Dhrupad maestro Ustad Sayeeduddin Dagar dies aged 78

Ustad Hussain Sayeeduddin Dagar

Ustad Hussain Sayeeduddin Dagar   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Known as ‘Saeed Bhai’, he was the youngest of the eight Dagar brothers

Ustad Hussain Sayeeduddin Dagar, maestro and custodian of the venerable Dhrupad tradition of Hindustani classical music and a member of the eminent Dagar family, passed away aged 78 in Pune late on Sunday night after a brief illness.

Known affectionately to his legions of disciples and admirers as ‘Saeed Bhai’, the maestro was born in Alwar in Rajasthan in 1939 and was the youngest among the eight famous Dagar brothers – all exponents of the ancient, complex and elaborate Dhrupad tradition.

The renowned brothers were the grandsons of the legendary Zakiruddin and Allabande Khan Dagar, and the entire family is frequently credited with being the curators who preserved the oldest known form of North Indian classical music from which much of the extant Indian classical music is said to have been originated.

Ustad Sayeeduddin came to Pune in 1984 and had been residing in the city’s bustling Karvenagar-Kothrud area, staying at a number of houses for several years as he awaited the State government to allot him a permanent one. A gentle, uncomplaining man, he mildly rued of having to shift houses as he could not accommodate his ever-growing number of disciples from the country and abroad.

He frequently visited Benares to grace the Dhrupad festival held there.

His older brothers include Ustaad Nasir Moinuddin, Nasir Aminuddin Dagar (known as the ‘elder’ Dagar brothers), Nasir Zahiruddin and Nasir Faiyazuddin Dagar (called the ‘junior’ Dagar brothers).

Dhrupad - a Sanskrit portmanteau of Dhruva (immovable) and Pad (verse) has its roots since ancient times, mentioned as early as the 3rd Century B.C. in the Natyashastra.

The contribution of the Dagar family through 20 generations of Dhrupad exponents is all the more remarkable given the slow death of this form following Independence and the extinction of a musically informed aristocracy, when the milieu of royal court patronage had all but vanished.

Such has been the continuing legacy of the Dagars’ since the 1800s that the Dagar bani (or vani) has come to constitute one of the four styles, along with the Gauri, Khandar and Nauhar vanis, of Dhrupad singing and music owing to successive generations of the Dagars’ devoting their lives to Dhrupad music.

Ustaad Sayeeduddin is survived by his wife Rihanna and sons, Nafeesuddin and Aneesuddin (both Dhrupad exponents) and his grandsons.

The burial is to take place in Jaipur.

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Printable version | Feb 19, 2020 6:19:31 PM |

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