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Mohammad Sayeed Khan - Khyal Pioneer in Europe

Obituary by Yogendra
(November 2012)

The great singer Khyal Mohammad Sayeed Khan passed away in Amsterdam on October 6th, aged 77. He came from an old family of traditional musicians in Mumbai and was a representative of the Jaipur-Atrauli Gharana. He had learned from childhood from his father, the sarangi virtuoso Abdul Majid Khan, a student of Gharana founder Alladiya Khan and of sarangi legend Bundu Khan. Mohammad Sayeed Khan and his younger brother Mohammad Rashid Khan became known internationally as Khan Bandhu when they pblished several recordings and toured the world together with their vocal duet in the 1960s and 70s. After Rashid's premature death, Mohammad Sayeed Khan and his family settled in Amsterdam in the 1980s, after a detour in Suriname. He lived there as a teacher and concert artist until his death and has been an important pioneer of Indian music in Europe.

None of his children was willing to carry on his musical legacy. Therefore, in 2007, after a pilgrimage to Mecca, Mohammad Sayeed Khan decided to break with an established tradition of many families of Indian singers. He did not keep his musical knowledge as a jealously guarded secret and pass it on only orally to carefully selected relatives or very close disciples. Instead he presented his collected musical treasures to the public in a book and on CD in 2009. 238 khyal compositions in 115 ragas from his family tradition are thus saved from oblivion.

A brief recording of the old record of the Khan brothers with Raga Raatki Gunkali is available on YouTube.