Ghazal legend Mehdi Hassan was an institute in himself. His mastery over ghazals has remained unparalleled and the void of his death may not be filled for centuries to come.
This was the consensus among Islamabad-based artists who had the honour to study under the ghazal maestro or perform with him.
Mehdi Hassan had quit singing after suffering a massive stroke in 2001. His health deteriorated in 2011 and he passed away at the age of 85 in Karachi on Wednesday.
His colleagues and students in Islamabad were both shocked and saddened by his death. Here is what some of them had to say.
Ustad Fateh Ali Khan
We performed in programmes together in London, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan. His voice had a melodic power like no other.
It is very tragic that we don’t care for such legends of music. But after their death, we build their tombs. Legends like him are created in centuries. Mehdi Hassan was a true artist and asset of the country and he should have been taken care for what he earned for the country.
Professor Shahbaz (Pupil of Mehdi Hassan)
I first met him in 1984. He was very down to earth and humble and this trait of his personality has fascinated me throughout my life.
He was very polite. I would listen closely to his suggestions during lessons. He used to guide me and answer all my queries without holding back any secrets. He was very jolly.
Ustad Mubarak Ali Khan
An artist like him is born in centuries. Mehdi Hassan was an outstanding singer. He sang ragas like malhar and aiman. He had total control over ragas and classical music in general. Pakistan may not find an artist like Mehdi Hassan in centuries.
Rustam Ali Khan
I am at a loss for words. I feel he is above praise. He was a close friend of my father. I sang with him in a few functions. He was a true legend and king of ghazal. No one is like him in the entire subcontinent. Every singer emulated his style in India and Pakistan. He was an asset.
Asim Akhtar (Poet)
We unfortunately do not treat our symbols of culture well. Mehdi Hassan’s death is a big loss to the country. His death has created a vacuum that might not be filled even in centuries. The government should establish a music institute in his name because he was an asset to the country and a symbol of culture.
Sultan Fateh Ali Khan
He was truly an academy. Every classical singer in India and Pakistan who sings ghazal sang Ustad Mehdi’s ghazals. Everybody learnt from him.
Abbas Ali Khan
I started listening to Ustad Mehdi Hassan in my childhood. When I learnt music I started to understand his style. He was an institute for us.
Published In The Express Tribune, June 15th, 2012.