Newsletter June 2009

1. Ali Akbar Khan Passes Away
- Orbituary by Yogendra -

After a prolonged kidney ailment sarod maestro Ali Akbar Khan has passed away in his home close to San Francisco on June 18th, surrounded by family, students and friends. He was 87 and had been on dialysis for the last four years. His condition had deteriorated in the last four months. But even on his deathbed he kept teaching some of his close students by singing to them - raga durga was his last lesson.

Ali Akbar Khan was born on April 14, 1922 in Shibpur, now in Bangladesh. From early childhood onwards he learnt music from his legendray father Allauddin Khan, founder of the Maihar-Gharana. He gave his first public concert in 1936, his first radio broadcast in 1938, became court musician of the maharaja of Jodhpur in 1943, made his first recordings for HMV in 1945, wrote his first film score in 1953, gave his first concerts in the USA in 1955 and founded the Ali Akbar College of Music in Calcutta in 1956. Countless concerts, recordings, film scores and broadcasts all over the world followed in the next decades. In 1967 Ali Akbar Khan moved to San Rafael, California, where he restarted the Ali Akbar College of Music and taught more than 10.000 students in over 40 years of continuous tireless teaching. He has received the Padma Vibhushan, the 2nd highest civilian order of India, in 1989, the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in the USA in 1991, and in 1997 the National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment of the Arts, the US' highest honour in the traditional arts. His father Alluddin Khan gave him the title Swara Samrat, emperor of melody. He was one of the most important artists in the world of Indian classical music in the 2nd half of the twentieth century. Violin maestro Yehudi Menuhin once called him the greatest musician of the world.

Ali Akbar Khan's life, work and accomplishment are far too large to be fully appreciated here. Please check the following websites for more detailed information:
- official homepage:
- Ali Akbar College of Music San Rafael:
- Ali Akbar College of Music Basel:
- recordings of Ali Akbar Khan from India Instruments:
- pictures from the funeral:

(On a personal note, I would like to express my deep gratitude towards Khansahib, as his students called him. I was fortunate to be able to study with him in Europe and in California from 1987 till 2000, and he has really changed my life in many ways. Without him I would not be a performing musician today and India Instruments would not have come into existence. Thanks so much for all that you have given so generously, Khansahib! - Yogendra)


2. Bamboo Tanpuras from Our Own Production
- New in our Assortment -

In recent years bamboo tanpuras have been established in our assortment as a cheaper, sturdier and more compact alternative to traditional male gourd tanpuras. However, their sound never matched the originals, because our German supplier was lacking crucial knowledge. Therefore we decided to get our own bamboo tanpuras built in Berlin according to our specifications. We have changed the construction of the bridge and the attachment of the strings in such a way, that even the stiff bass strings are now fitting perfectly to the surface of the bridge. This is an essential precondition of getting a good jovari and thus a good sound.

The sound quality of our prototypes has totally confirmed our ideas. Never before has a bamboo tanpura sounded so much like a traditional one! Further advantages of our new bamboo tanpura model are the better string attachment (no loops required any more!) and improved movability of the fine tuning beads (mankas). Moreover we can offer individual designs now - let us know your specific ideas regarding size and colour, and your personal custom-made bamboo tanpura will be crafted for you within a few weeks!

With a price of just 390.- Euro (plus 14.90 Euro shipping cost within Germany / 34.90 Euro within Europe) our new bamboo tanpuras are still considerably cheaper than even the simplest male tanpuras from India. Further details and pictures are available here:

3. Unique Bowed Instruments
- Special Offers -

After having started with fine lutes in May, we are presenting unique bowed instruments in June: three old dilrubas, one esraj, one bass-esraj, one sarangi and a couple of sarangi bows. Some of these instruments are nearly ready for playing, others still need some fixing - some are real treasures, others peculiar oddities. With a price range of 240.- to 790.- Euro all these instruments are surprisingly cheap. All instruments have been in the hands of collectors in the past few years and have recently been committed to India Instruments for sale. These offers are unique opportunities for musicians as well as for lovers of art, ethnomusicologists and museums.

All instruments (and many more) are featured in full detail at - please take a look! We are planning to add bargains and custom-made oddities in July. Please note that we have not yet been able to produce English translations of the descriptive texts. We hope you will get the basic idea from the pictures and German texts, and we will be happy to answer any further questions personally! All instruments can be checked out personally upon appointment in our store in Berlin, too.

