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Ali Akbar Khan

Born: April 14, 1922
Birthplace: Maihar, India

Ali Akbar was born into a family steeped in the traditions of Indian court music. The family music ancestry dates back to the 16th century, and his father was court musician to the local maharaja. Musicians flocked to learn from the elder Khan, including the sitarist Ravi Shankar. Ali Akbar concentrated on the sarod, a northern Indian lute played with a bow. Ali Akbar himself became court musician to the Maharaja of Jodhpur until the maharaja's death. At the request of violinist Yehudi Menuhin, Ali Akbar came to the United States in 1955, where he made the first western recording of Indian classical music, as well as the first U.S. television performance of Indian music. Khan founded the Ali Akbar College of Music in Calcutta, India, with branches in California and Switzerland. Khan has composed music for films including the first Merchant-Ivory film, The Householder, Devi by Satyajit Ray, and Bernardo Bertolucci's Little Buddha. Among his many awards and honors, Ali Akbar has received a MacArthur Foundation grant and the National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. He created the Ali Akbar Khan Foundation to preserve traditional Indian music.

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