Release of 11 books of Swarayoginee Dr. Prabha Atre at the hands of Dr. Karan Singh & Shri. Suresh P. Prabhu (18th April 2016, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi) Click here to know more

Release of 'Sahasra-Chandra-Prabha' concert recordings (Vols.1-4) of Swarayoginee Dr. Prabha Atre at the hands of Dr. Karan Singh & Shri. Suresh P. Prabhu (18th April 2016, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi)

Release of 11 books & 'Sahasra-Chandra-Prabha' concert recordings (Vols.1-4) of Swarayoginee Dr. Prabha Atre at the hands of Pt. Yeshwant Deo and Justice Chandrashekhar Dharmadhikari (4th June 2016, Ravindra Natya Mandir, Mumbai)

Swarayoginee Dr. Prabha Atre being felicitated at the hands of Pt. Yeshwant Deo and Justice Chandrashekhar Dharmadhikari for her contribution to Indian Music (only performer/academician in the field of arts, to release 11 books (from a single stage) – a world record)(4th June 2016, Ravindra Natya Mandir, Mumbai)

Release of 'Antahswar' hard copy & e-book (poems on musical experiences in Marathi - 3rd rev edn) seen (L → R) : Supriya Limaye, Director – BookGanga Publications; Prasad Bhadsawale, Chairperson – Gaanvardhan; Dr. Prabha Atre, K.G. Dharmadhikari, President – Gaanvardhan; Dr. Praveen Bhole, Head – Lalit Kala Kendra; noted poet Sri. Praveen Dawane.

Dr. Prabha Atre being bestowed with the Swarasamrat Pt. Basavaraj Rajguru rashtreeya samman (24-8-2017)

Dr. Prabha Atre being interviewed by noted poet Sri. Praveen Dawane on the topic ''Antahswar : maajhyaa rachanaa, majhyaa bandishi''

21-09-2017: Inaugural session of "Aalok - sangeet shaastra aur prastuti' a musical discourse by Dr. Prabha Atre'; interview-series held at Pune University, interview conducted by Dr. Chaitanya Kunte

Inaugural session of "Aalok - sangeet shaastra aur prastuti' a musical discourse by Dr. Prabha Atre'; interview-series held at Pune University, interview conducted by Dr. Chaitanya Kunte

Mumbai 11-11-2017: Dr. Prabha Atre being bestowed the Aditya Vikram Birla Kalashikar Puraskar by Honourable Governer of Maharashtra Shri. Vidyasagar Rao in presence of Smt. Rajashree Birla, President & Shri Lalit Daga, Secretary- Sangit Kala Kendra.

Mumbai 11-11-2017: Dr. Prabha Atre being bestowed the Aditya Vikram Birla Kalashikar Puraskar by Honourable Governer of Maharashtra Shri. Vidyasagar Rao in presence of Smt. Rajashree Birla, President & Shri Lalit Daga, Secretary- Sangit Kala Kendra.

In News

'DR. PRABHA ATRE turned 85 on 13th Sept 2017'<<<<<<<<< "Aalok - sangeet shaastra aur prastuti' interview-series featuring music musings and compositions of Dr. Prabha Atre' presented by Lalit Kala Kendra, Pune University (Sept 2017 to Jan 2018) <<<<<<<<< 'Swaramayee Gurukul, Pune' recognised by Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) to enable foreign students learn Hindustani classical and semi-classical vocal music.

Dr. Prabha Atre holds the world record to have released 11 books (from a single stage)

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Short Memoir

Internationally renowned Hindustani classical music vocalist DR. PRABHA ATRE is the senior most (84 years; d.o.b: 13-09-1932; place of birth : Pune), front ranking living legend of the Kirana gharaanaa. Besides being an accomplished performer she has also excelled as a brilliant thinker, researcher, academician, reformer, author, composer and guru.

A Science and Law graduate, Doctorate in music, Assistant Producer with the All India Radio, Professor and Head of the Department of Post-Graduate Studies & Research in Music at SNDT Women's University, Mumbai, Dr. Prabha Atre has a rare blend of skill, insight and expressive voice. She has displayed constant innovation and creative endeavour in treatment, design and presentation of the musical material. Whether khyaal, taraanaa, thumri, daadraa, ghazal, or bhajan, her sincerity to art and sensitivity to the times clearly surface in her thinking and singing which distinguishes her from other vocalists, both in the classical and light classical idioms. Dr. Atre is specially hailed for the subtle ways she uses sargam and gamak from Carnatic music which makes Hindustani music aesthetically rich, lively and pleasing.

Dr. Atre is a ‘Top’ Grade artist of the All India Radio. Her public concerts, radio and TV programmes in India and abroad to audiences of varying tastes have always been highly appreciated. She is the pioneering vocalist to popularise the Indian art music in the West since 1969, giving full-fledged vocal music concerts, as did Pt. Ravi Shankar with his sitar.

Dr. Atre is an acclaimed guru both in performance and research. She is actively involved in music related academic activities like lec-dems, workshops & seminars and has also been teaching at foreign universities as a visiting professor.

Dr. Prabha Atre was trained in the traditional `guru-shishya paramparaa' system by the late Sureshbabu Mane and his famous sister, Padmabhushan Hirabai Badodekar, both stalwarts of the Kirana gharaanaa and drew much inspiration from the styles of renowned maestros, Amir Khan and Bade Ghulam Ali Khan.

Dr. Atre has authored academic books on the various aspects of music that are especially relevant to the present day performance. Her very first book ‘Swaramayee’ (स्वरमयी) has bagged the Maharashtra State Govt. Award. Her second book ‘Suswaraalee’ (सुस्वराली) has also received great accolades. Her Doctoral thesis on Sargam(सरगम) or the use of sol-fa names as musical material, is a pioneering work on the subject. Her 3 books of compositions ‘Swaraanginee’(स्वरांगिनी), ‘Swaranjanee’(स्वरंजनी) and ‘Swararangee’(स्वररंगी) carry 550 of her popular compositions in classical, light classical & light music. The English version of these composition books which contain articles on bandish in North Indian classical vocal music along with the notation, song-text meaning and audio CD, has proved to be a great help to Indian and non-Indian music learners and artists. Her other books in English on theoritical and technical aspects of music making and contemporary music performance – ‘Enlightening the Listener’ and ‘Along the Path of Music’ have helped the global music lovers to understand and appreciate the Indian art music objectively. Perhaps the only book of its kind, ‘Antahswar’(अंतःस्वर) is a book of poems on music and musical experiences. Her books are available in Marathi, Hindi, English & Kannada and are also being translated into other languages.

Dr. Prabha Atre Foundation’ set up by Dr. Atre aims to promote the cause of Indian classical music and performing arts. She has also established ‘Swaramayee Gurukul’ which strives to bridge the prevailing gap between the academic institutions and the traditional guru-shishya paramparaa and nurtures talented students into professionals who aspire to take music as a career. She is working as a committee member for several social, educational and cultural institutions.

Dr. Prabha Atre has been honoured with the National Awards - `PADMASHREE, `PADMABHUSHAN’ by the Government of India, `SANGEET NATAK AKADEMI' Award and ‘TAGORE AKADEMI RATNA’ by the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi and the State awards – KALIDAS SAMMAN (Madhya Pradesh), TANARIRI SANGEET SANMAN (Gujarat), BHARAT RATNA PT. BHIMSEN JOSHI SHAASTREEYA SANGEET JEEVAN GAURAV PURASKAR (Maharashtra), MALLIKARJUN MANSUR SAMMAN (Karnataka) and SWARASAMRAT PT. BASAVRAJ RAJGURU RASHTRIYA SAMMAN (Karnataka) - in recognition of her exceptional creativity, highest artistic excellence, outstanding achievement and distinguished life time services in the field of classical vocal music.

Dr. Atre has received 'Indo-American Fellowship' for studying research materials used in Ethnomusicology at the University of California, U.S.A. She has also received 'LearnQuest Lifetime Achievement Award' in recognition of exceptional and lasting contribution to Indian Classical Music by the renowned LearnQuest Academy of Music, Boston, USA.


Detailed Biography

Late Sri. Dattatraya Pilaji nee Aabasaheb Atre  - father – [retired Head Master – Rasta Peth Education Society’s School, Pune (currently named Abasaheb Atre Day High School & Junior College)]

Late Smt. Indira Atre – mother – [retired Teacher – Rasta Peth Education Society’s School, Pune (currently named Abasaheb Atre Day High School & Junior College), author of books – short stories and poems for children]

Late Dr. Usha Wagh nee Atre (Anesthethist at Jaslok Hospital and Cumbala Hill Hospital).  Married to late Dr. Suresh Wagh (Neuro-Surgeon at Bombay Hospital).  Have two daughters Smt. Kalpana Vaidya (settled in Mumbai) and Dr. Manisha Ravi Prakash (Gynecologist & Physician settled in the USA).


1 Bachelor of Science Ferguson College, Poona University.
2 Bachelor of Law Law College, Poona University
3 Sangeet Alankar (Master of Music) Gandharva Mahavidyalaya Mandal
4 Sangeet Praveen (Doctor of Music) Gandharva Mahavidyalaya Mandal
5 Western Music Theory Grade IV Trinity College of Music, London
6 Training in North Indian Classical Vocal Music: Traditional `guru-shishya paramparaa'  system  Sri. Sureshbabu Mane and Smt. Hirabai Badodekar from Kirana gharaanaa


1 Have been giving public concerts all over India and abroad since 1955. (Specialisation in khyaal, thumri, daadraa, bhajan, ghazal).
2 Participated in prestigious Music Festivals (Government and Public), held in India and abroad.
3 Top Grade All India Radio Artist: National Programmes and other special programmes before invited audience.
4 TV Programmes in India and abroad.
5 Uses her own compositions in concerts and presents specially conceived programmes like:
  • full-fledged programmes in light classical (thumri, daadraa) and light music, (ghazal, geet, devotional songs), etc.,
  • theme based concerts – Bhairav prakaar, Kauns prakaar, Malhar prakaar, Kalyan prakaar, etc.,
  • `Sur Sangam’ - Hindustani classical music concert based on Carnatic raagas and nuances.
  • ‘Raag Rang’ – classical, light-classical and light forms in the same raag.
6 Recordings produced by leading Music companies (list enclosed)

C.        Ph.D. Works & Publications on Dr. Prabha Atre:

  • 5 students have been awarded Ph.D. at various universities for their research work on the contributions of Dr. Prabha Atre
  • ‘Swarayoginee Dr. Prabha Atre : ek bahuaayaami vyaktitva’ ---- research work by Dr. Chetna Banawat published by Kanishka Publishers Distributors.
    Swarayoginee Dr Prabha Atre

D.        TEACHING:

1 Professor & Head - Department of Post-Graduate Studies & Reasearch in Music, SNDT Women's University, Mumbai  1979-1992
2 Visiting Professor at:
  • the University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  • the University of California, Los Angeles, U.S.A
  • the Rotterdam Conservatory, Netherlands
  • the Colorado College, Colorado, U.S.A
  • the Music Conservatory, Montreux, Switzerland
  • the Learn Quest Academy of Music at Boston, U.S.A.
  • the Syracuse University, Syracuse, U.S.A.
  • the Learn Quest Academy of Music at Boston, U.S.A.

3 Private students since 1965, who have established themselves as:
  • All India Radio artists
  • TV artists
  • Concert artists
  • Playback singers
  • Prize winners in reputable competitions
  • Research Scholars: 8 students have been awarded Ph.D. 
  • Scholarship holders ‑ both Foreign and Indian


1 ‘Top’ Grade Artist of All India Radio
2 Examiner for Music  (M.A. Ph.D. level) and Member of the Board of Studies in Music at various universities.
3 Judge of reputable competitions, scholarships, awards at the national level.
4 Member of the Public Service Commission of Maharashtra.
5 Participant in Seminars, Workshops and Lec-Dems ‑ National and International.


1 Assistant Producer for Music with the All India Radio 1960-1970
2 Professor & Head – Post-Graduate Dept. of Music,SNDT Women's University, Mumbai 1979-1992
3 Chief Music Producer & Director - `Swarashree' Recording Company since 1981
4 Visiting Professor at the University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada 1983
5 Visiting Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, America 1986
6 Visiting Professor at the Rotterdam Conservatory, Netherlands 1989
7 Visiting Professor at the Colorado College, Colorado, U.S.A 2000
8 Visiting Professor at the Music Conservatory, Montreux, Switzerland 2000
9 Visiting Professor at the Learn Quest Academy of Music at Boston, USA 2003
10 Visiting Professor at the Syracuse University, Syracuse, U.S.A 2008
11 Visiting Professor at the Learn Quest Academy of Music at Boston, U.S.A. 2008


1 Associate Founder Member and Executive Committee Member,
Indian Musicological Society, Baroda. 
since 1980
2 Member of the Cultural Committee, Maharashtra Government  1981
3 Member of the Advisory Panel of the Central Board of Film
Censors, Mumbai.
4 Committee Member of the Sangeet Research Academy, ITC, Western zone (The Music Forum, Mumbai – a body representing personalities from different fields related to music) since 1985
5 Committee Member of the Indian National Theatre 1987
6 University Grants Commission Member of the Panel 1987
7 Non‑official member of the Northern Panel of the Musical
Audition Board of the All India Radio
8 Committee Member to formulate the National Policy on Culture, set up by the Ministry for Cultural Affairs, Government of India, New Delhi  2002
9 Member – Panel for Hindustani Music (vocal & light classical), Indian Council for Cultural Relations, working under the Ministry for Cultural Affairs, Government of India, New Delhi 2002
10 Member – Expert Committee to award scholarships for artists in Hindustani vocal music, Dept. of Culture, Govt. of India, New Delhi. 2003
11 Committee Member to formulate the Government policy to preserve cultural diversity, set up  by the Ministry for Cultural Affairs, Government of India, New Delhi.   2004
12 Member of Advisory Committee – Golden Jubilee Celebrations of Maharashtra State. 2009


1 U.K. and Continent 1969 6 months
2 U.S.A., Canada, Japan, Hong Kong, Bangkok and Singapore 1971 6 months
3 Kenya, Africa 1974 2 months
4 U.S.A., Canada 1976 4 months
5 Afghanistan, Iran 1977 2 months
6 Mauritius 1981 2 weeks
7 U.S.A., Canada 1981 4 months
8 Dubai, Bahrain 1983 2 weeks
9 U.S.A., Canada 1983 6 months
10 U.S.A., Canada 1986 4 months
11 Moscow, Russia 1987 2 weeks
12 Netherlands 1989 2 months
13 Doha, Bahrain 1991 2 weeks
14 U.K., Europe 1995 2 weeks
15 U.S.A. 1998 3 months
16 U.S.A. 2000 2 months
17 Switzerland  2000 2 weeks
18 U.S.A. 2002 3 months
19 U.S.A. 2003 6 weeks
20 U.S.A. 2008 6 weeks
21 U.S.A., Canada 2014 2 Months
22 U.K. 2014 2 weeks
23 Bangaladesh 2016 1 week


1 Drama :
  • `A' Grade ‑ All India Radio Drama Artist (Marathi and Hindi).
  • Main female role in professional musical dramas.  Acted with well-known theatre personalities like Shri. Chintubua Divekar, Shri. Ganapatrao Bodas, Shri. Balchandra Pendarkar, Shri. Prasad Savkar, Master Damle, Chota Gandharv, Shri. Ram Marathe, Shri. Prabhakar Panshikar, etc., in musical dramas like Sharada, Vidyaaharan, Mruchchakatika, Samshaykallol, Lilaav, Mandaarmaalaa, etc.,
  • Was felicitated by Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, the then Prime Minister of India for main role in her first musical drama ‘Sharada’ in 1957.
2 Dance : Formal training in Kathak style, participated in School, College cultural activities.