4. New Date for Jubilee Celebration: July 27th
- Company Info -

The date for India Instruments' 15th jubilee celebration had to be shifted to Saturday, July 27th - one week later than we had originally announced in our previous newsletter. Everybody is welcome to join! We expect our guests from 2:30 pm onwards on the meadow in front of our shop at Fischerhuettenstr. 54c in Berlin-Zehlendorf. So far we have planned the following live music programme:

15:00 Acoustic Asian World Fusion with Indigo Masala
16:00 Compositions by late Kamalesh Maitra with his Raga-Tala-Ensemble
17:00 Afternoon raga on surbahar with Sebastian Dreyer and pakhawaj-accompanist Beate Gatscha
18:00 Sitar-sarod-duett with Yogendra and Norbert Klippstein

In between the performances you will get opportunities of trying instruments in our shop, of course. Apart from the official programme our little celebration is supposed to be an inspiring meeting place of like-minded lovers of Indian music, of refreshing old friendships and making new ones. Drinks and cake will be provided. However we request our guests to contribute spicy snacks and salads. We would be happy to welcome many friends from abroad as well - Berlin in the summer is always worth visiting! Please let us know if you intend to come - we need to estimate the number of visitors for our arrangements!

5. 15 % Discount on Tablas and Tanpuras
- Special Offers -

15 years - 15 % ! With this onetime offer we commemorate India Instruments' 15th anniversary in business from April till September. Until June 30th there is still a 15% discount off the normal price of all tablas and bayas. Throughout July it's the tanpuras' turn - 15% off. These discounts continue until September, with 15% off harmoniums in August and sitars and sarods in September. With a possible saving of up to € 298.50 it behooves anyone considering buying an instrument to plan now for the coming months. The offer applies from the first to the last day of each month, and as long as supplies last. All ordered instrument purchases will be reckoned from the date of the order.

Info on tablas and bayas at Tablas
Info on tanpuras at Tanpuras

During this discount each purchaser will receive a free postcard of Saraswati. As patron goddess of music, she is revered by Hindus and Muslims alike as a symbol of the unifying and universal power of music.


6. Label Chhanda Dhara Discontinued
- Scene Info -

Renowned Indian music label Chhanda Dhara has been discontinued from July 18th onwards. The owners, Bengali couple Gopi and Shefali Nag, retire and move back to India. Chhanda Dhara has been a leading producer of classical Indian music recordings for more than 30 years. In the end they had a backlist of more than 65 titles with masters like
Ravi Shankar
Ali Akbar Khan
Vilayat Khan
Nikhil Banerjee
Hariprasad Chaurasia
Shivkumar Sharma and many other greats.

The story of Chhanda Dhara began in 1971 with the founding of a school for Indian dance in Stuttgart - and the vision of making the best of Indian music and dance available to the public. Hence Chhanda Dhara started organising concerts with great masters and produced the first studio LP recordings. When live recording technology evolved and the CD allowed for longer uninterupted recordings in the 1980s, Chhanda Dhara became a trendsetter by publishing full live recordings. A real highlight of Gopi and Shefali Nag's work were several all-night-concerts between the late 1980s and 2001. Fans from all over Europe streamed to these unique events, which presented one top artist after the other from early evening throughout the whole night until early morning, much like in major festivals in India. In the new millenium Chhanda Dhara stopped organising concerts, but completed another historical task by publishing a series of 11 previously unreleased live recordings of legendary sitar master Nikhil Banerjee, who had passed away prematurely in 1986. The Indian classical music community owes a lot to Gopi and Shefali Nag for their accomplishments.

All Chhanda Dhara CDs are marked with a number beginning with SNCD in our CD-online-catalogue). We will continue selling these CDs as long as our stock lasts. Sold out titles will be deleted from our catalogue in course of time. So please take this last opportunity of getting all Chhanda Dhara albums that are still missing in your collection! You can use the help-function (top menu bar) to search our site specifically for certain artists, ragas, talas or the SNCD-titels.


7. Axel Elbin Turns 60
- Gratulations -

CD retailer Axel Elbin has turned 60 on June 22nd. He is well-known to Indian music lovers for his impressive CD stalls at concerts mainly in Western Germany, France and the Benelux countries. He has been selling CDs with music from India and the oriental part of the islamic world since 1996. Throughout these years he hast established a world wide net of contacts even to the most remote labels, and is now able to offer what could be the biggest assortment of Indian music on this planet. Young talents are equally available from him as established masters or historical recordings. His regular e-mail newsletters are a must-read for collectors and connoisseurs and can be ordered free at Axel Elbin plans his next CD stalls at the festival "Les Orientales" in France - further info is available at

We send our congratulations and best wishes!

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