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date: 13 November 2019

Barodekar, Hirabaifree

  • Bonnie C. Wade
  •  and Inderjit N. Kaur

(b Miraj, 1905; d 1989). North Indian (Hindustani) classical music vocalist. She was the daughter of Abdul Karim Khan of the Kirana gharānā and studied with her father’s cousin, Abdul Wahid Khan. Her first important opportunity as a vocalist came when Vishnu Digambar Paluskar invited her to sing in public in 1922. After the Maharashtrian revival of theatre broke the ban on women appearing on the professional stage in that region, Barodekar performed in plays with mixed casts. When live theatre waned in the face of the new film industry, she joined artists who were introducing art music to the non-court world in North India.

Barodekar enjoyed a long and successful career as concert singer, regional theatre singer/actress, broadcasting artist and recording artist. She had a large number of releases with major labels, including HMV, Odeon, and Columbia. Barodekar was the first female musician to be invited to the prestigious Harballabh Sangeet Sammelan in 1946. She received the great honor of being asked to sing the national anthem at the Red Fort celebrations on 15 August 1947, the day India received independence. In 1949 she performed in Africa, and in 1953 travelled to China under government auspices. In 1955 she received the President’s Award for Hindustani Vocal Music from the Sangeet Natak Akademi, and then in 1970 she was awarded the Padma Bhushan by the Government of India. She taught at the Sangeet Research Academy in Calcutta from 1973 to 1976 where she trained students in the style of the Kirana gharānā. Her disciples include Dr. Prabhā Atre, Manik Varma, and her own sister, Saraswatibāi Rāne. Dr. Prabha Atre started the Sureshbabu-Hirabai Smruti Sangeet Samaroh music festival in Barodekar’s honor in 1992 at Mumbai, and this continues to be an annual event.

Barodekar specialized in vilambit khayāl, but also sang tarānā, ṭhumrī, bhajan, and Marathi natya sangeet. Typical of the Kirana style, she did not accelerate the speed of the tāla counts as the improvisation proceeded; rather, the impression of acceleration was achieved through increasing rhythmic density. Her slow improvisations were punctuated with vocal pauses that permitted brief solos by the tablā player; in her fast khayāls the role of the drummer was also highlighted. Her singing was particularly appreciated for its vocal clarity and emotive content. Barodekar was honored with the titles of gaanhira (‘diamond of music’) and gaan kokila (‘nightingale of music’).

Bibliography

  • B.C. Wade: Khyāl: Creativity within North India’s Classical Music Tradition (Cambridge, 1984/R)
  • M. Kinnear: Sangeet Ratna: The Jewel of Music: a bio-Discography of Khan Sahib Abdul Karim Khan (2003), 222–3

Recordings

  • Rāga Multani, Yaman, H. Barodekar, HMV ECLP2275 (1962)
  • Rāga Basant Bahar, Chandrakauns, H. Barodekar, with Saraswati Rane, HMV ECLP2356 (1968)
  • Hirabai Barodekar: The Great Heritage Exclusive Archival Collection, SaReGaMa ASIN B006HZHZAU (2011)