Prabha Atre: Harmonizing Eternity - Doyen of the Kirana Gharana
Prabha Atre, a distinguished classical vocalist from India, stands as a beacon of musical brilliance in the realm of Indian classical music. Born on September 13, 1932, in Pune, Maharashtra, Prabha Atre has carved a niche for herself as a renowned Hindustani classical vocalist, composer, and musicologist. Her contribution to the world of music is not only marked by her virtuosity as a performer but also by her commitment to preserving and promoting the rich heritage of Indian classical music.
Prabha Atre music training was in the Guru-shishya tradition. She learnt classical music from Sureshbabu Mane and Hirabai Badodekar from the Kirana gharana. She acknowledged the influence of two other greats, Amir Khan for khyal and Bade Ghulam Ali Khan for thumri, on her gayaki. She also had formal training in Kathak dance style.
While studying music, Prabha Atre earned a Bachelor of Science from Fergusson College in Pune. Later she completed an LL.B. from University of Pune Law College. She also studied at Gandharva Mahavidyalaya Mandal (Sangeet Alankar (Master of Music)), Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, London (Western Music Theory Grade-IV). She later also earned a PhD in music. Her doctoral thesis was titled Sargam, and pertained to the use of sol-fa notes (sargam) in Indian classical music
Prabha Atre's professional career as a classical vocalist took off in the 1950s, and since then, she has become a prominent figure in the world of Indian classical music. Known for her versatile voice and command over a wide range of raags, she has enthralled audiences with her soul-stirring performances.
Atre was one of the senior vocalists in the country representing the Kirana Gharana. Her first LP, with Maru Bihag and Kalavati, clearly demonstrates her extraordinary artistry and creativity. She contributed to popularizing Indian classical vocal music at global level. She was competent in various musical genres such as Khyal, Thumri, Dadra, Ghazal, geet, Natyasangeet, and bhajans.
She also played roles in a line-up of Marathi theatre classics, which included Sangeet Nataks like Sanshay-Kallol, Maanaapamaan, Saubhadra and Vidyaharan.
Apart from her performances on stage, Prabha Atre has made significant contributions to the field of music education and research. She has served as a faculty member at prestigious institutions like the ITC Sangeet Research Academy and has conducted workshops and lecture demonstrations to impart her knowledge and insights to aspiring musicians. She taught music, performing lecture-demonstrations, and writing on the topic of Indian classical music.
Music related great work by Prabha ji
1) A former Assistant Producer with the All India Radio.
2) A Grade — All India Radio Drama Artist (Marathi and Hindi).
3) Main female role in Professional Musical Dramas.(Sangeet Natak and Sangeetika)
4) She was a visiting professor at a few institutions in the West, including the Rotterdam Conservatory in the Netherlands.
5) Visiting professor at the Music conservatory – Montreux Switzerland, the University of California, Los Angeles, Indo-American Fellowship for studying research materials used in Ethnomusicology at the University of California, Los Angeles, and at the University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Appointment as 'Special Executive Magistrate' by the Government of Maharashtra in recognition of services to the cause of Music
6) Professor and Head of the Dept. of Music, S.N.D.T. Woman's University, Mumbai.
7) Around 1992, Atre started an annual Pandit Sureshbabu Mane and Hirabai Badodekar Sangeet Sammelan music festival. The festival takes place annually in December in Mumbai.
8) Chief Music Producer and Director for 'Swarashree' Recording Company since 1981
9) Member of the Advisory Panel of the Central Board of Film Censors, Mumbai 1984
10) Prabha Atre established some years ago Swaramayee Gurukul in Pune. This institution amalgamates traditional guru-shishya style of teaching music and contemporary classroom teaching.
11) She had been concluding Sawai Gandharva Bhimsen Festival since 2007 which is considered to be prestigious.
12) Dr Atre created a lecture series "Alok" to practically demonstrate her musical thoughts. It is available on YouTube and received very good public acclaim.
Innovations and Compositions:
Prabha Atre is not only a performer but also a creative force in the world of classical music. Her compositions reflect a blend of tradition and innovation, often experimenting with unconventional combinations of ragas and rhythmic patterns. Her ability to infuse contemporary elements into classical compositions has garnered praise for its freshness and originality.
As a composer :-
Book of compositions Swarangini and Swaranjanee
She also invented new Raags such as Apurva Kalyan, Darbari Kauns, Patdeep-Malhar, Shiv Kali, Tilang-bhairav, Ravi Bhairav, and Madhur-kauns.
Music compositions adapted to full-length dance programme 'Nritya Prabha' – choreographed by the Bharatanatyam danseuse Sucheta Bhide Chapekar.
Awards and Recognition:
Prabha Atre's unparalleled contributions to Indian classical music have earned her numerous accolades and awards. She has been honored with prestigious titles such as :-
Acharya Atre Award for music - 1976
Jagatguru Shankaracharya conferred the title "Gaan-Prabha"
Padma Shri -1990
Sangeet Natak Academy Award -1991
Giants International Award, Rashtriya Kalidas samman
Tagore Akademi Ratna Award announced from the
Sangeet Natak Akademi in 2011
Dinanath Mangeshkar award
Hafiz Ali Khan Award
Padma Bhushan - 2002
Ustad Faiyyaz Ahmed Khan Memorial Award (Kirana Gharana)
Dagar Gharana Award
Acharya Pandit Ram Narayan Foundation Award Mumbai
Padma Vibhushan - 2022
And So many
Books of music compositions: 1. Swaranjanee 2. Swaranginee 3. Swararangee
Books containing her musical thoughts:
1. Swaramayee (Marathi and Hindi)
2. Suswaralee (Marathi and Hindi)
3. Along the path of music
4. Enlightening the listener
Book of poetry: Antah Swar (Marathi Hindi and English)
Prabha Atre's journey through the vast landscapes of Indian classical music has been marked by unwavering dedication, artistic innovation, and a deep-rooted love for the tradition. As a torchbearer of the Kirana gharana, she has not only enriched the classical music repertoire but has also inspired generations of musicians to continue the legacy of this timeless art form. Prabha Atre's name will forever resonate as a symbol of excellence, passion, and unwavering commitment to the sublime art of Indian classical music.
Dr Prabha Atre ( doyen of Kirana Gharana) passed away following a cardiac arrest at her residence at the age of 92 on Saturday 13 Jan 2023.
She died after experiencing breathing difficulty in the early hours and was taken to Dinanath Mangeshkar Hospital. She died from cardiac arrest before reaching the hospital.