flautist and instructor from Madras, India, who began playing the bansuri, a bamboo flute, as a child, and grew up
playing South Indian and classical dance music.
In 1945, he
began studying with Ravi Shankar, and started concentrating on Hindustani Sangeet, or North Indian classical music. Two years later, he had the rare
honor of conducting India’s national anthem for their independence
celebration in Delhi.
In the late
‘60s and early ‘70s, he was heavily involved in film
music. He was the composer and
musical director for the film India
’67 and did the sound for Pramod Parti’s Abid, a film about artist Abid
Surti, who essentially turned the inside of his
house into a painting. Vijay
would be equally active in the recording studio, turning out Pentatonic Melodies on the Flute in
1968. A year later, he returned
to the movie studio, scoring and directing the music for the film, Bhuvan Shome. He was also active with the Music of
North India Series, serving as the music director for the Indian
government’s film office until 1980.
music for a spate of films in the early ‘70s, including Badnam Basti, Bansi Birju,
and Ek Adhuri Kahani.
In 1975, he returned to familiar territory, writing music for a
made-for-TV movie about another artist, Badri Narayan, entitled Call
it a Day. Vijay returned to
the big screen for the scores of Oka Oori Katha and Anmol Tasveer,
released in 1977 and 1978, respectively. In 1979, he released Moods: A Souvenir of Enchanting Musical
Miscellany, served as a conductor on the Frank Sinatra boxed set, Trilogy, and did music for two more
and Cinema Cinema.
He was also
the subject of an article in The
Indian Literary Review by Sheela Barse, entitled “Vijay Raghav
A Man with a Green Thumb”.
February 1980, Vijay accompanied his longtime guru Ravi Shankar at Jazz Yatra, where the acclaimed sitar player unveiled his
five-part suite “Jazzmine” which required
the services of a jazz quartet and Indian Orchestra.
appeared on a handful of live recordings that year: One of them was simply titled Flute in Concert, and the other two
were volumes one and two of Moon Rise,
recorded live in concert in America, and featuring Vijay’s frequent
partner-in-crime, the late tabla player, Alla Rakha.
abandoned his post as music director for the India film office in 1980, he
continued to work in film, providing music for the 1981 releases, Kafan and Umrao Jaan, and
found time to release another solo album, Festival Time.
high-profile film work came in 1982, when he multi-tasked as Assistant
Conductor and Music Coordinator, and performed on the soundtrack for the
Oscar-winning Richard Attenborough film, Gandhi. (Vijay had
actually performed for Gandhi at least once.)
He ended the
decade with another solo effort, Destiny: A Symphonic Fable. In 1992, he returned to television
as the conductor on Sinatra: Soundtrack to the CBS Mini-Series.
One of his
earliest recordings was released at long last in 1993, a
collaboration with the aforementioned All Rakha,
entitled Ravi Shankar Presents Flute
and Sitar Music of India.
The album comprises only four tracks, including the ambitious,
thirty-four minute “Raga Malkauns—Alap and Gat in Jhaptal”,
which is intended to summon up friendly spirits. No word on whether 1999’s Ravi Shankar Presents Native Flute Music
of India is meant to have the same effect.
In any case,
Vijay played for a live audience on 20th March of that year in a
program with tabla player Shri
Shyam Kane for the Indian Classical Music Society
of Greater Atlanta. In 2002, he
changed partners in a performance with tabla
player and fellow Pandit, Anindo
Chatterji, at Rockville, Maryland’s
Montgomery College Center for the Performing Arts. (Vijay makes his U.S. home in nearby
In March of
2005, Vijay helped honour the Hyderabad Film Club
as part of its 30-year anniversary in a discussion of documentary film
music at the Hyderabadi Documentary and Short
Film Festival. Moods: A Souvenir of Enchanting Indian
Melodies was released the following year. Around this time, Vijay was on the
faculty of the India Cultural Center, where he taught a seminar on music
appreciation. In 2007, while
apparently splitting his time between India and the States, he released yet
another solo album, Imagination.
on which he appears include Authentic
Flute Music of India, Celestial
Evenings, Creative Music for Divya Sankeertan, Eternal Melodies, The Fantasy of Indian Drums, Greeting of the Dawn, Masters of the Reed, Myriad Melodies, Quintessential (his paean to Ravi
Shankar), Raag Abhogi, Raag Amritvarshini,
Seasons, Song of Nature:
Twilight Tunes, Spirit of
India: Flute & Tabla, Spirit
of the Flute, Starlit Nights,
Timeless, and Wings Over India. Raag Charukeshi is named after one of the
thousands of raags, or ragas, which Vijay has
He has also
written music for and choreographed ballet, and written essays, poetry and
short stories in multiple languages.
He very much believes that music is the universal language, and has
become one of the foremost ambassadors of Indian music in the West.