental icon of Indian classical music, Ustad Haafiz Ali Khan Saheb was inaugurated by the Honourable Chief Minister, Smt. Sheila Dikshit on 10 February at PWD Road. This is the 2nd entry road to Nizamuddin Railway Station. This is the only road named after an artist after Tansen and Thyagaraja in the capital city. This road is about 300 metres long.