Yesterday, the ICM community lost their eldest and most senior living tabla artiste – Pandit Sudhirkumar Saxena. He passed away surrounded by his family and students in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. He was a beloved teacher and musician, one of the last Ustads of the Ajrada Gharana. He will continue to live in the memory of his students.
May his soul be blessed with peace.
Brief Bio of Saxenaji:
The first drummer in India to have worked as Professor of Tabla at a centre of higher learning, Saxenaji (b. 1923), retired from Maharaja Sayajirao University, Baroda, in 1983 as head of its music department, after serving the institution for thirty-three years. Besides teaching Tabla to generations of students, a lifetime work which he lovingly continues in retirement at his residence, Professor Saxena had, in his younger days (1945-1995), participated in most of the major music conferences of the country as a Tabla accompanist to almost every front-ranking musician and Kathak dancer.
His pupils abound. Some of them are themselves distinguished teachers in India and other countries. Many more are serving All India Radio; and some of them, the very university where he has worked as a teacher. All of them are proud of the authentic training they have received — authentic because Professor Saxena himself had the privilege of learning the art for years from Ustad Habeebuddin Khan, the doyen of the Ajrada gharana of Tabla.
He was the first guru of my guru – Pandit Divyang Vakil.