1 Central Government Scholarship for Music, Delhi  1955
2 Jagadguru Shri Shankaracharya - Sankeshwar, conferred title `Gaana Prabha'  1975
3 `Acharya Atre Award' for Music, Mumbai   1975
4 Appointment as `Special Executive Magistrate' by the Government of Maharashtra in recognition of services to the cause of Music. 1978
5 Visiting Professor at the University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada 1983
6 Indo‑American Fellowship for studying research materials used in
Ethnomusicology at the University of California, Los Angeles, America.
7 Visiting Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, America 1986
8 Maharashtra State Government Award for book `Swaramayee' 1989
9 Visiting Professor at the Rotterdam Conservatory, Netherlands. 1989
10 National Award `PADMASHREE' 1990
11 National `SANGEET NATAK AKADEMI' Award   1991
12 `Sur singar Samsad: Sangeeth Peeth: Raseshwar Award', Mumbai. 1992
13 Felicitation & Publication of Gauravika ‑ `Gana Prabha' on 61st birthday for varied, outstanding contribution in the field of music performance and music education under the auspices of Hridayesh Arts, a reputed socio-cultural organization, Mumbai.  1994
14 Felicitation by Marathwada Sangeet Kala Academy, Latur.  1995
15 `Mahim Ratna' award by Shiv Sena Mahim branch, Mumbai. 1995
16 `Maauli Pratishthan' Award, Mumbai. 1996
17 Name included in the book `Daughters of Maharashtra' by US based photographer Abhijit Varde and published by Kalnirnay group 1997
18 `M.N. Mathur Smriti Munch' award, Udaipur.  1999
19 `Swar Sadhana Ratna' award, Mumbai.  1999
20 Felicitation by Sanskar Bharati, Mumbai. 2000
21 Felicitation by Sawai Gandharva Vishwastha Samsthe, Kundgol. 2000
22 Felicitation by Law College, Pune 2000
23 Visiting Professor at the Music Conservatory, Montreux, Switzerland 2000
24 Felicitation by Global Action Club International, Mumbai.   2001
25 Acharya Pandit Ram Narayan Foundation Award, Mumbai. 2001
26 S.L. Gadre Maatoshri Kalakar Award, Mumbai. 2001
27 Felicitation by the Mayor of Indore. 2001
28 Ustad Faiyyaz Ahmed Khan Memorial Award (Kirana Gharana), nstituted by The Music Forum, Mumbai. 2002
29 National award `Padmabhushan’  2002
30 `Life time achievement’ award by the Pune University, Pune 2002
31 `Godavari Gaurav Puraskar’ instituted by Kusumagraj Pratishthan, Nasik 2002
32 Felicitation by the Mayor of Mumbai.  2002
33 Felicitation by the Vasantrao Naik Agricultural Research and Rural Development Foundation, Mumbai by the then Governor of Maharashtra, Shri. P.C. Alexandar  2002
34 `Kala-Shree 2002’ award instituted by Business Express Group, Sangli.  2002
35 Felicitation by the S.N.D.T. Women’s University, Mumbai.  2002
36 Felicitation by the Fine Arts Society, Chembur, Mumbai.  2002
37 `Hafiz Ali Khan Award’ instituted by Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan Memorial Trust, New Delhi. 2002
38 Best guru’ / Ph.D. guide honoured with ‘N.D. Kashalkar puraskar’ by Akhil Bharatiya Gandharva Mahavidyalaya Manda 2002
39 Swarsagar Sangeet Puraskar’ award instituted by the Pimpri-Chinchwad Mahanagar Palika, Pimpri. 2002
40 Felicitation by `Gaanvardhan’ cultural organization from Pune on the occasion of its Silver Jubilee Celebrations 2003
41 `Swararatna Puraskar’ awarded by Mumbai Doordarshan (DD1) – Sahyadri 2003
42 `P.L. Deshpande Bahuroopi Sanman’ by Sri. Ram Pujari Pratishthan, Sholapur 2004
43 ‘Govind Lakshmi Gourav Puraskar’ instituted by Saraswati Sangeet Vidyalaya, Bangalore for displaying constant innovation and creative endeavour in Indian classical music --- felicitated by the then Hon’ble President of India Shri. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam  2004
44 ‘Kaka Hathrasi Sangeet Sanman 2003’ by Sankalp and Kaka Hathrasi Puraskar Trust, at Ahmedabad felicitating Dr. Atre as an author on Indian music   2004
45 National ‘KALIDAS SAMMAN’ instituted from the Government of Madhya Pradesh, for exceptional creativity, highest artistic excellence, outstanding achievement and long time dedication in the field of Indian classical music. 2004
46 ‘Dagar Gharana Award’ instituted by the Maharana Mewar Charitable Foundation, Udaipur        2005
47 Giants International Award 2005 for contribution towards music - honoured by Hon’ble Governor of Maharashtra, Shri. S.M. Krishna 2005
48 ‘Master Krishnarao Phulambrikar Award’ instituted by the Maharashtra Sahitya Parishad for writings on Music  2005
49 Honoured with the ‘Master Deenanath Mangeshkar Puraskar’ – felicitated by Bharataratna Lata Mangeshkar 2006
50 Felicitated on the occasion of 75th birthyear and for contribution to Indian music by ‘Swaramayee’, Mumbai at Mumbai  2006
51 Concluding artist at the internationally renowned ‘Sawai Gandharva Bhimsen Sangeet Mahotsava’, Pune – honour bestowed in recognition of seniority and excellence since 2006
52 Felicitated on the occasion of 75th birthyear and for contribution to Indian music by ‘Ashaya Club’, Pune at Pune 2007
53 Felicitated on the occasion of 75th birthyear and for contribution to Indian music by ‘Swaramayee’, Mumbai at New Delhi and Kolkata 2007
55 Felicitated on the occasion of 75th birthyear and for contribution to Indian music by ‘Swaramayee’ and Shri Ram Kala Vedike, at Bangalore 2007
56 Felicitated on the occasion of 75th birthyear and for contribution to Indian music by ‘Swaramayee’, Vasundhara Academy of Performing Arts and Raagmilan at Mysore  2007
57 Felicitated for contribution towards Indian music by ‘Mee Marathi’ T.V. by the then Chief Minister of Maharashtra Shri. Vilasrao Deshmukh 2007
58 Felicitated for contribution towards Indian music and on her 75th birthyear by the citizens of Sholapur 2007
59 Felicitated with ‘Pune Festival Award’ for contribution towards Indian music at the hands of Shri. Sushil Kumar Shinde and Shri. Suresh Kalmadi  2007
60 Felicitated on the occasion of 75th birthyear and for contribution to Indian music by ‘Swaramayee’ and Sri Krishna Sweets, at Chennai 2007
61 ‘Adishakti Jeevan-Sanman Puraskar’ by Agarwal Cultural Trust and Mahalakshmi Mandir, Pune  2008
62 Felicitated on the occasion of 75th birth year and for contribution to Indian music by ‘Swaramayee’ at Pune. ‘Swarayoginee’ – title conferred by veteran theatre personality Shri. Prabhakar Panashikar on behalf of music lovers 2008
63 Conferred the title ‘Sangeeta Kalanidhi’ for her outstanding contribution to Indian classical music by Hangal Music Foundation, Hubli, at the hands of Smt. Gangubai Hangal, the maestro of Kirana gharaanaa 2009
64 Felicitated by RAWA – Renaissance Artists’ and Writers’ Association for exceptional creativity, highest artistic excellence, outstanding achievement and long time dedication to Indian classical music  2009
65 ‘3rd Bismillah Samman Puraskar’ instituted by Madhu Murchhana, Mumbai in memory of Bharat Ratna Ustad Bismillah Khansaheb bestowed by Sri. Krupashankar Singh, MLA & President – Mumbai Congress 2009
66 ‘3rd Sawai Gandharva Rastriya Sangeet Puraskar’ instituted in honour of Pt. Sawai Gandharwa. Bestowed by Pt. Sawai Gandharva Vishwastha Samiti, Kundagol. 2009
67 Gururao Deshpande Rashtriya Sangeet Puraskar ‘Guru Gandharva 2010’ instituted by Gururao Deshpande Sangeet Sabha, Bangalore 2010
68 ‘Puttaraj Sanman 2010’ instituted by Dr. Puttaraj Gawai Foundation, Gadag, Karnataka  2010
69 ‘Mallikarjun Mansur Samman 2010’ instituted by Dr. Mallikarjun Mansur Trust, Dharwar  2010
70 ‘Swarayoginee Dr. Prabha Atre Shaastreeya Sangeet Puraskar’ – national award instituted by Gaanvardhan and Tatyasaheb Natu Foundation to award and encourage talented artists   since 2010
71 National `TAGORE AKADEMI RATNA' instituted from the Sangeet Natak Akademi - the National Academy of Music, Dance and Drama, - the apex body of performing arts in the country, a one-time honour of Tagore Samman for her significant contribution in the field of performing arts, as a part of the ongoing commemoration of the 150th Birth Anniversary of Gurudev Rabinath Tagore. 2011
72 'Rushitulya Tapasvi' honour by Sharada Gnana Peetham of India International Multiversity, Pune.   2013
73 'Rugved Bhooshan' puraskar from Deshastha Rugvedi Brahman
Shikshnottejak Sanstha, Pune. 
74 'ITC – SRA Award' from ITC – Sangeet Research Academy honouring for life long dedicated services to Indian classical music 2014
75 'Maharashtra Bhooshan' title accorded by the leading Marathi newspaper of Maharashtra - Maharashtra Times 2014
76 'LearnQuest Lifetime Achievement Award' in recognition of exceptional and lasting contribution to Indian Classical Music by
LearnQuest Academy, Boston, USA
77 'Pt. Uma Dutt Sharma Lifetime Achievement Award' instituted by 'Jaipur Gems Charitable Trust', Mumbai 2014
78 National 'TANARIRI SANGEET SANMAN' instituted by the Government of Gujarat, for exceptional creativity, highest artistic excellence, outstanding achievement and long time dedication in the field of Indian classical music 2014
79 'Legends of India' - Lifetime Achievement Award instituted by
'Legends of India', Delhi
80 'Fergusson Gaurav Award' instituted by The Fergussonians' - Alumni of Fergussion Institutions, Pune. 2014
81 National 'Bharatratna Pt. Bhimsen Joshi Shaastreeya Sangeet Jeevan Gaurav Puraskar' instituted by the Government of Maharashtra, for exceptional creativity, highest artistic excellence, outstanding achievement and long time dedication in the field of Indian classical music  2014
82 'Swara Bhaskar Puraskar' instituted by Pune Municipal Corporation 2014
83 'Kalabhushan Puraskar' instituted by Aditya Pratishthan, Pune 2015
84 'Maestros Speak' treatise of Indian music, compilation of presentations/ articles by artists in seminars conducted by Gaanvardhan for the past more than 35 years, dedicated to Dr. Prabha Atre 2015
85 'Swarasamrat Pt. Basavaraj Rajguru Rashtreeya Samman' instituted by Swarasamrat Pt. Basavaraj Rajguru National memorial Trust, Dharwad 2017
86 'Aditya Vikram Birla Kalashikhar Puraskar' instituted by Sangit Kala Kendra, Mumbai 2017
87 Name included in national and international biographical works  


1 Training to talented students in the traditional `guru-shishya paramparaa' system since 1970, by providing food and shelter.  Nearly 15-20 out-station students have benefited.  (Mumbai's living conditions today do not allow gurukul system for want of space and time).
2 Has been giving concerts and lecture‑demonstrations in schools and colleges all over India for the `Society for Promotion of Indian Classical Music and Culture among Youth’ SPIC MACAY since its inception in 1977. This activity has helped in propagating and popularising Indian Classical Music among student community – rural, urban and cosmopolitan; and the focus has been `national integration'.
3 Working for `Sanskar Bharati' - an all India organisation propagating, preserving and promoting Indian culture among the society through lectures, workshops, seminars, concerts, training, etc.
4 Working as a committee member for several social, educational, cultural institutions have been trying to bring these institutions together and establish rapport between themselves for better understanding and better results.
5 Organised 'Sureshbabu Hirabai Smruti Sangeet Samaroh' a yearly music festival for 16 years as one of the activities to commemorate the invaluable contribution made by the gurus Shri. Sureshbabu Mane and Padmabhushan Smt. Hirabai Badodekar to the cause of music. Senior top artists and accomplished young artists participated in this festival and kept the classical tradition alive and going. Three to four thousand music lovers used to attend this festival to listen to senior as well as young artists.  This festival became the major music festival in Mumbai like Sawai Gandharva Festival in Pune.
6 Organised `Stree Guru Vandana' ‑ a festival/programme for the first time to honour well-known senior female musicians for their contribution as `gurus' (Aug. '96) – a historical event in the field of music. 
7 Organised a yearly classical music festival, `Gana Prabha' for 5 years featuring young, talented artists and creating a much-needed platform as an endeavour to fulfill socio-cultural commitments.
In the year 2002 `Gana Prabha’ music festival was an `All Women Musician’s Festival’ having women performers and accompanists; the idea being to give platform, promote and project especially women percussionists as accompanists and soloists. 
In the year 2003 `Gana Prabha’ music festival featured senior musicians who are around 75 years of age.  It was to recognise the contributions of the maestros, to honour them and provide an opportunity for the music loving people of Mumbai to have a glimpse of their saadhaanaa.
8 President of Rasta Peth Education Society – a leading educational association in Pune for the last 15 years.  Has worked in different capacities in its governing committee for the past 22 years.
The RPES was started in 1927 in the Eastern part of Pune which was educationally and economically backward of which her father Shri. Abasaheb Atre was the Founder-Principal.  Since then, the entire family has been deeply involved in the development of the Society and its activities.
Dr. Atre apart from being educated in the school run by the Society has been working actively in its administration, management, policy making decisions, raising funds, besides donating large amounts herself.
9 President (Advisory Committee) of `Gaan Vardhan' ‑ a well-known music organisation, Pune, for the past 20 years. Gaan Vardhan organizes concerts, lecture-demonstrations, seminars, workshops and has thus helped educate the music lovers of Pune and around.
10 Established `Dr. Prabha Atre Foundation’ in 2000 which aims at preserving, promoting, propagating and popularising the Indian classical music and other performing arts.

Dr. Atre through her Foundation and otherwise has organized nearly 275 programmes, music festivals based on various themes since 1965
11 Has established `Swaramayee Gurukul’in 2003 at Pune.  An unique institution, a dream project of Dr. Atre, it houses a gurukul wherein talented students who aspire to take music as a professional career can stay and equip themselves to meet the challenges of the profession. 
To facilitate this Swaramayee Gurukul provides training aided by a small auditorium, library of audio-video recordings and books, facility for audio-video recording etc., It provides a platform for mehfils, seminars, workshops, discussions, press conferences etc.,  
The institution an endeavor to fulfill socio-cultural commitments aims to strive to bridge the prevailing gap between the academic institutions and the traditional guru-shishya paramparaa.
The Gurukul organises monthly baithaks – concerts and academic programmes – non-ticketed/open free for the public – the objective being to educate audience who can keep a check on the quality of presentation of music.
12 Has been actively involved as a Committee Member of `The Music Forum, Mumbai’ – a body of representatives from all fields of music – artists, connoisseurs, music organizations, media – print and electronic, critics, academic institutions, music schools, national and international agencies, government organisations since the past 20 years.
13 Organised a Seminar ‘Sargam as Musical Material’ followed by a Workshop on ‘How to Sing Sargam / Sargam Rendition’ in 2004.
This was probably the first time in India a Seminar/Workshop involving eminent musicologists and practising musicians from Hindustani, Carnatic and also light music was organised. 

The paper presentations were supplemented by illustrations, listening session of recordings of sargam singing of old maestros from Hindustani and Carnatic music from semi-classical and light music.  This was followed by a discussion involving panelists and audience.

The seminar attempted to examine the history of sargam; its place as a separate musical material besides aalaap, bols and taan; evolution of the usage of sargam with time; potential of its usage and the factors that have made sargam popular with most of the genre right from classical, light to geet, ghazal, bhajan, Indi-pop, fusion, commercials advertisements etc.,
14 Organized ‘Amrut Prabha – National Classical Vocal Music Competition’ in 2008.  Entries received from all over India and abroad were screened by a panel of renowned judges. The Final Round of the Competition featured upcoming talented artists from Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Chattisgarh and West Bengal.     The Competition held in three categories – classical, light-classical and bhajan was based on the compositions of internationally acclaimed Hindustani classical vocalist Dr. Prabha Atre.
First of its kind television programme in India based on this competition “Amrut Prabha’ – yuvakaanchi sangeet Pratibha’ was telecast on national TV channel DD Sahyadri as 7 episodes.
15 Regular visits to ashrams and temples for exposing masses to Indian classical music through devotional songs.
16 Has been giving charity programmes in aid of good cause


Contribution to Music

Major Contribution Towards the Enhancement of Indian Classical Music

Preservation, propagation, promotion and enrichment of Hindustani classical music by –
  • carrying forward the Kirana tradition through performances, workshops, lec-dems, etc.,
  • teaching students all over the world in both the traditions - guru-shishya paramparaa and institutional and bridging the gap between these two systems by establishing ‘Swaramayee Gurukul’.
  • organizing multifarious cultural, educational activities including national music festivals, seminars, lec-dems, workshops, monthly baithaks to train audience under the aegis of ‘Dr. Prabha Atre Foundation’ (established by Dr. Prabha Atre).
  • pioneering work in popularising Indian classical music in the West by giving full length vocal concerts, lecture-demonstrations and workshops since 1969.
  • authoring academic books on the various aspects of contemporary music performance.
  • composing bandishs in classical, light classical and light music to meet the changing trends in music.
  • composing new raags.
  • preparing and standardising - teaching material and methods for a new student of Hindustani music.

Avant-Garde Contribution in the Realm of Creativity and Performance

  • Research work on ‘Sargam as musical material and its open advocacy in teaching and performances since 1960s.  This has enthused and paved way for other genres like light music, film, fusion, etc., to use sargam in their presentations.
  • Scientific, logical approach to -
    • absence of antaraa and use of only sthaayi in the presentation of vilambit khyaal.
    • use of complementary themes in vilambit and drut compositions of the same raag.
    • interpretation of the raag rules adding new dimension to the established form of the raag.
    • Prolific presentation of semi-classical music – giving it sophistication and modern flavour setting it apart from the rendition of the courtesans.
    • Enriching Hindustani music by incorporating stylistic nuances of Carnatic music.
    • Making Hindustani music more appealing by giving stress on the tonal quality, voice throw, pronunciation of words and portrayal of emotional content of the words as well as notes.
    • Holistic approach towards the study of music in academic institutions by incorporating all the genres from folk to classical music and also film, theatre, Carnatic, Western, and World music (ethno-musicology) and other fields of knowledge related to music like psychology, sociology, physiology, acoustics, cultural history, literature, poetry, philosophy, etc. Syllabus prepared and implemented for the Post-Graduate Dept of Music at the SNDT Women’s University, Mumbai while Dr. Atre was the Professor & Head.


  • More than 550 pieces in khyaal‑taraanas, thumri‑daadras, bhajan‑geet‑ghazals.
  • New Raags: Tilang Bhairav, Kaushik Bhairav, Ravi Bhairav, Shivkali, Shivaani, Bheemavanti, Kalaaheer, Apoorva Kalyan, Bhoop Kalyan, Patdeep Malhar, Darbarikauns, Madhurakauns, etc.,
  • Compositions sung by artists from all gharaanaas in their concerts and students in exams and competitions.
  • Music compositions adapted to full-length dance programme `Swar-Nritya Prabha’ - choreographed by the famous danseuse-
      • Dr. Sucheta Bhide Chaphekar - Bharatanatyam style.
      • Smt. Yogini Gandhi - Kathak style.
      • Smt. Jhelum Paranjape - Odissi style.
      • Music compositions adapted for Jazz by Ms. Susanne Abbuehl from Holland and Sascha Ley from Luxembourg, Europe.
  • Music composed for musical-dramas.


  1. Author of articles on Musical Themes in Marathi and English in newspapers and periodicals.
  2. Book `Swaramayee' (compilation of articles in Marathi) first published in 1984 (revised 4th edition published in 2011) received Maharashtra State Government Award in 1989.
  3. Book `Suswaraalee' (compilation of articles in Marathi, accompanied with illustrative audio CD) first published in 1992 (revised 3rd edition published in 2011).
  4. Book of compositions `Swaraanginee', first published in 1994 (in Hindi - revised 3rd edition - containing bandishs of morning, afternoon & evening raags - accompanied by illustrative audio CD).
  5. Swaramayee’ (in Hindi - translation of `Swaramayee' & `Suswaraalee' by Dr. Arun Bangre) - published by Madhya Pradesh Govt. Hindi Granth Academy in 1996.
  6. A book of poems in Marathi `Antahswar' [3rd revised edition (hard copy & e-book) published by Book Ganga Publications in 2017; 2nd revised edition published by Book Mark Publications in 2007; first edition by Granthali in 1997]
  7. A book in English `Enlightening the Listener: Contemporary North Indian Classical Vocal Music Performance' (accompanied by illustrative audio CD) published in 2000 – released by the then Prime Minister of India, Shri. Atal Behari Vajpayee. (revised 2nd edition published in 2016).
  8. ‘Along the Path of Music’ – a book about music and musicians published in 2005 – presented by the then President of India Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. (revised 2nd edition  published in 2016). 
  9. A book of compositions ‘Swaranjanee’ published in 2006 [in Hindi - revised 2nd edition - containing bandishs of night raags - published in 2016 - accompanied by illustrative audio CD].
  10. Book of poems ‘Antahswar : Inner Music’ (translation from Marathi to English, translated by Prof. Susheela Ambike) – released by Hon'ble Dr. Karan Singh, former Chairperson ICCR, renowned educationalist & cultural ambassador, in 2007.
  11. Books in Kannada ‘Swara Yaatre’ (translation of Swaramayee), ‘Shrotruvige Arivu’ (translation of Suswaraalee; accompanied with audio CD) – translated by Prof. Sadanand Kanavalli – published in 2012.
  12. A book of compositions ‘Swararangee’ released in 2016 (compositions of semi-claasical & light music - in  Hindi & Marathi - accompanied by illustrative audio CD).
  13. English translation of books of compositions – ‘Swaraanginee’, ‘Swaranjanee’ and ‘Swararangee’ (with song-text meaning), released in 2016.
  14. Swaramayee’ & 'Suswaralee' - Hindi translation from Marathi [`Swaramayee' 4th revised edition & `Suswaraalee' 3rd revised edition, translated by Dr. Nilima Chapekar) published in 2016.
  15. ‘Ahtahswar’ - book of poems - Hindi translation from Marathi [`Antahswar' 2nd  revised  edition, translated by Sri. Parag Chapekar) published in 2016.


