Veteran Musician of Maharashtra – Vazebuwa
Veteran Musician of Maharashtra – Vazebuwa
By MOHAN D. NADKARNI
Bharat Jyoti October 24, 1948
GAYANACHARYA Ramkrishnabuwa Vaze, the veteran musician, like his other distinguished contemporaries in the field, once made Maharashtra the Land of Music. He hailed from the Sawantwadi state. Born of very poor parents, he could not have school education beyond the primary standard.
From his childhood, he had an ear of music so that when the boy grew old, he was fired by the desire to cultivate and learn the art. But that was by no means easy for him. What with the stark poverty at home. Times too were not quite propitious for young Ramakrishna, a Brahmin by birth, to take to music, which was considered to be a ‘profession of the outcaste’. The very idea of a Brahmin becomimg a musician was therefore repugnant to the bigoted Hindu mind. But Ramkrishna was undaunted by such initial disappointments, which on the contrary seemed to give him a fillip to further his musical pursuits with greater vigour.
Most of the prominent Gharanas (school) of Music trace their origin to the ancient Gwalior School of Music. The late Nissar Husain Khan of Gwalior was one of the greatest exponents of the School. But it was only after he had undergone considerable training from the numerous musicians, great and small, that Ramakrishna came in contact with this master – musician, and became his devoted disciple. The professional musicians of old were conservative by their very nature.
The Gayanacharya was a conscious and conscientious artist. He had an indomitable faith in practice. Practice indeed made him perfect. He acquired a rich, metallic and tenacious voice, by virtue of which he excelled in those Ragas which indicated solemn mood. But this should not be taken to mean that he was not so proficient in singing other Ragas. He interpreted well-known as well as less known Ragas as any consummate musicians would do, and what is more, he had made his mark by singing less – known Ragas like Goud-Kalyan, Bhatiyar, Goudgiri and Nat-Bilawal.
Ramakrishnabuwa Vaze was an exponent of Khayal par excellence. He sang them with a voice ringing out like a temple – bell in the solemn hours of the evening. His music would make his listeners feel as if they were in the presence of some Unseen Power. His Vilambit Khayal exhibited a rare mixture of short ‘alaps’ and skilful ‘gamak’, ‘taans’ which were few were intermingled with ‘alaps’ and ‘gamaks’.
The Gayanacharya sang his songs in a style which was almost his own. His style looked so original that you could recognise that it was a remarkable synthesis of many different styles that he had assimilated when he was a musician in the making. For instance exuberance of ‘taans’ characterized the Gwalior School where as his own Melody was noted for ‘Gamaks’ and ‘Mukhabandi Taans’ that evoked repeated cheerers from the learned audience. His Khayal had not the ornateness of that of Abdul Karim Khan, but it presented a streamlined, muscular appearance of an athlete pulsating with vigour. His recorded khayals in Miyan Malhar – Khat, Tilak Kamod – and Bhatiyar are the finest specimens of his art.
Compendious Music Book
Few equalled him in his mastery over the art and science of Music. Although as said before his school education did not go beyond the primary standards, he did write a compendious music book and that too in a very lucid and clear style. The “Sangeet Kala Prakash” as the book is known, purports to give among other things, scientific exposition of the some of the list known Ragas. The book has amply testified to the others unquestionable profundity of knowledge in the art and science music. The book was intended to be the first of a series of similar volumes on the subject, but unfortunately the series remained incomplete.
Ramakrishnabuwa Vaze had a very progressive outlook on matters musical. He head the contemporary savants like Alladiya Khan in high esteem. They in turn had great regard for him. He was known through out the country on account of his professional tours. His music was admired by Northerners and Southerners alike. He had the unique privilege of being the court- musician of Nepal.
Ramakrishnabuwa has had a record of disciples to his credit but it is regrettable that very few of them proved worthy of their great master. Outstanding pupils like Keshavrao Bhosale died premature death. The late Dinanathrao Mangeshkar and Venkatesh Pendharkar to turned to the Stage, and thereby marred their musical potentialities to know small extent; while others like Keasarbai and Venkateshrao Patawardhan owe their allegiance to different Gharanas of music. Among his other surviving disciples may be mentioned his own son, Shivrambuwa Vaze, Gururao Deshpande, V. A. Kagalkar, Dinkarpant Phatak and last but not the least Haribhau Ghangrekar, who seems to have admirably taken after his master, and who bids fair to follow in his wake.
The late Gayanacharya, like Pt. Bhaskarbuwa Bakhle and Pt. Vishnu Digambar was the typical product of that great age called the Renaissance, these Brahmin musicians, who later on were destined to be the fore-runners of their own respective schools of music, were greatly fascinated by the treasure that was brought by Northern Musicians. With the passing away on the 5th May 1943 of Ramakrishnabuwa Vaze was removed the last of the great musicians of Maharashtra. Who rendered yeoman service in the cause of redemption of the Muse of Music from the hands of conservative and ignorant musicians of the Upper India.