SBL (F. Bohlin, A. Johnson) [incl. list of works and bibliography]
L. Jonsson and M. Tegen, eds.: Musiken i Sverige, iii (Stockholm, 1993)
(b Karnataka, 14 Feb 1922). North Indian (Hindustani) classical music vocalist. His attraction to vocal music from a very early age led his father to find local instructors for him. However, Joshi was inspired by recordings of the khayāl singers Abdul Karim Khan and his disciple Sawai Gandharva of the Kirana gharānā, and ran away from home at the age of 11 in search of a guru. Singing for sustenance, he travelled to Gwalior where he garnered the support of Hafiz Ali Khan for study at the Madhav Sangeet Vidyalaya. Leaving there after six months in search of individual rather than group tutelage, Joshi wandered from place to place and from teacher to teacher for two years until the Gwalior master Vinayakrao Patwardhan advised him to return home to study in Kundgol with Sawai Gandharva. After five years of traditional guru-śisya-paramparā with Gandharva (1935–40), a concert in Pune on the occasion of his guru’s 60th birthday launched Joshi on a career as a Kirana singer of khayāl.
Joshi took some instruction beyond Kirana with Mushtaq Hussein Khan of the Sahaswan/Rampur gharānā and also borrowed stylistic traits from Agra and Gwalior gharānā singers. His vocal style reveals that eclecticism. He has particularly cultivated Kirana subtlety in intonation, and his use of ornamentation is highly controlled for dramatic effect. He exploits dynamic contrast, singing loudly in the high register and almost soundlessly thereafter, and varies tāns by means of a series of sudden, rhythmic vocal thrusts followed by a volley of rapid pitches. Almost uniquely, he sings to the vowel ‘i’ in the high register, and unlike most Hindustani singers he uses physical movement to punctuate his improvisation. He has effective breath control, singing long melodic phrases in one breath.
Joshi’s structuring of khayāl is also distinctive. Unlike other Kirana singers, he enjoys playing with rhythm, including cadential tihāīs; he seldom uses the sargamsyllables as text, and he does not dwell on slow improvisation. He gives generous performance time to the antarā, the second section of the khayāl composition, and he dramatically exploits vocal silence after cadences. In addition to khayāl and thumrī, Joshi performs popular Marathi songs (pad) and has given concerts of devotional songs in Marathi and Kannada languages set to classical tunes.
Joshi gradually narrowed the number of rāgas he performs, emphasizing Darbārī, Ābhogi and Mālkauns, and he has created rāgas Kalaśrī, Lalit-Bhatiyār and Mārvā-Śrī. His recordings, numerous by the standards of Hindustani classical vocal music, display a broader range of repertory; in honour of his rare contribution, HMV awarded him a platinum disc.
Joshi began foreign tours in 1964, first to Afghanistan and then to America, Canada, Europe and the Middle East. He has won India’s most prestigious awards: the Padma Shri, which he received from the President of India in 1972, the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for Hindustani vocal music (1975), the Padma Bhushan (1985), the Tansen Samman from the government of Madhya Pradesh (1992) and the Padma Vibhushan (1999).