  • To come up with the audio book of 'Antahswar' (Marathi)
  • To publish a book on the 'Standardisation of Teaching Material for the Beginners in Hindustani Music'.
  • To come-up with 'Audio-Visual Recordings to help Learning and Appreciating (with understanding) Hindustani Classical Music'.




Recordings & Books

Details of Recordings

Album Name



Night Melodies



  • raag Maru Bihag
    • Vilambit Ektaal - kal nahin aaye…
    • Drut Teentaal- jagu main sari raina …


  • raag Kalavati
    • Madhyalay Ektaal – tan, man, dhan tope varun thumri – Mishra Khamaj
    • Taal Deepchandi – kaun gali gayo shyaam…

Dr. Prabha Atre classical vocal


  • raag Bhairav
    • Vilambit Ektaal – mana re tu kar dhyaan…               
    • Drut Teentaal – he adi deva shiv shankar…
    • Drut Jhaptaalom namah shivaya…


  • raag Yaman 
    • Vilambit Ektaal – man tu gaa re hari naam…
    • Drut Teentaal – laagi lagi re hari sang…
    • Taranaa - Drut Ektaal – ode tanana deem ta…


  • raag Chandrakauns
    • MadhyalayEktaal– saguna saroopa nandalaala…

Dr. Prabha Atre classical vocal


  • raag Desi
    • Vilambit Ektaal – suna le moridaataa…
    • Teentaal – aaj more naiya paara utaaroon…
    • TaranaDrut Ektaal – daani de re na…


  • raag Madhuvanti
    • VilambitEktaal – ae mana mohana shyaam…
    • DrutEktaal – shyam more mandir aayee…
    • TaranaDrutTeentaal – odare daare tana dim…


  • daadraaraag Mishra Shivranjani
    • TaalKeherwaasaavaron Nandalaalaa.

Celebrity Selection’Chaitanya   


  • raag Miyan Malhar,
    • Vilambit Jhumrataal – jaa re tu kahi aur baraso…
    • DrutEktaal – barasana laagi re...


  • kajriraag Mishra Pilu
    • Taal Dadra - ghir ke aayi badariya raam...

NA Classical



  • raag Bageshree
    • Vilambit Ektaal – sakhi mana laage naa…
    • Drut Teentaal – jaa ri jaa badaraa tu jaa…


  • thumriraag Mishra Khamaj
    • Taal Deepchandi– baalam chedo mat jaa...
NA Classical



  • raag Madhukauns
    • Madhyalay Roopaktaal – binati suno mori…
    • Taranaa – Drut Ektaal – dim tanana tadaare…


  • thumriraag Mishra Gaara
    • Taal Deepchandi – mori na maane Shyaam...

NA Classical

‘A Unique Musical Experience with Dr. Prabha Atre’ 


  • ghazal by Prabha Atre - jaa kuni shodhuni aanaa…
  • ghazal by Suresh Bhat – sakhyaa yaa chandanyaa raati…
  • ghazal by Ashok G. Paranjape – daari ubhi ashee mee…
  • ghazal by Prabha Atre – re thaamba zaraa saa manaramanaa…
  • bhaktigeet by Ashok G. Paranjape – ranjalyaa gaanjalyaa apulaa…
  • bhaktigeet by Yogesh Abhyankar – hari charanaashee majhe naate…

NA Classical

Sahasra-Chandra Prabha   vol.1


  • raag Apoorva Kalyan
    • Vilambit Jhumraataal – saaee sabana ke...
    • Drut Teentaal – karama karo more saaee...


  • daadraa : raag Mishra Kanakaangi
    • Taal Daadraa – jaagee saaree raina

NA Classical

Sahasra-Chandra Prabha   vol.2


  • raag Keerwani
    • Madhyalay Jhaptaal – nanda nandana...
    • Taraanaa – Drut Teentaal – dir dir tanana dim...


  • daadraa : raag Mishra Maanjkhamaaj
    • Taal Daadraa – balamaane churaayi nindiyaa...


  • hori /daadraa : raag Mishra Gaaraa
    • Taal Keherwaa – ranga daara gayo

NA Classical

Sahasra-Chandra Prabha   vol.3


  • raag Raamkali
    • Vilambit Ektaal – bhor bhaee...
    • Drut Teentaal – saaee tuma bina...


  • taraanaa - raag Jaunpuri
    • Drut Ektaal – dim tana taanom...


  • daadraa : raag Mishra Jogiyaa
    • Taal Daadraa – mohe chodi gayo...

NA Classical

Sahasra-Chandra Prabha   vol.4


  • raag Darbaarikauns
    • Vilambit Jhumraataal – mana too kaahe...
    • Taraanaa – Drut Teentaal – daare dim tadim...


  • raag Shuddha Bhairavi
    • Madhyalay Jhaptaal – shyaama sundara...
    • Drut Teentaal – Taraanaadir dir daani...


  • daadraa : raag Mishra Bhairavi
    • Taal Daadraa – ratiya kidhara...
NA Classical

Niranjani - Vol. 1

  • raag Puriya Kalyan 
    • Vilambit Ektaal - bhajale hari naam…
    • Tarana - Drut Ektaal – tanom tadim tananana…
Ninaad Music Company

Niranjani - Vol. 2


  • raag Shankara
    • Vilambit Ektaal – deva mahadeva…
    • Drut Teentaal – shiva hara hara mahadeva shankara…


  • raag Basant                                      
    • Drut Ektaal – aai ri basanta ritu…

Ninaad Music Company



  • raag Lalit
    • Vilambit Ektaal / Jhumra - preetam darasa dikhaa…
    • Drut Ektaal – naam ratata baar baar…


  • raag Bhinna-Shadhaj
    • Madhyalay Roopktaal - kaahe aisi preet…
    • Taranaa – Drut Teentaal - nadir dim tana derenaa…


  • daadraa - raag Mishra Bhairavi
    • Taal Dadra - jaa main tose naahi bolu...


Ninaad Music company

Night ragas & Thumri
to mark the 75th birth year
of the musical genius Dr. Prabha Atre


Rajanigandha - Vol. 1

  • raag –  Shyaam Kalyaan
    • Vilambit Ektaal – mana sumira shree ganesha…
    • Tarana – Drut Ektaal – dim dim ta derena derena…


  • thumriraag Mishra Des
    • Taal Deepchandi - aayi ri ritu barkhaa…


Rajanigandha - Vol. 2

  • raag – Bihaag
    • Vilambit Ektaal– aiso manamohana…
    • Tarana – Drut Ektaal – tanom tadim deem tana…


  • raag Rageshree
    • Vilambit Ektaal – ginata rahi taare…
    • Drut Teentaal – piya ghar naa aaye…


Ninaad Music Company



  • raag Maalkauns
    • Vilambit Ektaal – jaako mana raam…
    • Drut Ektaal – mana samajha baaware…                                                
  • daadraa – Maanj Khamaj
    • Taal Keherwaa - Jamuna kinaare moraa gaaon...



  • raag Chandrakauns
    • Vilambit Jhumraataal - suno mori daataa…
    • Tarana - Drut Ektaal– dim tanana tadaare…                 


  • daadraa – Mishra Shivaranjani
    • Taal Keherwa - balam matwaalaa...



a special tribute to commemorate Dr. Prabha Atre’s 75th Birthday


Amrutprabha - Vol. 1


  • raag Miyan ki Todi
    • Vilambit Ektaal - mana panchi baavare…
    • rut Teentaal - Jaa re pathikva…


  • raag Jogkauns  
    • Vilambit Jhumrataal – jagat sapana…
    • Tarana – Drut Teentaal - tana derena dim tadare daare dim…


Amrutprabha – Vol. 2

  • Thumri
    • mishra Kafi – Taal Deepchandi - raanaaji main bairaagan hoongi...
    • mishra Tilang – Taal Deepchandi – kaisi preet lagaayi...


  • Daadraa
    • Mishra Gara – Taal Dadra - jiyaa moraa naa laage...
    • Mishra Bhiravi – Taal Keherwa - bairan ratiyaa...


Books & Publications

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Contact Details of Publishers

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The Song of My Life

Enclosed within the shell of my mind,
I keep on at my music, my meditation eternally;
the struggles of a calcite inside an oyster;
till I sublimate that note into a dazzling pearl!


THE concert is over. Those who had come to meet me personally have also gradually dispersed. There is at the moment no one in the auditorium — the experience of a harmonious state of being with oneself. The body is craving for rest but the mind is still entangled in the mehfil. An indefinable pleasure starts sprouting all over in the mind side by side with a strange feeling of restlessness.

All around it is still, very still. There is really no energy left to converse with those who are accompanying me on our way back. However, for some unknown reason, there is an irrepressible desire to sing. At such times, I hum to myself. The people who are with me keep quiet. The sound of the car no more reaches me. My singing continues even after I have laid myself into bed. When I sense the stirring of the dawn I close my eyes and lie peacefully. Like the fragrance of incense the appreciative response experienced during the mehfil envelopes the whole body and mind, and resting there, I fall asleep. Two small feet appear before me in my dream, the two feet going to school.

There is a poem titled ‘kutir ka pushpa’ (the flower belonging to the cottage) by Jainendra Kumar. There is a crazy flower. The old man in the cottage had planted it. The flower cherishes only one desire. ‘ise sajaaoon, ise rijhaaoon; kewal yahi kaamanaa hai’ — ‘to adorn it, to make it happy; this is the only wish.’ The flower neither aspires to lie as an offering on the path of a revolutionary hero, nor does it want to embellish the tresses of a beautiful woman. It had just this little dream: to bring joy to the cottage which sheltered it — where it was born, grew and bloomed, and feels fulfilled thereby. I have a relationship with that flower.

I was born in Pune. My parents were teachers. Financially we were not very well off. However, though living simply, we lacked nothing. My parents were both enthusiastic and interested in artistic pursuits. The school, a high school run by The Rasta Peth Education Society — was located in the eastern part of Pune which was considered backward. There were very few girls in the school. In my class, I was the only girl. My mother — Aai, would have liked to send both her daughters to a good school and Aabaa — my father, would say, “If I send my daughters to another school, how would others send their daughters to my school?”

Not only did our school have good teachers, it also had a whole lot of extra-curricular activities like sports, cultural programmes, crafts and other things. Aabaa used to make us take part in everything. All kinds of examinations —Hindi, Marathi, Sanskrit, drawing, dance, drama, music — nothing was spared. Not even the cane. Aabaa used to stand with a cane in his hand to see whether the children came to school in time or not.

Satatamoordhawam — ‘Always upward!’ a big board with this motto used to welcome everyone at the school. Even today, I walk several times in my thought on the road to the school, stand at the gate and read the motto again and again. I scan the path that has brought me this far. There is still so far to go! Aabaa used to say, “The top position is always vacant. It is easy to reach the top but difficult to continue to be there.”

Aabaa loved the school very much. He used to say, “I have three daughters. This school is my eldest.” Right from sweeping the floors to collecting the children personally by going to each one’s home, Aabaa did every kind of job. Aai too used to be by his side. Aabaa had shifted his entire household to the school. To our share came only the time that could be spared thereafter. Even at 85, Aabaa’s heart was still in the school. He was after new plans and new projects. We feel pride when we think of the running around that he did.

I studied in our school till matriculation i.e., 10th. The next step was going to College. Should I now go in for Arts or for Science? Although I was learning music, there was no intention whatsoever at that time to take up music as a profession. My parents had wanted me to be a doctor. I was enrolled in Fergusson College. Our house was at one end of the city and the college, at the other end. I used to ride daily on my bicycle. My mother used to be unwell frequently. Doing the household chores, studying, going to the college, learning music — I was always on the run. I did Inter Science but could not get admission into the medical college at Pune. As to going outside Pune, I had never been away from home. While I was doing Inter Science, Aabaa had wanted to keep me in the college hostel so that I could get time for studies. I started crying like a small child. I could not bear the idea of leaving home and staying somewhere else. Basically I was shy and timid by nature. When visitors came, I used to run to the kitchen. At school, being the only girl in my class, there was no question of my talking to the boys. Moreover, I think, the real reason was that I liked to be alone.

From childhood, I was on the whole disciplined, responsible, serious, introvert, quiet, critical and crazy about beauty of any kind. Whenever I saw, heard of or read about anything nice, I felt that I should master it. I was very particular that my surroundings and the people around me were clean. That is why I did not mix with people. I remember that I used to go to play only with those children who were clean and tidy. No one had to tell me to do my home work. When I returned home from school, I would sit at the door, do my home work for the following day and only then go inside. Every one of my examinations, I have passed with flying colours. Once, while in school, I completed the course of two years in one and passed the examination. That is how I completed my matriculation early. Sports, however was one thing that I was not particularly fond of.

Usha, my younger sister, on the other hand, was a total contrast to me; bold and playful. As a child, she always shunned work. She would collect children and keep on playing with them. But she would promptly turn up when it was meal time. She used to take away my things even till the time when she went to Nagpur to study in the medical college there. She too was unable to get admission at Pune. But she did not mind going to Nagpur. She too sang well. Usha had not learnt music, but she had a good voice, was intelligent and also had exposure to music because of my learning to sing at home. Whenever Usha said to Sureshbabu – my guru, “Please teach me also to sing.” He would say, “There is no need for you to learn. You will be able to get it just like that.”

Exposure is no doubt very important. Usha sang light music. She has several gramophone records. She gave playback for Marathi films. She sang now and then for radio and TV as well, though she never gave solo performances in public. She also acted in Marathi plays for some time. Had she decided to go in only for music and acting, she would have earned a good reputation. Due to her medical profession, she did not get time for anything else.

It was while studying at Nagpur that Usha decided to get married. Both she and her husband-to-be were studying in the same class. Dr. Suresh Wagh was a highly likeable man. Although Aai and Aabaa were not unhappy that they had no son, that void was filled when Suresh appeared on the scene. Suresh and Usha settled in Mumbai. Usha worked as an Anasthetist in Jaslok Hospital and Suresh as a Neurosurgeon in Bombay Hospital. Both of them were well known in their fields.

Usha had left her two daughters behind in India when she went to London. The elder, Kalpana, was with the mother-in-law and the younger, Manisha, was with me since she was four months old. Although her parents came back to Mumbai, she was not prepared to go to them. Usha always said, “Maavashi1 has turned her into a spoilt brat.”

That was, indeed, true to some extent. Manisha has a lot of talent in her. She, too, is a doctor like her parents but I have a strong desire that she should also sing well. She has a good voice. She is intelligent and she has had exposure. She, with her family, has now settled in the USA and has little time for music. I hope her talented daughters Nitya and Naina take music seriously.

Aai was always with Aabaa in every way. He always told us, “What we are today is entirely due to Indu.” Aai, too, had to work because of the family’s finances. Still, the house was always spick and span. She liked to sew, embroider and do similar creative crafts. When she did the cooking, Aabaa would eat more. Aai had flair for writing. Her books of stories and songs for children in Marathi have been published. Myself and Usha got Aai’s first book ‘Mittucha dukaan’ published on her sixty-first birthday. Later ‘Shiva Geetanjali’, ‘Chotya heraachi mothee kaamagiri’, ‘vinodaache bol khare jhaale’, ‘Raajaachee lekh’, ‘Airavat’ and on Aai’s ninty-first birth year, her seventh book ‘Chupaa Chupi’, a compilation of her poems got published.

Read full "The song of my life" , Download PDF here




1. What brought you to music?
I do not have any family background of music. Nobody had even heard classical music in my family. Both my parents were teachers. My father was a headmaster in a school in Pune. He insisted that my sister and I participate in all the extra-curricular activities of the school. Singing was one of them though I was not taking regular classes as such. It was, in fact, my mother’s illness that brought music into our house. She used to keep brooding over her illness. To divert her mind a haarmonium teacher was engaged. She had hardly four to five lessons when she declared, she did not want to learn music. So, instead, I continued. I had already picked up a few tunes sitting by my mother’s side.
2. You are a science and law graduate. What made you take music as a full time profession? Did you plan things this way?
Neither my parents nor I had planned things this way. I think I was destined to be a musician. Everything that happened took me to music. People started liking my music and they also offered remuneration for it. I think temperamentally I was most suited to music. Instead of dissecting frogs or defending criminals, singing was far better. After my college education, I joined All India Radio in 1960. I left in 1970 to take up singing as a full time profession. However, my interest in the academics of music led me again to join the SNDT Women’s University in Mumbai in 1979. I worked there as the Professor and Head of the Department of Post-Graduate Studies & Research in Music till 1992. I believe that a good performer needs to study and experience music from different angles. Luckily my work, both at All India Radio and SNDT University, did not come in the way of my giving public concerts since most concerts are held on weekends. On the contrary, my association with them has enriched my musical thinking and stimulated my creativity immensely. I am happy to be a musician.
3. Where did you learn music and from whom?
I was born, brought up and educated in Pune. I learnt music in the traditional system – guru shishya paramparaa. I learnt classical music initially from Shri. Vijay Karandikar. Then, I went to Sri. Sureshbabu Mane and later to Smt. Hirabai Badodekar, the famous musicians from the Kirana gharaanaa (school) for advance training. In the 1960s, when I was working with AIR Nagpur, I was exposed to Amir Khan Saheb’s style, which brought major changes in my musical thinking. I am equally indebted to Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan for my thumri. Although I have not learnt from him directly, my thumri has its roots in his style.
4. When and where was your first public performance? Were you nervous?
My first public performance was in the Ganesh festival in Pune. In Maharashtra, we have a tradition of celebrating the Ganesh festival for ten days. In those days there used to be just classical music programs of top artists from all over the country. It was there that I first gave my performance. Yes, I was nervous in the beginning. But when I saw the audience openly saying “Wah, Wah” and clapping, I gained confidence.
5. Which is your favourite raag?
All raags are beautiful in themselves. But I like basic raags like Bhairav and Yaman. Raags which are complex in their structure and treatment end up in technicalities and fail to reach the soul. If I am practising a particular raag, I sing it in all the concerts for several months after which I don’t sing it for a long time. However, I always enjoy singing Yaman. I have very fond memories of myself as a young student of music and Yaman. It was the first raag I learnt from my guru Sureshbabu Mane. Moreover, for a beginner, this raag acts as a foundation to understand and learn other raags.
6. You are from Kirana gharaanaa. What is gharaanaa? In this age of science and technology, does gharaanaas have any relevance when there is so much exposure right from the learning stage?
The word gharaanaa means a family. It is used in Hindustani classical music to refer to a particular style of khyaal singing. Khyaal is a ghaat (form/genre) which expresses raag. Gharaanaa suggests a group of artists with a particular ideology regarding approach to the concepts of raag and taal in while developing the khyaal ghaat through phrases. In the making of phrases, depending on whether importance or stress is given to swara or laya the character of the phrase changes in different styles of gharaanaas. All this is handed down from guru to shishya through oral tradition.

