Mumbai, July 23: Mohan Nadkarni, a renowned Indian musicologist, died in Auckland, New Zealand, Tuesday following a brief illness, his son Dev said. He was 91.
“He (Mohan Nadkarni) suffered from a chest infection a fortnight back from which he did not recover. Past couple of years he was suffering from age-related problems which hampered his movements, otherwise he was mentally very fit,” Dev told IANS over phone early Wednesday.
He is survived by his wife Suniti and only son Dev, a writer settled in New Zealand. The funeral was performed there Wednesday morning. Mostly based in Pune and Mumbai, Nadkarni was the music critic of The Times of India for over five decades and had reviewed thousands of music concerts and singers between 1948-2000.
Though never formally trained in music, his passion for music, a deep sense of understanding of the ragas and dedicated hours of self-study transformed him into an authoritative writer, music columnist, and a respected music critic. He worked with AIR and DD and lectured on Hindustani music extensively around the country and abroad. Over the years, he authored over 4,000 articles and critiques on Hindustani music, Marathi and Sanskrit drama and theatre and other cultural topics for Indian and foreign publications.
Nadkarni had the privilege of reviewing the earliest concerts and performances by artistes like Pandit Ravi Shankar, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, Ustad Fazal Qureshi, Ustad Allah Rakha and Ustad Zakir Hussain, and many others — who later went onto become legends in their respective fields of music.
He worked as a consultant with music companies like HMV to help produce the early LP records of several artistes and became great friends with many of them over the years. Nadkarni has shared these experiences in over half a dozen important books on Hindustani music, including the best-selling biography of Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, who was later conferred Bharat Ratna.
Several state governments and organizations also recognized Nadkarni with honours, including Karnataka Government’s “Kalashree Award” for lifetime contribution to music. He was a permanent member of Sangeet Research Academy, Kolkata which is known to produce many talented artistes, like Ustad Rashid Khan.
Over the years, Nadkarni held music workshops and lectures on Hindustani music in Europe, US and other countries before shifting to New Zealand in 2006 to live with his son Dev. At the time, he donated his entire music collection comprising thousands of articles, rare photographers, around 1,200 LPs and other records, thousands of music-cassettes, to the SNDT University’s Department of Music, Pune, which set up a music library named after him.