Benaras, the holy city of India, has been the cultural centre of music and art for thousands of years. The city is well- drenched and completely soaked in the great tradition of the Indian classical music both in vocal and instrumental.
Artist from every genre have interacted with this great city and found spiritual solace that amply reflected in their artistic pursuits.
The city also boasts of giving rise to numerous great maestros of music, including Pandit Raghunath Prasanna, the doyen of wind instruments both shehnai and flute. However, Pandit Raghunath's contribution in the realm of wind instruments has been unique. The title 'Prasanna' have been entitled to Pandit Raghunath by the king of Kuch Bihar. The king honored him as Pandit Raghu Nath Prasanna made audience happy, from then he has been named as "Prasanna" . That's why he is responsible to firmly establish what has now come to be known as "Prasanna Gharana" of flute playing.
Pandit Raghunath Prasanna was not only a refined artiste who could play both shehnai and flute with equal ease; he was a great teacher and innovator. He got his musical training from his father Pandit Guari Shanker, a shehnai player of repute, and gayaki ang from Pandit Dauji Mishra of Varanasi. He was the first person in the family to introduce the art of flute playing in Banaras Gharana of India which known for its shehnai playing for more than two and half centuries. The shehnai in this family was earlier strengthen for many generations by Pandit Raghunath’s father Pandit Gauri Shanker, Pandit Tehal Prasad (Grand- father), Pandit Garib Das (Great Grand- Father).
Pandit Raghunath Prasanna was not only a flautist of great merit; he developed various techniques in the realm of flute playing so as to faithfully reproduce the subtleties and nuances of the Indian classical music. In fact, he was responsible to provide a strong base to his Gharana by training his own family members including his son Pandit Rajendra Prasanna globally known for his melodious music.
Pandit Raghunath Prasanna was not only a legend flute and shehnai player. He initiated into the art of flute playing from the instrument named Tripura bansuri and took this Tripura bansuri to Indian classical music and then he started Krishna Bansuri. Pandit Raghu nath Prasanna also played sarod. He was an excellent instrument- maker, Ustad Bismillah khan used to call him "Vishkarma"- an Indian God, when saw his quality as an instruments maker.
Pandit Raghunath Prasanna is the first in Prasanna family to introduce flute, and after him his style has spread all over India. It should be noteworthy that the tools and techniques developed by Pandit Raghunath Prasanna have been widely adopted by many of the Indian flautists including his younger brother and disciple Pandit Bholanath Prasanna and his disciple Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasiya, Pandit Rajendra Prasanna, Pandit Ronu Mujamdar and many others flautists.
Pandit Raghunath Prasanna was the recipient of various awards and honors including Sangeet Natak Academy Award (1996) for his contribution to the cause of Indian Classical Music.
The Legacy Continues The musical journey started by Pandit Raghunath Prasanna is being fast forwarded by his able son Pandit Rajendra Prasanna who is well- known in the global musical circuit both in the sphere of the shehnai and flute playing. He imbibes the best elements of the Benaras tradition in playing the Raga music as also the folk melodies of India.
The art of flute playing is being further nurtured by Pandit Rajendra Prasanna’s talented sons- Rajesh Prasanna, Rishab Prasanna, Ritesh Prasanna; who have taken to the art of flute playing very seriously and are making waves in the musical circuits both within and outside the country.
Prasanna Brothers The Prasanna family gets further boost with the Prasanna brothers – Rajesh Prasanna & Rishab Prasanna, taking the central stage and making their mark both as soloist as also duet players of flute in the country. Their meritorious rise as the country’s ace flautists is evident from a plethora of media reviews that have appeared in a number of newspaper and magazines.
Pt. Rajendra Prasanna is an important figure in the world of Indian music and culture.
He is foremost exponent of Bansuri & Shehnai and a celebrated artist recognized for his unique ability to perform on two instruments at a topmost level. It is indeed a very rare skill in the field of Hindustani music.He hails from Benaras and comes from a traditional family of musicians of renowned Benaras Gharana. He preserves, exercises and performs the old traditional music and arts of India which has been retained with his family since many generations.
He was groomed by his grand-father Pt. Gauri Shankar and father Pt. Raghunath Prasanna, who was the first in Prasanna family to introduce both Tripura and Krishna flute. It is said that the style of the family is adopted by most of top most flute players of the country including Pt. Hari Prasad Chaurasia who used to be a student of the family.
Rajendra Prasanna was also guided by his uncles Pt. Bholanath Prasanna and Pt. Vishnu Prasanna. He also has received the taalim from Thumri Samrat Pt. Mahadev Prasad Mishra of Varanasi. He moved to Delhi from Varanasi with his family which enabled him to learn from two meastros of Rampur Sehaswan Gharana who were Padmashree Ustad Hafeez Ahmed Khan and Ustad Sarfaraz Hussain Khan.
Felicitated with Grammy Award certificate in 2004, Rajendra Prasanna became an international personality. He has performed across the globe, including appearance at renowned festivals and venues in many different countries of Europe, Asia, America, Africa and Australia such as Edinburgh festival in UK, UNO headquarters in Switzerland and WOMAD festivals in Australia, Newzealand, Sydney Opera House, Melbourne recital centre, Opera de Lyon (France) etc.
In connection with the Golden Jubilee celebration of the Indian Independence, he was invited to participate at the ITC (SRA) World Music Festival held in America, Canada and Switzerland in 1997.
It was at the age of twelve that he was invited to the Calcutta Music Conference in 1968. After that, he never looked back. He performed at the BANSURI FESTIVAL organized by theSangeet Natak Academi and Raag Rang in 1980, in which top artists from all Gharanas performed. He was the first flautist and shehnai player who visited Pakistan after the partition for a music concert in 1986.
Pt. Rajendra Prasanna has been a TOP grade artist with the All India Radio. He is a recipient of the Life Time Achievement Award of the Sahara India in 2003, Sangeet Ratna Award (Kolkata), Venu Ratna Pune in 2014, Uttar Pradesh Sangeet Natak Academy Award in 1995, National Sangeet Natak Academy Award in 2017.
He has contributed to the Grammy Award – winning music video organized by Pt. Ravi Shankar at the Royal Albert Hall, London, in 2002 in the memory of late George Harrison, for which he received a Grammy Award Certificate in 2004.
Rajendra Prasanna was also associated with National School of Drama, where he served his artistic services from 1979 to 2016.