There is no written music but only extempore improvisation in Indian classical music based on training, practice and experience. The artist has full freedom to choose his material and manner within the set rules of raag while building the ghaat. This freedom has given rise to different gharaanaas and has also helped in enriching individual styles and gharaanaas by consciously borrowing ideas from other gharaanaas which would assimilate easily.

7. What is the significance of the gharaanaa system?
What is important is that one should have a good foundation in basics of music. The basic foundation must always be prepared by learning under one teacher. Once the student imbibes significant features of one style, he is ready for further development and creativity. Only then it is appropriate for him to get exposed to other styles. Else, one will be confused and will borrow material which does not go go with his style and his presentation would lack homogenity. This is the significance of the gharaanaa system.
8. Do you feel that adhering to a gharaanaa restricts an artist’s creativity?
I don’t think a gharaanaa necessarily cramps an artist’s creativity; but at the same time one shouldn’t shut oneself off from other gharaanaas. There is a lot to learn from exposure to other styles as well. When I was young, the main source to listen to music was All India Radio. There used to be few live concerts and very few gramophone recordings available. There was very little exposure to the music of other artists. The only source was one’s guru and most gurus did not even allow their disciples to listen to other musicians. There was no choice but to adhere to the system. Today, artists have more exposure, more freedom. I am fortunate that my guru was very generous and broadminded. He allowed me to imbibe from other styles. I have learnt many things by listening to great artists like Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Amir Khan, Roshanara Begum, actress-singer Noorjahan, and others.
9. What are the distinct musical qualities of the Kirana gharaanaa?
The style of Kirana gharaanaa is swara/tone-oriented and is characterised by note-by-note unfolding of the raag structure. The treatment of rhythm allows peaceful and leisurely movements of notes and phrases in taal structure, thereby helping in exploration of the minute details of the raag. The tonal quality is special to Kirana. Each note is dipped in emotion which creates a general soothing effect on mind and as such, involves even a common listener in music making. The voice straightaway touches the heart. One need not know shaastra or grammar to enjoy Kirana music. The essence is ‘serenity with sweetness’. In a way, Kirana is a withdrawn, introverted style; there is nothing showy, sensational.
10 a. There is some criticism against Kirana artists — ‘Kirana artists do not use their natural voice. They use falsetto, in other words, they use a crooning voice’?
This is absurd. In fact, Abdul Karim Khansaheb was the first vocalist who seemed to have consciously cultivated his voice. Listen to his recordings. His voice is appreciated even today, the concept of voice culture is so old with Kirana gharaanaa. Kirana artists are very conscious of the tonal quality of their voice.

Voice is the major tool with the singer to take classical music to the common man. One must also understand that falsetto or crooning cannot meet the demands of classical music effectively. Equating sweetness of tone with falsetto shows absence of critical thinking and bias. One must understand that every gharaanaa has different technique of voice production to suit its style and presentation.

10 b. Kirana artists do not sing raag. They sing notes, sing scale of the raag?
A raag consists of specific notes which behave in a particular way. If one wants to know a raag thoroughly, one has to know the nature and beauty of each note of the raag. That is why, one has to learn to deal with individual note in the context of raag’s personality. The theory of pakad or sangati phrases which represent raag’s identity does not apply to every raag. Also raag is not only pakad or sangati. In the development of a raag, every note is important and needs to be projected maintaining the raag’s character. To expect to sing pakad or sangati in every phrase would be wrong; it would also lead to monotony. That is why, the progression of a raag in Kirana gharaanaa is note-by-note.
10 c. In khyaal presentation, Kirana artists are not concerned with taal structure or its tempo.
The object of khyaal is to project raag and not taal. Raag can be developed beautifully in detail without taal. But when a raag is to be presented through a ghaat (genre) like khyaal, etc., taal enters as musical material. It has no separate identity as in a solo presentation of taal. Taal gets importance as per the need in the elaboration of raag.

Composing each phrase according to the structure and tempo of the taal would be a mechanical activity. It would sound like marching of the notes with taal. To experience the beauty of the raag in detail, one has to go slow, stand at one place, ponder and proceed. In vilambit khyaal the slow tempo of the taal helps this activity. Taal supports phrases, directs their movements, offers resting points and helps in ending the improvised phrases beautifully before mukhdaa.

10 d. It is said that the thumri by Kirana artists does not fit into the recognised form of thumri as sung in North India?
This is a baseless statement. Those who say it have not heard Kirana artists seriously, have not studied thumri form properly.

It is a known fact that the beginnings of all art forms are under the shadow of some known form and they take time to evolve and establish their own identity.

Dhrupad-dhamaar has several baanis, khyaal has several gharaanaas, then why limit thumri singing only to Purab and Punjab styles?

The credit of introducing thumri and making it acceptable by the classical music audience goes to Abdul Karim Khansaheb of Kirana. He was perhaps the first classical singer in Maharashtra who introduced thumri on the classical music concert platform where only khyaal and dhrupad-dhamaar were presented. Thumri that Khansaheb sang had to be different from the sensuous, erotic thumri sung by courtesans and its text also had to be dignified. Although initially, there was close resemblance between khyaal and thumri, over the time Kirana thumri maturing itself evolved into a beautiful distinct form. The Pahadi and other thumris sung by my guru Sureshbabu Mane is a classic example of how Kirana thumri was evolving. Roshanara Begum is another example of how Kirana thumri had taken different path for its expression. Manik Verma maintained the flow. Myself, Prabha Atre not only took this Kirana thumri further by adopting Purab, Punjab styles but also enriched it by assimilating new trends that had entered into the music field.

11. How would you describe your music?
The base of my style is very much Kirana, but it has a modern context. My thinking has been enriched by practically every kind of music — Indian to non-Indian, from all over the world. I am a science and law graduate. Because of my strong academic background, training and experience, I do not accept anything blindly in the name of tradition. Objectivity, analytical ability, selectivity and modernity are some of the things that one can notice in my music.

• I am conscious of tonal beauty and emotional content.

• I bring in variation in tonal texture to make my phrases aesthetically beautiful and effective.

• I make ample use of grace notes (kan-swaras) and smooth glides in the formation of phrases.

• My interpretation of raag rules is not only on the basis of tradition but it has logic, reason and novelty. Some of my phrases can therefore sound unfamiliar and different but I always try to keep a proper balance between tradition and modernity. This exploration of new phrases in the context of the raag structure and specific ghaat (genre/form) such as khyaal, thumri, etc. lend a new colour to my gaayaki.

• I make sure that at any speed, design and clarity of the taans are maintained.

• I have a special love for sargam singing. My strong affinity towards Karnatak music reflects in the selection of raagas, use of gamakas and sargam.

• I sing my own compositions because I need compositions which suit my style, my thinking.

• I use complementary literary themes in vilambit (slow) and drut (fast) khyaals of the same raag to maintain the mood of the raag.

• I maintain clarity in the pronunciation of words and use them consciously to lend emotional colour to the phrases.

• I sing practically all forms from khyaal, taraanaa, thumri, daadraa to bhajan in my concerts. I also sing ghazals in private sittings. It is a challenge to maintain distinct characteristics of each ghaat. It helps me to reach my listeners having different tastes.

• I sing thumri and daadraa in the same raag with complementary themes (like vilambit and drut khyaal). This is a new experiment which the listeners have liked.

12. One finds in your music a lot of influence of Karnatak music. Have you had any formal training?
Unfortunately, I did not get any opportunity to learn Karnatak music. I was exposed to Karnataj music when I was working at the All India Radio, Mumbai. I was very impressed by their gamakas and sargam rendition. I wish I had some formal training in Karnatak music, it would have made my understanding of it easy.
13. What made you give full-fledged concerts of Karnatak raagas in Hindustani style?
Hindustani and Karnatak music are the two main systems of Indian music. The concepts of raag and taal which are the two unique features of Indian music are the same in both the styles; but they differ in their approach to these concepts. Hindustani music is raag oriented, Karnatak music is saahitya oriented. Their difference lies mainly in the tempo and ornamentation — the gamaks (oscillation of the notes in a peculiar way) and also in the treatment, expression, arrangement, and presentation of the musical material — bandish, aalaap, taan, and sargam. The resulting structures are naturally different. The languages used in the two systems are also different.

The listeners of Hindustani music find it difficult to appreciate Karnatak music because of the faster tempo and ample use of gamakas with which they are not familiar. The steady notes and slow glides in Hindustani music stand out against gamakas in Karnatak music. The problem of conditioning of the mind to a particular system is seen in the listeners of both the systems.

At the performance level, the borrowing of the raag scale and adapting it to the respective styles started long ago. To be able to understand and appreciate the other style it is necessary to know the stylistic nuances and expressions.

My attempt is to introduce these stylistic nuances of Karnatak music through specially composed madhyalay bandishs in khyaal, taraanaa and also in daadraa and bhajan. Care has been also taken to select raagas from Karnatak music which have no parallel scales in Hindustani music. For example, Hindustani Maalkauns resembles Karnatak Hindolam but Karnatak Kirwani scale has no parallel in Hindustani music.

This is not a transposition in totality of Karnatak raagas and Karnatak style to Hindustani music. This is an attempt to introduce Karnatak nuances into Hindustani style.

I am happy to see that audiences of both Karnatak and Hindustani music appreciate my effort thereby enriching its expression.

14. Between classical and light, which type of music do you like to sing?
I love both. They are complimentary to each other. In classical music, there is a lot of freedom for interpretation of raag rules and individual expression. In lighter varieties, one is tied down to the words and their emotional content. Music comes here to beautify the words. It has no independent existence. I sing khyaal, taraanaa, thumri, daadraa and bhajans in my concerts and even ghazals in private sittings. It is nice to be able to sing different forms. Each has its beauty, demand and audience. One should know well how to keep them separate musically. Otherwise your khyaal can become thum-khyaal - a new genre having lot of thumri expressions. We already have tapp-khyaal, where a khyaal rendition is influenced by tappa.
15. There are few singers today who sing both khyaal and thumri well. You don’t sing the Kirana thumri which has a typical Maharashtrian accent. Your thumri has a North Indian flavour and Prabha Atre stamp. How do you explain this?
Everybody cannot sing thumri because it demands certain versatility in voice modulation, a sensuous emotional expression, suitable temperament and imagination. Strangely, I never had any formal training in thumri and lighter varieties such as geet, ghazal and bhajan. When I was young, I listened to Roshanara Begum, Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Begum Akhtar and film actress-singer Noorjahan. I like both Punjab and Purab styles. In Purab style, there are long meends or glides and ‘pukaar’ (an expression of outburst of pain), and Punjab style has lot of murkis or ornamentations of unexpected note combinations. Besides, my interest in other kinds of music has also enriched my thinking and expression. My strong background in classical music has also proved to be an asset in the elaboration of the thumri text. Clear diction, judicious placement of words in the phrases, sensuous emotional expression, voice throw, neat and compact presentation and certain amount of sophistication give my thumri a modern flavour.
16. Do you sing ghazals?
I love ghazal singing. I like its poetry which is rich in meaning and structure. Musically it is the most flexible form which has borrowed from everywhere, developing into a beautiful genre. At times it sounds simple, but it can also be very complex in terms of tune and rhythm.

Like thumri, everybody cannot sing ghazal even if one has strong base in classical music. One has to have suitable temperament, flair and ability to express emotional content in words through voice modulation. For that, one has to understand poetry well and the diction also has to be clear, especially when there are Urdu words. Today ghazals are written and sung even in other Indian languages and they have also become popular.

At one time, I used to sing ghazals in my concerts but then I noticed that it does not go well with khyaal and thumri which are raag oriented genres. Ghazal is a word dominated genre. The poetry is important and also considerably long compared to the song-texts in khyaal and thumri. It builds up a different atmosphere.

Although I have given up singing ghazals in concerts, I enjoy singing them at home and at private mehfils. In 2008, I released a CD of live recordings of my Marathi ghazals, some of which are also penned by me.

17. But you sing bhajans in your concerts which are word-dominated and the poetry is long?
Music-wise raag based bhajan or bhaktigeet goes close to khyaal and thumri-daadraa genres, except that the poetry is long. The poetry being devotional, it helps in building the overall mood of the concert. Of course one has to choose bhajans which have potential to grow through phrases like in classical music forms.
18. You have worked in Marathi professional musical dramas for few years. Did you have to learn naatya sangeet. Is it a separate form? Has naatya sangeet influenced your music?
Music is basically an auditory art. It transforms itself into visual art when it reaches people through media like dance, drama and cinema. Music gets influenced by the situation, respective medium and gets composed according to the visual.

One needs to take enough training before presenting a particular form on the professional stage. In my case, because of my classical, light-classical and light music background, I could present naatya sangeet effectively without any training. I picked up its nuances by listening to it.

Drawing from classical to folk music, naatya sangeet has developed its own identity, its own individualistic style. Specific harkats, swirling taans, singing the same line with variations, no strict adherence to the raag rules, mixing raags according to the singer’s choice, medium or fast tempo, clear diction of words with emotional appeal, overall catchy presentation — are some of the features of naatya sangeet. In addition naatya sangeet has a story to go with it, and also the glamour of actors and actresses — all this has a profound effect on common man. It is natural that musicians in Maharashtra also got influenced by naatya sangeet. However, with the entry of film music and its fast growing mass appeal, naatya sangeet was left behind.

At one time I used to sing naatya sangeet in my concerts but left it as I found other forms more challenging. I don’t think naatya sangeet has influenced my music. Moreover, I like to keep different forms that I sing separate from each other. The reason why I left naatya sangeet is that people expect you to sing the same harkats, same type of taans and same variations of the line; and also the song-text being in the Marathi language it does not have much impact outside Maharashtra.

19. You are a classical singer. Do you listen to film music, pop, or similar type of music?
Every music has something ‘good’ to offer and one must look for this ‘good’. To me, music has only two categories - good and bad. All classical music is not ‘good’ only because it happens to be classical music; similarly all film music is not bad. Our problem is that we are conditioned in our listening habits. In fact, film music has widened the scope of Indian music. It has projected a different side of Indian melody and has given birth to Indian ‘harmony’. The variety film music has presented before us in terms of tunes, rhythms, tonal textures, expressions, structures, etc., is amazing.

I agree that pop and disco music is very ‘loud’, at times even noisy. But it has made even the common man turn to music. I am sure eventually, this form will mature and make people aware of the beauty of sound and rhythm. In fact, what we should be doing is to exploit these light forms consciously to propagate classical music.

20. As a musician, do you feel it necessary to get acquainted with the music of other countries?
Our technological age is continuously bringing different cultures closer and closer. In recent years, therefore, our interests have become increasingly international in scope. It has become necessary to understand and appreciate each other, not only for smooth and better living, but also for survival with identity. Listening to music from other countries inspires me and stimulates my thinking, my creativity in music. It also helps me to establish better rapport with my non-Indian audiences. Music is said to be a universal language, but at the same time it is very culture-specific. Music certainly can be enjoyed better in its own cultural context.
21. Which music has influenced your singing?
For many decades, I have been travelling extensively both within the country and abroad. Music of all the regions that I have encountered has touched my soul and given my music new dimensions. Whatever I have listened, has made me think and I have imbibed things consciously, unconsciously I liked.

• South Indian music (Karnatak music) enchants me with its peculiar oscillations (gamaka) and sargam singing.

• Arabic music attracts me with its tonal quality, emotionally charged notes and its complicated twists.

• Film music has made me conscious of tonal quality of voice, ability to change its texture; clarity of words, their musical pronunciation and effective emotional expression.

• Western music provokes me to think in new directions.

22. What are the important ingredients required for a vocalist?
For a vocalist, the main asset is the voice. If the voice is not good, he may face instant rejection. It is like looking at a beautiful face and getting attracted without knowing the quality of its head and heart. Of course, the natural voice needs to be cultivated further.

Good breathing control is another important factor. Good tone and good breathing together can do wonderful things. The moment an artist thinks about an idea, he can present it with great ease. Voice is the only medium through which he can build his musical structure and good breathing is the backbone of a good voice.

Good pronunciation of words and effective, proper projection of their emotional content are yet additional ingredients. Classical music conveys only musical meaning. A lay listener who is not conversant with the meaning of pure sound and rhythm patterns perceives music through words and their meaning. The abstract quality of classical music takes on concrete meaning through the judicious use of words in the phrases, in the development and elaboration of the raag and ghaat.

The singer has to update himself continuously and relate his singing to the contemporary scene. Although Indian music encourages blind imitation of tradition, it also expects one to go beyond this stage and have his stamp as a creative artist different from his teacher and contemporaries. Sufficient insight and maturity are necessary for this.

23. What in your opinion should be the ideal accompaniment to vocal music?
The idea of ideal accompaniment varies from artist to artist. It should match with the artist’s style and his expectations. It must enhance the total effect of music that the artist intends to present.

Ideally, to create a fine, clean picture of music, a vocalist needs a plain curtain of base note and time cycle (taal). While taanpuraa provides a base note, rhythm instruments like tablaa, pakhaawaj, etc., provide taal. Melody accompaniment is provided by instruments like haarmonium, violin, saarangi, etc., and also by voice (usually by disciples).

Hindustani music is an extempore presentation. There is bound to be a time lag between what an artist is singing and what the accompanist is playing. Accompanists naturally play the previous phrase on their instruments while the artist is already singing the next phrase. Therefore, the volume of the speaker of accompanying instruments needs to be adjusted as not to overpower the volume of the main artist.

