The New York Times, Tuesday, February 4th, 1986
Nikhil Banerjee, one of the leading sitarists of India, died of a heart attack Jan. 27 in Calcutta. He was 55 years old.
Robert Palmer of The New York Times wrote of Mr. Banerjee's Carnegie Hall performance last November: "The extraordinary fluidity and assurance of his rhythmic ideas and phrasing set a pace and a standard that would have left most of the international 'stars' of Indian music far behind."
Mr. Banerjee was born in Calcutta in 1931. He was a child prodigy and won the top award in the All Bengal Sitar Composition at the age of 9. He was also became the youngest musician ever employed by All-India Radio, where he worked for five years. Mr. Banerjee studied northern Indian classical music for seven years with the sarodist Ustad Allauddin Khan (who was also Ravi Shankar's teacher), and then became a student of the sarodist Ustad Ali Akbar Khan.
Mr. Banerjee began touring outside of India in 1954. In 1968 India awarded him the honorary title Padma Shri; that same year he was named India's Outstanding Musician of the Year by the Sangeet Natak (Music and Dance) Academy. At the time of his death, he had established an international career; he was also professor at the Ali Akbar College of Music in Calcutta.
He is survived by his wife and two daughters.
© 1986 The New York Times Company