25 SONGS BY MEHDI HASSAN:
"A SUBLIME VOICE"
It is widely considered that the era of the 1950s and 60s was the golden age of radio broadcasting in the Indian sub-continent. It was during this period that a rich and mellifluous voice captured the hearts of all the listeners through broadcasts on Radio Pakistan. The melodic renditions of classical ghazals in a cultivated and cultured manner were its attributes and created a storm amongst the masses, musical connoisseurs and erudite musicians. Almost half a century has gone by and yet it still never fails to captivate. The voice is indeed that of Mehdi Hassan, the unparalleled master of ghazal.
The evolution of the ghazal is a momentous one. Initially written in Persian, it can trace its origins in India during the advent of the Muslim rule in India during the 12th century. Hazrat Amir Khusrau (1253-1324), the eminent poet, scholar, statesman and musicologist is credited with many masterpieces of Persian poetry and can be termed as a major propagator of the ghazal. The pinnacle of the ghazal can be said to have been between the 18th and 19th centuries when Urdu became the preferred language of poetry and culture throughout India, poets such as Sauda, Mir Taqi Mir, Zauq, and Mirza Ghalib penned ghazals which are considered as hallmarks of Urdu poetry. Gradually, during the course of time, ghazals started to be expressed through melody and musicians started to use them as part of their repertoire. Ustad Mauzuddin Khan and Gauhar Jan were the early pioneers who built a reputation in the field and set the initial groundwork. Later, vocalists of the calibre of Ustad Barkat Ali Khan, Mukhtar Begum and Begum Akhtar established themselves as major exponents of ghazal gayaki. However, Mehdi Hassan has added a further dimension to this art form.