Pune, Jan 24 (Agencies): Bharat Ratna recipient and legendary Hindustani vocalist Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, in a city hospital here on Monday after a prolonged illness.

He was 87.

Joshi had been put on life support system following old age-related ailments leading to kidney and respiratory failure after his admission to a hospital on December 31, his family
said. He leaves behind three sons and a daughter.

A recipient of Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award, Joshi was the most-celebrated exponent of 'Kirana gharana' of Khansahib Abdul Karim Khan.

A pall of gloom descended on the city as the news of his demise spread with people making a beeline to his residence to pay their last respects to the singer who was the most powerful figure on the Hindustani music concert platform of 'khayal gayki'.

Born on February 4, 1922 at Gadag in Dharwad district of Karnataka, Joshi got a boost to his career during a concert in Pune in January 1946 on the occasion of the 60th birthday of his guru Sawai Gandharva.

What distinguished him from the ordinary was his powerful voice, amazing breath control, fine musical sensibility and unwavering grasp of the fundamentals that made him the supreme Hindustani vocalist, representing a subtle fusion of intelligence and passion that imparted life and excitement to his music.

Music lovers and people from all walks of life made a beeline at Pandit Bhimsen Joshi's residence 'Kalashree' in Navi Peth area of the city as the news of his demise spread this morning.

Mourners queued up in a disciplined manner to pay their last respects to the maestero, who ruled their hearts for decades.

The maestro's last surprise public performance that regaled the audience was during 2007 'Sawai Gandharva' annual music festival which he himself had started to commemorate the memory of his guru.

The last rites of Joshi would be performed in the evening, family sources said.

Music silenced but melody lingers on...
The last of the titans of Hindustani classical music, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi was a rare genius who could transcend the mundane and transport his audience to the sublime with his gifted voice that captured both anguish and ecstasy.
 
What made him arguably the most popular Hindustani music vocalist of the current times was his impassioned renditions with a powerful and penetrating voice that showcased the aesthetic majesty of the 'Kirana' gharana of which he was the celebrated exponent, as also the eloquent expression of light classical, devotional and the popular variety.
 
It was an awe-inspiring fusion of intelligence and passion that perhaps separated Joshi from other classical vocalists who dogmatically stuck to their 'Gharana' culture with a rigidity that possibly inhibited creativity.  Born on February 4, 1922 at Gadag in Dharwad district of Karnataka, his journey to the stardom in the world of Hindustani music was just as dramatic as it was arduous for one who decided to run away from home at a tender age of 11, in quest of finding a 'Guru' to learn music.
 
Even as a child, Joshi's craving for music was evident to his family as he managed to lay his hands on a 'tanpura' used by his 'Kirtankar' grandfather, which had been kept away from his gaze at home. Music had such a magnetic pull over him that a 'bhajan singing' procession or just 'azaan' from a nearby mosque was said to draw him out of house.
 
On his way back home after school hours, Joshi used to stand near a shop selling gramophone records and listen to the music played by the owner for prospective customers.  There he hanced to hear a record of Abdul Karim Khan and resolved to sing like the Ustad. The quest for the Guru started at that point, as Joshi himself told a biographer in an interview.
 
A slight provocation at home spurred Joshi to give effect to what had been brewing in his mind as he made his way to Gadag railway station, clad in a rumpled shirt and half pant, and embarked on a ticket-less train journey that took him to Bijapur where he sang 'bhajans' earning a pittance to feed himself.
 Unable to find the master who could teach him, the intrepid youngster then wanted to go to Gwalior on advice by a music loving person but a mix-up of train landed him in Pune, the seat of Maharashtra culture.
 
Joshi was in for a disappointment in pursuit of a Guru once again when eminent vocalist Krishnarao Phulambrikar, whom he approached for tutelage, insisted on a monthly fee that was beyond the means of the boy, whose parents by then had lodged a complaint with Gadag police after his disappearance from home.
Disappointed but not demoralised, Joshi left Pune for Mumbai and journeyed from place to place to finally reach Gwalior, his original destination and an acknowledged centre of Hindustani music.
 
With the help of sarod maestro Hafiz Ali Khan, who was under the patronage of the Maharaja of Gwalior, the young Joshi joined the Madhav Sangeet Vidyalaya, a leading music institution in those days.

His basics in 'khayal', the singing form that originated in Gwalior, were learnt during this period as he grasped the technical aspects of the 'gayaki'.  Not content with the lessons at the Vidyalaya, Joshi again met Hafiz Ali Khan and persuaded the Ustad to teach him subtler points of difference between ragas 'Marwa' and 'Puriya', the two classical melodies that remained his forte and a rage with his audiences.