Many times accompanists go beyond the area that the artist is working in. They are expected to follow the main artist like a shadow and display their skill only when the artist gives room for such presentation.

Contrary to Hindustani music, a major portion of the presentation in Karnatak music is pre-composed. Accompanists can therefore go parallel with the main artist. They do not lag behind. It is also a practise in Karnatak music concert to offer almost equal opportunities to the accompanying artists for solo presentation.

24. What is the ideal of your music?
My music should have Prabha Atre’s stamp. Meaning, my music should identify with me; in the sense that it should reflect my thinking and my musical values. It should have qualities of both the heart and the head. It should sing through time and place i.e., it should not be confined to a place or period, but it should strive to be universal.
25. You are a professional singer, what made you take academic work?
Academic study stimulates thinking and brings in clarity. Thinking about different aspects of music stimulates creativity in performance. Blind following of tradition leads to stagnation.
26. How did academic background help your musical thinking?
Academic background has helped me to look upon music with open eyes. It makes me examine critically and objectively various things that are offered in the name of tradition and also helps me to seek new meaning in terms of our own times appropriate to what has come from tradition.

An academic background also helps in giving a broader perspective of the subject. In this mechanised age, we have defined many distinct fields of study and thought. Although each is confined to its own area, subject or topic, still each also bears a certain relation to many other fields. In the case of music, it relates to psychology, sociology, physiology, physics, aesthetics, poetry, philosophy, cultural history, etc. Thus, music needs to be studied and understood from different angles. Only then can one have a complete experience of music.

27. What prompted you to work for a Ph.D. Degree?
When one works for such a degree, one touches upon many points which one normally might not think enough about. This type of work helps reduce the gap between a performer and a theoretician.
28. Why did you choose ‘Sargam’ for your doctoral thesis?
The credit goes to music critics and some senior musicians in Maharashtra. They objected to the use of sargam in vocal music for reasons best known to them. This made me think about the different aspects of sargam — its origin, its development, its utility in training, its potential in bringing variety in musical material and enriching the overall expression of stage performance, its various styles of rendering, its ability to get adapted to various genres from classical to popular music including film music, fusion, etc. Today except folk music, sargam has entered into all types of music.
29. Despite your advocacy of sargam’s unique ability in enriching musical performance with strong reasons, some senior artists still oppose the use of sargam in performance.
If one decides to use one’s authority and popularity for opposing sargam and satisfy one’s ego, what can you do? Do these artists have any logic, reasoning for not using sargam? It should not be a matter of personal liking or disliking. It would be intersting to know some comments by the veterans --- “Using sargam is like showing skeleton of the raag”, “Sargam should not be used as aalaaps but as taans”. Another comment made by those who at times use sargam in their concerts: “We use sargam only to make the listener understand our musical activity”, etc. By expressing their views on sargam through media, these artists are not only confusing the younger generation but are also doing harm to music as an art.

Sargam needs to be rendered meaningfully, aesthetically; otherwise, it is going to sound like ‘dry’ grammar. The limitation of an artist should not be projected as the limitation of sargam.

In my Ph.D. thesis on ‘Sargam’ and in my books I have explained in detail why sargam needs to be used in training and performance. Sargam has a distinct quality, utility and effect in music making different from other musical material — aalaap, taan and bols. The advantage with sargam is that being a pure musical material it conveys only musical meaning. The multi-dimensional aspects of sargam have made it adaptable to almost all genres from raag music to film, pop, fusion, jingles, etc.

30. Why did you leave your job at the All India Radio? Don’t you think it would have helped your career?
I loved my job at AIR. It got me involved with different types of music — from folk, film, light to Karnatak music. It also gave me considerable exposure to Western music. As radio is purely a microphone media, I realised the importance of voice culture and acoustics in tonal quality. It also gave me an opportunity to conceive and produce new programmes, and to learn the techniques of recording and editing. The required technical equipment and other facilities were easily available at AIR and I could experiment without any difficulty. I do miss working in these areas, but then, one also looks for variety in life and betterment of oneself. After working for 10 years, I opted for being an independent singer.
31. Performers do not generally like to teach. Why did you take up a job at the SNDT University?
I joined SNDT University because of my strong interest in the academic study of music. Also, I honestly feel that teaching makes performance a conscious activity. It makes one think about the practical as well as theoretical aspects of music. One has to be clear in one’s mind about the ‘why’ and ‘why not’ in music, in order to be able to satisfy the probing questions of the modern generation. The content of what is taught and performed, and its relevance to the old treatises and tradition on one hand and the changing times on the other, has to be constantly reviewed. In a way, a performer is also a teacher. He teaches the masses how to listen and what to listen. He cultivates their taste indirectly. Performing and teaching can be complimentary. However it must be remembered, like performing teaching is also an art. One has to cultivate it and also like it. Only then can one be a good teacher. I feel it is my responsibility to pass on the knowledge and experience I have gained to the next generation.
32. What do you think of music education in India?
Whatever music education is there, private or institutional, is not always being done properly.

I am a professional singer, a product of the traditional guru-shishya system. I have taught privately for nearly 50 years and for 13 years I was actively involved with institutional teaching. I find that both the systems lack in something because they take a singular approach. In the guru-shishya system, the accent is on perfor-mance; while in the institutional system, the stress is on the academic study of music.

The traditional guru-shishya system needs to be supplemented by an enlightened theoretical education and the institutional system must make provision for individual training in performance. We also have to think about mass education to train listeners if we want to improve the quality of music in general.

There are many aspects of music and there are many fields related to music that have been ignored in music education. A satisfactory music education must offer a wide choice of activities. Again, it has to be job oriented. Only then can we expect more people to get involved with music seriously.

33. Has the guru-shishya paramparaa changed?
The old guru-shishya relationship does not hold good any more. Today, the guru is not the only source of knowledge as he was some years ago. The advent of technology has converted music into a commodity. One comes across a market flooded with a large variety of music — audio-video recordings, CDs. Then there are scholarly books on the theoretical aspects of music. For practical training there are music classes and academic institutions offering degrees in music. By using these aids, a talented student can achieve a certain level without going to a guru.
34. What do you think of teaching music through internet?
Technology has offered a new alternative method for teaching, learning music on a one-to-one basis. This gives opportunity to a student to learn from a guru of his choice staying anywhere in the world. The student is able to see his guru, talk, listen, learn, seek clarifications, correct his mistakes — all in real time.

Science and Technology have made the w orld a global village. The living conditions in the modern world especially in cities do not allow for the traditional guru-shishya paramparaa system for want of space, time and money. The internet learning is a boon and brings both guru and shishya in close proximity. As such it can be the modern face of the traditional guru-shishya paramaparaa system.

35. Are you happy with your students?
There was a time when a student had to go in search of a good guru. Under the present circumstances, it is the guru who is in search of a talented, faithful student.

I have had both good and bad experiences from my students. Well, one has to be fortunate enough to get good students — students who are talented, who have a good voice, who are intelligent, hard working, dedicated, committed and faithful. In general, the sole objective of the learner today is mainly to gain quick returns, fame and money by performing on radio, TV channels, bringing out recordings, giving stage performances, etc.

When a guru gives his lifetime’s learning, experience, time and energy, the least he expects from his student is that he will be given his due credit, especially when the student performs in public. I know people who take names of famous gurus under whom they have not learnt — learning one or two compositions is not learning in the real sense — just to promote themselves. Conversely, they would not think of mentioning the real guru’s name who has slogged for years to mould them, unless they felt they would benefit from such a mention. This, I think, is unfair and hurtful. If a student cannot bring any credit to his guru, the least he can do is not to hurt him.

However, there are also teachers who exploit students. What is important and what matters is honesty and integrity on both sides.

I also feel there is no harm in learning different forms of music under different gurus at the same time only if necessary, but it should not be done in a clandestine manner. But here, I would like to say that just as one should not take treatment from two doctors for the same ailment at the same time (for his own benefit too), one should not learn the same form of music under two teachers at the same time unless he has mastered one style completely and is mature enough to decide what he wants. It is also a matter of ethics.

36. With your modern, rational outlook towards music teaching, were you able to bring in changes at the SNDT University?
Yes, I think so. I left my job at the All India Radio so that I could have freedom to do what I wanted to. I had realised that only singing was not enough. I needed to go for academic study to understand other aspects of music.

I am a science and law graduate. My personal interest and academic background had made me independently take exams in music. While working in AIR, I took Western Music Theory exams conducted by Trinity College of Music in London. After leaving AIR, I also did my doctorate in music.

I was happy when I got the opportunity to work as the Professor and Head of the Department of Post-Graduate Studies & Research in Music at the SNDT Women’s University, Mumbai. The infrastructure and facilities required for studying music from different angles, to understand its inter-relation with other fields of knowledge was all there. Also there were opportunities like seminars, workshops, lecture-demonstrations, training programmes, writing papers, etc., which helped me improve my knowledge about music, stimulated my thinking and also enriched my performance.

After examining the existing syllabus and teaching methods, I realised that I had to work on these areas first. It has become essential for a student of music today not only to understand and appreciate his own music, but also the music of various other cultures and changes that take place when different music cultures come in contact with each other. This not only helps to preserve, protect one’s own music-culture and keep its identity intact, but at the same time enrich it through exposure to other music-cultures.

The syllabus I prepared was very comprehensive. It dealt with almost everything in Indian music and topics related to Indian music at the exposure level. In addition to classical, light-classical and light music, it included folk music, film music, natyasangeet (Maharashtra’s theatre music), Karnatak music, Western music, World music and topics related to music like psychology, sociology, physiology, physics, aesthetics, poetry, cultural history, philosophy, religion, etc. Since there was no written material available on the respective topics, I had to meet and discuss with different subject experts, read relevant books and prepare notes for students. I was also able to persuade some faculty members to write books on subjects like psychology of music, sociology of music, etc.

Along with theory, I also managed to get Karnatak musicians to teach kriti, tillaanaa, jaavali compositions to our students. By just reading theory how can a student of Hindustani music understand the niceties or learn to sing Karnatak music?

To prepare material on World music or Ethnomusicology was the most difficult task. The Indo-American Fellowship program helped me to undertake courses in Ethnomusicology at the University of California, Los Angeles, U.S.A. I collected some recorded music and books in consultation with the faculty there. All this came very useful. Probably SNDT University was the first to offer a course in ethnomusicology in India.

37. Should there be standardisation in the content and teaching methods of Hindustani music as it is in Karnatak music?
Personally I feel that there should be a standardised, formal structure as it is in Karnatak music for any new student aspiring to learn Hindustani music. The understanding of note positions, their combinations and laya (tempo) are the basic things a student has to learn in the beginning before he actually starts working on raag and taal. Once he is equipped with this material, it should be left to the guru and the potential of the student how the training should proceed. At present, I am working on the standardisation of the material to be taught to the beginner which will help him understand sur, lay, thinking and skills to compose phrases in any given context in different tempi, improve his voice range and flexibility.
38. What is your experience with the universities abroad?
During my concert tours and teaching assignments at the universities abroad, I was exposed to research work and methods which encouraged new ways of thinking about a musical culture which included objectivity, analysis and communication. Unlike musicians in the West who generally have equally well developed skills in theory and performance, musicians in India tend to remain passive, even scornful towards an academic approach to performance because they think it has no practical value. By and large, the guru-shishya paramparaa has also encouraged this attitude by demanding blind submission to the guru’s authority. Unfortunately, even if musicians are thoughtful, their lack of communication skills and formal theoretical training in music prevents them from effectively expressing their ideas. Hence, the typical image of the uncommuni-cative musicians.
39. Why are you called an avant-garde artist?
It could be because of my different thinking, different approach to various aspects of music performance —

• First research work on ‘Sargam’ in Hindustani classical music and open advocacy in its favour by incorporating it in actual presentation since 1960s.

• Use of only sthaayi of the bandish in the presentation of the vilambit khyaal.

• Use of complementary themes in the compositions of vilambit and drut khyaal according to the name of the raag and time of the day. For ex: raag Bhairav — compositions on lord Shankar and sung in the morning.

• Interpretation of raags rules on the basis of logic, reason and novelty without deviating from tradition.

• Composing new raags.

• Treatment and presentation of semi-classical music — thumri, daadraa — giving it sophistication and modern flavour setting it apart from the rendition of the courtesans.

• Presenting thumri, daadraa in the same raag having complementary themes one after the other like vilambit and drut khyaal in the same raag.

• Experiments towards exposing Hindustani music audience to the stylistic nuances of Karnatak music — helping in further enrichment of Hindustani music.

• Holistic approach towards the study of music — reflected in the syllabus prepared for Post-Graduate courses — M.A. and M.Phil. for the S.N.D.T. Women’s University, Mumbai as the Professor & Head of the Department of Post-Graduate Studies & Research in Music — first of its kind in the country. The syllabus covered different categories of music — Hindustani music, Karnatak music, Western music, World music (ethnomusicology), light music, folk music, film music, theatre music, and related subjects like psychology, sociology, philosophy, physiology, physics, aesthetics, poetry, cultural history, etc.

40. In a khyaal performance what do you achieve by dropping antaraa of vilambit bandish and reducing it to only sthaayi?
Why not drop antaraa of vilambit bandish if its pupose is served by sthaayi? Even in arts, survival is through necessity. For the sake of novelty one can also add sanchaari, aabhog or convert khyaal bandish into ashtapadi having eight sections. Secondly, the purpose of khyaal ghaat is to project raag’s beauty and convey its musical meaning. The words of the bandish colour the notes with their meaning, and also obstruct the formation and desired flow of the phrase. Thus, smaller the bandish and fewer the words, freer the notes from the words and their meaning. From ashtapadi to dhrupad-dhamaar to khyaal is a continuous logical reduction in the length of the bandish — 8 parts to 4 to 2 to 1 part which we need to understand. Vilambit Khyaal is the only musical form which can maintain its own structural identity and also abstract quality of music by using bandish of minimum possible words - with or without meaning.
41. Can the deletion of antaraa of vilambit khyaal bandish be applied to madhyalay and drut khyaal bandish? Do you perform accordingly?
Before answering this question, one must take into consideration the fact that during elaboration whether it is vilambit khyaal or drut khyaal only the mukhdaa of the bandish is used. Entire sthaayi or antaraa is not sung everytime the unit of improvisation is completed to land on the sam. Not only that, in the entire presentation of raag, the full bandish is sung once or twice with sthaayi and antaraa. In madhya or drut lay bandish, because of its tempo, singing of the entire bandish is important from the point of view of audience; singing only mukhdaa again and again may lead to monotony. The lay listener enjoys the raag through words of the bandish. Thus, in madhya or drut lay khyaal because of the tempo, bandish assumes separate identity. It helps audience enjoy raag through bandish. For them the abstract in raag becomes concrete through the words of the bandish.

I sing the entire bandish of madhya and drut lay khyaal; even repeat it two, three times because it assumes an independent entity. Whenever there is a special programme based on the compositions of classical music, only madhya and drut lay compositions are selected because the tempo of the bandish makes it more compact, appealing and reachable to the common listeners.

42. Are you in favour of theme-based programmes?
Yes. Theme based programmes make one think differently, stimulate creativity, and most importantly help to educate audience. I have occasionally presented theme-based programmes like:

Bhairav prakaar — theme of the compositions in these raags is Lord Shankar. Bhairav is another name for Lord Shankar.

Kauns prakaar — theme of the compositions in these raags is Lord Krishna — presuming that Kauns has some relation with Lord Krishna’s uncle Kauns.

Malhar prakaar — theme of the compositions in these raags is monsoon season/rain.

Kalyan prakaar — theme of the compositions in these raags is Lord Ganesha.

• Sur Sangam — Karnatak Raagas which have no parallel in Hindustani music are used in Hindustani style with compositions specially composed to emphasise sargam and the nuances – gamakas — special to Karnatak music.

• Light classical forms — presenting thumri, daadraa having complementary themes in the same raag one after the other like vilambit and drut khyaal in the same raag.

Raagdarshan — presenting different ghaats like khyaal, taraanaa, thumri, daadraa, bhajan in the same raag — each ghaat brings out a different beauty of the same raag, maintaining its identity.

• Marathi ghazals and bhakti geet — presenting with classical music treatment whilst maintaining their identity.

Besides my own concert presentations, I have organised other theme-based programmes with the help of other artists like:

• ‘Stree guru vandana’ — all female gurus were felicitated for their contribution to their field of performing arts, and their disciples performed.

• ‘Women Musicians Festival’ (including women accompanists for tablaa and haarmonium), symbolising women empowerment.

• ‘Swar-nritya prabha’ — well known Bharatanatyam dancer Dr. Sucheta Bhide Chapekar, Kathak dancer Smt. Yogini Gandhi and Odissi dancer Smt. Jhelum Paranjape choreographed items based on my compositions which were adapted for their respective dance form.

Naadavaleli akshare’ (syllables immersed in music) — programme based on my compositions in classical, light-classical and light music.

43. Do you believe in raag-ras and raag-samay theories?
I am not a strict follower of these theories. I find them more of a conditioning of the mind. They have been deeply embedded in our psyche due to age-old practice. We have to understand that they have lost their relevance with the passage of time. Today, we are away from nature, living in closed walls. Nature itself has changed considerably; our life style has also changed. Our thinking has changed. Music is also changing with time. What is the time and ras of new raags? What about mixed raags like bhairav-bahar having different timings and different rass (bhairav - morning and bahar - night)? How do you then relate raag and time or raag and ras?

Raag is an abstract concept. Attempts have been made to transform this abstract into concrete by providing visuals, associations, meaningful words, specific time of the day and night, and also particular ras.

It is a fact that raag can be performed effectively without knowing its time and also so called ras. Similarly, a listener enjoys music without knowing its time and ras. Raag character is intrinsically related to its musical material, its treatment and tempo. Its characteristic phrases and their flow give it its musical identity. It is the quality of performance and the state of the mind of the performer and listener which are responsible for the enjoyment of raag. The ras experience therefore cannot be same to all. It is very much subjective and varies with each performer and listener depending on his upbringing and state of mind. It is the aanandaanubhooti (eternal peace, bliss) which is shared by both the performer and the listener.

44. What do you think is your contribution to the field of Indian classical music?
Many generations of great musicians in the past have poured in their knowledge and experience in the vast ocean of music. My contribution is not even a drop. On the contrary, it is music which has contributed a lot in shaping my life. I am grateful to God for this precious gift. Music has taught me to look for beauty, purity, divinity and universality in whatever I do. It is the best medium to experience, express and share these fine qualities of life and nature. I do not know about my contribution, but I have been doing various things:

• Preservation and promotion of Hindustani classical music by carrying forward the Kirana tradition .

