The much decorated doyen of the ‘Kirana’ gharana of Hindustani Music, Pandit Bhimsen Gururaj Joshi was born in Gadag district of Karnataka. His grandfather was a ‘kirtankar’ of repute, which is perhaps why he was always drawn to music. At the age of eleven, he enrolled as a student under Pandit Sawai Gandharva, a disciple of the original founders of the Kirana Ghanara himself. In fact, renowned vocalist Gangubai Hangal was a co-student with him under Pandit Gandharva.
After Bhimsen Joshi gave his first performance at nineteen, he released his first album of Bhajans in Kannada and Hindi in 1942. Subsequently, he moved to Mumbai a couple of years later, enlisting himself as a recording artiste under HMV records.
In 1946, when a concert was held in Pt Gandharva’s turning sixty, his singing earned not only the audience’s appreciation but also that of his guru. He was known to perform with both the accuracy of a maestro and the spontaneity of a child, even while executing a complex taan or tihaai. Some of the ragas that he popularised were Miyan Ki Todi, Bhimpalasi and Puriya Dhanashri. Though singing on stage was his first love, he sang as a playback singer for a few films too. Notable among them are “Basant Bahar” (1956) and the song “Thumak Thumak” from the film “Ankahee” (1985). The latter even won him the National Film Award for the best Playback Singer. When he sang the 1985 muisc video Miley Sur Mera Tumhara in 1985 in Des Raag, the whole nation sang with him. He was awarded the Padma Vibhushan in 1999, Karnataka Ratna in 2005 and the highest civilian award of the nation, the Bharat Ratna in 2009. At the age of eighty eight, on January 24, 2011, Panditji breathed his last, owing to gastrointestinal bleeding.