Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, who is now in his 60s, has attained proficiency and fame that astound the musical world. His voice, like that legendary philosopher's stone, turns every note into a golden one. Billions of notes that have received the golden touch of his voice have been freely showered by him on the teeming millions of his fans. His unswerving faith in an intense devotion to his guru have been his keys to success.
Bhimsen was born in a small town Gadag, in the Dharwad district of Karnataka in South India on February 14, 1922. He is one of the truly matchless male vocalists of Hindustani music: his performances are always a source of joy. A descendant of the Kirana Gharana (stream) of Hindustani classical music tradition, he is particularly renowned for Khayal form singing. From early in his life he was driven by music, a drive which led him to leave home quite young.
His father was a conservative school-master. In 1933, the 11-year-old Bhimsen left his home on his own to learn singing through Guru-Shishya (or the Master-disciple) tradition. He spent three years in Gwalior, Lucknow and Rampur in North India trying to find a good guru. His father succeeded in tracking him and bringing young Bhimsen back home.
In 1936, Rambhau Kundgolkar, popularly known as Sawai Gandharva, agreed to teach Bhimsen in Hindustani classical music. Bhimsen Joshi stayed with Sawai Gandharva between 1936 and 1940. He then left his guru and set out on his own with a strict regimen of up to sixteen hours of daily riyaz (practice).
Bhimsen Joshi first performed live at the age 19. His debut album, a few devotionals songs in Kannada and Hindi, was released when he was 20. Later he was to start an annual classical musical concert called the 'Sawai Gandharva Music Festival' in the memory of his guru. This concert is held in Pune every December.