Pandit Vijay Raghav Rao
November 3, 1925 – November 29, 2011
Pandit Vijay Raghav Rao was at the forefront of classical Indian music for six decades. Vijayji was born in Hyderabad, India in 1925 and played the bamboo flute since he was a child. He originally divided his time between classical dance and Carnatic (South Indian) music. However, upon meeting his guru (the illustrious Pandit Ravi Shankar, master of the sitar, with whom he studied and collaborated for 30 years) in 1945, he switched his focus solely to Hindustani Sangeet, the beautiful classical music of northern India.
In the six decades since then, Vijayji toured internationally, composed and conducted orchestras, and spent decades as chair of All India Radio’s Film Division. He conducted the music for India’s Independence celebration at the Red Fort in Delhi in 1947, and scored the music for many films. He toured and recorded with tabla masters such as Ustad Alla Rakha, Pandit Anindo Chaterjee and Ustad Sabir Khan, and taught the art of bansuri to many students, including G.S. Sachdev, Ronu Majumdar and Bansuri Bliss Founder Dr. Kerry Kriger. Vijayji conceived a number of new ragas and wrote thousands of compositions of traditional ragas. He also wrote several books of poetry, and has been the focus of several documentaries.
Vijayji playing Darbari in Oxnard, California, August 2004
A Note From Dr. Kerry Kriger
I attribute the vast majority of my musical knowledge to my guru, Pandit Vijay Raghav Rao, with whom I took private lessons from 1999 through 2008. Vijayji is no longer with us, but his spirit and teachings live on in the 200 pages of compositions he taught me and the numerous hours of recordings of our lessons, which continue to give me inspiration and insight.
Vijayji with Kerry Kriger in Virginia, circa 1999.
“Ola Kerry, Thanks for my heart for all you have given to me of the art of Bansuri till now! You know a thing, some days ago I was thinking in your Bliss work and said: Kerry is building a wonderful work and he was inspired by his Guru. Yes, your Guru is the mountain where was born the fountain of inspiration, and you are the man that with love and intelligence knew how to capture the sacred waters that flowed from the heart of your Guru, flowing from the high peaks to the thirsty valleys, unrivaled course, revealing the richness and complexity of the bamboo flute, the Bansuri, and with that your master is alive and we can feel a little of that reality. This is my feeling, thank you very much.”
— João Soares, Bansuri Bliss Member, Portugal
Real Bansuri Lessons...
Bhoopali Lesson - 2007
Listen to Pandit Vijay Raghav Rao teach Bhoopali to Dr. Kerry Kriger in September 2007.
- Madhyalaya Rupak (middle speed composition in 7 beats)
- Drut Teental (fast composition in 16 beats)
Real Bansuri Lessons...
Vijayji's Yaman Composition
Yaman is one of India’s most popular ragas, and for good reason. But without guidance, it is unlikely you will understand Yaman. Bansuri Bliss Founder Dr. Kerry Kriger prepared four pages of written music to ensure you understand the fundamentals of Yaman, and so that you can play a composition he learned from Vijayji. Dr. Kriger also prepared taans and gamak practice…and it is all included in the PDF below.
Download The Yaman PDF
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Pandit Vijay Raghav Rao live in concert.
Do You Want To Play Bansuri Like Vijay Raghav Rao?
A short story by Bansuri Bliss Founder Dr. Kerry Kriger:
The first time I ever heard Pandit Vijay Raghav Rao play, it was New Years Day 1996. I had just bought the Flute & Sitar Music of India CD featuring Vijayji performing a 35-minute Malkauns with the tabla great Ustad Alla Rakha. I listened to it six times in a row and said “I want to sound like THAT when I play!”
I eventually studied Malkauns and many other ragas from Vijayji and am pleased to say that — at least in my finest moments — I do sound a lot like Vijayji.
I firmly believe that you will sound like your guru, so choose your guru well. Practice what they teach you, and you will pick up their sound. Eventually your musical intuition and individuality will allow you to forge your own path, but you will always have a touch of your guru’s style.
When I teach bansuri, I do my best to pass on the principles, the philosophy, the compositions and the exercises that Vijayji passed on to me. I created Bansuri Bliss Memberships for dedicated bansuri students who want to inherit this rich musical tradition.
Pandit Vijay Raghav Rao, Album Art
Vijayji teaching a class in Virginia, June 2008
Vijayji instructs an orchestra with his guru Pandit Ravi Shankar.
Pandit Vijay Raghav Rao, live bamboo flute performance in Atlanta, Georgia.
Bansuri Bliss Founder Dr. Kerry Kriger recollects his time spent with his guru, the bansuri master Pandit Vijay Raghav Rao. Recording from the September 24th, 2020 Bansuri Bliss Members lesson, during which Dr. Kriger was asked to share his experiences.
“His work lives in us and it really inspires.”
— Ivan Koshevoy, Bansuri Bliss Member, Ukraine
“Thanks very much for your precious Recollections. I heard it with great pleasure!”
— Joao Soares, Bansuri Bliss Member, Portugal