• Propagation of Hindustani classical music by teaching students all over the world in both the traditional guru-shishya paramparaa as well as the institutional mode besides conducting workshops and giving lecture-demonstrations.

• Pioneer work in popularisation of Indian classical vocal music by giving full length vocal concerts, lecture-demonstrations, workshops all over the world since 1969.

• authoring academic books on the contemporary performance.

• composing bandishs in classical, light classical and light music to go with the changing trends.

• Standardisation of the teaching material for a beginner in Hindustani music.

• Established ‘Dr. Prabha Atre Foundation’ to cater to the multifarious activities relating to music in particular and the performing arts in general.

• Started ‘Swaramayee Gurukul’ to bridge the gap between two systems of teaching — traditional guru-shishya paramparaa and institutional, for students aspiring to take music as full time profession.

• Organising monthly ‘baithaks’ at Swaramayee Gurukul, Pune, wherein artists of all generations participate. Organised music festivals under ‘Surbahar’; later the famous national level ‘Sureshbabu Hirabai Smruti Sangeet Samaroh’ and ‘Gaanprabha’ at Mumbai.

45. What do you consider is your most significant achievement?
I sing like Prabha Atre and nobody else. The joy of making good music and passing on the joy to my listeners is what I feel very good about. There are other related activities like composing, writing which have a Prabha Atre stamp. This identity in the music world, I think is a significant achievement.
46. Why is classical music not popular?
It is mainly because we do not have enough knowledgeable listeners; responsible, knowledgeable critics; conscious patrons, sponsors; and effective government machinery. There is no provision to train our masses.

To be able to appreciate classical music, one must understand the meaning of pure sound and rhythm patterns — the musical meaning of music. To do this, one needs background, study and contemplation. The common man has no opportunities, no facilities to learn classical music. Moreover, he has no patience for this. He naturally turns to light music, which is word oriented, rhythm dominated and less of pure musical improvisations. This music is simple, full of emotions, has catchy rhythm and is easy to identify with.

Secondly, classical musicians tend to give more stress on the theoretical aspects, on the technique, thereby making classical music dry and lifeless. They forget that theory is to guide the progression, and technique is only the starting point. Unless classical music identifies itself with life, with nature, with the known and the unknown, it will not reach the common man.

Thirdly, we must realise that classical music is an abstract art and is not the music of masses. It is a product of a more deliberate aesthetic shaping process. A lot of thinking and experimentation has gone behind its formation. To expect classical music to become as popular as film music would be wrong.

47. How can classical music be popularised?
I take it that this question does not mean that we have to attract lovers of popular or film music and make attempt to switch over their taste to classical music. Classical arts are always going to be appreciated by restricted audiences because people differ considerably in their abilities and tastes. With proper measures the size of the audience can be increased but it will never compete with pop audience. To take classical music to the masses, actually the issues to be considered are its changing patronage and the conscious, active participation of mass media, music institutions, and support from private and Government cultural institutions. Certainly, we can start with a compulsory cultural training in schools and colleges. This would develop a wider perspective of life and promote better understanding of the classical arts.
48. What is the future of classical music?
Classical music will definitely live in some form as it has in the past — from ashtapadi to khyaal. Classical music represents beauty, purity, divinity and universality. It has that abstract quality which makes it comprehensive, covering known and ‘unknown’. Today’s most popular form — khyaal, representing classical vocal music has been changing and adapting itself to meet new situations, to cater to new demands. The new wave of ‘free expression’ that has entered every field has also affected khyaal considerably, but its fight to survive as a separate aesthetic form is really commendable. Let us wait and see what we get after khyaal or how khyaal adapts itself to the demands of the changing time.
49. What do you think of today’s audience of classical music?
The patronage of arts has passed from princes and aristocrats to the common man and commercial institutions. The new audience comprises of the common man whose taste is cultivated by popular music. He is more demanding and less patient. The popularity of film music in general has brought with it a number of problems and responsibilities for the classical artist. The classical musician is expected to be well-versed in all aspects of the art. He has to be proficient in practically all the forms — khyaal, thumri, bhajan, etc. He must be able to hold the interest of his listeners.
50. What is the greatest challenge for you as a performer of classical music?
Classical musician has to face audience, the members of which are at different levels in terms of understanding theoretical and technical aspects. He has to reach to all of them — critics, musicologists, connoisseurs, lay listeners, etc., and make them participate in the making of music. I believe this is the greatest challenge for a classical music performer.
51. Why do we always talk of only classical music when it comes to music appreciation or music education? Don’t we need special training to appreciate other forms?
Yes, we do. When it comes to music education or music appreciation, the focus has always been on classical music. This is because to be able to perform or appreciate classical music, one needs some study, training or background.

I always wonder what people mean when they say they like geet, ghazal, bhajan, film music, etc. Liking and understanding are two different things. Understanding and then liking is the ideal situation. Are we able to distinguish between good and bad music — be it classical, light or any other kind? Unless we understand the meaning of the structures that are created through sur and lay, we cannot claim to understand even lighter forms of music. There has to be special training for all types of forms from classical to folk. Encouraging and promoting right kind of music is everybody’s responsibility.

Again is music education only for performance? Music is related to so many different fields of knowledge and they all cater to excellence in music performance. Even to achieve high level of competence we have to think about related aspects, activities, people involved in it like gurus, organisers, listeners, critics, teachers, writers, composers, instru-ment makers, audio technicians; CD, video, book dealers; manufacturers of audio equipment; journalists, publishers, recording companies, academies, private institutions and so many others who ultimately help to enrich the content of music and its presentation. Music is also related to other disciplines like psychology, sociology, physiology, physics, aesthetics, poetry, philosophy, religion, cultural history, etc. Music is applied in areas such as physical exercise or aerobics, medical therapy, psycho therapy, plant therapy, etc. For each of these professions and specialised areas, a highly specialised training is necessary in addition to basic training, understanding of performance and the ability to analyse music.

The institutional system must make provision for individual training in performance and mass education to train listeners. Without enlightened listeners music cannot grow. It is they who will control the quality of the various forms of music.

To get more people involved with music seriously, music education has to be wider in its choice of activity and job oriented. It must also provide economic incentive to pursue it as a vocation. Most importantly, music should not be only a means of entertainment.

52. Don’t you think that good performers should take the lead to educate the audience? Otherwise mediocrity, gimmickry in music would be recognised as the best music?
I wonder if our artists are conscious of their responsibility towards the society. ‘Survival of the fittest’ applies to music also. But to realise that ‘fittest’ is not necessarily the ‘best’, will take time. In this context, we need to think about music education for general public. We need to introduce music in our general education — right from Kindergarten. At least we can inculcate taste for good music, we can make our audiences aware of good and bad music. An educated audience can put a check on music and musicians, and help music grow in the right direction.

In my small way, I am educating the audience through singing, teaching, writing, and organising concerts and academic programmes.

53. Is live-audience for classical music dwindling? Where do organisations like Sanskar Bharati and Spic Macay stand in their contribution?
It is true that the audience factor has become unpredictable. Tickets or no tickets, upcoming artist or senior, popular artist — you cannot make any equations. This is true for films as well which is a very popular medium.

Organisations like Spic Macay, Sanskar Bharati, etc., are definitely making efforts to educate listeners. But this is not enough. Music must become a part of our general education. There has to be a provision for mass education.

54. Are music recording companies serious about their job? Are they promoting classical music? Are they promoting new talent?
Music recording companies are not charitable organisations. They want to make money. If consumers fail to do their job seriously, the companies cannot be blamed. Listeners like variety in terms of artists, raags, themes; so they get exploited — different combinations of the same material --- raags, themes, artists under different titles. Whom do you blame?
55. Should there be corporate sponsorship?
Corporate sponsorship has become indispensable. They have not only spoilt our artists and audiences, created financial problems but have also brought in commercial element into music. Artists are asking for more and more money and audience don’t want to pay to listen to classical music.

Under the present circumstances, without corporate sponsorship, how are the organisers going to pay artists’ fees running into lakhs? Are artists willing to accept what comes through only gate sale tickets? It’s a vicious circle now with no immediate solution. The interesting part is to become a popular, star artist one has to work systematically, consciously. Talent alone does not give one that position.

I only wish that the corporate houses support the ‘cause’ and not promote particular artists.

56. What purpose do music festivals and conferences serve?
I am not sure whether today’s music festivals always serve a useful or wholesome purpose. The conferences have created economic problems like publicity, high fees, etc., affecting our traditional chamber music concerts or mehfils which have not been merely venues of entertainment but also workshops where music is made and revitalised by the mutual response of the musician and the audience. Instead, these conferences seem to foster the commercial elements — showmanship, indulgence in acrobatics, playing-up to the gallery, so often dominant in our music today. That is why I prefer to sing in mehfils.
57. What made you to go abroad?
Pandit Ravi Shankar and Ustad Ali Akbar Khan have done a great work in introducing Indian music to foreigners. But what they heard was mainly instrumental music. A full concert of vocal music was then a novelty to the non-Indian audience. My attempt was to expose them to the beauty of vocal music, which is the ‘soul’ of Indian music. Probably, I am the first female Hindustani classical vocalist who toured extensively in the 1970s to give full-length vocal music concerts in the West.
58. What is the reaction of the western audience to our music?
By and large, people there are very appreciative. The discipline and receptivity of the audience is something that has to be seen to be believed. They are very sincere, serious listeners. They come prepared.
59. There are very few women music composers in classical and light music. What made you compose?
It was my need after my guru Sureshbabu Mane passed away. I could not go to other gurus as I was very much attached to Baburao. I could not put anybody in his place. It was a lonely musical journey of search. I wanted to sing raags I liked and I had not learnt. Where to get bandishs? Who would have agreed to teach me without making me his shishyaa?

I discovered my ability to compose when I worked at All India Radio. In the beginning although I composed out of necessity, I soon got interested, almost obsessed with composing. It was a new challenge to my creativity. It is really a great advantage to be able to compose. I think it is necessary to have a composition, which matches with and suits your style and temperament. It is wrong to mutilate somebody else’s composition to suit your requirements.

I am happy that my very first composition in raag Marubihagjaagoo main saari raina…’ recorded with HMV company in 1971 is still very popular and when one talks about raag Marubihag they refer to my recording. Even after 45 years this record is selling well. Almost every music loving family has this recording. After Marubihag, I started singing only my compositions in my concerts — whether khyaal, taraanaa, thumri, daadraa, bhajan or ghazals.

60. What are the special features of your compositions?
My compositions project beauty of raag and ghaat. The phrases in the composition suggest new directions to explore and develop the raag and ghaat structures. In addition, they offer different centres in taal cycle for creativity and points for landing on sam. The manipulation of rhythmic structure of taal through pauses in the composition enhances the beauty of composition. The themes and words of compositions are simple and musical. They reach the common listener directly helping him enjoy raag music which is abstract in nature.
61. Your compositions have been used for various classical dance forms and also for drama. Did you have to compose specially for them?
It is necessary that one composes according to the type of a form, its demands. In my case it so happened that whether it was any dance form or any particular situation in a drama, the concerned artists used my composition that they liked. Some small changes had to be made in the compositions according to the needs, but the beauty of the original composition was maintained and the most important thing was that my permission was taken for such changes. On some occasions, I have also composed specially according to the demands. In a dance programme, the tempo has to match with the movements of the body, the foot work. Musical material like sargam, taan used in the composition has to go with the movements of the different parts of the body. I enjoyed watching my compositions taking concrete form through body movements and expressions – the abstract becoming concrete through dance.
62. Your compositions have been used for Jazz and Fusion. Are these special compositions?
The composition must represent the form. Listening to the composition, it should be possible to identify and name the form. It is not always possible that a composition composed for a particular form adapts itself to another form or medium. The main problem is taal and tempo. The contours of the bandish need to be changed accordingly. This is possible only if the composition has the potential. May be, my compositions meet this requirement. Whatever the medium, whatever the form, they colour themselves accordingly.

My student Susanne Abbhuel, a Jazz singer from Holland, has produced a recording using my compositions. I enjoyed listening to it immensely.

63. Have your compositions been published?
Yes. Practically in my every concert and even otherwise, there was an increasing demand from music lovers and students to publish my compositions. That made me work on ‘Swaraanginee’ which was first published in 1994. This is probably the first book of compositions by a woman performer who also happens to be a composer. The second edition of Swaraanginee and the second book of my compositions ‘Swaranjanee’ were published in 2006.

The third revised edition of ‘Swaraanginee’ carries compositions of morning, afternoon and evening raags, while the second edition of ‘Swaranjanee’ has compositions of night raags. In these editions there is addition of new bandishs as well as new ghaats covering dhrupad, dhamaar, trivat, chaturang and tappaa. Another new book ‘Swararangee’ comprises compositions only of light-classical and light music. Along with thumri, daadraa, Hindi ghazals and bhajans it also includes Marathi ghazals and bhaktigeet. The three books together have nearly 550 compositions in all and are accompanied with illustrative CDs and notation.

I feel happy that many students and artists are singing my compositions in their exams and programmes. These books have a demand outside India as well. The English version of these books has an added feature – it carries song-text meaning which will help reach the non-Hindi music community.

64. Who wrote poetry for your compositions?
I have not learnt Hindi language as such, but have a flair for it. I do not know if one can call song-texts used in Hindustani classical music as poetry. Unlike in light music, where one person writes poetry and another composes it, in classical music the poet and composer generally happen to be the same. May be this is because music comes first in classical music and words act as a musical material. In my compositions, words are musical, simple, easy to understand and they reach audience without any difficulty.
65. What prompted you to take to writing?
Like teaching, writing on music is also complementary to performance. It brings clarity and precision in one’s thinking and action. I have put down my thoughts and views in the form of articles. My articles have been on various musical themes written for different occasions. Classical music is an abstract art of sound and rhythm patterns which conveys only musical meaning. Unless one understands this musical meaning, one is not likely to appreciate it. I wanted to reach the lay listener through the medium he understands — words and involve him in my music making. ‘Swaramayee’ is a compilation of some of my articles. I was thrilled when this book got the Maharashtra State Government award in 1989. My second book ‘Suswaraalee’ is also a compilation of my articles. Madhya Pradesh Government Hindi Granth Academy has published a Hindi translation of both these books in 1996. Today the 4th revised edition of Swaramayee and 3rd revised edition of Suswaraalee (accompanied with an illustrative audio CD) are in the market.
66. Have you brought out any book in English?
Yes, there are two books. My first book ‘Enlightening the Listener : Contemporary North Indian Classical Vocal Music Performance’ was published in 2000. It is accompanied by an illustrative audio CD. I am happy that the book was released by the then Prime Minister of India, Shri. Atal Behari Vajpayee.

‘Along the Path of Music’ is the second book which was released in 2006 by the then President of India, Dr. Abdul Kalam. Both the books have been published by one of the leading Indological publishers of the country M/s. Munshiram Manoharlal of Delhi. They have been well received by academicians, musicians and lay listeners — in India and abroad.

67. What inspired you to write poetry?
My mother has written stories and poems for children. May be I have inherited that talent.

I am not a poet. Poetry is just an extension of my musical expression. ‘Antahswar’, was released by the well-known poet Mangesh Padgaonkar in 1997. Most of the poems express my musical experiences. Antahswar is probably one of the first books expressing musical experiences through poetry. It was translated into English by Prof. Susheela Ambike and was released at the hands of scholar and the then Chairperson of ICCR, Sri. Karan Singh in 2007.

68. There is considerable amount of writing related to the technical aspects of various fields of knowledge. However, such work does not find place in literary meetings and festivals. The same is with literary awards. What do you think?
It is a fact that technical, theory related writings on arts — performing and non-performing; on science, technology, nature, wild life, tourism, sports, etc., are not looked upon as ‘literature’. It is only novels, stories, poetry and likewise popular forms which go under ‘literature’. If literature is the mirror of nature and human life, then reading material specially prepared for the subjects like sports, science, technology or for that matter, every human activity needs to be considered as literature. It is a very difficult task to develop effective language for communi-cation in technical fields. For this, experts from respective fields have to come together, coin new words, develop vocabulary and create suitable language to describe concepts, principles, theory and related technical processes to make communication workable. In fact, ideally experts from literary and respective fields should come up with a standard language for communication.

It is necessary that writings in all fields should be recognised by suitable awards and honours. The panel of judges should include technically knowledgeable people with writing skills and experts from literature who have knowledge in other subjects. It is the duty and responsibility of cultural institutions and governments to assess and honour the contributions of individuals and organisations from respective fields.

69. What do you think of music as a career for women?
India is a modern, democratic nation. Nationalism and renewed interest in the traditional values were important aspects of the 20th century. Arts have acquired a new dimension in today’s age of science. This new consciousness gets expressed in the way music and musicians are respected in the society today.

The status of women has improved considerably with the result that our society’s attitude towards women in performing arts has also changed. However, there are difficulties of the profession itself.

The commercial element which has entered into the field of music today has also created new problems. Public relations and publicity have become most important part of the profession. A woman musician surely has problems unless her family members — father, brother, husband, son, other relatives, friends help her in ‘public relations’ work or she takes help of some agency. I think that only with sincere love towards music can one hold on to this profession.

Secondly, there is no security. One has to be patient, hardworking and prepared for sacrifice.

Thirdly, since the family unit is the primary cell of Indian society and the role of women is still that of a wife and a mother, her career would have to fit with the duties at home, which call for quite a bit of compromise.

70. It must not have been easy for you to make a career in classical music?
You are absolutely right. First of all, I don’t have any family background in music. Nobody in our family had listened to classical music. Then, my guru Sureshbabu Mane passed away early. My second guru, Hirabai also retired from the performing field early for health reasons and most important of all, I have no godfather, no community support.

Secondly, this field has changed considerably. Public relations now play an important role in publicity and image building and temperamentally, I am not a very social person. Under these circumstances, I cannot expect anything better. Of course, my listeners have always been with me. It is only on their unflinching support that I have come this far.

The words and letters of praise of my listeners are a great treasure for me. I feel encouraged when I see my listeners taking notice of my work in the field. I am very happy with my audience. They have made me ‘Prabha Atre — the artist’.

71. Because of the uncertainty of the profession is it necessary to have an alternative career option?
It is always nice to have an alternative. It leads to an added sense of security. However, achieving excellence in the desired field requires 24 hours of dedication and sacrifice expecting no returns. I think this applies to other professional fields as well.
72. Although you are one of the best and finest musicians, how is it that you are the least recorded artist commercially? Similarly with your public concerts, radio and TV programmes.
I have not been a career conscious artist, although I have taken music as a full-time profession. I am to be blamed for keeping myself away from the media like Aakashvani (radio), Doordarshan (television), recording companies and other publicity channels.

