Our regular listen to and look at living, breathing composers and performers that you may not know yet, but I know you should… And can, right here and now, since they’re nice enough to offer so much good listening online:

Hidayat Inayat-Khan (b.1917 — India / Europe)

Hidayat Inayat-Khan

Taken mostly from the 1981 Cambridge International Biographical Centre entry, I just have to give you a good taste of this very interesting bio:

Hidayat Inayat-Khan’s great-grandfather, Mula Bux, founded the first Academy of Music in India in the 19th century, and also invented the music notation system carrying his name. Born in 1882, Professor Inayat Khan, father of Hidayat Inayat-Khan, was the greatest classical musician in India in his time. He wrote several books, among them ‘Minca-I-Musicar’, the first treatise on Indian music. His first historical Western concert was given on 9 April 1911, in the Hindu Temple of San Francisco. Later, in Russia, he met Scriabin. In 1913 Lucien Guitry organised Professor Inayat Khan’s first concert in Paris, where Claude Debussy was also inspired by the charm of Indian music. It is reported Professor Inayat Khan gave Claude Debussy lessons in Vina playing.

Hidayat Inayat-Khan was born in London on 6th August 1917, and was cradled in an atmosphere of Indian music. His western musical education began in 1932 at the Ecole Normale de Musice de Paris, in the violin class of Bernard Sinsheimer; the composition class of Nadia Boulanger; and the orchestra class of Diran Alexanian. Later, he attended chamber music courses given by the Lener Quartet in Budapest. In 1942 Hidayat Inayat-Khan became Professor of music at the Lycee Musical de Dieulefit, France, and later in Holland joined the orchestra of Haarlem as violinist. In 1952 He conducted the orchestra of Hertogenbosch for the broadcasting of his Poème en Fa for orchestra and piano, in a world-wide program, and, in the same year, founded his first chamber music orchestra ensemble.

Significant occasions in Hidayat Inayat-Khan’s professional life include the playing, on 4th May 1957, of his Zikar Symphony at Salle Pleyel, Paris. On the occasion of Mahatma Gandhi’s centenary, on 21st November 1969, Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Gandhi Symphony was played in a special concert organized by UNESCO in Holland. This was also played in 1971 during a broadcasting of ‘The Voice of America’, as well as on the United Nations Radio in the USA and was later recorded by the US Armed Forces Radio Stations in a world-wide Carmen Dragon show. In 1988 Hidayat Inayat-Khan assumed the role of Representative-General of the Sufi Movement International and Pir-o-Murshid of its Inner School. He divides his time between Holland and the family home in Suresnes, but travels extensively, giving classes and lectures on Sufism.

I didn’t see a death-date; if not he’s still pushing 90 this year. The Sufi Petama Project hosts an extensive site dedicated to Hidayat Inayat-Khan, including MP3s of a number of his works (and links to places to buy CDs of this rather rare stuff). On the left navigation, head to the Quartet op. 48 first; starting somewhere in Delius/Debussy land, by the third movement rolls around (which mysteriously expands the quartet to full string orchestra) you’ll be strongly reminded of Hovhaness. Then give his Ziukar Symphony or Message Symphony a go. If it all sounds up your alley, my work is done… If not then never fear, I’ll head back into experimental territory next outing!

5 thoughts on “Steve’s click picks #12”
  1. Surprised to see all these messages. Yes, Hidayat Inayat-Khan composed the Royal Legend Symphonic Poem 2 years ago. The premiere of this symphony will be in Zorneding (5th of May 2007, 19.00 hrs) and in Ebersberg (6th of May 2007, 19.00 hrs). Boths towns are close to München, Germany, 24 and 36 kilometers away respectively.
    And then 26 October 2007 it will be played again in Vancouver, Canada. In both occasions Andreas Pascal Heinzmann will be the Conductor.
    For information you can look at the Petama website, the Sound of Light website, or you can email me.
    Hamida Verlinden

  2. I was interested to see your post on Hidayat Inayat-Khan. Hidayat is very much still with us. His most recent work, ‘The Royal Legend Symphonic Poem’ is to be premiered in Munich, Germany May 5 and 6.

    There will be a concert in Vancouver, Canada October 26, that is presenting an evening of his music. The works for orchestra will include ‘Concert for Strings’, ‘Poeme En Fa’ and ‘The Royal Legend Symphonic Poem’.

    As for his father being the ‘greatest’ musician in India, well he certainly was ‘great’; top dog in the Nizam of Hydrabad’s court and a chest full of medals from from other parts of the country but is anyone really ever ‘the greatest’?

    Hidayat’s music is certainly influenced by his father’s. Not in any obvious way since hos orchestra is Western European but the harmonic material is certainly informed by Eastern conventions

    Jelaluddin Gary

  3. I had the same reservations, and put it down to an over-eager admirer of the family. Which is one reason I’m quoting; I like the slightly breathless and proudly askewed flavor of the note. Most of us should have learned by now to never take “first”s or “greatest”s at face value, anyway.

  4. I do not know anything about this composer. His music sounds interesting and I plan to check it out. But the bio seems to contain some questionable statements about his father:

    “Born in 1882, Professor Inayat Khan, father of Hidayat Inayat-Khan, was the greatest classical musician in India in his time. He wrote several books, among them ‘Minca-I-Musicar’, the first treatise on Indian music.”

    I would question whether Inayat Khan was the greatest classical musician in India in his time. I have some background in this area and never heard this before. Then, as now, there were many great classical musicians in India whose styles and strengths varied. As for treatises, there were several very famous treatises written centuries ago, for example, the Sangita-Ratnakara of the 13th century, among many others.


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