When one hears the phrase “sarod for sale”, the name Hemen immediately comes to mind. Indeed, the Hemen sarod and Hemen sitar rank among the finest instruments of their kind. Sadly, on Jan 2nd, 2010, Hemendra Chandra Sen passed away at the age of 87. He had been coming into his shop and working up until the last day of his life. He was the last of the great Kolkata craftsmen of the 20th century and his loss is mourned by all musicians and music lovers. Reknowned for his sarodes and sitars, he also made exquisite tanpuras, dotars, esraj's and many other stringed instruments. All the great musicians of the last century passed through his shop on Rash Behari Ave. in Kolkata.
Originally from East Bengal (now Bangladesh), Hemen came to Kolkata at age 13. He wanted to learn music and was fortunate to become a disciple of the sitar player Ustad Ali Ahmed Khan, brother of the legendary Baba Allaudin Khan. On the recommendation of his teacher, Hemen started making musical instruments to make a living. His skill was evident, and soon he was busy making sitars for Ali Ahmed and his discliples. Baba Allaudin's other brother, Ayet Ali Khan (the man who made Ali Akbar Khan's sarode) showed Hemen how to make a sarode, and soon his reputation was firmly established. He began providing instruments for Baba Allaudin and his disciples. Gokul Nag and Shyam Ganguly were faithful patrons. Ali Akbar Khan, Ravi Shankar, Smt.Annapurna Devi, Bahadur Khan, Amjad Ali Khan and countless others depended on Hemen for instruments and repairs.
Hemen's two sons, Rattan and Tapan, have worked with him for decades, and now assume the mantle of his tradition. We wish them all the best.
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