I worked with the All India Radio for 10 years and at SNDT Women’s University for 13 years. I also worked as Producer-Director for Swarashree Recording Company for many years. But it never occurred to me to use my positions to project myself. Besides this, I did not even accept offers that came my way. I have lost many opportunities like this from a career point of view. My admirers feel bad and blame me for this. But I am made differently.

It is the need of time that one has excellent public relations and good knowledge of marketing. One has to be in the limelight all the time. Otherwise how will people come to know what one is doing? One needs a different temperament and saadhanaa for all this. I am not at the beginning of my career, so it does not matter now. What matters is that I sing well. Temperamentally, I am most comfortable and happy communicating with my audience — singing in a mehfil. Fortunately, I have been able to survive in the field fairly well, and that too without much publicity. Well, I realise with good planning and conscious efforts, things could have definitely been better. I am glad that today without my involvement you can hear my music on the internet; thanks to my listeners.

73. How come there is a long gap between your first LP and later recordings?
There is a gap of almost 20/25 years between the release of my first LP and the later recordings. I am to be blamed for this. There were many opportunities, but I did not take them seriously. Today I realise how important it is to have your recordings in the market to reach your music lovers. Recordings give you continuous exposure which helps in bringing your listeners closer, build your career. Good marketing has become an essential aspect of a successful profession. I think there are about 20 recordings in the market which include khyaal, taraanaa, thumri, daadraa, bhajan and Marathi ghazals. Some more will follow soon.
74. What do you think of newspaper criticism?
Being a part of the mass media, newspaper coverage/criticism today has become a powerful means of publicity and, therefore, one can imagine what important and crucial role the critic plays in shaping public opinion about an artist and his art. Unfortunately, the importance of serious criticism is understood only by a few. Authority, sincerity, sense of responsibility, awareness of the changing times, practical experience, honesty and objectivity are some of the things one looks for in criticism.

It is a sad situation that with the working knowledge of music and writing skill, anybody can become a music critic today. Rarely do musicians and critics have a cordial relation. There is a great danger that the future scholars of music might look upon these reviews as source material for their research work.

We do not realise that music criticism is a serious discipline and needs special training. Ideally, only such candidates who have academic orientation, who have some training in music, can perform a little and have good writing skills should be employed by the press.

75. How did you feel about receiving the ‘Padma...’ or other national awards?
Of course, I felt happy. Better late than never. You know, my Padmashree award itself came very late, when I was sixty. Then again there was a long gap of twelve years before receiving Padmabhushan. As long as one is active in the profession, awards do matter. They are regarded as the indicator of success. However, awards are not necessarily given on the basis of talent, scholarship.

In my case, Government recognition has come very late. It is almost like receiving “Wah, Wah” appreciation after the concert is over. A timely reward is very important in an artist’s life. I have observed that those who manage to keep themselves in the limelight and maintain good public relations are considered most eligible for such awards irrespective of their expertise and contribution. Media also plays a great role in building the image of these artists.

I have been in this field for nearly sixty years with no public relations. Is it not strange that when the entire music world recognises and appreciates my efforts, my work and my achievements, the government machinery takes long time to notice and that too not with the deserving reward.

It is also true that awards give only momentarily happiness. The real award for a musician is his success in music itself and his listeners' support — without them, awards have no meaning. They remain either on the paper or sit in the cupboard. I would only say that one should have faith in one’s talent so that one does not lose heart.

I pray God that he blesses me with good music till my last breath, and my listeners to share my joy.

76. Don’t you find it strange that despite your acclaimed and well acknowledged accomplishments as an outstanding performer, composer, academician, writer and guru, you have figured in the list of Government awardees very late? Also you are not a regular member of the Government delegations sent abroad.

I wish we all know the basis or the norms, the expert committee follows for preparing their list of awardees and selecting delegates for tours abroad.

I agree that from career point of view continuous exposure through mass media, Government functions, awards, etc., are very important. But temperamentally I am not very social, career-oriented. I am most happy when I do my riyaaz and when I sing for my listeners. Talent and success do not necessarily always go together. God has given me a precious gift — music and listeners are my biggest reward. When it comes to material gains, I take an attitude of wait and see.

77. Do you feel that the governments are doing enough for the cause of music and musicians?
This issue needs to be attended at the two levels — state and central goverment. The responsibility of preservation, promotion and propagation of music primarily lies on the state governments and later comes the central government into picture.

The state governments need to identify the art forms, artists, make a list, assess their contribution and later document them for archival purposes. They should also promote and propagate these various art forms, give due recognition to the artists at proper time and recommend their names to the central government for important positions, awards, foreign delegations, etc. The members of the selection committee should have credibility. These experts should be from the respective art forms. There should be a separate award for each art form — both at the state and central government. The centre has also to formulate the norms on which the states should work in this regard. It goes without saying that there needs to be transparency at every stage.

78. Are you satisfied with the way in which Maharasthra Government is working in this direction.
The situation in Maharashtra is not very happy. While most of the states have separate academies for various art forms which are active and also doing great work of documentation, the Government of Maharashtra did not have one for a long time. It is now quite some time that an academy (supposed to be working for all art forms) has been there, but for reasons unknown, it has not been functioning in the desired way.

Another important point is that many artists from other states have found Mumbai, Pune very remunerative from all aspects and therefore have decided to stay in Maharashtra. These artists are at an advantageous position. They are recognised both in their home state and also in Maharashtra. There is nothing wrong in this. But, the plight of the artists who are born in Maharashtra, but poor in Public Relations fail to attract the attention of the Government machinery and do not get due recognition. They are also not considered by other states for any honour as they are ignored by their home state.

In fact, it is the responsibility of the state government to identify deserving personalities and honour them befittingly at the proper time. Unless these measures are followed strictly, the state cannot do justice to arts and artists. It is the responsibility of the state to see that their artists are honoured and represented at the centre at proper time.

I am a proud Maharashtrian settled in Maharashtra. What has the Government of Maharashtra done for me in my 82 years? I cannot think of a single occasion when the Government of Maharashtra has offered me even a flower for my accomplishments. Talent, merit and contributions have no place in government machinery. Those who cannot promote themselves have to take a back seat.

79. Have you any regrets?
This question has two facets.

It is nice to be able to sing and share that joy with others. It is equally nice to be able to enjoy good music. Music has opened before me an undescribable beauty of sound. This beauty cannot be compared with anything around in the world. It has made me look inside, helped me meditate and go close to that ‘unknown’. Music has given meaning to my existence.

But, when you look at music as a profession, to be in it is not a very happy situation. It is no more merit oriented. Publicity has assumed unthinkable dimensions. Public relations, glamour, image building are directly related to money, fame, awards and many such things. You have to learn to blatantly promote yourself to sell, say like any other commodity in the market. Otherwise you sit at home and be happy with whatever comes your way.

80. What do you think about reality shows?
I believe that reality shows are the best medium for identifying talent. The contestants also get required financial support for training and presentation. They are taught how to present themselves and their art, how to communicate with the audience, etc.,

One can understand that one should have pleasing manners on the stage. But the increasing dance element in such programmes is alarming. Music is primarily an auditary art. Should it be transformed into visual art and to what extent? Are things going too far?

What is going to happen to these talented youngsters? Will they stay with their art? Will they grow? Who is going to take care so that they do not go crazy with the money and fame they receive overnight. Should there be any undertaking from these candidates so that they continue with their training in music seriously? Who will provide them with good education and facilities to progress?

Secondly, reality shows on TV channels are based on film music. The direction in which film music is going today, one finds less and less of Indian base. The influence of non-Indian and Western music is on the increase. It is not that the ‘new’ music is bad, but no TV channel seems to think seriously about Indian classical music that represents our great tradition and culture. Will this not lead to forgetting our identity? The common man is already moving away from Indian classical music as a result of over-exposure and continuous hammering of ‘new’ music through these shows.

At times to increase their TRP ratings TV channels also involve public at large, giving stage to mediocre talent.

81. What do you think is the reason for not having reality shows based on classical music?
Reality shows for classical music on TV channels have many problems. The most important thing is that audience for classical music is very small. A good listener of classical music requires training, background. Does the listener have time to acquire this?

Secondly, it is very difficult to present classical music in 4-5 minutes as is heard in the recordings of maestros of previous generations. It needs a lot of expertise and experience. Each participant needs to be given atleast 10-15 minutes. Can TV channels afford giving this much time? Will they get sponsors?

It is important that programmes projecting Indian culture and classical arts are looked upon as a socio-cultural responsibility. This responsibility needs to be shouldered consciously by governments as well as common man. Our TV channels need to look into this issue with due seriousness and give place to Indian classical music in their programmes.

I think anything is possible if one is committed to the ‘cause’. To celebrate my 75th birthyear, in 2008 one such attempt was made by ‘Swaramayee’ (group of my admirers and students). They organised music and dance programmes based on my work in different cities. As a part of the celebrations they had also organised “Amrut Prabha’ - National Classical Vocal Music Competition’ based on my compositions in classical, semi-classical and bhajan categories. The competition was broadcast serially on DD Sahyadri national TV channel. It was heartening to note that the entries for the competition had come from abroad too. These episodes were well appreciated by listener-viewers. Such competitions based on classical music can become a regular event on TV channels.

82. Today the number of artists creating new raags is far more than it was before. Is there need for more raags? Have you composed any new raags?
We have a vast treasure of traditional raags and their compositions. The scope or freedom a musician gets in Hindustani music to create ‘new’ in already existing raags is unlimited and unparallel. Creating ‘new’ in existing raags is more difficult than creating new raags. However, it is the artist’s urge, need, and that is why each generation has added new raags, new compositions which have stood the test of time.

I have created few raags like Shivakali, Ravee Bhairav, Kaushi Bhairav, Bheemavanti, Apoorva Kalyan, Bhoop Kalyan, Patadeep Malhar, Darbaarikauns, Madhurakauns, Bhinna- kauns, etc., and have also composed about 550 bandishs in various raags. I have tried to assimilate changes taking place in the field of music and communicate something different through these raags and bandishs. I am glad listeners have liked them.

83. It is said that artists today take lot of liberties both with established raags and traditional bandishs. What do you say?
Lack of — standardisation, strict adherence to bandish, predefined development of raag — because of all this and free expression, there is no accountability.

Firstly, there are gharaanaa-wise differences in the same raag. Secondly, there is no written music but only oral tradition.

During extempore structuring of raag, the changes are introduced slowly, subtly, knowingly, unknowingly. These changes get assimilated in the stream with time and later become tradition. Music thus keeps on changing, growing by these subtle changes. The changes come to stay when they are accepted by the artists, lay and knowledgeable listeners. However, there should be some logic, thought behind what one does and also consistency in the presentation.

In cases where the artists play with the notes of the raag at their whims, without following raag rules, why not prefix the word ‘mukta’ (unbound) to the name of the raag? For e.g., mukta Bhoop, mukta Bageshree, etc., In thumri, daadraa performance, this practise is already in vogue — the word ‘mishra’ is prefixed to the name of the raag to allow notes not in that raag. For e.g., mishra Khamaj, mishra Tilang, etc.

A creative artist has always taken freedom to interpret raag rules in the context of changing times and logic. But he must always remember his responsibility not to misuse this liberty by using his authority and popularity.

84. Your rendering of a few raags like Maarubihaag, Shyaamkalyan, Jogkauns, etc., differs from that of your peers and contemporaries. Can you shed some light on this.
Raag is an abstract concept in Indian music. It comes into being in a seed form in the creator’s mind and keeps growing like a mighty tree, maturing through contemplation, deep reflection, and its actual presentation by its creator as well as by other artists who take a liking for it.

It is because of this limitless potential of a raag that every time it comes to life through performance it takes a new look. The freedom an artist gets in interpreting the raag rules has further made it possible to bring variety in raag’s structural details. However, while deviating from the established norms, there has to be pre-thought, good reasoning and logic. Not only that, one has to be consistent while detailing the raag structure.

Some of the raags that I sing sound different because of the way I approach its structure, the way I interpret its rules. However, I am aware of what I am doing. It is not taking liberty or acting according to whims. It is a conscious decision. For eg., in Maarubihaag, I avoid using Shuddha Madhyam because Maaru-bihaag can do without Shuddha Madhyam and can still maintain its characteristic features. Shuddha Madhyam shows its face occassionally like Komal Nishaad in raag Kedar. Similarly, in raag Shyaamkalyaan, I bring out Kalyaan ang without breaking raag rules. In Jogkauns I use Komal Nishaad as is used in raag Jog. The main point is how one presents one’s thoughts in actual performance with consistency.

Raags are also governed by science – shaastra. I am happy that my ‘so called’ deviations have been accepted even by knowledgeables.

85. Can a raag like Darbaari be sung or played in 14 minutes. Do you feel this is far too short a time?
It is not the length of time that brings out the essence of a raag. We have recordings of old masters wherein they have sung or played raags effectively in 4 to 5 minutes.
86. We have stories like raag Deepak setting fire, raag Miyaan Malhaar bringing rains. Do you believe in this?
Sound definitely has power. It has effect on mind and nature. Sound therapy is also gaining importance. Maybe in future, by combining certain sounds we can expect rains. However in recent years, I do not know if any musician has brought rain by performing Malhaar or lit a lamp by singing Deepak.
87. Some classical musicians claim their music to be ‘divine’, ‘that they get connected with the supreme’, etc. What about your music?
As far as I am concerned, I want to be a good musician. I want to be sincere with my art, my profession and my audience. As you can see, music today has become a commodity and all marketing strategies are being used by the musicians to get the top position in the field — exorbitant fees, five star hotels, executive class travel, glamour, media exposure, publicity and other similar demands are well known. The more expensive an artist, the more sought after he becomes. This situation has worsened with the corporate sponsorship promoting a few.

We are paid performers, in a way entertainers. I do not know if we can call our music as divine. It can only be good or bad music. The least we can do is to be honest to ourselves and to our art, and audiences.

88. What do you mean by fusion music?
Fusion means coming together of two different things and emerging into a third entity. In the context of music, when music from different cultures interact with each other and come up with a new form, it is fusion music.

Music has been changing with time and it would be wrong to name this changing music as fusion music. It is a natural process of evolution. From Vedic music to the present day khyaal representing raag music is a long journey. Can we call this journey of evolution ‘fusion music’? Can the ‘give and take’ between various gharaanaas be termed as fusion music? Is tapp-khyaal a fusion of tappa and khyaal or thum-khyaal a fusion of thumri and khyaal? We must understand that tapp-khyaal and thum-khyaal are not fusion music, they are modified forms of khyaal. In this case, two forms having common elements like milk and water have been mixed with each other. However, mixing milk and lemon will give a totally different product — paneer. This is fusion. If one does not agree with this logic, then we have fusion music since ancient times, and all musicians are fusion artists.

Indian film music has used the concept of fusion very nicely and has offered excellent examples of fusion music. Elements like note combinations, expressions, voice throw, manipulation of tonal quality, instruments having different tonal quality and playing different beat combinations from different cultures have been taken and used effectively in film music. The concept of harmony used in Indian film music is the best example of fusion music.

89. Should Indian Classical musicians do fusion music which is catching on?
The fact that fusion music is catching on is a reflection on us — the listeners. In today’s commercial world, music has become a commodity. Perhaps, it is the need of the time, and that is why, Indian classical musicians are drawn towards fusion. There can be other reasons also like ‘creativity’. Fusion in itself is not a bad music. We must give it time to evolve and mature. I only wish that musicians involved in fusion music help popularise good classical music. Every form of music has to stand the test of time. Let us wait and see —what happens with fusion music or which path it takes in future for its survival.
90. Should classical artists do films?
Why not? If one is talented, one can do many different things. Why only films?
91. Should artist get involved in social movements?
Yes, he must. An artist is also an important member of the society. He should actively support social causes and movements. What is minimum expected is that he be sensitive to the needs of others and actively participate at least in his area of interest, work and not leave the movements only for activists and the affected.

The credibility of an individual will depend on the issue for which he stands, and speaks for. We have seen people of eminence — of all ages and walks joining the Indian freedom struggle.

I have tried to do my bit by associating with socio-cultural and educational institutions. I have been an active member of Spic Macay and Sanskar Bharati. I have also held various positions in different organisations and today chair the Rasta Peth Education Society which caters to the educational needs of the economically and socially backward eastern parts of Pune. I have supported and participated in the anti-corruption movement.

92. What made you to start your Foundation?
I have been organising programmes related to music on and off since 1965. I had established ‘Sur Bahar’ music circle and organised bi-monthly music programmes and music festivals at Rang Bhawan (open air theatre at Mumbai) between 1965 - 1970. Later between 1991-2006, I organised a national level music festival ‘Sureshbabu Hirabai Smruti Sangeet Samaroh’ in memory of my gurus, the doyens of the Kirana gharaanaa. Three to four thousand music lovers used to attend this festival to listen to senior as well as young artists. This festival became the major music festival in Mumbai like the Sawai Gandharva Sangeet Mahotsava in Pune. I also organised ‘Gana Prabha’ festival (1999-2003) to provide a platform for young talented artists.

I realised that having an institution would help organise such festivals and other activities related to performing arts. Thus ‘Dr. Prabha Atre Foundation’ took its inception in May 2000.

93. What are your future plans?
I am working on a few projects:

• I have started ‘Swaramayee Gurukul at Pune in April 2003, as one of the major steps in fulfilling the objectives of my Foundation. It has been a dream project of mine to set up a unique institution which houses a gurukul wherein talented students aspiring to take music as a professional career can stay and equip themselves to meet the challenges of the profession. I believe, by housing students of music and helping them to focus only on music, I will have better results. In a way gurukul system ensures total dedication to the art.

To facilitate this, Swaramayee Gurukul has been providing training aided by a small auditorium, library of audio-video recordings and books, facility for audio-video recording etc., It also provides a platform for mehfils, seminars, workshops, lec-dems, discussions, press conferences, etc.,

The institution aims to bridge the prevailing gap between the academic institutions and the traditional guru-shishya paramparaa.

I am working towards establishing the infra structure. I wish the institution receives national and international recognition. I owe this to my nation, society, gurus and audience.

• There is a continuous demand from my students and music lovers to come-up with audio-visual recordings which will help in learning and appreciating (with understanding) Hindustani classical music.

• To publish a book on the standardisation of teaching material for the beginners in Hindustani music, something similar as in Karnatak music.

• And most importantly, to sing till the last breath and keep composing, writing, teaching.

