Padmabhushan Pandit Jnan Prakash Ghosh was the voice of Calcutta’s music scene at a critical moment in its history. He created some of the finest compositions in Music and Rhythms and was one of the greatest teachers and musicologists in the Indian Classical music scene, apart from being one of the leading tabla players of the late 1940s and early 1950s. Some of the best recordings of the Great masters of that time including Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and Pandit Ravi Shankar have Jnanbabu on the Tabla.
Born in a family of rich musical tradition in Calcutta, he was the grandson of Dwarik Ghosh, inventor of the famous Dwarkin harmonium. He stood first class first on graduation from Calcutta university in the Pali language. He displayed remarkable talent in sports (he played football, hockey, polo and billiards very well) and painting, but had to discontinue these due to an eye injury in a football match.
He then turned to his musical talents. He devoted himself wholly to music for the next 20 years, taking lessons in instrumental, vocal and tabla under some of the distinguished Gharanedar musicians of the time. He received vocal lessons from Girija Shankar Chakrabarty, Mohammed Sagir Khan and Mohammed Dabir Khan and tabla lessons from Ustad Majid Khan of the Farukkabad Gharana and Ustad Feroze Khan of the Punjab Gharana. He also played Hawaaian guitar with admirable dexterity.
He worked for 15 years in All India Radio as a producer of music, making very significant contributions in classical music, light music, modern, orchestral, choral and percussion styles. He took part in valuable discussions, talks and interviews in Hindi, Bengali and English. He also began the “Ramayangeeti” a fusion of traditional and modern Indian music.
Pandit Ghosh was the founder of Sourav Academy of Music and closely associated with the Sangeet Research Academy. He scored music for many Bengali films, “Jodubhatta” being the most famous. He has composed and directed music to a large number of popular gramophone records sung by famous artistes. A percussion entitled “The Drums of India” and a duet with Pandit V G Jog on the harmonium and violin respectively have earned him wide popularity. One of his outstanding compositions was called “Chaturang” - involving tabla, pakhawaj, kathak and tarana. He would instruct disciples staying with him to practice late into the evenings and would correct any errors that reached his ears. He was an institution all by himself, the like of which will never be seen.
Jnanbabu was a singer, composer, harmonium player and above all a tabla guru, who trained and taught 3 generations of Tabla players and singers and reared maestros in each of these.
Some Famous tabla students of Jnan Ghosh include:
First Generation : Nikhil Ghosh
Second Generation : Kanai Dutta, Shyamal Bose, Shankar Ghosh
Third Generation : Anindo Chatterjee, Sanjay Mukherjee, Govind Bose, Abhijit Bannerjee and his son Malhar Ghosh
Famous singers include :
First Generation : Prasun Bannerjee, Smt Meera Bannerjee, A Kannan, and Malvika Kannan
Second Generation : Tanima Thakur
Third Generation : Ajay Chakrabarty, Arun Bhaduri
He expired on February 18th, 1997 at the age of 85.
Jnanbabu please guide us with your spirit, all your students will remember your patience and kindness, the greatest teacher and you also made us laugh with your warm sense of humor.