PUNE, Jan 24 � Legendary Hindustani vocalist Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, whose powerful and penetrating voice transcended the mundane and transported his audience into the sublime, died in a city hospital here today after a prolonged illness. He was 87.
Joshi had been put on life support system following old age-related ailments leading to kidney and respiratory failure after his admission to a hospital on December 31, his family said. He leaves behind three sons and a daughter.
A recipient of Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award, Joshi was the most-celebrated exponent of �Kirana gharana� of Khansahib Abdul Karim Khan.
Condoling the passing away of the maestro, President Pratibha Patil said, �In his death, the country has lost a great personality who was an exponent of vocal music.�
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said his death was a national loss. �I am sad to learn about the passing away of Bharat Ratna Pandit Bhimsen Joshi. It is a national loss,� Singh said in a condolence message.
Observing that Panditji was among the greatest musicians, the Prime Minister said, �Millions and millions of music lovers all over the world enjoyed and will continue to enjoy his music genius.�
Born on February 4, 1922 at Gadag in Dharwad district of Karnataka, Joshi got a boost to his career during a concert in Pune in January 1946 on the occasion of the 60th birthday of his guru Sawai Gandharva.
What distinguished him from the ordinary was his powerful voice, amazing breath control, fine musical sensibility and unwavering grasp of the fundamentals that made him the supreme Hindustani vocalist, representing a subtle fusion of intelligence and passion that imparted life and excitement to his music.
He was honoured with the Padma Shri (1972), Sangeet Natak Akademi award for Hindustani vocal music (1975), Padma Bhushan (1985) and Madhya Pradesh government�s �Tansen Samman� in 1992. Bharat Ratna was bestowed on him in 2008. � PTI