There is a telling incident of how he managed to avoid being recorded by a recording company while at the Gwalior court. When the Maharaja told him he should record, he said the possible misuse of the recording later would bring disrepute even to His Highness, as he was Hafiz Ali Khan “of Gwalior”, and the Maharaja seeing the truth did not insist. A lone recording of his with the Sangeet Natak Akademi recorded in the late 1950s is missing from the Akademi archives. He taught sparingly too, so there are very few people today who play in his style. Today, he is largely forgotten. But those who have heard him cannot forget the impact of his music after hearing him in the 1950s. As Naina Devi, the doyen of thumri once said: “The first stroke of his ‘jawa’ created such an impact; the sound was unmistakeable.”
He played sparingly, succinctly, and every note had a meaning. He did not prolong or over embellish his music, and his style of playing was intensely powerful – the sparing use of his chikari in his alap, the adherence to the “chaar taan” in alap, the sudden expertly executed crisply played “lar lappet”, the flow of different jhalas, his wonderful traditional Senia gats and intricate layakari – all produced an amazing, unparalleled, unforgettable musical experience. He used to tune his chikaari to a nikhad instead of sa in some ragas which sounded very dramatic.
After this he went to learn from the descendant of the daughter’s line of Mian Tansen, Ustad Wazir Khan of Rampur, a learned and knowledgeable musician who impressed upon him with the importance of raga purity and maintaining the pure musical tradition of the Seniyas. Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan had already imbibed the Senia rababiya tradition of Tansen from his son’s line, through his grandfather’s Gurus Ustad Pyar Khan and Ustad Jafar Khan descendants of Mian Bilas Khan, Mian Tansen’s son.
As such, Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan’s concerts were redolent of perfect sarod baaj combined with authentic ragadaari, executed in Dhrupad style. He had pakhawaj accompaniment with his jor ang, his jhalas were unparalleled; learnt as they were from a beenkar tradition. His gats were the typical Senia elaborate compositions, with hidden twists in the laya. His sarod playing style was virile, crisp and concise, not cloying.
The aim in playing was not to entertain but transport the audience to a spiritual experience. Each stroke had a purity and inherent correctness about it; its application was solely its appropriateness within the raga, not merely its aural appeal. Ustad Inayet Khan had said his recital was full of sweetness “itni mithaas thi unme”. He carried the weight of both true raga knowledge and also the authentic sarod baaj and aware of this responsibility, he was very careful that it never fell into wrong hands and hence recorded sparingly, taught very judiciously to disciples who could possibly misuse his knowledge.
He said that one must try to create magnificent music because anything less than one’s best was not good enough to offer at the feet of one’s Lord. He very firmly believed that one’s music can get ‘taseer’(ability to touch one) only if one creates it as an offering to God – if it is for oneself or other people or merely to earn money – one might become a very competent performer but one would never achieve ‘taseer’ – that indescribable quality which has impact on the listener’s very soul.” Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan also played beautiful lyrical thumris something he had an instinctive feel for, that was honed by his interaction and learning from perhaps the greatest harmonium player and thumri specialist Bhaiya sahib Ganpat Rao of Gwalior.
He was so “riyaazi’, that once, after he had finished his concert, ending at a dizzying speed, (as he himself put it in an interview with Pandit D. T. Joshi, “dhuaadhaar bajaya”) a tabla player Darshan Singh provoked him to play again. Taking up the challenge he again resumed that punishing “drut laya”. However, Darshan Singh could not sustain the pace and within 30 minutes, collapsed with a heart attack on the stage. Ustad Sahib never forgot the terrible tragedy and berated himself for having been provoked, and said he could not eat anything for four days as he was so upset. The incident is described at length in the last interview the Ustad gave in 1972 to Lalita Khanna.
Source and credit :-http://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/The-wizard-of-strings/article16960435.ece
Forwarded By :- Shri. Jainender Nigam, PB NewsDesk prasarbharati.newsdeskgmail.com