94. How do you feel at 82?
That I am with my music at 82 is the happiest thing in my life. Taking even one step on the path of saadhanaa is difficult. I have walked a long way. It is comforting and encouraging to know that at this stage I am not alone. I have a big family of admirers and students. The journey of saadhanaa is an unending journey of search for perfection. I have to keep walking. I am sure that my music lovers will be with me with the same love and warmth in my future endeavours. I thank them all.
95. What makes you going?
One has to have dreams to fulfill. The feeling of incompleteness, striving for perfection helps keep me going and I know it is an unending path.
96. What do you fear the most?
What I fear most is that with age, what if I am unable to sing what I want to. I do not know if I will be able to cope with such a situation. I only pray God that he takes me away before something like this would happen.
97. What is your average day like?
I get up around 5.00 A.M., do some physical exercises, yoga, pooja and sit with my taanpuraa. Then, a couple of students, little housework, incoming phone calls, correspon-dence, reading, listening, watching TV, visitors, some students, more music, cooking etc., and then bed time. However, everything I do is connected with music. I believe that music is a 24 hour job.
98. Are you religious minded?
Yes, I believe in God. He has given me precious gift — music. Music is my religion. I worship music.
99. Given a chance to start all over again, what would you want to be and why?
Of course a musician, so that I can share joy with my listeners. I am still far from my ideal. It is a saadhanaa of many births. I would like to be a saadhak first and then a performer.
100. What do you want to be remembered as?
A good human being.

"Dr. Prabha Atre Foundation"

Dr Prabha Atre Foundation Logo
`Dr. Prabha Atre Foundation' was registered in May 2000 by Dr. Prabha Atre, the noted Hindustani classical vocalist of the Kirana gharaanaa.  Dr. Atre is revered as a brilliant thinker, performer, academician, composer, writer and guru. Honouring her contributions to the field of Indian music, Dr. Atre has been felicitated with many-awards, to name a few, the Maharashtra State Government award, Padmashri, the Sangeet Natak Akademi award, Padmabhushan, Kalidas Samman and the Tagore Akademi Ratna.

The Foundation – a non-profit making organization has taken inception with a main aim to promote, propagate and popularize the Indian performing arts in general and the Indian classical music in particular; besides to spread Indian culture, Indian philosophy, fine arts, literature, and other fields of knowledge. 

The Foundation's activities – to discover, encourage and establish rising artists; to organize cultural programmes, lectures, seminars, conferences, work shops, literary meets; collect, publish and produce literature, audio-video recordings, archival material; support needy individuals and institutions – facilitate to achieve the main objectives by joining hands with various personalities and institutions, Indian and abroad.

The Foundation has established `Swaramayee Gurukul’ in 2003 at Pune. The institution, an endeavor to fulfill socio-cultural commitments; aims to bridge the prevailing gap between the academic institutions and the traditional guru-shishya paramparaa. Gurukul runs classes at Mumbai, Pune, New Panvel and Solapur.

Nearly 275 music related programmes – concerts, music festivals, academic programmes like seminar, workshops, lec-dems, music competitions, etc., have been organized by Dr. Prabha Atre and Dr. Prabha Atre Foundation since 1965 in Maharashtra, Karnataka, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Delhi.

The Foundation renders assistance to institutions and individuals working for a `cause'.

P.S.:  The Foundation requests philanthropists to donate generously for the cause of classical music & performing arts. 
(All donations to the Foundation are eligible for deduction U/S 80G of the Income Tax Act).

Dr. Prabha Atre Foundation,
17 Madhavi Society, 277C Mogul Lane,
Mahim, Mumbai – 400 016.
Ph: 022-24360713  Mob: 98204-68106    

Swaramayee Gurukul

Swaramayee Gurukul was started in Pune under the aegis of `Dr. Prabha Atre Foundation’ as a major step to fulfill one of the objectives of the Foundation. The Gurukul was inaugurated on 15th April 2003 by the Hindustani classical music maestro Pt. Bhimsen Joshi.

Dr. Atre spent her formative years in Pune where she was born, brought up and educated. Her attachment to the place made her choose Pune for the project.

Swaramayee Gurukul has been a dream project of Dr. Prabha Atre. It aims at bridging the prevailing gap between the academic institutions and the traditional guru-shishya paramparaa. The institution endeavours to fulfill socio-cultural commitments.

Swaramayee Gurukul plans to nurture talented students into professionals who aspire to take music as a career, by providing training aided by a small auditorium, facility for audio-video recording, library of audio-video recordings and books, etc., The mini auditorium is meant for mehfils, seminars, workshops, meetings, press conferences, etc.,

Swaramayee Gurukul besides imparting training in performance holds monthly traditional baithaks as one of its important activity to supplement lecture-demonstrations, seminars, workshops, etc.,

In its thirteen years of functioning Gurukul has made a marked beginning in that -

  1. Nearly 25 talented students from all over India aspiring to be professional musicians have been receiving music training.

  1. 8 foreign national students who are professionals in their respective fields are receiving training in the Hindustani classical style.

  1. Has branches at Mumbai, New Panvel and Sholapur. The Gurukul branches cater to the music requirements in the North Indian classical, semi-classical and light vocal music category and tabla and harmonium classes. Beginners and students in advanced category learn Hindustani classical music. The emphasis is on performance. However, students are trained and equipped to appear for exams of various Universities and the Akhila Bharatiya Gandharva Mahavidyalaya Mandal.

  1. Monthly baithaks: Gurukul has organized nearly 180 monthly programmes / baithaks in its mini auditorium at its premises during the last thirteen years. The objective of baithaks is to rejuvenate the culture of the Bharatiya mehfils. In a live concert of Indian classical music, the presence of an initiated listener who is conversant with the concepts, material, technique and end structures, makes a lot of difference even at the level of entertainment. These programmes are not ticketed and are open to all music-lovers. Publicity is done thro’ media (news and advertisement), posters, advance announcements (in previous concerts and posters), e-mails, etc.,

The baithak series is informal in nature trying to establish a rapport between the audience and the performer. The concert has the artist himself giving an introduction to his art, his formative years of training, the bandish (composition), his thought / approach to the raag structure, etc., At the end of the concert is held a dialogue / interaction session between the audience and the performer.

The baithaks are organized by the students in terms of making arrangements for publicity, stage, sound, reception, presentation, hospitality, etc., All these activities give a good exposure to a learner who wishes to mould himself in all aspects of performance.

Listening to music is an art and there are no conscious efforts to train the listeners. Gurukul baithaks in their small way help the listeners enjoy music with understanding.

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  • Library of Books and Audio Recordings: a small library of books and audio recordings has been set up. The facilities are open to the music loving public also.
  • Music classes: Gurukul gives training in ‘tabla’, ‘harmonium’, ‘Hindustani classical & light vocal music’ for beginners & ‘special vocal music lessons for aspiring professionals’
  • Kathak dance classes.
  • Communication Skills and Personality Development classes.
  • Yoga classes.

For the coming years the Gurukul plans to –
  • start other dance classes like Bharatanatyam for children.
  • Music appreciation courses --- to help music lovers appreciate, understand music --- mass education.
  • Extend / expand the library and include video recordings as well.
  • Start a recording studio to train the students in voice culture, self monitoring, assessing their own performance and also to get acquainted with the operation of the professional recording equipment. The studio will be made open for public use in due course. >

Apart from teaching music as an art form for entertainment, Swaramayee Gurukul considers music as a social need, a character building component & a cultural identity.

1206-B/16 Jungli Maharaj Road,
(opp. Sambhaji Park; adj. lane to Hotel Shiv Sagar ),
Shivaji Nagar, Pune 411 004.
Tel: 020-25531891 
Mob: 98204-68106 (Dr. Bharathi M.D.)
86055-25853 (Mrs. Varsha Kirad)
Email: |

Awards Instituted

Awards Instituted in the name of DR. PRABHA ATRE

  • Swarayoginee Dr. Prabha Atre Shaastreeya Sangeet Puraskar’ – national award instituted by Pune's Gaanvardhan & Tatyasaheb Natu Foundation to honour talented artists - since 2010.

Awards Instituted by Dr. Prabha Atre

  • In the name of her parents Shri. DATTATRAYA PILAJI nee ABASAHEB ATRE and Smt. INDIRA ATRE, well known teachers who served in various teaching and management posts at the Institutions of The Rasta Peth Education Society, Pune (working for the cause of education for more than 90 years in the economically and socially backward areas of Eastern Pune.)


  • STATE-LEVEL AWARDS, in association with The Rasta Peth Education Society, Pune –
    • Guruvarya Abasaheb Atre Puraskar
    • Indira Abasaheb Atre Puraskar

    - for teachers who have primarily contributed in the field of education and have also worked selflessly in other fields like social work, sports, culture, arts, science and technology, etc., and thus have set an example for the students and society.


  • in the name of her sister DR. USHA WAGH nee ATRE, a well known light music artist -
    • Usha Atre Puraskar’ in association with 'Swaranand Pratishthan', a renowned organisation working for the promotion of light music – since 1997.


  • in the name of her sister `Dr. Usha Suresh Wagh', renowned Aneasthetist, in association with University of Mumbai – since 1997.
    • 'Dr. Usha Suresh Wagh Prize' for M.D., student passing in the first attempt & scoring highest avg. points in the Branch of Anaesthesia.


  • in the name of her brother-in-law `Dr. Suresh Sadashiv Wagh', renowned neuro-surgeon - in association with University of Mumbai – since 1997.
    • 'Dr. Suresh Sadashiv Wagh Prize' for M.S., student passing in the first attempt & scoring highest average points in the Branch of Neuro-surgery.


Festivals in Honour

Music Festivals in honour of DR. PRABHA ATRE -

  • Annual music festival ‘GAAN PRABHA’ organised by Hridayesh Arts, a renowned cultural organisation in Mumbai, since 1993.
  • Annual music festival ‘SWARA PRABHA’ organised by Basari Foundation, Pune, since 2015.


Recent Happenings

Aalok Sangeet Shastra aur Prastuti Interview Series


28-10-2017 Monthly Baithak


27-10-2017 Monthly Baithak


13-10-2017 Monthly Baithak


21-09-2017 Monthly Baithak


21-09-2017 Monthly Baithak


18-11-2017 Monthly Baithak

7th session - "Aalok - sangeet shaastra aur prastuti' : Disciples of Dr. Prabha Atre giving a demonstration while Dr. Atre gave a presentation on 'Forms in Hindustani Light Vocal Music'.


21-09-2017 Monthly Baithak

Dr Prabha Atre in conversation with Dr. Chaitanya Kunte at Pune University - "Aalok: Sangeet Shastra Aur Prastuti" interview series.


20-08-2017 Monthly Baithak

Hindustani classical vocal recital by Shri. Sarathi Chatterjee at Swaramayee Gurukul, Pune – 20-8-2017 accompanied by Pt. Arvind Kumar Azad (tabla) & Shri. Chaitanya Kunte (harmonium)


30-07-2017 Monthly Baithak

Sri. Krishnendra Wadikar, accompanied by Madhav Modak (T) & Uday Kulkarni (H) presenting Hindustani classical vocal recital at the monthly baithak series, Swaramayee Gurukul, Pune (30-7-2017)


21-07-2017 Monthly Baithak

Release of 'Antahswar' hard copy & e-book (poems on musical experiences in Marathi - 3rd rev edn) seen (L → R) : Supriya Limaye, Director – BookGanga Publications; Prasad Bhadsawale, Chairperson – Gaanvardhan; Dr. Prabha Atre, K.G. Dharmadhikari, President – Gaanvardhan; Dr. Praveen Bhole, Head – Lalit Kala Kendra; noted poet Sri. Praveen Dawane.


21-07-2017 Monthly Baithak

Dr. Prabha Atre being interviewed by noted poet Sri. Praveen Dawane on the topic ''Antahswar : maajhyaa rachanaa, majhyaa bandishi''


16-07-2017 Monthly Baithak

Smt. Poornima Kulkarni, accompanied by Milind Pote (T) & Suresh Phadtare (H) presenting Hindustani classical vocal recital at the monthly baithak series, Swaramayee Gurukul, Pune (16-7-2017)


21-05-2017 Monthly Baithak

Smt. Durba Bhattacharyya, accompanied by Madhav Modak (T) & Uday Kulkarni (H) presenting Hindustani classical vocal recital at the monthly baithak series of Swaramayee Gurukul, Pune (21-5-2017)


09-04-2017 Monthly Baithak

Sitar recital by Sri. Saptarshi Hazra accompanied by Pt. Arvind Kumar Azad (T), at the monthly baithak series, Swaramayee Gurukul, Pune (9-4-2017)


19-03-2017 Monthly Baithak

Shri. Iman Das, accompanied by Subhas Kanti Das (T) & Shravan Potdar (H) presenting Hindustani classical vocal recital at the monthly baithak series, Swaramayee Gurukul, Pune (19-3-2017)


12-02-2017Release of Antahswar

Vidushi Suranjana Bose, accompanied by Ajinkya Joshi (T) & Rahul Gole (H) presenting Hindustani classical vocal recital at the monthly baithak series of Swaramayee Gurukul, Pune (12-2-2017)



Vidushi Arati Ankalikar-Tikekar, accompanied by Yogesh Godbole (T) & Rohit Marathe (H) presenting Hindustani classical vocal recital at the restart of the monthly baithak series of Swaramayee Gurukul, Pune (8-1-2017)


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Music Albums

Audio Clippings

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Video Clippings

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Raag Madhuvantee

Raag Kalavati

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Raag Bhairavee

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Raag ChandraKaus

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Raag Shankaraa

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Raag Bhairavee

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Monthly Baithak

Pta. Jhelum Paranjape - presenting Odissi dance recital based on the compositions of Dr. Prabha Atre (19th April 2016, IHC, New Delhi & 5th June 2016, Ravindra Natya Mandir, Mumbai)


Monthly Baithak

Pt. Anand Bhate - presenting Marathi bhaktigeet compositions of Dr. Prabha Atre (5th June 2016, Ravindra Natya Mandir, Mumbai))


Monthly Baithak

Pta. Sadhana Sargam - presenting Marathi ghazal compositions of Dr. Prabha Atre (5th June 2016, Ravindra Natya Mandir, Mumbai)


Monthly Baithak

Hindustani classical vocal recital by Pta. Dhanashree Pandit-Rai - presenting semi-classical music compositions of Dr. Prabha Atre (19th April 2016, IHC, New Delhi & 5th June 2016, Ravindra Natya Mandir, Mumbai)


Monthly Baithak

Hindustani classical vocal recital by Pt. Venkatesh Kumar, Padmashree & Sangeet Natak Akademi awardee - presenting classical music compositions of Dr. Prabha Atre (18th April 2016, IHC, New Delhi & 4th June 2016, Ravindra Natya Mandir, Mumbai)


Monthly Baithak

Hindustani classical vocal recital by Pt. Ajay Pohankar, Sangeet Natak Akademi awardee - presenting classical & semi-classical music compositions of Dr. Prabha Atre (4th June 2016, Ravindra Natya Mandir, Mumbai)


Monthly Baithak

Hindustani classical vocal recital by Ustad Iqbal Ahmed Khan, Sangeet Natak Akademi awardee - presenting classical music compositions of Dr. Prabha Atre (18th April 2016, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi)


Amrutprabha- 2008

"Amrut Prabha" – National Classical Vocal Music Competition’

"Reality shows are bombarding TV audience..."

--Santoor Maestro Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma

"Provide platforms to the talented youth of classical performing arts."

--Dr. Prabha Atre speaks at National classical vocal music competiton based on her compositions

Pune, 7th Nov. 2008: ‘National Classical Vocal Music Competition – Amrutprabha’ based on the compositions of Dr. Prabha Atre was held in honour of her contributions to Indian music on the occasion of her completing 75th birth year. Dr. Atre is amongst the very few Hindustani classical vocalists who is not only an outstanding performer but also a brilliant thinker, distinguished composer, noted academician, acclaimed author, revered guru and sensitive poetess.
’Swaramayee’ – a group of Prabha Atreji’s admirers from all over India’ had organized the competition with an objective to explore and promote the best available talent in and outside the country. The competition included classical, semi-classical and bhajan categories. Candidate in the age group of 20 to 40 years, not ‘A’ graded artist of AIR were eligible to participate. Recordings received from all over India and abroad were assessed by an expert panel. The final round of the competition had participants performing who were from Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Chattisgarh and West Bengal. Dr. Suhashini Koratkar, Dr. Vikas Kashalkar, Dr. Shobha Abhyankar and Pt. Vijay Bakshi judged the competitors.
Ms. Chetana Banawat of Rajasthan bagged the First Prize in Classical, second prize in semi-classical and bhajan categories. Ms. Arati Thakur of Maharashtra won the first prize in the semi-classical music category. While Ms. Mrunmayee Siknis of Maharashtra won the second prize in the classical music category the third prize was shared between Ms. Ashwini Bhagane of Maharashtra and Mrs. Ashvini Modak of Chattisgarh. The First prize carried a cash award of Rs.10,000=00, Second Prize of Rs.8,000=00 and Third Prize of Rs.6,000=00 along with a memento and certificate. All competitors who entered the Final Round received a certificate.
Santoor maestro Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma distributing the prizes said: “Television viewers are being bombarded with reality shows connected mainly with film songs in the name of providing platform to hidden talent of the country. Quality of the traditional music in the country is an indicator of its cultural health. It is the responsibility of the Society to encourage and provide platform to the talented upcoming artists and students of classical performing arts”.
Dr. Prabha Atre replying to the honour bestowed said: “We are only projecting film music and is Indian music only film music? Our traditional classical music or raag music is the soul of Indian music which we seem to neglect. Everything in nature changes with time, so also music. Tradition is not a stagnant pool. It flows with time accommodating new changes and that is why we need new compositions for classical music. The so called traditional compositions were also ‘new’ at one point of time. We need to encourage new talent and national level competitions is a powerful tool to identify talent in classical music”.

The recording of this competion was telecasted as

"AMRUT PRABHA'- yuvakaanchi sangeet pratibha'

on DD Sahyadri in December 2008. Watch Video Recordings of the program below:
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Amrutprabha- Episode 1

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Amrutprabha- Episode 2

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Amrutprabha- Episode 3

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Amrutprabha- Episode 4

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Amrutprabha- Episode 5

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Amrutprabha- Episode 6

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Amrutprabha- Episode 7

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Amrutprabha- Episode 8

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Amrutprabha- Episode 9

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Amrutprabha- Episode 10

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Media Coverage

News clip in Maharashtra Times dated 20/11/2017

Media Coverage


Dr Prabha Atre bestowed with Aditya Vikram Birla Kalashikhar Puraskar

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Swarayoginee Puraskar 2017

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Dr. Prabha Atre

17, Madhavi Society, 277 C, Mogul Lane,
Mahim(West), Mumbai-400 016, MH, INDIA.
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