With his passion for learning finer nuances of music undying and on advice from one of the teachers at the 'Vidyalaya', Joshi left Gwalior for Bengal where he became a student of Bhishmadev Chatterjee who taught him raga 'Gandhar'.
 
After a brief stint with Chatterjee, who could not find enough time to teach his pupil due to a busy schedule, Joshi n went to Jalandhar, another leading centre of Hindustani music and the venue of an annual jalsa, music festival, that offered a platform for artistes from all over the country and listened to their music plentifully.
In Jalandhar, Joshi took another pursuit side by side, which was rigorous physical exercises and acquired a strong physique which held him in good stead for vigorous riyaz throughout his life.
 
A chance meeting with Vinayakrao Patwardhan, a scholar musician, at one of the Jalsas, prompted Joshi to go back to his home town as he advised the young artiste to approach Sawai Gandharva --- eminent exponent of Kirana gharana ----at Kundgol and seek his discipleship.
 
Sawai Gandharva -a leading disciple of Abdul Karim Khan--- subjected Joshi to a gruelling regime to test his urge and determination to learn music.  A strict disciplinarian, the guru (Sawai Gandharva) is said to have hurled a nut-cracker at the shishya (Joshi) when he slipped rather badly on a note-pattern.
 
Sawai Gandharva taught 'Todi', 'Multani', and 'Puriya' ragas to Joshi as it was his considered view that the mastery over these ragas was not only basic to the cultivation of a steady and tuneful voice, but also helped significantly in improving its volume, depth and range.

Music exponents call Bhimsen a Tansen, Kohinoor
A shocked Indian music fraternity on Monday mourned the death of legendary vocalist Pandit Bhimsen Joshi hailing him as a modern day Tansen and a 'Kohinoor' of Hindustani classical music who strode like a colossus.

As condolences poured from celebrity musicians and singers on the passing away of Pandit Joshi early this morning, noted Hindustani classical singer Pandit Jasraj said this is sunset at sunrise." Many of them said an era in Indian classical music has come to an end leaving many orphaned.

"He did not belong to any particular gharana, but to the entire Hindustani music world. Joshi had held music lovers spellbound over the last several decades," Jasraj said.

Santoor maestro Pandit Satish Vyas described Joshi as the "Kohinoor" of Indian classical music.

"Classical music was meant for a particular class. But Panditji crossed such barriers and brought the music closer to the common man. The intelligentsia and also the layman applauded his music and this was one of his greatest contributions," he said.

Bhajan and Ghazal singer Anup Jalota called Joshi a modern day Tansen in Indian music comparing him to the legendary musician in Mughal Emperor Akbar's court in the 16th century. "The Indian music scene has been orphaned," he said.

Carnatic vocalist M Balamuralikrishna with whom Joshi had sung several 'jugalbandis' said his death was an "absolutely irreparable loss." "It is a great loss for Indian music not just for Hindustani music."

"He was a person who sang Indian music, not just Hindustani music," Balamuralikrishna said. Unable to bear the loss, Balamuralikrishna with voice choked in emotion said "He is already there, singing to the gods".

Singers Suresh Wadkar and Arti Ankliker-Tikekar said the void will be difficult to fill.

Begum Parveen Sultana said, "He was like an elder brother to me. He was the person who introduced us to Maharashtra".

Vocalist Shounak Abhisheki said Joshi was the "Bhishmpitamah" of Hindustani classical music.

"He has an immortal place in this field and he achieved this position due to his devotion, dedication and commitment to music," he said.

Abhisheki said Pandjitji was both a great human being and a musician. "His life is an inspiration to new generation of musicians like me and following the path laid down by him would be the greatest tribute."

Renowned filmmaker Shyam Benegal described Pandit Joshi as the "finest Indian classical artist of his generation".

PM, Prez condole Bhimsen’s demise
President Pratibha Patil, Vice President Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday condoled the demise of Pandit Bhimsen Joshi and said his loss has created a huge void in the world of music.

Describing Joshi as a doyen of Hindustani classical music, the President said in his passing away, the nation has lost one of the greatest and most popular classical vocalists.

In his condolence message, the Vice President said Joshi was unique in preserving tradition while incorporating new ideas in his music.

"Joshi became a living tradition in Hindustani music with tremendous influence on classical musicians, music lovers and the general public," Ansari said.

Condoling Joshi's death, the Prime Minister said the nation and the music world has lost a towering musical genius and the most famous and accomplished exponent of the Kirana gharana.

"Generations of listeners were enthralled by his mellifluous voice, mastery of rhythm and magnificent renderings of bhajans and khayals. His rendering of the song 'Mile Sur Mera Tumhara' on the theme of national integration is etched in the popular consciousness," Singh said.